May 16, 2013

The Dam Bursts (Updated)

So...
I have some friends on Twitter who wonder "What's the big deal?" "Why RU so upset? H8er!!!" I have one friend who wrote in Davros in the last election...because he couldn't see any difference.
140 characters is not enough to explain anything involving complexity,
so for them I'll go point by point to the best of my abi....what?


"PoliTIIIIIIICCSSSS!" "Oh GOD! MAKE HER STOP" "Put it below the fold PLEASE!"

Oh right...
Sorry...
Below the fold it goes!


***********************


Good lord what a squalid mess.

Let us review:

Benghazi...

It looks like there were 3 major screw-ups leading up to the attack.
A: Setting up a permanent station in the frequently attacked Benghazi consulate.
B: Ignoring requests for additional permanent security at the frequently attacked compound.
C: Sending the Ambasador there on Sept11, and doing so without backup.

These are bad and are legit campaign talking points.
However,  they aren't necessarily indicative of malice. Signals get crossed, mistakes are made and surprise attacks happen...the enemy gets a vote and our foes have a high skill level in finding vulnerable targets. Yes the should have done all three things differently but intel failures happen (see 9/11/01...12/7/41). At this point the bulk of the assessment should be on how they responded once things went to hell...
The problem is that the answer to that is......
   VERY BADLY INDEED
Despite lies to the contrary, a US military base in Italy had a special forces unit on hand in for operations in Africa. Upon receiving the distress call, they dutifully scrambled, suited up and were in the process of boarding the plane to fly to the rescue...when they were ordered to stand down. Further desperate call for help reached them and they mobilized again ONLY TO BE TOLD NOT TO DO SO. Twice!

No one seems to know who gave this order but the only people with authority to do so would be the President, Sec State or the Sec Def. 

it's important to note that in either case this would NOT have saved Ambassador Stevens, who died almost immediately from a rocket attack, but the others held out for MORE THAN SEVEN HOURS against overwhelming odds. A special forces unit would have had a non-zero chance of turning the tide.

The response by Sec Def Panetta was repugnant. His assertion that one doesn't send in the military in an emergency without near perfect intel is a textbook example of why academics are generally unfit for executive positions, especially those regarding the military. Command decisions are not made by consulting flow charts and there is a degree of uncertainty inherent in ALL executive decisions. US civilians were under attack the military was there and ready to go. A Coast Guard boarding team is expected to think and adapt to unknown conditions one finds boarding a ship....the US Special Forces unit was the creme de-la creme of American infantry. THIS IS WHAT THEY EXIST FOR.

 The result was that the security team ran out of ammo, and left bloody fingerprints on the walls as they were dragged away to be butchered.



It Got WORSE

In order to cover up the incompetence relayed in points one through three above the response to Benghazi was to blame a crappy independant filmaker(who is STILL in jail BTW) and make speeches about the important of not offending Islam. Only later did they admit that yes it was a well coordinated attack by Al-Quaeda and  when it came up during the debate Obama was given a remarkable pass by moderator Candy Crowly...something even the debate commission acknowledged. The Secretary of State, who got around to testifying after the election (Natch) when asked why they threw a guy in Jail on a trumped up parole violation as a result of  blaming his film responded with this succinct answer. "What difference does it make?"

And thus things stood a week ago when a very tardy congressional hearing took place and Messrs Hicks, Thompson, and Nordstrom, whose adherence to the truth had been rewarded with demotion and blacklisting spoke before congress.


Via Cdr Salamander who has thoughts on their testimony.

In the course of the testimony, Hicks took time to answer Clinton's inquiry.

The vast majority of the US media are in essence a branch of the Democratic party so this still got little of the attention it deserved. but it was gaining some traction when suddenly...
Friday afternoon...

THE IRS ADMITTED THAT THEY'D BEEN INTIMIDATING CONSERVATIVE ORGANIZATIONS

 



TaxProfessor Blog has a round up of links from the 13th.
This is in many ways old news.  The President had been joking about it since 2009. It was pointed out last year by several Tea Party groups that they felt they were being harassed and indeed the special questionnaire for conservative and libertarian organizations included a demand for donor lists which is exceedingly worrisome as it allows donors to be harassed by the IRS.

That’s when the long list of questions arrived. Kenney said the group sent back a four-inch, seven-pound stack of documents before deciding that enough was enough. The group decided the questions were far too intrusive and could result in individual supporters being targeted.

"We couldn’t sic the IRS on our members,” Kenney said.



It also opens the possibility of those lists, the lifeblood of any political organization falling into the other sides hands which can open the door to all sorts of mischief.
By..ummm.. utter coincidence the Left-Leaning watchdog group Pro-Publica just came clean with the fact that they had recieved documents on conservative groups from the IRS containing confidential information which they used in their scoops...They redacted the privilaged personal information, but felt no need to disclose this until now. It's unclear how many other left leaning groups got these dumps from the IRS, but it's worrisome.

It gets worse still....to the point of farce...

No. Really.

 
The president of course denies any knowledge of this. Here he expresses his astonishment at the revelations.


(Full disclosure: that may not ACTUALLY be the president or be about taxes but the gist is the same)


The IRS kneecapped grassroots conservative activists at a crucial time in the 2012 election. This of course included the conservative women's groups and Conservative Hispanic groups that collapsed in 2012 contributing to Romney's losses in those demographics. While this obviously cannot be proven to have swayed the result, it at the very least affected the margin of victory. Professor Jacobson has thoughts on that here.

The IRS, which knew about the scandal much earlier...like JUNE of last year, made a conscious decision to hold all this till after the election.  The reason for this is not hard to fathom. The IRS, created by Democrats and staffed by unionized people who generally never have held a private sector job is by default a very left leaning organization.

The President, of course, claims this was no fault of his and  to be sure he has taken action. He's firing people in that IRS division who were either about to retire or were just transfered in, and promoting those who ran the office that engaged in these activities. In the last hyperlink, ACE points out that the woman who oversaw the offending office will now be in charge of overseeing the IRS end of Obama Care.

Lovely...our medical records are in the best of hands.

Of course there is no evidence that the President himself had any...

...oh wait.


That article is not quite a smoking gun, but the scandal definitely went as far as the White House.

Jerry Pournelle has thoughts on this... Note that he is skeptical of the Presidents direct culpability.


Thus it’s hardly astonishing that people who want to control the growth of government would receive extra scrutiny from the IRS career civil servants. It’s even less astonishing that the political campaign workers (alas, with the gutting of the Hatch Act there is now considerable overlap) would simply smile and say nothing when they observed this sort of thing. But I would find it astonishing if no word of this reached the higher ranks of the President’s political campaign management within a year or more. Someone in the White House staff knew. The question is, how high up did the knowledge go? There is no evidence that Nixon knew everything or even very much about the machinations of Dean, Haldeman, Ehrlichman, and Colson in their "plumber squad” operations; the point is that he should have. He should have had in his top entourage at least one who would tell him what was being done in his name. Every CEO needs information sources other than the chain of command. Of course this President has little experience at management at any level.

I am not involved in breaking news stories, but as the facts become clear it’s important to understand them; there is more than politics involved here.

The original Hatch Act (upheld more than once by the Supreme Court) forbade civil service employees from engaging in political activities, and was usually interpreted as forbidding government workers who were "Hatched” from even being asked for political donations by anyone else. Of course the original theory of a civil services was to divorce it from politics while retaining responsibility to the public. That is a very narrow path to follow: if the public doesn’t like what a bureaucracy is doing, how can that be changed? The answer is supposed to be to change the political control, but if the bureaucrats are protected from political management stalemate takes place. This is easily observed in a great many places at all levels of government. An example is our usual example of a needless government activity, Department of Agriculture Inspectors who attend stage magic presentations to be sure that if the magician uses a rabbit in the performance, he has a Federal license to do so. There is probably no political appointee in the Department of Agriculture or anywhere else in the Federal Government who would defend this as a necessary activity during times of deficit financing; but the practice has continued for years, and likely will continue forever because there is no simple mechanism for ending it.

The Hatch Act worked fairly well for decades. The theory was that the civil service protections were strong, and accepting them required the civil servant to essentially give up political activity: you’re paid to implement policies, not to advocate for them. For younger readers this may seem like an astonishing statement, but that used to be the case, and every campaign manager knew it and acted accordingly.



There is a pattern here and it goes beyond the past association of the POTUS with Chicagoland politics. As Anne Althouse reminds us, this systematic intimidation bears similarities to the Gibson guitar fiasco from a few years back.

 


This goes to the heart of our republic. This is third world level stuff. If the only way to engage in politics without harassment, audits, and relinquishing their private data to their political opponents is to be a member of the ruling party, then we have real structural problems with our governance. It is an exceedingly toxic and worrisome scandal, particularly as the IRS has a history of this sort of thing.

There is a dreadful, sickening implication here. If the conventional wisdom becomes that honest and peaceful protest and organizing are utterly unable to redress our grievances. It may not be long before some hotheads succumb to despair and attempt other methods.

At that point we are in hell.



But wait! THERE'S MORE!

While all that squalor was coming out, the justice department quietly mentioned that it had secretly gotten hold of the AP's phone records.

The press which had been quietly minimizing the Benghazi scandal...but now THEIR ox was being gored.

So suddenly, these three scandals are getting a good deal of attention.

Will it make a difference?

Steven Den Beste has thoughts on some of the dynamics mitigating against it.

I think it's unlikely.

The election is over, the damage is done. 2012 was the last real chance to save the country without major pain due to the debt/demographic bomb we face.

  Furthermore the he fourth estate is too invested in their "god".


(their word, not mine)



Frankly, my considerable schadenfreude has been completely overwhelmed by the sick sense of unease and despair for the country.

But we on the right can take some bitter solace in the fact that we were correct....

and to see this from Piers Morgan of all people....

via ace


well...I'll take what cheer I can get.

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