Tag Archives: Barack Obama
Ari Melber, co-host of “The Cycle”, joined Martin Bashir on his show Thursday evening to denounce Darrell Issa’s unprecedented behavior and charges toward Obama and Eric Holder. Ari pointed out that Issa’s unfounded accusations have caused several journalists to begin digging into his checkered past. It’s not pretty.
Watch video via MSNBC
- Things go Badly for Darrell Issa When David Gregory Fails to Be a GOP Shill (kstreet607.com)
- Attorney General Eric Holder Smacks Senator Darrell Issa…..OOPS Upside YO Head…..OOPS up Side YO Head!! (theobamacrat.com)
- Eric Holder blasts Rep. Darrell Issa: Your conduct is ‘inappropriate,’ ‘shameful’ and ‘unacceptable’ (VIDEO) (kstreet607.com)
- Holder to Issa: Your conduct is shameful (utsandiego.com)
So, there you have it…
Just as Republicans and their media lackeys were getting their Obama scandal machine fired up, President Obama killed both the Benghazi and IRS “scandals” in a couple of hours.
The president put a stake through the heart of the GOP’s attempts to revive Benghazi by releasing 100 pages of emails. (Now, the world can see how badly Jon Karl and ABC News got played when they used the summaries of someone else’s notes.) The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent published an email from Tommy Vietor, who until recently was the spokesperson for the National Security Council. Vietor wrote, “Regarding the talking points, it’s not surprising that the entire government would want the chance to look at and edit that language. This was a dynamic situation and new information was constantly flowing in, and different agencies had important concerns that had to be addressed – the State Department had security concerns, the FBI was worried about its investigation, and the CIA had a major, yet still undisclosed, role.”
Republicans are putting out vague statements about contradictions, but Benghazi is pretty much finished as a scandal. It is difficult to accuse the White House of a cover up, when they’ve released all the emails.
The second part of the one-two punch was Obama speaking about the IRS scandal.
- Two scandals deflated, one persists (kstreet607.com)
- Nothing To See Here! O’Donnell Says IRS And Benghazi Are NOT Scandals: ‘IRS Agents Did Nothing Wrong’ (mediaite.com)
- Story on Benghazi leaks starts to unravel (maddowblog.msnbc.com)
- CNN Blows Huge Hole In GOP Efforts To Prosecute Benghazi Scandal (forbes.com)
- An Interview With Barack Obama About The IRS Scandal, AP Phone Records And Benghazi (philosophers-stone.co.uk)
This has been a heck of a week for the Obama Administration.
The GOP has several gripes with Obama over Benghazi details. Then there’s the Tea Party who feel victimized for being flagged by the IRS (they blame Obama of course.) Finally, the newest scandal over someone ordering specific reporters from Associated Press targeted to have their phones tapped over national security leaks.
The following report details with the IRS scandal…
The agency used “inappropriate criteria” to flag Tea Party groups for scrutiny
The Obama administration this week has been beset by a spate of scandals, one of which was the revelation that the IRS targeted conservative political groups that applied for tax-exempt status. Now, a much-anticipated internal report has found that the agency erred in singling out those groups over an 18-month period starting in 2010. The report, conducted by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration and delivered to Congress on Tuesday, offered new insight into the developing scandal.
In response, President Obama said in a statement that he had instructed Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew “to hold those responsible for these failures accountable, and to make sure that each of the Inspector General’s recommendations are implemented quickly, so that such conduct never happens again.”
Here, four key findings:
1. Staffers developed “inappropriate criteria” to flag applications
According to the report, the IRS office in Cincinnati that processes all applications for tax-exempt status deliberately targeted Tea Party groups for further review — though the report did not go so far as to say that the targeting was politically motivated. While the IRS admitted as much last week, and even offered a mea culpa for the practice, the report is the first independent verification of its existence.
“The IRS used inappropriate criteria that identified for review Tea Party and other organizations applying for tax-exempt status based upon their names or policy positions instead of indications of potential political campaign intervention,” the report states.
The IG report reviewed 296 applications as of last December, of which 108 had been approved, while another 160 had been left pending. About one-third of the applications flagged for further review contained “tea party,” “patriots,” or “9/12″ in their names, the report found.
2. BOLO: “Be on the lookout”
According to the report, the Determinations Unit within the IRS in May 2010 began developing criteria for singling out applications with “Tea Party,” “Patriots,” ”9/12,” or other “political sounding” names for added scrutiny. The unit then drafted a spreadsheet of groups flagged under this criteria, which came to be known as the “Be on the Lookout” list, or BOLO.
The department distributed the first BOLO list in August 2010, but the criteria for flagging an organization in the spreadsheet quickly broadened. By mid-2011, the criteria had expanded to include groups focused on “government spending, government debt, or taxes,” as well as groups critical of how the government was being run, and those that sought to educate the public about how to “make America a better place to live.”
The IRS insisted that the guidelines were “shorthand” that could be used to flag all overtly political groups — not only Tea Party ones — that were trying to receive tax-exempt status as “social welfare” organizations. Yet the IG report disagreed with that assessment.
“Whether the inappropriate criterion was shorthand for all potential political cases or not, developing and using criteria that focuses on organization names and policy positions instead of the activities permitted under the Treasury Regulations does not promote public confidence that tax-exempt laws are being adhered to impartially,” the report states.
3. The review process led to “substantial delays”
The increased scrutiny resulted in “substantial delays” for flagged applications, with some left pending for up to 1,138 days. According to the report, some applications sat open through the last two election cycles due to “ineffective management oversight” that left unclear how specialists should process applications.
The report says that agency management “did not ensure that there was a formal process in place for initiating, tracking, or monitoring requests for assistance,” and that guidelines for processing pending applications often changed, leaving lower-level staffers unsure how to proceed. In the most egregious instance, the Determinations Unit stopped working on applications entirely for a 13-month period while awaiting further guidance.
“Although the processing of some applications with potential significant political campaign intervention was started soon after receipt, no work was completed on the majority of these applications for 13 months,” the report said.
Some 170 groups received requests for additional information from the IRS. According to the report, 98 of those requests, or nearly 60 percent, were later found to be unnecessary. Those requests sought a range of information, including the names of donors, the size of their donations, and details on how those contributions were used. Other requests asked about organizations’ political affiliation and outside activities.
4. Some political cover for the White House
Republicans have demanded to know whether anyone in the Obama administration had a hand in ordering the extended reviews. Yet the report appears to have cleared government higher-ups, determining that the program was limited to “first-line management” within the agency, and that it was not “influenced by any individual outside of the IRS.”
Instead, the report pins much of the blame on the agency’s management structure, saying that “insufficient oversight provided by management” allowed the program to go on as long as it did.
According to the report, agency executives immediately demanded that the criteria for flagging applications be changed when it came to their attention in June 2011. The requested changes rolled back the program’s focus to cover activity simply deemed to be “political, lobbying, or [general] advocacy,” with no mention of political affiliation. However, agency specialists charged with flagging applications changed the language back six months later, in January 2012, with no approval from IRS executives because they thought the new guidelines were too vague. Those criteria would stay in place until May, when executives once again ordered that they be changed.
- Another GOP Obama Scandal Falls Apart as It Is Revealed the IRS also Targeted Liberals (politicususa.com)
- Who may be to blame for targeting (huffingtonpost.com)
- Justice investigating IRS targeting of tea party (timesleader.com)
- The Treasury’s Inspector General Just Released a Damning Report About the IRS Targeting Tea Party Groups (reason.com)
- Justice investigating IRS targeting of tea party (cnsnews.com)
- IRS Tea Party Scandal: White House Did Not Drive Investigation, Inspector General Says (huffingtonpost.com)
It can be debated as to whether the filibuster came about as a political accident or was created to give minority parties a stronger say in opposing specific legislation they deeply opposed. Whatever the case, in the hands of Republicans, the filibuster has now become a destructive force being used with the single intent of bringing the Obama agenda (and with it normal governance) to a grinding halt.
Want a real Washington scandal — one worse than the (phony) Benghazi scandal and the (apparently real, but apparently limited) IRS scandals combined? Try the continuing, and possibly accelerating, obstruction of executive branch nominees by Senate Republicans.
Don’t think it’s a scandal? It’s pretty basic: Republicans, by abusing their Constitutional powers, are — deliberately, in several cases — preventing the government from carrying out duly passed laws.
…with virtually all nominees required to have 60 votes, one can accurately say that Republicans are filibustering every nomination…the worst are the “nullification” filibusters, in which Republicans simply refuse to approve any nominee at all for some positions — the National Labor Relations Board, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — because they don’t want those agencies to carry out their statutory obligations.In doing so, Republicans are not breaking the rules of the Senate. They are, however, breaking the Senate itself, and harming the government.
From the beginning, Republicans were clear in their intent to obstruct Obama and Democrats by every legislative means at their disposal. Mitch McConnell speaking two weeks before the 2010 midterm election:
“[W]e need to treat this election as the first step in retaking the government. We need to say to everyone on Election Day, ‘Those of you who helped make this a good day, you need to go out and help us finish the job.’ [...]
The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president…. Our single biggest political goal is to give our nominee for president the maximum opportunity to be successful.”
That’s as clear an admission of guilt as you’re likely to find. Writing the day after McConnell’s 2010 statement, Steve Benen peeked into the future with what turns out to be astonishing foresight.
The obvious takeaway here is that GOP leaders have literally no interest in actually solving problems or passing legislation. None. But the larger truth is that President Obama, who’s spoken a bit lately about the need for “humility,” needs to realize that Republican obstinacy and extremist tactics aren’t going to get better after the midterms; they’re going to get worse.
McConnell and his cohorts have made abundantly clear that Americans’ welfare and the nation’s future pale in comparison to the Republican quest for power. The president stands in the way. If he’s not prepared for what they intend to bring, the showdown isn’t going to go well.
- Mario Piperni on Repug “Scandals” (seniorsforademocraticsociety.wordpress.com)
- Senate Democrats: Nuclear option for filibuster is back on the table (thehill.com)
- The Real Scandal (thedemocraticstrategist.org)
- Boehner And McConnell: Our Way Or We Break Medicare (kstreet607.com)
- Blog Running – But it’s NOT Republican Obstructionism – ‘You want a scandal? Here’s a scandal’ (thelastofthemillenniums.wordpress.com)
Many pundits have exposed the GOP for their utter disdain for President Obama…
Bernie Goldberg sat down with Bill O’Reillytonight for a round of media criticism that hit the liberal media for its months-long reluctance in covering Benghazi, with Goldberg arguing that it was a report by ABC News that finally “gave permission” to other news organizations to pursue the story. And while Goldberg differed with O’Reilly on the latter’s insistence that the AP monitoring story is not a scandal, he agreed that conservatives are too obsessed with tearing down Obama, saying that the president could cure cancer and the GOP would find a way to avoid giving him credit.
Goldberg claimed that liberal reporters have been playing down Benghazi because the White House wants that, but after ABC released a report on the changed talking points, “that gave permission” for the rest of the media to scrutinize Obama. He said that the media never really takes the word of conservative reporters seriously, that they need one of their own to jump on it first.
But on the Associated Press story, Goldberg challenged O’Reilly’ downplaying of the scandal, asking him how he would feel if Fox News was similarly targeted. O’Reilly defended the FBI for conducting a legal investigation into national security leaks, and while he did criticize the attorney general for denying involvement, he argued that it “hurts the cause of legitimate investigations” of the Obama administration by jumping to conclusions without the facts to back them up.
Goldberg agreed on this point, saying there are liberals who won’t acknowledge Benghazi as a scandal at all, but also conservatives who wouldn’t give credit to Obama even if he “literally” cured cancer, pointing to this new era of “raw partisanship” in Washington.
- Bernard Goldberg Smacks Down Huckabee: Benghazi Will Not Drive Obama Out Of Office (newshounds.us)
- Watch: O’Reilly: ‘Benghazi a Big Story’ and Obama’s ‘Drowning In It’ (abcnews.go.com)
- O’Reilly And Bernie Goldberg Tear Into Benghazi Media Bias: MSNBC Is White House’s ‘Public Relations Firm’ (mediaite.com)
- Obama Seeks Advice From Bush and Romney on Benghazi, IRS Scandals (palookavillepost.com)
- Story on Benghazi leaks starts to unravel (maddowblog.msnbc.com)
MSNBC host Chris Hayes on Monday night explained how the Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens United ruling lead to the current IRS scandal.
The IRS on Friday admitted that it had targeted tea party groups applying to be social welfare nonprofits with extra scrutiny.
Hayes said the Citizens United ruling obscured the line between political organizations and social welfare organizations, such as the American Civil Liberties Unions and volunteer fire departments. Political organizations have been categorized under section 527 of the federal tax code, while social welfare organizations fall under section 501(c)(4).
“Citizen’s United said essentially any organization of any kind can spend money out of its general treasury to run political ads,” Hayes said, “and that decision brought about a pivotal moment for politics and taxes and campaign spending in this country and we’re still dealing with the fallout.”
Republican strategist Karl Rove and Democratic strategist Bill Burton used the Citizens United ruling to their advantage ahead of the 2012 elections. Both used social welfare nonprofits to run overtly political ads, allowing them to intervene in political campaigns without disclosing their donors. Hayes remarked that their example obviously inspired others to do the same.
“Suddenly, the IRS starts getting a flood of new applications from other political groups and strategists saying, ‘Oh, oh, it turns out I too want to set up a social welfare organization that just so happens to be focused on taking the country back from Barack Hussein Obama,’” he said. “Now, here is the thing the IRS appears to have done unequivocally wrong, that we all agree was absolutely inexcusable. They reacted to all this by targeting one part of the ideological spectrum in looking at whether this flood of new applicants passed the smell test. Being skeptical about a new wave of wolves in sheep’s clothing invading the nonprofit game was entirely appropriate.”
- Pelosi: IRS problem stems from court ruling (washingtontimes.com)
- How IRS scandal could help Karl Rove and dark money (salon.com)
- Right On Cue, Pelosi Brings the Crazy to the IRS Scandal (pjmedia.com)
- Potential misuse of power strikes universal nerve in IRS case (video.msnbc.msn.com)
This Sunday’s Daily Kos entry is especially humorous…
In this week’s episode of “GOP Theater of the Absurd,” former car thief Darrell Issa presented incontrovertible evidence that former Secretary of State/current 2016 presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton personally murdered Ambassador Ben Ghazi—or something to that effect.
Despite this revelation being hyped as a “bombshell” by Fox News et al., it wasn’treally all that shocking to anyone who’s been following the Clintons for the past few decades; after all, their body count has been well documented.
In fact, being the Machiavellian-type characters that they are, it seems likely that Bill and Hillary orchestrated Ambassador Ghazi’s murder (and the subsequent “cover-up“) in order to get President Obama impeached (as retribution for his 2008 primary victory)—but only time (and “whistleblowers“) will tell.
Be sure to tune in next week for the latest developments in this never-ending story.
Meet the Press: Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA); Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA); Former Ambassador Thomas Pickering; Roundtable: Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), David Brooks (New York Times), Katty Kay (BBC) and Author Wes Moore.
Face the Nation: Former Defense Secretary William Gates; Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL); Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH); Poet Maya Angelou; Roundtable: David Sanger (New York Times), Bobby Ghosh (TIME), David Rohde (Reuters) and Sharyl Attkisson (CBS News).
This Week: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ); Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI); Foreign Policy Roundtable: George Will (Washington Post), Former Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chair Gen. James Cartwright, Ruth Marcus (Washington Post) and Jonathan Karl (ABC News);Political Roundtable: George Will, Democratic Strategist Donna Brazile, GOP StrategistMatthew Dowd, Former Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-NH) and Jonathan Karl.
Fox News: Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI); Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA); Rep.-Elect Mark Sanford (R-SC); Roundtable: Bill Kristol (Weekly Standard), Former Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Kimberley Strassel (Wall Street Journal) and Juan Williams (Fox News).
State of the Union: Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL); Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI); GOP Strategist Alex Castellanos; Democratic Strategist Mo Elleithee; Karen Tumulty(Washington Post); Reliable Sources: Pop Culture Commentator Lola Ogunnaike; Paul Farhi (Washington Post); Jim Warren (New York Daily News); Connie Schultz(Cleveland Plain Dealer); Margaret Carlson (Bloomberg News); Bob Cusack (The Hill);Jim Geraghty (National Review).
The Chris Matthews Show: Howard Fineman (Huffington Post); S. E. Cupp (MSNBC);Joe Klein (TIME); Kelly O’Donnell (NBC News).
- Unaired RNC Benghazi attack ad surfaces (video.msnbc.msn.com)
- Republicans Publicly Masturbate to BENGHAZIIIIIIII!!!! On Taxpayers’ Dime All Day (wonkette.com)
- Republicans Hold Hearings About Hillary Clinton’s Poll Numbers (aapd0418.com)
- Hillary in spotlight… (thehill.com)
- Benghazi Is a Massive Failure of the Obama Administration (usnews.com)
- Issa: Benghazi Will Be ‘Damaging’ to Hillary Clinton (pjmedia.com)
- Fox Contributor & Conservative writer says President Obama likely ‘orchestrated the attack’ in Benghazi (freakoutnation.com)
- Could President Obama Be Impeached Over Benghazi? (foxnewsinsider.com)
Despicable bullies come to mind when I see how members of Congress will stop at nothing to get their way…
Your big Obamacare story of the day is that John Boehner and Mitch McConnell won’t recommend commissioners to the Independent Payment Advisory Board — a panel designed to contain Medicare spending — as the law asks them to.
This isn’t a huge surprise given how, er, eager Republicans have been to smooth Obamacare implementation in general. But it’s more revealing, and just as ironic, as their other efforts to break or hinder the law before it takes full effect.
It’s not just that Boehner and McConnell hate Obamacare and it’s not just that they’re hypocrites about spending. What they’re saying with their actions is that if they can’t convert Medicare from a single-payer into a private insurance system, they’d rather the whole thing collapse under its own weight. President Obama’s and Paul Ryan’s Medicare plans both envision budget caps for Medicare — the difference is that Ryan wants to let private insurers enforce it while Obama leaves the task to providers, with IPAB as a backstop. The parties are actually in about the same place fiscally with respect to Medicare, but unless reaching a more sustainable trajectory means privatizing the program, Republicans will try to keep it unsustainable.
Unfortunately for them, the story’s not that simple. The GOP can’t straightforwardly nullify or hobble IPAB by withholding or blocking nominees, the way it can and does with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the National Labor Relations Board. The IPAB can seemingly function with fewer than 15 confirmed members, and even if Senate Republicans filibuster all nominees, the ACA includes a backstop that basically allows the Health and Human Services Secretary to act as a one-woman payment board. So just as states’ rights-loving governors are ceding their sovereignty to the federal government instead of setting up insurance exchanges of their own, Boehner and McConnell are effectively handing power to the executive branch in lieu of doing what the law asks them and maintaining influence over the policy.
Now that may not be a power that the Obama administration wants to exercise. And its not one that’ll necessarily remain in Democratic hands forever. So it’s not a perfect alternative to IPAB. But it’s also not a win-win for Boehner and McConnell. The GOP base might appreciate it, but it’s probably counter to their substantive interests.
- Boehner, McConnell refuse to appoint members to ‘death panel’ to Obamacare… (businessinsider.com)
- Boehner, McConnell block their own Medicare goals (maddowblog.msnbc.com)
- GOP finds new way to try to sabotage Obamacare (dailykos.com)
- Speaker Boehner, Leader McConnell: “We Respectfully Decline to Recommend Appointments” to ObamaCare IPAB (speaker.gov)
- Reps Are Refusing to Appoint Members to Obamacare “Death” Panel (ultimatefulfillment.org)
“What emerged clearly in the hearing today is that there were no military assets within range that could have prevented what happened in Benghazi that night.” ~ Lawrence O’Donnell