How’s Our “Phony” Scandals Doing?

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Fast & Furious[1]

The same ATF agent who lobbied for and spearheaded Fast & Furious (ATF Special Agent in Charge [Arizona] Bill Newell, who headed Wide Receiver until it was shut down under the Bush administration)[2] has been promoted to the Washington office. Wide Receiver involved around 275 guns, most of which were lost track of, and it was this lack of accountability that caused the Bush people to close it down. Fast & Furious involved over 1,500 guns and was shut down only after it became public (on February 22 2011) that Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was gunned down on December 14 2010 with a Fast & Furious AK-47. It was later disclosed that ATF didn’t know where most of the weapons were[3]. Lack of accountability again, but this time it cost Agent Terry his life, and the program would likely still be going if not for the publicity.

In its earliest response to Senator Chuck Grassley’s (R-IA) questions about the gunwalking operation, DoJ sent a letter signed by Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich, stating that ATF never “knowingly allowed the sale of assault weapons to a straw purchaser who then transported them into Mexico.” Ten months later, DoJ withdrew the letter acknowledging that it contained inaccuracies (read: they lied). The president has extended Executive Privilege over documents pertaining to the operation, and has removed the incident from his field of view. He won’t let anyone see what was going on, yet it’s a “phony” issue. Fast & Furious body bags: Two[4].

Benghazi

Now we find that around 400 MANPADs were stolen during the raid, and are now in the hands of “unknowns[5].” Riiiiight. At question are the thousands of SA-7 Grail (Russian: 9K32M Strela-2) shoulder-fired anti-air missiles that were in Moamar Qaddafi’s arsenals when the Libyan uprising started. As reported nearly a year ago, Ambassador Stevens was serving as point on a CIA operation to round up as many as possible and transship them through Turkey to rebels in Syria[6]. The “unknowns” are Ansar al-Sharia, the al Qaeda franchise in Libya and perpetrators of the raid on the consulate. It’s not clear whether the MANPADS were at the consulate or the CIA annex, but that they were gathered in one place adds credence to the fact that they were being gathered in order to get them out of Libya. While nothing can excuse our incompetent behavior before the incident, the CIA op can at least explain the cover-up afterwards, ridiculous as it was.
Even CBS Face the Nation’s Bob Schieffer asked Susan Rice, “Why am I talking to you?” It was widely known that President Obama, Vice President Biden, National Security Adviser Brennan, SecDef Panetta, SecState Clinton, CIA Director Petraeus and CINCAFRICOM General Hamm were all in town that Sunday, but all refused to go on national television and read the talking points. Susan Rice was the highest ranking official with plausible deniability (read: she didn’t know anything about the incident and could read the fictitious account handed her by the administration without being accused of lying). It went downhill from there. This “phony” scandal’s body bags: Four.

IRS

They’re still doing it! Testimony released Thursday by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI-4) reveals that an agent involved in reviewing tax exempt applications from conservative groups is still targeting Tea Party groups, three months after the IRS scandal erupted. In closed door testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee, the unidentified IRS agent said requests for special tax status from Tea Party groups are being forced into a special “secondary screening” because the agency has yet to come up with new guidance on how to judge the tax status of the groups[7].

So, not only is the “thorough investigation” non-existent (none of the groups involved in the denial of status, nor their counsel, have been contacted by the FBI – none), neither has the practice been corrected. If this is a “phony” scandal, why is Lois Lerner refusing to testify under Fifth Amendment protection? And why is nothing being done to correct an egregious abuse of executive power? These are the same warm and fuzzy people slated to enforce ObamaCare, adding everyone’s medical records to the tax data they already have.

NSA

As I’ve said before, this only holds a potential for future scandal, yet it is the only one the president has seen fit to actually address – outlining sweeping changes in the way NSA goes about its business[8]. Now we find that DEA has a similar database (billions of records), and are instructing prosecutors to use “parallel construction” to hide the source of their information. Parallel construction is a process whereby prosecutors make up where and how they got the tip to follow a given course of investigation, never revealing that it came from DEA, not in court documents, in testimony before the grand jury, or a judge, or in court. Prosecutors, in other words, lied in court filings, to judges, to grand juries, and to trial juries, all under orders from DEA[9]. Aside from being blatantly unconstitutional and against case law in every state, it now jeopardizes thousands of convictions across the country with appeals, most of which will probably succeed.

DoJ

As far as we know, the nation’s top lawyers have actually stopped lying to judges to get at reporters’ metadata. Now perhaps they have time to arrest suspects in the Benghazi attack before CNN puts them on the air, or maybe actually look into the IRS handling of political groups, or examine why they allowed a failed weapons-tracking program to be tried again on an even grander scale, or find out why prosecutors have been systematically lying to our courts – you know, doing the things a Justice Department is supposed to be doing: watching out for the people. Just a thought.

Yet to Come

ObamaCare is in a shambles, a slow-motion train wreck. Every step of way, this abomination is scandalous. Its conception was an exercise in typical liberal magical-thinking: “Sure, in every country larger than Vermont, national healthcare has resulted in long queues for medical attention, rationing of care and egregious taxation, but we’ll do it better.” It was sold on a pack of lies: e.g., “If you like your insurance, you can keep it. If you like your doctor, you can keep him.” It was written in absentia of the opposition party: “We won [the election] so we’re going to write it.” It is being illegally altered almost daily – to include Congress exempting itself from what Democrats have foisted upon the people. And, if we believe the president (although there’s absolutely no reason to do so), it’s going to be implemented with the very real possibility of severe security weaknesses in the data-handling process and enforced by the trustworthiness-challenged IRS. This 2,700-page horror story started out ugly and can only get worse.


[1] Title art by Michael Ramirez.

[2] Sharyl Attkisson, A primer on the “Fast and Furious” scandal, CBS News, June 26 2012.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Jaime Zapata, Immigration and Customs Special Agent under DHS, was ambushed and murdered on assignment on a desolate road in Mexico on February 15 2011. Two weapons used in Zapata’s murder were linked by multiple sources to suspects who had been under ATF surveillance for at least six months before Zapata’s murder, but were not arrested.

[5] David Martosko [DC], 400 US surface-to-air missiles were “stolen” from Libya during the Benghazi attack, claims whistleblower, the Mail [London], August 12 2013, 1717EDT.

[6] Catherine Herridge and Pamela Browne, Was Syrian weapons shipment factor in ambassador’s Benghazi visit?, FOX News, October 25 2012.

[7] Paul Bedard, IRS agent: Tax agency is still targeting Tea Party groups, in Washington Examiner, August 8 2013, 1720EDT.

[8] Christi Parsons, Ken Dilanian and David Lauter[8], Obama outlines proposals for reining in NSA surveillance, in Los Angeles Times, August 9 2013, 1912PDT.

[9] David Ingram and John Shiffman, US defense lawyers to seek access to DEA hidden intelligence evidence, Reuters, August 8 2013.

10 thoughts on “How’s Our “Phony” Scandals Doing?

    • Simple, we handed over the country to liberals. With the exception of parallel construction (which started under the Clinton administration) they started all these balls rolling, and now want to pretend they don’t exist.

      Seriously, we the voters have allowed ourselves to become so out of touch on what, exactly, our government is doing that most issues leave the average person with a MEGO (My Eyes Glaze Over) experience. In short, we’ve become the complacent, intellectually lazy, narcissistic society Dr Franklin worried that we would when he informed the crowd outside the writing of the Constitution that they “have given you a republic, if you can keep it.”

  1. I’ll offer you a simple solution to this problem: Vote for Ted Cruz in 2016.

    • Any non-liberal will do – but the GOP will make it harder than it should be again by fielding such jokes as Donald Trump in the primaries.

  2. I agree. I thought after the 2012 election the GOP had learned it’s lesson when it did that exhaustive “autopsy” to figure out what went wrong…Now nine months later they are back to using the same talking points and the same ultra-conservative yardstick that they used pre-2012 to pick their next presidential candidate.

    Marco Rubio and Chris Christie aren’t nearly conservative enough to deserve consideration. They want a Rand Paul or a Ted Cruz to get the nomination. That’s OK with me. I truly hope they settle on someone like these two “extremists”. I guess they have decided that the reason they lost the Presidency in 2012 is that Mitt Romney wasn’t a true conservative “purist”….

    As they say, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different results…”

    • There are times when the best way to defeat an extremist is to be extreme in the opposite direction – but the American electoral process isn’t one of them. The battlespace is dominated by Independents, who tend, by definition, to be far less interested in the liturgy of either party than in the effective operation of government. Human nature tells us that in a contest between the devil we know and devil we don’t, most are less uncomfortable with the one we know – that bodes against Republican upstarts, especially against someone like Hillary Clinton.

      I think the wisest course for Republicans, at this point, would be to insist on the implementation of ObamaCare as written, passed and signed. Let this unworkable hodge-podge unwind as envisioned by the Democrats who wrote it, passed it and signed it. No exceptions. It is an axiom of politics and warfare that when one’s adversary is self-destructing, don’t get in their way. I think that applies here, and will do more good for the GOP in the run-up to the 2014s than anything they could do.

  3. Once again I agree. Let ObamaCares go forward and be implemented. If it is the disaster that you and the Republicans are sure that it is, then that will only serve to burnish the Republicans image and claim that they are the right and smart party.

    In my opinion the stupidest move they could make is what the bomb-throwers are now recommending: Defund the AHCA by refusing to extend the debt limit and shutting down the government next month. But the Republican presidential “wannabes” are all on board with this bomb-throwing strategy. (Cruz, Paul, Rubio). The idea appeals to the conservative base of the party.

    In the end it won’t happen because they know that ObamaCares is part of the entitlement spending portion of the budget and not part of the discretionary portion of the budget. As such it cannot be defunded any more than Medicare or Social Security can be. But hey! They are counting on the stupidity of the American people not to know the difference. I say good luck with that, guys…

    • Nobody ever lost money betting on the stupidity of the American people, and the entire Obama administration is a prime example. Having said that, I’m taking that bet by allowing this nightmare to unfold and hoping enough people see it for what it is – an unworkable hodge-podge of liberal drivel – and react accordingly. For one thing, the facts are on our side: virtually everything Republicans have said about ObamaCare have proven to be true. Most can’t keep their insurance, and keeping their doctor isn’t up to them. Throwing millions of new patients into a shrinking pool of doctors cannot result in “better” care, and the only way to make cost come down is to reduce payment to those doctors, which will shrink the pool faster. States and insurers want no part of the “exchanges,” and only a young fool would sign up for expensive insurance they don’t need when a small fine can be paid – and anyway, if something happens, they can’t be denied coverage for their now pre-existing condition. This is what happens when you put a bunch of think-a-likes in a room and tell them to design something. The list goes on and on.

      What the GOP should be doing is rolling back all the illegal exemptions our president has granted to his friends. Let the law be implemented as written, passed and signed – that is what his oath of office promises us he will do – and let unions, big business, and Congress live with the results they backed.

      I agree that, as long as we have a dishonest media, shutting down the government is a loser for the GOP.

  4. Just a parting thought: The idea that insurance companies cannot deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions seems to be wildly popular with everyone on both sides of the argument or I should say “aisle”. If a new healthcare plan was adopted I wonder if you and / or Republicans would include it in your plan? Or is it too onerous and restrictive a regulation on insurance companies?

  5. Of course it’s popular! It’s like ordering lunch and telling the waiter to give the bill to the next table. ObamaCare isn’t about health insurance, it’s health assurance. If you want insurance companies to cover pre-exiting conditions, you’ve got to let them charge those customers what their care will cost the insurer. There’s a reason pre-existing conditions weren’t covered before – people wouldn’t pay the premiums necessary to cover the known outlays of the insurer, or allow very high annual deductables.

    I’m not against insuring against certainty (pre-existing conditions) if the insurer is allowed to make a profit while doing it (else, why would he be in business?); I am against forcing people to buy coverage they don’t need and can’t afford in order to pay for it. If you’re asking someone to pay for you down the road, you should be responsible for paying for it up front.

    The one place I do see a place for government is in catastrophic care coverage. No one can afford those bills, and no amount of “spreading” the risk can make it possible for business to cover it. I haven’t given detailed thought to exactly how it should work, but I think this is a possible role for government, once we get past the people who are now in power (who I do not trust to think seriously about it in a practical manner).

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