CONTENTS: Englebrechts; Hanson – Happen Here; Simon- Full Nixon; Fund – Strange WH: Barone – Free speech; Taranto – Prez *; Noonan – Stay Shocked; Steyn – autocrats; Zito – Referent Power; Hayes – Beng Video; IRS – Standing Ovation; Martosko – IRS smackdown; NYT comments; Beng 9.11; Hirsi Ali – Swear in the enemy; Penny Pritzker; Suzie R’s failures; Huma’s consulting; PA for Accountability; OnLine impersonation; Guzzardi – bold colors; Announcements
“. . . cynicism aids and abets deterioration. You’ve got to stay shocked. It’s disrespectful not to.” Peggy Noonan
“Things could get mean.” Rep. James Gerlach (R-PA) – 4 years ago, when I asked about Obama’s impeachment and removal . . .
May 20th. 7 PM: DelCo Patriots – Say Hello to Common Core State Standards and
Wave Goodbye to Local Control of Education!
Knights of Columbus Mater Dei Hall, 327 N. Newtown Street Road, Newtown Square, PA
1506: Christopher Columbus died in Spain, still believing that his journeys to the Americas were to the east coast of Asia.
1861: North Carolina seceded from the Union.
1873: Levi Strauss received a patent for his denim pants with copper rivets.
1899: Taxi driver Jacob German became the first driver to be arrested for speeding (going 12 miles per hour on Lexington Avenue in New York City).
1927: Charles Lindbergh took off on his historic transatlantic flight.
1939: Regular transatlantic airmail service begins with a flight of Pan Am’s Yankee Clipper from Port Washington, New York, to Lisbon, Portugal. (Bennett & Cribb, 2010)
“Catherine Engelbrecht’s tale has all the markings of a classic conspiracy theory: She says she thinks that because of her peaceful political activity, she and her family was targeted for scrutiny by hostile federal agencies.
Yet as news emerges that the Internal Revenue Service wielded its power to obstruct conservative groups, Catherine’s story becomes credible — and chilling. It also raises questions about whether other federal agencies have used their executive powers to target those deemed political enemies.
Before the Engelbrecht family’s three-year ordeal began, Catherine says, “I had no real expectation or preparation for the blood sport that American politics is.” Sounding weary on the phone, she continues: “It’s all been a through-the-looking-glass experience.”
Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who specializes in representing conservative organizations, says that the Engelbrecht family’s experience is “just the tip of the iceberg. . . . I think there’s definitely a Chicago-politics-style enemies list in this administration, and I think it permeates this branch of the federal government.”
* * *
“The Engelbrechts were not, until recently, particularly political . . .
Victor Davis Hanson, PJM: “It Can Happen Here”
“Shortly before the second-term inauguration of Barack Obama this January, I wrote the following of my worries over the Obama way of doing business:
‘But the untruths and hypocrisy hover in the partisan atmosphere and incrementally and insidiously undermine each new assertion that we hear from the president — some of them perhaps necessary and logical. Indeed, the more emphatically he adds ‘make no mistake about it,’ ‘let me be perfectly clear,’ ‘I’m not kidding,’ or the ubiquitous ‘me,’ ‘my,’ and ‘I’ to each new assertion, the more a growing number of people will come to know from the past that what follows simply is not true. Does this matter? Yes, because when the reckoning comes, it will be seen as logical rather than aberrant — and long overdue.
“I ended my prognostications with the warning, ‘And so a reckoning is on the near horizon. Let us pray it does not take us all down with his administration.’
“Four months later, it almost has. . .”
Roger Simon, PJM: “Benghazi and Going ‘The Full Nixon’”
“Choosing which is worse between the Benghazi and IRS scandals is probably as much a Rorschach test of the chooser as it is anything else. Both scandals are hugely serious and likely to be with us for a long time.
“For me, however, Benghazi is worse, in part because it is easier for some to dismiss and rationalize. Here’s an example of how that’s being done in a rundown of the scandals by John Avlon in the Telegraph. After tut-tutting about the seriousness of the IRS scandal (but careful not to go “The Full Nixon” — nothing could be as bad as that), Avlon writes:
“Finally, there is the continuing inquiry into the killing of four Americans in Benghazi. After damning congressional testimony from former deputy chief Libya diplomat Greg Hicks, the White House belatedly released a barrage of emails – which showed that the editing of the now-infamous “talking points” used by officials in television interviews was largely the product of a bureaucratic turf war between the CIA and the State Department.
“Largely? How about minutely? Even in the relatively small number of emails as yet released, the “limited hangout,” we see the whip hand of administration personnel Ben Rhodes and Tommy Vietor, and also references to the national security staff (NSS) reviewing the material, indicating even more people at the White House were involved.
“Whatever minor-league turf wars were being played out, with an ambassador murdered and three other Americans dead, the administration was undoubtedly worried about considerably more than intramural rivalries. . .”
John Fund, NRO: “Strange Goings-On at the White House”
“A tight-knit inner circle plays all politics, all the time, while Obama remains disengaged.
“So if Obama is not fully engaged, who does wield influence in the White House? A lot of Democrats know firsthand that Jarrett, a Chicago mentor to both Barack and Michelle Obama and now officially a senior White House adviser, has enormous influence. She is the only White House staffer in anyone’s memory, other than the chief of staff or national security adviser, to have an around-the-clock Secret Service detail of up to six agents. According to terrorism expert Richard Miniter’s recent book, Leading from Behind: “At the urging of Valerie Jarrett, President Barack Obama canceled the operation to kill Osama bin Laden on three separate occasions before finally approving” the mission for May 2, 2011. She was instrumental in overriding then–chief of staff Rahm Emanuel when he opposed the Obamacare push, and she was key in steamrolling the bill to passage in 2010. Obama may rue the day, as its chaotic implementation could become the biggest political liability Democrats will face in next year’s midterm elections.
A senior Republican congressional leader tells me that he had come to trust that he could detect the real lines of authority in any White House, since he’s worked for five presidents. “But this one baffles me,” he says. “I do know that when I ask Obama for something, there is often no answer. But when I ask Valerie Jarrett, there’s always an answer or something happens. . .”
Michael Barone, RCP: “IRS and AP Scandals Cast a Big Chill on Free Speech”
“. . . The Obama administration’s Justice Department issued a sweeping demand for two months of office, cellular and home telephone records from multiple Associated Press reporters and editors to investigate an alleged breach of national security.
“The AP story in question, on a foiled terrorist plot, had been withheld for days at the request of the CIA. It finally went out on the wire on a Monday, after the AP was told that administration spokesmen would officially announce it the next day.
“That tends to undercut Attorney General Eric Holder’s claim that the story was based on one of “the top two or three most serious leaks that I have ever seen” and “put the American people at risk, and that is not hyperbole.”
“I don’t think enough facts are known to conclude that Holder was wrong. But it does seem likely that the AP material was less damaging to national security than some stories The New York Times ran despite pleas from the George W. Bush administration.
“Those were not followed by the kind of intrusive investigation launched in this case. You might not know it from reading much of the press, but Obama’s administration has been much more aggressive in investigating leaks than Bush’s ever was.
“Another chill came from the targeting of conservative organizations by Obama’s Internal Revenue Service. . . “
James Taranto, WSJ: “President Asterisk”
“Why the Obama IRS scandal may be worse than ‘a cancer on the presidency.’
“No one can deny that Barack Obama is a highly skilled politician, at least by the measure of election outcomes. His record is undefeated, save for an ill-advised 2000 primary challenge to an entrenched incumbent congressman. His 2008 presidential victory, after a fraction of a term in the U.S. Senate, was especially dazzling. It disproved those who said that Hillary Clinton was invincible, that a left-wing Democrat couldn’t win, and that America wasn’t ready for a black president.
“No one can deny that Lance Armstrong and Mark McGwire were highly skilled athletes. But their accomplishments are forever tainted by their use of banned performance-enhancing drugs. The use of the Internal Revenue Service’s coercive power to suppress dissent against Obama is the political equivalent of steroids. The history books should record Obama’s re-election with an asterisk to indicate that it was achieved with the help of illicit means. . .”
Peggy Noonan, WSJ: “Stay Shocked”
“So many people are sad about America and cynical about its government. They don’t expect anything good to happen. They think certain poisons have entered the system and nothing can be done about it. Leviathan will not be cut back or tamed, Leviathan will go on abusing the citizen. People are all too willing to believe the Internal Revenue Service is hopelessly political in its judgments and actions. They are not shocked. They don’t think anything can be done, that the system cannot be corrected. They just grip the arms of the seat and wait for the weather to get worse.
“But cynicism aids and abets deterioration. You’ve got to stay shocked. It’s disrespectful not to.
* * *
“It actually is shocking that the IRS appears to have become political and ideological in a way that is systemic. It is shocking that the president claimed he read about the targeting of conservatives just last Friday, in the newspapers, and today the New York Times reports the leadership of the Treasury Department was told the charges were being investigated a year ago.
“And it has to be remembered that this is not your ordinary scandal. Your ordinary scandal is an embarrassment. Somebody did something bad and there’s an investigation or hearings. People are made to suffer for their missteps, if only in terms of notoriety and legal expense. Sometimes the innocent or mostly innocent are dragged in, too. But in the end it passes. Some new laws are passed or rules instituted. And we move on to the next scandal. In a government populated by humans there will never be a lack of them.
But the IRS scandal is different because it speaks of the political corruption of a major and crucial governmental agency to whose rules and regulations every American—everyone who has a job or a bank account, or who engages in a financial transaction—is subject. . .”
Mark Steyn, NRO: “Autocrat Accountants”
“Speaking at Ohio State University earlier this month, Barack Obama urged students to pay no attention to those paranoid types who “incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity.” Oddly enough, in recent days the most compelling testimony for this view of government has come from the president himself, who insists with a straight face that he had no idea that the Internal Revenue Service had spent two years targeting his political enemies until he “learned about it from the same news reports that I think most people learned about this.” Like you, all he knows is what he reads in the papers. Which is odd, because his Justice Department is bugging those same papers, so you’d think he’d at least get a bit of a heads-up. But no doubt the fact that he’s wiretapping the Associated Press was also entirely unknown to him until he read about it in the Associated Press. . .”
Salina Zito, RCP: “President Obama’s Incredible “Referent Power”
“In T.S. Eliot’s drama “Murder in the Cathedral,” kowtowing knights who overhear England’s Henry II vent frustration with Thomas Becket decide to please the king by killing the archbishop.
“Confronted with the scandalous murder, Henry is forced to deny involvement and punish his knights. Secretly, he is quite happy to be rid of the pesky archbishop.
Time will tell if the Obama White House will be directly tied to the incompetence and obfuscation surrounding the Benghazi terrorist attack, or the IRS’ virtual political-enemies list, or the Justice Department’s seizure of Associated Press phone records.
“Yet the common theme of these Washington scandals may be the degree to which they reveal President Obama’s incredible ‘referent power.’
“We tend to think of presidential power primarily in terms of carrots and sticks, according to Baylor University political science professor Curt Nichols. ‘This focuses us upon the formal powers a president has to reward and punish,’ he said.
Sometimes, we think of power in terms of ‘following the leader,’ Nichols said, which focuses on a president’s formal power as the nation’s chief executive, the free world’s symbolic leader and his political party’s de facto head. ‘Furthermore, we know that ‘knowledge is power,’ which focuses us on the power a president has in exploiting his personal reputation as an expert in an area.’
“But presidents also wield power by influencing those who deeply admire, strongly identify with or highly respect them. This is referent power, which focuses on ability to exploit others’ trust. . .”
Stephen Hayes, Weekly Standard: “What about the Video?”
“The Benghazi email dump leaves some big questions unanswered
“From the beginning, there have been two big questions about the administration’s deceptive spin on Benghazi: How were the talking points whittled down to virtually nothing from the CIA’s original draft? And how did a previously obscure YouTube video gain such prominence in the administration’s explanation of what happened in Benghazi?
The emails fill in at least some of the details about the talking points. They also leave in ruins administration claims that White House and State Department officials were mere bystanders in the process. But how, exactly, the video became so prominent in the administration’s public rhetoric remains something of a mystery.
IRS . . .
RCP: “GOP Congressman Receives Standing Ovation After He Rips IRS Commissioner”
“You know, you can put anybody out of business that you want. Any time you want. I gotta tell you. You could talk about how you’re a horribly run organization, if you’re on the other side of the fence, you’re not giving that excuse. And the IRS comes in, you’re not allowed to be shoddy, you’re not allowed to be run horribly, you’re not allowed to make mistakes, you’re not allowed to do one damn thing that doesn’t come in compliance, and if you do, you’re held responsible right then. I just think the American people have seen what’s going on right now in their government. This is absolutely an overreach and this is an outrage for all Americans.’ Mike Kelly (R-PA, Erie, New Castle, Butler) http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2013/05/17/gop_congressman_mike_kelly_receives_standing_ovation_after_he_rips_irs_commissioner.html
David Martosko, UK Daily Mail: “’Is this still America?’ Congressional hearing turns into IRS smackdown as disgraced former commissioner and Treasury Inspector General face tea-party scandal questions”
“· Appointee in charge of screening tax-exempt applications is now in charge of implementing new Obamacare taxes
- Ousted Steven Miller defends himself, insists that targeting of conservatives was ‘foolish mistakes,’ not political gamesmanship
- May 10 leak that launched the scandal was ‘prepared,’ Miller acknowledges
- Former IRS commissioner testified last year that there was ‘absolutely no targeting’ going on
- Democrats on the panel blame 2010 ‘Citizens United’ Supreme Court ruling for creating a flood of tax-exemption applications during an election year
During Rose Garden press conference, Obama refuses to apologize for secretly seizing AP phone records, shifts blame to Congress for Benghazi security lapses, and dodges question about White House IRS knowledge
Patrick Howley, Daily Caller: “New York Times’ handpicked commenters love the IRS”
“The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which is currently under fire for admittedly targeting for extra scrutiny the tax-exempt nonprofit status of conservative groups, is getting a good deal of support from the members of the public deemed insightful by the staff of the New York Times.
“Each of the six comments Times staff selected to feature below a Saturday piece attributing the scandal to ‘confusion’ and ‘staff troubles’ rationalizes the federal agency’s politically motivated witch hunt of conservative groups, which included a coordinated search for conservative activist training materials. . .”
Buzz Jacobs, Benghazi 9.11
“There are so many questions that remain unanswered. Think about it…
- No one has heard from any of the 33 survivors.
- We still don’t know which senior official gave the order to stand down.
- The public doesn’t have a minute-by-minute account of what the President did the night of the attack.
- We still don’t know why Amb. Stevens was sent to Benghazi on the high-security-alert day of Sept. 11th.
- The public still doesn’t have an accounting of where our military assets were the night of the attack (the press assumes we should trust the Obama Administration’s statements that no forces were in range to respond).
“The list goes on and on. If the average American knew the whole and complete story, I’m confident they would be as outraged as I am and demand answers.
“Just this week, a Washington Post reporter wrote that Benghazi didn’t matter because only 15% of Americans could find it on a map. Perhaps that elitist belief is what prompted Hillary Clinton to say, “What difference does it make?”
“Many key people are participating in the effort to create Benghazi 9.11, including Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. John McCain, Sen. Lindsey Graham, the former Commander of the USS Cole, Kirk Lippold, experts from the Heritage Foundation and Media Research Center, and others.
“Unfortunately, making a movie is an expensive endeavor. We need your financial support to complete this film.
If you think it makes a difference that Americans know the truth about Benghazi, please make an immediate and much needed contribution to support the creation of this film.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, WSJ: “Swearing In the Enemy”
“One of the suspected Boston bombers was a naturalized citizen, and the other was on his way. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, herself a new citizen, asks how we might change the process of becoming an American to exclude those who hate America.”
TRENDS . . .
Joel Pollak, Breitbart: “Penny Pritzker: Obama’s Worst Insult to His Left-Wing Base”
“. . . Though the position for which she has been nominated, Secretary of Commerce, often goes to a presidential crony or political insider, Pritzker would exceed all her predecessors and peers with her shocking record of cronyism and failure.
Pritzker ran Superior Bank into the ground by dealing in sub-prime mortgages. As Breitbart News noted recently, the bank’s depositors lost $6000, on average, and the taxpayers got fleeced–but the investors got paid out first. Pritzker recently served on the board of the Chicago Public Schools during a period of abject educational failure, and earned a bad reputation with labor unions both there and at her family’s Hyatt hotel chain.
“The Senate Commerce Committee will hold Pritzker’s confirmation hearing on Thursday. . .”
Charles Johnson, Daily Caller: “Susan Rice, likely NSC head, had string of failures in Africa before Benghazi”
“U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, reportedly the leading contender to be President Barack Obama’s next national security adviser, failed during the 1990s to prevent unnecessary deaths in Rwanda, provide adequate security prior to the bombings of the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, or deal effectively with the Robert Mugabe’s dictatorship in Zimbabwe.
“A former State Department military adviser to Africa thought Rice’s ‘inexperience’ caused President Bill Clinton’s feckless response to the Rwandan genocide when she served as National Security Council director for International Organizations and Peacekeeping. And documents sent to The Daily Caller from the National Legal and Policy Center show Rice failed to take seriously repeated Islamist threats against the U.S. embassies in the prelude to deadly bomb attacks.
“More recently, Rice has come under fire for her role in promoting the now-discredited talking points on the deadly September 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
“Rice’s promotion to head the NSC is ‘definitely happening’ according to an unnamed source . . .”
Raymond Hernandez, NYT: “Weiner’s Wife Didn’t Disclose Consulting Work She Did While Serving in State Dept.”
“The State Department, under Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton, created an arrangement for her longtime aide and confidante Huma Abedin to work for private clients as a consultant while serving as a top adviser in the department.
“Ms. Abedin did not disclose the arrangement — or how much income she earned — on her financial report. It requires officials to make public any significant sources of income. An adviser to Mrs. Clinton, Philippe Reines, said that Ms. Abedin was not obligated to do so.
“The disclosure of the agreement that Ms. Abedin made with the State Department comes as her husband, former Representative Anthony D. Weiner, a Democrat, prepares for a mayoral run in New York City. Politico reported the arrangement on Thursday afternoon.
“Ms. Abedin declined a request for an interview, but the picture that emerges from interviews and records suggests a situation where the lines were blurred between Ms. Abedin’s work in the high echelons of one of the government’s most sensitive executive departments and her role as a Clinton family insider. . .”
Eric Boehm: PA Independent: “Who’s funding Pennsylvanians for Accountability? National union gave $180,000 last October”
“HARRISBURG — A nonprofit running ads attacking Gov. Tom Corbett received at least $180,000 last year from a powerful national labor union.
Pennsylvanians for Accountability, a Pittsburgh-based “social welfare nonprofit” is exploiting a loophole in state campaign finance laws to avoid filing reports on donations and expenditures. In addition to their attacks on Corbett, the group paid for mailers attacking Republican incumbents in four state House races during the final weeks of the 2012 campaign.
“But a federal database of union spending gives one hint about where they got their funding.
“The U.S. Department of Labor database shows that Pennsylvanians for Accountability received $180,000 from the Service Employees International Union, or SEIU, in October 2012.
“The contribution coincides with the distribution of campaign mailers paid for by Pennsylvanians for Accountability.
“The labor department report indicates that the SEIU cash was used for ‘support for political advocacy’ and describes the nonprofit recipient as a ‘political organization.’
“But that does not fit with the group’s designation as filed with the state Department of State. . .”
Melissa Daniels, PA Independent: “Online impersonation on path to become state’s newest crime”
“HARRISBURG – On the Internet, no one really knows who could be on the other side of the screen. But pretending to be someone you’re not online could soon be a crime in Pennsylvania.
“This week the House of Representatives passed House Bill 764, which would make it illegal to use the name or identity of someone else online while engaging in certain types of behavior. It would apply to web pages, social media, emails and text messages.
“But it’s not like making a parody account would suddenly be illegal. The online impersonation charge only applies if the impersonator was engaging in harassment, stalking, victim or witness retaliation or terroristic threats. . . “
Bob Guzzardi: “Bold Colors” in Lehigh County
Bill Lawrence is an independent blogger from Delaware County with an ability to succinctly sum up complicated and complex circumstances. Here he provides a precis to Tuesday’s “bold colors” Republican Primary.
End Notes . . .
“The only reason they say ‘Women and children first’ is to test the strength of the lifeboats. “ Jean Kerr
“Men are like linoleum floors. Lay ‘em right and you can walk all over them for forty years.” — Betsy Salkind