Higgins: Phony scandalsWritten by Tim Higgins | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The president is out on the campaign stump again (apparently someone forgot to tell him that the 2012 election is over and he won) to announce his latest pivot to focus on jobs in this country. Now the president has pivoted so many times to focus on jobs that even the biased refs in the mainstream media may finally call him on his latest traveling violation, but let’s set that aside for another day. I’m more concerned with something else that seems to be a recurring theme in his latest public statements, one that’s been echoed by his minion Jay Carney. This is that the president’s political enemies need to stop focusing on the “phony scandals’ apparently plaguing the current administration.
Well, I for one, will more than willingly stop if the president can tell me which of these scandals are “phony.” I know of a couple of scandals that managed to draw occasional media attention, but they don’t seem to fit the bill. Perhaps we can be enlightened.
Now there’s one where the IRS was targeting conservative groups in their quest to obtain 501(c)(3) status, but it was the IRS itself that admitted to wrongdoing (though it attempted to do so covertly). When the president was informed of these allegations (by watching the news), he wanted to get to the bottom of them, saying in May that the agency’s actions were “intolerable and inexcusable.” (Must have forgotten phony.)
The original tale of rogue agents in Cincinnati didn’t pan out, so the Director of Exempt Organizations Lois Lerner was called to testify before Congress. She proclaimed her innocence, took the fifth and was put on paid leave. No additional answers have been forthcoming from former IRS head Douglas Shulman or current head Daniel Werfel.
Recent revelations indicate that IRS Chief Counsel William Wilkins, a White House appointee, met with Jeffery Zients of the Office of Management and Budget on the day before the IRS regulations were changed, but Mr. Zients is currently (and conveniently) out of the country and unavailable for comment. Yep, the president is right. The whole thing sounds pretty phony to me!
And then there’s that one where the Justice Department went after FOX News reporter James Rosen as part of a national security leak investigation at the same time they were doing the same thing to the Associated Press. In the AP case, our nation’s top cops obtained warrants for multiple phone records in little more fishing expedition to find out if anybody knew anything (apparently not). In Rosen’s case, the government not only sought and obtained warrants for his personal email accounts and phone records, but also those of his parents home in Staten Island.
The outrage of seeing some of their own suffering First Amendment rights violations (even if they were from FOX News) called into question the policies of Attorney General Eric Holder and his DOJ (who know anything about them in spite of having signed documents seeking them). Two such First Amendment assaults might even have led some to call the DOJ’s use of warrants scandalous. The Attorney General himself was so concerned about appearances that he decided to rewrite the rules he violated to assure those in the Fourth Estate that he wouldn’t in the future. Proof of the lack of scandal however, came when the DOJ refused to allow these news agencies to report on those rule changes when released. (Wait …)
I’m not even going to get into the new metadata storage facility that the government is building in Utah. After all, I’m sure that there’s nothing even potentially scandalous about the NSA building a one million square foot storage facility to store data that … well they aren’t exactly telling us exactly what they’re going to store there, except that some of it might be the same kind of information that they’d really like to get back from the NSA contractor (and leaker) Edward Snowden, who’s currently living in Russia.
No siree, no scandals around here Mr. President. These definitely aren’t the droids you’re looking for. Let’s do one of those fancy pivots that you’re talking about and drop all this nonsense in favor of some discussion on infrastructure investment that can’t go forward because of being held up by EPA or OSHA regulations that are growing daily. Let’s talk about some of that job creation you want on a Keystone Pipeline that’s still awaiting federal approval. Hell, we can even chat about a just released Department of Energy study that says that there’s no evidence that the chemicals from natural gas drilling (fracking) move up to contaminate drinking water aquifers. No phony scandals here.