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Monthly Archives: May 2013

What is the IRS scandal if not political?

Peggy Noonan makes this statement today:

What happened at the IRS is the government’s essential business. The IRS case deserves and calls out for an independent counsel, fully armed with all that position’s powers. Only then will stables that badly need to be cleaned, be cleaned. Everyone involved in this abuse of power should pay a price, because if they don’t, the politicization of the IRS will continue—forever. If it is not stopped now, it will never stop. And if it isn’t stopped, no one will ever respect or have even minimal faith in the revenue-gathering arm of the U.S. government again.

And it would be shameful and shallow for any Republican operative or operator to make this scandal into a commercial and turn it into a mere partisan arguing point and part of the game. It’s not part of the game. This is not about the usual partisan slugfest. This is about the integrity of our system of government and our ability to trust, which is to say our ability to function.

First paragraph … agree, for the most part.  Where I don’t agree is that there is a “minimal faith” in the revenue gathering arm of the US government.  There’s been little faith in it since it’s inception.  Most people understand that the gun is pointed at them and the prison cell is open and waiting.  They don’t pay taxes because of any “faith” or respect for the IRS or government.  They do it out of fear.

As for the second paragraph, that’s total horse hockey.  Total.

The entire point of the scandal was it targeted “political” organizations.  How does one not politicize it?  It took place under a Democratic administration and the opponents of that party were the target of the IRS.


And what do we get from Noonan? “Hey, let’s take a knife to a gun fight”.

Noonan’s advice is, by far, the stupidest advice one could give.

Yes, this is about the integrity of the system. And, like it or not, that is directly linked to those who administer and govern.

Ms. Noonan, who is that right now? And how, if they were doing an effective job, would this have been going on for two years. Oh, and speaking of trust, how are you with the whole AP scandal? My guess is you’re wanting some heads over that.

Well, I want some heads of this. And Benghazi. And Fast and Furious.

Instead we get shrinking violets like you advising everyone to back off and not make this “political”.



Economic Statistics for 16 May 13

Here are today’s statistics on the state of the economy:

The Consumer Price Index fell -0.4% in April, but rose 0.1% ex-food and -energy. On a year-over-year basis, the headline CPI is up 1.1% and the core is up 1.7%.

April housing starts fell -16.5% to a 0.853 million annual rate. Housing permits, conversely, jumped 14.3% to a 1.017 million annual rate.

Initial jobless claims rose 32,000 to 360,000, and the 4-week average rose 1,250 to 339,250. Continuing claims fell 4,000 to 3.009 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index slipped half a point to -30.2 in the latest week.

The Philadelphia Fed Survey slipped into negative territory in May, falling from 1.3 to -5.2.

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Is anyone in our government in charge?

So Ed Morrissey points out that the IRS thing has been going on since 2011 and it’s just a “couple of agents” in a single per the official line.  Well, maybe four.

Except the agents in question are claiming only to have done what their bosses wanted.  And their bosses?  We don’t know.  We don’t know who they are.  After all, it was only a couple of letters to a couple of right of center organizations.

But again, per Morrissey, these two – or four – agents were busy little people in that one office.

Did I say 300 organizations? According to the report, Reps. Jim Jordan and Darrell Issa now put that number closer to 500.  If it was just these four agents, they’d have to have been rather, er, productive.

Yeah.  And they did it all over the US and all by themselves for two years.

Is anyone in charge up there?  Does anyone even know what’s going on?  And, if someone is in charge, are we ever going to hold them accountable?

Trust in government?

What trust?


Economic Statistics for 15 May 13

Here are today’s statistics on the state of the economy:

The MBA reports that mortgage applications fell a sharp -7.3%. Purchases fell -4.0% while re-fis fell -8.0%.

The Producer Price Index fell -0.7% in April, but the core rate—less food and energy—rose 0.1%. On a year-over year basis, the PPI 0.1% while the care rate rose 1.7%.

The Empire State Manufacturing Survey fell more than 4 points to -1.43 in April.

The Treasury reports that the net outflow of capital from the US was $-13.5 billion in March. Foreign accounts bought a net $15.3 billion of US securities, while US accounts bought $28.8 billion of foreign securities.

The Fed reports that Industrial Production fell -0.5% in April, as capacity utilization in the nation’s factories fell to 77.8%.

The Housing Market Index rose 2 points to 44 in May.

E-Commerce sales rose 2.7% in the 1st Quarter of 2013, down from 4.4% in the 4th Quarter of 2012.

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President Obama attends less than 50% of his intel briefings

Besides improving his golf game, you have to wonder what we pay this guy for:

A report by the Government Accountability Institute found that in his first 1,225 days in office, Obama only attended 43.8% of his daily intelligence briefings.

And in the days leading up to Benghazi, well, he had more important things to do than sit in on what should be the first thing he does everyday:

As Breitbart News exclusively reported the day after the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack, Obama did not attend his intelligence briefings (known officially as the presidential daily brief, or PDB) for the week leading up to the attacks.

Hard to lead when you don’t know wtf is going on, isn’t it?


Economic Statistics for 14 May 13

Here are today’s statistics on the state of the economy:

The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index rose 2.6 points to 92.1 in April.

April export prices fell -0.7% and import prices fell -0.5%. On a year-over-year basis, export prices fell 0.9% while import prices fell -2.6%.

ICSC Goldman reports weekly retail sales fell -2.0%, and are up only 1.2% from a year ago. Redbook’s year-over-year sales growth reading improved to 2.8%.

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So is the media finally being forced to pay attention to this administration’s scandals?

I found this to be very interesting.  From ABC News (email):


ABC’s JEFF ZELENY: The troubles are mounting for the White House – Benghazi, IRS, AP phone records – leading one administration official to ask yesterday: “Is it really still only Monday?” It’s safe to say all three topics are moving into scandal territory, but it’s a mistake to view them together. Of all of the controversies, the IRS seems to be the most troubling because it further erodes trust in government and institutions – from a point that is already distressingly low. At least three Congressional committees are digging in. Even though the president said he didn’t know about the IRS matter until the news broke last week, it happened on his watch. Democrats could have a hard time winning this one. It bolsters the case for Republicans, just in time for the midterm campaign to begin.

ABC’s RICK KLEIN: It comes fast and intense in a second term. And the confluence of events – Benghazi talking points, the IRS scandal, sweeping subpoenas of Associated Press records – leave plenty of reasons to mistrust the government President Obama is leading. Knowing that Congress can’t walk and chew gum very well – it can’t walk all that well without the gum, and this flavor is particularly tasty to the president’s opponents – this is a recipe for stalling and worse for just about anything the White House wants to do. The president’s powers of public persuasion, meanwhile, could ebb in the whiff of scandals. If there’s a White House strategy to turn this all around, we’re not seeing signs of it, not yet.

ABC’s DEVIN DWYER: The talking points coming out of the State Department on Monday were astonishing for their attempted revisionism. Spokeswoman Jen Psaki repeated four times in four minutes that the Obama administration’s early public characterization of the 2012 Benghazi terror attack was dictated by the CIA. “These were CIA points. They were CIA edited. They were CIA finalized,” she said. Nevermind that trove of emails, obtained by ABC News, that shows it was in fact the State Department that sought to edit out the CIA’s references to al Qaeda and to security warnings in Benghazi prior to the attack. “These started and ended as CIA talking points,” Psaki said. Technically, maybe so. But it would be disingenuous to ignore or deny the apparent influence of State during the talking-point sausage-making that occurred in between.

ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: The Tea Party groups who say they were unfairly targeted by the IRS showed ABC News questionnaires and documents received from the Internal Revenue Service. They had to answer questions about their donors, views on issues, and one member said she was even asked to show her personal Facebook account, all they say, because of their political views. The agency apologized last week, but these groups don’t feel like they were directly apologized to. All want an investigation, but for Jennifer Stefano who was trying to set up a group called The Loyal Opposition, but finally gave up, she compares this scandal to Watergate: “It became very frightening, the IRS has the power to target the political opposition of a sitting president.”

It’s amazing it has taken these events and this long for these people to actually do their jobs.  And there’s no guarantee they will.  But it can’t be denied any longer — it is on “the” radar screen.  Benghazi, IRS, AP, you name it.  Even the sycophants credulity is being tested.

Maybe it took this administration’s messing with AP to finally make them figure out that for the most part they’ve simply been the media arm of the administration and the administration feels some “ownership” rights.  Thus it was checking on them … or something.

It’ll be interesting to watch this all unfold — or disappear.


Observations: The QandO Podcast for 12 May 13

This week, Michael and Dale discuss Benghazi, the IRs and loony David Kokesh.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.


As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here.

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