A Philosopher's Blog

Scandling

Posted in Philosophy, Politics, Reasoning/Logic, Uncategorized by Michael LaBossiere on May 24, 2013

English: Barack Obama delivers a speech at the...

The current narrative is that the Obama administration is floundering in three major scandals: Benghazi, IRS TPT (Tea Party Targeting), and the DOJ’s AP incident. I agree with Socrates’ view that the “gadflies” have a duty to keep the “horse” that is the state from falling into laziness and corruption. But, of course, I also agree with Socrates’ view that we should better ourselves rather than endeavoring to tear others down with deceits. As such, I believe it is rather important to find and properly consider the truth in these matters.

During the first four years of Obama’s administration, those who wished to attack Obama had to generally rely on made up and often absurd attacks, such as the infamous Birther and Secret Muslim movements. Obama was also charged with being a socialist, a communist, a tyrant and so on. However, these charges only seemed to stick within certain minds-those who wished to believe the worst of the president regardless of the evidence.  Interestingly, real problems such as drone assassinations, the grotesque disparities in wealth, the endemic problems in the VA, and so on were largely ignored by most folks on the left and the right. Someone more cynical than I might suspect that the pundits and politicians work to focus public rage in what they regard as safe channels.

The start of the second term saw what the folks at Fox probably regarded as a gift from on high, given that they had been desperately flogging Benghazi with little effect: two scandals that might actually have some substance. Interestingly, even the “liberal” media jumped onto the scandal bandwagon. However, the question remains as to whether or not there is any true substance behind these alleged scandals.

Again, someone more cynical than I might suggest that the pundits and politicians are focused primarily on scoring political points against Obama rather than operating from a desire for justice and ethical government. After all, some of the conservative pundits who are expressing outrage at Obama are the same people who embraced contrary views when their favorites engaged in worse misdeeds. Peggy Noonan is, of course, one of the outstanding examples: when it came to Iran-Contra, she claimed that Reagan did not know and was failed by his people. In the case of Obama, she contends that the President is fully accountable. Such blatant inconsistencies nicely reveal the truth of the matter. Naturally, folks on the left do the same thing: many of those who railed against Bush give Obama a pass on the same matters, presumably because he is their guy and Bush was not. But, left or right, such inconsistency is intellectually and morally wrong.

Someone far more cynical than I might even spin a tale of conspiracy-that outrage is generated, managed and directed so as to divert attention from real problems. After all, if the media and the people are in a froth over the IRS or the DOJ, then they have little outrage to spare for such matters as the pathetic state of our infrastructure or the fact that congress engages in legal insider trading. But, to get back to the main subject, I turn to the IRS scandal.

On the face of it, the IRS scandal is being sold as the IRS specifically targeting conservative groups. The flames of the scandal certainly have been fanned by the fact that Lerner pleaded the Fifth before Congress. While she might have been reacting out of fear because of the inflammatory rhetoric, this sort of thing is rather like when Romney refused to release his tax information: it leads people to believe that the damage that could be done by whatever is being hidden is far worse than the damage done by trying to hide it. However, let us go with the facts that are actually available.

One key part of the narrative is that the IRS only targeted conservative groups. However, the numbers show that this is not the case: only 70 of the 300 groups looked at were tea party organizations. There is also the fact that the IRS is required to determine whether or not those applying for tax-exemption are “social welfare” groups or are engaged in the sort of political activity that is forbidden to such groups. As such, the IRS was actually looking for exactly what the law required. As far as why they flagged the 300 rather than everyone, this seems to be a practical matter: the IRS was apparently faced with a flood of documents.

Another part of the narrative is that the IRS harmed those targeted for this review. However, the tax exempt status is not actually contingent on the IRS approving it: such groups can operate with that status even before official approval. Somewhat ironically, the only groups denied this status were three progressive groups: Emerge Nevada, Emerge Maine, and Emerge Massachusetts. The reason they were denied approval was because they were created to support Democrats, a violation of the law.  The IRS commissioner at the time was a Bush appointee.

The facts would seem to reveal that there is not much here in the way of  a scandal. The IRS and the administration can, however, be dinged for their poor handling of the matter. The Obama administration does have a poor track record of addressing the “scandling” from the right. Most infamously, they threw Shirley Sherrod to the wolves without even bothering to check on the facts. As such, I would say that one true scandal of the administration is how it handles allegations of scandals.

Interestingly, some conservatives are still trying to turn Benghazi into a scandal, and ABC News’ Jonathan Karl apparently engaged in fabrication, only to be exposed by CNN.  There real scandal here would seem to be on the part of those who are trying to make Benghazi into a scandal.

It might be countered that the Obama administration is so bad (perhaps a socialist, communist, Muslim tyranny) that all of these tactics are justified. That, for example, it is acceptable to manufacture a scandal so as to undercut Obama’s support (and pave the way to the White House in 2016). The easy and obvious reply to this is that if the Obama administration is truly as bad as claimed, then there would be no need to manufacture scandals. One would merely need to provide evidence of the badness and that should suffice.

I do actually think that there is considerable badness. However, this badness is of the sort that neither party wishes to expose or bring to attention of the public. Thus, we generally get a war of manufactured scandals while the real problems remain festering in the shadows.

There can, of course, be real scandals. However, what is to be rationally expected is actual objective evidence from credible sources supporting the key claims as well as a rational value assessment regarding the seriousness of the scandal. For example, the DOJ AP scandal might be a real problem-if so, a presentation of the actual facts and a rational evaluation of the wrongdoing should reveal the scandal. These rational standards are generally ignored in favor of  partisan interests and the desire to keep the eyes of America looking a certain way.

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24 Responses

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  1. ajmacdonaldjr said, on May 24, 2013 at 8:37 am

    Well said. The is sour grapes. The fascist Jewish/Christian Zionist Republicans lost in November, and they have been scandling ever since. The military have been especially hard hit, beginning immediately after the election, with General Petraeus, and the sexcapade scandling has continued ever since. All of these sexcapades were known, but, as with blackmail, the evidence wasn’t revealed until it could be put to political uses. Likewise with Obama. Mr Obama, like Mr Clinton, is not an Israelphile, thus he isn’t doing all the Zionists demand, whereas Mr Romney, like Mr Bush, would have done. Syria, Lebanon, and Iran are on the hit list, and Mr Obama is fucking things up by not wanting to play war. The military doesn’t want to play war anymore either, which is why we see daily military sexcapades in the media, which, as we know, is owned by Zionist friendly interests.

    The longer Mr Obama drags his feet on invading Syria the more obvious it become how illogical Washington’s rhetoric is. For example:just yesterday, Mr Obama stated the US is at war with al Qaeda and its associates…. yet on Tuesday Mr Paul (R-KY) stated that his fellow senators had voted to arm al Qaeda and its associates in Syria. This sort of talk cannot last much longer, and Washington is concerned the official narrative, which Mr Obama stated, is being proven false by news reports of the truth: al Qaeda and its associates are our allies.

    Al Qaeda has always been a proxy to use against Russia, and it’s being used as such now in Syria. Russia has always been the target, and the Muslims the cannon fodder between us and them. This has been the case since World War I and remains the case today. We have been in World War Three since 1994 when NATO first went on the offensive, and we are reaching the climax of it now, in Syria. The question is: When the US and NATO invade Syria, will Russia and China get involved?

    May 23, 2013 – Obama Offers Drone Strike Defense: “The US has taken lethal action against al Qaeda and its associates” – http://youtu.be/6mGZqZrpYVo

    May 21, 2013 – Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) railed against his colleagues in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday for voting to arm elements of the Syrian opposition, saying they chose to fund “the allies of al-Qaeda.”

    Rand Paul: My Fellow Senators Voted to Arm Al-Qaeda – http://news.antiwar.com/2013/05/21/rand-paul-my-fellow-senators-voted-to-arm-al-qaeda/

    March 22, 2013 – Aiding Al Qaida as part of the War on Terror? That’s what McCain and Graham are doing

    “Do you support the call by John McCain and Lindsey Graham for the U.S. to intervene on the side of the rebels in Syria?

    Congratulations! You’re on the same side as the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda.

    And you’re also really, really gullible.” ~ Paul Mulshine

    Source: http://blog.nj.com/njv_paul_mulshine/2013/03/aiding_al_qaida_as_part_of_the.html

    “We know al Qaeda [leader Ayman al-] Zawahiri is supporting the opposition in Syria.” ~ Hillary Clinton (to CBS News February 27, 2012)

    Source: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18563_162-57386279/clinton-arming-syrian-rebels-could-help-al-qaeda/

    See: Choose your Islamic Jihadi: Hezbollah or al Qaeda? – http://wp.me/pPnn7-2hv

    Hezbollah, Syria, Iran, Russia, and China versus al Qaeda, USA, Israel, France, Britain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, and others…

    Hezbollah and Al Qaeda Fighters Edging Closer to Full Scale Confrontation

    “Syria’s conflict is often described as a “civil war,” but that is only true insofar as it has yet to spill over into another country on a large scale or draw in too many different forces. But it is the quintessential proxy war, with the Alawite (an offshoot of Shia Islam) Assad regime backed up by Shia allies Hezbollah and Iran, as well as Russia and China.

    “The Sunni rebels are supported by the Islamist rulers of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, as well as the U.S., France, Britain and others.”

    Source: ABC News – May 10, 2015 – Hezbollah and Al Qaeda Fighters Edging Closer to Full Scale Confrontation – http://abcnews.go.com/International/hezbollah-al-qaeda-fighters-edging-closer-confrontation/story?id=19144119#.UY1oOeBiilc

  2. T. J. Babson said, on May 24, 2013 at 8:54 am

    There is a big difference between a candidate choosing to release his taxes on his own terms and a government employee pleading the 5th to avoid testifying in front of Congress.

    You need to check your facts when you say “Jonathan Karl apparently engaged in fabrication” as this is simply not true. See:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/the-white-house-claim-of-doctored-e-mails-to-smear-the-president/2013/05/20/a23343b6-c19e-11e2-8bd8-2788030e6b44_blog.html

    You are also ignoring the behavior of the administration, which has been caught in one lie after the other. Why lie if you have nothing to hide?

    • WTP said, on May 24, 2013 at 9:11 am

      Just fyi, you may be on your own here. I’m so sick of Mike’s weaseling, apologizing, excuse making for the mortal sins of the left and yet amplifying and distorting the venial sins of the right, I have no patience to wade through his paragraph upon paragraph of sophistry and fallacy. If you draw him out and make him say something specific in full context, I might have something to say but I’m not wasting time with the original crap from posts such as this. It’s actually more intellectually stimulating to agree with AJ.

      • T. J. Babson said, on May 24, 2013 at 9:19 am

        Agreed. Even Jon Stewart gets it, but Mike is totally oblivious.

        Here is a funny video from Stewart: http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2013/05/jon-stewart-1.html

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on May 24, 2013 at 9:29 am

          So, considering the facts and assessing the claimed harms in a rational manner are bad things?

          Well, that would explain some things.

          One interesting tactic is to accuse someone willing to actually critically assess a scandal as somehow automatically defending a specific ideology out of some defect in character. This is rather easier than actually engaging the facts and the assessment.

          If I am in error, show that I have the facts wrong. Show that my assessment of the harm done is inferior to alternative assessment. Don’t just roll out ad hominem attacks and vague comments about my character.

          • WTP said, on May 24, 2013 at 9:48 am

            So, considering the facts and assessing the claimed harms in a rational manner are bad things?

            Straw man, for one. But more arrogantly, you presume yourself to be “fair and balanced” from the get-go, which has been argued here time and again to be in error.

            Mike, in the past I have argued that you had your facts wrong and were incorrect. Your ultimate fall-back position was to deny the meaning of the words being used, then to fall back on the old whine about “ad hminem attacks and vague comments about my charachter”. We are not insulting you, we are describing you.

        • ajmacdonaldjr said, on May 24, 2013 at 11:21 am

          The Constitution and Bill of Rights has been dead since Marbury v. Madison (5 U.S. 137 (1803).

          The Democrats, for all their crimes, are the lesser of the two evils.

          The Republicans are nothing but warmongering, facist Ziophiles who do the bidding of the antichrist Jews.

          You two clowns are so fucking brainwashed you cannot see this, which is pathetic, and annoying.

          Poor professor Mike, having to put up with your unthinking devotion to Satan and his minions on a daily basis!

          Just say “NO!” to being fearful and hateful Ziominions guys!

          Poor babies! Scared of the evil Mooslims! LOL :)

          VIDEO – The race to the White House begins from the Zionist Jews Cry Baby Wall – http://youtu.be/1JcsV-cxUVI

          • T. J. Babson said, on May 24, 2013 at 1:17 pm

            Memo to ajm: Jews vote overwhelmingly for Democrats.

        • WTP said, on May 24, 2013 at 11:46 am

          Apropos of nothing TJ, do you put any credence in the adage that you can judge a man by who his friends are?

          • T. J. Babson said, on May 24, 2013 at 1:19 pm

            Friends, yes. Just being at the same place at the same time, no.

            • WTP said, on May 24, 2013 at 8:52 pm

              Fair enough, though my bad, the adage is correctly “by the company he keeps”. Same place/same time isn’t what i’m talking about either. Mike owns the “place”. But enough beating around the bush. Directly to the point, do you not find it noteworthy that while Mike is on any racist comments made here by virtually any hit-and-run troll (and I might add, I ofttimes beat him to the punch), I do not recall any challenge he has ever made to Jew hating remarks. Don’t you find certain kinds of silence rather stunning?

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on May 24, 2013 at 9:40 am

      So you are saying that CNN was wrong at that the fellow at ABC was right? But why take the Post over the CNN investigation?

      I do agree that our bureaucracies are full of problems and these need to be addressed. However, the evidence of wrongdoing still seems to be lacking.

      I am all for the gadfly keeping the state on its hoofs. But, there seems to be far more concern with generating scandals than with fixing real problems.

      The Obama administration has shown its people are not very good at handling such attacks. I noted the stupid firing if Sherrod. The fact that Lerner took the 5th suggests that she is either scared of what might be done to her or that she knows things that would get her in serious trouble (perhaps even jail). Of both. So, congress does need to investigate to she what she might be concealing. There could be a very real scandal for Obama here-but that remains to be seen.

      • WTP said, on May 24, 2013 at 9:56 am

        Mike, what has been going on in these scandals are direct attacks on our freedoms of speech and of the press. It is the mark of a true marxist to use powers of the state to intimidate people without justification. You are supposed to be a philosopher, you should respect these things. I doubt it will ever happen here, but what amuses me about you fellow travellers is you don’t see the end game. As has been shown, time and time again in “socialist” and other state-dominating societies is that as these autocrats start running out of other people’s money, they turn on their supporters, first at the far fringes, but as productivity slacks, the cannibalism moves ever inward. Of course you have no understanding of economics so it’s impossible for you to understand this. Again, not insulting you. Describing you.

  3. T. J. Babson said, on May 24, 2013 at 9:38 am

    Mike brings up Iran-Contra. As I remember, that was about the Administration doing an end-run around Congress by selling arms to Iran and using the profits to support the Contras, because Congress would not support any direct aid to the Contras.

    How is this worse than Obama not complying with the War Powers Act in Libya? Or Obama refusing to enforce the immigration laws passed by Congress?

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on May 24, 2013 at 9:45 am

      True, there are serious concerns with how Presidents use or ignore the WPA. I generally regard the act as unconstitutional, but I’m not a scholar of constitutional law. I’m also against the AUMF on the same grounds.

      The president needs to follow the law. There can be moral exceptions (it is foolish and wicked to believe that every law should be obeyed just because a law is a law).

  4. ajmacdonaldjr said, on May 24, 2013 at 8:56 pm

    VIDEO – CIA Operation CYCLONE, NWO, Afghanistan, Bush Senior, CIA Drug trafficking (1989) – http://youtu.be/O5Lnnn9smmg

  5. ajmacdonaldjr said, on May 24, 2013 at 11:48 pm

    VIDEO – The Secret Government: Bill Moyers (1987) – http://youtu.be/28K2CO-khdY

    The Contras, Cocaine, and Covert Operations

    National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 2
    For more information contact:
    202/994-7000 or nsarchiv@gwu.edu

    See: The Contras, Cocaine, and Covert Operations – http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB2/nsaebb2.htm

  6. WTP said, on June 2, 2013 at 9:10 pm

    When asked by congressional investigators about allegations and press reports about two agents in Cincinnati essentially being responsible for the targeting, the agent responded:
    “It’s impossible. As an agent we are controlled by many, many people. We have to submit many, many reports. So the chance of two agents being rogue and doing things like that could never happen. … They were basically throwing us underneath the bus.”

    Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/06/02/interviews-with-irs-agent-suggest-tea-party-targeting-came-from-washington/#ixzz2V6wthjCo

    Of course it’s from the fine folks at Fox so it must not have happened.

    TJ, you still on this shit?

    • T. J. Babson said, on June 2, 2013 at 10:57 pm

      It’s hard to keep up. My guess is that there are on the order of 100 people involved and many heads will roll.

      Mike brought up Iran Contra. Obama has been there, done that:

      In an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal, Alexander said that like North, who was accused of trying to circumvent a congressional ban on providing aid to rebel groups in Nicaragua in the 1980s, Sebelius was trying to bypass Congress to find funds to roll out ObamaCare.

      “Article I of the U.S. Constitution does not permit government officials to spend money that Congress has refused to authorize or appropriate. Federal laws such as the Anti-Deficiency Act make this behavior unlawful,” wrote Alexander.

      “There is, of course, a difference between Nicaraguan rebels and healthcare. With Iran-Contra, Congress had also prohibited support for the rebels, while in the case of healthcare funding, Congress has refused to provide the amounts that the administration has asked for. But the principle and the legal prohibitions are the same.”

      Alexander said that the “Obama administration is not the first to chafe under these restraints, but it has been among the most flagrant in ignoring them.”

      http://thehill.com/blogs/healthwatch/health-reform-implementation/301509-alexander-likens-sebelius-to-oliver-north-of-iran-contra-scandal

      Of course it is only wrong when Republicans do it.

      • WTP said, on June 3, 2013 at 6:53 am

        No no no. Mike will deny that. Of course it is only noteworthy when Republicans do it. See, when done this way, there’s plausible deniability of conscious and intentional bias.

  7. […] Will on Ten Thousand CommandmentsImmigration reform challenges Mexican & Canadian border farmersScandling .recentcomments a{display:inline !important;padding:0 !important;margin:0 […]

  8. WTP said, on June 7, 2013 at 9:31 pm

    Some scandals come in litters, kinda like cute little puppies…

    (1) EPA awarded former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson’s alias, Richard Windsor, an ethics award.
    (2) EPA targeted conservative groups for disfavored treatment.
    (3) EPA contractors turned part of an EPA warehouse into their own personal rec rooms and gym.
    (4) EPA leaked personal info of farm and cattle facilities to environmental activists.

    http://ace.mu.nu/archives/340725.php

    Of course the sheer number of scandals are proof of how invalid these scandals are.

  9. WTP said, on June 10, 2013 at 10:37 am

    From the right-wing, racist Washington Post, doing it’s standard bidding for the GOP, a fresh, new scandal.

    Hundreds of federal employees were given advance word of a Medicare decision worth billions of dollars to private insurers in the weeks before the official announcement, a period when trading in the shares of those firms spiked.

    The surge of trading in Humana’s and other private health insurers’ stock before the April 1 announcement already has prompted the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate whether Wall Street investors had advance access to inside information about the then-confidential Medicare funding plan

  10. WTP said, on June 11, 2013 at 11:53 am

    Fresh scandals, get ‘em while they’re hot…

    A State Department whistleblower has accused high-ranking staff of a massive coverup — including keeping a lid on findings that members of then-Secretary Hillary Clinton’s security detail and the Belgian ambassador solicited prostitutes.

    A chief investigator for the agency’s inspector general wrote a memo outlining eight cases that were derailed by senior officials, including one instance of interference by Clinton’s chief of staff, Cheryl Mills.

    Any mention of the cases was removed from an IG report about problems within the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS), which provides protection and investigates crimes involving any State Department workers overseas.

    http://www.nypost.com/p/news/national/hillary_sorry_state_of_affairs_YVapkHqM3mz6CVjehZOh7K


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