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The Wall Street Journal reports that the White House counsel was advised of the Inspector General’s audit findings weeks ago. Doug Ross has compiled a useful IRS scandal timeline into which this latest tidbit fits.
A friend with substantial experience as a chief executive officer looks back on what we have learned to date about the IRS harassment of Obama administration political opponents. He raises the issue of executive responsibility:
Someone needs to call out Obama on the phony claim that he was precluded from being alerted in 2012 because of the investigation. They are hiding behind the existence of the investigation to justify his failure to act. His staff has an obligation to bring to his attention any improper and illegal activities and he has the authority and obligation to act upon hearing of them. Once alerted, and the activities halted, the investigation could proceed unhindered. If Obama’s logic prevailed, the mere initiation of an IG investigation gives you a hall pass to do anything you want until it leaks.
In this case, there is no evidence that the targeting activities were stopped once the IG office began its inquiries. They got the best of all worlds — unhindered political malfeasance in an election year and claims they were powerless to do anything about it. We, of course, know they didn’t want the activities to stop, which explains why they are taking the position that it was “out of their hands.”
UPDATE: My friend writes to specify that he was referring to the June 2012 alert given by the IG to senior Treasury department officials:
Upon hearing of such potential improper activity, the administration had an obligation both to alert his superior and to take immediate action to get it stopped. A simple memo could have been written to halt the activity immediately: “We are concerned improper targeting may be taking place. Please alert us if you are aware of any activity like this occurring. If you have initiated such activity, halt it immediately.”
By neglecting to take action to halt the activity immediately, the administration is guilty of suborning it. Any business executive that caught a whiff of something in his or her business such as bribery, insider trading, or out-of-compliance quality, and delayed halting it, would face legal sanctions.
On a related note, a reader points out the dog that didn’t bark in Doug Ross’s timeline: “One obvious omission from the table of events is a stopped the targeting event, which is one key….Congress does not ask the critical question.”
[Sarah Hawkes from the University of London's Institute of Global Health] says that when you look at recent data, men lose three times more years of healthy living than women because of tobacco, alcohol and unsafe driving.So the “health problems” that have to do with mean are personal behavioral choices. The focus on women is about pregnancy and childbirth, where health care is needed. In that view, what’s wrong concentrating on women? That focus is really about the next generation, which includes males and females.
“It’s cool to be a man that smokes and drinks — who drives a fast motorbike, or fast cars,” she says. “If you were really serious about saving lives, you would spend money tackling unhealthy gender norms” that promote these risky behaviors.
And par for the course, of course:
Cast your mind back about ten years or so to a series of speeches that got Bill Cosby in a lot of trouble, especially his 2004 speech to the NAACP Awards dinner. The Cos took aim at dysfunctions in the black community . . . and he was slammed for “blaming the victim” and taking focus away from white racism. Here’s an extended excerpt:
Ladies and gentlemen, I really have to ask you to seriously consider what you’ve heard, and now this is the end of the evening so to speak. I heard a prize fight manager say to his fellow who was losing badly, “David, listen to me. It’s not what’s he’s doing to you. It’s what you’re not doing. (laughter).
Ladies and gentlemen, these people set, they opened the doors, they gave us the right, and today, ladies and gentlemen, in our cities and public schools we have fifty percent drop out. In our own neighborhood, we have men in prison. No longer is a person embarrassed because they’re pregnant without a husband. (clapping) No longer is a boy considered an embarrassment if he tries to run away from being the father of the unmarried child.
Ladies and gentlemen, the lower economic and lower middle economic people are not holding their end in this deal. In the neighborhood that most of us grew up in, parenting is not going on. In the old days, you couldn’t hooky school because every drawn shade was an eye. And before your mother got off the bus and to the house, she knew exactly where you had gone, who had gone into the house, and where you got on whatever you had one and where you got it from. Parents don’t know that today.
I’m talking about these people who cry when their son is standing there in an orange suit. Where were you when he was two? Where were you when he was twelve? Where were you when he was eighteen, and how come you don’t know he had a pistol? And where is his father, and why don’t you know where he is? And why doesn’t the father show up to talk to this boy?
The Atlanticsummed up the backlash:
The playwright August Wilson commented, “A billionaire attacking poor people for being poor. Bill Cosby is a clown. What do you expect?” One of the gala’s hosts, Ted Shaw, the director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, called his comments “a harsh attack on poor black people in particular.” Dubbing Cosby an “Afristocrat in Winter,” the Georgetown University professor Michael Eric Dyson came out with a book, Is Bill Cosby Right? Or Has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind?, that took issue with Cosby’s bleak assessment of black progress and belittled his transformation from vanilla humorist to social critic and moral arbiter. “While Cosby took full advantage of the civil rights struggle,” argued Dyson, “he resolutely denied it a seat at his artistic table.”
Cosby dutifully shut up after this. So it is with considerable irony that I note both Obamas, in commencement speeches over the weekend, gingerly revisited some of the themes Cosby endorsed. Here’s Michelle Obama at Bowie State on Saturday:
And as my husband has said often, please stand up and reject the slander that says a black child with a book is trying to act white. Reject that.
Actually I’m not sure how often her husband does say that, but I know that early on in Obama’s presidency I and many others suggested that if he really wanted to make a mark as president, he and Michelle would engage a sustained campaign, along the lines of Nancy Reagan’s “just say no” campaign, to affect the status of the black family in America. President Obama came close to Cosby territory in his commencement speech yesterdayat Morehouse College, Martin Luther King Jr’s alma mater. A lot of the speech was boilerplate liberal rot as you’d expect, but there was this:
We know that too many young men in our community continue to make bad choices. And I have to say, growing up, I made quite a few myself. Sometimes I wrote off my own failings as just another example of the world trying to keep a black man down. I had a tendency sometimes to make excuses for me not doing the right thing. . .
Nobody cares how tough your upbringing was. Nobody cares if you suffered some discrimination. And moreover, you have to remember that whatever you’ve gone through, it pales in comparison to the hardships previous generations endured — and they overcame them. And if they overcame them, you can overcome them, too.
You now hail from a lineage and legacy of immeasurably strong men — men who bore tremendous burdens and still laid the stones for the path on which we now walk. You wear the mantle of Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington, and Ralph Bunche and Langston Hughes, and George Washington Carver and Ralph Abernathy and Thurgood Marshall, and, yes, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
These men were many things to many people. And they knew full well the role that racism played in their lives. But when it came to their own accomplishments and sense of purpose, they had no time for excuses.
I wonder whether Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington are really taught well at Morehouse (or at any university these days), and I wish Obama would do more of this kind of thing. But this is a good start.
Glenn Kessler reviews 3 key statements by Lois G. Lerner, the IRS’s director of the exempt organizations division.
I don’t know why that is “surprising,” but the details are perhaps worth noting. For one thing, buying a house or moving to a better house is found unlikely to bring more happiness.
And dozens of studies show that people get more happiness from buying experiences than from buying material things. Experiential purchases — such as trips, concerts and special meals — are more deeply connected to our sense of self, making us who we are….Some meal you ate is more deeply connected to your sense of self than your home? I find that hard to believe. I think it’s more that the meal is over and done with, so the happiness was consumed on the spot and remembered. The house continues and you enjoy it sometimes but are burdened by it too. You have mixed feelings over a long period of time. It’s not a memory.
And experiences come with one more benefit: They tend to bring us closer to other people, whereas material things are more often enjoyed alone. (We tend to watch our new television alone on the couch, but we rarely head to a wonderful restaurant or jet off to Thailand solo.)That’s why you might want to bring loved ones into that house of yours. And why is there no mention of the nonwonderful restaurants and nonwonderful flights overseas?
So, doing things with other people makes a difference for happiness, and our research suggests that doing things for other people can provide an additional boost.That’s obvious and not about how you spend your money. Dropping dollars on restaurant meals and travel won’t necessarily get you better social connections.
In experiments we’ve conducted around the world, including in Canada, the United States, Uganda and South Africa, we find that people are happier if they spend money on others. And we’ve found that spending even just a few dollars on someone else provides more happiness than using the cash to treat yourself.This is why we love to pay taxes, no?
We hear a lot, these days, about how President Obama is not like Lyndon Johnson and thanks be to heaven for that small mercy. The point seems to be that the president doesn’t know how to arm twist, sweet talk, bribe, and emasculate both friend and enemy (of which he truly had neither) in order to further his agenda. Since many among the chattering class believe, still, in that agenda, his is generally regarded as an excellent presidency. Never mind that more than half a century after Johnson declared war on poverty … poverty is still winning.
He’s working on a book about his life, tentatively titled “Unintimidated: A Governor’s Story and a Nation’s Challenge.” And Walker readily admits he’s traveling around the country for high-profile fundraisers and other conservative gatherings, from New Orleans to Iowa, Washington, D.C., to California.
“We used to call this period ‘testing the waters.’ I think that’s what he’s doing,” said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics. “He can’t be explicit yet. But I think he’ll run.”Sabato and his colleagues put Walker at the top of their list of 2016 Republican presidential contenders, noting that “Democrats tried — and failed — to strike him down in a recall election last year:
“Not only did Walker survive, but this unscheduled political war elevated him to stardom amongst conservatives across the country. If Walker were to become the Republican presidential nominee, Democrats will have helped it happen.”
What is the provenance of the Muhammad video in the Benghazi talking points? Our inability to answer the question is in itself a clue. Steve Hayes follows the paper trail and reconstructs what his reporting has revealed to date in the Weekly Standard article “What about the video?” Steve characterizes the attribution of causal effect to the video a “quadruple bank shot,” but leaves open the question of who was holding the cue. Steve concludes with the questions he started out to answer: “As the top U.S. officials discussed what to include in the talking points that would shape their case to the country on the attacks in Benghazi, the video was absent. Whose idea was it to make it the centerpiece? The Obama administration still has a lot of explaining to do.”
In Steve’s reconstruction, White House national security adviser Ben Rhodes and then-NSC spokesman Tommy Vietor are found in the thick of the relevant deliberations over the talking points emails released last week. On the Panel Plus segment of Fox News Sunday yesterday — found via Brit Hume’s Twitter feed — Karl Rove follows up with his own pointed reading of the talking points emails.
Obama said that too many young black men make “bad choices.”ADDED: Here‘s the full text of the speech.
“Growing up, I made quite a few myself,” Obama said. “Sometimes I wrote off my own failings as just another example of the world trying to keep a black man down. I had a tendency to make excuses for me not doing the right thing.”
But, the president implored, “we’ve got no time for excuses.”
“In today’s hyper-connected, hyper-competitive world, with millions of young people from China and India and Brazil, many of whom started with a whole lot less than all of you did, all of them entering the global workforce alongside you, nobody is going to give you anything you haven’t earned,” he said. “Nobody cares how tough your upbringing was. Nobody cares if you suffered some discrimination.”
Student loan debt runs to about $30,000 per graduate of the class of 2013, as Phil Izzo writes in the Wall Street Journal. And the total amount of student loans outstanding runs to almost a trillion dollars: more than either credit card balances or automobile loans. More than any form of consumer debt other than home mortgages.