ABSOLUTELY UN-AMERICAN: Fox News And Darrell Issa Squelch Democrats In IRS Hearing

In an extraordinary hearing Wednesday morning, Republicans put on a display of tyrannical suppression of speech that would make the Taliban green with envy.

Fox News

Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee (and recidivist criminal), called to order a hearing on allegations that the IRS targeted conservative groups for enhanced scrutiny on their applications for tax-exempt status. The sole item on the agenda was testimony from former IRS official Lois Lerner. Lerner had previously notified the committee that she would be exercising her Fifth Amendment right to decline to answer questions. Ignoring that, Issa scheduled the hearing anyway as a sideshow that he hoped would embarrass his Democratic colleagues. His strategy blew up in his face.

After making a five minute opening statement, Issa proceeded to ask a series of questions, each time eliciting the same response from Lerner saying that, on advice of counsel, she was exercising her constitutional right to decline to answer. Since Issa already knew that Lerner would not be testifying, it is clear that his only purpose was to hear himself ask a bunch of questions that he framed to imply something incriminating. But it’s what happened next that demonstrates just how disreputable and dictatorial Issa is. [Full video of the hearing via C-SPAN]

Upon completing his opening statement and faux inquiry, the committee’s ranking Democrat, Elijah Cummings, began his opening statement, as is the practice of congressional proceedings. However, Issa immediately cut him off and ordered the hearing adjourned. Issa did not permit Cummings, or any other Democrat to utter a single word on the record. And after silencing Cummings, Issa stomped out of the hearing room.

Not surprisingly, this outraged Cummings who insisted on having his time to address the committee and the witness. Whereupon Issa instructed his staff to cut Cummings microphone off. Cummings valiantly persevered without a mic and made his objections known. He pointed out that Issa’s behavior was one-sided, wrong, and “absolutely un-American.”

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The coverage on Fox News of this shameful display of Republican hubris was pretty much what you might expect. Fox broadcast most of Issa’s opening statement and questions. Then, when Cummings began to speak, Fox curtailed their coverage after showing a brief portion of the dust-up between Issa and Cummings. Fox did not show any of the remarks Cummings made after Issa walked out of the room. Ironically, Fox host Martha MacCallum said that “We’re trying to give equal time to both of these gentlemen here.” Apparently equal time on Fox News is seven uninterrupted minutes of a Republican harangue and 42 seconds of a Democratic response.

Following the hearing, the same measure of biased coverage occurred when Issa and Cummings addressed the press. Fox again broadcast Issa’s press conference in its entirety, but cut away as Cummings approached the same podium from which Issa had just finished speaking. Fox aired none of Cummings remarks to the press. [Full video of the press avails via C-SPAN]

To matters even worse, Fox aired a segment about the hearing shortly afterward with a reporter from U.S. News and World Report. In addressing concerns by Lerner that she was getting death threats, Fox host Jon Scott made this unbelievably grotesque comment:

“I can see why if you’re getting death threats, maybe you wouldn’t want to open yourself up to more scrutiny. But at the same time, it would seem that answering some of the questions might cause some of these people who are so angry to ease up if she’s got legitimate answers for why the IRS did what it did.”

In other words, just comply with the demands of those making death threats and maybe they won’t kill you. See? Problem solved.

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After numerous hearings, testimony from more than three dozen IRS employees, and review of thousands of pages of documents, the Issa Inquisition has proven none of its allegations about corruption, partisanship, or White House involvement. What Issa has proven is that he is a brazenly dishonest hack who has repeatedly deceived the public and the media by issuing reports and releasing documents that he purposefully manipulated to create a falsely negative impression of malfeasance by Democrats. In the process he would systematically remove any data that contradicted his fictional version of events.

As for Fox News, they could not have been more obviously biased in their coverage of this affair. In all they broadcast about a quarter hour of Issa’s propaganda and less than a minute of the Democratic side of the debate. What’s more, they are already promoting appearances by Issa (and only Issa) on Fox News later today. And not once has Fox made note of the fact that Issa, and his GOP led committee, held an unprecedented hearing where only he was allowed to speak.

[Update 3/6/14] The Congressional Black Caucus has put forward a motion to condemn Darrell Issa for his tyrannical abuse of power and to remove him from the chairmanship of the committee. However, Speaker John Boehner has already expressed his continuing support for Issa whom Boehner believes acted appropriately.

Also, Media Matters has obtained and posted the emails that Issa referenced during his sham hearing. Consistent with Issa’s repeated acts of deception and partisan cherry-picking of information to make public, these emails actually prove that IRS director Lois Lerner was taking great pains to avoid any politicization of the agencies activities. As usual, when all the information is made available, it shows that Issa and Co. have lied through their teeth.

IRS Email

OBAMASCARE: Healthcare.gov Passes Security Tests – Fox News Freaks Out

During a hearing today before the House Oversight Committee, Teresa Fryer, the chief information security officer for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told the committee that the Healthcare.gov website had passed all security tests and that she would recommend its continued authority to operate.

Note that this is the same person who testified before the committee last year and expressed serious reservations which committee chairman, and recidivist criminal, Darrell Issa, trumpeted in his attempt to derail ObamaCare. Today, however, he dismissed her validation of the website’s safety and continued to assert, without evidence, that security risks are present. At no time since the website launched has there been any security breach, user information theft or fraud, or any other unauthorized access.

So what does Fox News do upon hearing this testimony? They make a full-court press to double down on imaginary security problems. It is a deliberate effort to spread fear among the American people in order to frighten them away from using the website and learning about the availability of affordable and effective health insurance. The form of Fox’s anti-ObamaCare offensive came in the broadcast of a segment on America’s NewsHQ that alleged that Healthcare.gov is still unsecured.

Fox News ObamaScare

Fox Anchor Bill Hemmer led the segment with a report that offered no support for the assertion that there were any security problems. The entire report consisted of unfounded allegations and speculation. That was followed by co-anchor Alisyn Camerota’s interview of Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz who offered more of the same. When directly queried as to whether there was any verifiable evidence of risk, Chaffetz spun off into pure conjecture and factless rhetoric. No Democrat or ObamaCare supporter was given any airtime.

Fox News - Mitnick

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Reinforcing this faulty foundation, the Fox News website sought out the opinion of criminal hacker Kevin Mitnick. Fox identified Mitnick as “one of the world’s foremost cybersecurity experts,” despite the fact that his hacking occurred twenty years ago in a technology environment worlds removed from today’s. Furthermore, there is no indication in Fox’s report that Mitnick conducted any security assessments of Healthcare.gov. His entire opinion is based on documents from others who also don’t show any results from having tested the site’s security.

Nevertheless, Fox reported that “Mitnick submitted a scathing criticism to a House panel Thursday of ObamaCare’s Healthcare.gov website, calling the protections built into the site ‘shameful’ and ‘minimal.’ That assessment, however, was not backed up by one of Issa’s own witnesses before the congressional committee. Waylon Krush, CEO of Lunarline, told the panel that “There have been no confirmed security breaches or hacks of the site yet, […] The flaws that have been found are mere speculation.”

Fox News is demonstrating their determination to overshadow the real news of the day: that actual testing by responsible authorities has proven the site to be secure. So Fox throws up segments on the air and on the net that have no substance, but that attempt to refute the verifiable facts. And they do so with disreputable characters who have no first-hand knowledge of the subject on which they are commenting.

This isn’t the first time that Fox has recruited sketchy figures to advance their dishonest agenda. Late last year, Fox’s Gretchen Carlson interviewed John McAfee, the notorious developer of the eponymous anti-virus software, who is presently a fugitive from a murder investigation. During the interview, Carlson raised the specter of outlaw hackers laying in wait on the ObamaCare web site. However, neither she nor McAfee actually provide any evidence of such a threat.

So GOP partisans and ex-cons are Fox’s “experts” on website security. And they are summoned forth to give their dubious opinions on the same day that the chief CMS security officer certifies that Healthcare.gov has passed all security testing, which Fox doesn’t report at all. Is it any wonder how Fox viewers have become so painfully ignorant? And that’s just the way Roger Ailes, and the Republican Party, like them.

ObamaScare: Fox News And Darrell Issa Join To Tell More Lies About ObamaCare

What do you get when you combine the cable TV “news” network most associated with blatant partisanship and dishonesty, with a member of Congress best known for a criminal past and a record of investigating phony scandals? You get the Fox News/Darrell Issa Sappy-Talk Disinformation Show.

Fox News

Earlier this week Issa made one of his frequent appearances on Fox News to bash President Obama and the Democratic Party. On this episode he was peddling an allegation that the ObamaCare website posed a security risk for Americans who visit it. It’s a claim that both Issa and Fox have attempted to hustle many times before. And like on those other occasions, they had no evidence to back up the charge. But that didn’t stop them from spreading their lies on the air. And while they were at it, they also spread them online at their community website and lie factory, Fox Nation, where they cited as their source an article in Roll Call that exposed the falsehoods in their own story.

Issa based his accusations on testimony that took place at a hearing he chaired in the House of Representatives. His modus operandi in these events is to selectively release just the parts of the hearing transcripts that make Democrats look bad. When the full transcripts eventually become available they prove that Issa was lying and deliberately misrepresenting what took place.

This event is no exception. Issa’s unscrupulous disclosures falsely implied that there were known security risks in the ObamaCare website that Health and Human Services officials ignored prior to going live in October. The snippet of testimony released by Issa included what appeared to be warnings by an HHS security analyst against approving the website’s launch. Had that been the whole story, Issa might have had a case. However, the parts of the record that Issa withheld revealed that the same security analyst reversed her assessment seven days later after steps were taken to address the problems she cited.

This is typical of Issa’s unethical promulgation of information that is deceitfully edited in order to advance a false narrative. And that is precisely how the Democratic ranking member of the committee described it when responding to Issa’s fraudulent tactics:

Rep Elijah Cummings: Chairman Issa’s reckless pattern of leaking partial and misleading information is now legendary for omitting key information that directly contradicts his political narrative. This effort to leak cherry-picked information is part of a deliberate campaign to scare the American people and deny them the quality affordable health insurance to which they are entitled under the law.

In addition to the mitigating testimony that Issa withheld, he also failed to report that his witnesses stated that “there have been no successful attempts of any of these types of attacks … no successful breaches [or] security incidents.” That’s after three months of operation in circumstances that have been notably less than optimal. So despite the problems that plagued the website’s rollout, while millions of Target customers were victimized by criminal hackers, there were no victims of any improper access by anyone using the ObamaCare website.

Notwithstanding the facts, Fox News and Darrell Issa bent over backwards to misinform their audience and spread fear about the program that is bringing access to health insurance to millions of Americans for the first time. Fox and Issa apparently prefer it when people are either prevented from getting the health care they require, or are bankrupted by the costs. And they are a perfect pair for propagandizing and fear mongering. In fact, just last week Issa held a hearing wherein he made a laughably ludicrous response to a health care official, saying that “You need to watch more Fox, I’m afraid.” Well, at least he’s right about being afraid. Fear is the primary ingredient of everything that Fox and the GOP combine to afflict upon the American people.

GOP Congressman To ObamaCare Administrator: You Need To Watch More Fox News

In the ongoing campaign by Republicans to sabotage the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare), GOP representative Darrell Issa (R-Tea Party) held another in his series of carnival side shows he passes off for congressional hearings. On this occasion Issa took his show on the road to Texas, the state with the highest number of residents without health insurance.

During the sham hearing Issa browbeat Dr. Randy Farris, regional administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, asking him to answer for allegations raised by a video showing ObamaCare navigators allegedly giving out unlawful advice. The video was the work of serial liar and convicted scammer, James O’Keefe, and bore all the familiar trademarks of his dishonest reputation. It was heavily edited and it conspicuously left out any footage of navigators performing properly. The victims in the O’Keefe video were not even navigators. They were trainees, so it would not be surprising if they got some things wrong.

That didn’t stop Issa and his road company from tarring everyone associated with the navigator program nationwide with assertions of illegality. It’s an absurd extension of guilt that would be equivalent to declaring that all of WalMart’s two million employees were guilty of shortchanging customers after a biased video was shown of three or four of them doing it. If Issa encountered such a scenario would he call for shutting down every WalMart in the country, as he is doing with his call to shut down ObamaCare? Not likely.

There are thousands of people participating in the navigator program, and like any other large scale enterprise, some participants are not going to perform according to standards. Even Fox News is susceptible to this inescapable fact of human nature. After all, they have a notorious record of criminal activity from within their ranks. For instance:

With that list of miscreants employed by Fox News you would think that Issa would be holding hearings to get Fox taken off the air. Obviously they are nothing more than a criminal enterprise and they are using their wealth and influence to break the law, to enrich themselves, and to misinform the American people.

Instead, while questioning Dr. Farris about the navigator program, Issa was not satisfied with his answer as to whether a consumer’s personal information was at risk on the ObamaCare website. Farris said that private information was not stored there. To which Issa replied “You need to watch more Fox, I’m afraid.” Apparently Issa believes that private information is stored on the website, but he offered no proof of that, just his snarky dismissal of the Doctor’s testimony and his endorsement of the criminal enablers at Fox News. Then he went on Sean Hannity’s show to slather more lies about the navigators.

Let’s face it, the only thing Dr. Farris, or anyone else, would gain from watching Fox News is an embarrassing abundance of ignorance and an abiding faith in known liars.

Fox News Investigates The ObamaCare Website Girl: An Al Qaeda Seductress?

The intrepid Fox News investigative team is well known for relentlessly pursuing stories that are vital to the welfare of the American people. Some recent examples include the new “girly” caps for the U.S. Marines, Fox’s “Psycho” analyst’s diagnosis of Obama’s “victim” mentality, government-supplied, free “Obama Cars,” and of course, endless misrepresentations of the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) as costly and unworkable.

Now the crack journalists at Fox are going beyond their standard Kenyan Marxist Muslim beat to expose a government secret on which rests the fate of every American. The top headline story of Fox’s website reveals their probe into the tightly guarded identity of “Adriana,” the ObamaCare Website Girl.

Fox News
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Who is That Girl, indeed. It is about time that the administration cease its stonewalling and practice the transparency for which they boast. The nation’s security depends on an open government that tells the truth about critical matters that affect the lives and safety of its citizens. Without such candor we cannot know whether this anonymous woman is an innocent fashion model or the evil seductress of an Al Qaeda sleeper cell.

Fox has assigned Jana Winter, the reporter who is still in legal hot water for violating a judge’s court order in the case of the Aurora movie theater massacre. She is now reporting that Fox News is devoting substantial resources to this controversy. According to Winter, finding the mysterious Adriana is a top priority for Fox who “have combed the contact sheets of stock photo agencies, scoured social media and squinted at group shots of Democratic operatives, all to no avail.”

Winter’s efforts thus far have unearthed important observations such as an obviously expert analysis, by somebody on Twitter, that this may be the “worst modeling gig ever.” She also noted the explosion of public concern as evidenced by the emergence of an ObamacareGirl Twitter account that has already amassed thirty-three followers. Despite these hot scoops, Winter is still stumped as to the crux of the confounding riddles in this governmental enigma. She is pleading with readers for any information that could lead to the true identity of Adriana and asking them to send tips to the news manager at Fox News. Feel free to help out by sending your own leads to that email address. For instance, if you think you saw her at a Starbucks in Oshkosh, or if she resembles your niece who takes tickets at the local Bijou Theater, be sure to notify Fox News immediately.

The only official comment Winter was able to wrest from the administration was a typically evasive statement from Richard Olague, a spokesman for the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, who said that…

“The woman featured on the website signed a release for us to use the photo, but to protect her privacy, we will not share her personal or contact info with anyone.”

Unconfirmed reports are circulating around the Capitol that Darrell Issa, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, is clearing his calendar to make room for hearings and will issue subpenas for testimony and documents if the administration is not forthcoming. His current schedule of scandal inquisitions involving Benghazi, the IRS, the NSA, Benghazi, the shutdown’s closure of national parks, Fast & Furious, Solyndra, the Associated Press, Benghazi, and most recently, the ObamaCare website glitches, will be temporarily set aside so that he can concentrate on getting to the bottom of the Adriana affair.

ObamaCare GirlRecognizing the importance of this investigation, Fox News has also escalated it to top tier status by making it the featured headline on their web home page. With all of the issues facing the country – the economy, unemployment, immigration, national security, etc. – it is encouraging that at least one segment of the mainstream media has its priorities in order.

[Update: 1028/2013] After this shocking expose, the ObamaCare Girl has now gone missing. Her likeness has been removed from the Healthcare.gov website and her whereabouts are unknown. If you see her, please contact Fox News immediately.

Wonkette: IRSgate Joins Solyndragate and Benghazigate In Fake Scandal Heaven

I’d like to thank Wonkette for saving me the trouble of writing the post-mortem on the phony IRS scandal. After new evidence emerged revealing that groups other than conservative Tea Party organizations were subjected to stricter scrutiny, I intended to write a detailed report exposing the partisan fraud manufactured by Rep. Darrell Issa and his right-wing cohorts.

Tea Party Republicans

But Wonkette just published a superb summary of the affair with an abundance of humor and righteous mockery. So I’m gonna just leave it to them. Read it here for yourself, but here are a few tasty excerpts:

“In addition to being a cosmic turd straight from Satan’s bunghole, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) is now just a laughing stock on Capitol Hill. If anyone anywhere takes this clown seriously in the future, we will be shocked.”

Actually, I won’t be shocked. There will be plenty of idiots at Fox News, WorldNetDaily, and the Tea Party Gazette, who will continue to take Issa seriously.

“[S]uck it all you teabagger crazies complaining about how much butthurt you went through while suffering from your goddam persecution complex. Turns out you are all a bunch of whiny babies who jumped the gun before all the facts were in, and now you look like completely incompetent political hacks who are better off crawling back to whatever cosmic bunghole you came from.”

As reported here at News Corpse, evidence has been emerging for weeks that the whole premise of the scandal was falling apart. Most of the principles turned out to be Republicans. Issa was cherry-picking information to release. The more data that was made public, the more obvious their lies became. And now Issa, who had decided before any of this began the President was guilty of masterminding the whole thing, is whining about prejudging.

“Rep. Issa is worried that someone else is jumping to conclusions! We are pretty sure there is a word for that, but at the moment all that comes to mind is ‘fuck that guy.'”

The article is actually full of relevant facts and links, and is well worth a look-see. Thanks again, Wonkette. Now I can concentrate on more important matters like the Fox News “psycho” analyst who is praising the Unabomber (yes, that’s real).

I’d also like to thank Wonkette for their fantastic review of my book, Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Community’s Assault On Truth, that they called “A valuable contribution to the effort to chip away at Bullshit Mountain.”

Bombshell Disclosure That Tea Party Targeting By IRS Conducted Mainly By GOP Is Suppressed By Fox News

The truth about the alleged targeting of Tea Party groups by the IRS continues to leak out, but not with much help from Fox News. For weeks now, Republicans in congress and the conservative media, led by Fox News, have been struggling to find links between the Cincinnati IRS office, where targeting was said to have occurred, and the White House. Their failure to turn up any such links has clearly frustrated them, resulting in their making embarrassing assertions about their “gut feelings” and abandoning any pretense to engage in factual discourse.

False FlagThe latest revelation to cast doubt on the GOP’s scandal mongering is the disclosure by Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings who announced yesterday that it is was a manager in the Cincinnati IRS office who instigated the Tea Party reviews. The manager also identified himself as a conservative Republican and insisted that the review policy was wholly contained in his office and did not involve the White House. He is the latest named source in the affair that has turned out to be a Republican. Previously, IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman, and Lois Lerner, the head of the agency’s Tax-Exempt Organizations division, were revealed to be Republicans hired by George W. Bush.

With such disclosures it makes it difficult for informed citizens to conclude that there was any political chicanery orchestrated by the White House to disadvantage conservative groups. But it is also difficult to be informed when media such as Fox News deliberately suppresses key facts about the matter.

After Rep. Cummings told CNN about the Cincinnati manager’s testimony, and GOP Committee Chairman Darrel Issa’s refusal to release the transcripts, Fox News reported only that Cummings thought the hearings should be wrapped up. In several segments spanning Fox & Friends and Happening Now, the Fox presentation of the story left out the key fact that the witness was another Republican and thus, not an Obama functionary. As I noted previously, there has not been a single partisan Democrat identified at the IRS who had anything to do with the application reviews.

The desperation of Fox News to prolong the season of pseudo-scandals is glaringly obvious. They can’t be bothered to report breaking news that disputes their predetermined biases. They also cannot allow guests to engage in fact-based discourse, so they rudely shout them down and then demand that their microphones be cut. That’s what happened when Democratic strategist Julian Epstein was interviewed by Fox bully and serial interrupter, Neil Cavuto:

Fox is behaving like an impudent child that hasn’t gotten his way. They want a scandal so badly and they will hold their breath until they get one. And if the facts don’t support their fabrications, they ignore them and the people with the effrontery to be honest information brokers. That’s just part of the reason that nobody outside of Fox’s studio and fan base regard them as journalists or give them any credibility.

Is The IRS/Tea Party Affair A False Flag Operation By GOP Operatives?

“This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears he is a protector.” ~ Plato

False Flag

The force of fury that is emanating from Republicans in congress as they mount their crusade to ostensibly “protect” the nation from the wild excesses of a government agency gone mad has roiled the political landscape like a violently swirling tornado of partisan angst. The House Oversight Committee, chaired by ultra-rightist zealot (and recidivist criminal) Darrell Issa , has designated itself as the guardian of America’s virtue and the enemy of fiendish saboteurs in the despised Internal Revenue Service.

But there is something too convenient in the emergence of this curiously timed “scandal” that ought to raise suspicions among wakeful citizens. Think about it. The previous scandal du jour, Benghazi-Gate, was crumbling like a week-old danish. None of the frenzied allegations were panning out and, rather than diminishing the President’s reputation, his approval ratings were rising. Republicans needed a fresh dead horse to beat and suddenly the IRS dropped a gift on the GOP’s doorstep. Coincidence?

Consider further that the meat of the controversy was an astoundingly lame strategy that purported to target conservative non-profit groups for stricter scrutiny of their applications for tax-exempt status. The execution of this plan was so ineptly transparent it seems as if it was designed to be discovered. It would not have been difficult to devise a program that resulted in conservative groups being reviewed without being specific in a manner that gave away a partisan intent. But the supposed conspirators in this case used obvious language like “Tea Party” and “912 Project” to select applications to audit. That makes no sense because, if you’re trying to secretly suppress opposing political players you would try to do it secretly, wouldn’t you. What’s more, you wouldn’t leave a glowing neon paper trail that begged to be followed. Why would Democrats plotting to monkey-wrench a bunch of otherwise feeble Teabaggers, whose popularity was in rapid descent, concoct such a rickety plan?

The answer, of course, is that they wouldn’t. And to be precise, they (the Democrats) didn’t. The most prominent figures named so far in this affair are IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman and the director of the tax-exempt organizations division, Lois Lerner. Both are Republicans brought into their government jobs by George W. Bush. Remember, he’s the guy who politicized the IRS by challenging the tax status of the NAACP, Greenpeace, and even liberal churches. He also politicized the Department of Justice by firing nine U.S. Attorneys who were appointed by a Democratic president. [Update: Congressional investigators reveal that the IRS manager who initiated the Tea Party inquiries is a conservative Republican].

When assessing the facts of this plot it can hardly be regarded as insignificant that the lead plotters were Republicans. Furthermore, the first disclosure that something was awry at the IRS was not made by an intrepid investigative journalist tracking down corruption in the system. It was revealed by Lerner, who planted an aide in a public meeting to ask her about the partisan targeting. So it was actually Republicans in the IRS who cooked up the policy and then leaked it to the media via subterfuge. Why would they do such a thing?

In the process of investigating clandestine operations there is a common inquiry designed to lead to the perpetrators: “Cui bono,” or who benefits? Clearly the activities attributed to the IRS have almost no beneficial value to Democrats. After all, not a single one of the groups subjected to review were denied tax-exempt status. And since the law permits non-profits to solicit tax-exempt donations while their applications are in process, no fundraising was hampered. If this were a plot by Democrats to harm political opponents, why would they stop so far short of their goal and openly advertise their misbehavior? It seems more like a scheme to get the Democrats blamed for trying to harm Republicans without resulting in any actual harm. That would be a scenario that benefited the Republicans, who just happened to be in a position to orchestrate it.

So the GOP had motive, opportunity, and all of the available evidence that was provided and exploited came from Republicans intent on disabling a Democratic administration. It was timed to a news cycle that would otherwise have boosted President Obama’s agenda as the economy showed signs of improvement, jobs were on the rise, and major legislative initiatives like immigration, gun safety, and climate change, were gaining momentum. The lead investigator in the House (Issa) is a known crook who was informed of the IRS activities a year ago, but waited until all the pieces were in place to launch his witch hunt.

This affair smells fishy from the get-go. It was made for media consumption. Nobody got wound up in the Benghazi story because there was no easy handle for malicious reporters to grab unto, or for the public to readily grasp. But everybody already hates the IRS, so fabricating an abuse of power fable has built in appeal. That’s how you end up with wild stories about the IRS Commissioner visiting the White House 157 times, with insinuations that he was conspiring with the President. When a legitimate news reporter followed up, there were far fewer visits (perhaps as few as eleven) and they were all to attend meetings, with people other than Obama, related to the implementation of the health care bill.

However, accuracy and honesty were never a part of the brazen hype machine that has been pumping out the lurid allegations and wispy rumor mongering that Republicans have embraced as their replacement for evidence and facts. The truth is merely an obstacle to the fulfillment of the GOP’s agenda. But it is becoming more apparent every day that the truth may have more to do with Republican malfeasance than that of Democrats. And anyone who dismisses the role of Republicans in creating and executing this alleged scheme is willfully blinding themselves to the reality that the GOP had far more to gain by manufacturing this scandal than the Democrats would have had in carrying out something so inept and ineffective.

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[Authors Note: If you got this far I would like to reveal now that I don’t believe for a second that the IRS affair is a false flag operation by the GOP. While all of the facts presented above are true, the conclusion is a farce meant to illustrate how different the crazies on the right are from the crazies on the left.

Conservatives would have jumped on a story with the factual details that this one has and propagated, in all seriousness, the conspiracy theory that I outlined above. Glenn Beck, Alex Jones, Rush Limbaugh, and even congresspersons like Michele Bachmann and Louie Gohmert would be polishing their tin-foil hats right about now. However, despite the ripeness of these facts, there is no one on the left pushing such a conspiracy theory.

Just a little something to ponder when right-wingers seek to make phony arguments of equivalency whenever they are caught doing or saying something that is monumentally stupid.]

Obama’s IRS Probes Tax-Exempt Status Of Abortion Doctor’s Benghazi Tea Party

The media has been in a virtual orgasmic frenzy for the past 24 hours as reports come out about troubling behavior by government agencies. Make no mistake, what appears to have been done by individuals in the IRS and the Justice Department is of enormous concern to Americans who are justifiably suspicious of the potential for abuse of government power. There is good reason to be outraged by recent events and it is clear that there is such outrage from across the political spectrum.

An equal amount of outrage must also be directed at the idiotic people at the IRS who thought that what they were doing was helpful to progressive affairs. Not only does that sort of behavior contradict the most basic principles of liberalism, the high risk of discovery and subsequent scandal ought to have brought anyone whose common sense had lapsed straight back to reality. The damage done by this stupidity could not have been more successfully achieved if it were a deliberate plot by GOP plants in the agencies.

Jon Stewart

That is why the exasperation expressed by Jon Stewart last night (video below) was so appropriate. By committing some obviously nefarious acts of abuse, these miscreants have also made it harder to advance the rational and necessary legislative initiatives aimed at restoring jobs and economic growth, fixing the immigration system, implementing healthcare, battling terrorism, etc. It was bad enough when all we had to deal with was obsessively obstructionist Tea-publicans in congress, but now, as Stewart put it so well…

“This has, in one seismic moment, shifted the burden of proof from the tin-foil behatted to the government.”

Indeed. Now, along with wingnuts like Michelle Bachmann, Louis Gohmert, and Ted Cruz, we have every psychotic from Alex Jones to Glenn Beck to Ted Nugent insisting that they were right all along when they said that Obama was a reptilian space alien sent here to breed. Never mind that their delusions are just as schizoid today as they were yesterday, they are basking in the limelight created by a few low-level dumb-asses who have nothing to do with the bigger agenda our nation needs to pursue.

Not to be left out, Fox News is all over these wannabe scandals. They are interviewing Darrell Issa about the AP phone records without disclosing that Issa voted against the bill that would have made such seizures unlawful. They hosted Dick Cheney on Sean Hannity’s program to say that Benghazi is “one of the worst incidents, frankly, that I can recall in my career.” And remember, his career encompasses Nazi concentration camps and nuclear bombings in Japan, as well as those for which he bears some personal responsibility, like 9/11.

Some news outlets have made the effort to demonstrate that these sort of IRS transgressions were not invented last week. During the Bush administration there were abuses like these on multiple occasions. Alex Seitz-Wald at Salon has enumerated a few: The IRS threatened to revoke the tax-exempt status of the All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena following an anti-war sermon; The IRS audited the NAACP after its chairman criticized President Bush; The IRS audited and threatened to revoke Greenpeace’s tax-exempt status.

As for Fox News, they also did a report on the over-reaching of past presidents. And look at who they identified as violators:

Fox News - IRS Presidents

Fox managed to find two Democratic presidents (Kennedy and Clinton), who were never found to have done anything unlawful or even unethical via the IRS, and matched them up with one of histories most flagrant criminals (Nixon) whose abuse of IRS power is well documented and even recorded on tape. And somehow, George W. Bush, despite the cases noted above, was left out of Fox’s report entirely. Fair and What the Fuck?

Later in the day, Fox moved on to the story about Bloomberg News snooping on the users of their financial terminals. What could be more unsettling than the prospect of a powerful media institution secretly monitoring your private Internet and telecommunications activities?

Fox News - Bloomberg

Perhaps it might be a private media institution secretly hacking into the phones of thousands of individuals, including politicians, celebrities, and even a murdered schoolgirl. That, of course, is what Rupert Murdoch’s enterprise has admitted doing, but was never covered with the enthusiasm as Fox is now covering the story about their competitor, Bloomberg.


So for the foreseeable future, American news viewers are going to be bombarded with a flurry of sensationalistic stories bursting with speculation and hyperbole. We are already seeing reports that crunch together some of these affairs into conspiracies that assume a role by President Obama that no one has yet proven exists. Fox’s Neil Cavuto devoted a segment of his program to imply that the malfeasance in the IRS’s tax-exempt division will somehow spill over to the group that audits elements of ObamaCare, although they are not even remotely affiliated. The upshot of this conspiracy dementia is that if anyone in any agency does something untoward, then everyone in every agency is guilty.

What’s truly unfortunate is that the investigations into the failings that led to these abuses at the IRS and elsewhere, investigations that are warranted and could be beneficial, will undoubtedly distract both the media and the political class from working to resolve the many serious issues our nation is facing. So instead of creating jobs, protecting and educating children, addressing immigration, or pursuing terrorists, we will be inundated with ever more stories about Benghazi, the IRS, and Jodie Arias-style crime dramas.

If and when we get back to more substantive matters that affect the lives of real people, the scent of scandal will linger and further hamper progress. Consequently, without efficient and effective management of recent events, the nation may have to accept a period of stagnation, which is not what we need right now. And those jerkwads at the IRS are largely responsible for screwing over every citizen who had hoped that the country could move forward just a little bit. I hope they (figuratively) fry.

Fast And Spurious: The Phony Outrage Linking Eric Holder To Brian Terry

Yesterday a sharply divided House of Representatives held a politically motivated vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for allegedly refusing to cooperate with a highly partisan investigation of the Fast and Furious so-called scandal.

Eric Holder - Contempt for Congress

Never mind the fact that Holder appeared before eleven congressional panels and produced about 8,000 documents. And set aside the Fortune Magazine investigation that shatters the GOP’s justifications for the hearings in the first place. The obsession by Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa is so fierce that he has forever stained the House’s reputation by orchestrating the first ever contempt charges against a member of a presidential cabinet, without a whisper of evidence of wrongdoing.

Perhaps the worst part of this, however, is the overt and distasteful manipulation of the family of a murdered border patrol agent. Brian Terry was shot by suspected drug traffickers in an Arizona desert. There is no evidence linking any gun from Fast and Furious to his killing, although there may have been a weapon found at the scene that was purchased during the botched operation. But all of this is beside the point.

Conservatives have long defended their position in opposition to almost any type of gun control by chanting the bumpersticker mantra that “guns don’t kill people. People kill people”. But in this affair they are adamant that it was not a person who pulled the trigger of the weapon that killed Terry, it was the gun itself. They seem to think that absent Fast and Furious drug cartels would have been armed with switchblades and slingshots. Of course, the truth is that these criminal enterprises have had abundant armories before Fast and Furious, and they are no less lethal now that the operation has been dormant for years.

This hypocrisy has been used to incite outrage over Fast and Furious as being responsible for Terry’s death. It wasn’t. Terry was killed as a result of the inherent risks of his job, by criminals who would have been armed with or without Fast and Furious. The cry amongst Republicans that they want to get to the bottom of Terry’s murder is a cynical act of deceit and politics. There is nothing that Congress can learn about Fast and Furious that would reveal anything new about Terry’s murder. Yet somehow, Issa and Company have managed to recruit Terry’s family in this witch hunt.

The family of Brian Terry knows exactly how and why he was killed. Knowing the source of the weapon is no more important than knowing where they bought the car that they drove to the crime scene. So it is wholly inappropriate for them to castigate AG Holder, call for his resignation, or advocate the contempt charge. Whether they know it or not, they are being used by Issa for his partisan political purposes.

Ironically, if they (and the GOP) were really interested in reducing gun violence and the proliferation of illegal firearms, they would support programs that seek to identify gun traffickers who provide weapons to the sort of people who killed Terry. That means programs like Fast and Furious – except far better planned and executed.

It isn’t surprising that politicians like Issa exploit tragedies to advance their agenda. They know the media will sop it up like a blood-soaked sponge. And therein lies the problem. If the media were doing their job professionally and ethically, they would resist these tabloid manipulations and focus on what is truly newsworthy. It’s just too bad that the families in these affairs are sometimes exploited as well. In their grief they may not recognize the signs, but the crocodile tears of self-serving politicians are not a substitute for honest sympathy. And it is heartbreaking to see these families being made fools of while they are still in mourning.