Scandal Week

With Benghazi revelations and IRS abuses dominating the headlines, the Obama Administration is releasing details on a couple of additional scandals, hoping they will slip under the radar.

No dice, guys:

First:

Last week, The Washington Post reported that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius had “gone, hat in hand, to health industry officials, asking them to make large financial donations to help with the effort to implement President Obama’s landmark health-care law.” According to the Post, an HHS source and an industry official have affirmed that over the last three months, “Sebelius has made multiple phone calls to health industry executives, community organizations and church groups and asked that they contribute whatever they can to nonprofit groups that are working to enroll uninsured Americans and increase awareness of the law.”

Over the weekend, The New York Times reported that two organizations expected to be supporting the law are The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which is expected to give $10 million, and H&R Block, which will give a “donation” of $500,000. The Post and the Times reports also indicate that Secretary Sebelius has made contact with insurers, asking them to support the health law’s implementation.

One of the things I’ve noticed about this Administration is that they are very devoted to finding ways to violate the spirit, if not exactly the letter, of the law. They are constantly searching for loopholes and excuses for behavior that is supposed to be forbidden.

In this case, Sebelius is strictly forbidden from fundraising or soliciting funds in an official capacity. She can do so as a private citizen, but not with her official title and not with companies she regulates. The White House’s answer is that “Sebelius did not solicit for funds directly from industries that HHS regulates, such as insurance companies and hospitals, but rather asked them to contribute in whatever way they can” with is Orwellian doublespeak. There is no question about how industry saw this shakedown and I doubt that the Obama Administration is under any delusions either. They’re hoping that they’ve skirted the law. But the ultimate result is just the same.

But wait, there’s more!

The Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press in what the news cooperative’s top executive called a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into how news organizations gather the news.

The records obtained by the Justice Department listed outgoing calls for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, for general AP office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and for the main number for the AP in the House of Representatives press gallery, according to attorneys for the AP. It was not clear if the records also included incoming calls or the duration of the calls.

In all, the government seized the records for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to AP and its journalists in April and May of 2012. The exact number of journalists who used the phone lines during that period is unknown, but more than 100 journalists work in the offices where phone records were targeted, on a wide array of stories about government and other matters.

And, just like that, the press suddenly becomes aware of the gigantic surveillance state that Barack Obama has built up over the last four years.

The government is not saying why they tapped the phones. They have previously hinted that they were investigating a leak of classified information. But even if that’s the case, this was a massive sweep of AP journalists. It crosses that line from investigating a specific criminal action into engaging in broad unwarranted surveillance for any potential criminal action. It’s the difference between having Constitutional safeguards on our liberty and not having them at all.

What we are seeing is apotheosis of an Administration that has had far too little checking and balancing from the media. No matter what Obama has done, the media has been on his side, either ignoring it for finding excuses for it. And they have kept pushing and pushing the boundaries until, perhaps, they have finally crossed a line that even liberals might notice.

With the AP scandal especially, a lot of scales are falling from a lot of eyes. Better late than never, I guess. But we’ll just see how enthusiastically they cover the next revelation.

Comments are closed.

  1. Thrill

    When I first called the Obama Administration “Nixonian”, I never thought I’d end up feeling unfair to Nixon

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  2. evanshrugged

    We should stop calling shady presidents “Nixonian.” The word for politicians who get up to shady business is “politician.”

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  3. Hal_10000 *

    I said in the post that I think the media bears a lot of the blame here. They have been so unwilling to call this President out, so willing to write off his critics as nuts and racists. Now they’ve had their nose rubbed in it with this AP scandal and they’re all looking at each other like idiots and saying, “well, maybe his critics had a point.”

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  4. Mississippi Yankee

    One of the things I’ve noticed about this Administration is that they are very devoted to finding ways to violate the spirit, if not exactly the letter, of the law. They are constantly searching for loopholes and excuses for behavior that is supposed to be forbidden.

    How is this different from the “Rule of Law” dance you did when David Gregory waved that 30 rnd magazine on national TV? Remember, you thought even a perfunctory slap on the hand was beyond the pale?

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  5. stogy

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  6. stogy

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  7. Section8

    I’m all for enquiries into wrongdoing by any administration.

    No you’re not, not this with this administration. We know it, you know it, so you might as well save yourself some time and just pretend you didn’t write this.

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  8. AlexInCT

    Shhh…. nobody mention waterboarding….

    Yeah, because waterboarding enemy combatants for intel is far, far worse, than letting terrorists commit an act of war. They killed an US Ambassador and his aids, humiliated America as well by desecrating his body after the fact. And then, all because someone in the chain of command had either ordered a military stand down – they were trying to cover up something far worse than the waterboarding, or just so they could cover their asses, because you spent a whole week dancing on bin Laden’s corpse at a political convention the week before – and let this ordeal play out. And the fucking topper is that 4 people lost their lives so Obama could win an election.

    Perspective is not the left’s strong suit.

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  9. Hal_10000 *

    How is this different from the “Rule of Law” dance you did when David Gregory waved that 30 rnd magazine on national TV? Remember, you thought even a perfunctory slap on the hand was beyond the pale?

    This again?

    1) Gregory is not the President of the United States, the man who is in charge of enforcing the law. Law restricting the power of government are, by definition, self-enforcing. If a President won’t obey them, we enter a state of of governmental lawlessness. If David Gregory isn’t prosecuted, he gets to be annoying on TV for a while. Not really the same thing.

    2) As I pointed out at the time, no one had ever been charged with just having a magazine. They were additional charges piled onto other crimes and dropped in 90 out of 105 cases.

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  10. stogy

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  11. stogy

    No you’re not, not this with this administration.

    Yeah. I am. I meant exactly what I said. If the Obama administration has abused powers in some way to unfairly use the IRS to investigate its political enemies, it’s disgusting. It deserves to be investigated, and if wrongdoing can be shown, I would support impeachment. But not by some party political process. What I would like to see is a process independent of party politics. A permanent corruption committee with broad investigative powers – replacing the current politically motivated congressional enquiries. Does anyone remember how bad the whole Ken Starr investigation was?

    I am not defending Obama. I think his presidency has been extremely disappointing, and very little that I would like to have seen has been done. This administration has largely been a continuation of the previous one in almost every respect. Lee used to say “why would you blame a liberal for acting like a liberal?” Well, Obama, for me, has largely behaved more like Bush: same foreign policies, same economic policies, daft health policies. But mostly, let’s look after our friends. Same as Bush. But different friends. So I have no love for the man.

    What really shits me is when it was Bush doing obvious stuff wrong, you lot were all “nothing to see here” (despite almost certainly violating the constitution and curtailing civil rights with the Patriot act), but now it’s Obama, you’re all up in arms, song and dance…Fuck, nothing gets solved! And there is no real incentive for our political leaders of whatever political leaning to improve. Based on the Benghazi investigations, which are essentially party political advertisements rather than a genuine search for the truth, I can honestly say I have no idea if any serious wrongdoing was committed.

    Let’s see a proper process!

    Hot! Thumb up 2

  12. stogy

    I support you leaving the poor horse alone.

    OK. So let’s say it’s the next administration, and by some miracle, the GOP has managed to organize a viable, winning candidate. 2 years into his/her first term, the dems start moaning about how your candidate did something illegal (for the purposes of this example, it actually doesn’t matter whether it is true or not). Of course, being your guy, you don’t want to accept it. So instead of an open independent, non-partisan investigation, a GOP president is damaged by a long drawn out process of allegations and counter allegations. The dems hint darkly at shady money and murder of innocents.

    Wouldn’t you want an independent process that would clear/his her name?

    I can’t even fathom why anyone would argue against it? The only people that lose are the politicians.

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  13. Seattle Outcast

    How about something like an Independent Commission on Corruption

    These generally turn into one or more of the following:

    1) Witch hunt

    2) Distraction

    3) Waste of time & money

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  14. stogy

    I support you leaving the poor horse alone.

    And although it should be obvious, I will just say again: this is not about waterboarding. This is about governments redefining laws to suit their needs. Are you seriously so biased as to believe that Obama is the first president to have done this? Or will be the last? Or that it is done only by one major political party?

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  15. Thrill

    This is about governments redefining laws to suit their needs.

    The current Obama Administration scandals are not about that. They’re about lack of control or accountability by an increasingly antagonistic. gigantic federal bureaucracy that is answerable to nobody and the Administration that is enabling it by either deliberately using it to suppress opponents and anything that runs counter to what it wants publicized and blaming the low-level bureaucrats when it gets exposed or quietly ignoring its misconduct.

    You can argue all day about waterboarding, but plenty of politicians within both the Executive and Legislative branches in BOTH parties knew it was going on and did not attempt to stop it. No political appointees or elected officials were punished for it and they never will be.

    Stop blessing the current Administration’s corruption by blaming Bush. If these things are wrong, it is time to collect some heads. The full criminal consequences for these kinds of things absolutely must start to be applied to the political class or we are never going to see the end of it.

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  16. Xetrov

    OK. So let’s say…

    The horse thanks you.

    What really shits me is when it was Bush doing obvious stuff wrong, you lot were all “nothing to see here”

    Bullshit (at least in regard to me, I don’t speak for “you lot”).

    How you came to this –

    So Xetrov, you support a party political investigative process because it’s Obama, and not an independent process because politicians will always be politicians?

    because you were beating the waterboarded horse is beyond me.

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  17. stogy

    These generally turn into one or more of the following:

    1) Witch hunt

    2) Distraction

    3) Waste of time & money

    Can you give some examples of this? How independent were they?

    I remember that Australia had a really good system in one of the states – I think it was NSW. An incoming government set it up to investigate the misdeeds of the previous governing party, but then it focused much of its attention on the ruling party at the time. Some decades later they’ve done a fairly good job of investigating both sides, and criminal charges have been brought as a result of their findings.

    You’d really prefer the current system of politcal theater, which I can pretty much guarantee you is a waste of time and money?

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  18. stogy

    The current Obama Administration scandals are not about that. They’re about lack of control or accountability by an increasingly antagonistic. gigantic federal bureaucracy that is answerable to nobody and the Administration that is enabling it by either deliberately using it to suppress opponents and anything that runs counter to what it wants publicized and blaming the low-level bureaucrats when it gets exposed or quietly ignoring its misconduct.

    … of which the Obama administration may well simply the latest protagonist. The truth is so clouded in partisanship I have no idea of what the truth is.

    I am not trying to excuse the Obama administration. I am simply saying that it is more likely they are not an exception. Almost every administration has a history of throwing the staff under the bus when it suits them. They are simply the most recent in a line that runs back decades at least. The Plame affair? Iran Contra? How about Billygate? The Bobby Baker scandal?

    TIme for a better system.

    Gotta sleep…late here…

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  19. Thrill

    TIme for a better system.

    Fair enough, but it would be refreshing to see you not defend “your team” by using the “Republicans Do It Too” Defense. Plenty of Democrats and media liberals are condemning these scandals today and I respect them all the more for it.

    There isn’t some sort of mysterious cloud of partisanship about any of this. The Obama Administration has royally fucked up and is doing everything it can to push the blame downward. Don’t let them do it.

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  20. Dave D

    So instead of an open independent, non-partisan investigation, a GOP president is damaged by a long drawn out process of allegations and counter allegations.

    The torture issue aside, this sounds JUST like the partisan witchunt and constant accusations of lying/phantom WMD’s/etc. YOUR side placed on Dubyah’s regime during his ENTIRE 8 years while he was trying to prosecute a war against terrorists. At least the part after the post-9/11 “we’re all in agreement” phase ended. Do you guys even LISTEN to yourselves talk?

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  21. salinger

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  22. CM

    Bullshit (at least in regard to me, I don’t speak for “you lot”).

    Xetrov you were stridently defending torture back at MW (in discussions with me). Can’t say I remember too much Bush criticism about anything else either.

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  23. Xetrov

    Xetrov you were stridently defending torture back at MW (in discussions with me).

    Incorrect. I still maintain that waterboarding is not torture, and that is all I’m going to say on that now decomposed horse.

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  24. salinger

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  25. CM

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  26. Retluocc1
    ….that is all I’m going to say on that now decomposed horse.

    Yes, we’ll add it to the list of blacklisted topics (along with AGW and the Iraq War……) ;-)

    You know, decomposing horse corpses release huge amounts of methane which is a potent greenhouse gas. We need to find a clean, renewable source of horses so we can get out from under the thumb of Big Equine…

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  27. CM

    You know, decomposing horse corpses release huge amounts of methane which is a potent greenhouse gas. We need to find a clean, renewable source of horses so we can get out from under the thumb of Big Equine…

    :-) Nice work…

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  28. Section8

    What really shits me is when it was Bush doing obvious stuff wrong, you lot were all “nothing to see here” (despite almost certainly violating the constitution and curtailing civil rights with the Patriot act), but now it’s Obama, you’re all up in arms, song and dance…

    Absolute bullshit. Lee’s blog was non stop with criticizing Bush from the economy to foreign policy, to domestic policy especially in his second term. Hal was also critical. Not all agreed, but many did including those on the right, which many are still here. Plus he had a following of leftist cheering him on who for the most part disappeared after Obama was elected and realized this blog would hold Obama to standards (even though we were told repeatedly that wouldn’t be needed), instead of becoming the bash Glenn Beck blog. I don’t know what you were reading, but the archives are still here.

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  29. stogy

    Uh!

    Torture isn’t the issue here. Nor are any of the other scandals I mentioned here: Plame, Iran Contra, Monica Lewinsky, Billygate… I am not trying to distract anyone from the current scandals by flogging a dead horse. Removing party political agendas from the investigative process is the point. To avoid clusterfucks like we got with the Benghazi investigation, with enquiry leaders issuing their own report without any dissenting views or due process being followed. And Dems on the same committees arguing “nothing to see here”. It stinks. It’s not a real investigation.

    Unless the system is reformed, this is going to repeat over and over, regardless of who is the president at the time.

    Here’s a question:

    Do you think your position now on Benghazi or the IRS scandals would be the same now had this occurred under a Republican President? Think back to the scandals I linked to above. What was your position at the time? How did you feel when it was a president closer to your own political leanings? Would you have felt the same if it had occurred under an opposing party president?

    Do you actually think that because it was your candidate that it made them any less likely to abuse their position?

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  30. Mississippi Yankee

    This again?

    1) Gregory is not the President of the United States, the man who is in charge of enforcing the law. Law restricting the power of government are, by definition, self-enforcing. If a President won’t obey them, we enter a state of of governmental lawlessness. If David Gregory isn’t prosecuted, he gets to be annoying on TV for a while. Not really the same thing.

    Have you been taking “goal-post moving” and obfuscation lessons from CM? You threw the Rule of Law argument right out the window (and still seem to be) when it concerned you NBC buddy Gregory.

    Is what he did against the law? Did the Regime® Justice Dept. counsel the Metro Police Dept. to drop the charges? Please keep in mind he had already been charged!

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  31. Xetrov

    Do you think your position now on Benghazi or the IRS scandals would be the same now had this occurred under a Republican President?

    Yes. I’m a Conservative, not a Republican. Career Politicians are the number one problem in Washington. On both sides of the isle. I’ve said that for years.

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  32. stogy

    Yes. I’m a Conservative, not a Republican. Career Politicians are the number one problem in Washington. On both sides of the isle. I’ve said that for years.

    So in the case of waterboarding (which you have said you support because it was not torture), do you think your attitudes would have been different to it if it was a Dem president?

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  33. Thrill

    Stogy, I believe most here would have viewed it the same way even with a Democrat. You don’t see a whole lot of opposition here to Obama’s drone program and that is likely a violation of international law, for example.

    What is confusing to me is that the domestic surveillance program and a few other parts of the Patriot Act barely get any play on here anymore now that Bush is gone.

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  34. Xetrov

    So in the case of waterboarding (which you have said you support because it was not torture), do you think your attitudes would have been different to it if it was a Dem president?

    What a person does in office means a hell of a lot more to me than the letter after their name. If Obama had caught OBL and waterboarded him for eight straight years, I wouldn’t have a problem with it.

    What is confusing to me is that the domestic surveillance program and a few other parts of the Patriot Act barely get any play on here anymore now that Bush is gone.

    Because Obama’s just trying to care for us man. He wants what’s best for all of us, clearly.

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  35. AlexInCT

    Do you think your position now on Benghazi or the IRS scandals would be the same now had this occurred under a Republican President?

    No, I would be even more pissed that they had done something this dispicable.

    If it mattters, I should point out that I would have demanded at a minimum massive firings and probably even impeachment to punish the abuses of power. Obama, of course, should thank god that his fellow travelers have no morals and that unlike the case for any repbulican president, his Veep is such an idiot most people would prefer to keep, no matter how criminal he gets, Obama arouund.

    So in the case of waterboarding (which you have said you support because it was not torture), do you think your attitudes would have been different to it if it was a Dem president?

    I would have not been bothered at all. And I am willing to bet that had AlBore been president and ordered this it would NEVER have become an issue. Waterboarding is to torture what a leaky faucet is to Niagara falls. I think it is much ado about nothing. That’s probably because I have experienced waterboarding and know it is mental, and also seen what real torture looks like. Somehow getting your air cut off for a few seconds, so you trigger a panic reflex in the hopes of breaking down mental resistance, doesn’t, in my mind at least, come close to being fed feet first into a wood chipper or being forced to watch your wife or daughter being gang raped. But the problem is with me not being a fucking pussy, and not with the fact that if they could come clean on it the assholes would have to admit that their real motivation was an insane hatered of Boosh.

    Know what I am saying?

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  36. stogy

    Stogy, I believe most here would have viewed it the same way even with a Democrat. You don’t see a whole lot of opposition here to Obama’s drone program and that is likely a violation of international law, for example.

    That’s a good point. But doesn’t it then mean that you think the law only applies to policies you disagree with? What if I thought the admin doing just about whatever it could to damage the Tea Party was perfectly legitimate? (which I don’t)

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  37. AlexInCT

    That’s a good point. But doesn’t it then mean that you think the law only applies to policies you disagree with? What if I thought the admin doing just about whatever it could to damage the Tea Party was perfectly legitimate? (which I don’t)

    The fallacy in your argument is that you assume acceptance of doing something that is clearly wrong is the same as acceptance of something because it is not wrong.

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  38. Thrill

    The Bush Administration, for whatever it did, always seemed to make sure that there was some sort of legal basis for its acts (honestly). For example, it did everything it could to get Congressional approval for the Iraq War and it did seek out and get a legal rationale for the use of waterboarding (which has since been totally discredited).

    The Bush Administration went to a lot of trouble to at least give the appearance of lawfulness, even at those times that what it was doing were proven to be unlawful.

    Contrast this with the Obama Administration, which bombs Libya with no legal authority, refuses to even discuss the drone program or barely acknowledge it, places American citizens on a secret kill list and takes them out with said drones, and all that.

    When they get caught in illegal or questionable responses, they simply throw a low-level bureaucrat under the bus or get one to resign a month earlier than he was going to anyway. Bush may have twisted the law to meet his purposes, but Obama has a weird knack for not noticing his own Administration’s lawlessness when it happens to also mesh with his objectives.

    Bush sought legal authority for his acts (yes, really). Obama acknowledges the illegality of his actions but blames others for them. For example, Bush had his attornies figure out that Guantamo’s detention center would meet the needs of dealing with these kinds of combatants and make an argument for it. Obama believes that Guantanamo’s detention facility is illegal but keeps it open anyway because moving it would be politically harmful. That’s the big difference.

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  39. AlexInCT

    The Bush Administration, for whatever it did, always seemed to make sure that there was some sort of legal basis for its acts (honestly). For example, it did everything it could to get Congressional approval for the Iraq War and it did seek out and get a legal rationale for the use of waterboarding (which has since been totally discredited).

    And even when they did the media hammered them, and the media often just made up shit to make Boosh and republicans look bad. I am sure the usual suspects will again pretend that’s not the case, but after seeing the fucks line up to lick Obama’s dirty sphincter, remembering how dispicably they treated Boosh, is something I would like to pretend didn’t happen either if I was a librul. Rumors of a coservative doing something bad? Lead story for weeks. Darg them through the mud. Even when the story turns out to be false. No need to offer a correction. But the donkeys can be caught with a little boy or dead girl in bed and the media/left will tell you we should wait till after the trial results in a conviction to really bother with the story.

    That they are reporting on Obama and Team Blue right now tells me that there is something even more nefarious they are trying to hide.

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  40. Mississippi Yankee

    That they are reporting on Obama and Team Blue right now tells me that there is something even more nefarious they are trying to hide.

    As I’ve mentioned several times this year, the “Oh” administration is all about the ‘distractions and the coincidences’.

    This observation was made by a much better writer than me.

    “MSM is perfectly willing to skewer the IRS, just as they skewered smokers and tobacco – they’re almost universally unpopular and easy meat.
    The hidden agenda is to divert attention from Benghazi.
    The IRS afair could (probably does actually) lead to the Oval office and/or Dems in Congress, but can most likely be made to go away with a token sacrifice.
    Benghazi, OTOH, leads directly to the Oval Office and nowhere else. It can’t go anywhere else – only the President could order troops into Libya or order the ones there to strike, and only he could make them “Stand down.”
    Susan Rice and Hillary Clinton both reported directly to him. How was their bright shining lie authored, coordinated and authorized?
    What sort of activities were going on in the Benghazi mission before the disaster? Enough gun running/weapons trafficking to make Iran Contra pale in comparison?
    Uhbama bragadocciously spiked the bin Laden football, and the 9-11 II response to this put paid to his vaunted “be nice to muzzies” initiative,
    Uhbama & Co. will be happy to throw some middle management IRS apparatchik under the bus in return for making Benghazi go away.
    There will long drawn out hearings, lots of grandstanding for cameras, lots of faux crocodile tears, and promises by all to do better in the future.
    All to no real result except to draw attention from Benghazi.

    If Boner and the Reps were serious about the IRS, or Uhbamacare, they’d take a big chun out of the IRS budget and restrict how theei funding is spent, but Boner hasn’t the spine to do that.
    Benghazi is the thing the Dems really fear.”

    Tailgunner Dick@ C&S

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  41. Seattle Outcast

    Supposedly, Holder had the Congressional Cloak Room bugged. Not even the donkeys will put up with Obama’s favorite stooge/incompetent bugging congress….

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  42. Xetrov

    That they are reporting on Obama and Team Blue right now tells me that there is something even more nefarious they are trying to hide.

    Clinton 2016.

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