Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Friday, May 17, 2013 6:17 pm

Their insane world is now our world. And we’d better deal with it.

Like it, dislike it (as I do), but you can’t deny it, and to his credit, neither does Michael Tomasky:

I think the notion of impeachment is industrial-strength insane. There is utterly no proof that the President Obama even knew anything directly about the shifting Benghazi responses, let alone did something about them (yes, folks; under the Constitution, the President must do something). And as for the Internal Revenue Service story, from what we now know, those transgressions were committed by IRS staffers in Cincinnati who have never been closer to Obama than their television sets. … [T]he idea that Obama has any direct culpability in either of these matters is, given what we know today, utter madness. Okay?

But this is my point: utter madness is what today’s Republicans do. You can present to me every logical argument you desire. Benghazi at the end of the day was a terrible tragedy in which mistakes, bad mistakes, were certainly made, and in which confusion and the CYA reflex led to some bad information going out to the public initially, but none of this remotely rises to the level of high crime. The IRS cock-up was just that, a mistake by a regional office. I get all this, and I agree with you.

But what we think doesn’t matter. I can assure you that already in the Pavlovian swamps of the nutso right, the glands are swelling. Theirs is a different planet from the one you and I inhabit. …

At this point some of you may be protesting: but at least Clinton did commit a crime, however lame a crime it was. Obama has done no such thing. Again, in reality-land, no, he hasn’t. In their land, however, he has committed a string of them; he just hasn’t been caught yet. And that’s what Darrell Issa and his committee are there to unearth. Besides, he need commit no conventional crime. A high crime or misdemeanor is whatever the House majority decides it is. Remember, in January 1998, impeachment talk started before Clinton [allegedly] had perjured himself. …

Okay, but surely, you say, if facts don’t matter, then public opinion does? Think again, my friend. In 1998, support for impeachment of Bill Clinton was rarely above 30 percent. Here’s a little sampling of surveys from August and September of that year, during the heat of battle—the release of Clinton’s grand-jury testimony and of the Starr Report. Levels of support for impeachment were 26 percent, 25, 18, 27, 17, and so on. There was one poll where it hit 40 percent, but most were far lower. And remember, in political terms, 40 is the butt end of a massive landslide. The public hated the idea.

Did that stop anyone? No. And it won’t stop them now. They do their base’s bidding, not America’s. How many times do you need to see them do this before you accept that it is the reality? And now there’s an added element. They want to gin up turnout among their base for next year’s elections. And if they gin it up enough, and the Democratic base stays home, they could end up holding the House and taking the Senate. And if they have both houses, meaning that the vote in the House would not be certain to hit a Senate dead-end, well, look out.

I hope the White House knows this. I hope they understand, I hope the President himself understands, that the fever has not broken and will not break. … If my worst fears are never realized—well, good, obviously. But it will only be because they couldn’t identify even a flimsy pretext on which to proceed. Never put the most extreme behavior past them. It is who they are, and it is what they do.

It’s not just the White House that needs to understand this. It’s every American who thinks a majority of batshit-crazy Republicans in both houses of Congress would be a bad idea. Here’s why. A lot of Democrats and independents, butthurt over what was or was not in the Affordable Care Act or else just plain lazy, stayed home and didn’t vote in 2010. As a direct consequence of that little fit of temper and/or laziness, the lunatics are running the U.S. House asylum as well as turning my state of North Carolina into Mississippi with (for now) more teeth.

Look, never mind that Benghazi was a bad and tragic mistake and not a political/criminal conspiracy (except the part where it might have been a Republican conspiracy). And never mind that whatever a bunch of IRS functionaries in Cincinnati might have done, the IRS did much worse to liberal groups under Bush and the Republicans never said a word. These people are not rational. They’re not even sane. If they take the Senate next year, I’m even more confident than Tomasky that they will find some pretext, any pretext, on which to base multiple articles of impeachment. They will fling as much feces against the wall as they can, knowing that in a GOP-held Senate, at least some of it likely will stick. And the strong likelihood that either an incumbent President Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton running as the Democratic nominee in 2016 would drink their blood for it will not matter in the slightest.



  1. Liberal impeachment talk….it’s a trap

    ” The funny thing is a lot of the people doing so are of the left

    This is not an accident, the left understand that talk of impeachment now would be a disaster, not to the president, but to those building the case against him.

    As Tip O’Neill notes public opinion led the congress on impeachment. Democrats were hesitant to move forward until polls showed otherwise.

    Now we of course have a different environment today. Instead of a Republican president attacked by a democrat press and generally friendly to the Democrat majority, you have a Democrat press who has traditionally defended Barack Obama that dislikes the GOP majority in the house.

    This is all the more reason to let the public get there first. The congress HAS to be perceived as investigating facts. If the facts continue to go where the evidence seems to be pointing the public will demand action.

    A great example of the danger of moving early was Fr. Robert Drinan (D-Mass) who introduced a resolution of impeachment on the last day of July in 1973 over the Bombing of Cambodia. As O’Neill writes it almost blew the game:

    politically , he damn near blew it, for if Drinan’s resolution had come up for a vote it would have been overwhelming defeated by something like 400-30. With so many members already on record as having voted once against impeachment it would have been extremely difficult to get the to change their minds later one.

    meanwhile if a vote came up and failed, Republicans, who at the time were not convinced that there was any “there there” would have said when a later resolution came up:

    “Why bother? We’ve already been through this.”

    As Drinan refused to withdraw his resolution and all resolutions on impeachment are privileged the leadership O’Neill took extraordinary measures to make sure the resolution was not called up keeping one of the leadership ready on the floor 24/7 ready to table such a resolution. Because he didn’t want to give them the idea to move Drinan’s resolution forward. After a long time of this he finally approached Jerry Ford who told them bluntly the White House had rejected the idea. As O’Neill wrote:

    By not forcing an early vote on impeachment, Nixon’s allies made a tremendous mistake. In addition to winning the vote, the Republicans could have turned impeachment into a party issue which might have allowed Nixon to remain in office and blame the Democrats for harassing him, But in the summer of 1973 the White House couldn’t imagine that Watergate would end in the downfall of the president.

    And that is the trap.

    I’ll wager not too may members of the Tea Party have read O’Neill’s book, nor GOP members of congress but I’ll wager plenty of people on the left have. They understand that if the GOP moves early, before democrats are on board, it becomes a party issue so they are going to do their best to force our hand before the facts are in evidence.

    I suspect the facts on this case are going to be damning to this administration. The best thing the congress can do is to investigate and let these facts come out to the American people and watch the administration stall and cover up. The press already finds themselves split on this issue, only the most partisan seem willing to defend the IRS without question.

    This morning Politico yes POLITICO reported in disbelief on MSNBC on the data being asked of TeaParty groups. As long as the conversation is about what the IRS did and if the White House co-operated public opinion will move. Right now that’s where the conversation needs to be.

    The White House and their allies will do their best to wave the red flag in the hope we charge, instead we should sit back and let this scandal and the investigation cook.

    And when it is ready the evidence presented the people and the votes will be there for the next step.”

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Friday, May 17, 2013 7:03 pm @ 7:03 pm

  2. Were I a GOP strategist, I would be saying the same things that author is. The problem is that the GOP base is nowhere near as rational as the author, and any GOP congresscritter who defies the base will almost certainly be primaried from the right. Add to that the fact that the House already is full of Louie Gohmerts, and I think the GOP might well burn the house down with themselves still inside, just because they think they can get Obama in doing so.

    Comment by Lex — Friday, May 17, 2013 7:59 pm @ 7:59 pm

  3. Via the NYT :

    The Treasury Department’s inspector general told senior Treasury officials in June 2012 he was auditing the Internal Revenue Service’s screening of politically active organizations seeking tax exemptions, disclosing for the first time on Friday that Obama administration officials were aware of the matter during the presidential campaign year.
    At the first Congressional hearing into the I.R.S. scandal, J. Russell George, the Treasury inspector general for tax administration, told members of the House Ways and Means Committee that he informed the Treasury’s general counsel of his audit on June 4, and Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin “shortly thereafter.”

    Comment by Josh — Friday, May 17, 2013 11:14 pm @ 11:14 pm

  4. Uh, Josh, “screening politically active organizations” = “doing his job.” 501c4 exempt organizations are allowed only limited political activity, related to the purpose for their exemption. A number of groups were behaving almost exclusively politically from the git-go and therefore shouldn’t have been given, or allowed to keep, exemptions. If they want to be PACs, fine; they just need to follow the rules.

    Comment by Lex — Saturday, May 18, 2013 5:00 am @ 5:00 am

  5. ” the IRS did much worse to liberal groups under Bush ” Your link names one Episcopal Church in Pasadena . Thats it ? Puleeze.
    Billy Graham ?? Really Lex you are defending the indefensible, Hundreds of conservative organizations were targeted by Obama’s IRS for extra scrutiny and asked for donor lists, which if furnished were given to opposition groups.

    In 2012 Omaba’s web site published an enemies list. Here is the compelling story of one conservative American business man who felt the wrath of Obama’s Chicago style politics.

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Saturday, May 18, 2013 3:53 pm @ 3:53 pm

    • Fred, ALL exempt organizations are required to provide donor lists to the IRS each year as part of their tax returns (Firm 990S). Even Greensboro College. Those lists are redactable from the copy of the 990 that must be released to the public on request, but they must be reported to the IRS. That’s been the law for decades. As for providing the info to opposition groups, that’s absolutely illegal – but I have yet to see documentation that it has happened. Got any?


      Comment by Lex — Sunday, May 19, 2013 10:57 am @ 10:57 am

  6. It’s unAmerican to defend these abuses by the IRS, Lex.

    Comment by polifrog — Sunday, May 19, 2013 3:28 pm @ 3:28 pm

  7. Two points, Frog: 1) I’m still awaiting hard proof there WERE abuses. If there actually were, I won’t defend them. But so far, I’ve not seen that there were, as noted in my response above to Fred. 2) You don’t get the prerogative on this blog of deciding whether I’m American enough. In fact, in the unlikely event that you ever get that prerogative at any time or place, I’ll let you know. Try it again and you’re banned; there is some shit I simply will not eat.

    Comment by Lex — Sunday, May 19, 2013 3:45 pm @ 3:45 pm

  8. Abuses.? Hundreds of them, Lex. Here is one lady and group who you , no doubt , find offensive. You are on record that voter fraud is a myth.

    A quote about her organization just to set stage:

    ” In May, 2013, it was revealed that True the Vote was one of the targets of illegal intimidation tactics and political profiling promulgated by the IRS against right-wing groups.[36] True the Vote told that new revelations that the IRS was discriminating in 2012 against conservative non-profits came as no shock to them. ‘We applied for nonprofit C-3 status early in 2010,’ said Catherine Engelbrecht, president of True the Vote, which has come under heavy assault from the Left for its focus on voter identification. ‘Since that time the IRS has run us through a gauntlet of analysts and hundreds of questions over and over again. They’ve requested to see each and every tweet I’ve ever tweeted or Facebook post I’ve ever posted. They also asked to know every place I’ve ever spoken since our inception and to whom, and everywhere I intend to speak in the future. We’ve met all requirements, responded to everything, and provided case law in such areas where appropriate,’ Engelbrecht stated. ‘The IRS treatment of us lends to the appearance of a politically-motivated abuse of power and an assault on free speech.’ ”

    What did speaking out get her.. Let’s see..17 visits from the FBI. ATF.EPA and IRS,. Abused for polituical thought .. clearly !!

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Monday, May 20, 2013 1:38 am @ 1:38 am

    • We have only her word that 1) these things happened and 2) that they’re uncommon or unusual. In fact, they’re neither. This is how the IRS is supposed to determine if a group is engaging only in a small amount of political activity (permitted for 501c4 groups) or a large amount (not permitted). Also, Breitbart? C’mon.

      What I asked for proof of was your claim that info on donors from conservative groups had been gathered by the IRS and distributed to their political opponents. Except in the case of publicly available portions of Form 990s, I know of no such case, and I’m betting that you don’t, either.

      Comment by Lex — Monday, May 20, 2013 10:07 pm @ 10:07 pm

  9. The IRS scandal started at the top

    “The IRS is easy to demonize, but it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It got its heading from a president, and his party, who did in fact send it orders—openly, for the world to see. In his Tuesday press grilling, no question agitated White House Press Secretary Jay Carney more than the one that got to the heart of the matter: Given the president’s ‘animosity’ toward Citizens United, might he have ‘appreciated or wanted the IRS to be looking and scrutinizing those . . .’ Mr. Carney cut off the reporter with ‘That’s a preposterous assertion.’

    Preposterous because, according to Mr. Obama, he is ‘outraged’ and ‘angry’ that the IRS looked into the very groups and individuals that he spent years claiming were shady, undemocratic, even lawbreaking. After all, he expects the IRS to ‘operate with absolute integrity.’ Even when he does not.”

    ( Previous comment correction. OSHA not EPA )

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Monday, May 20, 2013 3:07 pm @ 3:07 pm

  10. When Strassel, of all people, can provide PROOF that what he says happened happened — genuine documents and/or reliable first-hand witnesses — I’ll believe him. Until then, he’s just another WSJ op-ed writer pulling stuff out of his ass.

    Comment by Lex — Monday, May 20, 2013 10:09 pm @ 10:09 pm

  11. If you had opened the article link it would have been clear that Srassel was a she and not a he . (Kim with a picture below the masthead ) Lex that was the lamest response I think you have ever made. Yeah if only those WSJ people could produce documents ( fake but real ) like your buddy Dan Rather then you would belive them. Sigh !

    She is not making this up

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Tuesday, May 21, 2013 12:58 am @ 12:58 am

  12. Wow…the leftie Daily Beast is awake to Obama’s uses and abuse of the media now. Here, Dem apologist, Kirsten Powers, takes note and gives warning.

    Good for you, Kirsten – but where were you when the rest of us were sounding alarms, starting five years ago?

    Oh, that’s right – blaming Bush and carrying Obama’s water.

    It’s a bit late, but welcome to the party.

    How Hope and Change Gave Way to Spying on the Press

    Lex is Powers like one of those WSJ ed writers ” pulling stuff out their ass “.

    Please don’t insult us by excusing this . Your defending this guy and his goons is really becoming tiresome

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Tuesday, May 21, 2013 9:30 pm @ 9:30 pm

  13. Sorry; was confusing with Stossel. I’m still awaiting proof of your original claim: info being gathered on conservative orgs and being turned over to their political opponents. You haven’t provided it because it’s not happening. Meanwhile, we’re supposed to take True the Vote’s own word and the word of that anything illegal was done to True the Vote. I won’t rule it out, but I want to see independently gathered evidence or the fruits of an official FOIA request from TTV or Breitbart. Neither exists, at least in part because, as nearly as I can tell, neither has been sought.

    And to change subjects along with you, no, I don’t condone spying on the press. There’s way too much warrantless government surveillance of ALL kinds going on right now. That said, Fox News’s parent company was informed in 2010, and what did it do? Protest? No. Inform its news subsidiary? No. Now, why might that be, do you think? Call me crazy, but I hypothesize that Murdoch let it go because his own company was up to its eyeballs in illegal wiretapping, as we later learned. But that’s just a guess.

    Comment by Lex — Monday, May 27, 2013 9:44 pm @ 9:44 pm

  14. Oh Lex. Heard of pro publica ? Proof it’s there’re a smart guy… find it

    So show me proof that Rosen was timely informed as required, regarding of this invasion of his privacy. First of all the warrant to obtain the records was a fraud and a sham (. approved by Holder , who forgot he oked it when testifying=felony ) The DOJ sought an complient & obscure magistrate judge ( junior varsity federal judge) who probably didn’t read it before signing. Any Federal District Court Judge would have thrown the errrand boy FBI agent out of his office along with the DOJ affidavit. Are you even aware that they asked for extensions on the requirement of advising parties and to boot for frivilous AND PHONY REASONS.

    THERE YOU GO AGAIN .. CHANGING THE SUBJECT.. Wait you did’t bring up or blame Bush. You are slipping

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Tuesday, May 28, 2013 1:24 pm @ 1:24 pm

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