Peder D4

Discussion of politics and other odious things

Monday, June 17, 2013

Regaining Trust in the IRS

If you want half of the country to believe that the IRS can be fixed, then we need to be confident that we've gotten the whole story.  We need to know that the people responsible have been punished and that current and future employees know that this is a line that must not be crossed again.  We need an open investigation.
Does anyone feel like we've had that?  No? 
Well, this won't help you feel that way either:
Details of that testimony are interesting. Representative Tom Graves (R., Ga.) asked, “Have you asked the individuals who ordered them to use this extra scrutiny to punish, or penalize, or postpone, or deny?” George turns around to confer with his assistant. Just the fact that the inspector general had to confer to know the answer to this crucial question is amazing. George’s assistant says something to him that is not recorded, but one can see the assistant shaking his head back and forth. Then George responds publicly to the question, saying, “During our audit, Congressman, we did pose that question and no one would acknowledge who, if anyone, provided that direction.”
Second, George was particularly careful to limit his answer to the “audit phase.” Every IG has two procedures to obtain information. One is audit procedure, to which IG George referred. That’s generally limited to accounting analysis, to determine whether there may be reason to open an investigation. Once there is reason — and there clearly was reason here, given the obviously illegal conduct — the IG opens an investigation, in which investigators, not auditors, pose the questions, the department employees are placed under oath, and, as a federal court has approved, informed that “failure to answer completely and truthfully may result in disciplinary action, including dismissal.” The question is why George’s office didn’t do this immediately.
 The probable answer to the question is chilling. 

Who Watches the Watchers?  This is a question that has plagued government planners since at least the Greeks.  What do we do if we can't trust the people who are supposed to be investigating?  What happens if they are kept from doing their jobs? 
Back during the Plame Affair, a much smaller thing than this, W Bush publicly told everyone in his administration that he wanted them to cooperate to the fullest with the investigation.  It would help if Obama would make some sort of similar statement.  He said this was outrageous.  It would be nice if followed up with some action.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

The All Seeing State

I'm not a conspiracy guy.  In fact, I have a rock hard belief that any conspiracy that would involve the actions of more than a handful of people is virtually impossible to operate.  Communications break down, or some has a change of conscience and the gig is up.  If you'd told me a month ago that we had something to fear from our own government, I would have been skeptical.  Oh, I understand the potential dangers.  And small elements of the government, like maniacal prosecutors or petty policeman can be a big problem to an individual, but the odds of you personally being threatened by one is pretty small.  In other words, I knew there was a danger out there but not one that I actively worried about.
Well, the past month has been pretty hard on my faith in good government.  The IRS scandal wounded that faith.  I think Mark Steyn gets at the reason behind it:
What’s striking as the revelations multiply and metastasize is that at no point does any IRS official appear to have raised objections. If any of them understood that what they were doing was wrong, they kept it to themselves. When Nixon tried to sic the IRS on a few powerful political enemies, the IRS told him to take a hike. When Obama’s courtiers tried to sic the IRS on thousands of ordinary American citizens, the agency went along, and very enthusiastically. This is a scale of depravity hitherto unknown to the tax authorities of the United States, and for that reason alone they should be disarmed and disbanded — and rebuilt from scratch with far more circumscribed powers.
 No one stood up and said, 'hey, we shouldn't be doing this'.  And even now, after the IRS had admitted that it did the wrong thing, various defenders keep trying to figure out why this wasn't such a big deal.  (Btw, screw you, various defenders.  What you deserve is to get the same actions during the next administration.  That would make things even worse though, so I hope that you avoid it.)
It's been pointed out that when the Bush administration was being grilled over the Plame affair (much smaller deal), W Bush publicly told everyone that he wanted them to cooperate to the fullest.  So far, with Obama, the pattern has been to promote those responsible and go after the whistleblowers. 
If you voted for Hope and Change, you got duped.