The Administration

Scandals combine to form perfect storm

When it rains, it pours.

The combined weight of the three growing Obama administration scandals is weighing down the White House and overwhelming its ability to control the story or advance its agenda.

In hospital triage, this is the equivalent of not having enough bed space.

Each scandal, if it occurred by itself, could potentially be dealt with. But their combination is forming a narrative that the White House is not being honest amid a culture of “scandal.”

The three controversies, the IRS targeting of conservative groups, the Benghazi, Libya, terrorist attack and the Justice Department's targeting of AP reporters, are unique. They will ebb and flow on their own terms and in their own way, as news develops.

But each poses a serious political threat to the administration.

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Issa and IRS: What Issa knew and when he knew it

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) was one of the first officials in Washington to know of the existence and substance of the inspector general's report on the Internal Revenue Service. 

For some time Issa maintained his silence about it, stating that it was important to have a nonpartisan and objective investigation before leveling criticism. Should Issa be subpoenaed and put under oath? 

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The Republicans’ obsession

I’m tired.

Under Bill Clinton we had to endure the Republicans’ obsession with so-called "scandal" Whitewater, the death of Vince Foster, the travel office, and finally Monica Lewinsky and impeachment.

It was all so exhausting and so useless and so far from doing the people’s business.

Nevertheless, Bill Clinton had one of the most successful presidencies in modern times.

Ever since Barack Obama was elected, various elements of the Republican Party have engaged in nothing but petty character assassination, false accusations and partisan political attacks designed to undermine his presidency.

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Obama’s 'New Superior Man'

“The patina of high-mindedness the president enjoyed is gone ... Something big has shifted.”  — Peggy Noonan, The Wall Street Journal, May 17, 2013

The spookiest thing of all perhaps is that with the overnight rise of Obama from nowhere in Chicago to the Oval Office is the uptick again in the world of global "New Superior Man." 

Granted, it is a hot, foamy latte version of the beast that stalked the heart of Russia in the early 1800s and would rise to shake the world in 10 days, then tear its fabric for 100 years. The rise of Superior Man also brought the world one of its greatest literary works: Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment, and the anti-hero who would echo today through Nietzsche, Lenin, Trotsky, Bulworth, Bono, Bill, Obama.

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Shielding the press

The White House has asked Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to reintroduce a press shield law, …   The move comes after questions were raised about the seizure of Associated Press phone records by the Justice Department as part of a national security leak investigation. — Politico, May 15, 2013
ERIC HOLDER: IT WASN’T ME. — The Daily Beast, May 15, 2013

Poor President Obama. He needs good counsel and isn’t getting it from his attorney general. While a federal shield law is overdue, it won’t cure the problem that generated these blurbs above. 

Whether reporters are protected from government investigations of their sources is a matter of policy rather than constitutional law. Eminent journalists such as the late Anthony Lewis and jurisprudential scholars like the late Ronald Dworkin agree. 

But the policy considerations are so strong that the Supreme Court and most jurisdictions recognize the need to protect the independence of media, through case precedents and statutes. Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia have shield laws, and most others have limited protections which balance reporters’ rights with legitimate government secrets. Congress has wrestled with passing a federal shield law for decades, unsuccessfully.

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IRS abuse and leak investigations

First, I propose readers ignore those who imitate the usual suspects in "Casablanca," whether they are Republicans who offer their latest ritual condemnation of President Obama and predictions of great GOP victories or Democrats, if you can find any these days, who offer their latest ritual defense of whatever President Obama does. 

Some things have clearly gone wrong. Serious people discuss why. Regarding the IRS scandal, two thoughts: It is entirely legitimate to test whether overtly partisan political groups meet the legal standards of the tax code they employ to minimize taxes. And it is entirely illegitimate, morally wrong, politically indefensible and wholly unacceptable to use the tax code as a weapon to single out any political party or point of view without applying the same standards to all.

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The left's real shame

Obama’s failure to push his gun control agenda through the Democratic-controlled United States Senate revealed the craven political power of big government.

A president with the assistance of a friendly media can drive emotional messages featuring victims, along with media-certified four-Pinocchio statements to try to whip the nation into a frenzy to urge legislation. Yet, only when it fails does the real big government beast expose itself. 

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President Obama's masterful Israel visit

I have been blessed to have spent quality time in Israel on eight different occasions. It is without a doubt my favorite place in the world, besides my beloved USA. So many of my colleagues have called, Skyped, texted, emailed, or whatever to express their impressions of our president's recent visit.

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Halligan falls, judgeships vacant, gay marriage pending, Siegelman wronged

Anthony Lewis, the greatest legal journalist of our times, has left us. My guess is, as he ascends to heaven, Lewis is putting in a word in upstairs: Would you please inspire President Obama to offer nominees to fill vacant judgeships, inspire Senate Democrats to stand up to filibusters and inspire the Supreme Court to provide equal rights to gays who marry and straights who marry?

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The comatose press and populace

It is interesting that the White house has decided to cancel public tours due to budgetary constraints. The cost to the taxpayer would only be about $18,000 monthly, and many individuals have volunteered to shoulder the cost themselves.

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