Disdain for the letter of the law is complexly intertwined with the progressive imagination.
Kevin D. Williamson — no slouch when it comes to precise language himself — has a must-read in this weekend’s National Review, reminding us that the “ancients understood something that has been neglected in recent centuries: Grammar is the foundation of logic.”
There will always be occasions for discretion and interpretation on legal questions, but it is not the case that such discretion should presumptively empower the IRS to do things that the IRS is not legally entitled to do simply because Barack Obama wishes it to be so. If history teaches us anything, it is that a system of law that presumptively sides with political power soon ceases to be any sort of system of law at all. Rather, it becomes a post facto justification for the will to power, an intellectual window dressing on might-makes-right rule.
The matter addressed in Halbig is hardly the Obama administration’s first attempt to circumvent the law as written — see Hobby Lobby, etc. — nor is it the progressives’ only attempt to impose what they imagine to be enlightened ad-hocracy on the American people. The disdain for the letter of the law is complexly intertwined with the progressive managerial imagination: The law, in their view, is not something that limits the ambitions of princes, but something that empowers them to do what they see fit… (read more)
From Halbig and Hammurabi
[Kevin Williamson's book "The End Is Near and It's Going to Be Awesome: How Going Broke Will Leave America Richer, Happier, and More Secure" is available at Amazon]
The head of the IRS confirmed Wednesday that investigators looking into missing emails from ex-agency official Lois Lerner have found and are reviewing “backup tapes” — despite earlier IRS claims that the tapes had been recycled.
“It is unbelievable that we cannot get a simple, straight answer from the IRS about this hard drive.”
– House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, testifying before a House oversight subcommittee, stressed that he does not know “how they found them” or “whether there’s anything on them or not.” But he said the inspector general’s office advised him the investigators are reviewing tapes to see if they contain any “recoverable” material.
The revelation is significant because the IRS claimed, when the agency first told Congress about the missing emails, that backup tapes “no longer exist because they have been recycled.”
It is unclear whether the tapes in IG custody contain any Lerner emails, but Koskinen said investigators are now checking. Read the rest of this entry »
“There is an issue as to whether or not there is a ‑‑ that all of the backup recovery tapes were destroyed on the 6‑month retention schedule.”
– IRS Deputy Associate Chief Counsel Thomas Kane
For The Daily Caller, Patrick Howley reports: IRS Deputy Associate Chief Counsel Thomas Kane said in transcribed congressional testimony that more IRS officials experienced computer crashes, bringing the total number of crash victims to “less than 20,” and also said that the agency does not know if the lost emails are stillbacked up somewhere.
“So some of those backup tapes may still exist?”
“I don’t know whether they are or they aren’t, but it’s an issue that’s being looked at.”
WASHINGTON (AP/ Breitbart) reports: The Justice Department is investigating the circumstances behind the disappearance of emails from a former senior Internal Revenue Service official, part of a broader criminal inquiry into whether the agency had targeted conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, according to congressional testimony released Wednesday.
In a statement to be delivered to a congressional committee on Thursday, Deputy Attorney General James Cole says investigators are looking into emails that went missing from the computer of Lois Lerner.
Cole was to appear before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which has been investigating the matter. He declined to provide additional information about the investigation, according to prepared remarks issued ahead of his appearance.
The IRS has said it lost the emails in 2011 when Lerner’s computer crashed. At the time, Lerner headed the IRS division that processes applications for tax-exempt status. Read the rest of this entry »
SMIDGEN REPORT: Tweets from FEC Employee who Admitted to Violating Hatch Act Prior to Hard Drive Being RecycledPosted: July 15, 2014
— Darrell Issa (@DarrellIssa) July 15, 2014
The Daily Caller‘s Chuck Ross reports that the Federal Election Commission recycled the computer hard drive of April Sands — a former co-worker of Lois Lerner’s — hindering an investigation into Sands’ partisan political activities, according to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
“Dear every single Republican ever, When will U learn that Barack Hussein Obama is simply smarter than U? Stand down, Signed #Obama2012 #p2”
– April Sands, former co-worker of Lois Lerner
Sands resigned from the Federal Election Commission in April after she admitted to violating the Hatch Act, which bars executive branch employees from engaging in partisan political activities on federal time and at federal facilities.
The twist is that Sands also worked under Lois Lerner when the ex-IRS agent — who is currently embroiled in a scandal over the targeting of conservative political groups — worked at the FEC’s enforcement division.
In a letter to FEC chairman Lee Goodman, Oversight chairman Darrell Issa and committee member Jim Jordan laid out Sands’ partisan activities and asked for records pertaining to the recycling of her hard drive and of the agency’s records retention policies.
“The bias in these messages is striking, especially for an attorney charged with the responsibility to enforce federal election laws fairly and dispassionately.”
– Oversight letter to Goodman
Sands took part in a heavily partisan online webcam discussion from FEC offices and also operated a Twitter account with the handle @ReignOfApril which were sent during Sands’ normal working hours. Read the rest of this entry »
National Review Online‘s Eliana Johnson reports that the House of Representatives on Monday evening will begin considering a Financial Services appropriations bill that funds the Department of the Treasury, including the IRS.
Illinois representative Peter Roskam will attempt to use the legislature to curb the power of the agency, which has been under fire since it revealed in May 2013 that it inappropriately targeted conservative non-profit groups seeking tax exemption. Read the rest of this entry »
Don’t hand the IRS investigation over to a special prosecutor.
“Let’s talk reality. As a matter of constitutional law, there is no such thing as an independent counsel. In our system, prosecution is a plenary executive power. All federal investigations and prosecutions proceed under the authority of the president; neither the Congress nor the courts have police powers. Any prosecutor, regardless of how “independent” we’d like him to be, would have to serve at the pleasure of the president, and would report to Eric Holder…”
For The Washington Post, mirroring punditfromanotherplanet‘s favorite ongoing theme, Ed Rogers writes: Anyone paying attention to the Internal Revenue Service scandal has been waiting for the next smidgen to drop. Well, two more hit pretty hard this week. At the president’s next encounter with the media, I will scream collusion if no one asks him for his exact definition of a “smidgen,” and if he thinks he has seen a smidgen of corruption yet. At this point, only the most gullible or culpable can continue to claim there is no compelling evidence in this case. Given the delays,lies and stonewalling, there is no viable argument against a special prosecutor.
“This is a smoking gun e-mail in that it makes plain she had a cover-up in mind. There is no other plausible explanation.”
Who knows how many of her colleagues and allies are breathing a sigh of relief upon learning that their e-mails to Lerner were destroyed and their instant messages not recorded? I think Lerner must have a sizable silent cheering section in Washington; people who are rooting for her to hang tough in pleading the Fifth and hoping that she does not go wobbly on them.
[Also see Jazz Shaw's commentary - The Lerner Files: “smidgens upon smidgens” of corruption]
I’ll bet her government retirement check is one check that never gets lost in the mail or delayed. Read the rest of this entry »
SMIDGEN REPORT Poll: Public Holds Obama Responsible for Border Crisis, Iraq, and IRS Scandal, Democrats Still Alarmingly LoyalPosted: July 3, 2014
“…Those defenses aren’t flying with most Americans who’ve been tracking this story. Among independents, 66% think the lost emails were an attempt to cover up wrongdoing. Even 36% of Democrats say it was a cover-up.”
Even 36% of Democrats say it was a cover-up? What do the other 64% of Democrats say? It’s a phony scandal? IRS gets the benefit of the doubt? Receiving generous federal benefits and reluctant to question? Low-information, tuned-out responders? The mainstream media’s lack of scrutiny? Question: Why are Obama’s poll numbers so good?
As the crisis at our southern border continues to stagger on, a recent IBD/TIPP poll found that a majority of Americans hold President Obama and his administration responsible for the problem:
The public largely blames President Obama for the flood of children who have poured over the border in recent weeks, creating a growing humanitarian crisis, according to the latest IBD/TIPP Poll released Monday…
The poll found that 59% of those closely following the immigration crisis agree that “current administration policies and lack of focus on securing the border” are behind the human tide of illegal crossings. Six in 10 say that the children should be ordered to leave the country. (The survey found that 73% of Americans are following this story closely.)
The responsibility for the border crisis is one Obama can’t duck or deny – it is a crisis of his own making. His refusal to enforce the laws of the land and his permissive policies and rhetoric all but invited this to happen. Now that it has, he’s “frustrated” with Congress – his personal candidate for being tossed under the blame bus, and is asking for 2 billion in emergency funds to address the crisis he created. As you can see, most Americans aren’t buying the White House spin. Read the rest of this entry »
For National Review Online, Andrew Johnson writes: Lois Lerner isn’t to blame for the loss of thousands of emails sent during the period of the IRS’s alleged targeting of conservative groups, according to her attorney…
“The truth is this was one of those things that happened — at the time she did everything she could to retrieve it.”
Appearing on State of the Union, William Taylor explained that Lerner’s computer screen “went blue” one day, and ultimately resulted in her losing all of her emails during a two-year span.
“That’s the story — that’s all there is to it.”
Making a Mockery
Call John Koskinen a late bloomer. According to records on our hard drive before we crashed it, he is 74 years old, thirty-three days short of the magical 75. Before he caught Paul Ryan’s attention, we had never heard of him. Now he’s unanimous victor in the EOW sweepstakes. Such insolence, such arrogance, such contempt for all humanity we had not seen in a public official since the last time we paid attention to those who escaped from the losing side of World War II to some friendly dictatorship in the southern parts of South America and got caught. Is it any surprise that the Koskinen soccer stadium at Duke University is named after him? Wonder where he picked up his expertise in soccer?
“So the official line must remain: Computers crash, dogs eat homework, and Republicans have no standing to complain about anything or even be in politics”
What about his lowly competition this week? The maestros at Politico have hailed our president’s becoming “mocker-in-chief on climate change skeptics.” Only problem is we have yet to hear him play mocker-in-chief vis-à-vis, say, V.V. Putin, ISIS, Iran, cholera at the border, and the leader responsible for our nation’s GDP shrinking by 2.9 percent last quarter. No fair, this last charge? It was, after all, a very cold winter. Climate changed in every wrong way. Oh, well, no need, Mr. Prez, to apologize to those you have mocked. We expect the honorable Mr. Koskinen will jump at the chance to do the job for you. Read the rest of this entry »
For Breitbart.com, Robert Wilde reports: Although former IRS official Lois Lerner refuses to speak, pleading the fifth amendment, her attorney spoke on her behalf regarding the controversy over two years of missing IRS emails.
“It’s a little brazen to think she did this on purpose.”
– Lois Lerner’s attorney, William Taylor III
William Taylor III said that accusations by Republicans that she is hiding something is “silly… she doesn’t know what happened… It’s a little brazen to think she did this on purpose.”
The IRS and Democrats contend that the emails were lost due to a hard drive crash. Yet, as Politico reported, it so happens that the computer glitch was concomitant with the 2009 time period in which Cincinnati IRS agents started delaying the approvals of Tea Party groups vying for 501(c)(4) non-profit status. Notably, the not-for- profit designation would have allowed the conservative groups the capacity to carry out a limited amount of political activity. Read the rest of this entry »