Fred:  “You really think if the Bush Administration had targeted liberal groups and held up their tax exempt status (and even leaked confidential information) that you would be so dismissive and say, as you did yesterday, ‘My guess is that for many of those involved it may not have been political bias’?   No, you wouldn’t.”

☞ No, I wouldn’t — because it had already been shown that, in its first term, the Bush Administration had misled us into war — “yellow cake” in his State of the Union and so much more — lied about “by far the vast majority” of his proposed tax cuts going to benefit those “at the bottom” of the economic ladder, hidden the names of the participants in the White House energy summit, used the Justice Department for political ends – and on and on.  So — yes — I would have been highly skeptical.

The Obama Administration, by contrast, in its first term, had done no such things.  (Don’t get me started on all the good things it managed to do — you could write a book!)

And the Obama team has no such culture.  It has been transparent in important ways.  And as soon as the IRS situation came belatedly to light, everyone, from the President on down, embraced the general alarm, taking immediate action to investigate and fix it.

I’d also note that it’s not as though those 501(c)(4)’s were shut down (as the right wing managed to shut down ACORN).  Or that they lacked access to powerful senators or Fox News.  Why didn’t THEY break the story a year or two ago?  Because, I presume, they weren’t aware of it.  And neither was the White House.

(Note, too, that Cincinnati is politically rather conservative; and that many of the IRS employees in that office were hired on former IRS Commissioner Shulman’s watch – a Bush appointee.)

Similarly, when people compare this — or the AP subpoenas — to Watergate (“worse than Watergate” I think Michele Bachmann called it) . . . HELLO!  Watergate was hatched in the Oval Office!  The Justice Department investigation of leaks that led to the AP subpoenas, by contrast, was hatched — or at least demanded — by mostly Republican senators. 

Moreover, there was never the expectation that those subpoenas would remain secret once the investigation was over.  (Why would the news organizations be party to such a coverup?)  So it’s not as though the decision to seek those phone logs in furtherance of national security would not ultimately be subject to the very national scrutiny to which it is now rightly being subjected.

Seeking to plug a national security leak with methods subject to inevitable public scrutiny is rather spectacularly different from a bugging operation designed to  subvert a presidential election and remain secret forever — no?

There are two patterns here.

One is that when bad stuff is brought to the attention of this President and his Administration, it is acknowledged and action taken to correct it.  Benghazi?  Immediately recognized as a tragedy, with 29 recommendations for corrective action formulated soon thereafter, all accepted by the Secretary more or less immediately.  The IRS outrage?  Immediately acknowledged; heads are rolling, steps being taken to make certain it doesn’t happen going forward.

The other pattern is that when something bad happens, the right seizes on it for political advantage.  That is understandable and, I guess in the current poisonous polarized political environment just comes with the territory.  But the rest of us should see it for what it is.

None of this is Nixon hatching Watergate in the Oval Office.  None of this is Reagan secretly selling arms to Iran to fund the Nicaraguan contras (and his Vice President, who would succeed him, denying knowledge of it).  None of this is Bush 43 misleading us into a catastrophic war and a catastrophic tax policy.

Rather, these are mistakes being made at lower levels, being acknowledged and corrected.

Better still, of course, would be an Administration none of whose people ever made mistakes in the first place – but that’s not realistic.

Fred again (after I sent him that long screed):  “Wow!  Must have touched a nerve!”

☞  Indeed.  And here’s why:

These kinds of attacks are really important to respond to because they ultimately can have enormous, catastrophic consequences.

This is the way they “beat” Al Gore in 2000 — just piling on a lot of stuff no one  item of which had merit* . . . yet there were so many of them that people didn’t have time to get into the details and it tore him down very effectively, with the result that we got the Iraq war, wrecked our national balance sheet, delayed the stem cell breakthrough that might one day have saved your life if only it had come faster — and on and on.

It’s the same right-wing machine that somehow persuaded 70% of the folks who voted to re-elect Bush that Iraq played a role in attacking us on 9/11.  Simply not true, yet helpful in getting him four more years — which allowed him to appoint Roberts and Alito to the Supreme Court, tilting it even more to the right, which gave us Citizens United, which shifting the balance of power yet further from ordinary citizens to the already rich and powerful, and tightening their grip still more.

This stuff matters — deeply.

I’m not saying our side is perfect.  But our President is amazing in his intelligence and temperament and integrity and stamina and judgment and commitment to the best possible future.  And his team does its best to measure up.

I’m also not saying that the other side has no moderate, sensible, constructive folks (John Huntsman jumps to mind; how’d he do?).  But what is moderate, sensible, or constructive in voting down universal background checks when 90% of Americans want them (and when the law bends over backwards to demolish the “slippery slope” argument by including a 15-year prison term for anyone who attempts to set up a national gun registry)?

What is moderate or sensible about opposing the cap-and-trade solution that your own party once championed?  Or about opposing the “individual mandate” that your own party invented?  Or filibustering the bipartisan deficit commission your own party proposed, once the President agreed to it?  (We ultimately did get one, Simpson-Bowles, but only by Executive Order; and its deficit-cutting recommendations were killed by the very commissioners, led by Paul Ryan, appointed by the Republicans!)

What is moderate or constructive about inflicting self-imposed wounds with the budget ceiling “crisis”?  Or – especially – what is moderate or constructive about rejecting the American Jobs Act that would have put more than a million people to work doing things that really need doing – like repairing bridges and modernizing 35,000 schools — and that could be financed with near-zero-rate long-term debt?

What is moderate or constructive about not investing in our future when it is clearly the best way to invigorate our economy (which would lower our deficit) and lay the foundation for the brightest possible future?

I’ve made my point – or  certainly taken enough of your time trying — but I can’t resist reminding you that one of the leaders of the right-wing machine is Rush Limbaugh, who labels “science” one of the “four pillars of deceit.”


Along with “government,” which he tears down at every opportunity, “academia” — who would want to listen to an egghead when they can listen to Joe the Plumber parroting what he heard from Rush? — and “the media” (not, presumably, including FOX or his own).

Have a great weekend.  Your January 2015 42.5 SODA LEAPS, if you bought any, have nearly doubled in a month, so this might be a good time to sell half, recouping most of your funds, and then just see what happens with the rest.


*E.g., “the Buddhist temple” thing – which turned out to have no “there” there – and “the Love Story” thing – where Erich Segal acknowledged that Al and Tipper actually were models for characters in the book – and the “invented the Internet” thing — which he did not claim to have done, yet actually deserved a load of credit for having championed long before it was easy to understand or sexy . . . while a young George W. Bush was out partying, doing nothing for his country, not knowing who the President of Pakistan was.  Which I didn’t know either; but I never imagined myself competent to run the world.



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