It’s scandal season on Capitol Hill. Time for Republicans to fling as much mud as possible and hope something sticks. Let’s see what they’ve got.
Outrage meter: 11
Who’s pissed: Lots of Sturm und Drang fauxtrage from Republicans in Congress and actual outrage from citizens that are generally already pissed at Obama for one reason or another.
What happened: Four Americans were killed in an ambush of our consulate in Benghazi, Libya during a much larger demonstration.
Why are people pissed: It mostly boils down to “Obama is a lying liar who lies and is soft on terrorism.” Republicans once again are painting Obama as “The Other” and the usual people are listening. Obama is accused of is saying “act of terror” instead of “terrorist attack” when the attacks happened and not all information is known. There was also some massaging of talking points between various agencies which happens for EVERY major incident and most minor ones. There are also many loud calls that “OBAMA SHOULD HAVE DONE SOMETHING!” with every suggestion of “something” being blowing someone up. I see prudence where others see a devious plot to defraud Americans.
Should people be pissed: Nothing to see here, keep moving.
Outrage meter: 5 and climbing
Who’s pissed: Pretty much everyone that knows about it which still isn’t a lot of people.
What happened: The IRS was targeting applications of non-profit entities with names that included “Tea Party” and “Patriot” and “Constitution” and “9/12” and various other names for special reviews.
Why are people pissed: The IRS was targeting applications of non-profit entities with names that included “Tea Party” and “Patriot” and “Constitution” and “9/12” and various other names for special reviews!
Should people be pissed: Yes and no. It’s a pretty abhorrent practice on its surface and to not be pissed you need to know “inside baseball” levels of political history so people are rightly pissed if a bit misguided. This was happening at a time when non-profit 501(c)(4) entities were given much broader fundraising abilities by the Supreme Court and the Tea Party was all the rage and applications for new 501(c)(4) entities skyrocketed and there was an inordinate amount of applications for the above keywords. 501(c)(4)s are not supposed to be political entities and the Tea Party, in general, certainly is so I can see the increased scrutiny in that case, but many of the other keywords are pretty squishy. This was more of a fraud prevention measure than it was a deliberate targeting of right wing groups. Right wing rage and 501(c)(4) growth just happened to occur at the same time. And while the IRS almost certainly overstepped their bounds and they should take measures to fix this, the IRS is supposed to investigate suspicious increases in applications and that’s what they did. Imagine if there was a marked increase in “John Doe” applications for welfare and the welfare department did nothing to investigate it.
Obamacare Private Fundraising
Outrage meter: 1
Who’s pissed: Mostly just Republicans in Congress
What happened: Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius is in charge of enacting Obamacare. One of the things she is charged with doing is setting up the exchanges. She needed more money to set up the exchanges so she asked Congress for more money. Republicans said no. This puts Sebelius in the strange position of being required by law to create the exchanges but not having any money to do so. Her solution was to ask private companies to help fund the implementation of the exchanges since Congress won’t.
Why are people pissed: She actually may have broken the law. There are many rules against an acting Secretary fundraising as Secretary but fundraising as Kathleen Sebelius is ok. There are obviously conflicts of interest with this arrangement. In order to whip up this scandal, Republicans are saying that this is worse than the Iran-Contra scandal, which is ridiculous.
Should people be pissed: I honestly don’t know. If she actually broke the law, certainly, but that’s not really clear at this point. What lengths should you go to to enact a justly passed law when half of Congress wants to do anything in their power to stop you from enacting that law because they don’t have the votes to repeal it?
AP Phone Records
Outrage meter: 5
Who’s pissed: Mostly just the media, but they have a large mouthpiece.
What happened: The Justice Department secretly obtained the phone records from a bunch of Associated Press reporters. Why they did this is unclear. The assumption is that they were investigating a leak regarding a CIA operation to foil an airplane bombing plot.
Why are people pissed: First Amendment! Government intrusion! Freedom of the press!
Should the be pissed: Yes. Even if they were investigating a leak of top secret information, the steps that the Justice Department took to find the leak overstepped bounds that shouldn’t be overstepped. Unfortunately, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they broke the law. It is almost trivially easy for the government to obtain information about it’s citizens these days. Both Republicans and Democrats are equally to blame for this situation which is why they’ve been mostly silent on the issue. May this scandal grow legs and lead to changing federal eavesdropping laws.