German Chancellor Angela Merkel was on her seventh trip to China when she was informed that a double agent had been seized in Munich. The spy, who was an employee of the German foreign intelligence agency the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), was detained last Wednesday after attempting to sell services to Russia. But the real revelation came when, interrogating him, Germany’s counterintelligence agency, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BFV), discovered that the turncoat had conducted espionage operations for the CIA over the past two years. He has earned approximately $34,000. His most recent assignment: passing along to his handlers any information he could find on the German investigation of the NSA’s surveillance of Merkel.
The Spectacle Blog
Feature of the Day: Documents Show Rebel Justice in Ukraine Was Bureaucratic, Swift, and Merciless
Three of MLB's bigger stars will miss significant time due to injury.
The New York Yankees will be without their Japanese ace Masahiro Tanaka for at least six weeks. He went on the DL yesterday with elbow trouble following a poor outing against the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday night. A MRI revealed a partial tear of his UCL. The Yankees are hoping Tommy John surgery won't be required. Even if their optimistic projections are correct the loss of Tanaka is a big blow. He led the AL with 12 wins. As of this writing, the Yankees are 46-44 and 3 1/2 games back of the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East. If not for Tanaka the Yankees would be nowhere.
As violence erupted in Central America, thousands of people fled to the U.S.-Mexico border, crossing into Texas, California, and Arizona. This crisis has sparked ire on both sides of the political aisle. The president, however, has refused to even visit the border. He called such a visit a “photo op”:
“Nothing has taken place down there that I’m not intimately aware of,” Obama said during a hastily arranged news conference here, where he began a two-day visit to the state for Democratic fundraising and an economic event. “This is not theater.”
American diplomacy in the Middle East is starting to resemble a giant game of whack-a-mole. On top of everything else, the government of Bahrain has now expelled an American diplomat.
Bahrain told Tom Malinowski, U.S. assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, that he was no longer welcome at their game on Monday. Marlinowski had the gall to set up a meeting with leaders of a Shiite political party. Bahrain is one of the Middle East's rare, majority-Shia nations, so a friendly chat with the leaders of a legal party that has been in dialogue with the government since 2011 seemed natural. The ruling family, however, is Sunni, and they did not take kindly to Malinowski's efforts to be inclusive of the majority of the population.
The government of Bahrain says there are no hard feelings about Marlinowski though. Apparently it says nothing about how they feel about us.
On Wednesday, the House Oversight Committee released several more emails in its ongoing investigation of the IRS, written by Lois Lerner. They suggest that Lerner may have tried to hide documents from the congressional investigation.
The emails, which Chairman Darrell Issa tweeted out last night, can be found here on his page. In one of them, Lerner, discussing Microsoft Operating System with an IT member within the IRS, said:
I had a question today about OCS. I was cautioning folks about email and how we have several occasions where Congress has asked for emails and there has been an electronic search for responsive emails – so we need to be cautious about what we say in emails. Someone asked if OCS conversations were also searchable – I don't know, but told them I would get back to them. Do you know?
The response from Maria Hooke, summarized, is that while the Electronic Data Request goes on an honor system, none of the emails are saved automatically, unless chosen by the user. Lerner’s response: “Perfect.”
Government is obese. In the 1980s the number of pages in the federal tax code was 26,300, according to the CCH Standard Federal Tax Reporter. Now that number is over 73,954 pages. Add to that the cost of planning, time, and paperwork, and the cost of tax complexity is an estimated 6.6 billion hours per year.
The Federal Register, dubbed the “Ten Thousand Commandments” by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, results in a total federal regulatory burden of $1.8 trillion a year, over half the size of the federal budget. If the pages of the Federal Register were stacked, the pile would exceed Washington, D.C.’s height limit for buildings.
I just read where Senator Dianne Feinstein has likened deporting the unaccompanied children at the U.S.-Mexican border to deporting Jews back to Nazi Germany. (H/T Andrew Johnson at NRO). To be precise, the California Democrat argues that deporting the children would be akin to turning away "boatloads of Jewish immigrants trying to come to this country during Nazi Germany and getting turned back."
The lines of communication running up and down the bloated federal bureaucracy don't exactly vibrate with the same clarity as a spider web. President Obama isn't a ruthless spider in the center of an ever-growing silken net, catching and consuming conservative causes, personally bending and breaking the laws in pursuit of executive power.
Instead we're told the phones sitting on the presidential desk sit still. What ought to be scandal after scandal rolls off of this administration with too few cries of shame from the public—though we can hope the IRS will stick. The president doesn’t seem to be making these calls. He never seems to know what's going on in his own administration. It's become increasingly apparent that Obama is not an eight-legged predator catching Americans in his bureaucratic web, wrapping them in a cocoon of red tape and inaction, but rather he himself is cocooned, cut off from the inexcusable activities of his administration.