The Spectacle Blog

IRS Oddities Add Up

By on 7.11.14 | 4:00AM

Curiouser and curiouser. The details of the ongoing IRS investigation continue to mystify even the most fair-minded and careful observers.

Yesterday came news that the tax-collecting agency has an internal instant messaging system called OCS, and that messages sent through it were not archived automatically. Further, Lois Lerner, the woman in charge of the department that targeted conservative non-profit groups, specifically inquired about that very question. “I was cautioning folks about email and how we have had 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,” Lerner wrote to the IT department in 2013. “Someone asked if OCS conversations were also searchable — I don’t know.…Do you know?”

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On Immigration, Where Obama Fails, Conservatives Can Rise

By on 7.10.14 | 6:15PM

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.”

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Bahrain Expels an American Diplomat

By on 7.10.14 | 5:48PM

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.

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Not All of Lois Lerner’s Emails Went Missing

By on 7.10.14 | 3:24PM

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.”

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Too Many Bureaucrats in the Kitchen

By on 7.10.14 | 3:04PM

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.

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Feinstein Invokes Nazis Concerning Unaccompanied Minors on Border

By on 7.10.14 | 11:51AM

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."

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Our Isolated President

By on 7.10.14 | 10:59AM

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.

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Morning Round-Up 7-10

By on 7.10.14 | 10:24AM

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Tom Veryzer, R.I.P.

By on 7.9.14 | 11:47PM

Former big league shortstop Tom Veryzer passed away yesterday of complications of a stroke. He was 61.

A native of Long Island, Veryzer was the number one draft pick of the Detroit Tigers in 1971. He would make his big league debut with the Tigers late in the 1973 season. Veryzer would become the Tigers everyday shortstop in 1975 and would remain in that capacity for three seasons. He was a classic good field, no hit player who had the added trouble of not being able to stay healthy. After hitting only .197 in 1977, Veryzer was traded to the Cleveland Indians for outfielder Charlie Spikes to make room at short for none other than Alan Trammell. 

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Harry Reid Thinks Clarence Thomas is White

By on 7.9.14 | 5:47PM

Discussing a proposed Senate bill that would reverse the Hobby Lobby decision, Harry Reid announced that the Senate is acting to “ensure that women’s lives are not determined by virtue of five white men.”

This is significant for a couple reasons. First is the glaringly obvious fact that Clarence Thomas is black. Harry Reid is either misinformed or legally blind. Or, more likely, he thinks that Clarence Thomas is not a “real” African American because he is not liberal. The left has a tendency to celebrate diversity only when minorities subscribe to their ideology.

Next and more significant is the idea that men should not have an input in decisions affecting women. This idea is becoming dangerously widespread, even on the right. Recently, when talking to a male friend about feminist attempts to lower the burden of proof in rape cases, he said that he didn’t want to weigh in because he is not a woman and has never been raped.

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