“Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal” http://feedly.com/k/16DX2qd
Stop holding Democrats to a different standard -
The recent IRS flap shows an obvious double standard in Washington’s reactions to Bush era and Obama era misconduct.
As your kindergarten teacher probably told you, two wrongs do not make a right. But the discrepancy in reactions to wrongs does, indeed, show how Washington so often serves the interests of the political right.
That’s one of the big – if deliberately ignored – takeaways from the reaction to news that the Internal Revenue Service allegedly targeting conservative organizations for extra scrutiny in their larger review of political groups’ tax exempt status. In the last few days, the allegations have generated a wave of national headlines, a congressional investigation, federal legislation and ever-louder calls for impeachment.
Considering the gravity of the allegations against the Obama IRS from the Treasury Department’s inspector general, congressional scrutiny is certainly warranted. However, there’s just one problem: most of the lawmakers and pundits today decrying the use of public resources against a White House’s political opponents had little – if anything – to say about equally troubling revelations about the Bush administration’s deployment of public resources against its opponents. In fact, conservatives said so little back then that Fox News apparently doesn’t even know (or is pretending not to know) the Bush administration used the IRS in the same way the Obama adminstration allegedly did.
And here’s the even more incredible thing: the Bush cabal didn’t just use the IRS for its political hackery – it mounted a full-scale government-wide assault on its enemies, marshaling disparate agencies in its smear efforts.
Bush’s use of the IRS was but one part of that larger assault. As my Salon colleague Alex Seitz-Wald notes today in greater detail, in 2005, Bush’s IRS began what became an extensive two-year investigation into a Pasadena church after an orator dared to speak out against President Bush’s Iraq War. Not coincidentally, the Los Angeles Times reports that the church targeted just so happened to be “one of Southern California’s largest and most liberal congregations.” That IRS church audit came a year after it launched a near-identical attack on the NAACP after the civil rights organization criticized various Bush administration policies.
That is not where the story ends, however. The Bush administration’s crusade against its enemies moved from the IRS into the Secret Service.
Under the Republican president, that law enforcement agency was repeatedly deployed to physically block suspected antiwar activists from attending public presidential events. As the San Francisco Chronicle reported, the scheme eventually targeted some peaceful antiwar activists for arrest for the alleged crime of “holding up small handwritten protest signs outside the designated zone” of free speech (yes, the Bush White House cemented the precedent that the right to dissent is no longer a fundamental right, but is instead only allowed in certain “free speech zones”). Ultimately, in a case dealing with a man who was arrested for simply telling Vice President Dick Cheney that his “policies on Iraq are disgusting,” the Republican-dominated Supreme Court upheld the Bush administration’s use of “retaliatory arrests” against the administration’s ideological critics.
Then, in 2010, we learned that Bush’s targeting operation was also operating inside the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Recounting findings from the Justice Department’s Inspector General, the Washington Post reported that “the FBI improperly investigated some left-leaning U.S. advocacy groups after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks…citing cases in which agents put activists on terrorist watch lists even though they were planning nonviolent civil disobedience.”
A year later, we learned that along with the IRS, Secret Service and FBI, the Bush administration may have also been using the Central Intelligence Agency against its political enemies. As the New York Times reported, “A former Central Intelligence Agency officer who was a top counterterrorism official during the administration of President George W. Bush, said the White House at least twice asked intelligence officials to gather sensitive information” on prominent Iraq War critic Juan Cole. That story had an eerie similarity to the Bush administration’s effort to out CIA operative Valerie Plame as retribution for her husband’s criticism of that same war.
Unlike the noisy outrage that met today’s allegations of IRS misconduct under President Obama, these earlier – and well-documented – revelations of systemic IRS, Secret Service, FBI and CIA misconduct were met with a collective shrug of the shoulders in Washington. Sure, a few newspapers wrote about them, and a few Democratic lawmakers tried to raise questions about the Bush administration’s actions, but compared to today’s sound and fury over the IRS allegations, there was veritable silence. Indeed, as alluded to before, so little outrage was voiced about this kind of thing during the Bush years that a Fox News’ headline this week summarizing a Karl Rove interview blared: “What if IRS Under President Bush targeted liberal groups?” – as if that never actually happened…even though it most certainly did.
What explains this obvious double standard in the reactions to Bush era and Obama era misconduct? Partisanship, expectations and ideological bias.
In terms of partisanship, Republicans now screaming bloody murder over the IRS allegations clearly don’t care about the principles of equal protection, nonpartisan public services or impartial governance. We know this because most of them had nothing to say about the Bush administration’s actions against the GOP’s ideological opponents. In the context of that record, the GOP is really saying it is outraged when government resources are aimed at its friends, but more than happy to have those resources aimed at its enemies.
That context, though, hasn’t been publicly referenced by most Democrats. Indeed, other than Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), most Democratic lawmakers have not dared to mention that the problem of politicized government goes back many years.
That gets to expectations and ideological bias – simply put, the expectation in a Washington where both parties and most media outlets tilt to the right is that conservative groups should never be treated the same way liberal groups so often are. Why? Because conservative causes (say, the anti-tax movement) tend to be aligned with the interests of the transpartisan moneyed establishment while liberal causes (say, the anti-war movement) tend to be at odds with those interests.
Thus, when conservative groups happen to be treated like liberal groups, the Washington Outrage Machine turns the noise up to 11 – even though when liberal groups were targeted, that Outrage Machine remained dormant. And with today’s national press corps reoriented around amplifying – rather than challenging – power, this double standard is then predictably reflected in a corresponding discrepancy in coverage.
Taken together, the lesson should be straightforward: according to Washington, politicized government is perfectly fine when it is punishing liberal forces that challenge the status quo, but totally outrageous when it is targeting conservative groups that preserve the status quo.
Neither should be acceptable, of course. But that truism is ignored by a hypocritical political culture whose unquestioned assumptions so obviously favor the right.
- Meet the group the IRS actually denied: Democrats!; Although Tea Party applicants got unfair IRS scrutiny, only one known group had status revoked. They’re Democrats … the focus on Tea Party groups is wrong, but two-thirds of the groups reviewed had no Tea Party ties — and only a Democratic group had its status denied. This story is more politically complicated than the right lets on … | Salon
- Obama’s unfortunate scapegoat; The only thing that would appease the Washington scandal gods was human sacrifice, so Wednesday evening, President Obama announced that he had requested and accepted the resignation of IRS Acting Commissioner Steven Miller … Miller is a scapegoat in the most pure and classic sense. The acting commissioner was not running the IRS at the time employees improperly targeted Tea Party groups — that would be Bush-appointee Doug Shulman, who resigned as commissioner last year … there is no evidence that Miller was in any way responsible, involved or even aware of the inappropriate targeting…
Bunch of groups with bunch of members who support racial profiling get profiled in a different way and are outraged.
You know that, and they weren’t profiled anymore than liberal groups
Photobombing is acceptable when it’s from a fellow library supporter.
Pictured: Wild About Libraries Rally at Queens Library at Peninsula
Libraries: bringing dolphins and bears together since…like a week ago?
I always thought it was fucked up that our society sexualizes breasts to the point that people get offended when seeing them used for their intended purpose.
WEED, FOOD, DRINK, SEX, LIFE. WELCOME BACK.: thisgingerisback: i sincerely hope every single man mourning the... -
i sincerely hope every single man mourning the “loss” of angelina jolie’s breasts trips and falls on a butcher knife
Look. She’s copping out, and teaching women that its okay to get rid of your womanhood because corporate powers dictate cancer is a gene, and that you…
The brother has a point
you’re a fucking idiot and you should feel bad for mindlessly agreeing with some sicko who doesn’t give a fuck about women, only the tits they’re attached to
Lol @ you thinking I’m a mindless buffoon. Cancer is an abnormal growth of cells. Things grow abnormally when they are constantly abused by unhealthy things, I.e. food, alcohol, cigarettes, et.al. By saying he doesn’t care about females is off base and wrong. My mother died from Cancer. From being a smoker for well over 20 years. Does this mean I’m predisposed or should have a lung taken out to PREVENT cancer? Uhmmmm No. She copped out. She needs to NEVER appear with a ribbon, or with survivors. She’s a quitter.
you are a worthless sack of shit
take your pseudoscience and fucking choke on it
i don’t “think” you’re a mindless buffoon, you ARE a mindless buffoon
do you know what brca 1 and 2 are
do you understand how they work
do you understand basic fucking biology
do you understand how fucking stupid you are
she “copped out”
only sexist pigs consider a woman removing her breasts as a preventative measure to avoid cancer OF WHICH SHE HAS AN 87% FUCKING CHANCE OF DEVELOPING “copping out”
it’s a cop-out because you no longer have a nice pair of tits to look at
fucking jump off a cliff, you get no more opinions here
Yeah, breasts are TOTALLY like lungs.
Just thought I’d share this charming piece of graffiti from near my home.
By the way, this is the ONLY women’s library in the country, it has only women’s work in it and also serves as a sort of feminist museum. They’re affiliated with a university close by and hold regular events such as workshops and talks on subjects like the poetry of immigrant women of colour or the representation of mental health in women’s literature. Its also due to be closed down by the Conservatives.
Can men go in and borrow books written by women?
Yeah, totally, they even do events for men by women on intro to feminism, rape culture stuff sometimes!
god forbid women have a single fucking thing without men getting jealous like fucking children
And guys are always saying women are “too sensitive” …
Iron Man has defeated the Mandarin.
I have been waiting for this post.