Our national politics increasingly resembles a party in which your crazy uncle got hold of the karaoke microphone and won't give it back until he finishes a paranoid rant. Maybe if you pour him another Manhattan, he'll pass out before all your guests leave.
The Obama of national security is accountable, responsible, and when necessary, culpable. But when last week told a tale of two scandals that air of accountability emptied out of the Obama administration.
It has been a full five years since banks crashed the economy and more than a year since President Obama announced a special task force to investigate big bank crimes. Ever since, homeowners and community members have been fighting for fair and deserved relief and justice.
Hundreds of homeowners who have been playing by the rules while the big banks have cheated them are risking arrest at the Department of Justice to make an unmistakable statement: it is about time for the government to side with poor and middle class folks.
Week sixteen of the Obama second-term presidency found the administration playing 'whack-a-mole' and the term 'scandal' being thrown around even when it came to the president asking Marines to hold umbrellas for himself and a visiting head-of-state during a rainy-day press conference.
Critics of the Justice Dept.'s subpoena of AP telephone records have shamelessly mischaracterized the Dept.'s actions and the purposes for them. Any interference with the free press merits close scrutiny, but that scrutiny needs to consider just what the Dept. actually has done and why.
I am a card-carrying member of the ACLU, a strong proponent of press freedom and a staunch believer in both a robust First Amendment and a vibrant Fourth Amendment. But I also care about rational public discourse, and the furious condemnation of the Department of Justice in this situation is way over the top.
Three scandals have converged in the past week to preoccupy Congress and the press. Benghazi was the first to come, and it has surprised by its staying power. The abuse of power by the IRS may be, in the long run, the most damaging of these cases for the Obama presidency, but its outlines are only beginning to emerge. But the ugliest of the scandals has come from the revelation of the justice department's seizure of two months of phone calls by 100 AP reporters. This was done to investigate the leak of a thwarted terrorist plot which the government itself had already decided to disclose in public. Different as they are, the scandals all point to a single disorder that afflicts the Obama White House and the Holder justice department. The name of the disorder is paternalism, and its leading symptoms are suppression and secrecy.
The news this week about the DOJ looking at the phone logs of journalists covering the White House, and of the IRS scrutinizing the tax returns of various right-wing groups, is bad for the Obama administration. They are also much more likely to stick than the Benghazi story.
The congressional Republicans are outraged by the IRS story, but they haven't been able to scramble to the floor of the House quickly enough to target left-leaning groups.
The right-wing is screaming at Eric Holder to investigate potential civil rights' violations by IRS officials. He should take them up on their entreaties, and raise the ante by investigating all the voter suppression and intimidation during the 2012 election.
One of my biggest disappointments with President Obama's transition to his second term was the announcement that Holder would be staying on, instead of turning the Justice Department over to someone else. I don't personally dislike Holder (I've never met the man), but I do strongly question his priorities during his time as the nation's Attorney General.
The point isn't to have one, it's to make it quickly and efficiently and then pin it on the president. To exploit a scandal for scandal's sake. Because scandals are the only way to shrink our deficit, improve our financial outlook, and allow the Dow to set all sorts of records.
The magnitude of this violation of phone call confidentiality speaks volumes about a political readiness to ride roughshod over the right to data privacy and the right to protect one's sources, the cornerstone of journalistic work.
Apparently leaks which keep the public informed require "very aggressive action" -- but crimes which shatter the economy, leaving millions without homes and millions more without jobs aren't worth lifting a finger to investigate.
The U.S. Justice Department's secret seizure of two months of phone records for reporters and editors of the Associated Press is a reckless violation of the First Amendment. There is nothing more sacred in the American democracy than freedom of the press.