Just Following Their Leader

Carol Platt Liebau

5/18/2013 6:14:50 PM - Carol Platt Liebau

The IRS scandal has shocked decent Americans, of every political stripe, to their core.  Did the President know about this specific wrongdoing?  Hopefully, we'll soon find out.  But Kimberly Strassel is right when she says that the IRS officials -- now disgraced before their fellow citizens -- were actually only following the orders that came, publicly, from the top.

Mr. Obama didn't need to pick up the phone. All he needed to do was exactly what he did do, in full view, for three years: Publicly suggest that conservative political groups were engaged in nefarious deeds; publicly call out by name political opponents whom he'd like to see harassed; and publicly have his party pressure the IRS to take action.

Mr. Obama now professes shock and outrage that bureaucrats at the IRS did exactly what the president of the United States said was the right and honorable thing to do.

Indeed.  Anyone remember his speech to Latino voters in the run-up to the 2010 midterm elections?  It contained this telling excerpt:

If Latinos sit out the election instead of saying, ‘We’re going to punish our enemies and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us,’ if they don’t see that kind of upsurge in voting in this election, then I think it’s going to be harder . . ."

And there it is, clear as day -- the President's governing philosophy in a nutshell: Punish our enemies and reward our friends.  That appeal -- that definition of government -- describes so much of what has happened since this President has taken office, including

Distribution of stimulus funds: - (from USA Today)

Billions of dollars in federal aid delivered directly to the local level to help revive the economy have gone overwhelmingly to places that supported President Obama in last year's presidential election.

Favoring unsecured union members over secured bondholders in Chrysler deal - & threatening dissenters - (from Michael Barone)

This, of course, is a violation of one of the basic principles of bankruptcy law, which is that secured creditors — those who loaned money only on the contractual promise that if the debt was unpaid they'd get specific property back — get paid off in full before unsecured creditors get anything. Perella Weinberg withdrew its objection to the settlement, but other bondholders did not, which triggered the bankruptcy filing.

After that came a denunciation of the objecting bondholders as "speculators" by Barack Obama in his press conference last Thursday. And then death threats to bondholders from parties unknown.

The White House denied that it strong-armed Perella Weinberg. The firm issued a statement saying it decided to accept the settlement, but it pointedly did not deny that it had been threatened by the White House. Which is to say, the threat worked.

Kathleen Sebelius threatens president of American Health Insurance Plans -  (from Michael Barone)

Or as [Karen] Ignagni [President of American Health Insurance Plans], the recipient of the letter [from Sebelius], says, "It's a basic law of economics that additional benefits incur additional costs."

But Sebelius has "zero tolerance" for that kind of thing. She promises to issue regulations to require "state or federal review of all potentially unreasonable rate increases" (which would presumably mean all rate increases).

And there's a threat. "We will also keep track of insurers with a record of unjustified rate increases: those plans may be excluded from health insurance Exchanges in 2014."

DOJ Raids Gibson Guitar (from PowerLine)

It has come out that Juszkiewicz is a Republican donor, while the CEO of one of his principal competitors, C.F. Martin & Company, is a Democratic donor. Martin reportedly uses the same wood, but DOJ hasn’t raided them, leading to speculation that the Obama administration is sending a warning to Republican businessmen that they had better not oppose his re-election, lest they face criminal investigations. Normally such speculation would not be credible, but Eric Holder has politicized the Department of Justice to a point where such questions must be taken seriously.

Administration Officials Routinely Threaten the Press (from The New York Post)

Finally, this week, reporters are pushing back. Even Jonathan Alter — who frequently appears on the Obama-friendly MSNBC — came forward to say he, too, had been treated horribly by the administration for writing something they didn’t like.

“There is a kind of threatening tone that, from time to time — not all the time — comes out of these guys,” Alter said this week. During the 2008 campaign swing through Berlin, Alter said that future White House press secretary Robert Gibbs disinvited him from a dinner between Obama and the press corps over it.

“I was told ‘Don’t come,’ in a fairly abusive e-mail,” he said. “[It] made what Gene Sperling wrote [to Woodward] look like patty-cake.”

“I had a young reporter asking tough, important questions of an Obama Cabinet secretary,” says one DC veteran. “She was doing her job, and they were trying to bully her. In an e-mail, they called her the vilest names — bitch, c--t, a--hole.” He complained and was told the matter would be investigated: “They were hemming and hawing, saying, ‘We’ll look into it.’ Nothing happened.”

Benghazi Whistleblowers Threatened (from Investors Business Daily)

The president knew full well what was being asked. But it's never good to reveal knowledge of what his underlings are doing to make him happy.

As Fox News reported Monday, "At least four career officials at the State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency have retained lawyers or are in the process of doing so, as they prepare to provide sensitive information about the Benghazi attacks to Congress."

One unnamed State Department official has even felt the need to tap aggressive former Senate Intelligence Committee Republican counsel Victoria Toensing.

She revealed Monday that threats have been made by administration officials against the whistle-blowers "specifically about Benghazi ... and not just the State Department. People have been threatened at the CIA."

NLRB Drops Complaint Against Boeing after Union-Friendly Deal  (from The Wall Street Journal)

On Wednesday, the International Association of Machinists approved a new contract with Boeing in which the company agreed to make its 737 Max jet with union labor in Washington state. Yesterday, after getting the machinist all-clear, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) dropped its lawsuit against Boeing's investment in South Carolina.

Has there ever been a more blatant case of a supposedly independent agency siding with a union over management in collective bargaining? . . . 

As for the NLRB, its decision to drop the case so quickly after the machinists cut their deal exposes how politically motivated the Boeing suit was. The NLRB is supposed to be a fair-minded referee in labor disputes, making sure neither side breaks the law. But the board put its fist squarely on the union side to make Boeing pay a price for moving one of its 787 assembly lines to a right-to-work state, to make sure Boeing never did that again, and to demonstrate to any other unionized company that its investment is at risk if it makes the same decision.

DOJ Official Threatens AL about immigration law (All Alabama)

Thomas Perez, the man nominated as Labor Secretary by President Barack Obama, threatened to revoke federal funding for Alabama police and sheriffs if they enforced provisions of the state’s controversial immigration law. . . 

“We certainly perceived that as a threat,” said Mobile County Sheriff Sam Cochran. “He was basically putting us on notice that he would cut off our grants if he didn’t like the way we enforced the law.” . . .

Cochran said the meeting was disturbing because the Alabama Sheriff’s Association was already on record opposing the law, and that some sheriffs had even filed affidavits supporting legal challenges to the law in federal court.

“He was lashing out at us about these tactics, but yet he had no evidence that it ever happened,” Cochran said. “It really put us in a dilemma as far as how to respond.”

Walpin-Gate (from The Washington Times)

Without appropriate documentation or good reason, President Obama has fired a federal investigator who was on the case against a political ally of the president’s. Mr. Obama’s move has the stench of scandal.

 80% of Energy Dept. "Green Loan" Programs Went to Obama Backers (Peter Schweizer via Doug Ross)

..But an examination of grants and guaranteed loans offered by just one stimulus program run by the Department of Energy, for alternative-energy projects, is stunning. The so-called 1705 Loan Guarantee Program and the 1603 Grant Program channeled billions of dollars to all sorts of energy companies...

...In the 1705 government-backed-loan program [alone], for example, $16.4 billion of the $20.5 billion in loans granted as of Sept. 15 went to companies either run by or primarily owned by Obama financial backers—individuals who were bundlers, members of Obama’s National Finance Committee, or large donors to the Democratic Party.

No doubt there's more, much more -- Hugh Hewitt asks readers if they remember "Regional EPA Administrator Al Armendariz who was forced out after a tape of his argument on the need to "crucify" the regulated community? Or the Sacketts who prevailed 9-0 in their case against the EPA when it got to the Supreme Court, or the little Lutheran school Hosanna-Tabor, persecuted by the EEOC until the Supreme Court put a stop to that by another 9-0 vote?

With all of this happening, too, it's shameful -- but hardly surprising -- that the IRS would get in on the act.  After all, the call had come from the top: In this administration, "we're going to punish our enemies and we're gonna reward our friends."