Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Roundup: It's Getting Stupider

Today's Roundup begins with the news that the IRS's targeting of conservative groups was not confined to the Cincinnati office.  Jay Sekulow, the attorney representing some 27 of the groups who faced IRS scrutiny related to everything from donor lists to reading materials, produced letters from the Treasury Department in Washington, D.C. for NBC News. The letters bore the signatures of IRS higher-ups, along with the signature of embattled IRS official Lois Lerner, who is on administrative leave after her refusal to resign at the Obama Administration's request.

Lerner joins other U.S. government employees on paid leave, such as Major Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter, who continues to draw a $6,000 monthly paycheck from the U.S. Army as he awaits trial for massacring Army personnel at Fort Hood. Auspicious company, indeed, Lois!  Lerners is receiving her $180,000 a year salary while on administrative leave.

So far, it's being reported that Hasan has received $278,000 in salary while incarcerated for the 2009 shootings at Fort Hood, while his victims are fighting to receive benefits due to the Army's refusal to classify the shooting as a terrorist attack.  Instead, the Army has classified the shootings as workplace violence, even though the shooter in question was in contact with Al Qaeda before the shooting.

So, if you target groups for exercising their right to free speech, or shoot a bunch of your fellow soldiers on base after communicating with a terrorist group, you get to continue drawing a paycheck.  There's no doubt as to the guilt of Major Nidal Hasan, who was shot and paralyzed while shooting up Fort Hood.  As for Lois Lerner, she exercised her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination after planting a question in order to enable her to reveal the targeting of 501(c)(4) conservative groups.

After John McCain snuck off to Syria to visit with the Syrian terrorists, er, rebels, his good buddy Lindsey Graham tweeted dibs on McCain's office should McCain fail to make it back from Syria. We can only hope.

Speaking of soon-to-be unoccupied offices, Representative Michelle Bachmann released a porn tape of her narcissism in order to release the news that she wouldn't be running for a fifth term in Congress. It's all there: the soft lighting, the shiny blouse, the coiffed hair, the pearl necklace, and the repeated use of her favorite pronoun "I" in every other sentence (she's cut down a bit).  Bachmann spoke over a twangy electric guitar as she spoke the word I again and again.  Bachmann believes that our entire economic structure is at risk of destruction, and her decision to run initially was based on her heartfelt concern for the country's future, but her future is full and limitless.

Here's the video, replete with her typical barbs directed at the mainstream media:

Oh, and, uh, in case you were wondering, her decision to resign has nothing to do with the ethics investigation related to her presidential campaign, and the fact that two of her former staffers have agreed to testify against her in the Iowa ethics investigation into allegations that her campaign paid a state senator, used money to promote her book, and possibly stole a homeschool organization's mailing list.  The Iowa investigation is one of a triad of investigations that also includes investigations by the Office of Congressional Ethics and the Federal Election Commission.

Chairman Darrell Issa continues to focus on his Oversight Committee's investigation of Benghazi talking points.  He does so because it's important to know about changed words in memos rather than weapons transfers to al-Qaeda, and he's on the job and doing the duty to perform a bipartisan sleight of hand that obscures as much as it reveals.  No, people, don't focus on the fact that your government is arming jihadists via weapons transfers from Qatar to Libya to Syria or Qatar to Syria; focus instead on the fact that someone changed talking points on the Benghazi consulate attack.  Chairman Issa has issued more subpoenas for the State Department to ignore, so you can look for documents to be released five days before the State Department turns them over to the House Oversight Committee.

In the meantime, Issa and Cummings are appearing together on karaoke nights in D.C. to sing a duet rendition of "If I Had a Hammer" and they're joined by Lois Lerner for her performance of "Smooth Criminal."

Karl Rove is back in the news with his RNC contract to build a voter contact database, because his electronic outreach in 2012 was such a success. Wait. Rove has partnered up with former J. Crew CEO Dick Boyce to start the Turd Blossom and Dick Show, and they've taken their act on the road to Silicon Valley in order to recruit people who actually know how to build a voter contact database.  Their company, Liberty Works, has managed to stir up more concern than completed work, and it is now outsourcing the voter data platform to a company named Originate.

Really, how could hiring the former protege of Watergate ratfucker Donald Segretti go so wrong?  I guess it's time for the RNC to close ranks and strike a blow for traditional values by financing a $2,000 trip to the lesbian bondage club.

In other news, Ben Shapiro had the burn of the month at Anthony Weiner's expense when Weiner told a child that she didn't need to go into television reporting, because the Internet is where it's at.  That's so Weiner, referencing the Internet in an unintentionally funny way.   What a great idea for a Tumblr. Somebody should get on that.

And in closing, we revisit Turd Blossom, because the nation's public pools are apparently contaminated with fecal matter.  The CDC found that 59% of public pools have fecal contamination, which means you're swimming in poop if you're in Atlanta, where the 161 pools surveyed were located. The CDC's answer? Simple enough: don't swallow the water, people.

Well, folks, that's the Roundup for today, and it's getting stupider and stupider as we go along.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The War on Gun Ownership IV: Veterans in the Crosshairs

"Ten minutes into arrant mayhem in this town near the Mexican border, and the gunman, a disgruntled Iraq war veteran, has already taken out two people, one slumped in his desk, the other covered in blood on the floor.
The responding officers — eight teenage boys and girls, the youngest 14 — face tripwire, a thin cloud of poisonous gas and loud shots — BAM! BAM! — fired from behind a flimsy wall. They move quickly, pellet guns drawn and masks affixed.
“United States Border Patrol! Put your hands up!” screams one in a voice cracking with adolescent determination as the suspect is subdued."

Welcome to the Explorers, a sixty-four year old affiliate of the Boy Scouts of America that trains teenagers how to be law enforcement officers, and which used the above scenario in 2009, according to a story in the New York Times.   A February 2013 article by Michael J. Connelly, Executive Director of the United States Justice Foundation, highlighted a letter sent out by the Department of Veterans Affairs containing a statement that the Department of Veterans Affairs had received information of an ominous portent:

We have received information showing that because of your disabilities you may need help in handling your Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits.  
We received a report from the Portland VA Medical Center on December 3, 2012.
This evidence indicates that you are not able to handle your VA benefits because of a physical or mental condition.  

And so it is that the Veterans Administration announced its possible intentions to deprive the veteran
receiving the letter of his gun rights, by rating him incompetent to handle his benefit payments.  "A determination of incompetency will prohibit you from purchasing, receiving, or transporting a firearm or ammunition."   The veteran in question contacted the United States Justice Foundation, which responded to queries about the letter by saying that it was routine:

“The Department of Veterans Affairs’ policy to inform veterans of their rights regarding the Brady Act has not changed. As has been policy for multiple administrations, VA acts in accordance with federal law and works with the Department of Justice to properly maintain the NICS database. VA notifies any veteran who may be deemed by VA to be mentally incapable of managing his or her own funds of the opportunity to contest this determination and also to seek relief from the reporting requirements under the Brady Act, as required by law.”

But how does one wind up reported to the Veterans Administration? What is the "evidence" used to determine a report of incompetency?   The answers to that question vary, but a mere report from a family member can be enough to trigger an incompetency hearing at the VA.  Though Bob Owens, a conservative blogger at Pajamas Media and his self-named site, attempted to rebut Connelly's article on the matter by calling it "purposeful fear-mongering," he ultimately wound up demonstrating exactly how thin the justification can be for initiating a hearing on a veteran's competency to administer their own affairs or own a firearm:

What is really going on is that if a veteran is having financial problems, someone, usually his immediate family, can request for his benefits to be placed in guardianship. It allows the VA to pay the family so that they can handle a disabled vet’s finances and get his bills paid. When a veteran’s affairs are placed in guardianship, then this provision kicks in.
Someone, usually family, can make the request to have the veteran's benefits placed in guardianship. The veteran then has to request a hearing within 30 days of the date of the letter, present medical evidence from his doctor to rebut a de facto finding of incompetency based not on medical evidence or even the findings of an actual examination, but instead on the mere reporting of a family member or "someone," and he has to entrust his accredited representative from a veteran's organization to represent him competently for free.

Of course, the veteran can also hire an attorney at his own expense to rebut the thinly based assertions of a family member or "someone," but if he is struggling with the financial burden of a physical disability, how likely would it be that he coud afford to obtain paid competent legal representation?

Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma objected to the internally contained processes of the Veterans Administration, and sought to enable veterans to appear before a judge to have their cases adjudicated, and not surprisingly, Senator Charles Schumer of New York objected.  Why would Schumer object?  Presumably, if the evidence from "someone" is so damming, it would hold up in a court of law just as well as it would hold up before the kangaroo courts of the Veterans Administration.

A mere accusation would not hold up in court, which is why Schumer and others within Congress like Senator Dianne Feinstein take issue with adjudicating a veteran's competency in a court of law. For the Senators, the mere accusation, unbacked by actual evidence, should suffice as a reason to trigger a competency hearing within the VA.  That's the difference between a court of law and an administrative court hearing: in a court of law, while a grand jury will indict just about anyone for anything, they still have to hear actual evidence in order to do so.  That evidence won't solely consist of the assertions of a family member or "someone."

Additionally, there is a difference between being unable to handle one's benefit payments and being a threat to oneself or to others.  However, the finding of incompetency by the Veterans Administration bars veterans found to be incompetent from managing their benefit payments and owning a firearm, and forces them to go through a second procedure to achieve relief from the prohibitions on gun ownership under the Brady Act by submitting a letter requesting a determination by the regional VA office.

These facts take on an even more sinister overtone when you consider Operation Vigilant Eagle, a 2009 joint operation of the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security that sought to monitor suspected terrorists, including returning Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans who joined white supremacist groups.  In effect, DHS was saying that a choice to belong to a group with unpopular or fringe beliefs was the grounds for federal monitoring and surveillance, not the mere exercise of one's First Amendment right to assembly, speech, or any other civil liberty.

It's a short jump from those attitudes to classifying a veteran who holds anti-government or racist viewpoints as incompetent, and it's a matter of degrees to classify criticizing government policies as anti-government activity. Neither class of beliefs should form a sufficient grounds for monitoring by the federal government, any more than being a Muslim or evangelical Christian.

What is troubling about terrorism as it relates to these topics is the fact that designation as a terrorist depends largely on the fiat declaration of the President or Secretary of State, as is the case in Section 2339B(c) of the Omnibus Counterterrorism Act of 1995:

`(1) Pursuant to the authority granted in subsection (b), the President is authorized to designate any foreign organization based on finding that--
`(A) the organization engages in terrorism activity as defined in section 212(a)(3)(B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(3)(B)); and
`(B) the organization's terrorism activities threaten the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States.
`(2) Pursuant to the authority granted in subsection (b), the President is also authorized to designate persons which are raising funds for, or acting for or on behalf of, any organization designated pursuant to subsection (c)(1) above.
`(3) If the President finds that the conditions which were the basis for any designation issued under this subsection have changed in such a manner as to warrant revocation of such designation, or that the national security, foreign relations, or economic interests of the United States so warrant, he may revoke such designation in whole or in part.
`(4) Any designation, or revocation thereof, issued pursuant to this subsection shall be published in the Federal Register and shall become effective immediately on publication.
`(5) Any revocation of a designation shall not affect any action or proceeding based on any conduct committed prior to the effective date of such revocation.
`(6) Any finding made in any designation issued pursuant to paragraph (1) of this subsection that a foreign organization engages in terrorism activity shall be conclusive. No question concerning the validity of the issuance of such designation may be raised by a defendant in a criminal prosecution as a defense in or as an objection to any trial or hearing if such designation was issued and published in the Federal Register in accordance with this subsection.

 The President unilaterally declares an organization or an individual to be engaged in a terrorist activity, and his designation is then published in the Federal Register.  The validity of the designation cannot be challenged by any defendant in a criminal prosecution, nor can it be raised as a defense to criminal charges.  In other words, if the President says you were engaged in fundraising for a terrorist organization, you were engaged in fundraising for a terrorist organization. If the President says you were a member of a terrorist organization, you were a member of a terrorist organization. Such designations remove fact-finding from a jury and make an actual trial to determine guilt a mere formality as opposed to a protection against government overreach in the form of legitimate due process.

With the rise of later legislation, such as the Patriot Act, the expansion of Executive power only became more pronounced.  Today, the Secretary of State determines whether or not your organization is a terrorist organization.  It's not that terrorism is bad, because as (c)(3) above indicates, if the President so decrees that the national security, foreign relations, or economic interests of the United States so warrant, the designation can be changed. In other words, if we can use the terrorist organization for our own purposes, or facilitate diplomatic relations with a foreign regime, or make money by removing the terrorist designation, the President can do so without any restriction whatsoever.

It's mere whim, given the patina of legal legitimacy with a federal statute.  Only the President has to find that you are a terrorist, and only the President has to find that your terrorist activity is conducive to the national security interest, foreign relations, or economic interests of the United States to remove the terrorist designation from your group and your fundraising.  The activities don't change; what changes is whether or not your activities are seen as beneficial to the United States in the eyes of the President.

The above issues highlight why it is important to question the government's designation of any group as a terrorist organization, because mere designations are based on the determination of one official whose determinations are removed from judicial review.  In the United States, we have due process to prevent such abuses, but the federal government has increasingly moved to circumvent due process by classifying its determinations as beyond review by the courts, both as to issues of law and fact.

This has the effect of making it impossible for a individual accused of wrongdoing to get a fair hearing, based on the actual evidence. The only evidence is the President's designation, and it cannot be challenged in court.  To analogize this to the plight of veterans is a simple enough task: the only evidence that the Veterans Administration has to present to trigger a competency hearing is the statement of a family member or "someone," and the onus shifts to the veteran to establish his competence and his continued legal right to own a firearm.

A veteran on disability benefits is already financially vulnerable, and his ability to attend hearings, understand the procedures and rules of the hearings, and access the so-called evidence against him, is made even more difficult by his disability and his financial disadvantages.  This doesn't even begin to encompass the difficulty of facing down a bureaucracy with near limitless resources that acts as both the accuser against and adjudicator of one's competency.

In an environment where federal departments are on record as viewing returning veterans as a threat to national security simply because of the political or ideological views they hold and the organizations they associate with, the disadvantages become even more pronounced.

An even greater injustice emerges when you consider that the veterans who face scrutiny as potential terrorists for exercising their right to assemble with others also face a backlog when applying for their benefits.  The average wait time for veterans applying for disability benefits is between 270 and 330 days, according to a story in the Washington Free Beacon.  The Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that veterans faced eviction notices, disconnected utilities, and increased personal debt as they waited on the VA to process their claims:

“Student veterans in most focus groups and most school officials told us that VA’s delayed processing of education benefit payments can create or exacerbate financial challenges for student veterans as they begin their postsecondary education."  

While the Explorers and DHS engage in drills and operations depicting veterans as terrorists and potentially disgruntled lone gunmen, perhaps the government would do well to consider that the major reason for veterans to become disaffected is the pathetic performance of the Veterans Administration when it comes to processing the disability applications and claims of veterans.  If DHS has the money to mount an operation to surveil veterans based on who they reach out to in their time of need, then the government ought to have the money to fix the backlog of disability applications and GI Bill applications over at the VA.  Veterans who face average wait times of between 270 and 330 days to receive the benefits they are entitled to have a legitimate reason to feel disaffected and dissatisfied with their government.

When they are faced with a government that views them as potential terrorists, after they gave up their mental and physical health in combat against actual terrorists in defense of their country, they have a reason to feel a kinship with anti-government militias and sovereign citizen groups.  After all, the militias and anti-government groups view them as heroes, while their own government looks at them with suspicion and institutes procedures that enable "someone" to accuse them of incompetence and trigger even greater hardships and obstacles in the process.

The War on Gun Ownership continues, and our veterans find themselves in the crosshairs.

There's Just Something About Larry...

Larry Summers. If you're even somewhat versed in the history leading up to our ongoing economic crisis, you recognize that name as one of the critical cogs in the events that led to the implosion of our economy back in late 2007 through 2008.  Even after Summers advocated deregulation, and even after he pushed through the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which effectively ensured that derivatives would be unregulated, he managed to return as the direction of the National Economic Council under President Obama.

That's right, a man whose economic policies and positions led our country to near ruin managed to get another job in the White House afterwards.  Though Summers left his position on the NEC in late 2010, to return to his job at Harvard-a job he still had after losing $1.8 billion in Harvard's cash on $3.5 billion in interest rate swaps-Summers is back as the leading candidate to replace Ben Bernanke as the Chairman of the Federal Reserve.

Words fail, people, unless you're Jay Batman.  Dustin Stockton of the Stockton Breakdown and Western PAC asked me to write up an overview of Summers's career in miscues, and I obliged.  It's entitled Failure Will Get You Everywhere, and it more or less examines everything from the gaffes of Larry Summers to his tendency to get economic predictions wildly wrong.  You can find it here.  Go take a read, and support Dustin's effort to stop Summers's candidacy here.  

Monday, May 27, 2013

John McCain and the Devil's Dance

John McCain, the famed Naval aviator who crashed three planes and was shot down, husband of Cindy, father of Meghan, academic achiever who finished 894 out of 899 at the Naval Academy, and fan of the free market whose entire political career was bankrolled by a beer distributorship that exists only as a result of state regulation, has visited Syria.  That's right, John McCain, at seventy six years of age, has snuck into Syria in an act akin to Hanoi Jane to give legitimacy to the Syrian rebels who are dominated by jihadists.  He supports the jihadists, because we need a game-changing action:

"We need to have a game-changing action: No American boots on the ground, establish a safe zone, and protect it and supply weapons to the right people in Syria who are fighting for obviously the things we believe in."  

John McCain wants to supply anti-aircraft weaponry to the jihadists, because that turned out so well in Libya, where the jihadist relocated to the northern part of Mali to install their brand of Sharia.  Let's give them weapons now, and pretend like the Obama Administration hasn't been doing that all along through Qatar.

For that matter, McCain wants to pretend like the Syrian regime is using chemical weapons, when the available evidence suggests that the rebels themselves are using chemical weapons and staging attacks to make it appear as if the Syrian government is responsible.  If Bashar Assad uses chemical weapons, then it's a game-changer and the United States needs to intervene. If the Syrian rebels deploy sarin gas, it's no big deal because they're "fighting for obviously the things we believe in."  Right.

Senator John McCain has no business in Syria, and he has no business portraying the Syrian rebels as anything other than the jihadist embracing pragmatists they are.  In point of fact, the emergence of the rebels, and the potential for U.S. involvement, has led to strengthened ties between Hezbollah and Syria, neither of whom favor increased U.S. involvement in the region.  As a result, the Syrian rebels, who haven't been able to dislodge Assad in two years of fighting, find themselves faced with an influx of foreign fighters from Iraq, Iran, and Lebanon, all of whom have come to fight the Syrian rebels in favor of Bashar Assad.

One might ask why the Syrian rebels haven't been able to overthrow a brutal dictator over the past two years, but the answer is obvious: the Syrian people don't care much for the rebels, and they're lining up to fight for Assad.  The rebellion, if you can call it that, is little more than a proxy invasion utilizing the Libyan fighters who fought a proxy war in Libya over two years ago.

In the midst of this is John McCain, a man who never met a situation he couldn't exploit, be it the Savings and Loan scandal and his role in the Keating Five, or his willingness to stab his own party in the face in order to construct a "maverick" identity for himself. McCain's true colors always emerge as the ultimate enabler of expanded executive power, be it his embrace of the Obama Administration during its reluctant admission that drone strikes on American soil weren't legal, or his recent enthusiasm for expanded and open American support of the Syrian rebels.  McCain routinely embraces the devil and does the dance thereof in order to bolster his credentials as a supposedly independent thinker, but there's nothing independent these days about supporting expanded U.S. involvement in the Middle East.

It's the same tired trope that neoconservatives were selling in the lead-up to the second Iraq War, and McCain is embracing it head-on.  In the meantime, the rebels he supports are in league with jihadists who won't hesitate to use anti-aircraft missiles on civilian airliners if they have the chance, and they most certainly haven't shown any hesitation about staging chemical weapons attacks.  The devil's dance doesn't change the devil, because the same devils are present in Syria as were present in Libya, Egypt, and elsewhere during the Arab Spring.  What it will change is the reputation of the United States, and the stability necessary to the preservation of peace in the Middle East.  As it stands, the situation in Syria has already drawn in Israel, Iran, Lebanon, Iraq, and Qatar, along with the United States.  It threatens to engulf the entire region if the rebels aren't stripped of support by the United States.

John McCain may be old, senile, and cynical, but Barack Obama has a golden opportunity to look like a sage in comparison if only he doesn't embrace the hawkish approach McCain is advocating for on the ground in Syria.

Roundup: It's the Pattern, Stupid

The Obama Administration, embroiled as it is in the scandals of its own making, finds itself facing more bad news related to Benghazi. The central story of the Benghazi attack has never been whether or not the attack was motivated by a video that contained blasphemy towards Islam, despite what the Obama Administration wants us to believe.  The attack was not motivated by the video, nor were the attackers random individuals angered by the contents of said video; in fact, the attackers were the very insurgents armed by the Obama Administration as part of its continuing effort to put weapons in the hands of terrorists and drug cartels while simultaneously working to remove weapons from the hands of law-abiding citizens under the guise of combatting gun violence.

Indeed, the news comes to us courtesy of Pajamas Media, which interviewed two former U.S. diplomats:

Stevens’ mission in Benghazi, they will say, was to buy back Stinger missiles from al-Qaeda groups issued to them by the State Department, not by the CIA. Such a mission would usually be a CIA effort, but the intelligence agency had opposed the idea because of the high risk involved in arming “insurgents” with powerful weapons that endanger civilian aircraft.
Hillary Clinton still wanted to proceed because, in part, as one of the diplomats said, she wanted “to overthrow Gaddafi on the cheap.”

Now, we know that the United States was engaged in an effort to arm Libyan rebels via arms shipments from Qatar, much as it is proceeding to arm the Syrian rebels today.  We know that the Obama Administration's apologists in the media were quick to excuse the procurement of said weapons shipments from Qatar by Islamic fanatics in Libya as an unintended and inadvertent result of the operation.  We also know that the Obama Administration's State Department approved a license for Marc Turi, an American arms dealer living in Arizona and the United Arab Emirates, to ship $200 million worth of arms to Qatar in May 2011 after his application to ship arms directly to Libya was rejected in March 2011.

What happened next was predictable enough: Islamists on the ground in Libya gained control over the arms being shipped into Libya, and used them to overthrow the government in Mali so that they could set up a fundamentalist government in the northern part of the country. Those Islamists in Mali are directly linked to Al Qaeda, and the Obama Administration managed to achieve for itself the dubious distinction of having armed both Al-Qaeda and Mexican drug cartels.

Ambassador Stevens, who was killed in the attack on the Benghazi consulate, was there to clean up the mess by repurchasing the Stinger missiles the Obama Administration had managed to supply to a group of terrorists with a known affinity for targeting civilian aircraft.  Not surprisingly, the terrorists in question were not so keen to give up their missiles.

When paired with explosive allegations that the Obama Administration shipped 2,000 firearms to the Sinaloa cartel, which were then used to kill over 3,000 Mexican civilians and two U.S. law enforcement agents, Brian Terry and Jaime Zapata, the Benghazi allegations fit within a larger pattern. The Obama Administration does not try to stop the flow of weapons to war-torn countries; it merely seeks to direct the flow to whichever side it deems as the desired victor.  Obama's foreign policy encourages that side to engage in conduct detrimental to the security of American interests, and further invites blowback from religious fanatics who utterly despise America's government.

Then again, given the fact that America's government is flooding Syria, Libya, and other countries around the world with weapons used by foreign mercenaries and jihadists to depose governments, it's hard to argue with why the Syrians or the Libyans would hate America. We replaced regimes that, while oppressive of civil liberties, provided relative stability and security for the majority of the people within Syria and Libya.

Indeed, Qaddafi did a better job of keeping downtown Tripoli free of gun violence than our present government does with, say, Chicago.  The Chicago Crime Commission has named their new Public Enemy No. 1, and it just so happens to be the head of the Sinaloa drug cartel, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.  You know, the man who heads the cartel that the Obama Administration walked guns over the Mexican border to in order to "track" said guns.  We have a President who is from Chicago arming the cartel headed by the Chicago Crime Commission's Public Enemy No. 1.

Finally, there is the IRS targeting of Tea Party groups applying for 501(c)(4) tax exempt status, which shouldn't surprise anyone familiar with the Obama Administration's pattern of targeting conservatives for reprisals.  Not only did the Obama Administration select dealerships for closure that were disproportionately more likely to be contributors to John McCain's failed campaign for the White House, they also managed to spare dealerships from closure based on the race and gender of their owners.  According to a report by the TARP Inspector General, Neal Barofsky:

[D]ealerships were retained because they were recently appointed, were key wholesale parts dealers, or were minority- or woman-owned dealerships. 

 Barofsky rightly noted that "ultimately close to half of all of the GM dealerships identified for termination were in rural areas," areas where Obama lost the vote in 2008 by 80%.  The IG's report highlighted the following facts:

experts said that while metro areas were oversaturated with GM and Chrysler dealerships and reductions were needed in these areas, this was not the case in rural areas where GM and Chrysler had an advantage over their import competitors. [...]

Although sales volume in small towns may be lower, the cost of operating dealerships in small towns is lower as well.  In addition, closing dealerships in small towns could ruin the "historic relationship" that GM has had with residents in small towns and force buyers to drive to metro areas, where there are more competitors. In the worst case, the loss of market share in small and medium-sized markets could "jeopardize the return to profitability" for GM and Chrysler, the (the Center for Automotive Research) representative said.  Representatives from the National Automobile Dealers Association also concurred that dealership terminations would cause GM and Chrysler to lose market share in rural areas.

Dealer closures were not based on business necessity. They were instead based on retaliation for the outcome of the vote in rural areas, and on who the dealers voted for or contributed to in the 2008 election.  The closures were also linked to the race or gender of the dealerships' owners, which tells you everything you need to know about the Obama Administration's strategies.  Though the 2,000 closed dealerships resulted in a loss of 100,000 jobs in the middle of a recession, Obama fulfilled his mandate for "shared sacrifice" by forcing his detractors and rural voters into accepting the terms of the sacrifice: the loss of their jobs in retaliation for the manner in which they voted.

If the Obama Administration has no issue with closing car dealerships down in a recession in a move that sacrificed 100,000 jobs, why would anyone be surprised that the IRS under Obama would work to prevent conservative 501(c)(4) organizations from receiving tax exempt status before the 2012 election, while simultaneously approving progressive 501(c)(4) applications at an exponentially faster pace?

The pattern is obvious: corruption, reciprocity, and incompetent management.  The Obama Administration points to the gun violence in Chicago as a justification for stricter gun laws, without any regard for the fact that its gunwalking program to the Sinaloa Cartel plays a key role in that gun violence due to the Sinoloa drugs flooding the streets of Chicago.  The Obama Administration points to the humanitarian situation on the ground in Libya, Syria, and other countries as a justification for international involvement; never once acknowledging that its own gunrunning to terrorist elements on the ground in those countries via Qatar is responsible for the humanitarian tragedies on the ground in Libya, Syria, and elsewhere.  Furthermore, the Obama Administration insists that the hold up of conservative 501(c)(4) applications by the IRS wasn't motivated by partisanship, even as its history of car dealership closings would suggest a racial and gender animus paired with partisan leanings in rural areas as the chief motivations underlying decisions as to whether or not a car dealership stayed open.

The patterns are obvious and inexcusable, and the justification for impeachment is ample.  That's today's Roundup, ladies and gentlemen.