Saturday, May 18, 2013
He Must Need An Elderly Woman
BULLY BOY PRESS & CEDRIC'S BIG MIX -- THE KOOL-AID TABLE
THE INDEPENDENT ARGUES THE SHINE IS OFF BARRY O'S HALO AS A RESULT OF THIS WEEK'S SCANDALS.
THE TELEGRAPH NOTES THAT NOT ONLY IS THE THRILL GONE, IT'S GETTING POSITIVELY NIXONIAN.
BARRY O TOLD THESE REPORTERS THAT HE WILL BE RECAPTURING HIS POPULARITY SHORTLY.
"I'VE GOT IT ALL PLANNED," HE EXPLAINED. "WEDNESDAY, I'M GOING TO HAVE A WHITE HOUSE CONCERT BY CAROLE KING AND THAT'LL GET ME LOTS OF LOVE, LOTS OF LOVE."
EXCEPT THAT THE ARTIST IN QUESTION IS 71-YEARS-OLD, HER VOICE IS SHOT AND SHE LAST HAD A MILLION SELLING ALBUM IN 1971 AND FOR MOST AMERICANS UNDER THE AGE OF 45, IT'S REALLY, "CAROLE WHO?"
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
US House Rep Kenny Marchant: On July 25th, we had another Oversight Committee hearing in which Commissioner Miller and I had an extended conversation about this very subject. And that conversation is in this transcript, anyone can get it on the internet and read the questions but the questions were very specifically about Tea Party groups and their difficulties in getting their tax exempt status, the lengthy conversations that they were having, the questionnaires that they were having to answer. And, again, Mr. Miller in that exchange that you and I had, I came away with that, I felt, with the assurances by you and your office that there were no extraordinary circumstances taking place and that this was just a backlog and there was nothing going on. Mr. Miller, was that your impression of the hearing that day?
Acting Commissioner Steve Miller: Uhm, no sir. What I said there and what I understood your question to be was -- again, we divide this world in two, there's a question of this selection process and there was a question of what was going on at the time of your question. At the time of your question, what was out in the public domain and what I thought we were discussing was the letter. As you called them, the questionnaire. Those were the over broad letters that had been referred to continuously here. Uhm, again, I stand by my answer there. Uh, there was not, uh-h-h-h-h-h, I-I-I-I did talk about the fact that we had centralized -- I believe, I'd have to take a look at it. But I was talking about the fact that we had fixed that problem.
Kenny Marchant: But-but at that time, you knew, by that time, that there were lists being made, there were delineations, there was discrimination going on and that there were steps being taken to try to correct it. But you knew that it was going on at that time.
Acting Commissioner Steve Miller: We had corrected it. TIGTA was taking a look. At that time, my assumption is TIGTA was going to be done with their report that summer. I was not going to go there because I did not have full possessions of all the facts, sir.
Any member of Congress who finds that 'answer' acceptable is an embarrassment. A government official appeared before Congress to testify at a hearing and was asked about potential abuses. He knew about abuses that the Congress didn't with regard to this subject and did not reveal them. His lousy excuse about a report coming out? No. He said (see above) that he had addressed it. But report or no report, you don't conceal from Congress. He played words games and he was dishonest. As USA Today's Susan Page observed on the first hour of The Diane Rehm Show today, "Well, we have to go back and look at that, but he certainly left a misimpression among everyone who heard his answers. People heard him as denying it. Now, maybe it will turn out to be some turn of phrase that gives him an exit hatch. But I think it is hard for him to argue that he did not mislead."
That took place this morning in the House Ways and Means Committee hearing. The Committee Chair is Dave Camp and the Ranking Member is Sander Levin. Appearing before the Committee were J. Russell George and Steve Miller. J. Russell George is an Inspector General for the Treasury Department while Steve Miller is the Acting Commissioner of the IRS. The Acting Commissioner. Wednesday, we carried in full the remarks from US President Barack Obama about the 'firing' of Miller. Miller is not fired. As was established in the hearing, he remains on the government payroll, he remains Acting Commissioner of the IRS. He stated so himself today when questioned.
US House Rep Vern Buchanan: Were you terminated or fired? What happened there? Or are you getting ready to retire?
Steve Miller: I was asked to resign and I will retire.
US House Rep Vern Buchanan: Okay.
Steve Miller: Under the civil service rules.
[. . .]
US House Rep Tom Reed: As you sit here today, you were not fired from your job. And I can tell you, in my private experience, you would have been fired on the spot. And all you were allowed to do is resign and retire? And now you come here and try to say I did the honorable thing by falling on my sword' when nothing bad is going to happen to you. You're going to get your full benefits. You're going to get everything that's associated with your retirement as an IRS employee.
Steve Miller: [Laughing] Nohting bad is happening to me, Congressman?
US House Rep Tom Reed: Financially. You're allowed to retire. That's the level of accountability in Washington, DC now. You're still acting [Commissioner]. You came here on the taxpayer dollar today. You're getting a paycheck for being here today. Correct? Correct?
Steve Miller: [Pause] Correct.
There is no accountability. And he laughed. He found the exchange funny. He had many 'cute' moments.
US House Rep Peter Roskam: Why did you say you have notes if you don't have notes?
Steve Miller: Sir, please.
US House Rep Peter Roskam: Do you have notes or don't you have notes?
Steve Miller: (voice dripping with sarcasm) I don't know.
US House Rep Lynne Jenkins stated at one point during the hearing, "I'm sad and I'm sick to my stomach that Americans could be targeted by a government agency based on their political beliefs." Miller was not sick, he laughed, he found things amusing. But why wouldn't it. He's getting away with everything he wanted.
There's no reason to believe Miller was being honest or knows what's going on. One of the people 'disciplined,' the press has noted this week, received an oral warning. Oops. Miller asked about that stated, "The oral counseling that was provided? It turns out that that person might not have been involved." This is a huge scandal. He is the official in charge -- still in charge, still on the job -- and he knew he was appearing before Congress but he still doesn't know who was at fault?
Is there any accountability at all? By his testimony, not at all. In the most outrageous moment, in response to questions asked by US House Rep Ron Kind, Miller declared, "We now have possession of the facts with respect to the TIGTA report. Now is the time we should be looking at that, now that we have the facts." What? No, actually, the time to look was before the TIGTA report. By the time the Inspector General of the Department is finding fault, you've failed at your job. You should have corrected it and, as we know, the IRS knew long before the TIGTA report. But, Miller insisted to Kind, that now is the time, now that the Inspector General's report has been released. No, supervisors -- including Miller -- should have addressed it, should have found out the problems, should have found out who was involved. Other signs of incompetence? He didn't know that, in addition to political groups, churches were targeted. He appeared before the Committee, after the report was released, to 'answer' questions and he didn't even know that churches were among the targeted. What does he do all day? He also made clear that though he doesn't "believe it should happen," he doesn't believe it's illegal. Maybe he had been fired, as we were led to believe he was, he might have cared a little damn more.
And let's also be clear, this isn't the only IRS problem. The IG has released one report. As IG Russell George's remarks made clear, there are other ongoing investigations about the IRS and this issue. Those investigations cannot be discussed because they are ongoing. Again, this was established in George's exchange with US House Rep Tom Reed. ("That is an accurate statement, sir," George agreed.)
US House Rep Aaaron Schock had a number of issues to raise about what the IRS did. A pro-life was group was asked about the content of their prayers and Miller couldn't weigh in on wehter or not that was an appropriate question for the IRS to ask. Another pro-life group was asked if they taught "both sides of the issue." As anyone knows, I'm firmly pro-choice. That does not mitigate my offense at these questions the IRS asked and, especially with regard to prayer, they crossed a line. It's a damn shame Steve Miller didn't know how to respond but a clear indication he was never up for the job. Schock noted another pro-life group was asked to reveal what writing would be on signs they carried at a protest? Again, Miller had no comment.
Popular responses from Miller included: "I don't know," "I don't believe so," "I have no reason to believe . . .," "I don't think so," "I don't have exact knowledge on that," "I'm really not sure" and "I'd have to go back and check." He wasn't sure if he had notes. He wasn't sure about timelines. He was sure about this or about that.
Tonight, Marcia will cover the hearing at her site, Kat at her site, Wally will cover it at Ann's site and Ava will cover it at Trina's site.
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