09 June 2013

John Avlon on the latest D.C. scandals or how to whitewash professionally

Whitewash: A specious or deceptive clearing that attempts to gloss over failings and defects.

(My apologies to the readers: the above definition is for myself, to ensure that I got the word right (or the right word) and not to help the reader, whose English is usually much better than mine).

And another bit of logistics, providing useful information for the rest of this post:

John Avlon is political director for Newsweek and The Daily Beast. A CNN contributor, he won the National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ award for best online column in 2012.
So - a professional. And it shows. To start with the lede of the article NSA Spying Shows Obama’s Machine Out of Control:
Verizon. AP. IRS. Obama’s not the problem—it’s a government that has grown too big to control. John Avlon on how to tame the leviathan and save the president’s second term.
You can see how the article will work out directly from the lede: John is pointing his finger in a false direction, diverting your attention from (let me count) at least two basic facts:
  • The buck still stops at Obama's table, as it will for another three years.
  • It is not just three problems the misdirecting finger points out, it is four (at least): because letting the government grow into a leviathan too big to control is another Obama's deed. And it doesn't matter who created the problems in the first place - be it the ubiquitous and omni-guilty Bush or George Washington: the buck stops at that table for five years already, so let's cut at least this bit of crap.
Mr Avlon, however, persists:
To date, however, the Obama second-term scandals do not seem carelessly self-inflicted from the top like those of the past, from Watergate to Iran-Contra to Monica or even the botched response to Hurricane Katrina.
And how do we know, in the first place? Very simple (after all the article calls the reader to simplify):
What connects the unruly and still-evolving scandals—ranging from the IRS to AP to Verizon—is a portrait of an increasingly out-of-control federal bureaucracy that moves with an unaccountable borg-mind of its own.
So it is this, not very well defined, but threatening and huge cloud that is at the roots of all evil - don't blame the POTUS, you hear?

Interestingly, during Bush years the media didn't point at that cloud, even if the molecules of moisture in it were more or less the same. Even if the author helpfully states that "The problem predates President Obama—government has been growing more or less consistently since the founding of the Republic..." Strange, innit?

The rest of the article follows the original tune, and Mr Avlon artfully reduces the whole issue to IRS, offering a solution (yep, don't say it's empty of content).

But somehow it doesn't work, not on me anyway. Maybe since I have already seen some people, generally very supportive of the Democrats, offering some scathing irony like that one:

Obama Denies Role in Government
President Obama used his weekly radio address on Saturday to reassure the American people that he has “played no role whatsoever” in the U.S. government over the past four years.
 This is more like it.

All in all, in this article, which has another title, by the way, on The Daily Beast pages: Simplify, Simplify, Simplify, John Avlon went a few steps too far with the simplification process. Unless he aims at simpletons only, of course.


SnoopyTheGoon said...

Ah, yes, the court stenographers are always in a rush to absolve Wormtongue of any guilt, even by association. But it's no accident the IRS thing went down under him. It's been well established that most of the federal bureaucracy votes Democrat and contributes to them. The IRS didn't delay the nonprofit applications of any liberal groups, after all.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Yes, besides he chose IRS for the scandal value only, I guess.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

I suppose it's because the common knowledge is that Nixon did it, too, though his biographers say he only tried to do it. They say the IRS refused to cooperate with him. They wouldn't do their thing for a Republican. If their corruption was bipartisan, it might be fixable. Since it isn't, only abolition of the whole shebang will work.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Oh. I see. But IRS is only a tip of the mismanagement iceberg in this case, I think.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

A lot more scary than the IRS is Attorney General Holder and the Justice Dept.'s massive grabbing of the phone logs and other data of hundreds of AP reporters and their going after a Fox News reporter. Then there is the NSA looking through everyone's on line activity to see which ones might be suspicious.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Yep, so this is what I said: another one in a list. And it gets longer as time goes.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Snoop, the problem for the former junior senator from Illinois is that he could always hide behind nuance and complexity, as in Fast and Furious, Solyndra, and Jeremiah Wright were all too nuanced and complex for people to understand. We were just too dumb to get it. But there isn't a low information vegetable out there who doesn't understand that having the IRS audit you is one big f--ing deal, as Smiley Joe Biden would put it, and that getting the news that you're being audited is not calculated to improve your mood in any way, shape, or form. Americans may not like their government, Snoop, but in general they are not afraid of it. The exception to this rule is the Internal Revenue Service; everyone is afraid of them. When the IRS decides to give your balls a twist, there isn't much you can do about it except smile and hope they don't squeeze too hard.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

I would dare say it's not that much different here. My understanding is that IRS folks are produced somewhere in Alaska by the same means that grizzly bears are and then shipped all over the world.