IRS Scandal: Incompetence or politics? Axelrod claims stupidity

This Sunday on Meet the Press, David Axelrod made this statement regarding the IRS scandal:

"I've said this many times. If there was somebody political involved in this, it never would have happened because it was the stupidest thing you could imagine. I don't think that it was necessary and I don't think that it was smart."

"Really? It was so stupid that no one could have been involved?" Glenn responded after hearing the audio.

"Well, that shows you it was political.  The more stupid it is, the more you believe it was politically motivated," Pat added.

"It really, it really, truly you amazes me how they always are trying to go back in to say, "We are so incompetent.  We're so incompetent.  Everyone is so incompetent."  I've never heard any administration or any business or anybody ever claim incompetence more than this group of people," Glenn noted.

Given that this administration is also quick to tell the American people what's best for them, it's hard to believe they would want the public to find them incompetent…but that's the best line they've got right now. Keep in mind, while they're wanting Americans to believe that the IRS is incompetent and the President knew nothing, President Obama is helped push through Obamacare, which puts your health coverage in the hands of the incompetent IRS.

Kind of concerning, no?

Glenn wasn't buying it. Given the timing of the IRS targets, the healthcare debate, and the elections, there's no way politics weren't involved.

"So what is the IRS scandal honestly?" Glenn asked. "They didn't break any laws, right?  I mean, unless they're intentionally targeting.  "But you can't really prove that.  They're just asking questions."  They weren't ‑‑ they weren't doing anything... except nudging you.  Isn't that interesting?  Just nudging the entire time."

Glenn continued, "now, whose theory is that?  Well, that's Cass Sunstein.  What is Cass Sunstein's job?  Paperwork.  He's the regulations czar.  When you think of regulations, government regulations, you think of paperwork.  How was the IRS nudging people?  Through paperwork.  But, of course, Cass Sunstein, you know, would never have anything to do with something like that. Now, the IRS had 157 meetings at the White House, 157.  When they asked the IRS chief, "Why 157 meetings?  That's an awful lot."  I mean, Hillary Clinton went how many times?  20?  Eric Holder was there I think 40 or 50?  Why 157 meetings?  Now, these 157 meetings happened all during the time of this scandal and the healthcare debate."

Glenn quickly reminded listeners who is was leading the fight against Obamacare: the Tea Party, making it all the more unusual that no political discussion would occur involving the Tea Party during these meetings with the IRS regarding health care reform.

"I find that incredibly ridiculous you to think that humans didn't have that conversation," Glenn said.

"Tell me this conversation never happened at the White House," Glenn started:

"You know, Ralph, I mean, here we are working, last 100 days.  I mean, is there a chance that, like, none of this is going to happen?  I mean, maybe we don't get the opportunity to help America by creating 16,000 new jobs.  Maybe we don't grow our departments and gain just so many great things for the IRS and for America.  I mean, have you seen what the crazy TEA Partiers are sayin'?"

Ralph responds, "I know, Jim.  I mean, these 9/12 people and these TEA Partiers, I mean, they really think that there are death panels.  You hear that?  Sarah Palin was saying death panels."

"Yeah, well, actually they're... there are death panels."

"Really?"

"Yeah, yeah.  In fact, the IRS, your team, is going to be part of that."

"But I... I thought the president said there weren't going to be any death panels and those people like Sarah Palin who said there were death panels, those were just crazy conspiracy theories."

"Yeah, yeah.  Well, I think what happened was... you know, nobody ever talks to the president.  I'll just bet you that ‑‑ I mean, is just so incompetent, I'll bet you that he didn't know and nobody told him about the death panel thing when he was saying that it was a conspiracy theory because I mean, he wouldn't lie."

"I know.  He's the most honest guy ever, right?  He wouldn't lie.  I know that."

"Yeah, me, too.  I know it too.  Oh, but those TEA Party people, oh, they're such good‑hearted people.  I ‑‑ sure, I disagree with them but, man, they're good‑hearted people but they just don't know what's in their best interest."

"Yeah.  Kind of like what the president was sayin' about them Jews in Israel."

"Exactly.  They just don't know what's in their best interest.  Oh, man."

"I wish there was some way we could stop 'em, or at least slow 'em down so we could get this through."

"I know.  I know."

"You know, if Cass just — I mean, if he hadn't given that one idea for merely academic reasons, you know, we could just flood them with regulatory paperwork.  Stay within the law, of course, but then if they said anything to the press, we'll just say Cass' advice and just label them as conspiracy theorists and deny it."

"Yeah.  But what would happen if it turned out to be true, like a couple of years down the road?"

"Yeah, I know.  That's what Cass wrote about in his academic paper.  That's exactly what he said to do.  Even if it turned out to be true, later we would just say, oh, well, we didn't know."

"Yeah, I know.  Boy, that would be good, but that was an academic paper, right?"

"Yeah, no, Cass said it was just an academic paper."

"Crap.  So we can't even consider using that idea for some strange reason."

"No, uh‑uh, it was just academic.  We can ‑‑ even though he works right down the hall, we can't even talk to him about that because that was ‑‑ that was just academic."

"Right, okay, yeah.  Oh, well, let's just get back to work for the American people, help them and create a better, more streamlined healthcare system, you know, where there are no death panels and the IRS oversees all the paperwork in a friendly and efficient manner."

"Yeah, right.  But... Ralph, remember, only for those who choose universal healthcare."

"Oh, oh, I know, I know.  Because if you have a doctor you like... say it with me... you'll be able to keep him."

"That never happened?" Glenn asked sarcastically. "That conversation never happened?  Here's the guy who is in charge of all of the regulations.  What is the IRS if it isn't regulatory ‑‑ a regulatory process?  What is it?  And so nobody brought up the purely academic study that tells the IRS to do exactly what they did, tells the EPA to do exactly what the EPA was doing to conservative groups as well?"

This was one of the first homesteads in the area in the 1880's and was just begging to be brought back to its original glory — with a touch of modern. When we first purchased the property, it was full of old stuff without any running water, central heat or AC, so needless to say, we had a huge project ahead of us. It took some vision and a whole lot of trust, but the mess we started with seven years ago is now a place we hope the original owners would be proud of.

To restore something like this is really does take a village. It doesn't take much money to make it cozy inside, if like me you are willing to take time and gather things here and there from thrift shops and little antique shops in the middle of nowhere.

But finding the right craftsman is a different story.

Matt Jensen and his assistant Rob did this entire job from sketches I made. Because he built this in his off hours it took just over a year, but so worth the wait. It wasn't easy as it was 18"out of square. He had to build around that as the entire thing we felt would collapse. Matt just reinforced the structure and we love its imperfections.

Here are a few pictures of the process and the transformation from where we started to where we are now:

​How it was

It doesn't look like much yet, but just you wait and see!

By request a photo tour of the restored cabin. I start doing the interior design in earnest tomorrow after the show, but all of the construction guys are now done. So I mopped the floors, washed the sheets, some friends helped by washing the windows. And now the unofficial / official tour.

The Property

The views are absolutely stunning and completely peaceful.

The Hong Kong protesters flocking to the streets in opposition to the Chinese government have a new symbol to display their defiance: the Stars and Stripes. Upset over the looming threat to their freedom, the American flag symbolizes everything they cherish and are fighting to preserve.

But it seems our president isn't returning the love.

Trump recently doubled down on the United States' indifference to the conflict, after initially commenting that whatever happens is between Hong Kong and China alone. But he's wrong — what happens is crucial in spreading the liberal values that America wants to accompany us on the world stage. After all, "America First" doesn't mean merely focusing on our own domestic problems. It means supporting liberal democracy everywhere.

The protests have been raging on the streets since April, when the government of Hong Kong proposed an extradition bill that would have allowed them to send accused criminals to be tried in mainland China. Of course, when dealing with a communist regime, that's a terrifying prospect — and one that threatens the judicial independence of the city. Thankfully, the protesters succeeded in getting Hong Kong's leaders to suspend the bill from consideration. But everyone knew that the bill was a blatant attempt by the Chinese government to encroach on Hong Kong's autonomy. And now Hong Kong's people are demanding full-on democratic reforms to halt any similar moves in the future.

After a generation under the "one country, two systems" policy, the people of Hong Kong are accustomed to much greater political and economic freedom relative to the rest of China. For the protesters, it's about more than a single bill. Resisting Xi Jinping and the Communist Party means the survival of a liberal democracy within distance of China's totalitarian grasp — a goal that should be shared by the United States. Instead, President Trump has retreated to his administration's flawed "America First" mindset.

This is an ideal opportunity for the United States to assert our strength by supporting democratic values abroad. In his inaugural address, Trump said he wanted "friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world" while "understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their interests first." But at what point is respecting sovereignty enabling dictatorships? American interests are shaped by the principles of our founding: political freedom, free markets, and human rights. Conversely, the interests of China's Communist Party are the exact opposite. When these values come into conflict, as they have in Hong Kong, it's our responsibility to take a stand for freedom — even if those who need it aren't within our country's borders.

Of course, that's not a call for military action. Putting pressure on Hong Kong is a matter of rhetoric and positioning — vital tenets of effective diplomacy. When it comes to heavy-handed world powers, it's an approach that can really work. When the Solidarity movement began organizing against communism in Poland, President Reagan openly condemned the Soviet military's imposition of martial law. His administration's support for the pro-democracy movement helped the Polish people gain liberal reforms from the Soviet regime. Similarly, President Trump doesn't need to be overly cautious about retribution from Xi Jinping and the Chinese government. Open, strong support for democracy in Hong Kong not only advances America's governing principles, but also weakens China's brand of authoritarianism.

After creating a commission to study the role of human rights in U.S. foreign policy, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote last month that the principles of our Constitution are central "not only to Americans," but to the rest of the world. He was right — putting "America First" means being the first advocate for freedom across the globe. Nothing shows the strength of our country more than when, in crucial moments of their own history, other nations find inspiration in our flag.

Let's join the people of Hong Kong in their defiance of tyranny.

Matt Liles is a writer and Young Voices contributor from Austin, Texas.

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