Well, we are rejoining Washington's Behind The Scandalabraghazi, already in progress, though interestingly enough, it seems that we may actually be moving to the DoJ-vs-the press scandal that's actually a) interesting and b) clearly guided by officials of rank and not low-level office functionaries. Representatives Bob Goodlatte (R-Virginia) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland) will yell at each other...OR WITH EACH OTHER?...about it.
Also Reince Priebus will be here to show off the welts left on his backside when Bob Dole smacked him around last week.
But first, Eric Holder is said to be on "the hot seat," and Goodlatte and Van Hollen will have some emoting about it for you. Goodlatte is apparently the chair of the House Judiciary Committee or something? That seems wrong to me, but whatever! Congratulations, storied Virginia back-bencher!
Anyway, Eric Holder was all up in Fox reporter's James Rosen's grill, and he put the DoJ onto his joint in a letter that suggested that Rosen was a "co-conspirator" in a violation of the Espionage Act. That sounds pretty serious, but as Alex Pareene pointed out a while back, the DoJ was sort of running a game here:
Rosen wasn’t charged. In truth, the government never really intended to charge him. They just needed a judge to agree that Rosen probably violated the Espionage Act so that they could get their warrant to read his emails, as part of their real investigation into his source, an intelligence analyst named Richard Kim. It worked. That’s the scandal: that the government could charge a journalist with, effectively, spying, simply for reporting. Barack Obama yesterday announced that he did not want his Justice Department treating the act of reporting as criminal. He is going to convene a panel, and urge the passage of a shield law. The question is, what will he do about Holder?
Invoking the Espionage Act, as the administration has repeatedly done in its investigations into leaks to journalists, is shocking, considering the history of the act — it was essentially designed as a law giving President Wilson carte blanche to lock up people opposed to the U.S. entering World War I. (As originally written it also gave the president censorship powers over the press.) There’s no reason the law should still be on the books. There’s less than no reason for the Justice Department to be trying people under it in 2013.
In the AP case, where the government used methods with less terrifying implications in order to obtain private and professional information from many, many more journalists, Holder recused himself. We now have evidence that he likely would’ve approved the subpoena even if he hadn’t. It’s nice that now the president wants (or says he wants) to “review” the Justice Department’s actions in cases involving journalists. It’s hard to believe the president when he says Attorney General Eric Holder “shares [his] concern” about press freedom and independence.
Goodlatte says that he's going to give Holder an additional chance to answer some questions before the House Judiciary Committee, because Holder's prior testimony no longer squares with everything we now know. Goodlatte stops short of calling Holder a liar. He says that it's troubling to him that false information was put into a request for a warrant, as it was done in Rosen's case. Sounds to me like the statute invites that sort of activity, and should probably be amended or done away with.
Wallace wants to know if it's fair to say if they are investigating Holder for perjury, and again, Goodlatte won't take it quite that far. He says that they are definitely investigating the discrepancies and want to afford Holder the opportunity to clarify his remarks. "We will wait to pass judgment until we've heard his response, unless of course he's not forthcoming," says Goodlatte.
I think that a good latte is an iced latte, stirred with simple syrup. Try it sometime!
Goodlatte adds that he is not going to "second guess" Holder or his involvement in the Rosen case. He wants to hear from him, and clear up these contradictions.
Wallace asks Van Hollen, "How do you reconcile his testimony under oath to the committee that he had never heard of, never involved in, not the prosecution, but the potential prosecution, of a reporter with the fact that he signed off on the request for a search warrant that spoke specifically of James Rosen's potential criminal liability?"
Van Hollen says that it's "perfectly consistent," because sometimes "you have investigations that you target somebody for the purpose of gathering information with never having any intention of prosecuting them." That's what was going on with Rosen. This may be legal and it may be common, but it still seems pretty wrong, to have your name tied to concepts like "co-conspirator" and "espionage," when all you are doing is bog-standard source-cajoling.
Wallace points out that they went judge-shopping on this matter, which means that they clearly didn't have the greatest of cases against Rosen. He also suggests that the affadavit claiming those things about Rosen is a "false affidavit," which would be a crime. Van Hollen says that there are no falsehoods in the affidavit.
Goodlatte objects and says that "the false information is that they found probable cause to find that he was an aider, abettor or co-conspirator with the alleged leaker of the information." We're kind of back around at the beginning, here.
Van Hollen counter-objects: "The Attorney General and the Justice Department always have the discretion not to bring a prosecution or criminal case. As the Attorney General said, it's their policy essentially not to bring that kind of case. That does not mean it's not true as a legal matter to allege exactly what they alleged in this affidavit. After all, as we know, there are lots of facts in this case. The fact is Rosen and Kim set up these alias names, special email accounts, but that doesn't mean that the Justice Department ever intended to criminally prosecute Rosen."
Just because these guys had special nicknames and email accounts doesn't mean Rosen was engaged in "espionage," either.
"We've plowed this ground," says Wallace, who changes the subject.
Van Hollen says that freedom of the press is a "real issue," sure. Then he says that "this whole thing reeks of hypocrisy" because it wasn't long ago that the Fox News people were all crazy up in arms, hollering, "FIND THE LEAKS! BRING ME THE HEAD OF THE LEAKERS SO THAT I MIGHT SLAKE MY UNHOLY THIRST FOR LEAKER BLOOD!" Wallace changes the subject right back, asking Van Hollen how many times the DoJ has prosecuted a reporter under the Espionage Act. Van Hollen says, "I don't think they have," and that that's the point.
"That's the whole issue here," he says, "They were never intending to prosecute Rosen."
Yeah, but Goodlatte makes a good point, saying that the information submitted to the judges also intimated that Rosen was a "flight risk," which clearly indicates that they were at least pretending to present Rosen as a bonafide lawbreaker.
Wallace asks about the state of immigration reform, in the House, and whether or not the House will get a comprehensive plan or a piecemeal plan. Goodlatte says that the immigration system is broken from stem to stern, and he thinks the House is serious about fixing it, but their preference is to go step-by-step.
Would he consider a path to citizenship before border enforcement is brought to whatever fairytale level of superdoubleplusgoodness is required to tamp down the worrisome tingles of the nipples of every nativist weirdie in America? Goodlatte says he doesn't favor a special path to citizenship in any event, but he definitely doesn't think a "legal status" should be provided to anyone "before we have underway a number of reforms" pertaining to border security and enforcement of the law in the interior of the country.
Van Hollen takes one more stab at defending Holder, pointing out that it's the guidelines Holder was following that everyone seems to dislike. Hate the game, not the player, in other words.
On immigration reform, Van Hollen says that the Senate bill is really good, and the Senate is "moving on important issues" (it actually isn't, beyond maybe immigration reform) and that the House should follow suit.
Now, Reince Priebus will talk about what the GOP is going to do to revitalize itself, especially after Bob Dole had himself a huge sad over it last weekend. "Debbie Wasserman-Schultz turned us down," Wallace says, as if that was somehow an indictment that she didn't want to participate in a discussion as to how the GOP could get better (or at least good enough to make Bob Dole happy).
"We extended an opportunity for Debbie to sit across the table from Reince and eyeroll at him for twenty minutes, but she turned us down, citing a great well-spring of pity in her heart for this Reince guy, who is inexplicably still in charge of the RNC. Hey, anyone remember how the GOP actually WON elections with Michael Steele there? That was kind of cray, wasn't it? Anyway: FRENCH OPEN!"
Wallace says that Dole's basic point was that the GOP "has moved too far to the right" and that the current configuration of the party would be all, "No, Bob Dole and Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon, you can't play in our reindeer games!" BOB DOLE WAS SO SAD ABOUT IT GUYS.
"We all love Bob Dole," says Priebus, and he points out that the last two Presidential candidates, McCain and Romney, are a "countering point." The argument being that those guys are the sorts of Republican that Dole likes, so Dole should stop being so sad. In the next breath, Priebus points out that "we have not decisively won a presidential race in 24 years." You mean, with the candidates that Bob Dole is supposed to be fond of?
"We're not closed for repairs," Priebus says, "we're open for repairs." Like that restaurant on your block that is "Open For Delousing."
Wallace points out that right now, the dream of comprehensive immigration reform is going to die in the House at the hands of Republicans and that Democrats are going to be able to hang that around their necks come election time (though in the off-year election, destroying immigration reform may boost the GOP's chances). Priebus says that "most people in the party believe in comprehensive immigration reform." Just there are shifting definitions of what "comprehensive" and "reform" mean, I guess.
Priebus does say that words like "self-deportation" aren't helpful.
Wallace points out that Hispanic voters really like Obamacare, and voted for the party that also liked Obamacare, and against the party that hated Obamacare, perhaps thinking to themselves, "Man, it wasn't too long ago that 'Obamacare' was exactly what the righty think-tanks were promoting, beat THAT with a stick! I mean, we could get with these GOP dudes if they were consistent probably, I don't know, this is a pretty weird country!"
Priebus doesn't really formally address that, saying that sometimes it's not "what you say but how you say it" -- by which he means that on Obamacare, the GOP has not found the right way to talk about it yet. Somewhere, out there, there is a magic way of getting people to sign off on getting rid of the things they like, and the GOP needs to find those words. I mean, I'd suggest putting the effort into finding other policies that are better and achieve the same things, but then I am not a super-genius like Reince Priebus.
At least Priebus now believes that the words "self-deportation" are bad. Like, undocumented immigrants didn't hear that term and think, "Eureka! I get it now! It's a good thing that the GOP changed their 'messaging!'"
Wallace asks Priebus if the drop in the President's approval rating between the beginning and end of May is attributed to all the Ghazis? Priebus says that it's a combination of the economy and the scandals. But he has more to say about the scandals, obviously.
Wallace asks Priebus to speculated as to whether the IRS scandal is rooted in direct orders from the White House to be dicks about targeting Tea Party groups or if it's just inspired by some free-floating culture of dickishness. I think that it's basic incompetence and perhaps a soupcon of venality at very low levels in the IRS, involving mid-office functionaries taking some typical shortcuts, but I guess there's no point to even offering Priebus the choice.
Priebus is, naturally, really, really super-sad about the way the President's inner circle totally inspired people to make fun of the Tea Party. He then says that this is NOT sufficient to lead a bunch of bureaucrats in Cincinnati to do what they did, so "more digging" is necessary.
Wallace asks Priebus about the way Obama has criticized the GOP for their "constant obstruction." Priebus says that they are just providing a "check" on Obama's power. Wallace asks if that's not just a bunch of grandstanding, and Priebus says he "doesn't see that" because "Paul Ryan is so serious!"
Panel oblivion, with Laura Ingraham and Evan Bayh and Jennifer Rubin and Amy Walter. Already very bored!
Ingraham says that Eric Holder had a really bad week and that government is terrible and then finds the most ironic way possible to decry the Rosen matter by calling it out as a "fishing expedition." She also says that not enough people called the Valerie Plame investigation an "overreach."
Bayh says that his takeaway on the scandal-season is that it's "embarrassing but not criminal," which are the exact words that should caption every single photograph of Evan Bayh.
Rubin says that most Americans hate the IRS, though, that's only true in this period of scandal. In better times, the IRS actually isn't as hated as people think. Two years ago, the Tea Party, hilariously, was MUCH LESS popular.
Walter says that the challenge for the IRS right now is that they have to demonstrate a level of circumspection, and generally re-demonstrate that they can do their job.
How hard will the summer be for Obama, in terms of passing his agenda? Ingraham basically suggests that it's the press' job to thwart the Obama aganda, but there's no real worry here if you are a fan of agenda-thwarting, because the GOP is going to do that. If Obama needs to pass emergency funding to fight an invasion of space-gazelles, the GOP will probably just welcome our new antlered overlords, and Bob Dole will be left to wheeze sadly at the Watergate as deer beyond the stars avenge the death of Bambi's mother.
Now, we'll have some panel gum-flapping about Syria. Bayh says that he agrees with the assessment that Assad is "winning" the civil war he's having with a bunch of sketchy rebels that are shot through with al Qaeda members. Bayh says that there are no good options in Syria, because no matter who comes to power, it will be pretty terrible. Bayh implies that the existing power structure would be slightly better for the United States.
Wallace strangely lauds John McCain for that time he snuck into Syria so that kidnapping bastards could get their photo taken with him.
Rubin is so, so mad that we aren't doing stuff in Syria because there was a RED LINE, y'all! And that pretty much required the United States to start handing over lethal weapons to weird rebels. Also we have SENT A SIGNAL TO TEHRAN! Presumably, "Tehran" hasn't noticed that we are deeply overextended, militarily and financially, and can't possibly fight a pre-emptive war with Iran.
Ingraham goes on a long tangent about how the entire premise of the Iraq War -- that bringing stability to Iraq would cause a "domino effect" of super-niceness and democracy -- was basically a big pantload. Of course, this was not the entire premise of the Iraq War until all the actual premises were demonstrated to be even larger and wetter pantloads, and we were left to suggest that such a domino effect was possible. (Hilariously, she attributes the way this magic domino effect didn't come about to the Obama presidency.)
Still, at least Ingraham understands that participating in this rebellion would essentially be like palling around with al Qaeda. Wallace is like, "So do you mean Assad should stay in power?" as if every choice in life will yield you one magic pony as long as you want it badly enough. Ingraham says that America should get comfortable with having "limited power" to control certain outcomes. Bayh agrees: "We tend to overstate our ability to alter events and understate the law of unintended consequences." I sort of didn't expect to hear some things that made some sense.
Wallace is still like, "SO YOU GUYS ARE SAYING LET ASSAD WIN?" Ingraham is like, WE CAN'T DO EVERYTHING! Rubin is like, "WE MUCH GO TO WAR MUCH FASTER THE NEXT TIME." So it's nice that someone stepped up to reclaim this panel in the name of asininity.
THE CHRIS MATTHEWS SHOW:
Today, Chris Matthews is... doing a special episode on the Kennedy administration? Oh, man, this was a mistake, recording this. I really should pay better attention to details, like what nonsense Chris Matthews is going to be talking about.
Oh, so what's going on? Well, Darrell Issa is insisting that the bad guys in the IRS were getting their marching orders from mustache-twirlers in the White House:
"As late as last week the administration's still trying to say there's a few rogue agents in Cincinnati when in fact the indication is they were directly being ordered from Washington," Issa told Candy Crowley on CNN's "State of the Union."
Issa's committee provided CNN partial transcripts of its interviews with Cincinnati IRS agents. Crowley read from one transcript in which an investigator asked an agent if directions for extra Tea Party scrutiny had emanated from Washington. "I believe so," the agent said.
Crowley was not impressed. "It's totally not definitive," she said of the excerpt.
"That one isn't," Issa said. "But I will tell you, one of the agents asked for and got a transfer because that person was so uncomfortable that they wanted out of it."
Back on The Chris Matthews Show, Michael Beschloss is talking about people not being able to eat the snow because there was Strontium-90 in it, because we were just that edgy back then. Also, everyone is really impressed that Kennedy gave a speech in the June heat at American University. It's really unpleasant in Washington, in the summer! We deal with it.
"Khrushchev wasn't that bad a guy in the end," says Matthews. "I mean, obviously, he was a terrible tyrant."
On Face The Nation, John McCain was totally sure that the Syrian rebels are just the sweetest people in the world and there will totally be no consequences to giving them all a lot of lethal weapons. "We have a lot of good people being massacred," he says, using the word "we" in a way that I don't quite understand.
Schieffer asked McCain what our strategic objective in Syria should be, and he says that Assad should go, that this would be a blow to Iran and Hezbollah, and the power vacuum would be filled by "??????" "There's jihadists pouring in from all over the Middle East," McCain admits, but he still suggests that's somehow preferable. "There's no good options here," he says, in a statement that really must make taxpayers enthusiastic about spending their money on this mess.
Meanwhile, Senator Jack Reed is all, "maybe there is a way to resolve this matter politically, I don't know."
Kennedy gave a speech in Berlin one time, and Matthews is on it. Meanwhile, lots of people still probably think that Kennedy told the people of Berlin that he was a jelly doughnut, but I think that was all a big misunderstanding. Now, if he'd said "Ich bin ein Pfannkuchen," the entire course of history might have played out differently.
On This Week, my boss yelled at David Plouffe about deportations:
In the midst of the conversations around the IRS scandal and the Department of Justice going after leaks to journalists, Huffington said there is “a lot of scandal” in the debate over immigration:
HUFFINGTON: It’s what the Obama administration is doing with deportation… More people have been deported over the Obama administration than over the whole two terms of George Bush. And we’ve had, for example, since 2010, 200,000 parents of American citizens being deported for minor offenses. This is a real tragedy. And [if this were] being done under George Bush, Democrats would have been up in arms.
In response, Plouffe told Huffington, “We’re enforcing the law, taking border security seriously. There’s been adjustments. The action on the DREAM Act, those kids should not be sent home. We need a solution.”
Back at the Special Kennedy Edition of the Genius Bar, Michael Beschloss predicts that post-Obama, the country might move slightly in a more moderate direction, and Duffy things that everyone will cut entitlements, for reasons that no one can really explain, especially given the recent trustee's report, which found that Medicare is in better shape than previously thought, and the bad news for Social Security is that "if nothing changes, in 2033, Social Security recipients will face an immediate, 23-percent cut in benefits."
The "something" that should change, by the way, is that in the income caps on contributions to Social Security should be raised or eliminated altogether, problem solved, we never worry about it again.
Matthews asks Beschloss and Duffy whether or not Reagan or Kennedy is the greaterest Presidentialist of the modern era, and they both say Reagan -- Beschloss because Kennedy wasn't in office long enough to have as much impact, and Duffy because Obama is always talking about how awesome Reagan was.
So, pretty important morning of politics at the Chris Matthews Show that will impact a lot of lives.
MEET THE PRESS
Since the world is getting a break from this hellhole next week, I feel sort of semi-obligated to stare into it today. What lies ahead for me is more on the Holder-versus-journalism topic -- nice that everyone on Sunday is finally getting around to this, like the leaders they are. Representative Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) will be hear to grump about it, as will Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). Then David Axleord and Jonathan Alter and Ana Navarro and Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Thomas Friedman will make wet, squawking sounds from their cakeholes for as long as I can bear to listen to them.
Oh, we are going to start with the panel. Terrific, I guess.
Axelrod says that the "civic sport of Washington DC is human sacrifice." Which makes DC sound a lot more awesome than it is. He's basically referring to the way reputations in Washington can become slightly ruffled, but this is never something that accomplishes exclusion or shunning or shame or takes anyone off the path to great affluence.
Friedman says that there was "overreach on both sides," which is what you say when you are a guy who really wants everyone to respect him. Yeah, the DoJ went to far, but did they really go too far enough? Clearly, maybe. Anyway, "INTERCONNECTIVITY."
Blackburn says that "people feel betrayed" by the White House and its leadership, and that Holder has "lost the trust of the American people" and they want "answers" and "accountability" and it will "take a generation to rebuild trust in the government."
Tom Brokaw is here, for some reason, unexpectedly, to talk about this.
BROKAW: The problem with how you determine whether something is in the public's right to know when it is classified in some fashion doesn't have the law of physics attached to it. It's very subjective. Everyone has a slightly different opinion. But in most cases when a news organization like the Associated Press or Rosen, it begins a dialogue with the government. Obviously the administration is scrambling to clean all this up. But it seems to me that on this Sunday morning after last week that Eric Holder still is in the cross hairs here. What did he know? When did he know it? What did he do about it? That will play out this week.
"I think the burden is on both is government and the press to work out a more clear set of guidelines, both for their exchanges with each other and then so that the public can be involved in this as well," Brokaw says.
Does Brokaw think that Holder will remain in his job? He says that it's "tough to see" that happening.
BROKAW: What we're seeing...today is that familiar Washington two-step. Officially getting the endorsement of people like David Axelrod and the spokesman for the president. But at the same time, there's another part of that two-step that is going on in which people think it would be better if he left. It would be better for the president to get this cleaned up. He has become obviously the lightning rod for a lot of the criticism, just on this panel. And certainly in Republican circles. From a political point of view, one of the ways that you can measure the impact of all of this and the fairness of it, think if this had happened in the Bush administration with John Ashcroft as the Attorney General, you know full well the Democrats and the left would be going very hard after them with these issues that are in play.
Lots of Democrats and much of the left is pretty sour on Holder, actually, so let's at least accord them some respect for being consistent.
Axelrod says that the issues of national security and press freedom "can live together," but Gregory doesn't really let him finish his thought. He doesn't even let Axelrod finish his thought.
Alter says that there is a distinction to be made between investigating leaks and prosecuting journalists, and the new and different thing here is the idea that journalists can be prosecuted. Axelrod says he totally agrees, but he dares Alter to point to a single journalist who's been prosecuted.
Ana Navarro suddenly remembers she is on the panel and mentions that it was pretty weird that there was an off-the-record meeting between Holder and Washington bureau chiefs about the guidelines pertaining to press freedoms and, well, it sure was! Which is why we didn't go!
Now we are going to talk to Chuck Schemer about this. He says that he "hasn't seen anything that should prevent Holder from doing his job," which he isn't doing terrifically, even if people weren't so mad about him right now. Gregory is all, "But don't you think he committed perjury?" and Schumer echoes Axelrod in pointing out that no journalists have been prosecuted, so there's no perjury.
He goes on to say that no competent lawyer would make those charges or suggest that there's a prosecutable case about Holder, but then no competent lawyer would end up a member of Congress, either.
Nevertheless, Schumer says that we should totally investigate what happened at the IRS, and that we totally need a media shield law. Obama, of course, rushed to get Schumer to re-advocate for a media shield law, specifically the watered-down version of the media shield law that Schumer once backed but apparently doesn't anymore.
He does say that the DOJ cannot be the "player and the umpire" in adjudicating themselves, and so he and Lindsey Graham have proposed an independent arbiter do that work. He also thinks that the next time the DOJ wants to snatch up all the AP's phone records, there should be some reasonable checks, and that the AP should be notified.
There are also some videos bubbling up of IRS employees doing these silly team-building exercises, and it's being compared to the GSA spending scandal? But it looks to me like that no more than $3.50 was spent on shooting the videos of these silly things, and that maybe everyone should calm down. Schumer disagrees and basically declares that working for the government will heretofore be a soulless and ascetic exercise in Dostoevskian misery, until the sweet release of death is upon us.
Schumer says that he didn't call for Tea Party groups to be investigated, he called for the IRS to draw "a bright line" that determines the standard for "social welfare organizations" and when they start to do activities that should mandate the revocation of their tax-exempt status. "Our letter was the solution," he says.
SCHUMER: I would propose that we say, we pass legislation that more than 10%, if more than 10% of your activity is political activity, you lose your tax exemption. And if you had a bright line, it wouldn't be up to some bureaucrat to make their own determination, perhaps wrongly based on political needs. It would be the same standard for all groups, liberal, conservative, Democrat, Republican, that's what we need. And our letter is actually the solution to the problem.
On immigration, he says that the scandals "have not diverted us one iota," from their purpose of fixing immigration. "We are moving forward," he says, "and we will have a good bill." He advises Boehner -- who he says is "in a box" -- to watch how strong the support is for the bill in the Senate, and adjust their calculus accordingly.
Schumer reiterates that their should be investigations but warns that GOP overreach will cause them to lose seats in Congress, in a repeat of what happened when Clinton impeachment fever gripped the GOP. So, don't impeach Obama, I guess? I guess this might be a tall order. Still, if the secret to getting a House majority is GOP overreach, maybe Schumer should just bait them.
Now, we'll talk to Mike Rogers about all the same stuff, essentially.
Rogers says that as a former FBI agent, he understands that it's important to keep classified information classified, but the "dragnet" the the DOJ threw over the Associated Press was "more than an overeach" and "really not very good investigative work."
"That dragnet approach, I argue, is a little bit dangerous when you talk about first amendment protections for a free press," says Rogers. "And same with the coconspirator issue. That just defied logic to me."
Did Holder level with Congress, Gregory asks, when "he said that he was never involved in the potential prosecution of a journalist, given that he named the coconspirator, a journalist, in the affidavit?" Rogers calls that "problematic," and suggests that there is a "larger pattern of deception" -- by which he means "BLARGLEGHAZI OMGZ!"
Should Holder keep his job though? Rogers says, "That's going to be up to him. I think how he handles this moving forward is critically important. I have argued from the beginning, they just need to lay it out on the table."
Which is why you don't have off-the-record encounter sessions with journalists in lieu of a full public accounting! This gives me another opportunity to link to my favorite part of the book, BAILOUT.
Gregory gets around to a larger question on the War On Terror:
GREGORY: Obama, in his speech recently, declared an end to the war, Susan Rice who appeared on this program in September said, "Al Qaeda was decimated." We know that there is a trove of information that was recovered when Osama bin Laden was killed from that compound. Not all of that information has been released. You've had a chance to review some of it. Do you agree with the assessment that the administration has made about the strength or lack of of Al Qaeda?
ROGERS: I think it is-- we are in a wrong direction here if we think we can pull back and let this thing go. You have over 500 schools have been closed in Afghanistan, majority are girls schools. Last week, the Taliban poisoned 74 girls trying to go to school. The Boko Haram in the Northern Africa area have killed some 3,000 people. These are Islamic extremists. That's revamping up.
You have the problem in Mali, you have the problem in Algiers, you have the problem in Libya. All of these with Al Qaeda extremists. In May of this year, a thousand people were killed in extremist violence in Iraq. You have 90,000 plus people killed in Syria over what is a growing sectarian problem, which is now becoming a regional problem.
Saying that this thing is over and that we can all just rest easy and start to change the policy to try to address this, I think is dangerous to our national security. And I don't think it fits the facts on the ground. Whatever our politics are, Republican or Democrat, conservative, liberal, it doesn't matter when you're talking about national security.
Rogers says that Obama's pick of James Comey to run the FBI was a "safe and logical choice." (Ron Perlman dressed as Hellboy being the "outside the box and keeping you guessing" choice.)
Gregory almost sort of asks a question about how that friend of the Boston bombers ended up getting all killed and stuff while in FBi custody. That question: "Are yo concerned?" The answer, yes, Rogers is generally concerned.
"It's better to be judged by twelve than carried by six," says Rogers, for some reason. It's better still to be carried by twelve, and have the six people carry other things that you would like carried. Like you Kindle Fire and a decanter of bourbon.
Oh, well, now we have to go back to the panel.
Axelrod and Blackburn have a colloquy on the IRS:
DAVID AXELROD: Well, first of all, the point I wanted to make on the I.R.S., you heard Senator Schumer say these 501(c)(4)s, these are the groups that the I.R.S. was looking at should have a standard that no more than 10% of their activities be involved in politics. But someone has to make that judgment. I think there's something peculiar about all that.
I think the whole 501(c)(4) concept has to be looked at. Groups applying for tax exemption and also to keep their donors secret, that's the benefit they get from that. How do you decide what is political and what is not political? You're inviting this kind of problem. So I think that ought to be looked at. In terms of the issue itself--
REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN: Yeah, well, but see the problem with this is they were going after the conservative groups and not after liberal groups. So there was a targeting mechanism that was built into that. And then individuals, conservative individuals that seemed to be going after. It is the I.R.S. using their position for political intimidation.
Feh, go after everybody, then. Let's tell more tax exempt organizations to go piss up a rope. Or let's not have all these tax exempt organizations in the first place.
Navarro seems to think that Axelrod is arguing in favor of exclusively scrutinizing conservative groups, which is something that he's actually very clearly against. "It's the stupidest thing you can imagine," he says, referring to scrutinizing Tea Party groups.
Like I said two weeks ago, there's actually not a political faction that is currently pro-"have the IRS exclusively target tea party groups for fun," so the only way to "win" this "Ghazi" is to be the loudest person yelling about it.
Ahh, poor, poor Marsha Blackburn. She apparently did not find out that the whole "Douglas Shulman visited the White House 157 times" story was a heap of steaming horseshit. Naturally, as this show is hosted and produced by clueless pillocks, no one is prepared to correct her, either. The latter is perhaps the larger sin, though I suppose the answer is to not watch this show, ever.
"We are in the middle, I would argue, David, of a huge inflection," says Thomas Friedman for the 987,283,023rd time in his life, giving viewers the international sign of "You should kill yourself right now."
Jonathan Alter wrote a book, as is his wont. "So this last election, I argue in the book, was hugely, pivotally important. If Romney had won, it would've validated the entire conservative argument for what to do about the economy," he says. So, Alter basically wrote a long book version of a bunch of Jonathan Chait columns that you could have read for free on the internet.
Navarro says that people should work very hard on solving unemployment, though it's also important to go nuts with all the Ghazis.
David Axelrod gamely says, "I agree with everything that everyone just said," and goes on and on and on agreeing with it, by pointing out they Tom Friedman-friendly things Obama wants to do. Blackburn negs this by saying that "government can't be the driver" of anything, and that Obamacare is terrible. (Actually, the Affordable Care Act implementation story, so far, is a tentative "so far so good.")
Honestly, at this point, the panel has felt like it's gone on since the birth of humanity, and we haven't even gotten to the part where Friedman analyzes the Middle East through the prism of futurist tech-babble.
Oh, that's what we're doing right now. But here is some sensible stuff:
FRIEDMAN: So if you want to arm the rebels to topple this regime, to produce a unified Syria, you're going to have to have international peacekeepers on the ground.
Now they are talking about families and breadwinners and Navarro is just like, "Let every family do what works for them and call that successful."
Blackburn says something that had crossed my mind when all this breadwinner stuff started: "We're an information economy. Women excel in that area. And you're going to see more women move forward as breadwinners. But it is up to companies to make certain that there is a level playing field and that women are not shortchanged as they try to get on that ladder to success."
But then Axelrod asks about the pay equity laws that help women not get shortchanged, and for some bizarre reason, Blackburn says this:
BLACKBURN: I think that more important than that is making certain that women are recognized by those companies. You know, I’ve always said that I didn’t want to be given a job because I was a female, I wanted it because I was the most well-qualified person for the job. And making certain that companies are going to move forward in that vein — that is what women want.
DAVID GREGORY: What about either--
BLACKBURN: They don’t want the decisions made in Washington. They want to be able to have the power and the control and the ability to make those decisions for themselves.
What's stopping women from being "recognized?" We've already established that more women are becoming breadwinners. The issue is are they being paid equitably. And let to their own devices, the companies that are "recognizing" women are also skipping out on paying them. Of course those companies would prefer to "have the power and the control and the ability to make those decisions for themselves." When they do, they limit the equity.
Ana Navarro starts to say, "What I'm worried about with women..." and never gets to finish her thought because Jonathan Alter wants to blather.
David Axelrod says that he wishes he'd spent more time with his family, too.
AXELROD: I spent an awful lot of time when I was young, traveling. My wife was home, my kid, I had one sick child, three kids, and the greatest regret of my life is that I didn't apportion more time to my family in those early years. And you can't get that time back.
And now you've thrown another couple of hours into the damned garbage by appearing on this show, David, so nice job.