The term “scandal” used to mean something, a serious abuse of power or some truly outrageous conduct – Watergate, Iran-Contra, lying a nation into war – but the word has grown almost meaningless, just one more partisan insult, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar explains.
If U.S. budget gridlock had not ground rational thought to a standstill, creative options for revising the tax code might be possible, such as a tax on stock transactions to raise money and discourage micro-second trades. Another option would be a toll tax on money movement, as ex-prosecutor William John Cox suggests.
The anger of Tea Partiers, as they precipitate a federal government shutdown, still burns from the IRS “scandal” of earlier this year, even though the supposed singling out of conservative groups proved to be a myth. But the furor disrupted IRS policing of political money abuses, writes Michael Winship.
Despite the Tea Party wallowing in its “victimhood,” the evidence now shows no “targeting” of right-wing groups. The IRS also used word searches for “progressive” and “occupy” to weed out political groups seeking tax-exempt status, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar notes.
The IRS “scandal” stampeded Official Washington, including much of the mainstream press which portrayed the Tea Party as the “victim” of partisan abuse. But the dust has finally cleared and it appears there never was a “scandal,” just a clunky attempt to achieve bureaucratic consistency, Beverly Bandler reports.
The flap over a few IRS bureaucrats clumsily trying to identify the many right-wing groups abusing a tax-exempt status remains the “big story.” But the news media continues to miss the bigger scandal, the tricks used to create vast pools of “dark money” for buying the political process, writes Beverly Bandler.
If Occupy Wall Street had a national plan to flood the IRS with illegal claims for tax-exempt status and some IRS clerks had run a search for “occupy,” they would probably get a bonus and the story would be Occupy’s “criminal conspiracy.” But if the search is for “tea party,” you have a different “scandal,” as William Boardman notes.
For decades now, it’s been fashionable to demonize government. After all, that’s what billions of dollars invested in right-wing think tanks and media outlets will buy you. There also are genuine abuses by bureaucrats. But lax government oversight can be a scandal, too, as Bill Moyers and Michael Winship note.
From CNN to the Washington Post, the mainstream news media is abuzz about “the trifecta of scandals” besetting the Obama administration, a narrative that fails to assess the actual significance of the three “scandals.” They don’t measure up to the many important scandals that the media neglects, says Beverly Bandler.
The Washington press corps is in hot pursuit of “Obama scandals,” stampeding officials into various rushes to judgment while missing the bigger scandals underlying the excitement du jour, such as the systematic abuse of federal tax-exempt status for secret political donations, as William Boardman notes.