The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Opinion & Letters to the Editor

June 24, 2014

IRS spins email yarn as Obama slips past another scandal

Editor's Note: If you're not a weekly subscriber to Taylor Armerding's column, you can publish this one if you notify him at t.armerding@verizon.net

I have to give President Obama credit: He’s brazen. If he gets away with one lie, he doesn’t wipe the sweat off his brow and vow never to do it again. He ups the stakes.

If you believed the one about “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor, period,” try this one: The attack on the U.S. Embassy in Libya was just a demonstration about a video! And now: The computer ate Lois Lerner’s emails!

That’s right. Forget everything you’ve heard for a couple of decades from information technology experts that email is forever. That those risqué pictures we posted back when we were adolescents will haunt us when we’re post-30 because once it’s on the World Wide Web, it has the closest thing to life eternal this side of heaven or hell.

Apparently, not if you work for the Internal Revenue Service and you’ve done something that might embarrass or cause legal problems for the president.

By now you may have heard that the IRS announced last Friday - the traditional day to dump bad news - that certain emails to and from Lerner, the now-retired IRS official who ran the unit responsible for tax-exempt organizations, have vanished due to a computer crash.

The “lost” emails were from January 2009 to April 2011, a crucial period in the investigation of the agency’s harassment and intimidation of conservative groups, thereby delaying their applications for nonprofit status. The agency later said it also could not find emails of six other employees involved in the scandal.

No other time period was affected. Nor was there any problem reported with other emails in the agency – just those that might have shed light on whether the corrupt targeting of those groups was simply a case of a few “rogue” agents in an Ohio office, as the administration claimed at the start, or whether there were connections higher up in the administration.

Beyond that, those emails were subpoenaed a year ago, and it is only now that the IRS is claiming they have vanished with no way to recover them.

This takes preposterous to a new level. There are 50,000 IRS employees, but somehow only Lerner’s emails disappeared and her hard drive was then “recycled”?

It is the kind of thing that would cause a liberal media meltdown if it occurred while George W. Bush was president. It is the kind of thing that would have a Sen. Barack Obama calling for investigations, hearings and even impeachment of a Republican president.

In short, it is the kind of thing an administration would do only if it believes it can get away with anything. And so far, it has good reason to believe that. Scandal after scandal is forgotten as quickly as a “Sesame Street” skit.

That’s even though, as multiple computer experts have noted, the crash of a hard drive is irrelevant to the preservation of emails. They exist on servers, and in the email accounts of others who sent and received emails to or from Lerner. Supposedly there are backup systems that preserve IRS communications if a single computer goes down.

It was not all that long ago that four-star U.S. Army General and later CIA Director David Petraeus had an affair exposed because the FBI got access to emails that Petraeus thought were safe in a “private” account.

Yet, we’re supposed to believe that neither the National Security Agency nor FBI nor any computer expert can recover emails from an account belonging to an IRS official who invoked the Fifth Amendment when called to testify before Congress.

As White House Press Secretary Jay Carney put it, with a barely concealed smirk, “Sorry to disappoint you.”

What is most disturbing is that this apparently doesn’t bother a majority of Americans – something the administration has learned it can count on. While evidence builds of corruption and criminal activity in the most powerful, intimidating agency in government, the public is more than willing to be distracted by promises of an increase in the minimum wage and an end the “war on women” by making sure they all get free contraceptives.

I have a theory about why this works so well, which goes back to my days as a local newspaper editor. Parents, teachers, coaches and high school administrators would demand publicity for students who had achieved made the honor roll, sunk the last-second shot, won a debate award, etc. We were happy to do so.

But, when some of those students, who were older than 17 and therefore legal adults, got into any kind of trouble, there were equally vociferous demands that we keep their names out of the paper. If we didn’t, we would be responsible for “ruining their lives.”

They wanted public credit for anything good and no accountability for anything bad.

That adolescent philosophy describes the Obama presidency. He wants the credit for things like killing Osama bin Laden, but when it comes to gun running by the ATF, domestic spying by the NSA, corruption within the Veterans Administration or a failure to secure U.S. embassies from terrorist attacks, well, he’s not really responsible because he just found out about it when we did, and it was caused by just a few “rogue” workers who somehow never get fired.

Don’t blame me, he says. And we don’t. Which means we can expect lots more of this over the next couple of years.

Taylor Armerding is an independent columnist. Contact him at t.armerding@verizon.net

1
Text Only
Opinion & Letters to the Editor
  • Almost half of America's obese youth don't know they're obese

    WASHINGTON - The good news is that after decades of furious growth, obesity rates finally seem to be leveling off in the U.S.. The bad news is that America's youth still appear to be dangerously unaware of the problem.

    July 23, 2014

  • Darth Vader is polling higher than all potential 2016 presidential candidates

    On the other hand, with a net favorability of -8, Jar Jar is considerably more popular than the U.S. Congress, which currently enjoys a net favorability rating of -65.

    July 23, 2014

  • D.G. Martin Where did all these new voters in North Carolina come from?

    “Voters born elsewhere make up nearly half of N.C. electorate.”
    So begins the latest DataNet report from the UNC Program on Public Life, directed by former journalist Ferrel Guillory.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Patrick Gannon Some light for Dems in their time of darkness

    RALEIGH – Earlier this year, state Sen. Ben Clark, a Hoke County Democrat, became a hero for a day among his party and environmentalists when his amendment to require more well water testing near future fracking sites passed the Senate. It even gained the support of a number of GOP senators, against the wishes of the Republican bill sponsor.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • mama.jpg What we get wrong about millennials living at home

    If the media is to be believed, America is facing a major crisis. "Kids," some age 25, 26, or even 30 years old, are living out of their childhood bedrooms and basements at alarmingly high numbers. The hand-wringing overlooks one problem: It's all overblown.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Doug Creamer Maintaining hope

    Gardeners are facing challenges with the weather this year. It seemed like we were getting great conditions in April and May. The weather was warm and we were getting some good rains. Then sometime in June the rain stopped. It got so dry that I didn’t have to cut the grass. While I enjoyed the break, the garden was not happy at all. I was having to water quite a bit to keep the vegetable garden alive and growing.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jason O. Boyd I may be a bit behind the times, but at least I can find ‘America’

    I seem to be reading about and dealing with technology a lot lately.
    I  love technology and have always been fascinated by gadgets of all kinds and the wonderful things they can do. You never seem to go through an entire day without some form of invention enhancing your life.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Brent Laurenz Meeting out in open helps negotiations move ahead

    RALEIGH – State lawmakers reconvened in Raleigh on May 14 promising a brief legislative session this summer, but as July moves along they are still in town and tackling big issues.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Larry's Sketch 7.16.14.tif They don’t give a darn for Duke University

    John “Duke” Wayne’s heirs are suing Duke University over trademark rights.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Your chocolate addiction is only going to get more expensive

    WASHINGTON - For nearly two years, cocoa prices have been on the rise. Finally, that's affecting the price you pay for a bar of chocolate - and there's reason to believe it's only the beginning.

    July 18, 2014

House Ads
Seasonal Content