Monday, November 22, 2004


White Man's Burden

don't try to look behind my eyes
Originally uploaded by jonnybutter.

I'm guessing anybody who happens to read my blog also reads Josh Marshall's (if not, make a new bookmark!). He's really been on top of the recent Istook and DeLay matters, bless him. Istook's newest denial has some 'interesting' language in it:

"We have a chain of command problem over whether the subcommittee staff are ultimately accountable to the full committee staff-who represent the full committee chairman-or to the subcommittee chairman."

Got that? It's just a 'chain of command problem'. That has a nice ring to it....

"Our committee has responsibility for the IRS budget. That includes its personnel, facilities and equipment. This language wasn't sufficiently reviewed because it was drafted by the IRS, so our staff presumed that it was okay. The IRS drafted this language at staff request, in an effort to make it clear that our oversight duties include visiting and inspecting the huge IRS processing centers-but NOT inspecting tax returns."

In other words: humina humina humina. We didn't look at it because we requested it and figured it was OK. What?! Why in the world would the IRS write language explicitly giving the right to look at tax returns to committee chairmen? Here's the actual language in question:

Hereinafter, notwithstanding any other provision of law governing the disclosure of income tax returns or return information, upon written request of the Chairman of the House or Senate Committee on Appropriations, the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service shall allow agents designated by such Chairman access to Internal Revenue Service facilities and any tax returns or return information contained therein.

Istook. Gesundheit.

Mr Marshall also catches what is apparently the spin du jour on Delay:

CBS's David Paul Kuhn quotes "an official involved in the investigation" as saying he thinks a DeLay indictment is unlikely and that DeLay's lawyers already know that.

Material further down in the article suggests that while DeLay was "kept aware" of illegal activities being committed on his behalf that the investigators have not been able to uncover evidence that DeLay "acted to promote" the illegal activity and they haven't been able to uncover sufficient evidence of that.

Josh wonders why, if his lawyers don't think he's going to get indicted after all, Delay would bother with the rather embarrassing House rule change. Good question. Spin is always interesting more for the details than for the 'headline' - in this case, a bit of moral/rhetorical plea bargaining: the difference between being 'kept aware' of illegal activities and 'promoting' them.

Such wonderful standards our government officials see fit to maintain! Working class-resentment-hero Richard Nixon called it 'plausable deniability', but blue-bloods like the Bushes have always known it simply as, 'If you can't be good, be careful'. Of course in Istook's case, he surely does what he does for our 'own good' whether we like it or not; he carries the awesome burden of knowing what's best for all of us.

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