A White House in full damage-control mode

With no sign of an end to three mushrooming scandals, the White House acknowledged the rising political dangers on Wednesday by launching a concerted effort at damage control. In a whirlwind few hours, the administration moved forcefully to counter criticism of its handling of the deadly attacks in Benghazi, Libya, the seizure of reporters’ phone records in a Justice Department leak investigation, and the Internal Revenue Service‘s targeting of conservative groups for extra scrutiny. In the most aggressive response, President Barack Obama ousted the acting IRS commissioner on Wednesday evening. It was the sort of concerted response that Obama’s political
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Barack Obama: Another power mad despot in the White House

The real vengeful, power-abusing face of President Barack Obama emerged this week amid growing scandals surrounding the administration’s misuse of power in allowing — and directing — an Internal Revenue Service harassment of the tea party and other conservative groups and revelations that the President’s Attorney General spearheaded a secret investigation of The Associated Press. Some act surprised to find out the President is a power-mad despot who uses his office to go after real and perceived political enemies.  Others say it was just a matter of time before the real Obama emerged for all of America to see. Despite
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GOP governors want criminal probe of IRS actions

Two Republican governors are urging President Barack Obama to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the Internal Revenue Service‘s admission that it targeted conservative political groups. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker call the allegations “Big Brother come to life.” They want a special prosecutor to find out if any laws were broken and say Obama should fire any IRS employees responsible for the situation. The IRS has apologized for what it calls “inappropriate” targeting of conservative political groups. The agency targeted groups during the 2010 congressional elections and the 2012 presidential election. Jindal is the chairman
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IRS targeting of tea party under criminal investigation

The Justice Department is opening a criminal investigation of the Internal Revenue Service just as another probe concludes that lax management enabled agents to improperly target tea party groups for extra scrutiny when they applied for tax exempt status. Attorney General Eric Holder said he ordered the FBI to investigate Friday — the day the IRS publicly acknowledged that it had singled out conservative groups. Holder says the IRS actions were “outrageous and unacceptable.” Holder says now his agency must determine if there were criminal violations. Holder is scheduled to testify Wednesday before the House Judiciary Committee. ___ Copyright  ©
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Obama embroiled in new, damaging scandals

President Barack Obama learned on Monday what can happen to presidents caught up in allegations of scandal: they have to address them instead of anything else. It happened when the president had to interrupt his news conference with Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain to answer questions about the widening investigation into the Benghazi attacks in Libya and the Internal Revenue Service‘s targeting of Tea Party and other conservative groups. By the end of the day he was facing a third major problem when the Associated Press said the Department of Justice had secretly seized some of its reporters’ phone
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IRS targeting of tea party concealed from Congress

Congress was not told tea party groups were being inappropriately targeted by the Internal Revenue Service, even after acting agency Chief Steven Miller had been briefed on the matter. Miller was first informed on May, 3, 2012, that applications for tax-exempt status by tea party groups were inappropriately singled out for extra scrutiny, the IRS said Monday. At least twice after the briefing, Miller wrote letters to members of Congress to explain the process of reviewing applications for tax-exempt status without disclosing that tea party groups had been targeted. On July 25, 2012, Miller testified before the House Ways and
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IRS looked for “tea party” and other buzzwords for audits

When tax agents started singling out non-profit groups for extra scrutiny in 2010, they looked at first only for key words such as ‘Tea Party,’ but later they focused on criticisms by groups of “how the country is being run,” according to investigative findings reviewed by Reuters on Sunday. Over two years, IRS field office agents repeatedly changed their criteria while sifting through thousands of applications from groups seeking tax-exempt status to select ones for possible closer examination, the findings showed. At one point, the agents chose to screen applications from groups focused on making “America a better place to
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IRS claims it is sorry it targeted tea party, other right-wing groups

The Internal Revenue Service is apologizing for what it acknowledges was “inappropriate” targeting of conservative political groups during the 2012 election to see if they were violating their tax-exempt status. IRS agents singled out dozens of organizations for additional reviews because they included the words “tea party” or “patriot” in their exemption applications, Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt groups, said Friday. In some cases, groups were asked for lists of donors, which violates IRS policy in most cases, she said. The agency — led at the time by a Bush administration appointee — blamed low-level
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IRS admits ‘Star Trek’ video parody was a stupid idea

Nobody’s going to win an Emmy for a parody of the TV show “Star Trek” filmed by Internal Revenue Service employees at an agency studio in Maryland. Instead, the IRS got a rebuke from Congress for wasting taxpayer dollars. The agency says the video, along with a training video that parodied the TV show “Gilligan’s Island,” cost about $60,000. The “Star Trek” video accounted for most of the money, the agency said. The IRS said Friday it was a mistake for employees to make the six-minute video. It was shown at the opening of a 2010 training and leadership conference
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Senate approves tax, spending deal 89-8

Hours past a self-imposed deadline for action, the Senate passed legislation early New Year’s Day to neutralize a fiscal cliff combination of across-the-board tax increases and spending cuts that kicked in at midnight. The pre-dawn vote was a lopsided 89-8. Senate passage set the stage for a final showdown in the House, where a vote was expected later Tuesday or perhaps Wednesday on the measure, which also raises tax rates on wealthy Americans. Even by the recent dysfunctional standards of government-by-gridlock, the activity at both ends of historic Pennsylvania Avenue was remarkable as the administration and lawmakers spent the final
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