Citing a lengthy list of suspicious coincidences—including the most recent loss of critical evidence due to a narrowly focused crash of the computers used by individuals involved in the discriminatory treatment of conservative organizations—many of the Agency's critics have called for a "Special Prosecutor."
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told the House Ways and Means Committee, though, that "appointing a 'Special Prosecutor' to investigate alleged abuses in the Agency would be a colossal waste of money. Look, we've thoroughly frustrated every inquiry launched thus far. Why should anyone think we wouldn't just as easily thwart a so-called Special Prosecutor?"
Representative Dave Camp (R-Mich), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, characterized Koskinen's remarks as "the kind of arrogance that reeks of tyranny. This Administration and its agents act as if the law and Constitution do not apply to them."
Koskinen taunted Camp in his reply asserting that "if Mr. Camp and his cohorts are displeased with the way we are running the Government the Constitution has a prescribed remedy they may follow. Their reluctance to take up this remedy is a testimony to their impotence. If I am construed as being disrespectful I think I am on solid ground when I say that they've earned it."
Representative Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) strenuously objected to "Camp's rude behavior toward this dedicated civil servant. The IRS is tasked with the crucial and difficult job of recovering the nation's resources from individuals who would siphon them off for their own personal gain. The conservative groups that the IRS targeted are aiding and abetting greedy individuals by resisting the tax increases and spending programs that are part-and-parcel of the implementation of the President's plan to secure social justice for all."
CFPB Announces Broad New Powers
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced in the Federal Register that it will "aggressively deploy cease and desist orders against businesses whose activities are a detriment to the nation's well-being." For the moment this new authority is "interim." It is expected to become final on July 18.
"For too long the Government has sat idly by while businesses have foisted unsafe and unhealthy products on an unsuspecting public," CFPB Director Richard Cordray charged. "Under Section 1053(c) of the Dodd-Frank Act, we are empowered to protect the general public by ordering offending businesses to cease and desist."
Two industries that are expected to be first-in-line for a stepped up enforcement using this tool are gun manufacturers and fast food restaurants. "The sole purpose of a gun is to kill something or someone," Cordray said. "It is an inherently unsafe product. By issuing a cease and desist order to manufacturers of these demonic devices we can bypass the inability of Congress to enact meaningful gun control laws."
"Fast food is an even more insidious threat," Cordray continued. "It's probably responsible for more deaths than firearms. Yet, despite the best efforts of the First Lady businesses are still allowed to sell and consumers still allowed to buy these sickening comestibles. Well, the CFPB is going to ride to her rescue. Those who refuse to heed her request to offer healthier food choices will be shut down until they agree to comply."
Businesses shut down by a CFPB cease and desist order could appeal the decision, but would remain closed as long as the CFPB deems warranted or until the CFPB order is overruled by a court. Either way, affected businesses could be without revenue for an extended period. Even if a court ultimately overturned a CFPB order the Agency would retain sovereign immunity for any damages suffered by shuttered businesses.
Concerned that the CFPB "may be overstepping its bounds to the detriment of both businesses and consumers," Representative Sean Duffy (R-Wisc) has drafted legislation aimed at curbing the Agency. Whether it will go anywhere seems doubtful, though. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) denounced Duffy's bill as "an unconstitutional infringement on the President's right and duty to protect the American people from profiteers purveying unsafe and unhealthy products."
In related news, First Lady Michelle Obama vowed she would "veto any legislative attempt to tamper with my school lunch program." Schools have pressed Congress for relief from Michelle's dietary guidelines on the grounds that students refuse to eat the food the guidelines require. The First Lady was unmoved. "Uneaten healthy food is better than eaten unhealthy food," she argued. "Hunger will eventually bring the kids around."
DOJ Wants to Boost Domestic Surveillance
Vowing not to allow himself to be distracted by recent events in Iraq, Attorney General Eric Holder called for increased efforts to monitor and interdict home grown threats.
"I know the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is garnering a lot of attention beheading captured foes and pledging to use the cache of poison gas it has stumbled upon while rampaging through Iraq," Holder said. "But this must not divert our focus from the bigger threat from those in this country who have an anti-government animus."
"ISIS is thousands of miles away," Holder pointed out. "Bloody as their aims may be they don't pose a significant threat to our Government. In contrast, anti-government enemies of the President are legion and much more dangerous. There are an estimated 300 million guns in private hands in this country. That's a lot of firepower in the hands of a population that polls show to be increasingly hostile toward the President."
"While ISIS has no known sympathizers in Congress, those with anti-government animus do," Holder added. "Senators and Representatives think nothing of openly criticizing the President's programs and initiatives. Worse, they engage in active stratagems intended to block them. Unlike the ISIS, the anti-government crowd in America could bring down the Administration if we don't take more active measures to prevent it."
One element of the active measures the Attorney General is relying upon is the Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee. Holder urged this secretive committee "to raise our surveillance of potentially disloyal citizens another notch. We must penetrate their organizations, intercept their communications, and acquire every bit of intelligence on them that we can get our hands on so we will know who they are, where they are and when to initiate the appropriate countermeasures."
Obama Says Iran May Be Key to Pacifying Iraq
Desperate for a way out of having to accept blame for a resumption of civil war in Iraq, President Obama welcomed the intervention of Iranian troops.
"It's a case of fighting fire with fire," the President explained. "The ISIS are some bad folks, but so are the Iranians. ISIS is terrorizing the Iraqi countryside, but Iran has a long history of aiding terrorist organizations like Hezbollah."
Obama suggested that ISIS's acquisition of Saddam Hussein's secret stash of weapons of mass destruction could be counterbalanced by Iran's secret nuclear weapons. "While the United States couldn't credibly threaten ISIS with nuclear retaliation for their use of Saddam's poison gases Iran could," the President argued. "The regime is already on record welcoming the annihilation of the planet in the name of Allah."
In related news, Secretary of State John Kerry wondered whether the Iraqi government's indifference to the threat of global climate disruption may have contributed to the rise of ISIS. "Climate disruption has the potential to kill millions, maybe billions of the Earth's inhabitants," Kerry asserted. "I'm not surprised that many Iraqis watching their government ignore this problem were won over to the insurgency."
Presidential Candidate Clarifies Gun Control Views
Aspiring 2016 presidential contender former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sought to contrast her views on gun control with "the ineffectual dithering we've seen from the current Oval Office inhabitant."
"Let me come right out and say it, the minority of private citizens with guns are terrorizing the rest of the population," Clinton contended. "It's got to be frightening for the average person when he realizes that his neighbor or the stranger passing him in the street may be armed and could shoot him at any moment."
"If access to guns were limited to only those having a professional need for them—like police officers or body guards we could ratchet down the level of fear in our society," Clinton continued. "Instead of having to worry that anyone might have a gun the number of those carrying would be reduced to a smaller pool. Awareness that the police have a virtual monopoly of firepower would tend to make everyone more compliant with police efforts to keep the peace. Stripped of the capacity to resist the only reasonable option would be obedience."
Clinton brushed aside arguments that gun ownership is protected by the Second Amendment. "When that Amendment was written people were reacting to a fear that some despot would oppress them unless they were armed," she said. "They had recently fought a war against the despotism of King George. In today's America, though, there can be no despotism. Everyone gets to vote for who shall rule them. In effect, the Government is us. So our right to bear arms is preserved collectively in the hands of our elected Government. There is no longer any need for the right to bear arms to be exercised by each of us individually."
In related news, the Clintons defended their efforts to evade estate taxes that Bill helped enact when he was President. "As persons who have donated their lives to public service we have already paid-in more than the average person, by rights we ought to be exempt," a joint written statement read. "The scandalous absence of an explicit statutory exemption necessitated the maneuvers we have taken to right that wrong."