The Paradox of the Missing Emails

 

KoskinenJust like my fellow flame-protectors here in the right wing Tea Party menagerie, I reacted with mouth-foaming, blind, my-cage-has-just-been-rattled rage at the news that the IRS had “lost” the emails of Lois Lerner and her cohorts. Like my fellow Patriots, I watched the March 2014 video where IRS Commissioner Koskinen, like an adult playing “trial” with a group of annoying children, virtually smirks under examination by Rep. Jason Chaffetz; and I could feel the steam pipes in my emotional plumbing hiss and explode. The fathomless condescension, the utter certainty in Koskinen’s mild, lofty gaze, that this little charade would do no more than make for some amusing tales at Sunday bagel brunch with his liberal buddies, was intolerable chagrin.

How could they even imagine that they would get away with this?! What dastardly crime could those destroyed (we are not children here) emails have revealed that would make this kind of gambit thinkable? “Put Lois Lerner in jail. That will make the IRS more cooperative!” I tweeted.

I was beset with cross-eyed fury.

And then I thought: God. What a bloody wonderful feeling to get so angry.

Really, you have got to look on the bright side of these things. And if righteous anger is not a bright side, then God definitely did not make little green apples.

In the totemic book on pop psychology entitled The Games People Play, (there’s a real blast from the past, eh?) one of those “games” identified by author Eric Berne was called “Now I’ve Got You, You Son of a Bitch.” Berne described it as a game of positioning yourself in a relationship, with a continuing but unresolved conflict, where you set a trap or draw a line and just wait for the other person to cross it. And when they do, you pounce!

Now I’ve got you, you son of a bitch!!!

Because justified, pristine, irreproachable rage is really cathartic.

That’s all well and good, of course, but what about the IRS targeting the Tea Party groups? Recognizing the psychological underpinnings of our anger, while it can add depth to our self-realization, is not yet so satisfying as actually dismembering our prey.

But here’s another silver lining to the recent turns in the IRS scandal (I’m feeling like a regular Pollyanna today): we don’t even have to dismember our prey…they are dismembering themselves. The Obama Administration says “the computers crashed” and I say: “goooaaaallll!!!!”

This may seem paradoxical. Just when the Obama zombies have outrageously, brazenly erased the electronic evidence that might have lead to frog marches on CNN and orange jump suits all around, it is time for rejoicing! How can that be?

The idea lies in the fallacy of lawyer-think – the notion that what matters is what is “admissible in a court of law.”

Let me explain in a somewhat elliptical fashion.

Most of the not-too-young among us remember the O.J. Simpson murder trial. This high-profile, “celebrity crime on prime time” event was a milestone in the 24-hour news cycle’s infancy (and that of CNN). Americans followed the court case with the passion of connoisseurs. All kinds of water cooler debate spun off of every day’s revelations.

At the time of the trial (shortly after the verdict, as I recall) a cousin of mine said to me: “of course he is guilty.” I, in fact, agreed with him but I wondered why he was so sure. Cousin Jim said simply: “because he acted like a guilty man.” Boing. If you get in a car and, with your best buddy along for the ride, lead a parade of police cruisers through the streets of Los Angeles holding, supposedly, a gun to your own head – whether or not this is admissible as evidence in court – you are probably not just overcome with remorse at the loss of your estranged wife.

O.J. Simpson acted like a guilty man.

As a nation raised on legal TV shows, we are inclined to blindfold ourselves to legally inadmissible evidence. But our brains know better.

Same with Koskinen. Maybe they really have destroyed – permanently – every last trace of Lerner’s emails. Maybe Lerner herself will, as a consequence, never face prosecution. But do we really care? (I mean that as a serious question). In the court of public opinion — and that’s really all I am talking about here — the issue is conspicuous as it never was before and the corruption is plain as day.

We might not be able to measure it (aside from Obama’s recent 39% approval rating) but “the dog ate my emails” meme will result in real gains for us at the ballot box in November and beyond.

But to the Ricochet community I ask this: what matters more to you? Watching Lerner and Koskinen frog marched to jail? Or picking up the Senate in 2014 with two seats to spare?

There are 24 comments.

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  1. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    I wouldn’t say I’ll take the former, but I don’t think electoral consequences are sufficient here.

    There are two corrupt entities that need dealt with here.  One is the Democratic Party.  The other is the IRS.

    The IRS will be around in Washington long after the Senate Democrats are gone.  Those bureaucrats don’t answer to the voters.  There has to be a way to end this without teaching all bureaucrats everywhere that they can get away with anything if their hard drive crashes.

    • #1
  2. user_1048 Member
    user_1048
    @

    I’ll take the frog-marching. Nothing will turn our government back toward what it should be — small, responsible, and mostly invisible — but the fierce-burning anger of the citizenry. That won’t happen until they see the actual evidence that things have gotten far out of hand, that is, the public arrests of high-ranking government officials. 

    Republicans can have all of the Senate or none of it. I don’t care. No one in a leadership post is prepared to make the changes necessary. They’ll have to be pushed. The frog-marches are far more likely to provide that push.

    • #2
  3. Kay of MT Member
    Kay of MT
    @KayofMT

    Both, IRS bureaucrats in jail, and us taking over the Senate. We are becoming a 3rd world nation of bureaucrats. Our laws mean nothing to them.

    • #3
  4. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    Jimmie Bise Jr: That won’t happen until they see the actual evidence that things have gotten far out of hand, that is, the public arrests of high-ranking government officials.

    It hasn’t worked in Illinois or New Jersey, why would it be any more effective nationally? 

    • #4
  5. user_537146 Inactive
    user_537146
    @PatrickLasswell

    Cavalry in mud. 
    The government criminals who are involved are not used to this battlefield and not mentally prepared for the fight they face. They will continue to get stuck and be trapped and lose ground because their framework for conflict is ambush with control on their side.  

    The other problem is that their crimes are so atrocious that the orange jumpsuits is their best possible result. At the degree of lawlessness they are operating at, there is real risk of short ropes on improvised gallows.  I despise their actions, but genuinely hope they are able to accept incarceration instead of pushing beyond reason to immunity breached by slow strangulation. It remains to be seen if any of these arrogant bureaucrats understand how much damage they are doing to their country. As a country we need to preserve civil relations to the degree that we can still practice justice instead of devolving into vengeance.

    • #5
  6. user_1938 Member
    user_1938
    @AaronMiller

    Michael Stopa: But to the Ricochet community I ask this: what matters more to you? Watching Lerner and Koskinen frog marched to jail? Or picking up the Senate in 2014 with two seats to spare?

    That the criminals go to prison. And I mean a real prison, as opposed to just an enclosed resort. 

    Why should politicians care about the rule of law and the proper limitations of government if the only consequence they ever suffer is to not be reelected? They can live off the taxpayer teet for the rest of their lives, all the while being addressed as “Senator” or “Congressman” as if they were Lords and Ladies. They can appear on TV and at colleges, or acquire major publishing contracts, and make oodles of money off their fame. What’s so terrible about being sent home?

    If they break the law, if they betray their sacred oaths, they need to suffer for it. It would be great if we could count on a sense of honor to keep them straight, but fear is an unfortunate necessity.

    • #6
  7. user_1048 Member
    user_1048
    @

    The King Prawn:

    It hasn’t worked in Illinois or New Jersey, why would it be any more effective nationally?

     Because in Illinois and New Jersey there are no other reasonable options. The Republican party in each state is, to put things charitably, a couple of raging dumpster fires.

    • #7
  8. The Mugwump Inactive
    The Mugwump
    @TheMugwump

    I want FULL disclosure above all, and I really don’t care how we get it.  I want to see someone hang a big sign on this administration that reads THIS IS YOUR GOVERNMENT IN ACTION.  I want the American people to see the full extent of the corruption.  The political and legal consequences matter less to me than that the entire country is stoked to righteous anger.         

    • #8
  9. user_86050 Inactive
    user_86050
    @KCMulville

    Well, I think you have to take it one step further.

    It isn’t a question of how this incident will lead to someone “winning” or “losing” the political game. 
    It’s a chance to really step back and ask yourself whether this is the game we want to play.

    This is no way to run a hot dog stand, never mind the most powerful country ever. And the moment you think, this is just a phase, sooner or later the adults are going to come back to town and start working intelligently … I’d suggest you reexamine why you have that faith. These are the adults. These are the guys who have maneuvered themselves into deadlock. 

    I’d say that there is no longer any relevant difference between “politics” and media manipulation. They’re just the same thing. It isn’t as if politicians are appealing to fellow politicians with logic, reason, and evidence; they trying to pass bills exclusively through publicity stunts and media appearances. 

    We need a government but these guys stink at governing.

    • #9
  10. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    I’m with Kay. All of the above AND I want the IRS reduced to the size of a gnat’s a$$. This is the time for the people to take back their government and demand a flat tax. Now! Say, 10% for incomes below 200k and 15% for incomes above. Or even a single tier. I don’t care. We desperately need to reduced the IRS to a small group of stamp-lickers (for the love notes they’ll send to the people who fund the government) and take the power away from the incompetent bureaucrats (sic — redundant) to diddle with our economic liberty through a byzantine tax code.

    Of the three potential outcomes (jail the bastards, win the Senate, reform the tax system), this last is arguably the most important with the most lasting effect.

    I think we might even get liberals to join such a movement. Maybe.

    • #10
  11. user_891102 Member
    user_891102
    @DannyAlexander

    Public opinion consistently rates the US Congress, both chambers in aggregate, at an admirability level roughly on par with Lyme disease.

    So the cotton-candy-like ephemeral catharsis of “Now I’ve got you, you SOB” that folks like us might experience needs to be ranged against the risk that at some point the LIV public (specifically, the “independent” voters among that part of the public)  might trade revulsion at Koskinen’s party-hack hauteur and Lerner’s all-but-admitted guilt for revulsion at what they (the fence-sitting LIV “independents”) might take to be strictly partisan GOP rhetorical overkill — and give expression to that revulsion at the balloting stations come November.

    Indeed, I think Koskinen’s smirking owes at least partly to that calculation.

    Unless someone like Cleta Mitchell can track down a causation case out there linking IRS malfeasance with citizen death and/or dismemberment — i.e., something that cuts across party lines akin to the VA horror — this whole investigation is going to run into, at best, a molasses-filled ditch for the GOP.

    Don’t forget that OJ’s criminal-trial verdict was Not Guilty.
    Issa & Co. need to blow this thing open boldly — now.

    • #11
  12. Pilli Inactive
    Pilli
    @Pilli

    Is this the same person?

    Koskinen2

    Gollum

    • #12
  13. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Danny Alexander: Don’t forget that OJ’s criminal-trial verdict was Not Guilty. Issa & Co. need to blow this thing open boldly — now.

     Yup. And Republicans should anticipate the reaction of the media and Democrats (but, I repeat myself) that major tax reform is an “overreaction” — a disproportionate response. Just ask liberals to imagine if a Republican president had successfully used the authority of the nation’s tax agency to shut down liberal groups and thereby win reelection. They’d be squealing like stuck pigs. This is what happens with too much centralized power. It’s a lesson even liberals should be able to learn.

    • #13
  14. otherdeanplace@yahoo.com Member
    otherdeanplace@yahoo.com
    @EustaceCScrubb

    Such a punchable face that man has, another vote for prison for anyone in the IRS that can be convicted. (I hope Willie Nelson, Chuck Berry and Wesley Snipes are on the jury.)

    • #14
  15. user_56871 Thatcher
    user_56871
    @TheScarecrow

    As I said in another posting:

    call Scott Coleman and Mitch Rapp
    a stealthy Koskinen kidnap
    break out trusty waterboard
    set tape recorder to record
    a drug to cloud his memory
    towel him off, set him free
    then before he’s even missed
    move to next name on the list.

    I love the idea of both sides playing by the rules, and let the best man win.  But in every game there’s a danger of one side finding a weakness in the rules and exploiting it. This time the weakness is our respect for fair play, our sticking to the rules, and our confidence that if you’re caught breaking the rules you’re out.

    This smug, smirking bastard is confident that he has us punked, because we’re so naïve that we play by the rules.  He’s right; we do. 

    In the Vince Foster books Mitch Rapp was that secret game-changer that was employed when the whole game was in danger of being corrupted.  If we really don’t have one we WILL be successfully punked, and will deserve to be.

    Then again, watching this current crop of Republicans in action, maybe we do deserve it.

    • #15
  16. user_615140 Inactive
    user_615140
    @StephenHall

    “Pilli
    Is this the same person?”

    No, the first one is a fictional character from a movie adaptation of a book by Tolkien.

    • #16
  17. Rightfromthestart Coolidge
    Rightfromthestart
    @Rightfromthestart

    Unfortunately, due to the smothering press blackout, around 8 out of 10 voters have never heard of any of this. Many others feel it is perfectly reasonable for the IRS to shut down us evil extremists.

    • #17
  18. user_142044 Thatcher
    user_142044
    @AmericanAbroad

    Prison is a much better outcome than the Senate.  Seriously.  Controlling “The Great Deliberative Body” doesn’t mean much when the bureaucrats act in a lawless manner.  If it is proven the emails were destroyed, all those responsible for or covering-up the act should be imprisoned for whatever crime that is in legal speak.  This would do more to reign-in the out-of-control bureaucrats and promote conservative ideas of individual responsibility and rule of law than putting a nearly-comatose Mississippi gentlemen back in the Senate’s august chambers.

    • #18
  19. user_428379 Thatcher
    user_428379
    @AlSparks

    Michael Stopa:
    We might not be able to measure it (aside from Obama’s recent 39% approval rating) but “the dog ate my emails” meme will result in real gains for us at the ballot box in November and beyond.

    But to the Ricochet community I ask this: what matters more to you? Watching Lerner and Koskinen frog marched to jail? Or picking up the Senate in 2014 with two seats to spare?

     Perhaps this is a false choice.  I’m not convinced that the public at large is watching or cares.  For us, we’ve seen the limits of separation of powers and how the executive really holds all the trump cards, especially if the Congress is weak.  The public is allowing this.  When the House of Representatives tries to exercise its power of the purse strings by refusing to appropriate, the public backs the President.  And impeachment?  Presently, a vote for impeachment would probably cost a member’s his or her’s seat at election time.

    The House always had weapons they could use, but they refuse because the public won’t back them.  If members sensed outrage over the IRS scandal, they would have more leeway to use those weapons.

    • #19
  20. user_78949 Inactive
    user_78949
    @DavidHoltkamp

    Folks, there is one additional aspect I’ve not heard anyone mention: if the emails of Lois Lerner were lost on the sending end, how about the receiving end?

    It seems reasonable to me that since each organization that Lerner sent her emails to may have not yet suffered backup/disk failures, why not subpoena each of them for any email between date#1 and date#2 that has Lerner’s email in the “From:” line.

    One could easily automate this search, and let them fight about which ones to review and/or disclose.  At least copies would be in existence somewhere.

    • #20
  21. Suzanne Temple Inactive
    Suzanne Temple
    @SuzanneTemple

    I watched parts of the IRS hearing too. (Yes, I know, I need a life.) I had a similar reaction: the IRS arrogance was jaw-dropping. But what was even worse was how some of the Democrats apologized to the IRS … yes, the IRS! The only time groveling to the IRS makes sense is when you’re being audited. Any other time …. please, someone,  hand me the barf bag.

    • #21
  22. user_615140 Inactive
    user_615140
    @StephenHall

    Sommons the IT people who are responsible for the email systems at IRS. Put them on oath. Get them to explain, on pain of perjury/contempt what really happened to the emails. Offer them immunity if necessary, so that they will be fully candid.

    Then bring back Koskinen, and let the fun begin.

    • #22
  23. user_615140 Inactive
    user_615140
    @StephenHall

    I have two American colleagues at work. The reactions of both of them were basically the same: The Tea Party are extremist nut-jobs, and the IRS would be doing the country a service by putting them out of business. 

    I wonder how widespread this attitude is in the Land of the Free.

    • #23
  24. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    David Holtkamp:

    Folks, there is one additional aspect I’ve not heard anyone mention: if the emails of Lois Lerner were lost on the sending end, how about the receiving end?

    It seems reasonable to me that since each organization that Lerner sent her emails to may have not yet suffered backup/disk failures, why not subpoena each of them for any email between date#1 and date#2 that has Lerner’s email in the “From:” line.

    One could easily automate this search, and let them fight about which ones to review and/or disclose. At least copies would be in existence somewhere.

     I’m guessing that most of the more interesting emails went to the six other people whose hard drives crashed.  (Thus prompting the deep sympathy of the Democratic congressman who finds therein proof that the IRS is underfunded.  Clearly, their computers are out of date.)

    • #24

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