The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Friday, March 16, 2018

March Madness

As March Madness descends on the country over the next three weeks, the FBI is busy investigating multiple colleges and universities for irregularities in the way they have instituted and followed arbitrarily defined NCAA rules. It’s interesting that a large team of FBI agents has spent months interviewing sports agents, coaches, and players to uncover wrongdoing that might sway the results of basketball games, but in no way threatens the country on a broader basis.

Odd that the same level of enthusiasm didn’t appear to be present during the past administration, when the IRS was weaponized to target political opponents of the past-president, or when the then-Secretary of State set up a private email server that compromised national security. In fact, at senior levels of the FBI, those issues were apparently considered less a threat to the country than the recruiting shenanigans that go on regularly in college basketball. After all, slipping a college player's mother the money for an airline ticket to see her son play ball is a crime worthy of FBI investigation, but a cabal of IRS employees who target conservatives for their politics is—well, nothing to see there, move on.

James Freeman relates a transcription from Robert Mueller, the FBI director during part of the previous administration, testifying for a Congressional Committee and Congressman Jim Jordan about the then-breaking IRS scandal:
A month after the IRS abuses began coming to light, Rep. Jim Jordan (R., Ohio) asked then-FBI Director Robert Mueller about the case at a June 13, 2013 meeting of the House Judiciary Committee. Here’s an excerpt from the hearing transcript:
JORDAN: Can you tell me -- can you tell me some basics? Can you tell me how many agents -- investigators -- you’ve assigned to the case?
MUELLER: I may be able to do that, but I’d have to get back to you.
JORDAN: Can you tell me who the lead investigator is?
MUELLER: Off the top of my head, no.
JORDAN: This is the most important issue in front of the country the last six weeks, you don’t know who’s heading up the case? Who the lead investigator is?
MUELLER: At this junction, no, I do not know who the...
JORDAN: Can you get that information to us? We’d like to know. We’d like to know how many people you’ve assigned to look into this situation.
MUELLER: I have not had a recent briefing on it. I had a briefing on it when we first initiated it, but I have not had a recent briefing as to where we are...
JORDAN: Do you know if you’ve talked to any of the victims? Have you talked to any of the groups who were targeted by their government? Have you met with any of the tea party folks since May 14th, 2013?
MUELLER: I don’t know what the status of the interviews are by the team that’s on it.
Several months later, Mr. Mueller handed off leadership of the bureau to James Comey, who seems to have cared about IRS targeting abuses just as much as Mr. Mueller did. Mr. Comey’s FBI spent less time investigating the IRS than the bureau has spent examining college basketball.
But now, of course, Special Counsel Mueller has become a bulldog, investigating fantasy claims of Russian collusion with an apparent enthusiasm that he didn't exhibit in the noted testimony. Betcha he can name the lead investigator, the number of people on his collusion team, and every other aspect of his investigation. After all, the real weaponization of a government agency against the political opponents of the then-president is far, far, far less serious than a fantasy claim of collusion that has no evidence to support it. Isn't it?

Freeman summarizes:
It’s hard to escape the conclusion that the FBI has become a sort of ministry of self-indulgence, pursuing cases that its leadership finds interesting or useful as opposed to prioritizing threats to our safety and liberty.

The real scandal is not about Donald Trump firing Mr. Mueller’s successor. The question is: What took him so long?
An even bigger question is why on earth should we trust Robert Mueller to be a politically unbiased and honest investigator when his past history indicates he is nothing of the sort.


The politicization of government agencies, particularly during the last decade, is very concerning. Sure, there's always been politics, but never in modern history has the FBI, the DoJ, the IRS, and EPA, and others (though their senior appointed officials) been transformed into political tools that do the bidding of one political party to the significant detriment of the other. I'm not naive. I know this has always gone on. But the extent, the broad scope, and the blatant execution of this under the previous administration has set a precedent that is dangerous for our country. It destroys trust, and in the end, that's all we've really got if we intend to live by the rule of law.