Monday, May 20, 2013


I Will Do Everything In My Power To Generate Another Scandal At The Watergate Hotel Producing the 'Watergate-Gate' Scandal
In a sane world, I would not have to write about Umbrella-Gate.

You may have heard that Obama and the Turkish PM got rained on in the Rose Garden. Obama had a couple of Marines hold umbrellas for them. You--and I direct this to those who did not serve in the Marines--already knew--prior to this--the exact regulation that prohibits male Marines from carrying umbrellas--of course you did*.

The outrage over Umbrella-Gate isn't especially interesting: no one is sure whether it's because (a) Obama violated the solemn code of Marines by asking them to hold umbrellas, (b) because he's too much of a pussy to hold his own umbrellas (unlike every other leader of the free world who would have done so if not for incriminating, probably photo-shopped, pictures of those same leaders with umbrellas being held over them and equally dubious pictures of Obama holding his own umbrella) or (c) because it is demeaning for a Marine to hold an umbrella for another man (but would be okay for a civilian), or maybe (d) because we all hate Obama anyway (read this for an interesting, if unverified, perspective on what Marines have been asked to do at the White House).

There is something in the picture you should be paying close attention to--and it isn't the Marine or the umbrella.

Obama is wearing a flag pin.

The IRS's Question Was Planted
In case you haven't been keeping up with current events, here are a few things you should know about the breaking IRS Scandal.
  1. Obama's lawyer heard about this stuff last month. He allegedly did not tell the president--which is, apparently, the correct course of action for your lawyer in these circumstances.
  2. The question itself was apparently planted by the IRS itself--meaning, during a routine press conference, the IRS actually set up a reporter to ask the question to bring the topic out, into the light.
  3. There is currently no smoking gun linking the IRS activity to Obama.
This has led some to speculate that it's the perfect scandal ... if you want to draw attention away from Benghazi ...
Spoiler alert: The IRS scandal, the AP phone records scandal — they go nowhere. In September, we’ll all be looking back thinking, “Huh, that was a big waste of time.” It will be — in fact, it already is.
Just when Benghazi has reached critical mass, the Obama administration, which has had only one scandal (Fast and Furious early in term 1, and that fizzled fast and furiously), suddenly has two more scandals? Coincidence, yes?
No. Not at all. They were dropped, on purpose, at a most convenient time, and they’re already played out. Exactly according to plan.
The idea that Team Obama planted the IRS scandal to erupt right now in order to give the Benghazi scandal "air cover" is the product of a particular kind of thinking; you start at the conclusion and work backwards. When you do this, almost any fact--or lack thereof--can be fit "into place" to support your theory. If a fact resists this, it's part of the cover-up. This is the methodology behind Trutherism and it's the same basic pattern that leads to magical thinking and superstition in general.

But that doesn't stop people from thinking it anyway.

Will Umbrella-Gate Bring Down The White House?
The real story is here:
Is Obama being hurt by the scandals that have engulfed his administration? That sounds like a silly question: of course the scandals have damaged his image, thrown his administration off message, weakened his ability to get anything through Congress. Haven’t they?
If you believe the Gallup Poll, the scandals might be a boon to Obama. Currently he sits at 51%/42%, as measured from May 15 through May 17. This represents an improvement. You can see the trend in this graph:

He does note that the ever-reliable Rasmussen shows a decline (but not a significant one):
Scott Rasmussen shows Obama taking a bit of a hit over the last week or so, with his approval/disapproval among likely voters at 49%/49%. (I assume Rasmussen has tweaked his definition of likely voter, now that the Democrats have shown they can turn out non-taxpayers just as though they had a legitimate interest in the proceedings.) ... These data suggest that Obama may have been hurt somewhat by the scandals, but for the most part, the long-term pattern seems to be dominant.
So, no, it appears that Umbrella-Gate is unlikely to bring down the current administration--even if rains really hard.

Back To That Flag Pin ...
The TruthTM is that (a) all of this was utterly predictable and (b) that it isn't going to hurt Obama in the polls the way that Gallup and Rasmussen measure them (well, okay, Rasmussen--as he pretty much just polls Republicans--but you know what I mean). What am I talking about? Oh, this:
Forecast Calls For an ABC Shonda Rhimes Vehicle Around June 2012 
Scandals are pretty much mathematically predictable and Obama hadn't had one until now--he was due. It's like getting hit by a giant asteroid that way (:: Looks Up Nervously ::). As to 'the damage'? Oh, well, you already know that almost everyone is polarized already, right? That's not news--or at least it shouldn't be. If everyone has already made up their minds it would take something major--like a smoking gun for the IRS--or a smoking gun for Benghazi--or a smoking gun for the AP investigation--to link Obama to the scandal.

If there's one place the administration's attempts at gun control have been successful, it's on the smoking ones.

Failing that, there is one other kind of scandal that can be linked to Obama: the ones you can visually see. You can see he's not wearing a flag pin. You can see that Marine out there with the umbrella. You can see those--and so, if you already hate Obama, you can go nuts over them and no one can laugh at you ... well, they can--but they can't call you a conspiracy theorist.

The problem with these scandals, like the others, sans-smoking-guns, is that they only convince the already faithful. Telling people who think Obama is probably as patriotic as the next guy that he's a closet communist who hates America--evidenced by the fact that he doesn't wear a flag pin--isn't going to have a lot of effect--especially when he puts one on after that.

You can bet that the next time it's raining, Obama holds his own umbrella.
Or, Maybe Not. You Never Know.
But There's One More Thing
If you posted something to Facebook about Umbrella-Gate there's one more thing you should know: you already know that there are these masses of Low Information Voters out there who have a very hard time processing important news. They're paying attention to trivia and not to the important stuff--political stuff ... economic stuff ... and so on.

Those guys? Those are guys you're not helping.

Keep in mind they're voting like they've got legitimate skin in the game (even though many of them might not pay at least one specific kind of tax). Those guys? Those guys probably can't tell the difference between Umbrella-Gate and the IRS thing. They probably can't figure out all the Wharrgarble over Benghazi from the real, important talking points and cover-ups.

Hell, they might even have brought into that whole poll unskewing nonsense last election. You gotta watch out for them ... someone ought to.

* If you had to Google MCO 1700.23F to know what it was, and you complained about the specific umbrella regulation ... well ... you know ...

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