The IRS, the Tea Party, and the Left
News that the IRS used keywords such as “Occupy” to “be on the lookout” for suspect groups seeking tax exemption is being taken as proof by some that there is no longer a scandal.
Maybe such questionnaires will be forthcoming. If so, would that put the matter to rest? It shouldn’t.
The idea that it might reminds me of the old complaint about the left’s treatment of Apartheid and the Soviet Union: Some U.S. liberals sometimes seemed more troubled by the former than the latter, suggesting that it wasn’t oppression per se they objected to — merely an uneven application of it.
But if the IRS was wrong to subject tea-party groups to such scrutiny — and it was — then it would be just as wrong to subject liberal groups to such scrutiny. That would make the scandal bigger, not smaller.
The GOP’s Immigration Problem
The energetic ideological base of the Republican Party is a nationalist, identity-politics movement for relatively well-to-do older white Americans known as the “tea party”. The tea party is interested in bald eagles, American flags, the founding fathers, Jesus Christ, fighter jets, empty libertarian rhetoric, and other markers of “authentic” American identity and supremacy. That America is “a nation of immigrants” is a stock piece of American identity politics, but the immigrants that made America America were, well, not Mexican, and spoke English, or at least Pennsylvania Dutch. Sorry Mexicans! Even if each element of immigration reform, taken in isolation, is agreed to be a good idea by a solid majority of Republican voters, Republican politicians must nevertheless avoid too-enthusiastically supporting this package of good ideas, lest they fail to project sufficient appreciation for the importance of keeping America American and putting Americans first…
[T]he demands of tea-party political correctness places the GOP in a perverse and harrowing collective action problem. Given the demographic composition of the American electorate and its outlook, the GOP courts collective political annihilation by further alienating non-white voters. Yet it remains individually rational for most Republican politicians to partake in precisely the sort of posturing identity politics that most alienates immigration-friendly voters.
We peacefully assemble. We petition our government. We exercise the right to free speech. And we don’t understand why the government tried to stop us.
I’m not here at as a serf or a vassal. I’m not begging my lords for mercy. I’m a born-free American woman, wife, mother and citizen.
And I’m telling my government that you’ve forgotten your place. It’s not your responsibility to look out for my well-being and to monitor my speech. It’s not your right to assert an agenda. Your post, the post that you occupy exists to preserve American liberty. You’ve sworn to perform that duty. And you have faltered.
Radical, Paramilitary Anti-Tax Movement Put Down
This item circulating the Interwebs is pretty good …
BOSTON - National guard units seeking to confiscate a cache
of recently banned assault weapons were ambushed on April 19th by elements
of a para-military extremist faction. Military and law enforcement sources
estimate that 72 were killed and more than 200 injured before government
forces were compelled to withdraw.
Speaking after the clash Massachusetts Governor Thomas Gage
declared that the extremist faction, which was made up of local citizens,
has links to the radical right-wing tax protest movement. Gage blamed the
extremists for recent incidents of vandalism directed against internal
revenue offices. The governor, who described the group’s organizers as
"criminals," issued an executive order authorizing the summary arrest of any
individual who has interfered with the government’s efforts to secure law
and order. The military raid on the extremist arsenal followed wide-spread
refusal by the local citizenry to turn over recently outlawed assault
Gage issued a ban on military-style assault weapons and
ammunition earlier in the week. This decision followed a meeting in early
this month between government and military leaders at which the governor
authorized the forcible confiscation of illegal arms.
One government official, speaking on condition of anonymity,
pointed out that “none of these people would have been killed had the
extremists obeyed the law and turned over their weapons voluntarily.”
Government troops initially succeeded in confiscating a large supply of
outlawed weapons and ammunition. However, troops attempting to seize arms
and ammunition in Lexington met with resistance from heavily-armed
extremists who had been tipped off regarding the government’s plans. During
a tense standoff in Lexington’s town park, National Guard Colonel Francis
Smith, commander of the government operation, ordered the armed group to
surrender and return to their homes. The impasse was broken by a single
shot, which was reportedly fired by one of the right-wing extremists. Eight
civilians were killed in the ensuing exchange. Ironically, the local
citizenry blamed government forces rather than the extremists for the
civilian deaths. Before order could be restored, armed citizens from
surrounding areas had descended upon the guard units. Colonel Smith, finding
his forces overmatched by the armed mob, ordered a retreat. Governor Gage
has called upon citizens to support the state/national joint task force in
its effort to restore law and order. The governor also demanded the
surrender of those responsible for planning and leading the attack against
the government troops. Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, and John Hancock, who have
been identified as “ringleaders” of the extremist faction, remain at large.
April 20, 1775
The IRS Scandal, Explained by Liberal Partisans
The root cause of the problem is, simultaneously, that government is too big — and too small:
Part of being president is there’s so much underneath you because the government is so vast. You go through these [controversies] all because of this stuff that is impossible to know if you’re the president or working in the White House, and yet you’re responsible for it and it’s a difficult situation.
The more we learn about the IRS vetting of conservative groups, the less it looks like an abuse of power than something much more mundane—a beleaguered agency with too few resources to handle its work-load.
Obama campaign petitioned IRS to investigate conservative groups
Well, well! Lookie here!
Obama’s use of the IRS to bully his enemies started before he even became the President. In 2008, during his first Presidential campaign, his campaign wrote letters to the IRS demanding that they investigate Obama’s political opponents.
from Wall Street Journal:
On Aug. 21, 2008, the conservative American Issues Project ran an ad highlighting ties between candidate Obama and Bill Ayers, formerly of the Weather Underground. The Obama campaign and supporters were furious, and they pressured TV stations to pull the ad—a common-enough tactic in such ad spats.
What came next was not common. Bob Bauer, general counsel for the campaign (and later general counsel for the White House), on the same day wrote to the criminal division of the Justice Department, demanding an investigation into AIP, “its officers and directors,” and its “anonymous donors.” Mr. Bauer claimed that the nonprofit, as a 501(c)(4), was committing a “knowing and willful violation” of election law, and wanted “action to enforce against criminal violations.”
AIP gave Justice a full explanation as to why it was not in violation. It said that it operated exactly as liberal groups like Naral Pro-Choice did. It noted that it had disclosed its donor, Texas businessman Harold Simmons. Mr. Bauer’s response was a second letter to Justice calling for the prosecution of Mr. Simmons. He sent a third letter on Sept. 8, again smearing the “sham” AIP’s “illegal electoral purpose.”
Also on Sept. 8, Mr. Bauer complained to the Federal Election Commission about AIP and Mr. Simmons. He demanded that AIP turn over certain tax documents to his campaign (his right under IRS law), then sent a letter to AIP further hounding it for confidential information (to which he had no legal right).
The Bauer onslaught was a big part of a new liberal strategy to thwart the rise of conservative groups. In early August 2008, the New York Times trumpeted the creation of a left-wing group (a 501(c)4) called Accountable America. Founded by Obama supporter and liberal activist Tom Mattzie, the group—as the story explained—would start by sending “warning” letters to 10,000 GOP donors, “hoping to create a chilling effect that will dry up contributions.” The letters would alert “right-wing groups to a variety of potential dangers, including legal trouble, public exposure and watchdog groups digging through their lives.” As Mr. Mattzie told Mother Jones: “We’re going to put them at risk.”
The Wall Street Journal describes Obama as the “pioneer” of using the IRS to bully political opponents. And somehow we’re supposed to believe that the IRS targeting didn’t start with Obama himself?
We know for a fact that Obama met with the head of the Treasury Employees Union in the White House the day before the IRS targeting started in the Exempt Organizations branch. Now we can see that was just a continuation of a deliberate strategy that Obama set out using in the campaign.
It’s time for a special prosecutor. It’s time to subpoena all communications between the White House and the IRS. And it’s time to start deposing everybody who worked at the White House and Obama’s campaign since day one.
Survival strategies of Governmentus Omnipotus
Government, an aggressive and complex multicellular organism, can be found in nearly every region and climate of the planet, including those such as North America where the natural habitat is often inhospitable. In order to thrive in such climates, government has evolved a variety of sophisticated survival strategies. These have enabled it to co-exist with, and often out-compete, other species.
A full examination of these strategies falls beyond the scope of this paper, but a brief summary should suffice to acquaint the lay reader with the more salient ones.
Learned Predator Recognition. Government in the United States has several highly sophisticated means, from satellite surveillance to warrantless wiretapping, to scrutinize its environment for potential threats, both external and internal. The Nixon administration maintained an enemies list. The administration of President Barack Obama developed an “attack watch” website, and its Department of Homeland Security identified veterans returning from Iraq as potential terrorists. And, like the FBI under President Bush, the Justice Department under Obama trolled through the phone logs of national reporters, seeking out potential weaknesses.
Hypertrophy. Size alone confers distinct advantages in the competition for resources and the battle for survival. It is not surprising, therefore, that government grows at a remarkable rate. Consider public education: In 2009, the cost of a K-12 education, per student, exceeded $151,000 – almost three times the amount, after adjusting for inflation, spent per student in 1970. The story is the same for social-welfare spending, which has increased 375 percent in constant dollars since 1965. Even the most fearsome apex predators often are daunted by the prospect of confronting such powerful creatures.
Metastasis.Many government operations are able to permeate the bureaucratic lining and spread to other agencies. The federal government alone operates 33 distinct housing-assistance programs across four different agencies, and 49 job-training programs across eight different agencies. This strategy helps ensure that even if one strain of programs dies off, many others will remain.
Alleopathy.In the competition for finite resources, government has developed various means of inhibiting other organisms. Public school systems have become adept at fending off school-choice proposals, for instance. The Internal Revenue Service also has been used as a weapon. The earliest known occurrence of this in the wild was recorded during the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. President Nixon highly favored this tactic as well. More recently, the Obama administration has targeted tea-party groups and other organizations that “criticized the government and sought to educate Americans about the U.S. Constitution,” according to published accounts.
Crypsis.The simplest way to evade attack is to avoid being detected. Government therefore has several means of remaining unnoticed – principal among them taxpayer withholding. Through withholding, the government is able to feed its voracious appetite without, in many cases, the host organism’s knowledge or awareness.
Thanatosis. Many creatures, including the possum and the hog-nosed snake, feign death to avoid predation. This behavior has been observed in government as well. Programs thought to have been killed off only to spring back to life at a later date include the WWII-era mohair subsidy and the even older federal helium program, originally created to ensure a supply of helium for WWI-era dirigibles. In 2013, The Washington Post reported that the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to continue its operations.
Symbiosis. In many cases government programs have developed mutually beneficial relationships with other organisms that help them to ward off attack. Military systems are particularly adept at this survival technique. The F-22 Raptor program involves more than 1,000 contracting companies in 46 states. Military systems have even developed defenses against attacks from other government colonies. In 2010 the U.S. Army conducted a review of MEADS, the Medium Extended Air Defense System, which found it ill-suited to current defense needs. “Current Army position is: Terminate MEADS,” the Army wrote. Yet according to a 2013 issue of Government Executive, MEADS “is continuing to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in government funding.”
Invasiveness. Constantly seeking out new territory and food sources, government is among the most aggressive of all invasive species. Anti-poverty programs, once designed to ease the plight of the poor, now routinely seek out applicants with incomes of two to four times the federal poverty level. The Affordable Care Act, passed by Congress in 2010, conferred on government the unprecedented power to force Americans to purchase a commercial good independent of any consumer behavior. The U.S. Department of Agriculture proclaims as its goal to “increase participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.” To that end it has adopted a variety of strategies, including a partnership with the Mexican government through which Mexican consulates spread the word that resident aliens can apply for U.S. food stamps without having to answer questions about their immigration status. And in 2013, The Washington Post reported on the experience of federal employee Dillie Nerios in Florida: “It is Nerios’s job to enroll at least 150 seniors for food stamps each month, a quota she usually exceeds.”
CONCLUSION: While a certain amount of government is necessary for the health of any ecosystem, too much can prove devastating. It is important, therefore, to actively monitor and limit government lest it threaten Nature’s delicate balance. However, government’s aggressiveness and highly developed survival mechanisms will make this an arduous task for the foreseeable future.