Quotes of the day

posted at 10:51 pm on May 13, 2013 by Allahpundit

Attorney Dan Backer, whose client TheTeaParty.net has been trying to obtain tax-exempt status since 2010, said an IRS analyst mentioned the alleged working group during a phone conversation about one of Backer’s other client organizations.

“More than a year ago, one of these guys, really a slip of the tongue, [said] ‘Yeah we have this new working group that’s really looking at all these conservative organizations,’” Backer said. “And that’s when we knew it was gonna be a problem.”…

“Nobody wipes their own ass in the government without a lawyer clearing it,” Backer said. “The idea that this is not at least a few layers up is nonsense.”

***

It’s not like the IRS needs a way to flag the new groups that were created in the wake of the Citizens United decision. They have all the information they need to do that without any special filter. They can search for the date of the application. If what you’re concerned about is that most of the new groups being created are in fact thinly disguised electioneering vehicles, then what you want to do is take a random sample of the new groups, review them, and see what percentage turn out to be self-dealing or otherwised engaged in inappropriate behavior.

Instead, the IRS method for dealing with the volume was to take an unrandom sample. And how did they decide that you deserved extra scrutiny? Because you had “tea party” or “patriot” in your name. Since the Tea Party was a brand new movement in 2010, they couldn’t possibly have had any data indicating that such groups were more likely to be doing something improper. So how exactly did they come up with this filter? There is no answer that does not ultimately resolve to “political bias”…

Now, maybe 501(c) organizations are a big scam and don’t promote social welfare nad we should get rid of them, as I’ve seen some columnists complain. But this doesn’t actually seem like the right time to have that conversation. Rather, it seems like a distraction from the fact that IRS employees decided that groups which advocated for smaller government were somehow specially untrustworthy, and acted on this opinion by singling them out for extra bureaucratic hassles. This is hugely disturbing, and right now our focus should be on making sure it doesn’t happen again, not reforming the laws governing tax-exempt organizations.

***

Suppose that the Environmental Protection Agency were to admit offhandedly that the fluoridation of water had only modest communist mind-control effects. Or the United Nations were to concede it had been running fleets of black helicopters over U.S. cities, but only in the course of conducting extensive goodwill tours.

The Internal Revenue Service has managed a similar confirmation. For years, tea party and patriot groups have breathlessly alleged that federal bureaucrats were conspiring against the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Then federal bureaucrats conspired to target conservative groups because their tax documents contained the words “tea party” or “patriot,” and because they were “educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights.”…

I am conspicuously not a libertarian. I believe that government has valid purposes that are more than minimal, and that public service is essentially noble. But most Americans, myself included, become libertarians when a policeman is rude and swaggering during a traffic stop. Give me that badge number. It is precisely because police powers are essential to the public good that abusing them is so offensive. The same holds for overzealous or corrupt airport-security agents. And it is doubly true with IRS personnel who misuse their broad and intimidating powers. It is enough to bring out the Samuel Adams in anyone.

***

The Republican-controlled House won’t waste any time before it begins investigating the Internal Revenue Service’s alleged targeting of conservative groups.

The Ways and Means Committee is likely hold a hearing in the next two weeks before Congress recesses for a week for Memorial Day, according to several sources involved in planning. The Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which has been busy investigating the attack in Benghazi, is also likely to hold hearings, sources said.

***

Tea party groups on Monday are threatening to sue the Internal Revenue Service after the agency admitted last week that it wrongly targeted conservative groups applying for nonprofit status.

“We are looking at it pretty seriously,” said Dan Backer, a lawyer who represents a half dozen conservative groups targeted by the IRS, including Combat Veterans Training Group and TheTeaParty.net. “Given the sheer scope of maleficence at the IRS, there may be a legal recourse.”

***

The question being asked in the political world today is whether the condemnations are too little, too late. As in, did the Obama Administration — and other Democrats in the House and Senate — miss their chance to claim some sort of high(ish) message ground by largely taking a pass on the story when it broke on Friday morning?…

Democratic Congressional strategists offered little in the way of explanation for the relative silence of their incumbents/candidates on the IRS over the weekend other than to say that Senators and House Members typically take their cues from the White House in sticky political situations like this one.

***

Liberals, whose unvarying agenda is enlargement of government, suggest, with no sense of cognitive dissonance, that this IRS scandal is nothing more sinister than typical government incompetence. Five days before the IRS story broke, Obama, sermonizing 109 miles northeast of Cincinnati, warned Ohio State graduates about “creeping cynicism” and “voices” that “warn that tyranny is . . . around the corner.” Well.

He stigmatizes as the vice of cynicism what actually is the virtue of skepticism about the myth that the tentacles of the regulatory state are administered by disinterested operatives. And the voices that annoy him are those of the Founders.

Time was, progressives like the president 100 years ago, Woodrow Wilson, had the virtue of candor: He explicitly rejected the Founders’ fears of government. Modern enlightenment, he said, made it safe to concentrate power in Washington, and especially in disinterested executive-branch agencies run by autonomous, high-minded experts. Today, however, progressivism’s insinuation is that Americans must be minutely regulated because they are so dimwitted they will swallow nonsense. Such as: There was no political motive in the IRS targeting political conservatives.

***

“I don’t think morale is the highest it’s ever been,” said an Obama veteran. “It’s been a hell of a way to start a second term. … The gun vote was infuriating, depressing. … Then you went from Boston to North Korea to Syria to Benghazi to the IRS” — referring to last week’s revelations that federal revenue agents singled out tea party groups for special scrutiny.

“Plus, you know, there have been a fair share of f—-ups on our side of the ball,” the person said.

***

***

***

Political speech is sacrosanct, Scarborough argued. “Liberal and conservative Supreme Courts alike do not allow the government to tread on political speech. There is a wall around that, and the wall has been knocked down by the IRS for several years now.”

“There’s been many overblown claims of tyranny and abuse of power from the government over the last few years,” Geist jumped in, pointing to the “we’re coming for your guns”-type narrative. “This is tyranny. If this is the government, a nonpartisan agency coming after specific groups, this time it’s real.”


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