The Usual Suspects

The House seems to be entirely given over to IRS hearings. Today the Ways and Means Committee is hearing testimony from “victims” (I’m seeing newspaper headlines about “IRS Victims,” even though it’s a matter of opinion whether anyone was actually victimized) that include tea party, anti-reproduction rights, and anti-gay marriage groups. Social welfare organizations, my ass.

From Atlantic Wire,

Tom Price of Georgia called Eastman’s testimony, “absolutely chilling.”

Eastman’s testimony, it’s worth noting, focused on a separate IRS issue. The National Organization for Marriage plans to sue the agency for apparently leaking confidential donor lists to The Huffington Post. This prompted Eastman to note that, after the fight over Proposition 8 in California, donors to the campaign faced public harassment. Eastman worried that the recent leak would scare donors, that it might “keep them from donating again to the political fight that we’re in the middle of.”

Which at its heart is the problem. The IRS’ efforts to filter Tea Party groups appears largely to have been a shorthand for flagging groups that were likely engaging in undue political activity. Blumenauer asked the witnesses if they understood where the line was drawn on what political activity was allowed; no one asked provided such an understanding.

Charles Pierce:

You will note that among the social-welfare activities organized by these fine social-welfare advocates was a warning to people to mind their social welfare against the encroachment of our old pal, Agenda 21, the secret UN plot to steal all our golfs. (There’s some cool stuff in there, too, about keeping the Muslims and their sharia law away from your social welfare of your community, too. And something about The Hunger Games.)

One more time — social welfare, my ass. See also Steve M.

Ron Fournier takes Darrell Issa apart.

Issa shifted focus to the IRS’s admission that its agents targeted conservative groups for review of their tax-exempt status. “Well, first of all, we’re looking at the IRS for how big the problem is,” he replied. “As you know as late as last week the administration is still trying to say there’s a few rogue agents in Cincinnati when in fact the indication is they were directly being ordered from Washington.”

Note what Issa is doing. He does it all the time–start an unsubstantiated allegation with an absolute declaration (“when in fact”) and follow it with weasel words (“the indication is”). This smear-and-caveat technique allows him to ruin reputations without being called a liar.

Do read the whole thing.

Dana Milbank:

Congressional investigators have not produced evidence to link the harassment of conservative groups to the White House or to higher-ups in the Obama administration. But the lack of evidence that any political appointee was involved hasn’t stopped the lawmakers from assuming that it simply must be true. And so, they are going to hold hearings until they confirm their conclusions.

Ed Kilgore thinks the witch-hunters have about a week “to make the IRS investigations interesting and/or revelatory before it begins to look like conservatives are quite literally just talking to themselves, at which time the whole thing could backfire.” But, y’know, I don’t think they’re going to stop. Remember the Clinton Administration, when it seemed the only word that ever came out of a Republican’s mouth was “Whitewater,” until they discovered Monica. IMO they’re going to keep at this IRS thing until something juicier comes along, or until there’s a Republican in the White House.

16 thoughts on “The Usual Suspects

  1. Well, when you’re on an endless series witch-hunts, the odds are you’re liable to be able to find at least left-handed female Wiccan, with some black cats and a garden full of herbs, who’s worth burning.

    Hopefully, they’ll keep investigating Democratic Presidential Administrations until Jeb’s grandson is ready to make a run for office, in the hope that the Bush and Republican taint’s are finally forgotten.

  2. Reality is never a deterrent for Republican obsession. At this point in history, their one and only motivation is to destroy. Essentially, it’s Hitler’s final policy of scorched earth against his own people, without the excuse of any external enemy

  3. Ahhhh the teahadist scandal manufactures are working overtime..But look the real scandal here is that while the average America pays their taxes political groups (yep i said it- social welfare my ass) are being allowed NOT TO. Do they really want to keep reminding people of this?

  4. I can’t see that the IRS did ANYTHING wrong, even if it turns out groups with suspicious names got extra scrutiny. And I’m with you, Maha, any group with an anti-gay, anti-woman, or anti- any minority charter can HARDLY make any claim at being a social welfare organization.

    What they SHOULD be doing is approving the Pres’s budget so we can end the d@mned sequester. I’d be sure to point that out at every public speaking opportunity, if I were BHO or a Democratic legislator.

  5. Tom_B … greater freedom from internal constraint?

    I don’t see that the IRS did anything wrong either, but if what they did was viewed in a complete abstract devoid of values, it could be seen as political profiling. The question that I would ask is: Has the questionnaire asking for more clarification to determine eligibility for tax exemption been modified from it’s original form to something more specifically designed target the teabaggers.. The baggers seemed to find it extremely intrusive by the nature of the questions, but have those questions always been in place since the inception of 501’s

  6. I’m hearing rumblings that the baggers are getting all lathered up in expectation that Obama is going to toss Eric Holder overboard. The pressure of the pseudo scandals has turned Holder into a Jonah.

    Anybody remember seeing the SNL skit where Ross Perot told Admiral Stockdale to check the back tire?

  7. Swami,
    Thanks for the link.
    Somehow, when we speak, we don’t need to make an “air apostrophe,” like some people do with quotes (especially, sarcastically).
    Yet, when we write, we’re expected to use them.

    However, I won’t join the movement to “bag them, since I don’t understand/like them,” because that’s something a Conservative would so.
    Hell, there’s a lot of math and science I don’t really understand either, but I’m not going to deny that is e=mc2 true. Or evolution (ok, that I get – just not to the degree a real scientist would). And that no one should need to learn how to properly use an apostrophe.

    The responsibility for not using them properly, is mine.
    Not my parents fault , not the fine teachers I had in HS, not the fine professors I had in college – mine.
    Something in me either doesn’t understand them completely, or doesn’t want to. I lean towards both. I’ve tried, and I either just don’t get it, or, subconsciously, don’t want to, no matter how much I try.

  8. “…..Obama is going to toss Eric Holder”

    Why on Earth would he do that? Over Fast and Furious? I’d be very surprised.

  9. Kilgore is clearly wrong in thinking that this IRS thing will backfire and the conservatives will end up just talking to themselves. As long as it becomes self-reinforcing in their mythology through repetition, it will be one more comment they can make for years after everyone else has forgotten what it was really all about. It will become historical evidence, absent any need to be fact-checked because “everybody knows” it happened. Sorta like GW and the cherry tree till about 1970. That only took 200 years to clear up. Saddam Hussein’s WMD still has currency, and it has been widely decried by knowledgeable people. The IRS “scandal” will serve its purpose.

  10. …it could be seen as political profiling.

    Political profiling is precisely what the IRS should do when groups that appear to be engaging in politics apply for tax-exempt status. Not in terms of whether they’re Democrats or Republicans, but whether they are in fact political. The only scandal would be if the IRS was investigating conservative groups and giving liberal groups a pass. I’m not aware of any evidence of that. If more right-wing groups are getting investigated, it may be because they’re more likely to abuse the system.

    But I do agree that the IRS obsession could backfire. I don’t really see how it helps the Republicans’ cause to have a bunch of wackos and fanatics testifying about how the government they’re trying to overthrow was impolite to them.

  11. …the witch-hunters have about a week “to make the IRS investigations interesting and/or revelatory before it begins to look like conservatives are quite literally just talking to themselves, at which time the whole thing could backfire.” But, y’know, I don’t think they’re going to stop.

    It will never stop, unless it is superceded by a bigger scandal. But unless something is found soon, it will backfire, particularly if it never stops.

    In the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal, the GOP kept going after Clinton, even after it became evident that no one outside the GOP cared. Result: many of the nutcases who persecuted Clinton lost the next election. I was tempted to write Clinton’s persecuters a letter, encouraging them to keep going, knowing that these idiots would be happy to keep digging their own graves.

    It sounds like the older wiser members of the GOP are little smarter this time around, and are probably getting ready to try and reign in Issa, should it become evident that he’s getting nowhere. But the meme will continue to bounce around the walls of the conservative echo chamber forever.

  12. Why on Earth would he do that?

    I’m not saying he’s going to.. But some baggers think that they have inflicted enough damage on Holder by way scandals that Obama owes them Holder’s political scalp. They’re suggesting that if Obama gets rid of Holder his problems with endless investigations will go with him.
    Although that’s not the case, the baggers have devoted a lot of effort into making Holder look bad. And they’re openly hoping to be rewarded by having Obama jettison Holder or having Holder gracefully bow out for the sake of moving the country forward.

  13. “501(c)(4) organizations include two types of organizations: (a) social welfare organizations, defined by statute as civic leagues or organizations operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare; and (b) local associations of employees of which the net earnings are devoted exclusively to charitable, educational, or recreational purposes…

    501(c)(4) organizations are tax-exempt, but donations to them are not tax deductible and the identities of donors do not have to be disclosed. These organizations are allowed to engage in unlimited lobbying activities, and can engage in some campaign activity, as long as it is not their primary activity.”


    Here’s the real issue, IMO. The tax exempt status was not the sore spot – it’s the fact that if they are NOT tax exempt, the identities of donors can’t be concealed. There’s the tender spot that’s making the GOP flinch. If – and I did say ‘if’ – a dozen ‘tea party’ groups were denied tax exempt status and therefore had to reveal – this is speculative – that 80% of the funding for all the groups came from the same billionaire donor – then that makes the tea party an obvious front group for that donor. The pretense of a ‘grass roots’ movement would be shattered.

    This is the crux of a dozen problems related to corruption in government – who is funding the election activities? Is it ‘We the People” or corporate sponsorship?

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