And The Things That We Fear Are A Weapon To Be Held Against Us

And speaking of rampant paranoia and wingers on epistemic closure vindication highs over this IRS nonsense, I wonder what our friends on the right would make of the fact that, unlike the current case of extra scrutiny of Tea Party organizations for non-political tax-exempt status that resulted in zero actual investigations, when a liberal Episcopal church in Pasadena said some critical anti-war things about Dubya before the 2004 election, well that resulted in the church being targeted by the IRS in a two-year long probe that eventually resulted in the church being cleared but the IRS saying the church was guilty anyway.

Somehow, this failed to rise to the level of anyone giving a damn about impeachment at the time, nor did it raise the question by the administrations supporters about the tax-exempt status of organizations of all political stripes engaging in political business.  Somehow we’re supposed to ignore this, and the whole US Attorney scandal where political enemies of the Bush administration really were being targeted by the executive branch.

Instead we’re supposed to believe that the Tea Party groups were being unfairly singled out as political groups dedicated to the end of the Democrats.  Sure.

“Maybe churches and 501(c)3 political groups shouldn’t be tax-exempt at all,” would be the thinking person’s response.  Instead, it’s Clinton Rules time.

Instead of going after all the awful things Bush/Cheney did and President Obama instead chose to turn the other cheek and move forward, the Republicans decide to repay him by making everything an impeachable offense until something sticks.

The cartoon soundtrack continues.

[UPDATE] Or as David Waldman reminds us:

But Obama did it, so Worse Than Space Hitler.

72 replies
  1. 1
    pokeyblow says:

    How about we tax ’em all? Political groups, churches, private clubs?

    Anyone who uses a sidewalk, a sewer, or might call the cops.

  2. 2

    Interesting. New Font here: Or did I just get the now cancelled change?

    I think the tactic works because the dividing line between allowed and not allowed polticking can be pretty thin at times. How do you advocate without eventually noting that some people are holding up progress you want or need and that voting them out of office might be the best thing you can do at the moment?

  3. 3
    Hill Dweller says:

    They’ve got nothin’. Turning the crazy up to 11 and repeatedly screaming “Impeachment!” will never change that fact.

  4. 4
    pokeyblow says:

    @Hill Dweller: And what exactly did they “have” when they impeached Clinton? Yes, he survived it and remained strong, but the man Clinton is sui generis.

  5. 5
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    Darrell Issa accused Petraeus of “carrying water” for Obama in re Benghazi. Will it be Rush or Hannity who starts Cavuto-ing whether Obama blackmailed the man some of them hoped would be Romney’s Veep less than a year ago? Michael Reagan will probably say the woman was a secret Obama spy (“Honey trap”)

  6. 6
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @pokeyblow: but the man Clinton is sui generis.

    Good lord.

  7. 7
    pokeyblow says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: I’ll retract my observation about Clinton (Bill, not Hillary) being a lucky scoundrel and effective politician.

    I’m not a Clinton-worshipper, and would rather not misdirect this thread into a quagmire over that.

  8. 8
    kerFuFFler says:

    Somehow, this failed to rise to the level of anyone giving a damn about impeachment at the time, nor did it raise the question by the administrations supporters about the tax-exempt status of organizations of all political stripes engaging in political business. Somehow we’re supposed to ignore this, and the whole US Attorney scandal where political enemies of the Bush administration really were being targeted by the executive branch.

    I could not get over the “free speech zones” Bush created to keep people with different opinions far away from him when the cameras were rolling. Sure, just fence in an area—-“for their safety”—-far,far away from where the President is giving his speech. No wonder the conservatives fear that liberals would put them all in re-education camps; they want to fence us in and take away our liberty—–we know they do because they already did it when they had a chance! I just don’t understand why the press did not freak out over this.

  9. 9
    Thomas F says:

    Oh wow…Zandar contributes another brilliant post where he…bends himself into various contortions to defend the Obama Administration. It’s almost like that’s all he is intelligent enough to do. Yawn.

  10. 10
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @pokeyblow: t Clinton (Bill, not Hillary) being a lucky scoundrel and effective politician.

    No argument there. I am a touch sensitive to the idea that either Clinton is a magickal dragon-slayer. in a way, even being impeached was good luck, if they had stuck to calling for him to resign, they probably would have damaged him a lot more.

  11. 11
    Yatsuno says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: Sounds like someone needs a countertop inspection. Might check for semen stains too. Too soon?

    @Thomas F: Derp.

  12. 12
    gene108 says:

    Republicans have achieved the “boys will be boys” status amongst the VSP.

    There’s no longer a “WTF is wrong with you” reaction, like Watergate engendered.

    Now all the hijinks are just another episode of “boys will be boys”, deal with it.

    Lie to get us into a war: “boys will be boys”.

    Use the DoJ to target political enemies: “boys will be boys”.

    Use the tragedy of an embassy bombing to try to impeach a Democratic President: “boys will be boys”.

    It’s at the point of no return. There’s nothing a Republican can do that will discourage the VSP and Republican voters.

  13. 13
    Hill Dweller says:

    From everything I’ve read, this wasn’t even audits. Some low level people gave wingnut groups’ applications for non-profit status more scrutiny than other groups. No one was turned down.

    The horror.

  14. 14
    Hill Dweller says:

    @Thomas F: Your bizarre stalking is no less predictable.

  15. 15
    gene108 says:

    @Hill Dweller:

    It’s never about facts. It’s about creating a state of hysteria, wherein The Big Lie(s) can take hold.

  16. 16
    Eric U. says:

    is Thomas F. worth pie-ing? I never notice him except on Zandar threads.

    One thing about the new site design that I approve of is that the pie filter still worked

  17. 17
    kerFuFFler says:

    “…unlike the current case of extra scrutiny of Tea Party organizations for non-political tax-exempt status that resulted in zero actual investigations…”

    I still do not know much about the extent or nature of the “extra scrutiny” but it does seem like it fell short of prolonged harassment.

    Frankly, I would expect there to have been disproportionate scrutiny of these Tea Party groups, not so much because of their policy positions, but rather because they were newly founded. Ostensibly political organizations without a track record of understanding the rules for what is allowed and what is not allowed should expect to be monitored a little more closely.

    I could be wrong—-it could totally be politically motivated—-but even if it was, the question remains did some bureaucrat at the IRS act out of their own political motivations, or were they directed to by the head of the agency or the administration?

  18. 18
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    It truly is amazing that not one Villager will see, in the disparity of coverage, how they let the Right Wing Wurltzer drive their reporting/commenting, rather than just “both sides do it and make wild accusations”. We’d actually be lucky if they acknowledge the cases Waldman points out.

  19. 19
    Yatsuno says:

    @gene108: My big fear is that Congressional Republicans will take this as an opportunity to underfund the IRS. And then when the deficit gets worse because collections are way down blame Obama and eventually just undercut the Sixteenth Amendment. But they’ll get their shiny pretty military toys.

  20. 20
    rdldot says:

    @Hill Dweller: From what I’ve read the Tea Party groups weren’t even 1/4 of the groups that were flagged. And yet none of them were turned down for tax-free status. Did the rest also get an apology? I don’t see why the IRS should have apologized to begin with. If your group is an anti-tax one (Taxed Enough Already?) and you want special status, you shouldn’t be surprised that the taxing authority is going to give you a closer look than most. And I also agree that we shouldn’t have tax-free organizations. Too much tax money gets funneled to those groups. They ought to pay their way like everybody else.

  21. 21
    joel hanes says:

    @kerFuFFler:

    free speech zones

    Even more egregious were the surveillance and pre-emptive political arrests of organizers of non-violent protests at the 2008 Republican National Convention in the Twin Cities (they were detained on pretext of fire-code violations in the older home in which they were arrested), and the arrest of over thirty journalists who were attempting to report on the protests that were allowed to take place.

    They hate us for our freedoms.

  22. 22
    MikeJ says:

    @Eric U.:

    One thing about the new site design that I approve of is that the pie filter still worked

    I don’t think they’re done. Expect it to break if they do more.

    Happily, it’s usually a pretty easy fix. Cleek cranks them out quickly.

    If anybody actually uses the chrome version I’ll fix it too, but I think more people even on Chrome just use the ffox version.

  23. 23
    MattR says:

    @kerFuFFler: @rdldot: It would be nice if the media could gather some sort of accurate numbers. I think I have seen that the IRS launched investigations into 300 groups in total and that Tea Party/Patriot groups comprised 75 of those. But nobody has given numbers about the total number of new groups trying to register and what percentage of them had the Tea Party/Patriot keywords. If, for example, those groups comprised half of all new registrations then the fact that a quarter of all audited groups were Tea Party groups would actually be an underepresentation, not a persecution.

  24. 24
    MomSense says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    I really don’t get the Clinton as genius thing. It seems to me that whenever a Democrat is in the White House, the Republican party just does everything it can to prevent any action or progress from taking place. They just want to stop the works–all the works. Clinton gave them a huge opening to do exactly that.

    They stopped him from doing anything except to help them screw up Wall Street, media, and welfare.

  25. 25
    rdldot says:

    @MattR: I think the 1/4 is the 75 of the 300 that you are talking about. But that was the Washington Post article (I think) that I read. No reason for cable/TV news to impart actual information. Why start now?

  26. 26
    The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik says:

    @Hill Dweller:

    The problem is that ‘nothing’ is working out pretty damn well for them, since they stopped caring about getting ‘something’ and instead focused on making sure Obama got ‘nothing’ and relying on ‘both sides same thing’ to inoculate them from any consequence.

  27. 27
    Ted & Hellen says:

    Zandar, it’s very simple though you refuse to see it: The elected national Dems refuse to play no prisoners hard ball as the the Republicans never stop playing same.

    You can’t blame the media alone because Dems give them very little to hang their faux outrage on as aimed against the Right.

    They are, in a couple of words, spineless milquetoasts.

    But you just keep pretending there are no very obvious reasons why the right is always winning the message wars.

  28. 28
    MattR says:

    @rdldot: Yeah. Unfortunately, that 1/4 number is completely useless without the context of what portion of total registrations had “Tea Party” or “Patriot” in them. I have a feeling it is going to turn out that that number is greater that 1/4 (based largely on the fact that conservatives would be including the overall numbers if it helped their argument)

    (EDIT: Although as I more closely look at some of these articles, they say 75 were singled out because they had one of the keywords out of 300 total that were selected for further investigation. It does not say whether any of the 225 other applications had those keywords or not.)

  29. 29
    WereBear says:

    @MikeJ: Are you a WordPress gun for hire? I need someone like that, or if you know someone.

    My contact form

    I use the Chrome version, for instance; since I have a Chromebook. Love it!

  30. 30
    theturtlemoves says:

    Quoting a relatively obscure Rush song in the post title? 11 out of 10 points.

  31. 31
    Heliopause says:

    Kind of a shame that these relatively petty outrages are the ones that our intrepid media will finally settle on, because this is frankly going to be a boring scandal season. So we have the IRS doing the job I wish it was doing with all advocacy groups, and three or four government bureaucracies drafting self-serving sets of talking points. Sad, isn’t it, that I can easily summarize two scandals in a single sentence. C’mon, where’s the suicidal lawyer, the influence-peddling, the dodgy investments, the lawsuits, the blowjobs in the closet? Dullsville.

  32. 32
    lojasmo says:

    @MikeJ:

    Jesus, would that you could make one for iOS.

    Is Thomas F. worth pie-ing?

    Couldn’t hurt. His only contribution here is to slag on Zandar (and probably ABL)

  33. 33
    Jay B. says:

    This was entirely stupid. AS STUPID AS BUSH. Pretty simple. It was wrong then, wrong now. Dumb, self-inflicted, wound. Why bother defending it?

  34. 34
    aimai says:

    @Jay B.: There’s neither anything to defend nor to attack. If the IRS chose to do a sweep using key words like “tax exempt” to review tax exempt applications why is that wrong? surely every tax exept group, espeically new ones, should be looked at hard to make sure that the applicatns aren’t doing it wrong. Why aern’t new applications flagged for review every time, in the first place? Its impossible for a basically anti IRS group like the GOP to have any standing here since they consider even collecting legitimate taxes to be an affront. I fail to see that this is an abuse of power by the Obama IRS at all–it isn’t wrong at all. YOu have to get back to me when they pursued cases against known enemies of the administration for years at a time near an important election. That would make this case comperable to the Bush era cases.

  35. 35
    Redshirt says:

    Oh my gosh! My Senator, the “moderate” Republican Susan Collins is OUTRAGED that the IRS is looking at Teat Party groups, and that the Obama Admin definitely using politics with Benghazi!

    I forget the similar outrage during the much worse behavior during the Bush Admin, but I’m sure I’ve just misremembered.

  36. 36
    Yatsuno says:

    @aimai:

    Its impossible for a basically anti IRS group like the GOP to have any standing here since they consider even collecting legitimate taxes to be an affront

    This is the real point. The GOP HATES the IRS, especially now with Grover Norquist and his teatard brigades leading the charge. What they never bother to think about is where the funding for the military and their pet pork projects will come from if there was no income tax. 93% of the government is funded by the IRS. There is no revenue stream out there that will come close to making up the difference. But ideology trumps all, taxes are bad, and ebil must be destroyed.

  37. 37
    quannlace says:

    There’s nothing a Republican can do that will discourage the VSP and Republican voters.

    Well, if they’ll vote for a moral cluster-fuck like Sanford because it’s ‘better to have a damaged Republican in the seat then a Democrat’ what can you expect?

  38. 38
    Irish Steel says:

    @Eric U.: If he’s not the crazy motherfucker that stalks Zandar all around the internet for weird personal reasons, then he is as crazy as that motherfucker.

    Let loose the hounds of pie!

  39. 39
    Citizen_X says:

    @Thomas F: Speaking of people who can bend themselves into various contortions, how’s your mom this Mother’s Day?

  40. 40
    JoyfulA says:

    And before the Episcopalian substitute preacher was harassed, when Obama was a senator, the United Church of Christ developed a series of speeches for their synod meeting on “how my faith affects my work.” Obama was invited and accepted in the category politician.

    In the six months or so between acceptance and speech, Obama decided to run for president and announced. The synod organizers were very careful to ban any political signs, supporters, tabling, etc., from the hotel property where the meeting was held, and everything went off properly.

    And yet there was a hue and cry from the right that this whole denomination had announced support for Obama and every church in it should have its tax exemption taken away. Of course, the IRS investigated, and defending itself cost the church a lot of money that could have been better spent elsewhere.

  41. 41
    Shortstop says:

    @lojasmo: Not true! Thomas F. also has an important role to play defending pedophilic Roman Catholic priests.

  42. 42
    JoyfulA says:

    @JoyfulA: Now that I’ve read the links, apparently I’ve got my chronological order wrong. Maybe I hadn’t heard of the Episcopalian case until it was settled.

  43. 43

    @Citizen_X:

    Speaking of people who can bend themselves into various contortions, how’s your mom this Mother’s Day?

    She was certainly twisting herself into some interesting positions in bed last night.

  44. 44
    Heywood J. says:

    @Ted & Hellen: This. It is very frustrating to watch one side continue with Marquess of Queensberry rules in an endless game of Calvinball. But then that would presume that they actually stand for something other than letting banksters pick our pockets.

    Also, too, major props for using The Weapon in the post title. Best obscure Rush song, next to The Camera Eye.

  45. 45
    burnspbesq says:

    The only outrage here is that IRS leadership wimped out.

    The rank-and-file TE/GE employees did EXACTLY what they are trained to do, i.e., flag Forms 1023 and 1024 (applications for recognition of exempt status) for further scrutiny when there is material in the form that suggests a potential for future non-compliance if the request is approved.

    They deserve to be applauded, not hung out to dry.

  46. 46
    kdaug says:

    I’m a little bit afraid of dying
    But I’m a lot more afraid of your lying

  47. 47
  48. 48
    AxelFoley says:

    @gene108:

    Republicans have achieved the “boys will be boys” status amongst the VSP.

    There’s no longer a “WTF is wrong with you” reaction, like Watergate engendered.

    Now all the hijinks are just another episode of “boys will be boys”, deal with it.

    Lie to get us into a war: “boys will be boys”.

    Use the DoJ to target political enemies: “boys will be boys”.

    Use the tragedy of an embassy bombing to try to impeach a Democratic President: “boys will be boys”.

    It’s at the point of no return. There’s nothing a Republican can do that will discourage the VSP and Republican voters.

    You ain’t lyin’. I mean, you can have a governor who cheats on his wife (where’s the “family values”?) and leaves the country to get some pussy, abandoning his job (party of responsibility, my ass) and yet the voters of South Carolina STILL decided to have this muthafucka represent them in Congress.

    IOKIYAR indeed. In-muthafuckin’-deed.

  49. 49
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    the Republicans decide to repay him by making everything an impeachable offense until something sticks.

    Look how these maggots repaid FDR for saving their asses from public hangings during the Depression.

    This is the way these vile sacks of fascist shit roll. They will not change.

  50. 50
    Yatsuno says:

    @f space that: Right about that time a huge change in IRS policies was passed by Congress. Before that, it’s true the IRS was very aggressive and capricious. Nowadays the rules are better, but the Repubs won’t be happy until it’s eliminated.

  51. 51
    f space that says:

    @Yatsuno: True, I suspect wing nuts in this country would begrudge even a single penny paid as tax.

  52. 52
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Hill Dweller:

    Yup, I think he’s Knockabout with a new handle.

  53. 53
    AxelFoley says:

    @Citizen_X:

    @Thomas F: Speaking of people who can bend themselves into various contortions, how’s your mom this Mother’s Day?

    SNAP!

  54. 54
    lojasmo says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Yup, I think he’s Knockabout with a new handle

    I agree.

  55. 55
    Jockey Full of Malbec says:

    @Ted & Hellen:

    They are, in a couple of words, spineless milquetoasts.

    There are plenty of old-school Dems with fire in the belly. They’re just not allowed anywhere near leadership positions.

    Or the media.

  56. 56
    Kay says:

    Well, I haven’t read all the facts yet, so I don’t know that I, personally am ready to apologize.
    The targeting (whether intentional or not, as I said I don’t know that this was anything other than a key word search) is IMO more of a problem at the state and local level, where things get nasty and petty and personal.
    It’s happened to me twice, once when I was treasurer of a state PAC (tiny, we never had more than 8,000 dollars) and just last year when I was treasurer for a statehouse candidate.
    Last year I filed completely online, pursuant to the statute, and one of the GOP members of the Board of Elections filed a complaint with the S of S because I hadn’t filed a paper copy with the county.
    So I had a letter from a lawyer at the S of S that I asked for and got that said, essentially, “she doesn’t have to file a paper copy” so all it wound up being was a half day wasted, which was probably the point of filing the complaint.
    I did make the asshole at the Board of Elections who harrassed me nervous, though, because the lawyer-letter from the S of S terrified her all out of proportion to what it said, so I think she regretted filing her bogus complaint.

  57. 57
    Mr. Glue says:

    Although I’m just a lurker, I have to leave a comment giving Zandar mad props for the “The Weapon” reference. It’s probably my favorite Rush song, love that sequencer line.

  58. 58
    jefft452 says:

    The Tea Party tells us that 47% of the US are bums and moochers who don’t pay taxes, and by the way, it is a great injustice that anyone question our TAX EXEMPT status

  59. 59
    Calouste says:

    @Heywood J.: Funny how the Marquess of Queensbury has become known as an epitome of sportsmanship rather than the mean bigoted bastard he really was. And that all thanks to a set of rules he didn’t write himself.

  60. 60
    Rex Everything says:

    Zandar: If you don’t like ofay libertarian tools, then why the hell are you quoting their lyrics?

  61. 61
    Cpl Cam says:

    @Jockey Full of Malbec: Bellies so full if fire that they don’t go anywhere near the media because they are not allowed to? Sounds… implausible. The entirety of the democratic party is either spineless milquetoasts or bought and paid for.

  62. 62
    TAPX486 says:

    @Hill Dweller: Given that the ‘tea party’ was a hot item at the time it would seem like it might be a spot for con artists to latch on to. I would hope the IRS performed additional review on all of the superstorm sandy charities. These kinds of things draw con men like blood in the water draws sharks.

    Besides wasn’t it a Bush appointee in charge of the agency at the time? That Obama is sure smart, he got W to appoint a ringer who would go after the yet to be invented tea party movement.

  63. 63
    Matt says:

    For extra fun, imagine the RW freakout if the Obama DoJ had been deliberately purged of high-level appointees who refused to use their offices to attack opposing candidates.

    Y’know, the EXACT SHIT the Bushes were up to…

  64. 64
    taylormattd says:

    @Hill Dweller: Thomas likely has issue with the blahs

  65. 65
    Jacel says:

    @rdldot: In an earlier BJ thread, I put a summary of those sorts of numbers and links to more detailed news reports.

    http://www.balloon-juice.com/2.....nt-4427990

  66. 66
    Fred says:

    Back in the early ’90s I presided over a 501c3 doing therapeutic horseback riding for disabled clients*. When we incorporated we were warned that any non-profit involved with horses gets extra special scrutiny because there is a history of people using 501c3 status to illegitamatly get tax breaks for their hobby horses.

    501c3 status is a privilege granted to people promising to do public service and as with any pivilege is subject to scrutiny by those charged with overseeing the system to prevent abuse. If a certain category of partcipants seem to raise red flags in the oppinion of inspectors/regulators the folks in charge would be derilct in their duties to not take a close look. Inspectors need this latitude to weed out grifters. No doubt political activity is one of those areas that could invite abuse.
    I don’t see how the Tea Party folks have any complaint but hey: “Git your Gubmint hands offen’ maah 501c3, you IRS regalater you!”

    *When I got the call notifing us of our permanant status approval the guy started out all serious like to give me a shiver and then said, “You are doing exactly what you are supposed to. Your oganization is the reason this status exists.” And he was just the nicest guy in the world.

  67. 67
  68. 68
    Rex Everything says:

    @jefft452:

    The Tea Party tells us that 47% of the US are bums and moochers who don’t pay taxes

    Pssst—those of us in the know refer to the 47% as “the Maples.”

  69. 69
    Neo says:

    “… seeking nonprofit status to train women Dem candidates …”

    Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.

    501(c)(4) organizations may lobby for legislation, and unlike 501(c)(3) organizations they may also participate in political campaigns and elections, as long as its primary activity is the promotion of social welfare. (Example: Organizing For America)

    The IRS denial was based on the law.

    The ultimate reality is that most of these organizations, not directly helping the poor, are for the purpose of employing lobbyists and lawyers.

  70. 70

    […] they sent them additional questionnaires.  Which is still not good, but we’ve seen worse, recently. It appears that this was the result of some people in the IRS, fearing impropriety, looking into a […]

  71. 71
    Cthulhu says:

    @gene108: It’s called, justifiably, IOKIYAR, and they use it to the fullest extent possible.

    Anyone remember the two people who were arrested and detained JUST for wearing Tshirts Bush wouldn’t have approved of?

  72. 72

    […] And never mind that whatever a bunch of IRS functionaries in Cincinnati might have done, the IRS did much worse to liberal groups under Bush and the Republicans never said a word. These people are not rational. They’re not even sane. […]

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  1. […] And never mind that whatever a bunch of IRS functionaries in Cincinnati might have done, the IRS did much worse to liberal groups under Bush and the Republicans never said a word. These people are not rational. They’re not even sane. […]

  2. […] they sent them additional questionnaires.  Which is still not good, but we’ve seen worse, recently. It appears that this was the result of some people in the IRS, fearing impropriety, looking into a […]

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