Internal Relativity Service

K-Drum on the IRS:

But understandable or not, they bungled it horribly, leaving themselves open to equally understandable charges of politicizing the IRS. Conservative groups are as outraged as liberals would be if the Bush-era IRS were flagging groups with “environment” or “progressive” in their names. So even if, as seems likely, this whole thing turns out to have been mostly a misguided scheme cooked up by some too-clever IRS drones, it doesn’t matter. Conservatives are right to be outraged and right to demand a full investigation. They suspect there might be more to it, and so would I if the shoe were on the other foot. We need to find out for sure whether this episode was just moronic, or if it had some kind of partisan motivation.

Hey Kevin?  As I pointed out yesterday, that shoe was not only on the other foot multiple times during the Bush administration, but that shoe was then used to kick liberal and Democrat asses up and down the block because it really was partisan motivation.  And a grand total of Not A Damn Thing happened as a result.

Now granted,  I understand at the time the outrage-o-meter was currently being pegged to the red line by all the other much worse things the Bushies were doing at the time.  But please, spare me your outrage on this IRS thing.  It was used as a partisan weapon several times by the last guys, and we’re all pretending it didn’t happen.  How about we hear more about that, eh?

Oh, and I disagree with this, too:

What’s really unfortunate about all this is that it will probably put an end to any scrutiny of 501(c)4 groups, and that’s a shame. The IRS should be scrutinizing them, and it should be doing it on an ongoing basis. More than likely, though, Congress will step in to neuter them completely on this score, and the current Wild West character of 501(c)4 fundraising will continue unabated.

On the contrary, the Republicans have shown on several occasions they’re willing to burn down the house as long as some Democrats get caught in the conflagration.  There’s a fair chance that House Republicans especially will demand these groups get dismantled.  They’ll just pass legislation that will make it easier for Republican-leaning groups to reform under some new rules.

[UPDATE] Oh, and for the folks on both sides screaming that the IRS Commissioner responsible for this step down?  He did.  In November. Douglas Shulman was a Dubya appointee whose five-year term ended and he stepped down after the election.  Congress has yet to confirm his replacement, Deputy Commissioner Steven Miller.  Little chance of that now, so expect the IRS to not have a commissioner for pretty much the rest of the President’s term.

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132 replies
  1. 1
    Cassidy says:

    Man’s gotta make a living, even if it is on his knees.

  2. 2
    Punchy says:

    Does this mean the GOP will finally fold the Benghazi tent in order to focus on the newest shiny object?

  3. 3

    I fail to see why this is supposed to be “a scandal.”

    Call me when your group is infiltrated by undercover FBI agents and placed on a secret Pentagon domestic terror watch list. So you had to wait a little longer for your 501(c)4 status to get approved? Oh, whaah. Take your “tyranny” label and shove it up your tricorn hats, you big babies.

  4. 4
    Lee Rudolph says:

    It’s pretty clear that the IRS (in collaboration with The Hillabeast, of course) was behind Benghazi; so, no.

  5. 5
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @Punchy: Benghazi is about Clinton, not Obama. It won’t go away for a while.

  6. 6

    Zandar:

    And a grand total of Not A Damn Thing happened as a result.

    Because IOKIYAR. Always, always, always IOKIYAR.

  7. 7

    Someone just posted this comment over at my place:

    There were 298, 501c4 applications pulled for further scrutiny by the IRS. Of those, 96 were conservative groups. That means the majority (202) were not conservative groups. Since 501c4 groups are supposed to be issue based, all have a stance on some issue or another. But electoral work cannot be their primary activity (they can participate in electoral activity, but that can’t be all they do). That being said, if one looks at most Tea Party websites, they say that is their focus. Follow up questions, then seem reasonable to me.

    96 out of 298? Horrors.

  8. 8
    Howlin Wolfe says:

    Bububububut, the Republican puke funnel is irresistible! The MSM laps it up because it’s so tasty!

  9. 9
    Keith G says:

    I want governmental misconduct vigorously confronted no. matter. who. is in power and even if it was missed or ignored before. In light of that, Drum’s comments are reasonable unless one is playing that whiny game of “that’s not fair, they should have been sent to their room too.” – a game that should have been left behind in middle school.

    BTW, that’s the way I felt about the misconduct of the Oval Office prior to 2009. I wanted that governmental misconduct vigorously confronted and investigated, but the new administration felt differently. Too bad.

  10. 10
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    Actually, what really does annoy me is the “apology by the IRS.” It’s their freakin’ job to make sure that groups that want to be 501c groups follow the applicable tax rules. They should have come out and said “we had a job to do and we did it.”

  11. 11
    Jeremy says:

    The thing I don’t get about this so called “scandal” is the fact that a Bush appointee at the IRS was the one who ordered that the Tea Party groups be under more scrutiny.

    That alone should end the debate. Also, nothing happened to these groups besides being watched more closely.

  12. 12

    @Keith G:

    Yeah I want government misconduct investigated too but I’m still not convinced that’s what we’re dealing with here. As along as the MSM is like a magpie squawking after whatever shiny-sparkly Tea Party turd falls on their heads, I don’t have much confidence we’ll find out, either.

  13. 13

    @Jeremy:

    Also, nothing happened to these groups besides being watched more closely.

    No, they had to wait a little longer for their 501(c)4 status to be approved which is TOTALLY THE SAME THING AS TYRANNY.

    Dumb fucks.

  14. 14
    aimai says:

    Oh come on: The Republicans will demand a revision of tax rules that make Christian Churches tax exempt even when they do political organizing and that penalize Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist and other religious groups for having property and buildings at all. Then they will rewrite the 501(c) rules to do whatever they damned well please. And they will stick on a rider that defunds Obamacare and locks more muslims up in gitmo just for shits and giggles.

  15. 15
    Mike in NC says:

    It’s always about Unlimited Corporate Cash!

  16. 16
    Jeremy says:

    @Keith G: I understand but I think the Obama administration looked at endless investigations not yielding good results. When Obama came into office the country had a lot of issues and immediate problems on it’s plate. If Obama wasted his first couple of years going after Bush administration alone people in the media and the majority of American people would have hounded him for wasting time and going on a vendetta which most likely would not have lead to any serious jail time/ action.

  17. 17

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent):

    Agreed, 100%. Shoulda kept their damn yaps shut, and said “we’re doing our jobs.”

  18. 18
    Jeremy says:

    @Southern Beale: Funny !

  19. 19
    Mark B says:

    In my experience, most groups with ‘Tea Party’ in the name are scams focused on separating elderly white people from their cash. It’s somewhat unsurprising that the IRS has caught onto this. My mom, bless her heart, has sent more than one of them money.

  20. 20
    joes527 says:

    Shorter Zandar:

    Both sides do it!!

  21. 21
    Valdivia says:

    Greg Sargent at the Plum Line has a good rebuttal of the frenzy the Village is going into right now over the IRS thing. Worth reading.

  22. 22
    negative 1 says:

    @Southern Beale: The reason that the Tea Party should have been targeted is because they are overtly political. I am an accountant who works for a 501(c)6, and yes, we lobby and we donate to 501(c)4s. They then donate to PACs, but since we can’t command the money, it’s tax free for us. It’s a loophole, and everyone exploits it as such.
    The dodge is that a 501(c)4s whole reason for being can’t be as a money funnel to PACs. They have to do some kind of community service or outreach, and originally were supposed to be doing more of that then lobbying. When one of them is overtly a political group, they’re obviously not doing community service or outreach, and they obviously should have a big red target on their back. Call it the price for being on TV.

  23. 23
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @Valdivia: Do you have a link for those of us who don’t keep Sargent on speed dial?

  24. 24

    @Jeremy:

    which most likely would not have lead to any serious jail time/ action.

    A major, major point. Congress approved, and I mean ‘veto-proof majorities’ approved of Bush and Cheney’s illegal actions, especially torture. Hell, congress eventually went back and declared that all of those actions were retroactively legal and the torture evidence was admissable in a court of law, even though they refused to let the victims see a court of law. Obama had the choice of badly pissing off the Democratic congressmen he needed to get Obamacare and FinReg passed, or letting it drop and actually trying to help a shattered country. Predictably, he chose fixing the problem rather than revenge. Note that ‘convicting Bush and Cheney for their crimes’ is not part of those choices. It was not a realistic possibility. If somehow congress didn’t intervene, prosecuting a former president is a very legally grey area. 5-4 SCOTUS, anyone?

  25. 25
    Valdivia says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent):

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/.....-coverage/

    ETA: it is really depressing to think that we are now going to enter a season in which all the discipline of Obama in running a clean and respectable administration will go down in an effort of Village dirt flinging and some hacks at the IRS. Just despairing.

  26. 26
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    Republicans: Give them an inch and they will fuck you over royally.

    They can whine until the sun turns into a red dwarf for all I care, fuck them all. Let me know when they are going to investigate the many crimes of the Bush (actually Cheney) administration, at that point I might begin to care about their bitching.

    Until then they can FOAD.

  27. 27
    liberal says:

    @Southern Beale:

    Call me when your group is infiltrated by undercover FBI agents…

    Yeah. Google Cointelpro. AFAIK there were entire movements in the 1960s which were comprised and sent off in bad directions because of that $hit.

  28. 28
    Chyron HR says:

    @joes527:

    Longer True Progressives:

    “Our willingness to use phoney scandals pimped by the GOP as a cudgel with which to beat Obama is proof of how PURE AND NOBLE our political beliefs are.”

  29. 29
    Gex says:

    What would conservatism be without lots of well-to-do “progressive” white men to tell us how reasonable the people who talk and act like they are in a war of attrition with us are? To overlook the abuses those conservatives heap on the rest of us, but as a white man he pays so little price for it? He can be magnanimous. He is never, ever as harmed by them as the rest of us are.

    Hey, you have to earn your money if you want to get paid to blow hot air. And we just saw how easy it is for a site like this to try to earn their keep. A whole lot of screaming from the moderates and liberals, showing exactly why it is easiest to just spew what the money wants you to spew.

  30. 30
    liberal says:

    @Frankensteinbeck:

    Congress approved, and I mean ‘veto-proof majorities’ approved of Bush and Cheney’s illegal actions, especially torture.

    By orders of magnitude the biggest crime of the Bush admin was the invasion of Iraq. Torture’s not even remotely on the radar in comparison.

    Obama had the choice of badly pissing off the Democratic congressmen he needed to get Obamacare and FinReg passed, or letting it drop and actually trying to help a shattered country. Predictably, he chose fixing the problem rather than revenge.

    FinReg didn’t “fix the problem”. There’s a couple good things in there, like maybe the CFPB, but overall the system wasn’t fixed at all.

  31. 31
    Zandar says:

    @joes527: No.

    One side, the GOP, is doing it (politically using the IRS to harass political enemies). The other side is doing their job (scrutinizing the tax-exempt status of clearly political groups).

  32. 32
  33. 33
    Gex says:

    Frankly, the Tea Party needs to be challenged on a lot of things.

    Are they a party? They didn’t do the work to become a party. They didn’t get on ballots. They didn’t have to get the Rs and Ds to allow them into debates. They ran as Republicans. So they aren’t a separate thing.

    Or if they are, then they need to lose all their positions in the legislature because they were on ballots and they should not have been.

    I’ve had enough of them calling government giving tax payer money to corporations “socialism.”

    I’ve had enough of them calling themselves a third party without having to do any of the work of a third party.

    I’ve had enough of them getting committee positions based on being Republicans when they claim they are anything other.

    I’m sick of them getting to make up new rules whenever they want because they can no longer win under the old rules.

    The anti-marriage constitutional amendments were their last hurrah in majoritarian politics. Now it is time to use all sorts of tactics to force the majority into submission.

    Thank you, Kevin Drum, for helping them do just that.

  34. 34
    liberal says:

    @Keith G:
    In what sense was it misconduct?

    Until someone comes up with an argument as to what algorithms and keywords are OK/not OK for deciding what groups to investigate, the claim that this is necessarily misconduct is completely unproven, especially given that the search algorithm is not, and never has been, random selection of registered groups.

  35. 35
  36. 36
    Valdivia says:

    If you want to really get a sense of how much the knives are out for Obama just read Ron Fournier’s piece. It’s linked by TPM I refuse to link to it. Just amazing.

  37. 37
    Suffern ACE says:

    O.K.

    Has someone found a decent rundown on this scandal from someone who knows the difference between the various types of non-profits and 501(c)## organizations? Someone who knows what the application process is and how it was abused?

    Look, this is only a scandal in my mind if there is a note from someone at party HQ or the whitehouse political staff to the IRS commissioner telling them to get on these groups as that would be an abuse of power. But otherwise, I am not even certain what the grievance is.

    Before we go off on the “Well there are liberal groups like these” or “Conservatives go after us all the time when they’re in power”, I kind would like to know what happened.

  38. 38
    The Moar You Know says:

    This is frankly the kind of thing Dems should be doing to their political enemies; ought to be doing a lot more of it, in fact. Hell, there’s still some US Attorneys who are still in jail for daring to ask Presidente Bush if purging the Justice Department of liberals was a legal thing to do.

    The only fuckup here was an admission of wrongdoing for something that wasn’t even wrong, and that unbelievable groveling apology from the IRS.

  39. 39
    gene108 says:

    @Jeremy:

    Bush, Jr. was/ is a super liberal traitor, which is why Republicans do not have control of government. The only way to save the country is to undo the liberal Bush appointees. / wing-nut

  40. 40
    Capri says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent):

    More than that, it’s a money maker for Rove and co. They aren’t likely to walk away from a cash cow.

  41. 41
    negative 1 says:

    @Suffern ACE: I’m an accountant who works in this arena. Basically 501(c)4s can be started by anyone and have very vague rules of organization. They are ‘civic leagues’. The issue arises in that donations to a PAC (aka a 527 org) are taxable for non-profits at the highest corporate tax rate (35%). However, donations to 501(c)4s are not. 501(c)4s can donate to PACs and take the tax hit on the lesser of 35% of: the political expenditures OR net investment income. If you set it up right (i.e. all of your money is in a checking account) you basically don’t pay any taxes. Even for-profits can claim that they are an ‘ordinary business expense’ under certain rules (although that’s a little harder).
    The catch is that ‘civic leagues’ have to do something ‘civic’. They can’t be political orgs, they have to do community service or outreach. When one is as blatant about being a political org as the tea party is, I’m not surprised they got attention from the IRS. Especially when they don’t seem to do any civic activity that isn’t overtly political.

  42. 42
    kdub says:

    This is why I hate politics these days.

    Bad thing happens. One side feigns outrage. Other side says ‘Well, why did you not say anything about this, when this happened under so and so.’ so let’s not bother getting the facts about the current bad thing, because it was worse before and we did nothing then. So nah-nah-nah, I’m going to stop listening to you now.

    Rinse and Repeat.

    Ignorance is not a good look on either side. I’m starting to think we have the exact country we deserve.

  43. 43
    Kay says:

    @liberal:

    Until someone comes up with an argument as to what algorithms and keywords are OK/not OK for deciding what groups to investigate, the claim that this is necessarily misconduct is completely unproven, especially given that the search algorithm is not, and never has been, random selection of registered groups.

    That’s my take. I don’t think anyone has enough to apologize over. The bare numbers we’ve been given so far don’t even support the idea that Tea Party groups were necessarily “targeted.”
    There’s nothing I’ve read that indicates there’s some sort of hard and fast rule that says they can’t use certain search terms to flag applications.
    It’s not exactly comparable, but I’ve done campaign finance filing at the state level, once for a PAC and once for a candidate and the Sec of State can ask anyone anything related to a filing. There’s no defense that says “I am being targeted!” because the Sec of State doesn’t have to explain why a filing triggered additional requests for documents. The only available response is “here are the additional documents” or “you can’t require additional documents and here’s why”. There’s no response that goes “show me why you asked before I answer”.

  44. 44
    Cacti says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    Look, this is only a scandal in my mind if there is a note from someone at party HQ or the whitehouse political staff to the IRS commissioner telling them to get on these groups as that would be an abuse of power. But otherwise, I am not even certain what the grievance is.

    Thus far, the explanation of why this is a “scandal” seems to be “because it was scandalous”. None of the “aggrieved” organizations actually had their 501(c)(4) applications denied, so there isn’t even a remedy to be had.

    It’s the usual GOP trifecta: Sound? check. Fury? check. Zero substance? check.

  45. 45
    Shortstop says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent): I find it astounding that so many otherwise astute analysts are missing this. Any collateral damage to Obama is lagniappe for the true purpose of the Benghazi crap: weakening our very strong 2016 candidate.

  46. 46
    askew says:

    @Valdivia:

    ETA: it is really depressing to think that we are now going to enter a season in which all the discipline of Obama in running a clean and respectable administration will go down in an effort of Village dirt flinging and some hacks at the IRS. Just despairing.

    Incredibly frustrating. The Obama admin has been squeaky clean and it was a relief after the scandal plagued Clinton administration to finally have a competent Dem. admin.

  47. 47
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @aimai:

    This.

    Where the fuck are these FEMA camps that teatard vermin should be languishing in, anyways?

    Griftapalooza out the ass is the way of wingtard political groups. Hell, the entire cult of Paul is actually all about making the Pauls richer than they are now, and their mindless cultist zombies lap it up.

  48. 48
    Dead Ernest says:

    We need to find out for sure whether this episode was just moronic, or if it had some kind of partisan motivation.

    Decidedly not mutually exclusive.

  49. 49
    Kay says:

    Here’s political media celebrity Ron Fournier:

    to shut down the IRS targeting operation.

    He has no facts to support that there was an IRS “targeting operation” because there hasn’t been an investigation yet.

    I mean, come on. Is that even fair to the actual people involved in this? They’re presumptively guilty. Either one believes in fact-gathering and a fair hearing or one doesn’t, and it shouldn’t matter if the people involved are evil IRS employees or not.

    They’re clowns, our political media. Absolute clowns. They’ve convicted these people already.

  50. 50
  51. 51
    Bulworth says:

    @Southern Beale: Yeah, were they water-boarded or something? I would actually hope these groups get scrutinized.

  52. 52
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Kay: Well, CNN has decided that the whole operation is “chilling” and “Nixonian.”

    So there must be an operation.

  53. 53
    negative 1 says:

    @Kay: There are nowhere near enough enforcement officials, because like every other government agency, the IRS is underfunded. There were like 2 for non-profits for the whole northeast a few years ago.
    So, they field complaints. I work for a labor org, our friends and affiliates get IRS audits all the time. Conservatives/right-wing loons call up and say ‘they’re crooks I know it!!!1!!!1!’ and then they investigate. I’d bet my right arm that it’s what happened here. If not, they just watched TV. If a mafioso was repeatedly on TV calling his businesses ‘fronts for organized crime’, wouldn’t you eventually expect the IRS to investigate? That’s the equivalent to the 501(c)4 debacle. Don’t get on TV every night for doing what you’re not supposed to do. They’ll come check it out.

  54. 54
    Valdivia says:

    @Kay:

    my favorite quote from the Fournier piece is where he says Obama may still be able to earn back the trust of the people but maybe not. How is Obama involved here? In any of it?

  55. 55
  56. 56
    Cacti says:

    I think most of the Dem blogs are missing the most obvious reason why the GOP slime machine has been ginned up…

    First time jobless claims dropped to a 5-year low

    Unemployment rate dropped to a 4-year low

    Dow broke 15,000

    They were wrong on the merits about the national economy, and need a smoke screen going into the next election cycle.

  57. 57
    Kay says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    They’re reckless. It just isn’t persuasive to me to “call for an investigation” with this high moral tone and then announce the conclusion of the investigation that hasn’t been conducted yet.

    There aren’t special “guilty until cleared” rules for federal employees. One either buys the whole package of “investigation and then conviction” or one doesn’t.

    It’s disgusting to me because everyone hates the IRS, unlike, say, the billionaires that fund these groups. Why have an investigation? Our nation’s news reporters have announced there was an IRS “targeting operation.” All we need to do now is to decide sentencing.

    What if this is one of those things that they do every six months, where they jump the gun on… everything and there’s no real wrongdoing, but instead a combination of political actors saying stupid shit and ass-covering?

    I know what happens. They fall back on their “calls for an investigation” and say that’s all they wanted.

  58. 58
    liberal says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    This is frankly the kind of thing Dems should be doing to their political enemies; ought to be doing a lot more of it, in fact.

    Well, not enough to get caught or do something blatantly illegal, but yeah, I don’t understand why the Dems should bring a knife to a gunfight.

  59. 59
    Kay says:

    @negative 1:

    There are nowhere near enough enforcement officials, because like every other government agency, the IRS is underfunded. There were like 2 for non-profits for the whole northeast a few years ago.

    Last year, I went to file a supplement to a campaign finance report on the last day one can supplement. I called the Sec of State to tell them I was supplementing as a courtesy, thinking it was something they would have to act on immediately and change totals, etc. and I hadn’t given them much time prior to deadline.

    I got an honest lawyer at the Sec of State who laughed, and told me they’re so understaffed they wouldn’t be reading my reports for 6 months because there were so many backlogged. Kasich has gutted their finance review staff.

  60. 60
    eemom says:

    @Valdivia:

    How is Obama involved here? In any of it?

    He marks the sparrow’s fall.

  61. 61
    Alex says:

    I think the IRS used search terms (such as Tea Party). Then were told not to use search terms and were told to use organizational goals (such as education on Constitution or decrease/expand size of government).

    It’s complicated since no one actually knows what happened and on what levels. Until more information is available, a wait and see approach is best.

    Then again, I’m expecting the IG report will conclude that its impossible to regulate 501(c)(4)s without appearing political so they should not be regulated.

  62. 62
    f space that says:

    The MSM are blithering idiots. When Nixon did this he used the IRS to target specific people who were on the enemies list. Anyone comparing the current scrutiny of Tea Party scam operations to what Nixon did needs to have their dick slammed in a car door.

  63. 63
    zoot says:

    a) kevin drum is one of, if not the biggest A-hole faux progressives out there – NOBODY SHOULD EVER READ HIM. he’s another Trojan Horse working for republicans, just like obama.

    b) seems to me their was a whole politicizing of the justice department under the bush-criminal regime including falsely charging and imprisoning a Democratic governor of Arkansas at the behest of karl-the-fucking-Devil-incarnate-rove.

  64. 64
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    Funny how CNN didn’t even notice it when the deserting coward malassministration was going full bore on groups that dared to question the Great Adventure in Mesopotamia.

  65. 65
    Mark B. says:

    The press has been beholden to the right wing puke funnel since the Clinton presidency, but it started even earlier, during the Reagan years. Nobody was allowed to point out the unclothed nature of the emperor.

  66. 66
    Cacti says:

    @Alex:

    It’s complicated since no one actually knows what happened and on what levels. Until more information is available, a wait and see approach is best.

    I’m sure we can count on sober and circumspect action from the GOP and national media.

    Then again, I’m expecting the IG report will conclude that its impossible to regulate 501(c)(4)s without appearing political so they should not be regulated.

    FTW

    This “scandal” is about the money boys wanting any future scrutiny to disappear for the preferred form of dark-money operation in the post-Citizens United world.

  67. 67
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Valdivia:

    Let’s talk about the deserting coward earning back the trust of the people. There’s one way to do that…abject confession followed by a self inflicted gunshot wound to his empty skull.

  68. 68
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Cacti:

    None of the “aggrieved” organizations actually had their 501(c)(4) applications denied, so there isn’t even a remedy to be had.

    This right here. Unless you believe that the IRS should just rubber-stamp all applications for tax-exempt status without examining any of them, this story is a total zero. OMG! A few organizations had to supply additional documentation and wait a few extra weeks before they got their tax-exempt status! The scandal!

  69. 69
    Kay says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    They’re never going to do that, though. They did their absolute best to shut down the US Attorney scandal during Bush. Remember “serve at the pleasure of the President”? It was like a mantra. They cleared Gonzales prior to investigation there. I’m still amazed he bothered to step down. They had exonerated him.

  70. 70
    mouse tolliver says:

    This scandal is about organizations like Freedomworks, a “non-profit” that’s paying Dick Armey $8 million in consulting fees in $400,000 installments. The real scandal is that such an obvious scam is being subsidized by tax payers.

  71. 71
    becca says:

    The same Citizens United pimps fund all these little tea orgies.

    This is part of the larger plan, you see.

  72. 72
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    [UPDATE] Oh, and for the folks on both sides screaming that the IRS Commissioner responsible for this step down? He did. In November. Douglas Shulman was a Dubya appointee whose five-year term ended and he stepped down after the election. Congress has yet to confirm his replacement,

    Crikey if that, combined with Marco “2016” Rubio’s calls for the guy who’s resigned to resign, along with the blocked replacement, isn’t the perfect thumbnail of the opportunism, obstructionism and knee-jerk, willfully uninformed outrage of the GOP. Again, will the David Gregorys notice? No.

  73. 73
    STEVEJOBS_BOBHOPE_JOHNNY CASH says:

    Yo Zandar,

    Why are you wasting your time with this small-time stuff?

    Team Obama needs you to prepare a defense for when He decides to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

  74. 74
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @zoot: he’s another Trojan Horse working for republicans, just like obama.

    Hey, Dummy, could you tell the Republicans that Obama is their Trojan Horse? Cause they seem to be awfully preoccupied with stopping him from getting in the gates.

  75. 75
    Ruckus says:

    @Valdivia:
    You do understand that if you shrink the government small enough then it could be micromanaged by a 4yr old or a republican(but I’m being redundant) the president would be, not only responsible but could actually make all the decisions for every day to day thing the government does. That’s how big the republicans think government should be. Their world view is that if they can’t touch it all when standing still it doesn’t exist or it isn’t important. They have little minds stuck in little boxes and think that the entire world is that way.

  76. 76
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @negative 1: Yes, I also fail to see the “scandal” here. Seems like some people got some scrutiny for attempting to fund candidates with tax free dark money and are squealing like pigs.

    Anyone who’s even slightly involved in politics knows all about the arcane rules and loopholes that were supposed to ensure fair play but seem to be completely subverted in this day and age. But totally mooning the IRS and then getting surprised when that society of humorless accountants starts rifling through your papers sounds like a case of “But mommy, his elbow is touching my seat! Waaaaaah!”

    In other words, fuck these guys. Also, too, IRS always uses shit you say in public as a lead. Is this shocking? You go public that you never pay taxes and you’re shocked and surprised that the auditor is knocking on your door (for a W-era example)? And W had some old school conservatives in the IRS by the end of his two terms, people who couldn’t stomach cheats of any order. I don’t think Obama had to tell them what to do (and if he told them to target people that would be a scandal, and there is absolutely no indication he did). He probably met them once, realized they were people after his heart, and let them carry on.

    In my dealings with IRS lately, I know that Obama has put people in there who were working on compliance (on the industry side) before. And the attitude has not been jackbooted thugs but “We’re here to help you comply or start complying hereforth”. Obama believes people should play by the rules and backs it up.

  77. 77
    mouse tolliver says:

    @Valdivia: Money quote from the Ed Kilgore article:

    I have a bit of a personal perspective here, having worked for the Democratic Leadership Council during a long period when it was under semi-constant attack by the IRS as an organization that was “too political” to retain (c)(4) status, mainly because of its name. The DLC never gave a dime to (or endorsed) a candidate for office; never ran a political ad; and devoted most of its resources to activities clearly within the law. The thinly disguised campaign PACs now flooding the (c)(4) ranks are routinely doing things that would have brought down the wrath of the IRS very publicly and emphatically not that long ago.

    Freedomworks is a 501(c)(4) and endorsing candidates is one of the main things that it does. Shouldn’t it get at least as much scrutiny as the DLC?

  78. 78
    Kay says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    I think he wants another guy to resign, too, because he worked for the IRS during that period. In other words, the target is now the guy was beneath the guy who resigned.

    They all have to resign. Clearly.

    Then we can have the “investigation” :)

  79. 79
    Hill Dweller says:

    I tuned into MSNBC for the Obama-Cameron press conference, and Chris Matthews is on there praising Politico.

    Bring on the meteor.

  80. 80
    MomSense says:

    @Hill Dweller:

    I’m starting to think Meteor is too good for them. Sinkholes are looking better and better to me.

  81. 81
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @liberal: Part of what had to be fixed was the paranoia and overreach coming from the executive office. Clinton was guilty, too, but Bush took it to eleven.

    He’s really toned things down. Unfortunately, the GOP doesn’t want to be taken there because paranoia and overreach is all they’ve got. That’s why we have to keep them away from the levers of power.

  82. 82
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Zandar: Bingo.

  83. 83
    Redshirt says:

    @MomSense: I think Spider Holes would be even better.

  84. 84
    scav says:

    OT but I’m hoping this merited meteor will take out my subsidiary target: waiting for the ChiTrib to clue in that Chris Hatfield isn’t a U.S. astronaut. Front page link, reading that it was updated 9:47, looks to be 10:53 now. Clearly they must approve of the effort if they’ve appropriated the astronaut. Wonder if they’ll claim Bowie next? Harry Wales is already here to lead the UK forces, and the Canadians could swing through the Dakota del Sud and help with the multitasking.

  85. 85
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @negative 1: Conservatives/right-wing loons call up and say ‘they’re crooks I know it!!!1!!!1!

    Probably fee-payers who are pissed that “their money” goes to collective bargaining activities that support the salary, benefits, and on-the-job protections they enjoy.

    There’s nobody more aggrieved than a frustrated freeloader.

  86. 86
    MomSense says:

    @Redshirt:

    Oh–those are so creepy. Perfect!

  87. 87
    👽 Martin says:

    Sorry, but the only answer to this issue is ‘ACORN/Congress’. Congress can go fuck themselves and their demands.

  88. 88
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @STEVEJOBS_BOBHOPE_JOHNNY CASH: Plonk.

  89. 89
    MomSense says:

    So the IRS investigated 300 groups to see if they in fact met the definition of 501c(4). One-third of these groups were tea party related. All 300 of these groups had to provide additional information to prove they were compliant.

    Nothing else happened–they provided information and were approved.

    The person in charge of this for the IRS was a Bush appointee who has now left the IRS after his term expired.

    WTF is the scandal here? Overreach? Reach around?

  90. 90
    burnspbesq says:

    @Keith G:

    I want governmental misconduct vigorously confronted no. matter. who. is in power and even if it was missed or ignored before.

    Fine. Show us some misconduct.

  91. 91
    burnspbesq says:

    @aimai:

    Oh come on: The Republicans will demand a revision of tax rules that make Christian Churches tax exempt even when they do political organizing and that penalize Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist and other religious groups for having property and buildings at all. Then they will rewrite the 501(c) rules to do whatever they damned well please. And they will stick on a rider that defunds Obamacare and locks more muslims up in gitmo just for shits and giggles.

    And it will pass both houses of Congress with veto-proof majorities?

    Come on. Get a grip.

  92. 92
    Alex says:

    From what the IG report says — at some point, a batch of Tea Party organizations filed for 501(c)(4) status and were referred to special review. It doesn’t look like they were denied, but they needed to be treated carefully because they were (obviously) partisan organizations.

    IRS kept getting more and more applications for this status, so they developed a system based on keywords on which to refer to review. Then a triage system. Then a system based on organizational goals, which seems to be neutral enough.

    The problem is that there were a ton of organizations applying for this status that needed to be scrutinized. Tea Party organizations made up a huge chunk of that and were referred to as “the Tea Party groups”. The IRS might have been singling them out for scrutiny based on names, it’s still a bit unclear. They changed their policy later to scrutinize groups based on goals.

    The conclusion to be reached is that 501(c)(4)s are either going to need a lot more scrutiny or different laws to handle them.

    Or that Tea Party groups are naturally non-partisan and are experts at handling tricky tax laws so they don’t need any scrutiny.

  93. 93
    burnspbesq says:

    @Alex:

    What’s really needed is a legislative fix. Nagahappen.

  94. 94
    liberal says:

    @👽 Martin:
    Heh. Indeed.

  95. 95
    var says:

    False flag operation under watch of Bush appointed IRS commish?

  96. 96
    Trollhattan says:

    GOS has a Fox “News” screen grab with Ham Rove occupying the middle frame and a George Fucking Will quote below: “What if IRS under Bush had targeted certain groups?”

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/.....reelection

    Heh, yeah, “what if?”

  97. 97
    pluege says:

    so what if the IRS targeted conservative groups for review. If they weren’t cheating then their should be no problem, i.e., the IRS would have proven them law abiding – right.

    No doubt the republican/conservative outrage is more about not being able to cheat than it is being targeted.

    Its not much different than the republican/conservative outrage over Homeland security focusing on the rise violent right wing extremism. The focus was absolutely right no matter how much rending of garments the wingnut noise machine does.

    The facts are that today’s republican/conservative base is made up of violent outrageous liars that will stop at nothing to get their way.

  98. 98
    Jay B. says:

    Amazingly, Obama disagrees with his team of ballwashers. Jesus, you people are embarrassing.

  99. 99
    Elie says:

    @askew:

    I’m not understanding why we should be freaking out when this happened under the previous Commissioner’s watch — a Republican appointed by Dubya — who resigned last September.

    On what basis is there a connection to Obama? — because he was the President at the time? How do we know this isn’t some insider smear job promoted by the previous incumbent Commissioner (now conveniently resigned?) Odd that it pops up now, isnt it? How did it pop up? How was it popped up and who was the source of this issue?

  100. 100
    Keith G says:

    @Jay B.: I know, right?

    Some here are so intent on playing defense that they are not even agreeing with the President’s perspective on this.

    President Barack Obama on Monday called the Internal Revenue Service’s admission that Ohio branch employees singled out conservative non-profit groups for additional reviews during the 2012 election “outrageous,” promising to hold officials accountable should an independent review find misconduct.

  101. 101
    Keith G says:

    @burnspbesq: I am willing to let a thorough investigation shed light on how “outrageous” this activity and if was were any antecedents (though I doubt there were).

  102. 102
    Librarian says:

    Congress has yet to confirm his replacement, Deputy Commissioner Steven Miller.

    Some people call him a space cowboy, some call him the gangster of love.

  103. 103
    Kay says:

    @Keith G:

    should an independent review find misconduct.

    Pretty important qualifier, which of course gets lost in the screaming headline.

    There hasn’t been an investigation. No one knows what the standards are:

    Marcus Owens, who oversaw tax-exempt groups at the IRS between 1990 and 1999, said that delegation “carries with it a risk” because the Cincinnati office “isn’t as plugged into what’s [politically] sensitive as Washington.”
    Owens, now with the firm Caplin & Drysdale, said that before the agency’s most recent reorganization, it had a series of “tripwires in place” that could catch unfair targeting, including the fact that the IRS identified its criteria for special scrutiny in a public manual.
    “There’s no longer that safety valve, and as a result, the IRS has been rolling the dice ever since,” said Owens, who worked at the agency for nearly a quarter-century and now represents some organizations seeking tax-exempt status.

    I know it doesn’t matter, ultimately, what actually happened here, nor will we ever find out what happened, because it’s now completely political and there will be panicked resignations and damage control. But if you’re going to call for an “investigation” you can’t announce the conclusion prior to the investigation.

  104. 104
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Jay B.:

    Amazingly, Obama disagrees with his team of ballwashers. Jesus, you people are embarrassing.

    Disappointed that Obama didn’t personally order this, are we? So sad to have yet another source of potential outrage yanked out from under you.

    Don’t worry, you still have Benghazi.

  105. 105
    Kay says:

    @Jay B.:

    I’ll denounce the misconduct prior to finding any. That’s the “honorable approach”, right? Opposition to misconduct. That statement, “I denounce misconduct!” immunizes the speaker, the speaker is AGIN misconduct, but what does it have to do with this investigation which hasn’t started yet?

  106. 106
    Kay says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    It’s like saying “terrorism” instead of “act of terror”. It’s magic.

    Saying “I oppose political targeting in the IRS” magically makes the speaker much, much more honorable than another speaker who doesn’t denounce whatever misconduct might have occurred.

    Just add that when calling for an investigation and you’re golden. You’re not in favor of misconduct, are you?

  107. 107
    Elie says:

    Can anyone tell me by what means this became a story? Was there an article or an interview given that revealed this? Somehow I am missing the source — which could be important for politicizing…

    I would also want to know about the “little people” at the IRS who were responsible for this.. were they hired under the Bush administration? What level employees approved this?

  108. 108
    Kay says:

    @Elie:

    You’ll find out what happened in ten years when someone writes a book.

  109. 109
    Kay says:

    @Keith G:

    Keith, saying “there should be an investigation” is purely political to me. Of course there should be an investigation. It would be great if there could be an investigation without a lot of denunciations of any misconduct, because IMO no one will pay attention to the long, boring investigation or the eventual 50 page report, but I know why politicians speak the way they do.

    I just don’t think I have to talk like that.

    Rest assured I am opposed to misconduct. I would have assumed Kevin Drum was opposed to misconduct, too. He doesn’t need to tell me. “NO” on misconduct. Duly noted.

  110. 110
    burnspbesq says:

    @Jay B.:

    Obama’s not infallible, and he fucked up on this one.

  111. 111
    Keith G says:

    @Kay: I guess I just have a higher tolerance for the “new reality” of excessive noise over issues such as this. IOW, I find it hard to care bout the noise and theatrics.

    The issues that are really causing our society to roll into a world of shit are not being addressed much at all (and if addressed, not strongly argued for) by anyone in the two parties. The rest of this is just a show and won’t mean much if Obama can keep his Presidency’s eyes on the details that matter.

    edited

  112. 112
    burnspbesq says:

    @Elie:

    The current head of this IRS function talked about it in a presentation at an American Bar Association Tax Section meeting in DC on Friday.

  113. 113
    burnspbesq says:

    @Elie:

    The “little people” are just that: career IRS employees, probably at the GS-11 or GS-12 level, who work in an IRS “campus” in northern Kentucky (it’s been erroneously reported as “Cincinnati” because that’s the mailing address, but it’s physically across the river). They are a lot like our pal Yatsuno: overworked, underpaid, and doing a difficult job without enough guidance.

    In this case, there was a guidance deficit because all of these ridiculous Tea Party type organizations sprang out of nowhere, with no useful precedent, and these folks had to process the applications, so they made up guidelines on the fly.

    There are only two “political” appointees in the IRS: the Commissioner and the Chief Counsel. Everybody else is civil service. Some of the people involved have probably been in their jobs since Reagan was Preznit.

  114. 114
    Kay says:

    @Keith G:

    I don’t know what that has to do with this investigation of those IRS employees.
    I know they’ll be rushing to microphones to denounce any misconduct. I get that. I know this is a necessary exercise in our national politics.
    I just don’t feel like playing along.
    I think it’s silly and I also think it’s a horrible way to start “an investigation.”
    Can’t we all just stipulate we abhor misconduct on general terms? Is there any set of circumstances where Obama was going to come out and say “I am opposed to looking into this, because targeting by the IRS is A-OK by me”?
    I know The American People (or the WH press corps) require a denunciation statement by the President in these situations. I just don’t think that has anything to do with what happened.

  115. 115
    Kay says:

    @Keith G:

    The issues that are really causing our society to roll into a world of shit are not being addressed much at all (and if addressed, not strongly argued for) by anyone in the two parties. The rest of this is just a show and won’t mean much if Obama can keep his Presidency’s eyes on the details that matter.

    But, Keith, I mean all of those are fine points, but what I infer from that is you’re using this issue to say what you want to say, which is what you just said. So just say that. Instead of saying “I denounce misconduct in the IRS, and BTW, neither Party are addressing issues that are important and there’s political malpractice going on, besides”.

    That’s why the denunciations sound like theatre to me. Again, I get the political convention. I know why Obama and 15 Senators have to OPPOSE (strongly!) misconduct, but that’s not an “investigation”. IMO, it detracts from an investigation. What does it add?

  116. 116
    Keith G says:

    @Kay:

    What does it add?

    That should be chiseled into a multitude of marble facades.

  117. 117
    Jay B. says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Nope. I just think the IRS guy apologizing for targeting tea party people kind of meant that it was a bad thing — and the President agrees. So far the IRS and the President are distancing themselves from the behavior, but you fucking morons keep making excuses for something that nearly everyone thinks is wrong. IOKIFYAD!

    And despite your endless stupidity and defensiveness on all things Obama, I personally don’t think he runs his Administration like a criminal organization. I think they are largely, shockingly, inept, but he’s level-headed.

    Personally, I’d much prefer that his DoJ comb through actual tax filings of large banks and brokerage houses. And I’d love for him to be hardball on matters like corporate malfeasance. But since being a badass in favor of justice isn’t his thing, it’s pretty obvious that the call to comb through right-wing political organization tax-statuses wasn’t his.

  118. 118
    Kay says:

    @Keith G:

    Are you really that shocked, anyway? Every two term Prez in my memory has had a scandal or scandals. I think they give you the Scandal Guide on second term election night.

  119. 119
    burnspbesq says:

    @Jay B.:

    Personally, I’d much prefer that his DoJ comb through actual tax filings of large banks and brokerage houses.

    Your ignorance is showing. Every one of those companies has every one of its returns audited by a team of IRS specialists who, unlike DOJ, actually have the knowledge and training to understand what they are looking at. And if you think those exam teams are not doing their jobs, then you have to explain why these companies’ SEC filings regularly disclose unresolved disputes with the IRS.

  120. 120
    Jay B. says:

    More reasons why this was a self-inflicted wound and why it’s amazingly stupid to defend it.

  121. 121
    Jay B. says:

    @burnspbesq:

    Yep, I was wrong when I said the DoJ should do what they aren’t doing. There is a financial division of the DoJ, in fact. I think they, in the wake of the rampant fraud (whether it was technically “legal” or not is rather in dispute, no matter how many corporate checks you sign) should have gotten wide powers and a larger budget to at least threaten the companies that basically got away with stealing tens of billions of dollars. That “IRS specialists” sign off on things like banks stealing people’s homes because the numbers add up kind of miss the justice part of the math equation.

  122. 122
    Kay says:

    @Keith G:

    I am cynical about scandals, too. I think that’s perfectly reasonable after Clinton.
    I watched the whole liberal opinion blogosphere
    denounce the TSA, and there was a backstory to the Don’t Touch My Junk freak-out.
    The TSA employees were in the middle of an absolutely brutal fight to organize. I was (rightfully) skeptical at how they all turned into perverts right as they were forming a collective bargaining unit.

  123. 123
    Jay B. says:

    Jesus Christ. This is even worse. I may have been wrong to think the Administration wasn’t run like a criminal organization. WTF?!!?

  124. 124
    Ruckus says:

    @burnspbesq:
    How the hell has Obama fucked up on this one?
    Or for that matter even GWB?
    Are you saying that the president needs to micromanage every department and person employed by the federal government?

    From what little I know this came from the bottom up and it is because CONGRESS has removed so many controls in the law. When there is an actual investigation and we find out what happened and why then we can start throwing out accusations of wrong doing. Not before.
    So you publish BS about opposing parties before you get to court? Just like to know, in case I ever have the misfortune to be involved in any litigation where you are a party or represent a party.

  125. 125
    Elie says:

    @Ruckus:

    I completely agree — I don’t see Obama’s “fuck up”… especially this early when we don’t even have all the facts about what actually happened. How would Obama be into the details of this — really?

  126. 126
    Keith G says:

    @Kay: Few things shock me in politics. I am happy that Obama is sounding like he is more than willing to get to the truth of this specific behavior. The IRS has amazing power and needs to be carefully watched for evidence of callousness or malice.

    Speaking of ill-conceived government actions

    The Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press in what the news cooperative’s top executive called a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into how news organizations gather the news.

    Looks like Obama will have a busy summer.

  127. 127
    Elie says:

    @Keith G:

    So the “news organizations” are actually gathering “news” anymore? Could have fooled me… why can’t we have more FACTS and Information?

    Interestin how all of this surfaces — And that IRS official just felt the need to reveal this policy that happened under the last commissioner to the ABA in a speech, suddenly because?…. and now she has whistleblower status so any questions are no no, right?

    The administration is filled with Bush holdovers still. Donot forget that.

  128. 128
  129. 129
    Mike D. says:

    Do you have any documentation that Obama has actually put Steven Miller’s name forward as the person he wants the Senate to confirm as the Commissioner of the IRS?

  130. 130
    E.A. Blair says:

    Let’s see…

    I’m an official in the IRS who decides which groups get scrutinized…

    A veritable flood of applications for tax-exempt status are coming in from organizations whose very raison d’être is opposition to paying taxes…

    Do I just just let them slide or do I treat them with some suspicion?

    It should be a no-brainer.

    Speaking of no-brainers, these are tea partiers we’re talking about.

  131. 131

    @Jeremy: The Republicans don’t care if he was a Bush appointee or not. It is just another shiny object to focus the American people away from Republican obstructionism.

  132. 132
    Osirisopto says:

    @Punchy:
    Benghazi IS the enxt chapter in the Whitewater saga. It’s only amamtter of time before they reanimate travelgate – the worse abuse of excutive power ever until Beghazi, Benghazi, BENGHAAAAAAZI!!1!!11

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