The IRS Targeted Conservatives Because It Could

credit: afagen / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SAcredit: afagen / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SAThe opening day excuse for the IRS targeting conservative groups requesting tax exempt status was that the IRS was facing an unusual influx of applicants. But that turns out not to have been the case. Applications for tax exempt 501 groups didn’t surge in 2010. In fact, the number of applicants was down in every category from 2009. The new line on the scandal is that it was a product of poor management, incompetence, and a struggling, understaffed agency. Here, for example, is The New York Times, in a reported piece from yesterday: “Overseen by a revolving cast of midlevel managers, stalled by miscommunication with IRS lawyers and executives in Washington, and confused about the rules they were enforcing, the Cincinnati specialists flagged virtually every application with Tea Party in its name.”

The IRS doesn’t look particularly good in this version of events. But it’s useful to liberals who want to argue that the problems stem from lack of resources—not a government that is too big, but one that is too small. 

That’s somewhat complicated, of course, by the argument being made by folks like former White House adviser David Axelrod, who argued last week that the president couldn’t possibly have known about (and therefore couldn’t have any responsibility for) the actions of midlevel bureaucrats in a regional office.

I lean toward a version of the bigness argument that is a little less friendly to the administration than Axelrod’s: Yes, the federal government is so vast that accountability has become extremely difficult. That’s not so much an argument for absolving the guys at the top as it is for limiting the size of government—for making it less vast.

But I think that critiques that focus on the government’s size miss an important factor. This isn’t just a problem of bigness or smallness. It’s a problem of power.

When public servants have the power to make life difficult for narrowly defined groups of people—their political enemies, or disfavored causes, or people on the wrong side of a national discussion—they’ll end up using, and abusing, that power. It’s all but inevitable, whatever the reason. Sometimes they’ll do it because they’re out to punish their foes. Sometimes because they honestly believe it’s the fairest and most reasonable way to do their jobs. Sometimes because they’re mean and petty people. Sometimes because they think they’re making the nation a better place for all. Sometimes because they’re instructed to do so from on high. Sometimes because they’re not given enough instruction. Sometimes because they’re just plain incompetent.

It’s not that the reasons don’t matter at all. They do. But in some ways the particular reasons miss the larger point. Power will find a reason. It always does.

That’s the point that James Bovard made last week in a Wall Street Journal piece reviewing the history of IRS abuses. Bovard starts with a quote from David Burnham, who wrote a book on the revenue agency’s scandals: "In almost every administration since the IRS's inception the information and power of the tax agency have been mobilized for explicitly political purposes." Roosevelt used the IRS to battle opposition newspaper publishers and protect political allies. Kennedy’s IRS went after conservative tax-exempt organizations. Nixon’s White House created special oversight for “all IRS activities involving ideological, militant, subversive, [and] radical” organizations. It eventually targeted more than 10,000 individuals. Under Clinton, conservative activist groups and publications were singled out by the revenue agency for extra special scrutiny.

The scandal in the news today may be primarily attributed to the incompetence and mismanagement of a relatively small cohort of mid-level tax bureaucrats. It may be confined to a few IRS offices. There may be no evidence explicitly tying the targeting to political motivations.

But focusing on the narrow particulars of this specific scandal misses the larger point. Which is that this is a problem of power—a problem that has a long history, and a problem that the IRS has fought to avoid fixing. As Bovard notes, despite a record of politically charged abuses, the IRS “has usually done an excellent job of stifling investigations into its practices” and "has a long history of seeking to intimidate congressional critics." Big or small, smartly managed or incompetent—what allowed the IRS to target conservative groups was that it could. And what the agency’s history indicates is that when it can, it will.

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  • Live Free or Diet||

    The IRS Targeted Conservatives Because It Could

    Which is why federal employment needs to become America's one capital crime.

  • RightNut||

    The federal government hires a disproportionate number of "minorities". Ergo, your a racist.

  • UnCivilServant||

    Or the federal hiring practices are.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    Both. But I know that just because I carry around jackass baggage doesn't justify me pushing the same on others.

  • jomobiqodewuA2||

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    (Go to site and open "Home" for details)

  • RightNut||

    and a struggling, understaffed agency.

    Did Obamacare not allocate a huge sum of money and resources to the IRS? I suppose its a waste of time to ask what happened to all that money.

    The NYT:
    The IRS scandal is really not about targeting conservative groups its about congressional Republican's cutting the budget because of the sequester that really wasn't the President's idea so don't mention that.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    The 2013 Sequester-apocalypse clearly caused staffing problems at the IRS in 2010.

    It's not like the federal budget had increased 30% in the previous year, or that democrats had full control of Congress at the time.

    The political class in this country is getting more retarded by the day, at an exponential rate. By next year they'll just sit in a tv studio drooling on themselves.

  • RightNut||

    Sadly I think most Americans are ahead of politicians on the retard graph. As Obama said, "the government is us, these officials are elected by you".

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Well, yeah. But, I look forward to President Comacho, scro!

  • ||

    Personally, I'm most looking forward to Ass the movie

  • sarcasmic||

    Clearly this is a case of insufficient oversight, and more government is needed to be sure that that power is not abused.

  • Almanian!||

    Precisely so.

  • Almanian!||

    Because "Fuck you, that's why"?

  • Restoras||

    Always!

  • mad libertarian guy||

    The new line on the scandal is that it was a product of poor management, incompetence, and a struggling, understaffed agency.

    Pure, unmitigated bullshit.

    Scandals don't happen because of underfunding. The can only occur when you're BUSTING AT THE SEEMS WITH CASH! Were it incompetence mixed with underfunding, you would see groups slipping through the cracks, not groups being targeted and put through the wringer with extra scrutiny.

    This isn't a case of having not enough money and staff, but too much money and staff.

  • Almanian!||

    You speak like someone who has actually WORKED at one time....

  • G-dub||

    Clearly they spent all their resources going after the conservative groups and had none left to go after the liberal groups. If Republicans want a more even-handed approach they have to approve more funding!

  • BeBraveUSA||

    Excellent point MLG...But to fix the problem, Obama will surely need to throw some more of our cash at it!

  • Caleb Turberville||

    Peter Suderman:

    "The opening day excuse for the IRS targeting conservative groups requesting tax exempt status was that the IRS was facing an unusual influx of applicants. But that turns out not to have been the case. Applications for tax exempt 501 groups didn’t surge in 2010. In fact, the number of applicants was down in every category from 2009."

    http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/18/.....?hpt=op_t1

    Donna Brazile:

    "And that, according to acting Commissioner Steven Miller, who just resigned, the problem started because the Supreme Court's Citizens' United decision created a surge of requests by political groups for tax-exempt status."
  • mad libertarian guy||

    A partisan shit bag spouting off partisan shit bag talking points even after they've been shown to be factually wrong?

    Who could imagine?!?

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Repeat the lie enough and it becomes media truth.

  • RightNut||

    Shorter Donna Brazile: The guy who is in the hot-seat for the scandal shifts blame so Republican's should shut up and fellate Obama like she does.

  • John||

    Even the Washington Post doesn't buy that horse shit story.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/....._blog.html

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    When it's an agency and not a person, accountability is wiped out. The agency can claim it was a rogue member, excise that member and rightfully expect all to be forgotten. The faceless agency and its culture of corruption can go on unmolested once a scapegoat is fed to the victims.

  • RightNut||

    An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.

    Churchill

  • Homple||

    Which is the reason for Alinsky's Rule #13: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”

    Because fighting a vaguely defined, amorphous blob is a waste of time.

  • West Texas||

    I've been screaming this from day one. The scandal isn't that the power was misused, the scandal is that they have so much power in the first place.

    Unfortunately, a vast majority of Americans are mentally incapable of conceiving of any other system wherein the IRS or income tax don't exist. As far as they're concerned, they were born a serf and will remain a serf forever, so what's the point of caring?

    And besides, how will we pay for ROADS!!!! if the government doesn't have any tax revenues?

  • Live Free or Diet||

    Frankly, I have trouble conceiving it. Evil's still evil even if it's all you've known, so I fight it anyway.

  • John||

    No West Texas, the scandal is both. Just because they had too much power doesn't in any way justify their misuse of it. Claiming that the real scandal is the power is just a way of covering up for the misdeeds of these people.

  • sarcasmic||

    Just because they had too much power doesn't in any way justify their misuse of it.

    Justify? Talk about a straw man argument.

    Libertarians recognize that power will always be misused. Always. It's human nature. That doesn't justify the misuse of it. It accepts human nature.

    Once you accept that power will always be misused, logic dictates that the only way to limit the abuse of power is to limit access to power.

    Claiming that the real scandal is the power is just a way of covering up for the misdeeds of these people.

    Are you saying that Communism will work if the right people are in charge?

  • Bill Dalasio||

    That doesn't seem quite right. Would you say the same thing about the abuses identified by Balko? Would you be satisfied to make a point about excessive police power and not worry about bringing those responsible to justice? I'd hope not.

  • JW||

    Roosevelt used the IRS to battle opposition newspaper publishers and protect political allies. Kennedy’s IRS went after conservative tax-exempt organizations. Nixon’s White House created special oversight for “all IRS activities involving ideological, militant, subversive, [and] radical” organizations. It eventually targeted more than 10,000 individuals. Under Clinton, conservative activist groups and publications were singled out by the revenue agency for extra special scrutiny.

    Since everyone does it, that makes it OK.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Cut spending, kill the IRS. By any means necessary.

  • JW||

    So, what I hear you saying is to increase it's size and power, and remove any pretense of accountability.

  • Pro Libertate||

    ERROR. IMPERFECTION. STER-I-LIZE.

  • Gordilocks||

    With extreme prejudice.

  • John||

    Exactly This is one of the worst abuses of government power in my lifetime. And Reason is bending over backwards to shill for and excuse the people who did it. WTF?

  • Rasilio||

    ??? where the hell have you seen that?

    What I have seen is Reason trying to point out to both sides that the specific individuals involved are not the problem, the problem is the institutions which allow individuals to commit abuses like this.

    Here is the thing, run around and blame all of this on Obama and everyone stops listening assuming you are a partisan shill. Point out that the IRS itself is the problem that needs to be dealt with and you might just convince some on Team Blue that you have a point.

  • John||

    That is bullshit. That is like claiming that the problem when a murder occurs is that guns are too lethal. No, the problem was the person who used the power.

    Does the IRS have too much power? Sure. But that is not the immediate issue. The immediate issue is what these people did with that power. After you have dealt with those people you can then deal with the IRS as a whole.

    But by claiming that this is about IRS, you are excusing the people who did this. Hey it is about the agency and the power. So why care about the individuals.

    You are not helping your case by excusing the people who actually did this. Reason is just making it sound like Obama is the victim of some kind of irresistible force of government. Bullshit. This is not just about the IRS. This is about these people and what they did. After they have been dealt with, feel free to use their misconduct to justify doing something about the IRS. But making it about he IRS is doing nothing but excusing Obama.

  • Zeb||

    Reason is just making it sound like Obama is the victim of some kind of irresistible force of government.

    Yeah, I just don't see that. It is possible to say more than one thing at once, you know? Reason maintains a consistent position that government having too much power is a large part of why corruption is so attractive to people in power. That in no way excuses the people who are corrupt. How do you figure Reason is shilling for the people who did it? I think you must be reading something else from what everyone else is reading.

    The people who decided to single out tea party groups for special scrutiny are guilty as fuck and should be punished. But the problem couldn't happen at all if we didn't have a ridiculous tax code that treats organizations differently depending on what sort of speech they engage in, as judged by the IRS. Those two points do not negate each other in the least.

  • John||

    Sure you can. But that is not what Sudderman is doing here. He is saying that talking about the misdeeds causes the larger issue of the IRS to be lost. He seems to be arguing that we shouldn't be focusing at all on the misdeeds or at the very least the misdeeds are not important enough to make a big deal about.

    Ah, no the misdeeds are very important But that fact doesn't fit the narrative of both sides being exactly the same. So, Reason tries its best to take the focus off them.

  • sarcasmic||

    Red Tony has slain his straw man.

  • John||

    Yeah fuckhead, which part of "But focusing on the narrow particulars of this specific scandal misses the larger point." do you not understand? Is reading comprehension that difficult for you? Is it the case that you only understand words and phrases you make up and the rest of the language goes over your head?

    If you want to have an argument, good. But pull your head out of your ass first and try to do some thinking and stop wasting everyone's time screaming buzz phrases like 'strawman'.

  • Zeb||

    John, just because Suderman wants to focus on the broader issue for the purpose of what he is writing doesn't mean that he doesn't think anyone should ever focus on the particulars of this case.

  • sarcasmic||

    Yeah fuckhead, which part of "But focusing on the narrow particulars of this specific scandal misses the larger point." do you not understand?

    I should ask that question to you, because you're obviously missing the point.

    The point is that things like this will continue to happen as long as the IRS has the power to do so. That does not excuse what happened or the people who did it, fucktard. It recognizes that getting rid of the individuals who did this without doing something about the power structure that allows it guarantees that it will happen again.

  • John||

    Then why does focusing on the misdeeds obscure the larger point? Doesn't focusing on the misdeeds make the larger point? Seems to me it does. These people did this and that shows how bad the IRS having that power is. The first point makes the second. Sudderman is instead arguing it undercuts or obscures the second. And that is just not true.

  • sarcasmic||

    Then why does focusing on the misdeeds obscure the larger point?

    Because the conditioned response to abusing power is not taking the power away, but of giving yet another bunch of people power to make sure someone else doesn't abuse power. Yeah, it's stupid, but that's how most people seem to operate.

    These people did this and that shows how bad the IRS having that power is.

    As long as the focus is on a few individuals, then the response will likely be more oversight, not taking power away.

  • John||

    Because the conditioned response to abusing power is not taking the power away, but of giving yet another bunch of people power to make sure someone else doesn't abuse power. Yeah, it's stupid, but that's how most people seem to operate.

    If that is true, what makes you think they will listen to a theoretical argument that doesn't emphasize the actual abuses that happen? If the IRS did all of this, this is a tremendous evidence of the problems with government. Not focusing on that seems to miss a great opportunity.

  • sarcasmic||

    That *WHOOSH* sound was the point going over your head.

  • Homple||

    I return to Alinsky's Rule 13: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”

    Vague chatter about limiting government power won't convince anybody to do anything. Consistent hammering of specific individuals for their misdeeds captures public attention and has some hope of bringing pressure for reform.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Is there some other website named reason that you've been reading? Because this one can't really be said to be carrying water.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Not on the tax thing, though the Chapman article on how public Obama and secret Nixon aren't the same thing was a little distressing.

  • Zeb||

    Well, Chapman doesn't work for Reason and his articles are usually a little distressing.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Then don't post them. At least not when they don't fit the spirit of the magazine.

  • Zeb||

    My guess is that they have some sort of contractual obligation to publish the various columnists.

  • JW||

    John, I think you have one too many bugs up yer arse over this. Suder-Man is pretty clear that this is a big deal, but unfortunately, just another in a long series of Fuck You That's Why.

    If you want to use this as a blunt instrument for TEAM sports, be my guest, but that doesn't erase the problem that the IRS has been abused against political and ideological opponents of the sitting administration since forever. There's a good deal of truth that Obama's abuse is a merely symptom of the larger disease.

    Treating the symptoms without understanding and treating the disease as well, will net you a dead patient eventually. I think we can all agree that getting rid of the IRS will solve this particular problem, right?

  • John||

    First, this is the worst thing that has happened since the 1960s. Note, they never given an example of Clinton or Bush or Carter doing this stuff. It always goes back to Nixon and Johnson. So, everybody doesn't do it. The IRS was not doing this shit from about 1975 through about 2008. So lets please stop pretending this is just SOP. It wasn't. That is nothing but a fucking lie that excuses the people who did this.

    Do we need to have fundemental reforms of IRS? For sure. But excusing and ignoring the actual misdeeds of the people involved chasing windmills of greater reform is not productive. What you do is focus on and prove the misdeeds, punish those involved and then use those misdeeds as the justification for reform. To start with the big issues accomplishes nothing except giving political cover and excuses to the people who committed these misdeeds.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    John, you've forgotten the 2nd rule of Cosmo Club (the 1st being to deny its existence) which is to maintain your viability as a joronlister at all costs. This is actualized by couching any criticism of a democrat along the lines of both sides do and it's bad.

  • Randian||

    COCKTAIL PARTIEZ!

  • ||

    Note, they never given an example of Clinton or Bush or Carter doing this stuff.

    Can't speak for Bush or Carter, but Bill O'Reilly actually sued over the multiple audits he received during the Clinton administration, and a former IRS administrator admitted that Clinton's political enemies were targeted by the IRS:

    http://rense.com/general24/irs.htm

    But you're right. The problem here is a couple of low level staffers in an obscure IRS office. That aside, the IRS is peachy keen and never does anything untoward. Clearly, focusing on the fact that the IRS can stick the financial equivalent of an electrified cattle prod up the ass of any taxpayer it wants to more or less at will is completely and totally beside the point. We should focus on firing a handful of desk jockeys making 40k a year instead. You know, the BIG issue.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    If you want to use this as a blunt instrument for TEAM sports, be my guest [. . .]

    They don't call him Red TONY for nothin'.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I say we toss people out of office and shut down the IRS. Why can't we all win?

  • John||

    Sure. But I don't think Reason wants that. These poor Obama people were just victims of the system Pro. Everyone does this. No one could resist misusing IRS power. So how can you be so heartless and want them thrown out of power?

  • Zeb||

    What makes you think that Reason doesn't want that? Having read their coverage of this, that seems like exactly what they would like to see happen. I think you might be reading a lot into this that no one else is. Do you think that Reason is a bunch of crypto-democrats or something?

  • John||

    What makes you think that Reason doesn't want that?

    Because Sudderman says so. He says

    But focusing on the narrow particulars of this specific scandal misses the larger point. Which is that this is a problem of power—a problem that has a long history, and a problem that the IRS has fought to avoid fixing.

    If we are not supposed to focus on the misdeeds, how exactly are the people in question supposed to be punished? Sudderman is saying in so many words stop talking about how bad Obama is and start talking about the IRS in general.

  • Zeb||

    He's talking about the overall focus. That doesn't mean that no one should pay attention to the wrong doers in this case. You are reading way to much of your own bias into this. Saying that the overall systematic problem is the most important thing here does not mean that no one can pay attention to the particulars in this case at all ever.

  • John||

    Saying that the overall systematic problem is the most important thing here does not mean that no one can pay attention to the particulars in this case at all ever.

    No, you are reading your biases into Sudderman. If Sudderman thinks the institutional problems are important, he can just say so. Why go out of your way to tell the world to stop focusing on the misdeeds unless you want them to stop focusing on the misdeeds?

    Sudderman is saying more than just "the power of the IRS is the most important issue". He is saying even talking about the misdeeds causes the important issues to be lost. Again, he is saying hey lets stop being so hard on Obama and concentrate on the IRS, as if the case for that can be made devoid of the misdeeds.

  • Zeb||

    He is saying even talking about the misdeeds causes the important issues to be lost.

    See, I don't think that is what he is saying at all. He is saying that if you only focus on the particular misdeeds, you will miss the bigger problem. He's not saying not to focus on the misdeeds, but to sometimes focus on the bigger problem as well. Reason is not the federal prosecutors office. It is not their job to decide who's at fault and what everyone should focus on. It is their job to analyze the news from a libertarian perspective. The real libertarian story here is not who did the bad things, but what it is about the system that allows the bad things to be done at all.

    What biases are you ascribing to me here? All I am saying is that both are important. And I think that is all that Suderman is arguing as well.

  • JW||

    Because Sudderman says so.

    What I see Suder Man doin ghere is trying to remove the partisan element so that can't be used as a pretense for the tsrategy of SCREAM PARTISAN TLAKING POINTS LOUDUR.

    Seriously John, don't let the hate flow through you. Move beyond it and look at the solution, which is getting rid of the IRS as we know it. Don't be part of the partisan problem.

  • John||

    JW, how do you make the point of the IRS having too much power without talking about the misdeeds? You can't make the larger point without the smaller point. But Sudderman instead argues that the smaller point somehow prevents you from making the larger point. And that is just bizarre. Without the misdeeds, you wouldn't have a larger point. Yet, Sudderman thinks talking about them is counter productive.

    Basically Sudderman is terrified of being called a partisan. And as a result he is uncomfortable with pointing out actual misdeeds.

  • Homple||

    "Getting rid of the IRS as we know it".

    Good idea. How do we go about that without organized political activity?

    I know, let's just type "team red", sometimes in all caps, in Reason comments. That and the Underpants Gnomes will get the job done.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Well, I think the core value here is to gut government, regardless of which party or which jackass is in power. Whether my rights are abused by Obama or some Republican matters little in the end--my rights are still abused.

    Of course, I think Obama is extra-creepy and political machiney, which is the reason the article about him not being anything like Nixon bothers me. I don't know that his personality is like Nixon's, but the corruption and political shenanigans seem to be as bad.

  • sarcasmic||

    These poor Obama people were just victims of the system Pro.

    Uhhhh, no? Talk about "not getting it."

    Power will always be abused. Always. The only way to reduce abuse of power is to have less of it.

  • John||

    So if you had power you would abuse it Sarcasmic? And if power will always be abused no matter what, then how do you justify punishing people who abuse it? Everyone would abuse it, so how is it that they did anything wrong?

  • sarcasmic||

    So if you had power you would abuse it Sarcasmic?

    Probably not. But the question is moot because I am not one to seek power. Those who seek power will invariably abuse it. It is said that power corrupts, but I firmly believe that the corrupt are attracted to power.

    The rest of your post doesn't make any sense.

  • John||

    If power will always be abused, then how do people have a choice not to abuse it? If people could choose not to abuse power, then it wouldn't always be abused would it? Saying power will always be abused is just another way of saying anyone with power will abuse it no matter what. If you don't have a choice, then you are not responsible.

    The fact is power is often abused. But it doesn't have to be abused. And when people abuse it it is because they chose to and are responsible for wrong doing.

  • Zeb||

    "power will always be abused" is not the same as "everyone will always abuse any power that they have". The latter is clearly not true. But unless it is true, what you are saying makes no sense. It's like saying that the fact that it is probably a bad idea for an attractive young woman to walk around in a bad part of town wearing a Bikini excuses someone who rapes her.

  • John||

    No Zeb, it makes perfect sense. If power will always be abused no matter who is in power, then how can you hold Obama accountable for this? It would have happened anyway, right?

  • sarcasmic||

    "power will always be abused" is not the same as "everyone will always abuse any power that they have". The latter is clearly not true.

    Exactly. John is turning an implication into a tautology, then arguing against it.

  • Zeb||

    What?

    OK, how about this for an analogy. Say the police set up a sting to catch car thieves (this actually happens). They leave a car unlocked on the street in a place where cars are often stolen and wait for someone to come steal it. Someone is nearly certain to come steal the car if you wait long enough. Someone will abuse that situation. That doesn't mean that the particular person who does abuse that situation is not culpable. But nor does it mean that you shouldn't advise people not to leave their cars unlocked while parked on the street in an area with lots of car theft.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    "Someone will abuse that situation."

    Yeah, someone named Power.

  • Zeb||

    What?

  • Homple||

    Also sprach Pro Libertate " I say we toss people out of office and shut down the IRS". Great. Would PL let us know how to go about doing this? Writing comments on Reason Magazine's blog, perhaps? Any more details?

    The problem with Libertarians is they seem to stop at the "I say" part of a project and expect the Underwear Gnomes to finish the task.

  • Zeb||

    So, what? No one should ever have any principles? What's your point?
    This kind of shit is going to keep happening as long as the IRS has the powers it does. The fact that no one is about to abolish the IRS doesn't change the validity of that observation. Sometimes there is no good way to accomplish what is right. It is still good for some people to point out what is right. This insistence that every columnist and blog commenter focus on what is politically practical is just silly.

  • ||

    Clearly the solution is to jump on the Republican bandwagon and go "RAH RAH RAH!" a whole bunch of times. Because Republicans are totes on board for eliminating the IRS. It was, after all, one of the key planks of the RNC platform at this year's convention, right?

  • BeBraveUSA||

    Yeah JW, thats call precedent...or come to think of it maybe its President.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Well, let's see, Roosevelt, Kennedy, Nixon, Clinton and Obama. No, it seems the behavior is specific to statists.

  • Hyperion||

    Here's a good one:

    The IRS isn’t too powerful, says Peter Beinart. It’s too weak. And Obama must not let Republicans weaken it even more.

    It's really disturbing to know that we live in the same country with people who think like this.

  • deified||

    Beinart really ought to be disemboweled. Seriously, I can't understand why he still has bowels.

  • Hyperion||

    I read the comments to that article, and learned that the entire scandal is the fault of...

    Bush

    The Koch Bros

    The right wing extremist court that allowed Citizens United

    No one in the IRS or the Obama admin had anything whatsoever to do with it.

  • Bardas Phocas||

    Charlie Rangel is worried about the "tens of thousands of IRS workers that work hard with all of this stigma being tax collectors, are getting a bad shake out of this,”
    http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-.....st-scandal

    So fuck off you bullys!

  • mad libertarian guy||

    That we actually have tens of thousands of IRS workers in enough to make me shake my head.

  • Bardas Phocas||

    It's fucking bibilical!
    http://www.biblegateway.com/pa.....ersion=NIV
    19 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

    5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

    7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

    8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

    9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

  • Killazontherun||

    Mommas don't let your babies grow up to be IRS agents.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    No one in the IRS or the Obama admin had anything whatsoever to do with it.

    So they basically agree with Suderman?

  • ||

    In the roundabout sort of way that The Cat in the Hat is the same as the Declaration of Independence, both being composed, as they are, of letters in the English alphabet. Jesus fuck. It's fucking impossible to make a simple point around here without somebody taking it as a slight to their party.

  • JW||

    The wife-unit sent me a link to a TED talk by some VC douche who was an early Amazon investor, about how we need to tax the rich more, because that creates dynamism and makes the world better for everyone and something something fairness.

    I reminded her about the Treasury Dept. address where he can send all of his filthy money, with which he wants to create this new socialist utopia.

    Fuck these cunts. I hope the angry mob burns their house and eats them first, after the Obamanomics Apocalypse.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    I have an idea. Try offering that prick a 5% wealth tax (no exemptions) and see what he has to say.

  • Almanian!||

    No, fuck you, cut spending.

  • John||

    But focusing on the narrow particulars of this specific scandal misses the larger point.

    By that logic focusing on prosecuting a particular murderer misses the larger point of murder as a societal problem. No, Reason, the problem here is these people and the things they did. After they and their misdeeds are dealt with, then we can deal with the larger lessons of the scandal. But by focusing on the larger point now, you are allowing the actual wrong doers to get away with their misdeeds by hiding them behind the old "everybody does it" defense.

  • Zeb||

    Your analogy with murder is not apt. If there were some system in place which created specific incentives to commit murder (which is the case with the IRS and abuses of its power), then it would be much more parallel. And in that case, I would agree that it is important to punish the murderers, but even more important to fix the system that incentivizes murder to such an extent. The people involved should be punished. But it is at least as important to change the system which offers that kind of power to people who would abuse it (i.e. people). In no way does that excuse the wrong doers.

  • John||

    How were people incentivized? Misusing the IRS has been when of the golden sins of government since Nixon. That is why this case is so shocking.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    "How were people incentivized?"

    Maybe by a tax code which draws an arbitrary line between political partisanship (bad) and social-justice advocacy (good)? Perhaps because of all the legal talent spent in making sure that nonprofits can indulge in advocacy by avoiding certain trigger words like "vote for X" and the like?

    If someone wants to drain the malarial swamp, that doesn't make him pro-mosquito, and doesn't mean he's against killing as many mosquitoes as he can.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    In short, if we discover that the laws have facilitated criminal behavior, then rather than holding off on legal reform until the criminals are prosecuted, why not *simultaneously* reform the laws?

  • John||

    The Air Force has the power to bomb American cities. Does that mean they have the incentive to? Misusing the IRS has always been a quick way to scandal. Hard to see how it was incentivized.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    I suppose if the Air Force served under an administration which stood to gain electorally if they bombed Republican-leaning cities, then we could talk in terms of incentives.

    How many times does it bear repeating - politically motivated targeting of Tea Party groups is a crime? How does this fact conflict with the other fact - that the tax laws facilitate this sort of crime, by their foggy, ambiguous distinctions between legitimate (tax-free) and illegitimate (taxable) speech?

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    And I suppose if we had laws authorizing the Air Force to bomb cities if they weren't "nonpartisan," then there would be another incentive to bomb Republican-oriented cities for failing to be nonpartisan enough.

    When partisans define nonpartisanship, they tend to interpret it to mean "supporting our party, not the other guys."

  • T||

    Because it was never punished. Who suffered for the earlier politicization?

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Fair enough. As Killaz says below, "holding them accountable for even the tiniest fuck ups (crimes and misdemeanors*, remember) serves the purpose of limiting the power of government."

    While trying to nail the perps' hides to the wall, let us reflect on the laws which encouraged and empowered them, and consider changing those laws. It's not either/or/

  • John||

    It was punished when Nixon did it.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    I can't speak for all the commenters, but nothing I said indicated that I don't want the perps punished. Indeed, I called them "perps."

  • ||

    So basically what this comes down to is you want to talk about impeaching Obama instead of taking away an instrument of oppression that can potentially be used in the same fashion by any of the future holders of the same office? Fine and dandy - impeach the bastard. It won't go anywhere, anymore than the Clinton impeachment did, and when you're done with your kabuki theater that instrument of oppression will exist. Then what? You want to just keep impeaching bastards indefinitely hoping you eventually the virtuous Top Man who can serve as your political messiah?

  • Rasilio||

    This is known as a false equivalency.

    There is no institution responsible for committing murder and so each murder is independent of all others.

    In the case of the IRS the institution will continually commit offenses against the people regardless of the individuals in charge of it because it has the power to do so.

    Therefore eliminating or at least effectively constraining the institution is more important than punishing the individuals behind any inappropriate action

  • John||

    Long term yes. But you can't do that unless you punish the wrong doers in the short term.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    But by focusing on the larger point now, you are allowing the actual wrong doers to get away with their misdeeds by hiding them behind the old "everybody does it" defense.

    The difference is that you're reading it as "everyone does therefore it isn't a problem" as opposed to "everybody does it which IS the problem." You can't get away from what the MMS is telling you about the story, and are utterly confusing it with Reason's editorial POV.

    The problem is not that some partisan shit bags abused the authority of the IRS for shit bag partisan purposes, but that partisan shit bags can abuse the authority of the IRS.

    Your focusing on who did what allows the underlying problem to remain in place to be abused even further.

  • John||

    The difference is that you're reading it as "everyone does therefore it isn't a problem" as opposed to "everybody does it which IS the problem." You can't get away from what the MMS is telling you about the story, and are utterly confusing it with Reason's editorial POV.

    No I am not. If everyone does it and the problem is the system, what is the point of holding these people accountable? Why even talk about what they did? The problem is the system. Since everyone does it and it would happen no matter who was in charge, then there really isn't any justification to hold these people accountable is there? Lets just move on from these unfortunate events and fix the IRS, right?

    Bullshit, lets send the people who did this to jail and then think about he system. Reason is just giving Obama and excuse and a head dodge from responsibility.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Then let the partisans point their fingers at each other as they currently are, while the political philosophy of small government points out that it isn't Republicans or Democrats that are the problem, but government.

    This is a problem for you simply because Reason refuses to carry Team RED water.

    And if you really think tha Reason is ignoring that this is an issue that Team BLUE perpetrated this time, you're reading a different site than the rest of us.

  • John||

    Okay MLG, not holding anyone accountable for abusing power doesn't sound like a very good way to curb government power to me. And isn't "if people abuse power they should be held accountable" a small government point? Why is that so hard to say.

    Reason just can't bring itself to admit that maybe Obama did something really bad here. Worse than even Bush.

  • sarcasmic||

    Reason just can't bring itself to admit that maybe Obama did something really bad here.

    Red Tony slays another straw man.

  • JW||

    John, take the goggles off, please. They do nothing.

  • John||

    Go fuck yourself JW. Go ahead. Chase windmills thinking you will kill the IRS. Lets not let the worst misuse of government in forty years get in the way of pursiing our larger goals. And for god sakes lets not focus on misconduct because they would never make the larger case against government. Actually talking about misuse of power would just cause liberals to think we are bunch of meanies. So lets make the small government case while carefully avoiding actually focusing on outrageous abuses of that power. Lets talk in theoretical terms only. That will work.

  • JW||

    John, have you considered not taking meth? At least try decaffinated meth.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    John is exactly right.

    Suderman is acting like a shit weasel Cosmo, giving proggy thugs cover under the guise of evenhandedness.

    Suderman, grow the fuck up and call out these fascist thugs. Oh can't do that, Matty might not want to hand out with you anymore.

  • ||

    Go ahead. Chase windmills thinking you will kill the IRS. Lets not let the worst misuse of government in forty years get in the way of pursiing our larger goals.

    Lol. I see. It's chasing windmills to want to reform the system that enabled this criminal behavior in the first place. It is far more logical to send a couple of peons to jail, replace them with a couple more peons, and leave the system that enabled the criminal behavior undisturbed. To what end? Just in case some twat with the right letter next to his name has to use the power in the future for the good of all mankind? To the extent that your false dilemma was actually valid, yes, I would rather focus on dismantling the IRS. In fact, if giving the peons immunity from prosecution could potentially bring down the IRS, I'd give them immunity from prosecution.

  • Killazontherun||

    Because holding them accountable for even the tiniest fuck ups (crimes and misdemeanors*, remember) serves the purpose of limiting the power of government.

    *though, oddly, Clinton partisans argued it meant you have had to comment both kinds in order for there to be grounds for impeachment. As if the prez didn't jaywalk before he shot someone in the face, the later didn't count.

  • Zeb||

    So, the president should be impeached for, say, littering?

    I think that the "high crimes and misdemeanors" thing is deliberately vague and means whatever congress decides it means.

  • Jerryskids||

    Power will find a reason. It always does.

    Variant: Then also pretexts for seizing property are never wanting, and one who begins to live by rapine will always find some reason for taking the goods of others....Machiavelli

    Note here that Machiavelli was stating that a prince is more readily forgiven for killing people than he is for stealing from them. He didn't specifically compare using drone strikes vs. using the IRS to go after your enemies, but he certainly would have thought one would be more of a public relations problem than the other.

  • Killazontherun||

    Power Will Find A Reason. It Always Does

    RC Dean, there's a new law in town.

  • sarcasmic||

    Red Tony's saying that concentrated power is not the problem, but rather the problem is the individuals who abuse it, is like saying Communism or Socialism would work if only the right people were in charge.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    Fer sure...if there were no law enforcement there would be no law enforcement abuse.

  • sarcasmic||

    Most law enforcement abuse centers around enforcing unjust laws. If they weren't given the power to enforce unjust laws, most abuse would end.

    Again it's the power that is the problem, not the individuals who enforce it.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    "Again it's the power that is the problem, not the individuals who enforce it."

    That would be an interesting place. The one where nobody had any power over anyone else. Call me when you find it.

  • sarcasmic||

    Ah yes. The typical "Limited government means no government" response. What a moron.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    Since you acknowledge that humans have never existed without someone wielding power then placing blame of abuse on "power" is a pretty idiotic concept.

  • sarcasmic||

    The only way to limit the abuse of power is to limit the power that can be abused.

    I didn't realize how incredibly complex and difficult of a concept that is to grasp.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    "The only way to limit the abuse of power is to limit the power that can be abused."

    How would you go about doing that?

  • sarcasmic||

    Asking that question shows that you are not good at paying attention. Then again I knew that already.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    "Asking that question shows that you are not good at paying attention. Then again I knew that already."

    I'm sure you did, since you're ALL-KNOWING and POWERFUL. Explain, for us simple minded folk, how you go about limiting the power of others without invoking some power of your own. Then explain why the power you presume is more virtuous than the otherwise abused power.

  • Rasilio||

    How about by charging any officer who assaults a suspect with a crime and then leaving it up to a jury to determine whether his actions were justified defense of self or others, the same way that the rest of us are treated.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    "How about by charging any officer who assaults a suspect with a crime and then leaving it up to a jury"

    Doing those things involve invoking some kind of power, which has been stated to always be abused, so that doesn't really solve the problem. You've just placed power into another entity's domain and another arena for abuse. I agree that a jury dilutes power to a certain extent, but not absolutely.

  • sarcasmic||

    Doing those things involve invoking some kind of power

    That's almost as stupid as when Tony calls libertarians tyrannical because we would like to force those who use force to stop using force, and since that would involve force that makes us totalitarians.

    World class derp, there, CIYP.

    Bravo.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    "That's almost as stupid as when Tony calls libertarians tyrannical because we would like to force those who use force to stop using force, and since that would involve force that makes us totalitarians.

    World class derp, there, CIYP.

    Bravo."

    That's the moronic position you put YOURSELF in when you try to blame ABUSE on an inanimate concept instead of PEOPLE that make it their business to ABUSE other PEOPLE, idiot.

  • Rasilio||

    Lol ok moron.

    Here is the thing power always exists, always will and nothing you can do will eradicate that. What you can do is choose between concentrating it or diffusing it.

    A jury has the power to determine whether the accused is guilty of a crime. Thing is the jury does not exist past the completion of the trial and the individual members of that jury do not retain any of the power they acquired while on the jury.

    On the other hand you could empower a permanent commission, call it internal affairs, to investigate police misconduct. This organization will accumulate power which exists across time and therefore inevitably will come to either control or be controled by the police leaving them utterly unaccountable for their actions.

    Whenever you act to centralize power you increase the abuse of that power, whenever you decentralize it you create competing power structures which work to keep each other in line.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    "Lol ok moron.

    Here is the thing power always exists, always will and nothing you can do will eradicate that. What you can do is choose between concentrating it or diffusing it."

    Actually, you as an individual have no such fucking choice over any such thing other than your own willingness to succumb to it.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    "Lol ok moron.

    Here is the thing power always exists, always will and nothing you can do will eradicate that. What you can do is choose between concentrating it or diffusing it."

    And I would add, the "IT" is the PERSON that intends to wield power over YOU. Power isn't a fucking magic stick waiting for someone to pick it up and smash your skull with it. In social terms it is simply a description of another's ability to have you shut up and do what you are told. Abuse is something a PERSON does with power. The problem of the abuse of power originates in PEOPLE not inanimate institutions.

  • ||

    So in your world, there is no theoretical difference between a guy with a gun and a 4 trillion dollar government with nuclear weapons, since either can effectively coerce me into doing something by using force against me. There is effectively no point whatsoever constraining the level of authority given to any person, because power is merely the exercise of coercion by any given individual. The bill of rights is garbage - means nothing. Separation of duties - an absurd concept.

    Given that argument, can you explain to me how the IRS agents responsible for the abuse in this case would have exercised that coercive power absent the "inanimate institution" for which they worked? How would they have had access to the financial information of these groups and individuals? On what grounds could they have demanded private information? Power doesn't exist until it's actualized in the form of an individual putting it into use. So tell me how these individuals would have acquired that power without the implicit threat of a gun at the heads of the people who they inappropriately targeted? How does that work?

  • Bill Dalasio||

    I'm not sure that is inherently true. Limiting power is valuable in its own right, but it strikes me that there are other means to limit the abuse of power. Exposure limits the abuse of power. As does a system of accountability.

  • John||

    No dipshit. I am saying the people who abuse power are responsible for their actions. They are not victims of the system. And yes, it is possible to have power and not abuse it. Just because you work for the IRS and have the power to fuck with your enemies. These people choose to do that. That is the issue. When you talk about the system and other bigger issues, you obscure what these people did. And that seems to be what Sudderman is doing here.

  • sarcasmic||

    You and your straw man are the only ones calling these people victims.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    Everyone is the victim of that inanimate villain of the universe called named POWER.

    That and global warming.

  • ||

    I'm sure it will be of cold comfort to you that power is an inanimate hobgoblin when some twat from the IRS demands to see your personal financial records from the last 7 years, and your refusal to obey lands you in jail. It'll give you plenty of time to write another treatise on how only an individual can commit abuse - the inanimate hobgoblin standing behind him with the gun pointed at your head doesn't really exist.

  • Rasilio||

    Yes John, now come back to the real world. Sure crimes were probably committed but it is going to be extremely difficult to get a conviction on ANYONE because the low level dudes can legitimately say they were just doing their jobs how they were told (and this issue is not going to bring up Nuremberg protocols because no one was being killed) and somewhere along the chain up to the top there is going to be a point where there are no documents just a he said - she said where an underling says one thing and their boss says a different thing occurred giving them both reasonable doubt.

    Further you poison the well by making it look like you are just a partisan issue which will cause a tit for tat response with the next administration

  • John||

    And punishing republicans who do this in a tit for tat would be a bad thing why? And some things are a partisan issue. If your worry is being called a partisan you will never attack anyone.

    The justification for pulling back the IRS is because these kinds of abuses happen. It is the misdeeds that make the case. You guys are pretending you can skip over the misdeeds and just talk about the big issue. You can't make the larger case without first making the case about these misdeeds. Yes, that makes all of your liberal friends not like you and call you a partisan. But tough shit. Grow pair of balls and stop being afraid of stating the truth.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Yes, that makes all of your liberal friends not like you and call you a partisan. But tough shit. Grow pair of balls and stop being afraid of stating the truth.

    Yep, that's the real issue.

    The pussies are afraid of being ostracized. God forbid, they may even have to move out of DC and get a real job.

  • John||

    If misdeeds don't matter, then why do we ever talk about them? Isn't talking about the misdeeds of individual cops just obscuring the larger issue of police power in general? It is not like cops ever are convicted of anything or what they deserve. So why does Reason spend so much time talking about the individual misdeeds of cops? Doesn't that just make them look anti-cop? Doesn't it cause people to miss the real point which is that cops have too much power?

    Of course it doesn't. All of those anicdotes are necessary to make the larger point. And it is the same thing here. The misdeeds should always be focused on because they are what make the larger point. They don't obscure it.

    Sudderman just pretends otherwise because he, like a lot of Libertarians has no balls when it comes to dealing with liberals. They don't want to offend liberals or liberals to think they are partisan. And it is pathetic.

  • sarcasmic||

    Oh, I get it now. Red Tony says that if you talk about the big picture instead of just focusing the individual misdeeds within the IRS, that you're coddling up to liberals who say that this is a Republican witch hunt.
    MUST. DEFEND. TEAM.

  • John||

    No retard, by skipping the misdeeds,, you have no way to make the bigger point.

  • sarcasmic||

    No one said to skip them. The entire point was not to focus on them so much that the bigger point is missed. Don't miss the forest because the trees are in the way and all that.

    Then you turn it into a partisan straw man, accusing the author of asking that we completely and totally ignore these misdeeds that the Republicans think it are important because we must appease the liberals.

    You're like a neurotic woman when you get like this. Seriously. Take the blinders off. It's not always about TEAM.

  • John||

    Sudderman said to skip them. That is the point of the post. When you focus on the misdeeds you lose focus on the important points.

    My issue is with Sudderman not with you. I don't understand why you are so dead set on defending him. He is up here trying to down play the actual misdeeds here.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    I don't understand why you are so dead set on defending him.

    Team Orange demands absolute loyalty.

  • John||

    Read the thread. Numerous people have said that by talking about the misdeeds, it makes it a partisan issue. As if liberals are going to gladly agree to kill the IRS. The misdeeds are the entire case. Focusing on them is the only way to make the case. Sudderman and others claiming that they shouldn't be focused on because someone might think you are a partisan is just stupid. So stupid it makes me think that Sudderman is being a shill here.

  • sarcasmic||

    Sudderman and others claiming that they shouldn't be focused on because someone might think you are a partisan is just stupid.

    I didn't read it that way at all. What I read said that this happens over many different administrations and political parties, and is not something new. Thus focusing on these particular misdeeds without looking at the overall system that allows it to happen will not stop it from happening again in the future.

    Though he does have a point in that the left controls the narrative, and they will shrilly dismiss someone as partisan for bringing this up.

    The ugly truth of the matter is that liberals are not disgusted by these events. They like it. They feel that using the federal government to harass people for what they think is a wonderful thing. They won't say it in public, but you know it gives them wood.

    So it's a losing argument all around. If you point out these specific instances you're labeled partisan, and if you point out the bigger issue the liberals might nod their head and give the appearance of caring, but in the back of their mind they're cheering.

  • John||

    You are right sarcasmic. It is a tough argument because liberals don't care. It would be better if this had happened under a Republican because liberals might have cared then. Watergate actually resulted in real reform. But that was only because liberals were the victims.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    The ugly truth of the matter is that liberals are not disgusted by these events. They like it. They feel that using the federal government to harass people for what they think is a wonderful thing. They won't say it in public, but you know it gives them wood.

    So it's a losing argument all around.

    No it is not.

    Because the target audience is not the 10% of the country that is hard left, but the 70% that is squishy middle.

    This is an example of the fucked up OLC mindset that thinks the country is 80% proggy left and the only way to make any headway is in somehow persuaded some of the hard left.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    "...this happens over many different administrations and political parties, and is not something new. Thus focusing on these particular misdeeds without looking at the overall system that allows it to happen will not stop it from happening again in the future."

    Wow! Then, I guess we all owe Richard Nixon a big fat apology for going after him over what amounted to a third-rate break-in. I mean, after all, the problem was clearly a political system that enabled and encouraged such behavior.

  • Calidissident||

    I see this is that time of the month when John goes full TEAM RED partisan moron

  • John||

    As opposed to you who is team blue concern troll moron at all times. Seriously, have you ever said or done anything on here that wasn't concern troll shilling for liberals? If you have, I have never seen it. So of course, make sure you come on here and say that anyone who wants to focus on Obama's actual crimes is a partisan shill. Actually punishing your team for their crimes it just being partisan.

    You are worse than Tony. He is at least an honest troll.

  • Calidissident||

    The projection in this post is simply amazing. Replace the word "liberal" with "conservative" and it's a perfect description of yourself. When exactly have I engaged in what you accuse me of? I guess to a TEAM RED partisan, someone who isn't a TEAM RED partisan must be a TEAM BLUE shill.

    Obama is a shitbag, and the people responsible should be punished. I think everyone here (including Suderman) would agree with that. At the same time, the biggest issue here, when we're talking about government, is not the specific people who committed these specific acts, but the power structures that allow people in government to do these things. The fundamental problem isn't that the Right People weren't in charge. The fundamental problem is the power the people in charge have that allows them to do these things. If you want to read articles by people who only care about government abuse and misconduct when Democrats are in charge, and think that is the fundamental problem with government, then you probably should visit some other site.

  • John||

    Obama is a shitbag, and the people responsible should be punished. I think everyone here (including Suderman) would agree with that.

    Concern troll is concerned apparently. Sudderman doesn't think doing that is important. In fact, doing that is counter productive and causes people to lose sight of the larger point. That is what he said. Stop pretending he didn't.

    The fundamental problem isn't that the Right People weren't in charge. The fundamental problem is the power the people in charge have that allows them to do these things.

    Do what things? What are you talking about? The only reason that point makes any sense is because there were misdeeds actually committed. But Sudderman tells us we can't focus on that. See the problem? Without the misdeeds, you can't make the larger point.

    This is a two step process. First you establish the misdeeds and punish the people responsible. Then after you have done that, you use those misdeeds to make the larger point that the IRS has too much power. But you need the misdeeds first.

    You and Sudderman both want to not talk about the first part because you don't like talking about Dem misdeeds. For you it is because you are a Dem shill who wants to concern troll. For Sudderman it is because he has no balls and is worried about liberals not liking him.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    "This is a two step process. First you establish the misdeeds and punish the people responsible. Then after you have done that, you use those misdeeds to make the larger point that the IRS has too much power. But you need the misdeeds first."

    I don't see why you can't do both things at the same time - prosecute the offenders in this particular scandal, while draining the legal malarial swamp which allows criminal government employees a broad discretion to abuse their power by going after their opponents.

    In order to make a stronger case against the criminals responsible in this case, you would suspend disbelief and - at least temporarily - pretend that the laws are OK.

    It's possible to simultaneously (a) prosecute someone who steals a pile of cash left where anyone could grab it, and (b) declare that in future, it's a bad idea to leave piles of cash around where they are vulnerable to criminals.

    Why, oh why, does it have to be either/or?

  • Bill Dalasio||

    I think the problem with this is, without establishing irrefutably that a crime occurred, you don't have much impetus to reform the system. At this point there is an existent story that this was just all some bureaucratic snafu. If you honestly believe that, why SHOULDN'T the answer be to beef up the system and centralize decision making? The argument that the IRS shouldn't have that power because it can be abused only makes sense once you establish that said power was abused.

  • lap83||

    "First you establish the misdeeds and punish the people responsible. Then after you have done that, you use those misdeeds to make the larger point that the IRS has too much power. But you need the misdeeds first."

    I agree with this.

    Also, I think it's ridiculous to equate identifying bad people with communists who just say they need the right people in power. First of all, there ARE people with integrity out there. Second of all, when communists say they want the "right people" they are not talking about integrity. They are talking about their ideals. Big difference. To acknowledge that there are good ways and bad ways of acting does not mean you can't separate intentions from results.

  • Tony||

    And because you are fully devoted to the GOP, this is likely the first time you've given the slightest shit about the IRS targeting political groups for extra scrutiny, since in the past, including the last administration and ones that came before, it was largely liberal organizations that were targeted. Liberal groups are quite familiar with this phenomenon.

  • ||

    ...in the past, including the last administration... it was largely liberal organizations that were targeted.

    [citation needed]

    I mean, it wouldn't surprise me, but I must have missed where all the groups with "MoveOn" and "Progress" in their names were dragnetted by the Bush IRS.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    At the same time, the biggest issue here, when we're talking about government, is not the specific people who committed these specific acts, but the power structures that allow people in government to do these things. The fundamental problem isn't that the Right People weren't in charge. The fundamental problem is the power the people in charge have that allows them to do these things.

    This line of argumentation is complete bullshit because you could cut the power of government by 90% and evil people like Obama would still have plenty of power to fuck with their political opponents if they chose to.

    For that matter, the US federal government still has the power and legal authority to send citizens to concentration camps, under your theory of power abuse, their having that power would mean that they have been doing exactly that for the last sixty years.

  • ||

    You're right. The fact that there is a government agency that can arbitrarily demand your personal financial information at will isn't the problem. The problem is that the people inside that organization actually use their granted powers to arbitrarily demand your personal financial information at will. Getting rid of the institution certainly wouldn't do anything about the people who went about executing the authority of the institution...

    For that matter, the US federal government still has the power and legal authority to send citizens to concentration camps, under your theory of power abuse, their having that power would mean that they have been doing exactly that for the last sixty years.

    Stop thinking so 20th century. The government has the power and legal authority to kill citizens without trial now. There's not much reason to send them off to the gulag. Of course, we know that the government would never use that sort of authority...

  • Paul.||

    Excellent Post, Peter. Just wanted to say thanks.

  • Sam Grove||

    I first read midlevel managers as medieval managers.

  • sarcasmic||

    Is there really any difference between a modern IRS manager and a medieval bureaucrat?

    We're living in a feudal society. The costumes are different, but that's about it.

  • Paul.||

    Medieval managers answered to the King.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    “Overseen by a revolving cast of midlevel managers, stalled by miscommunication with IRS lawyers and executives in Washington, and confused about the rules they were enforcing, the Cincinnati specialists flagged virtually every application with Tea Party in its name.”

    So, we're expected to believe that the normal course of behavior for an organization with insufficient staff and resources is to increase the workload by expanding examinations. Riiiight.

  • Monty Crisco||

    Yes, that same tired old mare will now be trod out by the libtards ;
    "Failure of government ALWAYS means we need more government!!!" YAY!!!
    Record gun deaths in Chicago? Not enough gun control...
    Unemployment above 7% for FIVE FUCKING YEARS?!?! Not enough stimulus spending...
    Public school test scores flat for the past 40 years? Not enough Dept of Ed spending....
    IRS targeting conservative non-profits? Because there weren't enough agents to go around and target EVERYONE, now were there?
    Not real reassuring, that argument... hear me, Peter Beinart?!?!?
    Old grey mare she hain't what she used ta be, hain't what she used ta be...

  • LifeStrategies||

    "this is a problem of power—a problem that has a long history, and a problem that the IRS has fought to avoid fixing" - just one abuse of power among many by the administration, both current and past.

    The only way is to remove that egregious concentration of power. Adopt the substantial revisions that Switzerland implemented when they adopted the US Constitution, and the USA would become equally safe and prosperous, with power substantially devolved at all levels.

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