IRS

With Government Abuses, The Problem is the Power, Not the Person

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Jay Carney
White House

As delicious as it is to watch White House minion Jay Carney squirm under questioning about the targeting of journalists, and to hear that tax agency apparatchik Lois Lerner will take the Fifth when called before a congressional committee investigating improper scrutiny of conservative groups by the IRS, it's important to remember that the problem lies in the existence of the power that's being abused, not just in the individuals doing the abusing. To punish Justice Department officials, IRS agents, or even the Obama administration might bring an end to the current round of scandals, but it will inevitably leave us repeating some version of this exercise in a few years, at best. The end goal should be to strip politicians and government officials of the power to punish journalists and political opponents — not to make sure that Republicans get their (next) turn.

Last week, the most excellent journalist and scrutinizer of creatures governmental, James Bovard, had a piece in the Wall Street Journal outlining the Internal Revenue Service's long history of dirty tricks on behalf of whoever is in power. Wrote he:

Many Republicans are enraged over revelations in recent days that the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative nonprofit groups with a campaign of audits and harassment. But of all the troubles now dogging the Obama administration—including the Benghazi fiasco and the Justice Department's snooping on the Associated Press—the IRS episode, however alarming, is also the least surprising. As David Burnham noted in "A Law Unto Itself: The IRS and the Abuse of Power" (1990), "In almost every administration since the IRS's inception the information and power of the tax agency have been mobilized for explicitly political purposes."

Bovard sketches how "President Franklin Roosevelt used the IRS to harass newspaper publishers who were opposed to the New Deal" and "Kennedy … used the IRS to strong-arm companies into complying with "voluntary" price controls. Steel executives who defied the administration were singled out for audits." He points out that the "IRS was … given Nixon's enemies list to, in the words of White House counsel John Dean, 'use the available federal machinery to screw our political enemies.'"

We discovered in the 1990s, Bovard points out, that not just presidents, but members of Congress, had used the IRS to target political enemies for audits.

Likewise, the Justice Department's surveillance of Associated Press reporters and Fox News correspondent James Rosen was no isolated incident. As the Electronic Frontier Foundation points out, media screams may have been raised when professional journalists found themselves on the receiving end of security-state tactics, but the government has been wielding such secretive and intrusive power against the general public for years. Write Cindy Cohn and Trevor Timm for EFF:

The AP detailed in its letter to the Justice Department how its privacy was grossly invaded even though the government accessed only the call records of its reporters and not the content of their conversations. We completely agree. Unfortunately, this isn't just a problem in the AP investigation. Law enforcement agencies routinely demand and receive this information about ordinary Americans over long periods of time without any court involvement whatsoever, much less a full warrant.

The magic phrase "national security" is often invoked to justify these transgressions — often in transparently convenient ways (Attorney General Holder claimed the AP had put "lives at risk" with the story that sparked the scrutiny, even though John Brennan had said there was no such risk.) But intrusive surveillance is increasingly wielded in routine criminal investigations with no appeal to a supposedly higher purpose that trumps constitutional protections.

It's a joy watching government officials dodge questions, insist on blissful ignorance of the world's evils and invoke their right against self-incrimination. Such great theater. But, at the end of the day, disposing of those officials without doing anything else just clears the way for a new crop of power-abusers and useful drones effectively identical to the last batch, though with a slightly different list of targets for mistreatment.

We should get rid of the abusers sure, if only to remind the next batch that there can be consequences. But it's much more important to get rid of the agencies and powers that are inevitably abused, year after year, so that we don't have to act surprised, yet again, that we can't trust government officials to use power with restraint.

NEXT: College Professor Reinstated Following Suspension over Joke

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  1. Kids are fucking stupid these days. Would you call the cops if you were hanging with this crazy bitch? Just walk away. When she comes down and gets cold she’ll put her clothes on and walk down the mountain by herself.

    1. What’s hilarious is she was hiking down from the flatirons in Boulder, which is usually crawling with people tripping their brains out as they walk down the mountain. I was one of them back in the day.

      We probably would’ve ignored her, half the woman in Boulder are barely clothed to begin with.

    2. This is why all drugs should be outlawed!

      …and I wish I had been there to see the stripping!

    3. Pics or it didn’t happen.

        1. I’ve seen crazy, and i’m pretty sure that turns crazy within 180 days. Stabby-stabby kind of crazy.

          1. I’ll take any stabbing risk, just let me find some shrooms.

  2. Not that I disagree overmuch with Lord Acton’s axiom about absolute power, but maybe we could aim for a Frodo instead of just handing the ring over to Boromir because, hell, the ring is going to corrupt whoever handles it anyways.

    Libertarians would get a lot farther if they’d apply what they know to be true about governing in an attempt to govern rather than merely being content to play the role of Cassandra.

    1. I’d prefer Bombadil take it. His songs are stronger, plus his boots are yellow!

      1. Ring a dong dillo, indeed.

    2. Why can’t the Eagle’s just drop it over Mt. Doom!

      1. Do you REALLY want to welcome our new feathery overlords?

      2. Because the Eagles would be corrupted by it and just turn it over to Sarum

        1. Sarum

          Must…resist…

          1. You know who I mean. By all means take my dork card, please.

            1. *clicks megaphone*

              Just lay the card on your porch, and back away, sir. Officer Kahn will be here momentarily to shoot your dog.

      3. Why can’t the Eagle’s just drop it over Mt. Doom!

        Would you trust Don Henley with an artifact of ultimate magical omnipotence, for chrissakes…?

        1. Or worse, Glenn Frey. :shudder:

          1. Ya’know, Joe Walsh does kinda seem like Tom Bombadil.

            1. ^This^ I’d be pretty comfortable giving the ring to Joe Walsh.

        2. You could say it’s the End of the Innocence.

          Oh yeah that just happened.

          1. I hope you stub your toe, for that one.

    3. when I hear things like this all I can think of is what Friedman said:

      I don’t believe that the solution to our problem is simply to elect the right people. The important thing is to establish a political climate of opinion which will make it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing. Unless it is politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing, the right people will not do the right thing either, or if they try, they will shortly be out of office.

      1. I didn’t say anything about elections; I’m talking governing. And making sure that politicians and apparatchiks like Lerhner roast on hot coals for a good long while when they pull stunts like this is a hell of an incentive — a lot better than just handwaving this as the work of Satan government in the abstract. Libertarians can and should hold themselves out as the guys who you go to when you want boring government that works, and that requires pointing out how very awful, personal, and vindictive the clowns in high office are — not as an abstract condition of governance, but as a personal failing nurtured by TEAM spirit and a misplaced trust in government institutions.

        1. ^^THIS^^ All of this “the problem is the power” starts to sound like Libertarians admitting that they couldn’t be trusted with power either after a while.

          1. It’s more that the power attracts untrustworthy sorts of people than that libertarians would be untrustworthy with power.

            To me, power sounds like a nuisance. Because of the responsibility involved, even if I wished to abuse the power, it would still mean being responsible for the consequences of my actions (in that they might come back to bite me) and having to figure out what to do to maintain that power. That sounds incredibly annoying and tedious, so I’m not terribly interested in having power over people, which I would have little-to-no desire to exercise anyway.

            THAT’S what “the problem is the power” means. The people who want it and will strive for it are exactly the people you can’t trust with it. The people you could trust with it don’t really give a damn about obtaining it.

            1. If no one who is trustworthy wants power and Libertarians are trustworthy, why do Libertarians have a political party and always seem to be running for office?

              1. If a Libertarian actually won, he would immediately resign.

              2. I’m speaking generally John. I’m not claiming that simply running for political office is evidence of an evil mind. But power attracts, first and foremost, those who seek to use it.

            2. You have a little person’s mentality. Top. Men. never have to say they are sorry for the omelettes they make.

            3. It’s more that the power attracts untrustworthy sorts of people than that libertarians would be untrustworthy with power.

              Nah. Power corrupts. Look at Jefferson. A firm believer in extremely restricted government, and the first opportunity he has to put it to the test, he’s making the Louisiana Purchase on his own.

              1. Why can’t it be both? Of course power corrupts, but on the whole the corrupt are who seek power in the first place as well.

          2. Libertarians admitting that they couldn’t be trusted with power either after a while.

            No one can be trusted with the power of government, that’s the point.

            You sound like all the progtards who excuse Obama’s abuses because he’s a Dem and they trust him.

            1. You sound like all the progtards who excuse Obama’s abuses because he’s a Dem and they trust him.

              It’s because they are the same excuses. Change names of the person you’re defending from Obama to Bush 2/Bush 1/Reagan/etc, and I bet that John has used that excuse before, or something very close.

              The only reason why John is on this “WE MUST BLAME OBAMA” gig is because he’s, first and foremost, a TEAM player. He deviates towards freedom on some issues his cohorts don’t, but at the end of the day, he’ll pull the level for Team RED 10 times out of 10 regardless of who’s running.

              Yes, those at the highest levels of government need to pay their consequences, but the underlying issue of power is still the bigger problem, and it seems that libertarians are the only group willing to entertain the conversation of government itself being the problem, not who’s running it.

        2. I hope you’ll soon tell us how to govern without winning elections.

          We ought to get started on this.

  3. A nation of laws? That’s for pansies. We’re a nation of MEN.

          1. shhhhhhh

  4. I agree with the premise of this post in that yes, the power is the problem, not necessarily who’s wielding it.

    However, Nixon is the only one I can remember who actually ever got caught to the point that there were consequences. Firing a few low level staffers isn’t doing anything to affect the power either.

    We need to see some heads roll at the top, AS WELL as work to reduce the available power.

    1. The consequences for those abusing government power would have to be serious, such as long prison terms for individuals, and annihilation of the party itself.

      Any such legal consequences are difficult to implement successfully, because they again constitute government power that can be abused, or be enforced selectively.

    2. However, Nixon is the only one I can remember who actually ever got caught to the point that there were consequences.

      And that was due in large part to the press at the time looking to get the scalp of a man with whom there existed a mutual hatred. Watergate and its fallout was a once-every-50-years sort of event, hitting Nixon just a bit more severely than similar corruption scandals during the Grant and Harding administrations.

      For all the posturing about holding the powerful accountable, the press is usually very reluctant to openly and hostilely challenge the power structure in DC, for a whole host of reasons. It’s very easy in this hyper-scaled government to leverage the bureaucracy to make people’s lives hell–as we’ve seen, the guy supposedly in charge can be shielded with the “no one told him this was going on” excuse, and unless someone has him on tape or email directly ordering the act, it makes nailing responsibility on him (or her) very difficult.

      1. The press is usually very reluctant to openly and hostilely challenge the power structure in DC

        The press do not want to fall into disgrace with the government, as that would cut them off of some sources of information.

  5. , ‘use the available federal machinery to screw our political enemies.'”

    Oh how many times did I (we) explain to Joe and all of his successors about the dangers of levers to power.

    Deaf ears. Because they’re optimists. They know that eventually, they’ll be back in charge.

    Maybe that’s what it means to be libertarian. You want to remove the levers to power because you know you’ll never be in charge.

    1. Being a libertarian means that you want to replace public streets with the cries of starving ethnic orphan children dying of homosexual heroin cancer.

      Or so I’ve heard, anyways.

    2. Or maybe because you know no one is qualified to be in charge. Except benevolent AIs, and then we can be their pets.

      1. Do they have to be entirely benevolent?

        I’m totally for Wintermute, unless Mycroft gets in the election.

  6. Show me on the doll where the Government abused you.

    1. Wouldn’t it be quicker to point out on the doll those places the Government didn’t abuse you?

  7. John valiantly calling out Reason for shilling for Obama in 3 2 1…

    1. It’s not shilling, but focusing on the abstract nature of government does detract from the real issue of the *degree* to which public figures at the top are responsible for that government malfeasance.

      They are related issues. Government abuse and violence in the abstract doesn’t come out of the ether; it’s called into being by people like Obama and needs to be called out.

      Public administration and the character and competence of public officials is directly relevant to how a government comports itself.

      1. Exactly that. There is no “real issue” here. There are several important issues. And one of them most certainly how Obama is much worse than any of his predecessors since Nixon. Reason, always says everyone does it. But then the only concrete examples they ever give are Nixon, Johnson and FDR. Yeah, we got it, they all did it and were really bad. But to my knowledge none of the other post Watergate Presidents engaged in this kind of abuse of the IRS and FBI. And that is important. This wasn’t just another day at the office. This represents a serious deterioration in our civic institutions.

        Turceille to his credit does explicitly admit that the people responsible for this need to be held accountable. Sudderman thinks holding people accountable is unproductive and takes the focus off the real issues, because we should use this as an excuse to be mean to Obama or anything.

        1. Sudderman thinks holding people accountable is unproductive and takes the focus off the real issues, because we should use this as an excuse to be mean to Obama or anything.

          This is inaccurate. Suderman believes (and I agree) that striving too hard to punish specific people takes the focus off of and deprives us of opportunities to stop the ability to do these things in the first place, without which people like Obama, the IRS officials, and their ilk wouldn’t be able to do anything.

          1. Ok, I misread the quoted section, it’s fairly close to what I just said, but I still feel it unfairly implies that Suderman is trying to protect Obama. I don’t get that at all from his posts on this subject.

          2. I wonder about that. The abstract higher order of polity to which Suderman alludes would seem a sideshow to the people who put Obama where he is and those who tried in vain to keep him out. Instead, it would fall to libertarians (and the reflective sort of Republicans) to prove we’re not needlessly complicating an otherwise straightforward issue of executive overreach/ a straightforward issue of Republicans making hay about the sort of thing they’d be doing anyway. Ironically, in highlighting the foundationally political nature of this corruption, we’d be shellacked for politicizing the problem.

        2. John, if you want even more examples, JFK and RFK laid the groundwork for wiretapping one’s political opponents in the name of gaining an advantage (see JFK, the Dominican Republic, and the Sugar industry). Marilyn Monroe also turned up dead when she was becoming an inconvenience for President Camelot.

          To put it even more succinctly, if you look close enough, every President of the 20th century has engaged in high crimes and misdemeanors.

          1. I’m not sure that Eisenhower or Ford did. Don’t know for sure, of course.

            -jcr

        3. There are several important issues. And one of them most certainly how Obama is much worse than any of his predecessors since Nixon.

          ^ THIS THIS THIS ^

          These are not crimes meriting nothing more than a simple slap on the wrist, the better to maintain rigid consistency to airy, abstract principle. If they are not adequately made swift, sure examples of: The. Next. Batch. Of. Crimes. Will. Be. Multiple. Orders. Of. Magnitude. WORSE.

          The federal government is, essentially, a malevolent, Damien-esque child. It will not respect us and meekly acquiesce, should we simply pat its tousled little head and mutter a disapproving “tut-tut” in response to its willfully destructive behaviors.

        4. The Bush administration also massively abused government power, just in a different way.

          Remember Valerie Plume?
          Groups of opponents of the Iraq war on the no-fly list.
          US Attorneys fired for political reasons.
          During the Bush administration government agencies requested, and illegally got, direct access to the traffic in the server rooms of various large US telecommunication providers. When Quest declined to participate in that program, the Bush administration retaliated by giving Quest fewer contracts for classified work with the government. Subsequently, the CEO of Quest other former Quest executives were charged with insider trading.

          1. The Bush administration also massively abused government power, just in a different way.

            … and the fact that they were not adequately punished for doing so led, inevitably, to manifestly worse abuses by Obama’s even more odious junta. My point.

            1. It works both ways. The Obama administration did not charge members the Bush administration for various crimes. A future Republican administration will return the favor, and not charge members of the Obama administration for their crimes. Members of the Obama administration know that, and act accordingly.

              1. … and, again: absolutely none of which obviates the absolute necessity of making a powerful and lasting example of this administration, for these crimes, at this point in time; no more so than the likelihood of other rapes, past and/or future, diminishes the need to pass judgment on any given rapist today.

                Any other position is simply shilling and/or willful obscurantism, plain and simple.

                1. … and, again: absolutely none of which obviates the absolute necessity of making a powerful and lasting example of this administration, for these crimes, at this point in time; no more so than the likelihood of other rapes, past and/or future, diminishes the need to pass judgment on any given rapist today.

                  Do you hear anyone saying that these people shouldn’t be held accountable, or is that a strawman you’re slaying?

          2. When Quest declined to participate in that program, the Bush administration retaliated by giving Quest fewer contracts for classified work with the government. Subsequently, the CEO of Quest other former Quest executives were charged with insider trading.

            That was shitty, but you know what? Fuck Qwest. Customer service went to hell the day they took over US West, and if they couldn’t survive without a gubmint NSA contract they deserved to go under.

  8. Will Jay Carney ever going to be able to look at himself in the mirror or get a good night’s sleep ever again? Disability pay for guilty consciences should be mandatory for Obama lackeys.

    1. And he used to a journalist too. Well, I mean he reported for Time magazine so he was more like a “journalist”, but still.

      I can’t imagine how he sleeps at night, but holy shit will he write his meal ticket with a tell-all book.

      1. The only loss of sleep would occur from him worrying about the next day of getting hammered by the press. You wouldn’t do that job if constantly lying was a problem for you.

        1. He will lose sleep. The press will never admit they were wrong about Obama. But they won’t want to be reminded of how they whored themselves out like this. And Carney will be that reminder. I bet he never works in big media again after this administration.

          1. I bet he never works in big media again after this administration.

            Are you out of your fucking mind? He’ll be given a sunday morning talk spot and a limo ride to work everyday. He’ll make enough money to have a fine apartment in manhattan and enjoy everything the city has to offer. There is no justice in this world, john.

            Just like Obama’s legacy will be as shiny and pristine as FDR’s or JFK’s.

            1. Nope. Unless Obama somehow wins a world war or gets shot in the next three years, his legacy is going to be in ashes. The media hates a loser. And unless things turn around, the Dems are going to get killed in the midterms. When that happens, they will brand him a loser or worse. They are already doing so. Eugene Robinson and the New Yorker have turned on him for God’s sake.

              1. Maybe when The Atlanticdoes I’ll renew my subscription.

              2. That you really think the press is going to keep up any sustained pressure on this administration through the midterms is pollyannish, to say the least. Some republican nobody will say something about rape-babies or something and this will all be forgotten.

                Hell, even if he gets murdered in the midterms the subsequent slowing of the growth of spending, via gridlock, will be attributed to the fiscal responsibility of Dear Leader. See the clinton legacy for reference.

                You have a history of making very optimistic predictions and this is another one. Don’t take that as an insult either. I wish that I could look at all the shit this administration has pulled and really believe that there will be some sort of punishment or justice, but I’m too cynical to think that. I’m ready to take up catholicism, just so I can believe in a hell that can contain these fuckers.

                1. You confuse the liberal cause with Obama. Sure if the Republicans take all of Congress the media will try to blame all of the problems on them. That is because they will stay true to the liberal cause. But the cause is not Obama. When defending Obama comes at the expense of the liberal cause, they will turn on him.

                  The cause is never wrong. So therefore all of our problems are the result of Republicans and Obama being incompetent and corrupt. That will be the story line going forward. Obama fucked up and failed, not liberalism.

                  1. I understand, I just don’t think there will be any long-term liberal/media/intellectual tarnishing of the Obama legacy. I really think it would take something so bad that Obama would be sent to prison (like him being caught on video raping and murdering a mexican boy, even then…) for them to turn on the first black president. Especially when Bush and the republicans will be there to blame.

                    There will be a few far-left outliers that will question the narrative, but the mainstream liberal’s (and therefore history’s)view will be of a great president that was the victim of bush’s policies and racism. Bank on it, man. That shit will be in your grandkids’ history books.

                    1. Wow SIV, that was the most cogent comment I’ve ever seen you make. I even broke my “don’t respond to fucktards” rule to say this.

                    2. And by “your grandkids’ history books” you mean the stories they will tell in hushed tones around the campfire, as they huddle in fear in an abandoned subway station to avoid the cannibal rape gangs that will have terrorized the surface world since the collapse.

                    3. I was actually thinking of including a meltdown disclaimer to my statement, but decided not to.

                    4. HM,

                      That needs a script – ASAP!

                    5. No Naked. The view will be that he was an incompetent who started the downfall of the beloved blue model.

                    6. I’m unconvinced that Obama is not, at this point, sine qua non to the liberal cause. He’s the ruby in their tin crown, a persuasive speaker (provided you ignore the verbal fumbles and telepromoted cadence), inspiring to those who don’t know better, and most importantly, not a rich white man. He’s the perfect drug mollify his supporters about broken promises and failed policies, and he’s effectively unimpeachable by his opponents. Progressives are trying to turn Democrats onto the woman he ousted as a primary contender in 2008, but I can’t see it earning Hillary the same adoration Barack enjoys. He’s their icing.

                  2. But the cause is not Obama. When defending Obama comes at the expense of the liberal cause, they will turn on him.

                    Nope, the cause has morphed into Obama. It’s a full fledged cult of personality.

                    1. Beat me to it, with brevity.

                2. You know, we Southern Baptists also believe in hell. Just in case you’re shopping around.

      2. Tman| 5.21.13 @ 7:50PM |#
        “And he used to a journalist too. Well, I mean he reported for Time magazine so he was more like a “journalist”, but still.”

        So he told the same lies but gets a different signature on the check? Is that what you’re saying?

      3. I can’t imagine how he sleeps at night,

        On top of a big pile of money?

    2. You seem to be under the impression that they have some compunction about lying. If you didn’t think that lying to anyone outside the family was a fully justified means to the end, you wouldn’t make it far in any political administration.

      1. Or as a journalist.

    3. And you assume he has a conscience. Or a soul.

    4. If Carney had any integrity he would resign, and if the President wouldn’t accept it, he’d announce this publicly.

      The fact that he continues being a mouthpiece for this administration reveals him to be the quisling he always was.

      1. He is such a smarmy little shit. Gibbs had a sort of oily used car salesman charm. He was so over the top full of shit that you couldn’t help but sense that Gibbs was putting on an act. Carney has this disgusting earnestness about him that just makes my flesh crawl.

        1. That’s the part that makes my bile rise – not that he believes the bullshit, but that he apparently thinks we are stupid enough to believe it.

      2. If Carney had any integrity he would resign, and if the President wouldn’t accept it, he’d announce this publicly.

        If the President didn’t accept it, he could simply try not showing up for work. What’s the boss going to do?

        1. What’s the boss going to do?

          Well in this case, have him audited.

  9. Oddly in the litany of those who were guilty of using the IRS as a political cudgel, even in a passage trying to spread the blame across parties, the only Republican cited is Nixon, a guy whose domestic policy profile looks a lot more like a conservative Democrat than a traditional Republican.

    1. Well, imagine the shape we would be if Nixoncare had passed.

      1. “Damn Tricky Dick for his capitalist healthcare system.” /progtard

        1. Again, the irony is that Nixon pushed HMOs as semi-socialized medicine to the approval of proggies at the time.

    2. Funny that. Yeah, Nixon was really bad. That is why he was kicked out of office.

      1. As he probably should have been. But, that doesn’t change the fact that we generally don’t see Reps doing this. Unless there was some dark underside of Ike I was unaware of, I just don’t see the evidence of a consistent pattern of comparability.

    3. Oddly in the litany of those who were guilty of using the IRS as a political cudgel, even in a passage trying to spread the blame across parties, the only Republican cited is Nixon

      And it’s mostly bullshit too.

      Nixon tried to politicize the IRS but failed. For christ’s sake you can hear him on his tapes complainging about the IRS not targeting his enemies.

  10. It probably bears repeating that a lot of the public’s original liking of Obama was the promise that he was different than the others. It was BS and most adults should have known better, but it must sting his supporters to see it’s the same old, same old.

    1. Sting isn’t sufficient, they must BUuuuuuurrrrrrnnnnnnnnnnnnn.

  11. And the problem is the person and the power. Let me ask you JD, if you had headed the IRS office that Lerner did, would this have happened? Would you have abused the power? Is there something just irresistible about such power? I don’t think so. So the problem is also the people not just the power. Sure, the power attracts some of the worst sorts of people. And that is why you shouldn’t give such unchecked power. But, when there is abuse, the people doing it are most certainly part of the problem.

    1. John| 5.21.13 @ 8:07PM |#
      “And the problem is the person and the power.”…

      True enough, but the “person” is subject to the arbitrary winds of style in a democracy unburdened with constitutional limits. So the control over that is really limited; we will get assholes who smile a lot.
      The fix cannot be aimed at that; the republic needs the safeguards of the constitution, and we’re not getting that.

      1. Long term sure. But also, unless you plan to eliminate government entirely, which is not going to happen, there is always going to be power and people there to abuse it. So punishing people who abuse power is every bit as important going forward as limiting the power available.

        Libertarians need to face reality. This scandal, no matter how bad, is not going to result in the elimination of the IRS. It might, if we are lucky, result in some reform and oversight, and limiting of its power. But the IRS is still going to be there with lots of power that can be abused. Given that reality, punishing the guilty and deterring future wrong doers is more important than chasing windmills.

        1. John| 5.21.13 @ 8:44PM |#
          “Long term sure. But also, unless you plan to eliminate government entirely, which is not going to happen, there is always going to be power and people there to abuse it. So punishing people who abuse power is every bit as important going forward as limiting the power available.”

          Uh, John, who do you think is going to punish those people?
          If we are lucky, we can leverage the random (oops) Rand Paul to force the government to obey the constitution.
          The alternative is to win every election.
          Logic says the first is more likely.

          1. So you honestly think it is more likely we will get an entire change in government than it is that this government will turn over a few underlings and hacks to satiate the mob?

            I love your optimism, but that is highly doubtful. Punishing the wrong doers is really the only plausible positive outcome here.

            1. John| 5.21.13 @ 9:25PM |#
              “So you honestly think it is more likely we will get an entire change in government than it is that this government will turn over a few underlings and hacks to satiate the mob?”

              Whisht! That was the point going by.
              Not an “entire” change; simply a correction here and then one over there.
              Far more likely than winning every election.
              And any result of tossing low-level bureaucrats to the wolves interests me not in the least. If that’s what you’re hoping for, I really don’t care.

              1. So Sevo, in your opinion there is no reason to punish any wrong doing as long as the person doing it is not to high?

                And this won’t be low level. This will go up pretty high. And once again, if you don’t punish anyone, how do expect to deter anyone in the future?

                You guys are so fucking obsessed with getting your pony, which you are not going to get anyway, you are willing to let people get away with virtually any abuse because punishing them might lower the chances of you getting that pony.

                Wake the fuck up. there are not going to be any big reforms. The best you can hope for is to make the people who did this pay.

                1. John| 5.21.13 @ 10:10PM |#
                  “So Sevo, in your opinion there is no reason to punish any wrong doing as long as the person doing it is not to high?”

                  John, why do you act like an asshole?
                  Fuck you.

                2. And this won’t be low level. This will go up pretty high.

                  BWAhahahahahahahahahha

                  Like Fast-and-Furious or Benghazi?

    2. The Cosmotards refusal to confront the evil actions of men in this adminstration is analogous to proggies refusing to blame crime on the evil actions of individuals.

      It’s the power of government / guns that is at fault. Not the men that wield that power.

      1. Yup. They just can’t admit that one side might be worse than the other. So they cling to the idea that it was the power not the people who used it.

        1. John| 5.21.13 @ 10:12PM |#
          “Yup. They just can’t admit that one side might be worse than the other. So they cling to the idea that it was the power not the people who used it.”

          Yeah, you idiot, Nixon was a real prize compared to Obozo, right?
          Jesus, John, you’re as stupid as shreek.

          1. Don’t hold back, sevo. Tell him what you really think.

          2. Look, I hate Nixon as much or more than anyone else here.

            And Obama is much, much worse than Nixon on corruption and political abuse of power.

        2. So they cling to the idea that it was the power not the people who used it.

          Actually, the point is that power abuses are guaranteed to happen once government get’s powerful enough. No one is denying that Obama’s a shithead, just that a powerful government will enhance the power of the shitheads that control it.

          You’d probably know that if you actually listened to the arguments as opposed to getting into a little Republitarian circle jerk.

          1. Yup.

            And no one is arguing that no one should be punished for this, as John likes to aver, but that we should take take the long view and use this as a selling point for limiting government power.

            Punish away, but don’t forget that with the capabilities these agencies possess it’s only a matter of time before similar abuses occur again.

            1. how bout we get the 4rth and the 5th amendments to apply to interactions with the IRS. I think that’d be a good start.

  12. http://www.politico.com/blogs/…..64456.html

    Someone hacked into Sheryl Atkinsson’s computer. Just a third rate computer break in I am sure.

    1. And it’s pointless to try to punish the perpetrator because the power to do this exists and will be abused in any case.

      1. If even one hacker can be spared…

  13. It didn’t satisfy some Republicans, led by Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., who argue for a biometric exit system at all airports, border crossings and ports within a year or two after the bill becomes law, saying that the cost is just “an excuse.”

    The United States now collects fingerprints from foreigners traveling to the country at consulates and embassies, but doesn’t do so when they leave.

    http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/p…..c.html.csp

    So how long will it take for this to jump from being an immigrant exit system, to being also a system for scanning US citizen passports?

    1. It already is. The immigrant just shows his VISA and the American shows his passport. It is the same system.

      1. I didn’t have to scan my passport at Hartsfield when I flew to London. I did have to show it at Gatwick. Surely you can understand the difference.

        1. On exit they don’t. But they do when you come back into the country. It is the same system for both. They just choose not to scan you on the way out. But they could if they decided to.

          1. I think his point is that they don’t check you going out.

            That’s totally scary shit and the reason is just what I stated in my post above. They’re building a trap to eventually stop us from leaving.

            DHS Goon: ‘Where you going there, Mr. Smith?’

            Mr. Smith: ‘I’m going on vacation’

            DHS Goon: ‘I see you owe a parking ticket from 1969, that you never paid, you aren’t going anywhere, get him boys!’

            DHS Goon 2: ‘Good job stopping that dangerous criminal, he was just going to spend our revenue in one of them furen countries anyway.’

          2. …that’s what the whole was about, scanning upon exit.

    2. So how long will it take for this to jump from being an immigrant exit system, to being also a system for scanning US citizen passports?

      That’s the goal. They want to know you aren’t escaping with any of their revenue, and eventually, they will just prevent almost everyone from leaving the country. Except for important people, like themselves, of course.

      1. They already have that power. DOS claims the power to take anyone’s passport for any reason. And CBP claims the power to not let anyone without a passport leave.

        1. Yes, but currently they don’t even check you going out. If they start checking people leaving, you can sure as hell bet it ain’t about security. It’s about revenue. THEIR revenue.

      2. they will just prevent almost everyone from leaving the country

        Exit visas. They were an integral part of the Communist system in Eastern Europe.

    3. The fingerprint scanning freaked me the fuck out when I went through customs last week. I realized before I got up that they were only scanning non-citizens, but I was ready to make a scene if they told me to place my hand on the scanner.

  14. Post-P.M Link: Heroic Mulatto, you’ll be happy to know that the cult class blaxploitation film Soul Vengeance has been released in it’s entirety on Youtube.

    1. NICE!

      1. It is hilarious as all fuck. I couldn’t stop laughing for several minutes.

  15. Six Entertainment Co. is scheduled to shoot a scene for “The Human Centipede III” on Friday in the Monterey Park area, according to a permit filed with FilmL.A. Inc., which handles film permits for the city and the county.

    1. If you find yourself acting in “the human centipede III”, think of it as an opportunity to look back at the choices you made in life, and where you might have gone wrong,

      There’s probably a reason/la porn/condom joke in there, but I don’t have it.

  16. “To punish Justice Department officials, IRS agents, or even the Obama administration might bring an end to the current round of scandals, but it will inevitably leave us repeating some version of this exercise in a few years, at best.”

    Yeah, putting this week’s bank robber in jail won’t put an end to bank robberies forever, either. Still, maybe the next Justice Department official, the next batch of IRS agents, and even the next batch of White House officials might think twice if they see the last batch do the Perp Walk.

    I wanna see the IRS officials responsible do the Perp Walk.

    1. Yeah, putting this week’s bank robber in jail won’t put an end to bank robberies forever, either. Still, maybe the next Justice Department official, the next batch of IRS agents, and even the next batch of White House officials might think twice if they see the last batch do the Perp Walk.

      What he said.

  17. http://www.washingtonpost.com/…..ml?hpid=z1

    Petreaus shaped the Behghazi talking points – White House played mediator.

    1. Away from the computer and Reason.com, you don’t happen to go by the name of Jay, do you?

      1. Pretty sure that shreek’s reward is not money but some sort of weird ‘Obozo should have been my daddy’ issue.
        He hasn’t ranted on it recently, but his daddy is supposedly some whacko so-con and shreek is stuck in perpetual rebellion.
        Sooner or later, adults have to accept that mommy and daddy weren’t perfect and have to stop blaming them for the adult’s failures; shreek is a loooong way’s from that maturity.

        1. If anyone could have been my dad I would pick Warren Buffett or Steve Jobs (closest to the fictional John Galt). They have ‘fuck you’ money and attitudes.

          1. Palin’s Buttplug| 5.21.13 @ 10:21PM |#
            “If anyone could have been my dad I would pick Warren Buffett or Steve Jobs”

            Yeah, poor, poor shreek! Go get your daddy to fuck you.

          2. If anyone could have been my dad

            From what your mom told me the other night, anyone could have been.

            1. The 1976 Atlanta Falcons

          3. Successful businessmen tend not to be successful fathers, from what I’ve seen.

        2. So Shriek’s entire personal outlook boils down to “FUCK YOU, DAD!”

          No wonder he worships Obama–they both share the same emotional hang-ups.

    2. I’ll bet you think there’s something there other than misdirection.
      Hint: There isn’t.

    3. Does saying “the CIA dictated the story we’d tell about it” make it any better than “the whitehouse played it down because of the election?”

      Doesn’t that give more credence to the mistress’s statement about a CIA prison?

      1. No and yes. They attacked that compound and only that compound for some reason. To break out someone being held by the CIA is the most likely explanation I have heard.

        1. Agreed, but — Obama ordered secret prisons closed in January 2009.

          So the question becomes:

          Is he signing executive orders with his fingers crossed? Or is the CIA a rogue agency that no longer answers to the president?

          1. My bet is the former. Or at the very least, Obama gave a wink and a nob to the CIA and the CIA knew what to do and knew not to tell.

            My guess is that it was the second one. Obama set the table and let it be known what he wanted. And then his people went out and did the dirty work without informing him and giving him plausible deniability. For this reason, I seriously doubt that Obama will ever be impeached. But I think Holder, Jerrett and Axelrod, among others could be in a lot of trouble before this is over.

            1. Not a chance.

              All three of those douches get away clean.

              1. I think Holder is in a lot of trouble over the wiretaps and fast and furious. Just wait.

                1. Him recusing himself from the AP investigation, when he was supposed to have to approve subpoenas like that really summed it up for me. “Do it, but it didn’t come from me, and you can’t prove it did.”

                  1. And also, he “can’t remember” if he put his recusal in writing.

            2. To throw another scandal into it, “won’t somebody please rid me of this wretched tea party!?!”

              CIA going rogue comes close to scaring the crap out me.

            3. …Obama gave a wink and a nob…

              Probably one of your better typos/malapropisms.

          2. Conspiracy theory of the day.

            Obama is a deep CIA plant and as such is just a patsy with no real power.

            1. I like where you’re going, but let’s extend it to all presidents, say… After Johnson. Works better than after-Kennedy, because it keeps the Kennedy mythos there.

              1. After Raygun

                Bush the elder was CIA chief in the 70s; Clinton was politically connected from high school; Bush the lesser obvious ties to the elder and Obama, most connected of them all.

          3. Obama is a politician. His lips were moving. What do you expect? Presumably, he has some proxy run such black sites.

            Say, the CIA have access to a secret prison buried in the basement of Somalia’s National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters. Prisoners technically under control of Somali forces, thus the letter of Obama’s order is not violated.

            The CIA also interrogated prisoners in Afghan intelligence agency detention centers.

    4. Aww, look at little shrieky. Trying to distract from the actual issue that Obama and Hillary lied by and through their shill, Susan Rice.

  18. Furthermore, Kudlow repeats a mea culpa about U.S. monetary policy. “Bernanke was right,” he says. “He put the money in and those of us who expected inflation were wrong.”

    Long time Reagan worshiper Kudlow admits he was wrong.

    http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs…..21194.html

    Peanut Gallery – take note.

    1. Which means inflation should start breaking out soon.

    2. “Long time Reagan worshiper Kudlow admits he was wrong.”

      Poor, poor shreek! Your daddy won’t fuck you, right?
      Poor, poor shreek!

    3. What you have to understand about Kudlow is that he’s a stock market cheerleader.

      That’s his primary position, all others are open to negotiation.

    4. Federal medical spending in 2008: $670 billion

      Federal medical spending in 2012: $1 trillion

      Nope, no inflation going on here!

      1. With such a large balance sheet, our transition from very accommodative policies to less accommodative policies will involve using tools we have not used before, such as the interest rate on reserves, term deposits, and asset sales. Once the recovery takes off, long rates will begin to rise and banks will begin lending the large volume of excess reserves sitting in their accounts at the Fed. This loan growth can be quite rapid, as was true after the banking crisis in the 1930s, and there is some risk that the Fed will need to withdraw accommodation very aggressively in order to contain inflation. At this point, it is impossible to know whether such asset sales will be disruptive to the market. A rapid tightening of monetary policy may also entail political risks for the Fed. We would likely be selling the longer maturity assets in our portfolio at a loss, meaning that we may be unable to make any remittances to the U.S. Treasury for some years. Yet, if we don’t tighten quickly enough, we could find ourselves far behind the curve in restraining inflation.

  19. Want to read some real bullshit regarding the Apple thing?

    Sure you do! You’re a masochistic libertarian.

    Check out this Wired article.

    Here’s a sample:

    Tech companies are not, for the most part, polluting the air, ruining the land, and poisoning the food supply like the industrial villains of decades past. But they have held themselves up as instrumental to human progress. Having sold this vision of advancement and having captured the imagination of the public, tech companies must comport themselves accordingly. Technical compliance with the law isn’t enough; companies like Apple will have to strain ? and be seen straining ? to do the right thing.

    Oh my.

    1. You must love big brother!

      Anyone catch a few weeks or months ago when google gave a voluntary contribution to the uk gov? (From the PR budget)

      It was a moderately big deal on bbc.

      I was wondering if that was what Levin was aiming for, although probably he was mostly looking of some sucking up.

    2. Tax avoidance = Pollution?

      What. The. Fuck?

      1. Pollution is a negative externality on the public.

        Not paying the government extra creates negative externalities cause that money would obviously be used to help the peoples.

        It’s pretty simple. If you like the peoples you need to give the government all the money that is required, and a little bit extra. Well, sometimes a LOT extra–whatever it takes to show you care about peoples. And progress.

    3. Putting aside the massive use of electricity that tech and internet companies rely on (not to mention the rare metals needed for the construction of their devices), this really does prove it was never about the environment. It is all envy. There is nothing anybody can do to satisfy these people, they will always want more.

    4. The comments are heartening. They mostly call the article out for the bullshit it is. Wired seems to attract a more varied crowd of commenters than some places, but then again their political pieces tend to be less braindead than the pieces of most online publications (obviously this article is an exception).

    5. Oh, I got more:
      “”We pay the taxes we owe,” he said. “We not only comply with the laws, we comply with the spirit of the laws, we don’t use tax gimmicks.”
      Should Apple be a better corporate citizen? Yes, of course, and on all sorts of levels.
      But to expect them to do so on their own, when billions of dollars are at stake, is to ignore the long obvious undisputed history of how businesses operate.
      Corporations maximize profits ? and will step right up to the edge of the law in their efforts to do so. They can’t be relied upon to do the right thing, they have to be forced to.”
      (he deserves to have his copy stolen, but):
      http://blog.sfgate.com/techchr…..Descending
      This asshole knows what is “right” for KORPURASHUNS to do; you can see it right there..

      1. That’s the crux of the issue. How is paying more taxes automatically “the right thing to do”? His assertion is classic question begging.

        Is it right for the employees? How about the customers or the investors?

        Not to mention taxes and debt are what allow the behemoth to start all kinds of wars, throw poor people in prison and bail out incompetent bankers. All things that, I would guess, this writer claims to be against.

        1. How is paying more taxes automatically “the right thing to do”

          Beyond that, paying more taxes than are due is violating the letter and spirit of the law and shows contempt for democracy.

          Why do you hate democracy, tax charitist?

      2. What the fuck does it mean to “step right up to the edge of the law”? I’m not murdering or assaulting anyone; am I merely stepping right to the edge of the law?

        If I only pay the exact amount demanded of me in a parking ticket, am I only operating at the edge of the law? Was I supposed to pay extra, or go apologize to parking cops or something? Either you’re complying with the law, or you aren’t.

    6. But technical compliance is the best kind of compliance.

      Come on, you’re nerds! You should know this!

  20. The trouble with saying the problem is the power, not the people wielding it, is that in this case the power exists most proximately because of a statutory tax exemption. You really want people to get the idea the exemption should not exist?

    1. Robert| 5.21.13 @ 10:10PM |#
      …”You really want people to get the idea the exemption should not exist?”

      Yes. Once the exemptions are gone, people will figure out how much money the gov’t steals.
      I want that.

    2. I would say that the problem exists because of the tax code and it’s complexity, and the vast majority of Americans get that simple fact. Every year they pay someone else to fill out their tax forms for them, and deep down they know it shouldn’t be that way.

      If this scandal exposes the dangers of having a complicated code and having a powerful agency run it, and all the abuses that can result, than yeah, I want that.

      1. This is not much of a complexity, but pretty much falls out as a result of taxing incomes. It’s just a matter of whether an organiz’n that raises money to build up capital has to count that as taxable income or can get an exemption because they’re not trying to make money for an owner. To the extent it comes from donations, it’s money that was already subject to someone’s income tax.

        Some of the complaints about tax codes being complicated are justified, but others are facile. When it comes to taxes on income, most of the difficulty comes from figuring net income, which would be just as difficult no matter how simple the code was. When it comes to taxes on other things, there’s always going to be some problem in classif’n in determining whether a particular thing is one of those things.

        And no matter how you slice it, there will still be more and less corrupt ways of wielding the necessary power. So yeah, the abuser is a large component of the problem, not just the power.

  21. Wait, what?

    The Oakland Raiders have signed free agent defensive back Charles Woodson

    1. The prodigal son returns home.

      Now Raider nation holds vigil for the return of Gruden.

  22. Glad Reason is getting the pelf, but some algorithms really don’t work.
    I’m an old fart atheist, but I get display ads for X-ian singles, M-sm singles and then a survey for Oxfam hoping to pitch international gun control.
    Somehow, this all gives me hope; the data-collection isn’t close to beta-testing yet.

    1. You get ads?

      Thanks plugins from chrome, i haven’t seen an ad in years.

      1. Something about adblocking with the google browser seems off to me.

        1. And that is why people who fear Google intrusions into their privacy and want a government solution are morons.

          1. Google will help advertisers tailor their useless eyeclutter to something marginally less likely to get shuttered almost immediately?

            GET THE PITCHFORKS.

    2. The data is out there, and pretty much unsecured, the question is how much is it worth to you?

      Personal identification information (or PII as we call it) is not now, nor has it been for a very long time, “secure”. You may live “off the grid” but if you pay taxes, ever, your PII is not secure.

      Go google yourself (including screen names and email adds) some time, if you don’t believe me.

      The genie is not going back in the bottle.

  23. I have no idea why, but I love watching videos of crazy homemade shotgun shells…

    like this

    1. my cousin blew off a finger doing that shit

        1. It happened in 1986. I doubt it.

          1. Dang.

            I thought you were kidding. How’d he do it?

            1. Not sure, I wasn’t present.
              They lived near Lancaster, PA. You figure it out.

              1. I’ll call my people out there and find out. I’ll let you know.

                Is he an amish-type person?

                1. Pennsylvania Dutch.

  24. I’ve said before that liberals are being perfectly honest when they say this happened because of Citizen’s United — they just neglect to mention that it was because they had to switch from silencing conservatives through the FEC to using the IRS instead.

    Now, that was just snarky cynicism, but apparently it was fucking spot on. Article claims the same sort of bullshit went on during Lerner’s tenure at the FEC.

    1. We already knew this from McCain Feingold.

      “No Corporate speech! But hey, Union speech, well, they aren’t all corporationy so they’re cool.”

      Uh huh. “Honest”.

  25. Our best chance is for the FedGov to collapse under its own weight.

    1. Sadly, we can’t guarantee that what replaces it will be friendlier to liberty.

      1. I suspect that the states will form regional coalitions, and people will tend to migrate to regions in which they share a common worldview.

        1. Probably, assuming that travel isn’t restricted.

          In the event of a complete Federal implosion I would expect chaos for months, and a few years before things “normalized.”

          Unfortunately I am not sure which region would be worth living in. Much of the Northeast would descend into socialism. The South could go any number of ways, but would probably end with the worst of Dixiecratism. California would likely just go bankrupt.

          Anyway, I’m trying to imagine a part of the country that wouldn’t suck…kind of drawing a blank.

          1. Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and Southern California might be taken over by Mexico.

            There might be attempts by some parties to re-establish the “Old South”, but so much of the South is Yankee-fied anymore, that I wouldn’t expect to see a revived C.S.A.

            The Mid-West might be okay; Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, the Dakotas…

            1. I could see parts of TX losing going to Mexico, but I can’t imagine the whole state losing that war.

              Some of the South is Yankified, but most of GA, MS, TN, AL, and Northern FL is still pretty “southern.” I imagine NC and VA go with MD and end up in some sort of Mid-Atlantic coalition.

              The Plain States would probably just end up like Kansas. I’d be kind of wary of living in a land-locked country.

          2. Implosion? Guess that’s why Homeland Security purchased well over a billion hollowpoint bullets, so they can look after themselves…

            Hollowpoints are banned by the Geneva Convention because they cause too much pain and suffering, yet Obama’s administration has more than four for each man, woman and child.

            1. Over the next 5 years, yeah.

              Hollowpoints are commonly used in this country for domestic law enforcement, and have been for quite some time since they are less likely to over-penetrate their target.

  26. Joey says thats some pretty cool stuff!

    http://www.Prox-Anon.tk

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