Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Cruising the Web

The Washington Post reports that it wasn't just IRS employees in Cincinnati targeting conservative groups. Washington IRS officials were in on the game also. And this tidbit should be investigated further.
Catherine Engelbrecht, president of the Houston-based True the Vote, first filed for tax-exempt status in July 2010. At one point, Engelbrecht — who is still awaiting a determination from the IRS regarding her voting rights organization and a separate tea party group, King Street Patriots — said an IRS employee informed her: “I’m just doing what Washington is telling me to do. I’m just asking what they want me to ask.”
Hmmm. Given that Washington can't speak, perhaps we can find out who that IRS employee is and which IRS employee told her that.

Well, isn't this special? In addition to targeting conservative groups, the IRS office in charge of tax-exempt applications, also released nine pending applications from such groups to the liberal site ProPublica last year. And ProPublica is the one exposing them.
The IRS cover letter sent with the documents was from the Cincinnati office, and signed by Cindy Thomas, listed as the manager for Exempt Organizations Determinations, whom a biography for a Cincinnati Bar Association meeting in January says has worked for the IRS for 35 years. (Thomas often signed the cover letters of responses to ProPublica requests.) The cover letter listed an IRS employee named Sophia Brown as the person to contact for more information about the records. We tried to contact both Thomas and Brown today but were unable to reach them.

After receiving the unapproved applications, ProPublica tried to determine why they had been sent. In emails, IRS spokespeople said ProPublica shouldn’t have received them.

“It has come to our attention that you are in receipt of application materials of organizations that have not been recognized by the IRS as tax-exempt,” wrote one spokeswoman, Michelle Eldridge. She cited a law saying that publishing unauthorized returns or return information was a felony punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and imprisonment of up to five years, or both.

In response, ProPublica’s then-general manager and now president, Richard Tofel, said, "ProPublica believes that the information we are publishing is not barred by the statute cited by the IRS, and it is clear to us that there is a strong First Amendment interest in its publication.”

ProPublica also redacted parts of the application to omit financial information.
Ha! Michael Goldberg tweets: " Katzenberg can deduct $ given to ProPublica, the partisan 501c3 the IRS was leaking to re non-deductible right-wing c4s"

The acting IRS commissioner who managed the division targeting conservative groups was also involved as one of the agents who targeted anti-Clinton organizations in the 1990s. What a coincidence! Oh, and he knew about the IRS targeting tea party groups back in May 2012. But, of course, it wouldn't have been worthwhile making that information public back then. There was an election to win. What are the chances that the head of the IRS knew about this and never informed the Secretary of the Treasury in whose department the IRS resides?

And no surprise that Democrats in Congress had been asking the IRS to investigate conservative 501(C)4 groups.

Well, this should be fun. Eric Holder is testifying before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. I bet they'll a lot of questions about the DOJ monitoring AP's phone records.

So why did a judge approve an over-broad subpoena for the AP's telephone records? Those sorts of subpoenas are supposed to be narrowly tailored for the subject at issue, not just issued for those entire files.

And I have another question. If AP found out about the Justice Department's tapping their phone lines on Friday, why did they wait until late Monday afternoon to report on it? Isn't one of the strengths of AP supposed to be their timeliness in reporting news? And wasn't this big news?

Wasn't it just a week or so ago that Obama told OSU graduates to reject people who argue that a big government could lead to tyranny? Hmmmm. The IRS targeting groups based on their support for the Constitution and the government tapping journalists' phones? Obama's argument gets weaker by every turn of the news cycle.

And what will be his argument for the 2014 elections? Ben Shapiro sums it up.
Obama's 2014 campaign: I'm not responsible for anything my government does. So please give me more power.

Hmmm. Is it significant that Obama refers to "these United States" rather than using a singular construction? Ever since the Civil War, the United States has been a singular noun.

Jesse Norman, author of a biography of Edmund Burke reminds us of Burke's influence and eloquent writing.

Obama is sticking to his strategy all along on the Benghazi story - stonewall and prevaricate and assume that the public is uninterested and ignorant so he can get away with his deceptions. Of course, his efforts to pretend that he called Benghazi an act of terrorism right after it happened earns four Pinocchios in the Washington Post. Someone let Candy Crowley know.

Ross Douthat explains why IRS officials might get the idea that targeting conservative groups was a good idea. It's called a "Brown Scare" or "an inordinate fear of a vast far-right conspiracy."
Where might an enterprising, public-spirited I.R.S. agent get the idea that a Tea Party group deserved more scrutiny from the government than the typical band of activists seeking tax-exempt status? Oh, I don’t know: why, maybe from all the prominent voices who spent the first two years of the Obama era worrying that the Tea Party wasn’t just a typically messy expression of citizen activism, but something much darker — an expression of crypto-fascist, crypto-racist rage, part Timothy McVeigh and part Bull Connor, potentially carrying a wave of terrorist violence in its wings.

The Washington Post isn't buying the Democrats' claim that the Democratic Senate budget plan is for a balanced budget.

Megan McArdle takes apart the new meme that the IRS targeting conservative groups was just a result of there being such an explosion of 501(c)4 groups applying for tax exempt status and the IRS just needed a way to find "potentially dubious groups."

Colin Quinn scores comedians for being too "scared" of making jokes about Obama.
This is pathetic!

People joke around the President. They’ll be like, hey you've heard the joke about President Obama? JOE BIDEN. Haha! And everybody one is like "Whew! Close call!"
HE's exactly right.

Poor Obama; all these scandals are preventing him from talking about the things that he really wants to talk about.

Timothy Carney reminds us of how intolerant Obama has always been towards any dissent directed at him. When it is directed at Republicans, then dissent is patriotic.