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Bjorn Against

Bjorn Against's Journal
Bjorn Against's Journal
May 16, 2013

My challenge to DU: Cite me an official source that says the Tea Party was "singled out" by the IRS

We have been hearing over and over for the past week that the IRS "singled out" the Tea Party for special scrutiny when they applied for tax exempt status for their "social welfare" organizations. It is an allegation that has been screamed loudly by the right-wing and the media and it has even been repeated by many on the left end of the political spectrum.

I have read a great deal about this "scandal" and I have heard the allegation that the Tea Party was "singled out" many times, but I have yet to find a single official source that confirms they actually were singled out. There have been many stories in the media that have made this claim, but I have yet to find one of these stories that was actually able to back that allegation up with a source.

Many of you may be saying, "The IRS apologized for singling the Tea Party out and the Inspector General's report confirmed they did just that." If you actually read either the apology or the Inspector General's report however neither of them actually state that the Tea Party was singled out.

Let us start out with IRS official Lois Lerner's apology; here are the words that sparked the firestorm:

So our line people in Cincinnati who handled the applications did what we call centralization of these cases. They centralized work on these in one particular group. They do that for efficiency and consistency — something we do whenever we see an uptick in a new kind of application or something we haven’t seen before. Folks might remember from back a few years ago we had credit counseling organizations and we centralized those cases. We had mortgage foreclosure cases and we centralized those cases. We do it for consistency So they went ahead and did that. How they do centralization is they have a list in their office that they give out to folks who are screening cases that says if it is one of these kind of cases and it can’t be screened it needs to go to group X. So centralization was perfectly fine.

However, in these cases, the way they did the centralization was not so fine. Instead of referring to the cases as advocacy cases, they actually used case names on this list. They used names like Tea Party or Patriots and they selected cases simply because the applications had those names in the title. That was wrong, that was absolutely incorrect, insensitive, and inappropriate — that’s not how we go about selecting cases for further review. We don’t select for review because they have a particular name.

Now that you have seen what those words say, let's think about what they do not say. Lerner says that they searched out terms like "Tea Party" and "Patriots", but she never says those are the only terms they searched for. They may have also been searching on terms like "Democratic" and "Progressive", we don't know because the IRS has yet to provide us a complete list of all the search terms that may have been used. Lerner never mentions anything at all about how left-leaning groups may have been handled by the IRS, but she was asked about it by a reporter. Here is what she said...

"I don't have any information on that."

WHAT??! This is a high level official that oversees groups seeking tax exempt status and she can tell us how Tea Party groups are flagged, but she can not provide us with even one shred of information on how left-leaning groups were flagged. As a person who is in charge of overseeing tax exempt groups it seems that she should be able to explain to us how groups are flagged, yet she only claims to have knowledge of the process they used to flag one small subset of applicants. Does anyone really find this believable? How could someone in her position have absolutely no information on the flagging process of on any left leaning groups? How are we supposed to determine that the Tea Party was singled out when we are not even given anything to compare their experience with?

The Inspector General's Report acknowledges that the Tea Party groups were not the only groups flagged for scrutiny, in fact the Tea Party only made up about 30% of the flagged groups. If you read the report however the focus is nearly entirely on the way Tea Party groups were flagged and says almost nothing about how other groups were flagged. It cites questions that were asked to Tea Party groups but were not asked to "other groups", yet it never specifies what other groups it is talking about. It is common knowledge the IRS does scrutinize some groups more than others because it has limited resources, we already knew that some groups don't get the same level of scrutiny but that is not the issue here. The issue is whether or not the Tea Party was singled out based on their political views, but the Inspector General's report does not say that left leaning groups who were flagged were not asked the same questions.

according to the IRS, a Determinations Unit specialist was asked to search for applications with Tea Party, Patriots, or 9/12 in the organization’s name as well as other “political-sounding” names. EO function officials stated that, in May 2010, the Determinations Unit began developing a spreadsheet that would become known as the “Be On the Look Out” listing (hereafter referred to as the BOLO listing), 15 which included the emerging issue of Tea Party applications. In June 2010, the Determinations Unit began training its specialists on issues to be aware of, including Tea Party cases. By July 2010, Determinations Unit management stated that it had requested its specialists to be on the lookout for Tea Party applications.

In August 2010, the Determinations Unit distributed the first formal BOLO listing. The criteria in the BOLO listing were Tea Party organizations applying for I.R.C. § 501(c)(3) or I.R.C. § 501(c)(4) status. Based on our review of other BOLO listing criteria, the use of organization names on the BOLO listing is not unique to potential political cases. 16

Interesting, the report says that they have a "Be on the Look Out" group that not only includes applications for "Tea Party", "Patriots", or "9/12", but they also flag "other political sounding names". What those "other political sounding names" are they do not tell us. They do tell us that there are groups on the BOLA listing that are not based on political cases, right after that statement we see the number 16 which indicates a footnote, let us take a look at what that footnote says.

16 We did not review the use of other named organizations on the BOLO listing to determine if their use was appropriate.

WHAT??!! There were other groups on the list that were not affiliated with the Tea Party, but the Inspector General's report did not review ANY of them? What the hell kind of report is this? How the hell are we supposed to know that the Tea Party was singled out when they don't even review the treatment of other groups that were on the exact same BOLO list that they were?

If this scandal swirls around whether or not the Tea Party was treated differently than other groups then knowing how other groups were treated is absolutely crucial information in determining whether or not there was political bias, yet the Inspector General's Report did not even review it.

Who the hell would initiate a review like this without including such crucial information as to the scrutiny placed on other non Tea-Party groups, well the report gives us the answer to that question...

TIGTA initiated this audit based on concerns expressed by members of Congress.

So members of Congress called for this report, presumably Republicans. Did these members of Congress order the Inspector General to only evaluate the treatment of the Tea Party and not look at any other groups? If so is this not an example of abusing a government investigation for partisan political purposes?

I issue my challenge again, I challenge anyone to find me a piece of evidence from an official source that shows the Tea Party was singled out. I have heard the allegation many times this week, but I have yet to find a single piece of evidence that proves the Tea Party was treated differently, all I can find is reports on how Tea Party applications were handled with silence on how the applications of non-Tea Party groups who were also flagged were handled.

Can anyone cite me a source, or can we conclude that this "scandal" is not about the Tea Party being singled out?

On edit: I want to thank Chathamization who is a relatively new DUer that pointed me to the footnote used in the Inspector General's report. The contributions Chathamization provided were invaluable.
May 3, 2013

Thank you to all those who spoke out.

The admins have sent a clear message that violent rhetoric is not welcome here.

May 3, 2013

It is time to take a firm stand to denounce those who advocate "Second Amendment Solution" terrorism

A recent poll shows that 29% of Americans, including 44% of Republicans, 18% of Democrats and 27% of independents support an armed rebellion in the near future.

This may be the single most disturbing poll I have seen in a long time, and I have seen plenty of disturbing polls.

Let me be clear: those who are among the 18% of Democrats who believe this shit are not on my side. They can call themselves Democrats all they want but they are among the same level of scum as the teabaggers who cheer on Ted Nugent.

I have long been a strong supporter of non-violent resistance against the government and I have been in the streets many times over the last few years engaging in non-violent resistance. Non-violent resistance is a wonderful thing, but violent resistance is terrorism and all those who speak of "Second Amendment Solutions" are making it clear to us that they are at the very least terrorist sympathizers.

I know most of the scum bags who talk about turning their guns against "government tyranny" are all talk and won't actually carry out the murder they endorse, but it is a possible that a few of those nut jobs will and people will die. The blood of those people will be on the hands of all of the 29% who endorsed this idea.

Free speech is good, if people see government tyranny I highly encourage them to stand up against using any non-violent means at their disposal. Once the guns come out however the person wielding those guns becomes a murderous thug that needs to be condemned by every last person.

I sure as hell don't want the teabaggers deciding we are facing government tyranny and believing it is acceptable to use their guns against those of us they believe are contributing to that tyranny. I don't want anyone on my side to take up arms against the government either and anyone who even encourages such a thing is someone who I will loudly condemn them no matter their stances on other issues.

There is absolutely no way in hell that an armed revolt could ever succeed against the largest and most technologically advanced military the world has ever seen, but that doesn't mean people would not die in large numbers. And what happens then? All these people who were "fighting for our freedom" will cause the biggest crackdown on civil liberties this nation has ever seen, because don't think for a second the government will grant you more freedoms if you start murdering their people.

Those who call for taking up arms to "protect our freedoms" are in reality a threat to the freedoms of all of us. I just hope all of the 29% of Americans who say they support such a stupid and sickening idea are just idiots that say stupid shit without any intent of carrying it out, but if even a few of those 29% are actually serious and do carry out what they say they want to do all the people who encouraged this shit will have to share in the blame.

May 2, 2013

Republicans stand in favor of increasing Obama's power and raising taxes to fund trips to Hawaii

"Government should be run like a business."

I would be surprised if there is a single person reading this who has never heard this favorite Republican Talking Point. Many Republican politicians have ran on the platform that they would run government like a business, in fact their last Presidential candidate tried to base his campaign on running government like he ran his business.

To be clear I do not think government should be run like a business, the ideas I am going to suggest are not ideas that I agree with they are ideas that Republicans agree with and I am merely helping them to get their message out.

If government were run like a business Barack Obama would clearly be the CEO of that business. Obama currently has a salary of about $400,000 a year. For a CEO of a major company that is peanuts, the average CEO makes an average of 12.9 million a year, Republicans have consistently made it clear that they support CEOs making this kind of money, in fact they have accused those who say otherwise of class warfare. The average CEO makes over 32 times what Obama gets paid in a year. Clearly government is not being run like a business here, when the average CEO makes 32 times what Obama makes and Obama is running the largest operation of any of them. If government were ran as a business Obama would make at least 32 times his current salary and a probably a hell of a lot more considering he is the biggest of the big wigs, clearly the Republicans who support running government like a business would support giving Obama a massive salary increase far beyond anything that I would recommend, but they are welcome to their opinion.

Being a CEO is not just about money however, it is about being in control of guiding the company and ensuring that company grows and keeps growing. The Republicans have always been clear that they support business men who work to expand the size of their business. I sure have never heard a Republican suggest that a business should work to reduce its size, so clearly if the Republicans want to run government like a business they want a CEO who will work to expand the size of government just like a business works to expand the size of their business, they would clearly want to fire any business leader who tried to shrink the size of the business.

In order to expand their business a CEO needs to eliminate any employees in the company who are holding the business back. If anyone filibusters the CEO it is obvious that the people who want government run like a business would be supportive of the CEO when he unilaterally decides to fire all those who try to block him from leading the company forward. Paul Ryan, John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Ted Cruz, clearly all of those people are rebelling against the direction the CEO is trying to lead the company, if government were a business all of them would no doubt be fired and only the people who went along with Obama on everything would be retained. To be clear I don't believe that Obama should unilaterally be able to fire anyone who expresses even the slightest disagreement with him, but that is how businesses are run and because Republicans want government run like a business it seems pretty clear to me that they would have no problem with Obama firing everyone who disagreed with him in his quest to maximize government profit.

Make no mistake about it, the ultimate goal of a business is to maximize profit. Sadly for the Republicans the government has not been very profitable, clearly they must think that more revenue needs to be brought in. Obviously the government is not charging enough money to pull in maximum profits, raising taxes substantially will go a long ways in increasing revenue and making the government business more profitable. Considering the government has no competition the smart business move would be to increase the taxes substantially, that is how business works if there is no competition businesses charge more for their services and Republicans want government run like a business so clearly they must want this massive increase in taxes.

These taxes will not only create huge profits but they will also cover the expenses of running the business, this means lavish all expenses paid trips to Hawaii for their executives. This is the sort of bonus that is common for the executives of most large corporations, so clearly those who want government run like a business would be excited to see their tax dollars going to fund a lavish vacation for all the members of the Obama administration.

I may not be a big fan of the idea of running the government like a business so I don't support all of the ideas I mentioned, but I am certain that all the right-wingers who have been advocating for government to be run like a business must support these ideas because they undeniably represent the way businesses are commonly run. Businesses work to expand their size, the executives hold all of the power and can fire anyone who stands in their way, and they regularly raise costs in order to increase profits and provide those lavish all expenses paid Hawaiian vacations to their executives.

The next time you hear a Republican say that government should be run like a business tell them about the ways businesses are run, if they are as principled as they claim to be and are willing to stand behind their government as a business idea then I can guarantee you their heads will not explode.

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