Free Markets, Free People
And, as it always seems to happen now days, nothing was done:
In late March 2012, IRS deputy commissioner Steven Miller–who resigned his post as acting commissioner last week at President Obama’s request–directed senior technical advisor Nancy J. Marks to investigate allegations of political targeting of groups seeking tax exempt status, agency officials told congressional aides. Holly Paz, acting director of ruling and agreements, worked with Marks on the probe, and both traveled to Cincinnati to conduct interviews.
Sounds serious, right? Eh, not so much:
On May 3, 2012. Marks gave what IRS officials described as a “presentation” to Miller describing her findings. According to the House aide, Marks said the investigation had found significant problems in the review process and a substantial bias against conservative group. No written findings were produced as a result, the aide said, and it does not appear the internal review led to any disciplinary actions against IRS employees.
Now, I don’t know about you, but if, in fact, “a substantial bias against conservative groups” was found, and it was important enough, at least initially to send Paz and Marks to check it out, then by doing nothing, it would seem to me that IRS management at least tacitly endorsed the action.
Which may be why certain IRS official has decided has decided to plead the Fifth:
A top IRS official in the division that reviews nonprofit groups will invoke the Fifth Amendment and refuse to answer questions before a House committee investigating the agency’s improper screening of conservative nonprofit groups.
Lois Lerner, the head of the exempt organizations division of the IRS, won’t answer questions about what she knew about the improper screening – or why she didn’t reveal it to Congress, according to a letter from her defense lawyer, William W. Taylor 3rd.
And yes, you’re right … this stinks to high heaven and it absolutely begs to be prosecuted.
Of course, if you had any faith in government, you’d expect it too.
That exempts me, however. I expect a few low level IRS employees to get to take one “for the team” and those that actually made it happen will, as usual, escape scott free.
That’s how it works today in this land where everyone is “equal” under the law.
Peggy Noonan makes this statement today:
What happened at the IRS is the government’s essential business. The IRS case deserves and calls out for an independent counsel, fully armed with all that position’s powers. Only then will stables that badly need to be cleaned, be cleaned. Everyone involved in this abuse of power should pay a price, because if they don’t, the politicization of the IRS will continue—forever. If it is not stopped now, it will never stop. And if it isn’t stopped, no one will ever respect or have even minimal faith in the revenue-gathering arm of the U.S. government again.
And it would be shameful and shallow for any Republican operative or operator to make this scandal into a commercial and turn it into a mere partisan arguing point and part of the game. It’s not part of the game. This is not about the usual partisan slugfest. This is about the integrity of our system of government and our ability to trust, which is to say our ability to function.
First paragraph … agree, for the most part. Where I don’t agree is that there is a “minimal faith” in the revenue gathering arm of the US government. There’s been little faith in it since it’s inception. Most people understand that the gun is pointed at them and the prison cell is open and waiting. They don’t pay taxes because of any “faith” or respect for the IRS or government. They do it out of fear.
As for the second paragraph, that’s total horse hockey. Total.
The entire point of the scandal was it targeted “political” organizations. How does one not politicize it? It took place under a Democratic administration and the opponents of that party were the target of the IRS.
And what do we get from Noonan? “Hey, let’s take a knife to a gun fight”.
Noonan’s advice is, by far, the stupidest advice one could give.
Yes, this is about the integrity of the system. And, like it or not, that is directly linked to those who administer and govern.
Ms. Noonan, who is that right now? And how, if they were doing an effective job, would this have been going on for two years. Oh, and speaking of trust, how are you with the whole AP scandal? My guess is you’re wanting some heads over that.
Well, I want some heads of this. And Benghazi. And Fast and Furious.
Instead we get shrinking violets like you advising everyone to back off and not make this “political”.
You’ve all read about the first “3D gun” being made? Well here’s some of the fallout:
Defense Distributed, the Texas-based nonprofit that wants to empower people to 3D print their own guns, has hit a bit of a legal snag. According to founder Cody Wilson, DEFCAD, the open source weapon-printing project powered by Defense Distributed, received a letter (embedded below) from the State Department’s Office of Defense Trade Compliance, telling him to remove the blueprints of the Liberator, his 3D printed gun, from the web so that they may be reviewed by the department.
The group’s website currently has a red banner appended to the top that reads, “DEFCAD files are being removed from public access at the request of the US Department of Defense Trade Controls. Until further notice, the United States government claims control of the information.”
“We got an official letter from the Secretary of State, telling me who they were, what their authority was under U.S. law and telling me they want to review these files to see if they’re class one munitions,” Mr. Wilson told Betabeat by phone. “That includes blueprints.”
So anyone want to guess how many times those blueprints were downloaded before this order came along? I know there are many other aspects of this case to discuss such as this:
In the letter … the State Department says that Defense Distributed may have released data that is controlled by the International Traffic in Arms Regulation without getting prior authorization. This would put the company’s actions in conflict with … the Arms Export Control Act.
“Please note that disclosing (including oral or visual disclosure) or transferring technical data to a foreign person, whether in the United States or abroad, is considered an export,” reads the letter. It also says that until Defense Distributed has received the legal all-clear, the company “should treat the above technical data as ITAR-controlled. This means that all such data should be removed from public access immediately.”
But other than a basis to prosecute, the letter accomplishes nothing. Same with the “law”. Add the internet and, well, whoosh, it’s around the world before the government even knows about it.
A perfect example of why, and you can see rumblings of it happening now here (and, of course, it is a top priority in other countries), government is growing more and more interested in controlling the internet. Again, the excuse du jour will be what? “It’s for your own safety and security that we clamp down on these things and take away some of your freedoms”. It has no choice if it is going to enforce it’s laws does it?
And we all remember what Ben Franklin said about trading freedom for security, don’t we?
Well apparently the ultimate RINO is restless and looking for a nail on which he can use his legislative hammer.
John McCain is going to release a bill that would dismantle cable as it’s currently constructed, Brenden Sasso at The Hill reports.
The legislation would force cable companies and satellite TV providers to give consumers an option to pick and choose which channels they get. This is called “à la carte programming,” and it’s long been a dream of consumers who only want a handful of channels.
While I’d certainly be fine with a la carte programming, it is none of the government’s business. When someone finds a way to offer that, consumers will reward them.
Speaking of the government, you’d think another thing that they and McCain would be for would be a la carte health insurance. You know, a dream of health care consumers. Instead we get bundled health care with 300 things we don’t want but have to pay for because the government says so.
You’d think people like McCain, et al, would want to do something abou that wouldn’t you … instead of worrying about TV channels.
One of the things I’ve noticed over the years is governments at all levels building expensive monuments to itself. From local city halls and county administration buildings to Washington DC, governments spare no expense in ensuring they have the very best in terms of buildings to house them. And, it appears, the Department of Homeland Security is not to be denied either:
Washington notables broke ground on the future home of the Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday, symbolically starting construction on the biggest federal building project in the Washington area since the Pentagon 68 years ago.
The project will bring together more than 15,000 employees now scattered in 35 offices in the region, placing them on a 176-acre campus strewn with historic buildings in a long-neglected corner of Washington, five miles from the Capitol building.
Department leaders hope the $3.4 billion consolidation will help the department fulfill its core mission — protecting the homeland — in ways big and small.
“It will help us hold meetings,” Secretary Janet Napolitano said. “It will help us build that culture of ‘One DHS.’”
“It will help us hold meetings.” That’s the best she can come up with (I mean, with today’s technology, I guess virtual meetings are just too much work)? And when I read about her hope of building a culture of “One DHS”, I saw an image of my freedoms flitting out the window while a band play “Deutschland Uber Alles”.
By the way, the site on which this building will be built is the former site of an insane asylum.
I love irony.
Seems easy enough. That way you can claim to be improving it even while nothing is actually improving in reality:
The Bureau of Economic Analysis announced last week it would be changing the guidelines with which it calculates Gross Domestic Product, more familiarly known as the GDP, the standard by which the size and growth of the economy is measured.
The change comes after more than five years of economic stagnation that, despite frequent claims of a strengthening recovery, have seen high unemployment and extremely slight growth in the size of the economy.
GDP is calculated by adding up the total amount of private consumption, investment, government spending, and net exports. The new changes, which will include definitional changes to expand what is counted in GDP, are expected to add 3 percent to the GDP report, while not changing the actual output of the economy.
The agency claims the changes in calculation “more accurately portray the evolving U.S. economy and to provide for consistent comparisons with data for the economies of other nations.”
Note the emphasized text. Realize that the addition of 3% to future GDP reports will be made without any explanation that a) there have been changes in the way it was calculate and b) in reality, the actual output of the economy has not changed at all.
But the administration will claim victory and the low information voters will buy it while the “no” information voters (those on the left who refuse to challenge anything put out by this administration) will crow about the “improvements” that the administration has brought to the economy.
Meanwhile the unemployment picture will remain the same (about 7.5%) until they can find a new way to calculate that and take about 3% off . Then we’ll be officially “fixed”.
This should be interesting to watch:
A group of small business owners (and individuals) in six states today are suing the federal government over an IRS regulation imposed under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), which will force them to pay exorbitant fines, cut back employees’ hours, or severely burden their businesses. Complaint can be viewed here.
The Affordable Care Act authorizes health insurance subsidies to qualifying individuals in states that created their own healthcare exchanges. Those subsidies trigger the employer mandate (a $2,000/employee penalty) and expose more people to the individual mandate. But last spring, without authorization from Congress, the IRS vastly expanded those subsidies to cover states that refused to set up such exchanges. Under the Act, businesses in these nonparticipating states should be free of the employer mandate, and the scope of the individual mandate should be reduced as well. But because of the IRS rule, both mandates will be greatly enlarged in scope, depriving states of the power to protect their residents.
Michael Carvin, partner at Jones Day, who co-argued the Supreme Court Obamacare cases in March, 2012 and who represents the plaintiffs in this lawsuit, stated: “The IRS rule we are challenging is at war with the Act’s plain language and completely rewrites the deal that Congress made with the states on running these insurance exchanges.”
33 states have refused to set up these exchanges. The IRS, per the complaint, is ignoring that ability given by the states by the law and proceeding as if it didn’t exist. The argument is the IRS is overstepping it’s authority.
“Agencies are bound by the laws enacted by Congress,” said Sam Kazman, general counsel of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI). “Obamacare is already an incredibly massive program. For the IRS to expand it even more, without congressional authorization and in a manner aimed at undercutting state choice, is flagrantly illegal.” CEI is coordinating the lawsuit.
We’ll see. Given the way the law is interpreted anymore, I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see the IRS upheld (or the suits be dismissed out of hand). Such is the lack of respect and confidence I hold for our “legal system” anymore.
Well, there’s been a significant amount of silence from those who were "there" and a lot of smoke thrown by those who were in charge. You have to wonder if this is about to break big or it will continue to be swept under the rug:
If ever there was an apt description of our general problem in this country, Dr. Milton Wolf nails it in the first paragraph of his discussion of the building disaster we call ObamaCare.
The fatal conceits of Obamacare are the absurd notions that the government can spend your money more wisely than you can and that bureaucrats are more capable than you are to make your own most intimate, personal decisions. The antithesis of government-centered Obamacare is what I simply call “Patientcare.” Patients should be at the center of our health care universe, not President Obama and not the government.
We suffer under a landslide of the same fatal conceit applied to literally hundreds of government programs in this country. These fatal conceits (or flawed premises if you prefer) have cost us literally trillions of dollars and much of our freedom. Government has essentially decided that it’s priorities for your money are more important than your priorities for what you earn. And, it had also decided that in many areas it can make better decisions for you than you can make for yourself.
But, that’s not the problem in full. In full, the problem is exacerbated (and the notion “validated”) by the number of people who, for whatever reason, have bought into the efficacy of these conceits. They believe the flawed premises to be true and willingly cede their money and freedom believing government does indeed spend their money more wisely and is more capable than them of making “good” decisions on their behalf.
The problem, of course, is that as long as those people who willingly enslave themselves to government exist in large enough numbers, they’ll succeed in putting the shackles on the rest of us as well. As long as they look at the federal government as their care giver, they force that on the rest of us as well.
One of the reasons we have the debt and deficit problems we currently suffer is the left has been very successful in selling those flawed premises via emotional appeal to low information (and frankly, ignorant) voters. They’ve avoided rational discussion with “for the children” campaigns. They’ve often claimed “market failure” where government created problems through preverse incentives and market intrusion and then push government as the solution.
Years ago we came from a people that knew that nothing was “free”. They knew that there really wasn’t anything called a “free lunch”, someone had to pay for it. The knew that you were responsible for your own welfare, self-defense and freedom. And interestingly, so did most of the politicians of the time. Oh there were certainly those among them that believed as the left does today, but they were a distinct minority. Their creed was considered extreme and, frankly, un-American.
Now it is they who are “main stream” and those who call for much less government intrusion in our lives who seem to be considered the extremists. Common sense, the ability to see through the blarney and nonsense, seems to have died. In the so-called information age, we seem to have a growth of ignorance. Part of that I lay at the feet of another government program that has been a woeful failure – public schooling. Common sense tells you that such an institution would be unlikely to teach anything negative about government and, in fact, might even become a bit of a propaganda arm for it. That it might involve itself in a bit of indoctrination. That it might fill fairly benign subjects with information preferred by government and spend less time on information that wasn’t in favor at the time or is contrary to the agenda it prefers. But that all assumes an ability to teach the core competencies, something most of our school systems seem unable to do with any great success. So we have the misinformed and the illiterate buying into the government’s flawed premise in droves.
Obviously a great deal of things over the years have led us to this point of dependency on government. And we know how it ends. It is the blue state model and the blue state model is failing all over the country and the world.
Yet was still hear it extolled by its zealots and lapped up by the ignorant who refuse to look beyond the promises. It still amazes me that we’ve managed to get in this mess and can’t seem to find the intestinal fortitude to say “enough” and begin doing the very unpleasant task of reversing it. But that’s the problem, isn’t it? It would be unpleasant. And we don’t like unpleasant. So instead, we continue to believe the fantasy.
The problem, of course, is like Toto in the Wizard of Oz, reality is going to pull back the curtain very soon and expose the fantasy for the fraud it is. And then we’ll look back at “unpleasant” as something we wish we’d done.
By then, it will be way too late.
How convoluted has our world become? How screwed up is this nation? How Orwellian is everything these days?
Marathon bombings mastermind Tamerlan Tsarnaev was living on taxpayer-funded state welfare benefits even as he was delving deep into the world of radical anti-American Islamism, the Herald has learned.
State officials confirmed last night that Tsarnaev, slain in a raging gun battle with police last Friday, was receiving benefits along with his wife, Katherine Russell Tsarnaev, and their 3-year-old daughter. The state’s Executive Office of Health and Human Services said those benefits ended in 2012 when the couple stopped meeting income eligibility limits. Russell Tsarnaev’s attorney has claimed Katherine — who had converted to Islam — was working up to 80 hours a week as a home health aide while Tsarnaev stayed at home.
In addition, both of Tsarnaev’s parents received benefits, and accused brother bombers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan were recipients through their parents when they were younger, according to the state.
The news raises questions over whether Tsarnaev financed his radicalization on taxpayer money.
We paid for our own bombing.