Tag Archives: tea party

Republicans Ready Themselves For Self-Destruction

Rep. John Boehner

According to Robert Costa over at the National Review, the Republican leadership has given up: Boehner will allow the lunatic tea-party bandits in the House to move a resolution to keep funding the government, save for Obamacare. And, once that falls apart in the Democratically controlled Senate, and the next step is a government shutdown, the Republican leadership will try/pray/hope/beg/borrow/steal enough votes from their party in order to keep the government open. If you’re looking for an apt word to summarise this, might I suggest “stupidity”.

From Costa:

Here’s how my sources expect the gambit to unfold: The House passes a “defund CR,” throws it to the Senate, and waits to see what Senator Ted Cruz and his allies can do. Maybe they can get it through, maybe they can’t. Boehner and Cantor will be supportive, and conservative activists will rally.

But if Cruz and company can’t round up the votes, the House leadership will likely ask Republicans to turn their focus to the debt limit, avoid a shutdown, and pass a revised CR — one that doesn’t defund Obamacare.

The really mind-boggling truth to all this is that everyone knows what the deal is here: the bill will survive the House and Tea partiers who have done a really amazing job convincing stupid people that Obamacare is a bad thing will have a day of celebration. Then Harry Reid will light the stupid bill on fire and toss it in the trash in the Senate. In the end, we’ll be right back where we started, only that much closer to a government shutdown.

And unless the Republican leadership — which has pretty much lost all leverage and control over the party — can convince the loons of the far-right to relent and pass a funding bill, the government will indeed shutdown. The silver-lining? If-and-when that happens, only one party will be to blame.

(Photo: Medill DC)

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Quote For The Day: The Lost Republican Soul

stk_001294

Something terrible has happened to the soul of the Republican Party. We’ve gone beyond bad economic doctrine. We’ve even gone beyond selfishness and special interests. At this point we’re talking about a state of mind that takes positive glee in inflicting further suffering on the already miserable. … The occasion for these observations is, as you may have guessed, the monstrous farm bill the House passed last week. … What is it about, then? Somehow, one of our nation’s two great parties has become infected by an almost pathological meanspiritedness, a contempt for what CNBC’s Rick Santelli, in the famous rant that launched the Tea Party, called “losers.” If you’re an American, and you’re down on your luck, these people don’t want to help; they want to give you an extra kick. I don’t fully understand it, but it’s a terrible thing to behold.

Paul Krugman, Hunger Games, U.S.A.

(photo by Ze Carlos Barretta)

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Oh Good, The IRS Targeted Liberal Groups Too

Just when we thought we were out … They pull us back in. I’m not sure how it took this long to locate, but Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee released on Monday a copy of the spreadsheet used by IRS screeners in Cincinnati (nicknamed BOLO) to highlight the keywords analysts should “be on the lookout for.” The usual suspects of course were tea party groups, but now we have another righteously miffed group included in the mix: liberals. IRS analysts were told to look out for keywords like “blue” or “progressives“:

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So, there’s that. Hopefully this non-story doesn’t become the center of attention again. It’s clear that the entire situation reeks of incompetence and negligence. Still, expect some of the more vocal members of the left to make a little noise about this new revelation.

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Mitch McConnell Hates That The IRS “Scandal” Is Over

GLI Fly-in 6

In a somewhat belligerent, almost paranoid speech given today to the American Enterprise Institute, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) lashed out against the Obama administration for failing to disprove that the president’s administration was directly involved in the IRS targeting of conservative groups. Huh?:

“Now we have an administration that’s desperately trying to prove that nobody at the top was involved in any of this stuff, even as they hope that the media loses interest in this scandal and moves on.”

The media has pretty much lost all interest. But note what McConnell is trying to pull off here: before, when the scandal was at its peak, the burden of proof was on the Republicans to attach the White House to the IRS employees in Cincinnati. They couldn’t do it. So now, given that there is no evidence whatsoever incriminating the president’s administration, McConnell is desperately trying to frame the question a different way: Obama hasn’t proven he wasn’t involved.

Thankfully, as Jonathan Chait notes, McConnell’s speech marks the point when the IRS scandal has mercifully entered its “post-fact” phase:

McConnell’s speech today is a kind of covered retreat, signaling the IRS scandal’s turn into a vague trope that conservatives use with other members of the tribe, the way liberals liked to say “Halliburton” during the Bush years, to signal some dark beliefs they don’t need to back up.

Now the IRS can happily go back to being boring again.

(Photo by flickr user Greater Louisville Medical

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IRS Guy Behind Tea Party Screenings Is A Conservative Republican

Signs of Madison's Tea Party: "Obama's Plan White Slavery"

The House Oversight Committee has been conducting interviews with IRS employees hoping to get to the bottom of why the screening of Tea Party groups happened. On June 6, House Representatives — hoping to quell the swell of assertions coming out of Darrel Issa — carried out a transcribed interview with the Manager of the Screening Group in the Cincinnati Determinations Unit of the IRS. Basically, they talked with the guy in charge, and here’s what they found out:
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Meet the IRS fall guy

The IRS Has My MoneyInternal Revenue Service Building (cc photo by scotteric)

Someone had to be made an example of in this IRS debacle. The president needed to appear to be taking real, swift action. For all intents and purposes, Steven Miller acted properly to shut down the actions of the rogue IRS employees in their targeting of conservative groups. He wasn’t even the director in charge of the IRS during most of the period the targeting was taking place. But he’s the fall guy in this mess, asked to resign as acting director of the Internal Revenue Service.

Of note here is the reach of the President when it comes to firing employees of the IRS. Obama actually only had two choices on whom to fire at the agency: the commissioner or the chief counsel. The rest of the agency is necessarily insulated from the executive branch – mostly to assuage fears that the president could theoretically influence the actions of the IRS if he or she had control over the hiring and firing of its employees. That means that while Steven Miller lost his job, the employees actually engaged in discriminating against the tea party groups are protected from being fired by the White House.

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Everything you need to know about the Washington scandals

With so many scandals consuming Washington at the same time, we’re going to go through each one of them here on BaddiesBoogie and tell you everything you need to know. Since the Inspector General’s report into the IRS scandal was released late last night, we’ll start there.

Updates on the IRS scandal

The House is set to grill AG Eric Holder today regarding the AP, IRS scandals. He’ll be testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, where Republicans have already made clear their intent to grill him to death on the DoJ’s secret gathering of AP phone records and, perhaps more controversially, the IRS targeting of tea party groups for scrutiny. It’s not going to be a fun day for the Attorney General.

Some columnists, like Dan Balz in the Washington Post, believe that this whole saga of scandals is likely to cloud the entire second term of our newly re-elected President.

“Obama’s words suggest that he believes there is a way to compartmentalize the business of his second term: legislative and other business here, scandals over there. But things are too messy for that right now. A politician who has counted good luck as part of his skill set will need all the breaks he can muster to pull off that bit of political jujitsu…It is too early to draw any broad conclusions about the long-term damage to Obama’s presidency from the news that the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative groups and that the Justice Department collected two months of phone records from Associated Press reporters and editors. But in the moment, these controversies — along with the ongoing congressional investigation of the attacks in Benghazi, Libya — have created major challenges for the administration.”

Here’s what we found out from the IG report into the IRS: this is more about incompetence than it is about motive. It’s also a rather clear cut case of insubordination. While the IG report seems to suggest that there’s no real conspiracy here, it’s going to be difficult to convince the rest of the country of that. The key takeaway from the report is that in the summer of 2010 – in the lead up to the election – there was a huge surge in political organizations seeking 501(c)4 tax exemption status, and in response to that surge of political groups wanting to manipulate the system, the IRS developed asinine criteria for identifying them easily as overtly politicized applicants. Their criteria – which we’ve heard over and over recently – was looking for words that included “tea party” or “patriots” etc,.

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Here’s the kicker though, in July of 2011 the director of the revenue service told them to stop targeting groups with those key words and instead develop a more politically neutral system for identifying false 501(c)4s – like focusing on activity rather than the name or perceived ideology of the group. Now let’s make some room for some rouge insubordination: in January of 2012, those IRS officials told by the director to cut it out, reverted back to the same politicized strategy as before, and targeted those tea party groups behind management’s back. The basic sum up is that there exists no big bad Obama/Washington controversy or conspiracy here – this is all a rather stupid case of insubordination and incompetence.

Updates on DoJ/AP phone records

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When scandals are more likely to take hold of the public imagination

It’s unfortunately unavoidable that a considerable chunk of time needs to be dedicated to otherwise meritless stories like Benghazi-gate, but with the increasing tension in Washington and around the country regarding Presidential scandals – true or otherwise – we do need to pay attention. On the one hand, I do think that it’s a rather huge deal that IRS employees, acting autonomously, intentionally targeted conservative political groups during the 2012 election. You can read my previous thoughts on this here and here. On the other hand, I don’t think there’s any merit whatsoever in the entire saga that is Benghazi; I will of course change my opinion on the latter if new information comes out, but it doesn’t look likely that it will. But as much as we’d like to believe the opposite, whether or not a scandal has legs in the news-cycle isn’t all determined by whether or not it has merit. Circumstance plays a huge role.

Brendan Nyhan, a political scientist, researched and found the three reasons why, especially right now, scandals are so likely to take hold of the public imagination:

First, I found that new scandals are likely to emerge when the president is unpopular among opposition party identifiers. Obama’s approval ratings are quite low among Republicans (10-18% in recent Gallup surveys), which creates pressure on GOP leaders to pursue scandal allegations as well as audience demand for scandal coverage.

In addition, I found that media scandals were less likely to emerge as pressure from other news stories increased. Now that the Boston Marathon bombings have faded from the headlines, there are few major stories in the news, especially with gun control and immigration legislation stalled in Congress. The press is therefore likely to devote more resources and airtime/print to covering the IRS and Benghazi stories than they would in a more cluttered news environment.

Finally, Obama is in his second term, which is when scandals are most likely to take place.

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Should the investigation be limited to the IRS?

Internal Revenue ServiceInternal Revenue Service Building (cc photo by functoruser)

Peter Kirsanow doesn’t think so:

…the investigation shouldn’t be limited to the IRS. Until last week, the IRS was denying that conservatives were being targeted by the agency. Now we know those denials were completely false. What about the Department of Labor, or for that matter, any federal agency with authority to investigate, regulate, or fine individuals and businesses? With few exceptions, the permanent bureaucracy in Washington leans heavily left. If IRS employees could target conservatives, what prevents the same mindset from prevailing in other agencies?

Congress must use its time and resources judiciously. But it would be shortsighted not to take seriously the complaints that citizens — regardless of ideology — have made about other agencies as well. Hey, we conservatives might be paranoid. But it looks like this time someone was, indeed, out to get us.

On the one hand, you can’t really fault Kirsanow and other conservatives for wanting to expand the investigation to other federal agencies after their complaints against the IRS were proven true. But let’s be real here, he thinks we should thoroughly investigate every federal agency? It’s not only unfeasible, it’s also totally unnecessary. Conservatives have a real opportunity now to sink their teeth into a good, honest controversy. They’ll effectively be able to make an example of the IRS, and by that measure, the President. If they’re motivated by scoring political points – which obviously they are – then they’ll get their fair share by shaming the Revenue Service. If they’re also motivated by ensuring bureaucratic prejudice doesn’t harm them in the future, then by making an example of the IRS, other supposedly biased federal agencies will be thoroughly warned to resist similar actions. In either case, this is a win for Republicans – as long as they don’t get too carried away.

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Why the IRS targeting conservative groups is both a really bad thing, and a really necessary thing

It turns out that when conservatives were complaining that the IRS was singling them out for audits during the 2012 election, they were right. AP reports that in fact, “The Internal Revenue Service inappropriately flagged conservative political groups for additional reviews during the 2012 election to see if they were violating their tax-exempt status, a top IRS official said Friday.”

While the lefty in me is stifling a chuckle that mega conservative groups like the tea party are being targeted for anything, the truth is, this is a huge freaking deal. The IRS holds as much private information and data as any governmental organization in the world, and because it has the authority and – weirdly – the autonomy it does, it can destroy people’s lives. For that reason, the IRS can only exist and function if it does so by being perceived as an apolitical institution, unmotivated by ideology or bias.

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