Friday, May 17, 2013

The IRS Got It Right: To Hell with The Tea Party

No analysis can be on safe ground until "the facts" of a controversy are known and Mad Dog does not pretend to have all the facts about the IRS investigations of organizations applying for tax exempt status as "educational" organizations which had "Tea Party" or "Constitution" in their names.

Was this shameful "profiling" of conservative organizations as the Republicans would have us believe or simple vigilance?

Mad Dog heard some of the Congressional hearing testimony today and an IRS man, already fired and humiliated explained there was suspicion that some groups which claimed to be "educational" were actually political.

Now, how do you draw the line?  Do Tea Party people and Republicans and Democrats not routinely say they need to "educate" the public to "understand" the issues, when what they really are up to is persuasion and, when possible, indoctrination?

If you advocate for the election of leaders who will fight for "limited government"  and "cutting taxes" and shrinking the government to a size where you can drown it in the bathtub, are you not advocating against President Obama and the Democrats?

When does "education" become political speech?

Mad Dog is only sorry President Obama did not react thusly: These Tea Party thugs routinely tried to use the laws intended to protect universities and non political advocacy groups to funnel money and contributions into their phony "educational organizations." Well, the IRS was doubtful, as they well should have been.  This was not some Nixonian "enemies list." This was simply healthy skepticism: IRS agents were saying--show us what makes you an educational group rather than a political group.  For all the IRS knew, these groups were no more apolitical educational groups than the Westboro Baptist church is an apolitical local church. Whenever an educational group or, for that matter a religious group attempts to influence public policy it becomes an interest group, a lobby if you please and it loses its immunity to scrutiny and should lose its immunity to exemption from taxation."

That's what Mad Dog wishes the President had said.

But the President instincts are audi alteram partum--there are two sides to every argument. Hear the other side.

And, of course, there is an other side here: The IRS demanded all sorts of lists of members, minutes of meetings and all those aggravating, irrelevant, intimidating records few people keep. They wanted a summary of books read in book club groups. The head of book club sent in the book and said, "Read it yourself." As well she should.

So, it's hard to love the IRS. They are not always very bright. But, if you are President Obama, use this flap to your own advantage. Attack. Attack. Attack.


In this case, he ought to have presented his side, the government's side with more vigor and backed down those howling hyenas of the Republican right.

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