American Elephants

Politics, Outrage, Fingerpointing, and the Latest in the Scandals by The Elephant's Child

Congressman Jim McDermott is Seattle’s own. We call him Baghdad Jim — not a compliment. He is perhaps the most partisan politico on the Progressive side, or perhaps there are some worse. He is in another district so I don’t get a chance to vote enthusiastically against him.

Democrats, of course, claim to be outraged by the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United, which declared that Corporations may contribute money to political campaigns. They still don’t get to make donations directly to candidates. The problem for Democrats is that they had the donation bit sewn up with union money and NGO money and Enviro money. But Corporations have lots of money. They might influence an election. They might contribute to Republican causes. The Chicago Way — “At all times an election is too important to be left to chance.”

This IRS scandal just keeps getting worse. Millions of taxpayer moneys spent on agency events, overpaid speakers, $3000 hotel rooms. Obviously even the Democrats recognize the problems, acknowledge them and admit that there was wrongdoing, while they search for excuses or a way to blame it all on Republicans.

Sort of ‘If you didn’t want to get raped, you shouldn’t have dressed so slutty.’

The Hearings Really Get Interesting by The Elephant's Child

Sheesh! No wonder the President held an impromptu press conference to attempt to distract media attention from the Ways and Means Committee Hearings. This is devastating for the administration.

I had appointments this morning, so couldn’t watch the hearings. When I got home, I got the mail and, believe it or not, I had a letter from the IRS! They wanted more money. Fortunately, it was due to a careless error on my part, easily corrected. ( I hope) The IRS told me it would be about a 15 minute wait on hold, but I think it was closer to an hour or more. We’ll see. I have to call back tomorrow. But there I sat, typing with one hand, on these posts while holding the phone to my ear with the other. And I can’t tell you what pleasure it gave me to be posting these testimonies while sitting endlessly on hold with the IRS.

Darrell Issa, Chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has been taking depositions from those “low-level employees” that everybody  has been trying to blame for the targeting of conservative groups.  He has released passages from their testimony — complaining about the micromanagement from DC,  — believing that the policy came from IRS headquarters. Some of the cases were sent to Washington DC. The “low-level employees” were told to send specific names of applicants and particular parts of applications.

David Axlerod keeps chiming in, saying that the whole thing is so stupid that it couldn’t be on purpose, that Darrell Issa is taking the GOP “over the cliff” on these scandals. “Overreaching” is the new word in the talking points.

Obama’s very own Organizing for Action is also seeking 501(c)(4) status. They are not only a specific tool for Obama in pushing his policy platform, they make no bones about it.

Statement of Purpose

Organizing for Action is a nonprofit organization established to support President Obama in achieving enactment of the national agenda Americans voted for on Election Day 2012. OFA will advocate for these policies throughout the country and will mobilize citizens of all parties and diverse points to speak out for speedy passage and effective implementation of this program, including gun violence prevention, sensible environmental policies to address climate change and immigration reform. In addition, OFA will encourage the formation of chapters that will be dedicated at the grassroots level to this program, but also committed to identifying and working progressive change on a range of issues at the state and local level. In carrying its work, OFA will operate as a “social welfare” organization within the meaning of section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code.

What’s sauce for the goose clearly isn’t sauce for the gander. Time to whine about fairness?
Representative Aaron Schock speaks at the Ways and Means Scandal Hearing.

“At All Times Elections Are Too Important to Be Left to Chance” by The Elephant's Child

Here’s Dr. Karen Kenney, another in what will become a long list of victims of the intimidation tactics used by the IRS, aimed at conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status. In October, 2010, the San Fernando Valley Patriots, a not-for-profit corporation in California, applied to the IRS for 501(c)(4) status as a tax-exempt social welfare organization.

We heard nothing until February 2012 when I received a packet from the IRS Exempt Organizations Office in Cincinnati, OH which included a questionnaire with 35 items divided into 80 subpoints of inquiry.

A cover letter indicated we had 20 days to comply without penalty including “penalties of perjury” for failure to answer all questions with facts that are “true, correct, and complete.”

Karen Kenney said:

My personal favorite was question No. 33, which in relation to protests asked for a listing of our “committed violations or local ordinances, breaches of public order or arrests” then requested details on how we “conduct or promote” illegal activities.

I think the IRS needs to fix its labeling machine: We’re the San Fernando Valley Patriots, not Occupy Oakland.

It took the IRS sixteen months to reply to their application for tax-exempt status. Karen Kenney withdrew her application for tax exempt status in 2012, out of concern the IRS would target individuals involved in the group. Which was an election season. Can’t have any of these groups getting tax-exempt donations when there is an election at stake. After all, as the “Chicago Way” states — “at all times elections are too important to be left to chance.”

Democrats, in a bit of difficulty, are attempting to discredit the conservative groups testifying by claiming that 501(c)(4) status requires the group to be involved in “social welfare,” not politics. I can’t think of any greater social welfare issue for Americans than preserving the freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. Social welfare doesn’t have to be giving benefits to the poor with other people’s money.

President Obama, just happened to have a little press conference to give a statement on judicial nominees, and it just happened when the press was covering a hearing on the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups. Purely a coincidence, of course.

“I am not here as a serf or vassal. I am not begging my lords for mercy” by The Elephant's Child
June 4, 2013, 4:07 pm
Filed under: Politics

” I’m a born free American woman, wife, mother and citizen. And I’m telling my government that you have forgotten your place. It’s not your responsibility to look out for my well-being, and to monitor my speech. It’s not your right to assert an agenda. Your post, the post that you occupy, exists to preserve American liberty, You’ve sworn to perform that duty. And you have faltered.”

Becky Gerritson of the Wetumptka Tea Party, testifying today before the House Ways and Means Committee about abuse by the IRS.

You will notice that Mrs. Gerritson received a letter demanding information, to which the IRS is not entitled, bearing Lois Lerner’s signature. Lerner claimed that IRS abuse of groups such as the Wetumptka Tea Party was the work of a couple of “rogue employees.”


(h/t: Althouse)



Nearly One Billion People Have Escaped Extreme Poverty in 20 Years, Thanks to Free-Market Capitalism by The Elephant's Child

From Economist Mark Perry at AEI, an excerpt from The Economist:

The world’s achievement in the field of poverty reduction is, by almost any measure, impressive. Although many of the original Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) —such as cutting maternal mortality by three-quarters and child mortality by two-thirds—will not be met, the aim of halving global poverty between 1990 and 2015 was achieved five years early.

The MDGs may have helped marginally, by creating a yardstick for measuring progress, and by focusing minds on the evil of poverty. Most of the credit, however, must go to capitalism and free trade, for they enable economies to grow—and it was growth, principally, that has eased destitution.

The world now knows how to reduce poverty. A lot of targeted policies—basic social safety nets and cash-transfer schemes help. So does binning policies like fuel subsidies to Indonesia’s middle class and China’s hukou household-registration system that boost inequality. But the biggest poverty-reduction measure of all is liberalizing markets to let poor people get richer. That means freeing trade between countries (Africa is still cruelly punished by tariffs) and within them (China’s real great leap forward occurred because it allowed private business to grow). Both India and Africa are crowded with monopolies and restrictive practices.

Many Westerners have reacted to recession by seeking to constrain markets and roll globalization back in their own countries, and they want to export these ideas to the developing world, too. It does not need such advice. It is doing quite nicely, largely thanks to the same economic principles that helped the developed world grow rich and could pull the poorest of the poor out of destitution.

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