Republicans Succeed In Turning Americans Against The IRS – And Other Fairy Tales

The hyper-partisan political landscape in America has been heating up in the past week or so. Despite the numerous issues that Americans are anxious for their representatives to address (jobs, economy, guns, healthcare, immigration, defense, etc.), Republicans in congress have signaled that they have no intention of moving a legislative agenda that could benefit the nation – otherwise known as doing their job.

Instead Republicans appear hell-bent on throwing fuel on a variety of incendiary claims of scandal that are being peddled by the GOP, but with time and honest research have proven to be insubstantial at best, and dishonest at worst. For example…

Republicans Succeed In Turning Americans Against The IRS

This week the Republican Party, and their PR division Fox News, pulled off a political miracle that no one could have predicted a week or two ago. By the sheer determination of their will and endless repetition, The GOP has managed to transform the legendary public affection for the Internal Revenue Service into deep animosity and distrust. Prior to these late-breaking events the IRS had a 40% approval rating (note: that was still better than congress at 9%)

How could this have happened? The foundation of good will that has long been the envy of every other government agency has cracked and now Americans are, for the first time, eying the IRS suspiciously and recoiling in disgust. From a political standpoint, all the effort that Republicans have been pouring into this affair has yielded them an unexpected victory. They must be so proud now that they have masterfully maneuvered public opinion away from the big government bureaucracy that was once such an object of adoration.

This remarkable achievement was engineered by relentless condemnation of a branch of the IRS whose purpose is to affirm that organizations seeking tax-exempt status are complying with the legal requirement to be doing social welfare work and not politics. That seems like an important function that protects taxpayers from having to pick up the tab for political operatives who try to evade their fiscal responsibilities. The problem occurred when some low-level employees sought to identify potential evaders by imposing stricter standards of scrutiny on presumably conservative groups associated with the Tea Party. What on earth might have caused anyone at the IRS to think the Tea Party could be conducting political activities?

Tea Party IRS

Don’t Do As We Said. Do As We Say Now

The revelation that phone records for the Associated Press were secretly subpoenaed by the Justice Department has rocked the media world. It is being portrayed as a gross violation of the First Amendment right to Freedom of the press. And no one is more outraged than congressional Republicans who have pounced on the disclosure and exploited it to elaborate on their assertions that the Obama administration has become tyrannical in their abuse of power.

However, further investigation into the controversial activity revealed that the DOJ was acting on requests from Republicans in congress who were worried that leaks to the media were endangering national security operations. So what we have here is GOP anger at the DOJ for doing what the GOP asked them to do. What’s more, the very same Republicans who are freaking out over the seizure of AP’s records, voted against a media shield law that would have made such seizures illegal without prior approval from a judge.

Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi

Another feather in the GOP cap is their persistent drum-beat of horror over what they say was President Obama’s shameful mismanagement of a diplomatic facility in Libya that resulted in the deaths of an ambassador and three other Americans. Never mind that they have never been able to tie the President to any specific action that might have made him responsible, they continue to blame him for the whole thing and are even raising the specter of impeachment.

Most recently, Jonathan Karl of ABC News broadcast an exclusive report wherein he claimed to have obtained emails from the CIA and State Department that proved that the White House tried to alter the narrative in a way that diminished the participation of Al Qaeda. This was done, Republicans allege, to benefit the President in the midst of his reelection campaign.

Like every other Republican-built scandal, this one has withered in the light of principled journalism that unraveled the embarrassing stenography practiced by Jonathan Karl. Contrary to his reporting, Karl did not actually have the emails he said he had. CBS’s Major Garrett did acquire the actual emails and reported significant discrepancies between what they said and what Karl reported. Subsequently, Karl admitted that he had only interviewed someone who said they had seen the emails and had taken notes.

As it turns out, Karl’s anonymous source was likely a Republican congressman who had seen these classified emails when they were presented in closed session by the DOJ. The source then relayed a falsified version of what the emails contained to Karl in order to damage the President. Karl graciously went along with the obviously partisan source without demanding any further corroboration. For that malfeasence, and his lying about having possession of the emails, Karl ought to be fired. Of course, he could always get a new job at Fox News where his reporting on the emails was lavishly praised. Fox then patted themselves on the back for so doggedly pursuing the phony story.

Fox News

In Conclusion…

The cornucopia of crackpottery to which the GOP is clinging becomes more absurd by the hour. And yet they are feverishly pushing these fairy tales so as to avoid doing any real work. The American people deserve a legislative branch that accomplishes something every now and then. It is why they are elected and what we pay them for. Enduring countless fake scandals that have never even come close to implicating Obama in any wrongdoing is not a substitute for leadership. In fact, the only party in any of these affairs that could be guilty of a crime is the source who leaked classified information (albeit falsified) to Jonathan Karl.

Republicans are striving mightily to compare Obama to Richard Nixon and Watergate. But a more apt comparison would be Whitewater. In that trumped-up controversy Bill and Hillary Clinton were alleged to have committed everything from tax fraud to murder. But none of it proved to be true. And even after a surreal impeachment over consensual sex, Clinton rose again and Republicans lost seats in the following election. At the rate things are going, that is a likely fate for Republicans in 2014. And it would serve them right. Maybe then the country could get around to actually working on the real problems we have that affect the lives of real people – not just the political fortunes of power-hungry losers.


20 thoughts on “Republicans Succeed In Turning Americans Against The IRS – And Other Fairy Tales

  1. Awesome article. Knocked it outta the fukn park.

  2. 1. “Legendary public affection” for the IRS? Wow!

    2. Please show where someone in congress suggested or requested that the DOJ grab journalists’phone records.

    3. It has not been determined that Pres. Obama is directly to blame for Benghazi, even if FOX News would like it to be so. But the President and his administration have added fuel to the fire by not being forthcoming. It gives the impression the administration is hiding something. Maybe they are, maybe not. Since you like to remind us about how FOX tries to reincarnate Watergate, let me remind you that when the initial facts were presented in that case, there was no evidence of wrongdoing by Pres. Nixon. Should Woodward, Bernstein and others have just gone on to the next story or are we all glad they kept digging? Were they the forebears of FOX?

    Mark, you of all people, should be outraged over the AP story. It is a legitimate story that involves what you do every day. You don’t mind the DOJ surreptitiously grabbing your info because they don’t like your story?

    Your conclusion leaves me flabbergasted. You haven’t, for one moment, considered the possibility that the government (whether it be the Pres./ administration, congress, govt agencies, etc.) could have done something wrong.

    • Well said. I too was astounded to learn that we had a “legendary affection” for the IRS. Mark, where did you ever get an idea like that? That’s simply untrue. Your ideas are usual on target, but this is as nutty as the hogwash Glenn Beck spews every day.

      • Oh… god………oh my god. Apparently you need to start using lol’s, mark. Or jk’s. Cause I guess satire/sarcasm is just too complicated for some. Arbitrary amnesia seems to be a problem too for some here. My forehead is gonna have my hand print on it for like a week.

        • Amazing, isn’t it? The right is always complaining that there aren’t any conservative comedians, and now we know why. They wouldn’t have an audience that knew when jokes were being told.

        • Amazing, isn’t it! Keep in mind many on the right think Stephen Colbert is a real conservative. In view of that it is not surprising Mark’s obvious sarcasm about the IRS was lost on them.

    • 1) You really need to adjust your sarcasm detector.

      2) Some “one” in congress? How about 31 GOP senators.

      3)Your history is fuzzy. Woodward and Bernstein did not publish their seminal reporting on Watergate until AFTER they had established a serious pattern of wrongdoing and had multiple sources corroborating it. There is ZERO evidence of wrongdoing on Obama’s part in any of these so-called scandals.

      4) As for the AP, I do not approve of the phone record seizures and have written about that. But this article is about GOP hypocrisy and their real motives, which are to smear Obama and to shut down all legislative work.

      • Mark,

        Perhaps your sarcasm was lost on me. I’m usually a pretty good judge of sarcasm. The problem I have when I read your blog is that so much of what you say is so outlandish that it all blends together. In your case, I might suggest you occasionally remove your left wing granny reading glasses (sarcasm) and try to comprehend my comments from a more objective perspective.

        In point 2 of my comment, I specifically asked that you “please show where someone in congress suggested or requested that the DOJ grab journalists’ phone records.” I didn’t ask for proof that anyone suggested an investigation; I didn’t ask for proof that left wing congressmen wear pink sneakers on Thursday; I asked specifically for proof or scant evidence or even an iota of an indication that any “one” or “more” in congress suggested to the DOJ that they grab journalists’ phone records.

        If the link you provided is the best you can do, I will conclude that your answer is NONE…Zero…Nobody. I suggest you continue scouring the intertubes for that evidence to support your wild assertion.

        My memory has nothing to do with my comments about Woodward and Bernstein. At the beginning of Watergate, there was no proof of anything other than a break-in. How did we get from that simple minor criminal act to the point where the President resigned? I used Woodward and Bernstein as examples of investigating that occurred, not as the exclusive dynamic duo that uncovered everything. There were congressional investigations, and as you may recall, Republicans and the Nixon Administration went on about how there was no evidence, that it was a witch hunt by Nixon’s political enemies, etc. Sound familiar?

        In the end, the evidence may not support much of anything involving the administration or the President at all. And so be it, if that is what is determined.

        The difference today is that, unlike the ’70s, everybody can be an investigative reporter. Everybody has the opportunity to weigh in on things on social media, and do so. So of course the evidence may not be completely flushed out yet. But today we get to see what everybody’s thinking, whereas in the ’70s, it may have been restricted to much smaller circles. In the end, the evidence may not support much of anything involving the administration or the President at all. And so be it, if that is what is determined.

        Even you have weighed in as part of the crowd that says, “there’s nothing going on here, folks; just partisan politics where Pres. Obama’s enemies are once again trying to bring him down. Those evil Republicans just can’t stand the idea of a Black man being in the White House. They couldn’t beat him in two elections so now they’re trying to defeat him by manufacturing scandals.”

        I’m glad to see that you don’t approve of the phone records seizure. Is that because you believe it goes against the First Amendment or because Republicans wanted the DOJ to do it?

        Depending on who’s in power, the other side will always claim partisanship as the motivation behind investigations like those that are occurring now. I’m happy for divided government. If Dems controlled both Houses of Congress, these recent matters would have been downplayed and reduced to the “Living Today” section of the news. And the protests by the minority Republicans would have been summed up as yet more examples of Right Wing hysteria.

        • I never said that anyone in congress asked the DOJ to seize phone records. All I said was that Republicans requested that the DOJ be more aggressive in investigating leaks. And on that, I am correct. I am not obligated to prove your distortions of what I wrote.

          As for the Watergate hoopla, I think it is irresponsible for journalists to be conducting baseless smear campaigns on behalf of the GOP. When they have nailed down a story, go to print/air. Otherwise, leave it to the partisans in politics to thrash around.

          • You’re right, Mark — you didn’t say that. You said, “further investigation into the controversial activity revealed that the DOJ was acting on requests from Republicans in congress who were worried that leaks to the media were endangering national security operations. So what we have here is GOP anger at the DOJ for doing what the GOP asked them to do.”

            Considering how fair you are to Republicans, there is no way that anyone could conclude that your remarks meant (or at least implied) that all this was at the Republicans’ request. It may be subtle to some, but you can’t deny that you’re trying to divert attention away from the impropriety of it all by putting the blame on Republicans. Moreover, even if Republicans had called for the seizure of phone records, wouldn’t it be up to the State Dept. to be a gatekeeper and “just say no”?

            The Republicans requested a Special Counsel. Since you seem to think the DOJ is so obliging to calls from Republicans for “more aggressive investigation”, why did he not just appoint one?

            It’s interesting that you want other journalists to wait until they have something pinned down before going to print, but that would exclude you, I guess.

            • 1) I CAN deny your strawman argument. Why do you keep putting words in my mouth?

              2) NO, the State Department is NOT the gatekeeper between congress and the DOJ. I don’t even know what you’re talking about. That’s just nutty. State has absolutely no jurisdiction over how Justice interacts with congress.

              3) YES, it DOES exclude me. Because I am NOT a journalist. I am one of the partisans who can thrash it around.

  3. The IRS scandal is getting exponentially worse, in case you haven’t been paying attention. “Low-level employees”? That is becomng less and less likely, and you know it. And since the lefties are perfectly willing to let the IRS sic their attck dogs on Tea Party groups but not lefty superPAC’s like Priorities USA, your hypocrisy has been exposed.

    As for Benghazi – There is still a lot that stinks about how that attack was handled by this administration.

  4. Mark,

    1. Not a straw man, just repeated what you wrote. If that’s putting words in your mouth, I’m guilty as charged.

    2. You’re right…State isn’t the gatekeeper. I meant to write DOJ, not State. Sometimes I think one thing, but my fingers have a mind of their own. So, then…my point was that DOJ should have used its own good judgment, but didn’t. And you take a fact — that Republicans requested a Special Counsel — and convert it to Republicans effectively being responsible for the DOJ’s actions.

    3. You are also right about not being a journalist. You’re the liberal version of what you accuse FOX News to be. The difference is that you do it with plenty of venom. You have make good points about FOX News and other conservative groups or media. But you lose me when you try to make everything FOX does part of a larger, right wing conspiracy to take over the world, maybe even the universe. Quite frankly, it makes you appear parochial. You would probably have a wider following if you also criticized left wing media shortcomings with even half the enthusiasm you criticize FOX. Let’s face it; even Jon Stewart crosses over from time to time to bash on Lefties. Even then, you found a way to criticize FOX News. It is simply absurd.

    By the way, is it possible that the poor IRS was just complying with this ==>
    when they decided to target conservative groups? This is coincidentally similar to your assertion concerning the DOJ’s action to seize journalists’ phone records above. Of course, Chuck Schumer and Al Franken were just being patriots in their call for conservatives to be targeted, right?

    • I have a wonderful life.

    • I have a wonderful life.

  5. If I e-mailed the President and asked him who would be working the counter at my local Post Office on Saturday and he didn’t respond, but, a few days later one of his “people” responded with “The President doesn’t know who would be working the counter at your Post Office on Saturday, but thanks for your e-mail.”
    1) Should I realistically expect the President to know every detail of every Department, every Branch, and every employee that works for the Government right down to my local Post Office?
    2) Should I scream cover-up, conspiracy, worse-than-Watergate, worse-than-Watergate AND Iran Contra combined X10, why aren’t we Impeaching the President?
    The Rightwing needs to focus a little better on real problems our Country faces, like JOBS, instead of trying desperately to bring down the President no matter how much harm they cause the American people by there constant petty devisive behaviour.

    • Point taken, Sandman. But if I were the second in command at the US Embassy in Tripoli, and the call came in that we were under attack, and the President was in fact aware, and a bunch of people were in danger (including the Ambassador), and I just went to bed and never followed up on it any further that evening, and then made a statement the next morning and for another two weeks that focused on a fantasy of what actually occurred when he knew better:

      1. Should I think that the President can’t be expected to know every detail of what goes on around the world and, therefore, can’t be held in any way responsible?


      2. Is it reasonable to think there could be either more to the story than what has been indicated?

      Besides, what’s the big deal; the President’s poll numbers haven’t suffered and have actually improved slightly. You should be trolling for even more scandals.

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