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Happy President’s Day (*)

I had a visceral dislike for George W. Bush, going back to when he was Governor of Texas. I think he was a bad president. I even think that if all the votes were fairly counted, he might have even lost to Al Gore. But Bush was certified by the Congress as elected, and he was the president. For good or ill, he will forever be listed as the 43rd president of the United States.

Opponents of Barack Obama, however, went one step further. They didn’t even want him to be a candidate for president, and filed lawsuits to prevent it. Once elected, they continued to litigate and to deny that he was eligible, and to this day work to erase his presidency, to place an asterisk next to his name in the history books as not actually being the president. Some refer to Obama as the “putative president” or “the pResident.”

A May 2013 article in the Wall Street Journal1 by James Taranto titled “President Asterisk” is not quite the birther denialist story, but I think it runs parallel. The subject was the IRS use of certain keywords like “tea party” to trigger special scrutiny of groups applying for 501(c)(4) social welfare organization tax exempt status. Taranto writes:

No one can deny that Lance Armstrong and Mark McGwire were highly skilled athletes. But their accomplishments are forever tainted by their use of banned performance-enhancing drugs. The use of the Internal Revenue Service’s coercive power to suppress dissent against Obama is the political equivalent of steroids. The history books should record Obama’s re-election with an asterisk to indicate that it was achieved with the help of illicit means.

At best this is a gross exaggeration. Hundreds of millions of dollars went into anti-Obama Super PACs in the 2012 election. Organizations that the IRS didn’t approve in a timely fashion were still free to raise and spend money – IRS pre-approval is not necessary. Nothing was “suppressed.” Obama won in an electoral landslide and I cannot imagine any legitimate argument that IRS actions made a wit of difference.

Personally, the whole targeting business didn’t bother me. A 501(c)(4) social welfare organization has to promise that their primary activity isn’t political, and an organization named “Tea Party” claiming not to be primarily political ought to raise a red flag!

Orly Taitz picked up some recent news on this theme in her latest troll for plaintiffs in the title,

BREAKING: 100% of the 501(c)(4) Groups Audited by IRS Were Conservative. If you are a conservative and your equal protection rights were violated by IRS and Obama regime and you want to be a part of a class action legal action to originate in CA, contact Attorney Orly Taitz, orly.taitz@hushmail.com and send a short paragraph with specifics of discrimination

I wondered if it was true. Taitz didn’t provide any source, as usual, but I found that the charge comes from Republican House Ways and Means Chairman David Camp  who said on February 11 of this year:

At Washington, DC’s direction, dozens of groups operating as 501(c)(4)s were flagged for IRS surveillance, including monitoring of the groups’ activities, websites and any other publicly available information. Of these groups, 83% were right-leaning. And of the groups the IRS selected for audit, 100% were right-leaning.

Source: Wall Street Journal blogs

Rather than blaming the IRS, perhaps there really was abuse of tax exempt status by conservatives. Progressives say that there is rampant abuse among conservative social welfare organizations, and that they provide the main channel for large anonymous donors to give towards political activity (source NPR).

These numbers have a context: there were far more right-leaning 501(c) (4) applications in the last election cycle. The IRS targeted the keywords “Conservative,” “Tea Party,” “Patriot” and “Progressive” in applications, but of the 111 applications that matched that list, only 7 were “Progressive” (source NPR)! What was also ignored is the conservative keyword list was just one of the keyword lists the IRS used.

A bill currently working its way through Congress earmarks $200,000 in the IRS budget for training on 501(C)(4). The Wall Street Journal reported that the FBI says it is not likely to file any criminal charges, but the FBI says officially their investigation is still in ongoing. Congressional investigations continue. I’ll wait and see.


1The Wall Street Journal is owned by News Corp, the same Rupert Murdoch company that owns Fox News. They are being hypocritical when they complain of anti-conservative bias at the IRS, when they practice blatant anti-Democrat bias under Murdoch’s ownership. According to the Wikipedia:

The [Wall Street Journal] op-ed section routinely publishes articles by scientists skeptical of the theory of global warming, including several essays by Richard Lindzen of MIT. Similarly, the Journal has refused to publish opinions of prominent scientists with opposing conclusions.[43]

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17 Responses to Happy President’s Day (*)

  1. avatar
    Andrew Vrba, PmG February 17, 2014 at 8:34 am #

    What better way to celebrate President’s day, than to rub salt into birther wounds, by reminding them that Obama is the President? ;)

  2. avatar
    Nancy R Owens February 17, 2014 at 10:00 am #

    You mean, that Obama is King, don’t you?

    [URL removed. DOC]

  3. avatar
    Sam the Centipede February 17, 2014 at 10:56 am #

    … and, according to the Doc’s headline, a Happy President!

  4. avatar
    sfjeff February 17, 2014 at 11:16 am #

    Just waiting for the inevitable posts claiming that Obama compares himself to Lincoln and Washington.

    But there is no comparison- we have actual proof of where Obama was born….

  5. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy February 17, 2014 at 12:20 pm #

    No hospital has confirmed that Lincoln was born there.

    sfjeff: But there is no comparison- we have actual proof of where Obama was born

  6. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy February 17, 2014 at 12:23 pm #

    Grrrrr. Fixed.

    Sam the Centipede: … and, according to the Doc’s headline, a Happy President!

  7. avatar
    Joey February 17, 2014 at 3:12 pm #

    Nancy R Owens:
    You mean, that Obama is King, don’t you?

    [URL removed. DOC]
    Kings don’t get 65,915,796 popular votes, 332 electoral votes and have their electoral votes certified 535-0 at a Joint Session of Congress.

  8. avatar
    W. Kevin Vicklund February 17, 2014 at 3:24 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy: No hospital has confirmed that Lincoln was born there.

    I kid you not – I know (assuming he’s still alive) a Lincoln birther, in the sense that he questions the date of Lincoln’s birth (‘cuz a pastor’s wife at a railroad town would have no good way of knowing what night was Saturday, doncha know).

  9. avatar
    Sef February 17, 2014 at 7:33 pm #

    W. Kevin Vicklund: I kid you not – I know (assuming he’s still alive) a Lincoln birther, in the sense that he questions the date of Lincoln’s birth (‘cuz a pastor’s wife at a railroad town would have no good way of knowing what night was Saturday, doncha know).

    You could ask one of Charles Darwin’s descendants about the date.

  10. avatar
    MattR February 17, 2014 at 10:46 pm #

    The IRS targeted the keywords “Conservative,” “Tea Party,” “Patriot” and “Progressive” in applications, but of the 111 applications that matched that list, only 7 were “Progressive” (source NPR)! What was also ignored is the conservative keyword list was just one of the keyword lists the IRS used.

    Also worth noting that the only group to have their application rejected was the Maine chapter of the progressive group Emerge America. And after that rejection, the IRS went back and revoked the status of all other chapters Emerge America, which had been approved in 2006. If the IRS was “going after” conservative groups like conservatives allege, they did a piss poor job of it.

  11. avatar
    Lupin February 18, 2014 at 4:10 am #

    IMHO, it is easier to understand America today if you’ve dealt with semi-corrupt third world countries — in my own experience, Ivory Coast. The scales are different, and the forms observed less, er, transparent, but many of the mechanisms are the same.

    It wasn’t like that (or not that degree) 30 years ago.

  12. avatar
    The Magic M February 18, 2014 at 5:04 am #

    MattR: What was also ignored is the conservative keyword list was just one of the keyword lists the IRS used.

    That’s the kind of selective truth that is central to good propaganda. You don’t lie openly but by omission.

    Reminds me of a TV report from many years ago where the author wanted to evoke the impression Germany had deliberately sold a missile capable of carrying nuclear payload to the Middle East when in fact even the expert they interviewed clearly said that *every* missile can deliver a nuclear payload – they just omitted the word “every” in the translation to German.

    It’s tendentious at best and deliberately misleading at worst.

    So is claiming that “conservative groups were targeted” equates to “only conservative groups were targeted”.

    The same disgusting stuff that you see on WND (pimping “black-on-white crime”) or the EU Times (sensationalizing crimes where the criminals are Jewish).

  13. avatar
    RanTalbott February 18, 2014 at 5:33 am #

    Lots of irony in the RWNJ complaints that groups that are supposed to (according to the actual law, not the lax IRS regulations) be _completely_ non-political we prevented from trying to influence the 2012 elections.
    And an excellent proof that there is no God can be found in the fact that the bodies of the people who risked, and even sacrificed, their very lives to found this country were not brought back from their graves to wander the countryside as zombies, eating the brains of the whiners who claim they’re being “repressed”, and “deprived of their First Amendment rights” because they couldn’t get a tax break to subsidize their attack ads.

  14. avatar
    Majority Will February 18, 2014 at 11:21 am #

    Sef: You could ask one of Charles Darwin’s descendants about the date.

    Or the two grandchildren of John Tyler, the 10th President of the U.S., who are still alive.

    You could ask them. ;-)

    (http://www.snopes.com/history/american/tylergrandsons.asp#EicIx3yQfCMLTrsH.99)

  15. avatar
    J.D. Reed February 20, 2014 at 8:11 am #

    RanTalbott: Lots of irony in the RWNJ complaints that groups that are supposed to (according to the actual law, not the lax IRS regulations) be _completely_ non-political we prevented from trying to influence the 2012 elections.And an excellent proof that there is no God can be found in the fact that the bodies of the people who risked, and even sacrificed, their very lives to found this country were not brought back from their graves to wander the countryside as zombies, eating the brains of the whiners who claim they’re being “repressed”, and “deprived of their First Amendment rights” because they couldn’t get a tax break to subsidize their attack ads.

    Other than “there is no God,” an excellent point. They were discouraged from contributing because they weren’t getting a tax deduction on their contributions? Must not have been very committed to their cause.

  16. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy February 20, 2014 at 9:22 am #

    I’ve heard stories…

    RanTalbott: the fact that the bodies of the people who risked, and even sacrificed, their very lives to found this country were not brought back from their graves to wander the countryside as zombies, eating the brains of the whiners who claim they’re being “repressed”, and “deprived of their First Amendment rights” because they couldn’t get a tax break to subsidize their attack ads.

  17. avatar
    Andrew Vrba, PmG February 20, 2014 at 11:30 pm #

    RanTalbott:
    …the bodies of the people who risked, and even sacrificed, their very lives to found this country were not brought back from their graves to wander the countryside as zombies, eating the brains of the whiners who claim they’re being “repressed”, and “deprived of their First Amendment rights” because they couldn’t get a tax break to subsidize their attack ads.

    Why the HELL hasn’t Roger Corman made this a movie yet?!