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The Asymmetric Outrage of Big Government Scandals

Spare us the talk of bipartisan disgust with the IRS.

by
Rand Simberg

Bio

June 7, 2013 - 12:00 am
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Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) has apparently had enough of both the IRS and Eric Holder, and thinks that it’s time for both to go. But I was struck by this comment of hers:

She feels the outrage over the politically motivated targeting is generally uniform throughout the House: “I think there’s enormous bipartisan outrage. This transcends party lines. We would be just as outraged if they were targeting liberal organizations.”

I’m willing to believe that the outrage is bipartisan, at least to some degree — there are many Democrats who see the danger here. (Even if the concern is simply regarding what might happen in a future Republican administration.) But I’d be willing to bet that the outrage remains much higher on the Republican side of the aisle than on the other.

What really struck me was the absurdity of the notion that such a thing could have happened to “liberal” organizations, even with a Republican administration. The reason is that this may not be a consequence of a lawless, hyper-political White House, but of a deep-rooted bureaucratic culture:

The IRS is not supposed to be a partisan agency. The federal bureaucracy was explicitly designed to be non-partisan so that it would impartially enforce the tax laws and regulations passed by the Congress and approved by the Executive. But the IRS like many other federal bureaucracies tends to be staffed by people — especially at the management level — who believe in robust, activist government. In other words: it is staffed mainly by Democrats. And however nonpartisan the organization is supposed to be, it cannot help but reflect the culture of the people who comprise it. The IRS, being led by and staffed with activist-minded Democrats, cannot help but reflect that worldview. The culture reinforces itself because adherence to the culture is the only way to move up. Dissenters and contrarians do not last long in an organization like the IRS (any more than they do at the FBI or EPA or DOJ).

I don’t know if this is true, but I think it would be the way to bet, and this is even more frightening than a lawless and hyper-politicized White House. If true, what are the implications?

Well, for instance, it means that the counterfactual described above — the IRS (or any federal agency) going after organizations favorable to Democrats in a similar manner, even with explicit White House direction — would only occur in a galaxy far, far, away.

Imagine that George W. Bush had given speeches describing the illegitimacy of “progressive” organizations like MoveOn.org, had called them a “threat to democracy,” or had refused to denounce his vice president’s characterization of them as “terrorists.”

Imagine that he had used crude and sexually derogatory terms to describe them. Or had implied that they criticized and hated him because they hated white people.

Further, suppose that the press not only wasn’t outraged, but instead agreed with him and even elaborated on his calumny, denouncing the racist and un-American terrorists at Soros-funded groups.

In this alternate universe, a press corps that went into “journalism” to “make a difference” has somehow miraculously transformed itself into cheerleaders for conservatism.

Back in reality, does anyone expect that a massive government bureaucracy, whose very existence and future growth is contingent on the continuation of big intrusive government, would actually start to give harsh scrutiny to organizations that are its own cheerleaders?

Take it a step further. Suppose that the White House had not only publicly identified its political enemies, but also had sent the explicit message to the bureaucracy — via phone calls, emails, even official memos — that it was to make life as difficult for them as possible.

Would they then salute and follow orders?

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Top Rated Comments   
Really?.........

and that's the ONLY example you have, while we have over a HUNDRED conservative or nonpartisan groups targeted for harassment, while your thug pals got a pass. ... not one liberal group was harassed..

But because you lemmings always see Nixon as the devil, you make absurd claims that nobody could be that bad, when Obama has done things which make Nixon's supposed acts which he personally never ordered, his crime was the cover up,.. pale in comparison..

The IRS as a democrat party harassment tool.. it's credibility shot straight to Hell, no conservative, about half the country will ever trust them again.

Nixon was roundly condemned by his own party for what he did..

Democrats are circling the wagons to protect da Won,.. always putting party over country, every time.. Democrats are feckless when it comes to keeping principles, always giving them away when it's expedient.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The bipartisan outrage is phony. Dems are only outraged because they haven't figured out a way to pin the DOJ and IRS scandals on Republicans.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Republican outrage. I have not heard a compelling comment from John Boehner on this. I have not heard much from Mitch McConnell on this. In a normal world, when the machinery of the Federal Government is in total attack mode against your supporters like the IRS is lined up against conservatives, you would expect the Leadership to be starting the process of defunding these political hacks. How can conservatives obey the IRS when we know it views us as the enemy? How can we fund our demise? Yet the outrage comes from a few - Gowdy, Issa, Ted Cruz. Mostly the outrage comes from individuals who have been carefully kept out of Leadership positions.

John Boehner is the problem. By his total inaction, he is defending the IRS. He is allowing a slow "rope a dope" that gives conservatives some satisfaction with a few angry internet speeches, but nothing of substance will happen to rein in the IRS with John Boehner as Speaker. Zip, zero, nada. John Boehner actually likes the IRS having strong, goon-squad power to collect money for the State. He is certainly doing nothing to change that. It is way past time for the Republican Party to become an actual "opposition" party with a fighting mentality. John Boehner has to go. He has been in charge while all this IRS harassment has been going on and he has looked the other way.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (45)
All Comments   (45)
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I have been urging abolition and lustration for years. Tyranny and modernity cannot be separated. Fascism, Communism, Socialism, and Nazism are the political forms of high tech modernity. Only their total repudiation can free US.

Almost all of the government—and certainly all of it which has been created from the reign of Franklin, imprisoner of the Japanese, must be abolished.

Every employee of the government must be fired and forbidden from any position, appointed or elected, in any level of government, local, state, federal, until death.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The asymmetry is based upon conservative's belief that government is best when it is out of people's lives, and Leftist's belief that people are best when government controls our lives.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
This woman is a fool, and an idiot.
The Peter Principle.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Imagine that George W. Bush had given speeches describing the illegitimacy of 'progressive'..."

Oh, you mean what if President George W. Bush had followed the precedent set by bill clinton when he denounced Rush Limbaugh as responsible for the Oklahoma City bombing?

Obama isn't a new kind of Democrat. He's just a more Democrat kind of Democrat.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Reforming the federal bureaucracy is only fantasy until the public employee unions are decertified and the civil service acts reformed. It simply cannot happen.

The best we can achieve, failing those conditions, is to force sunset rules on regulations and periodically prune and reform them. The regulatory regime is the secret, silent, shadow government. Even that would require control of the Senate and the White House as well as the House.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Apparently taking a recent American History class is not a prerequisite for being a PJ Media columnist. The bugging of Daniel Ellsbergs psychiatrist's office and the subsequent cover-up was a perfect example of a Republican president, drunk with power, bringing that power illegally down on his anti-war enemies. Watergate completely refutes the premise of this column. The right does it too, as history instructs.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
So what you are saying is that you misunderstood the entire premise of the article. Otherwise, it's hard to imagine why you would confuse a widespread misuse of a large government agency to influence a presidential election with the bugging of one person's office by three men who had no connection to a government agency in an effort to get information on one person. Either that, or you are one of those people for whom Obama is a god, and can do no wrong.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Really?.........

and that's the ONLY example you have, while we have over a HUNDRED conservative or nonpartisan groups targeted for harassment, while your thug pals got a pass. ... not one liberal group was harassed..

But because you lemmings always see Nixon as the devil, you make absurd claims that nobody could be that bad, when Obama has done things which make Nixon's supposed acts which he personally never ordered, his crime was the cover up,.. pale in comparison..

The IRS as a democrat party harassment tool.. it's credibility shot straight to Hell, no conservative, about half the country will ever trust them again.

Nixon was roundly condemned by his own party for what he did..

Democrats are circling the wagons to protect da Won,.. always putting party over country, every time.. Democrats are feckless when it comes to keeping principles, always giving them away when it's expedient.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I think it's time to adjust the lexicon and stop using language in a manner that promotes the masking of truth and start using pure, direct terms. Not to get into a debate about semantics, but I think it will help to change people's minds if we speak plainly so that we stop wasting energy using language to create collective deception (even if it's in quotes as in this piece), particularly for those who unaware of what is going on. The left does this to sanitize their behavior. Terms like "liberal", "progressive", "Democrat", "Planned Parenthood". We might as well be living in North Korea (The Democratic Republic of...)
The "left" are really a bunch of tyrannical fiends, bent on blinding people to participate in their own destruction. They are not liberal, they are stifling and oppressive; they are the enemy. Except for a shrinking minority in the Republican party (which seems to be in the process of being watered down from within) they seem happy to benefit from our destruction. They are not merely RINOs, they are fast becoming co-participants (yes that's you John McCain and Karl Rove).
Time to draw the battle lines and start sounding the war cry. The mask of civility will only be to the benefit of the enemy.

"If we suffer tamely a lawless attack upon our liberty, we encourage it,
and involve others in our doom."
Samuel Adams
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
As anxious as we are for a swift resolution to this chaos of corruption, it can't happen quickly. Even with a howling mad press Watergate took forever to conclude and only did so when Nixon resigned. Now is the time for younger people, like Trey Gowdy, Ted Cruz, etc. to make their names and prepare the ground for better days to come. This vile corruption has now touched every American with a phone or computer and I doubt even the MSM can repair the damage. Personally, I can't wait to watch Obama begin the inevitable scapegoating of various members of his administration. Someone should start a pool . . .
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The bipartisan outrage is phony. Dems are only outraged because they haven't figured out a way to pin the DOJ and IRS scandals on Republicans.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You hit the nail on the head Rand. This abuse would never happen under a Republican administration, for two reasons: 1) Because, all cynicism aside, Republicans still believe in integrity and doing the right thing and 2) if they did give such an order, the entrenched leftist bureaucracy would suddenly find its patriotism and scream like stuck pigs.
The entire governmental bureaucracy is hopelessly infested with these partisan vermin. They need to be rooted out, fired and - most importantly - made to forfeit their pensions. That's the only thing that would get their attention.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Abolish the IRS and implement a flat tax, and then abolish completely the EPA. But, the IRS is what gives the crooked politicians the power to buy votes through pork spending bills as well as threaten opponents.

Remember Benghazi!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"...Republicans still believe in integrity and doing the right thing."

LGoPs: That is one of the funniest things I've ever read on PJM. Thanks.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Joey,Joey, Joey. Recess is over and you need to come back in and take your seat and listen up. Your perspective on Republicans doing the right thing is all skewed up, especially when compared to the Democrats raw, partisan hackery of everything Goerge Bush did, regardless of whether it hurt the country or not. Like Harry Reid declaring the war lost from the floor of the Senate. You think the enemy took heart at that and redoubled his efforts to bleed us? Hmmm? How'bout the NYT doing 37 front page stories on Abu Graib, fully supported by the Democratic Party, in order to gain partisan advantage? How 'bout anti-American propagandist Michael Moore seated with prominent Democrats at SOTU presentations? And prominent Democrats going to opening night for his anti-American propaganda films? Hmmmmm? And then compare just a few of these examples to Paul Ryan actually presenting a budget, in the face of years of dereliction of that Constitutional duty by Harry Reid and the Democrats, not to mention President Obama. What about George Bush attempting to warn the country about Social Security's coming insolvency and being demagoged by the Democrats, again in full partisan hackery mode. How
'bout Bush and the Republicans warning about the dangers of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and government endorsement of bad loans only to be demagoged again by the partisan hackery of Reid, Dodd and Frank and the rest of the criminal cabal that masquarades as a political party calling itself Democrat. Is that the comparison of integrity and doing the right thing that you find so amusing? Or is it the cowardly denial of support for the war in Iraq by all the same prominent Democrats like Clinton and Gore and Hillary who were on record as calling for regime change and warning of Saddaam's WMD, before Bush actually acted on the threat. Being done again, as everything else they do, in search of naked partisan advantage, regardless of the harm to the country. Is that the kind of stuff that amuses you, you partisan, sophomoric hack? Go back the the playground, class is over and recess is starting again.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
No Republican mayor, governor, or President could hire loyal competent Republicans to fill all the appointed positions in a government. The federal government is designed by Democrats to employ Democrats and serve Democrat constituencies. Republicans put a thin veneer of appointees in and mostly leave Democrats running the programs. Then they spend four years wondering why they're being thwarted, sabotaged, and leaked.

It is kinda, sorta safe to be an apolitical technocrat but if you run afoul of some Democrat or Democrat constituency, when the Democrats take over they'll take you out even if you supposedly have merit system protection. If you're union they union either won't defend you at all or will just tank the case if you've been fired for getting crossthreaded with a Democrat administration that they support. The 'crats all know this and most are NPs leaning Democrat or Democrats, often activist Democrats in the Democrat constituency departments like HSS, Labor, Education, Environmental Quality etc. "Just following orders" is not an excuse if you've been a part of any agressive Republican initiative. The Democrats will fire you, slime you, and with the help of the lapdog media, the public will think that the Democrats have done a great service to have fired you. In a capital city, if you've been fired by Democrats, you will not work in government controlled by Democrats at any level or with any business or organization that relies on government funding. Hell, even the Republicans often shun you because you're "too controversial," the worst sin one can commit in the eyes of many Republicans.

If some Republicans would spend more time looking at government org charts and less arguing philosophy, they could figure out how to restructure the government they want to run so that it could actually be run by Republicans. It really isn't hard if you know anything about government. Unfortunately, few Republicans know much and most of what they do know is wrong.

Oh, and having been close to or a part of a couple of Republican administrations, they have their own sorts of abuse and corruption, though it isn't the sort of power-mad stuff the Democrats do. They do have a tendency to help their friends reach iin the till too much, sometimes reach in the till themselves, and, at least in my state, they're real bad to set up government funded sinecures for their friends and relatives. But then, if you can't give a contract or grant to a friend, who can you give one to?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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