View From The Middle
Ha! Now we got ’em where we want ’em! For years I’ve been paranoid, with the feeling that the IRS has been looking over my shoulder, scrutinizing my every move. Now, thanks to some recent “scandals,” we can all have the feeling that we’re looking over THEIR shoulders.
Hmmmm, could it be that they’ve been, er, cheating on their OWN returns? There are different types of returns, of course. If we want, we can use the old Form 1099 or maybe something a little deeper — but what types of returns do the Internal Revenue Service people use when they have to be held accountable? How about being brought before Congress? Nice to see the shoe might be on the other foot for a change, huh?
The whole thing stems from recent disclosures where the IRS has been giving extra-extra — and unnecessary — scrutiny to conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status last year. Apparently the workers in their Cincinnati office, as well as a few offices somewhere in California and Washington, began giving a little more attention to groups with the words “Tea Party” and “Patriot” in their names, not to dismiss those with phrases that might be critical of either the country’s administration or our manner(s) of living (maybe if you wear your hat backwards or your hair’s too long — ya think?) or, perhaps, your personal beliefs. They were also checking organizations that have certain slogans that might lead to what they would consider signs of anarchy, like “It’s Our Country” or “Our Country ’tis Of Thee” (that’s from an old song I once heard).
Now, we can understand taking a second look if these organizations were talking about subversive activities, even traitorous. But just because they don’t agree with the administration is no reason to call persons or groups on the carpet for auditing because apparently their mode of life isn’t conducive to what Cincinnati’s IRS people think is the way we SHOULD live. They even sent out forms to these groups asking absurd, personal questions, like what goes on at their tea party-type meetings, what church they belong to, did they vote in the last election and, “what’s your favorite color?” (If it’s red, you’re in trouble).
All right, maybe that’s a stretch, but the theater of the absurd is not necessarily out of the question either. When the government wants to come down hard on you, there are no holds barred. You know it and I know it — so, thanks to a few Congressional hearings that have been, and will be, taking place, it’s not out of the question to audit the IRS for a change and see what they’ve been hiding — and why.
Last week, President Obama said this is the first he’d heard of the situation and called it “outrageous.” He then “accepted the resignation” (that’s spelled F-I-R-E-D) of the chief guy at the IRS, Steve Miller. Miller was subsequently called before a Congressional hearing and was full of denials here and there. He seemed to be up front in his answers (truthful), but I must admit I snickered a bit when it was MY turn to watch HIM squirm (after all, every April 15th, he had his turn!). There will be more (and more) hearings in the near future. One of the other scandals visited last week was the way the United States Department of Justice “tuned in” on conversations that members of the Associated Press (AP) had on a number of stories within the past few months regarding a foiled terror plot in Yemen. Government agents apparently listened in on conversations reporters had with sources, even honing in on the reporters’ cell phones, examined secret memos and otherwise intruded on the essence of the First Amendment.
Now, it’s understandable that the government, in some cases, has to “listen in,” but they went about it in completely the wrong way in keeping their probes secret. Even the top people at the AP didn’t question their reasons, just the restrictions they put on methods of newsgathering. The government is on the wrong track here in attempting to make sure the people know only what the administration wants them to know — and nothing more.
That’s not what Freedom of the Press is about. That’s not what the Constitution is about. Makes you wonder if the IRS, while investigating some Tea Party parties, might also be looking into a few tax returns belonging to reporters from the Associated Press.
Scary, isn’t it?