Our Masters Take Off The Mask

Public servants don't even pretend to serve anymore.

As long as there has been an America, there has been a curmudgeonly streak in our politics that views any government imposition as tyrannical no matter how beneficial our politicians may think it to be.  Our Founders fought a revolution against King George; not even a decade later, Daniel Shays led an armed rebellion against harsh taxes levied by his fellow Americans.  A few years later the Whiskey Rebellion showed that the issues hadn't gone away; it took the moral authority of President George Washington to put the genie back in the bottle.

The true moral greatness of Washington is well illustrated by how he handled the Whiskey Rebellion: yes, he gathered an army to put down the uprising, but he also sent peace commissioners to negotiate with the aggrieved protesters.  By the time the army arrived, the protesters had agreed to go home; the ringleaders were arrested and put on trial, but were acquited or pardoned.  This upheld both liberty and the rule of law.

Washington had established two key principles: yes, citizens do have to pay their taxes, but the government is obliged to respect public concerns.  The Whiskey Tax stayed around just long enough to make the point, and then was repealed.

Not George Washington's America

Contrast this nobility of spirit and leadership with the astonishing arrogance on display by IRS Commissioner John Koskinen while testifying under oath before Congress!  As a "public servant" charged with faithfully executing the duly-passed laws of the United States, not only is Congress his direct boss, but Congress is the directly elected representatives of his ultimate bosses, the American people.

It is now a proven fact that the IRS did, in fact, intentionally discriminate against conservative Tea Party activist groups for the express intention of hampering their ability to make their views known before the 2012 election.  This is no longer under serious debate; the Inspector General's report said as much.

Such perfidy and such arrogance strikes at the very heart of democracy.  It is absolutely essential for agents of the government to treat citizens equally without regard to their political opinions.  We rightly condemn discrimination by race or gender, but political opinions are an even more essential fundamental freedoms.

When the most powerful and feared government agency whose employees not only live off our tax money but also collect our personal taxes uses its awesome power to crush groups which advocate lower taxes, that goes beyond a horrific conflict of interest.  It's tyranny, pure and simple; as the Wall Street Journal opined, it's far worse than Watergate.

We all know that power corrupts, so for unfireable government bureaucrats to be so utterly corrupted isn't wholly surprising.  What's stunning is the shamelessness shown by their leaders and the blatancy of the coverup.

We know that IRS executive Lois Lerner led the biased, partisan, illegal witch-hunt against Tea Party groups.  We know she believes she committed crimes, that's what it means to plead the Fifth Amendment - you do that when you know if you speak the truth, you'll be confessing guilt to a crime, so you shut up.

We also know, on some level, Barack Obama himself understands the severity of what the IRS did.  When news of the scandal broke, he said:

If in fact IRS personnel engaged in the kind of practices that have been reported on and were intentionally targeting conservative groups, then that's outrageous and there's no place for it.

The then-head of the IRS resigned in the wake of the scandal; Mr. Koskinen was appointed with the specific remit to get to the bottom of what went on.

And what did he have to say to Congress?

In a stunning admission under questioning from Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, Koskinen divulged that the IRS made no effort to recover Lerner’s email archive from the six month backups after her initial computer problems in June of 2011. [emphasis added]

Lois Lerner has the Constitutional right not to incriminate herself, but the forces of law have every right to collect other, independent evidence of her crimes.  Obviously, the record of her emails would show what she told who to do when, and even more importantly, if perhaps there were other higher authorities giving her illegal orders.

What a strange coincidence, then, that her hard drive should abruptly fail!  And how astonishing that IRS Commissioner Koskinen didn't even ask about checking the backup tapes until they had, again oh-so-conveniently, been destroyed!  No wonder that, as Rep Paul Ryan pointed out to him, "Nobody believes you!"  And dare we mention the fact that Mr. Koskinen has donated around $100,000 to Democrats and $0 to Republicans?

Where are we today?  Under pointed questioning by Congress, the Archivist of the United States was forced to grudgingly admit that the IRS "did not follow the law," which requires that a) government agencies store all emails and b) if for some reason they lose them, immediately to notify the Archivist.  The IRS did neither.

Truth, Lies, and Consequences

In a sense, it really doesn't matter what the IRS did or why they did it.  As Hillary Clinton would say, "What difference, at this point, does it make?"  We are long past the realm of an ordinary scandal of government malfeasance and corruption.

What we have before us is a government bureaucracy that thumbs its collective nose at the American people, at their elected representatives, and at the law.  Koskinen knows he has lied under oath.  He knows he has broken the law.  He knows, or thinks he knows, that he will pay no penalty whatsoever for doing either.

Since he did this all on national TV, every other bureaucrat in the United States now knows this too.

Whether by accident or by design, Mr. Koskinen has set up a personal litmus test for American democracy and the rule of law.  If we are to be a nation of laws, or even to be able to make that claim without laughing out loud, Mr. Koskinen personally must be imprisoned for hard time, stripped of his pension, and bankrupted by civil lawsuits for dereliction of duty and every other charge that imaginative prosecutors come up with.

Otherwise?  Well, in that case, we'll be confronted with a massed army of bureaucrats, hundreds of thousands strong and with countless trillions of your forcibly-extracted dollars at their back, who now know that they quite literally answer to no one outside their own hierarchy, and are responsible for obeying no laws of any kind.

If that's not a tyranny, we don't know what is.  They truly will be our masters, not even bothering to mask it.

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other Scragged.com articles by Petrarch or other articles on Bureaucracy.
Reader Comments

The way the IRS has typically known to have behaved, and the tax code being what it is, frankly I'm surprised it took until now to get to this point. The IRS can ruin entire families without proof of *anything*. Just the accusation can keep you tied up in court for years, and waste your entire life's savings on lawyers (the saddest and most profound waste there probably is).

It's not only a sign of the rampant corruption, pissy elitist attitude, and we-versus-they that exists with regard to government at all levels right now, but it's also a symptom of our attitude toward taxes. Intellectually, we ought to be able to understand that corporations don't pay taxes, but instead extract those dollars in their prices; unions don't either; and there's no particularly good reason organizations should, either, but government bureaucrats are tasked with deciding who may or may not be exempted.

Meanwhile, government is funded in the most wasteful manner possible. Most people who pay taxes watch a quarter or more of their money vanish into the IRS which then takes its cut and distributes it among various government departments to do as they direct. State and local taxes amount to a fart in a hurricane in the face of all this, yet we go begging, hat-in-hand, to the federal government for money to fix schools, bridges, roads, etc. The federal government shouldn't even be aware that a little bridge round the corner from your house exists, yet that's where the money comes from, and that's why it's all wasted.

As long as the IRS continues to exist, federalism will stay dead; citizens will continue to keep their heads low; political persecution will continue, albeit with a pause while they regroup; "protected classes" and government workers will be taken care of; and we will be overtaken economically by second- and third- world nations.

July 1, 2014 9:34 AM

I just echo a ditto to Brother John's comment, well stated BJ.

July 1, 2014 10:16 PM

Wait, it doesn't say intentional anywhere in the IG's report. It also seems very clear that the highest leadership in the IRA ordered those responsible to change the locally implemented criteria (i.e. remove political sounding names from the watch list) as soon as they became aware of them, which conflicts Scragged's repeated claim that Obama (or Lois Lerner) is responsible.

July 2, 2014 3:50 AM

This objection deserves a response.

First, you're right that the IG report doesn't use the word "intentional", but it says:

"The IRS used inappropriate criteria that identified for review Tea Party and other organizations applying for tax-exempt status based upon their names or policy positions..."

"Used" = intentional. Criteria "based upon their... policy positions" = for political ends in a politically biased way.

You can, like the left, dispute this interpretation, but it's hardly irrational: the Wall Street Journal, 7/2/14 pg A2, says:

"An inspector general found the IRS had given extra scrutiny to conservative groups as they sought tax-exempt status."

As far as exactly who is responsible - There is no debate that Lois Lerner gave the orders for the biased scrutiny. That's why she pled the 5th. The question is who, if anyone, above her ordered it to be done. You are correct that there is no proof that Obama himself did, although the fact that Lerner's close colleagues and direct contacts visited the White House hundreds of times:

What was discussed, and what instructions were transmitted? That's why the emails were so vitally important - and why it's so profoundly suspicious that Lois Lerner's hard drive mysteriously crashed and then was thrown away, contrary to standard legal requirements regarding preservation of governmental correspondence - and then, the backup system contract was abruptly cancelled getting rid of that as well.

In civil court, there is a concept called "spoliation." This says that when a court or other legal authority has ordered specific evidence to be preserved and disclosed, as Congress did with the IRS a year ago in this case; and then that evidence is wilfully destroyed, as clearly took place here, the court may reasonably infer that the defendant consciously knew their guilt and intentionally destroyed the evidence. Thus, the jury is instructed to assume that the destroyed evidence would have been incriminating or at least unfavorable.

Obviously spoliation doesn't directly apply in a political matter, but the famous missing 18-1/2 minutes of Nixon's tape recordings is generally considered by one and all to be evidence of his guilt in the Watergate conspiracy coverup, even though we don't have any idea what was actually said. What we're dealing with here is the same thing - Lois Lerner pled the 5th Amendment so the only reason for all her emails to vanish is because they incriminate Someone Else with the power to make such a thing happen.

Proof? No. Reasonable inference? Definitely.

July 3, 2014 6:38 PM

Something to ponder...

The odds of winning the Florida lottery are 1 in 22,957,480.

The odds of winning the Powerball is 1 in 175,223,510.

The odds of winning Mega Millions is 1 in 258,890,850.

The odds of a disk drive failing in any given month are roughly one in 36. The odds of two different drives failing in the same month are roughly one in 36 squared, or 1 in about 1,300. The odds of three drives failing in the same month is 36 cubed or 1 in 46,656.

The odds of seven different drives failing in the same month (like what happened at the IRS when they received a letter asking about emails targeting conservative and pro Israeli groups) is 37 to the 7th power = 1 in 78,664,164,096. (that's over 78 Billion) In other words, the odds are greater that you will win the Florida Lottery 342 times than having those seven IRS hard drives crashing in the same month.

July 3, 2014 11:25 PM

Good analysis BassBoat. I'd only question the 1 in 36 failure odds for a drive per month. If that were the odds, then the expected amount of drives surviving 36 months would be below 40%, and this site shows that even the worst drives have a 36 month survival rate of 75% and the best ones have a 95%+ 36 month survival rate: http://www.maximumpc.com/backblaze_analyzes_hard_drive_failure_rates_dubs_hitachi_most_reliable_brand2014

Of course, what this means is that the odds you state for 7 drives failing are even higher than you state, making the claim that they failed even more implausible.

August 6, 2014 2:16 PM

Update on Lois Lerner's "missing" emails, from Fox News:


May 13, 2015 9:45 AM
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