RICH BULEY: Cherish your domocracy

Hey, remember not that long ago when right wingers in Congress like Darell Issa were getting Conservatives all wound up about the IRS targeting tea party groups for special investigations as to whether they were really eligible for tax free status?  Yeah, those were good times with lots of pundits saying that the “scandal” was worse than Watergate and that the White House had a lot of ‘splainin’ to do.

So, whatever happened to that? Well, it turned out that the White House had nothing to do with it, and that liberal groups were also being targeted to see if they were legitimate. Then why did it seem to be related only to conservative groups at the beginning? Well, it was because Issa and the Republicans, when they asked Treasury for an audit, directed Treasury to focus only on tea party groups!

So, rather than Congress focusing on something productive, we had weeks of a ginned up scandal produced and directed by Republicans of Congress when they knew, KNEW, there was no scandal there. Cherish your democracy, Americans.


That’s it.  I’m declaring my home a mosque.  It would seem that that’s the only way to keep the US government from snooping on my private communications.  In our government’s eyes, Lutheran pastors are more likely to hatch terrorist plots than Wahhabist imams.

I’m also declaring myself an illegal alien.  That will make me eligible to receive an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number from the IRS, which I can then use to file my tax return, and claim multiple child tax credits, even if the children are nonexistent, or live in another country.  These tax credits are worth a refund of $1,000 each, and unlike citizens, who have to provide Social Security numbers for any dependents claimed on a tax return, illegal aliens are only asked for names, since their offspring presumably don’t have SS numbers.  Once the Gang of Eight’s amnesty bill passes, I won’t even have to worry about getting caught in this little scam, as it allows the IRS only to collect back taxes and penalties that had already been assessed at the time the amnesty goes into effect.  That’s another sweet deal that legal citizens can’t get.

Becoming an illegal won’t even stop me voting, since the Supreme Court just upheld federal voting registration rules that rely on the honor system to verify eligibility.

“Are you a US citizen?”


“Okay, good enough for us.”

I’m actually thinking of registering several times, since I don’t need any ID, and the Obama administration has absolutely zero interest in investigating voter registration by illegal aliens.

A few years ago, I would have thought that things like this could only happen in a parody from the pages of MAD Magazine, but in today’s America the mantra seems to be willful blindness, and, indeed, obsequiousness to those who break our laws and wish us ill, but extreme vigilance in monitoring the law abiding.

MICHAEL BENNETT: Government gone wild

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and
effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated,
and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or
affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the
persons or things to be seized.” –Fourth amendment of the United States

We learned this week that in the internet age the fourth amendment has
become “inoperative”.  It seems that our government tracks who we have
called, when we called them, and how long we talked.  It also seems that
they keep track of every keystroke we enter on our computers.  Government
officials and ex-officials from President Obama to Senator John McCain and
former Republican UN ambassador John Bolton have defended the program as
necessary to protect us from terrorists, and have assured us that it does
not constitute an invasion of our privacy.

Yeah.  Right.

Just like the IRS would never abuse its vast powers to target political
opponents.  Just like the EPA doesn’t share proprietary information with
environmentalist allies, while stonewalling industry groups.  Just like The
Department of Commerce never audited Frank VanderSloot’s hiring practices
after he contributed a large sum to the Mitt Romney Campaign.  Does anyone
seriously believe that people in positions of power will not use such
information to reward their friends and punish their enemies.

The government is not looking into us based on probable cause, or to pursue
a specific lead in a specific case.  They are keeping track of EVERYONE,
all the time, just in case.  This is a violation of the constitution on an
epic scale, and on a bipartisan basis.

Government officials argue that this is not a violation of the fourth
amendment because phone calls and emails are sent outside of our homes
through corporate entities.  Bulls***.  This is no different than the
government opening our mail or sending men to ransack our houses every day,
because we might be up to something.

This is a defining point in our national existence.  Either we stand up to
an out of control government and demand that it respect our rights under
the Constitution, or we slide into the world of life run by Big Brother,
which protects us from everything but itself.

MICHAEL BENNETT: A snake rots from the head down

Anyone who thinks the IRS probes of conservative groups and individuals aren’t political should read this. I can tell you, for a start, that OSHA is not supposed to inspect any facility unless there is an accident, fatality, or a complaint by an employee of an imminent, serious safety violation. The fact that these folks were targeted by OSHA makes it clear that the federal government as a whole, and not just the IRS, is going after people who disagree with our supreme leader.

There are only two possible explanations for this (well three, if you believe that its all just coincidence).  Either the White House orchestrated an intimidation campaign against its perceived enemies, or the administration is so incompetent that it can’t keep many of the departments of the executive branch from acting lawlessly.

Personally, I’m betting on Chicago thug politics gone national.

MICHAEL BENNETT: It’s time to audit the IRS

An IRS spokeswoman revealed last week, in a speech to the American Bar Association, that members of Tea Party groups are not paranoid.  The IRS really is out to get them.   Applications for tax exempt status from any group containing “tea party” or “patriot” in its name have not only been given a level of scrutiny wholly different than other groups, but have been told to provide the government with much information that has nothing to do with tax exempt status, and that the IRS has no legal or constitutional right to ask for.

The spokeswoman, Lois Lerner, who runs the IRS division dealing with tax-exempt organizations, claimed that the tea-party scrutiny was limited to lower level employees in Cincinnati, and was not politically based.  Yeah…. Right….

This should be scary to all Americans, liberal and conservative.  The IRS has vast powers to seize property and bank accounts, file liens, and freeze assets.  It exercises its powers in a “guilty until proven innocent” manner.  If the IRS falsely accuses you of something serious, it has the power to financially ruin you before a court could possibly sort things out.  This is scary enough when it is done by an inept bureaucracy randomly going after people possibly on the basis of mistaken information, but when it does so systematically, out of a partisan political motivation, it is the stuff that nightmares are made of.

We don’t yet know who was involved with this, or how extensive it was, but the IRS apology and statement that it has changed its ways is not sufficient.  Just the part that we know about was clearly an abuse of power, and almost certainly criminal.  Now it appears that the former IRS commissioner Doug Shulman may have lied to Congress in his 2012 testimony that ‘There’s absolutely no targeting’ of conservative groups.

There needs to be an independent investigation of the entire matter, to determine how extensive and how high up the chain of command this went, and anyone involved with it needs to be fired, and if appropriate, criminally prosecuted.

MICHAEL BENNETT: ID? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ ID!

Hallelujah, I’ve seen the light!
Democrats across the country have declared that requiring voters to provide photo identification is an evil (and quite probably racist) Republican plot to steal elections.  They argue that such an obligation is an undue burden on the poor and downtrodden, and that it serves no purpose, as nobody in this country, least of all Democrats, would ever take advantage of lax standards by trying to cheat in an election.

At first, I was skeptical of their claims.  Some form of ID is required for almost any transaction in modern life, and it’s really not that hard to come by.  Furthermore, we’ve all heard the unofficial Butte city motto, “Vote early and vote often.”

But then I thought, “Do I really want to live in the kind of country where we can’t trust our fellow citizens?”  Of course not.  When you look at it from that point of view, the Democrats are not only correct, but they are way too timid.  We need to do away with all burdensome ID requirements, and simply go to the honor system.

Imagine being pulled over by a policeman.  “Sir, you were weaving all over the road, going 65 in a 25 zone, and you smell like a distillery.  Could I see your license and registration please?”

“Officer, that would be an undue burden on me.”

“Sorry, sir, my mistake.  So, what’s your name?”

“I’m Mayor John Engen.”

“You don’t look like John Engen.”

“Well… I lost a lot of weight.  Wassamatter, don’t you believe me?”

Or perhaps transacting business at the bank.  “Hi, I’m Denny Washington and I’d like to clean out my savings account.  I want it all in small, unmarked bills.”

“Well, okay Ma’am, but I always thought Denny was a man.”

And who can talk about undue burdens without mentioning the IRS?   Let’s do away with social security numbers, W2’s, 1099’s, audits, and all that rigmarole.  They can trust us.

Meanwhile, the same administration officials who don’t want to unduly burden us when we are trying to vote have put in place all sorts of burdensome ID requirements for other things.  Did you realize that you need photo ID to get into the Justice Department, parts of the Capitol, and even the CIA building?  “Can I help you sir?”

“Yes, I’m a spook, and I need to get into my office.”

“Can I see your ID badge please?”

“Of course not.  Who do you think you are? Some sort of racist, Republican vote suppressor?”

I’m Michael Bennett, and that’s my opinion.  You’ll have to take my word for it.