A Few Notes On Lois Lerner And The Fifth Amendment

235 Responses

  1. RyanE says:

    "if you accept the proposition that the government targets organizations for IRS scrutiny because of their political views, and you still say things like "why take the Fifth if you have nothing to hide", then you're either an idiot or a dishonest partisan hack."

    You shouldn't really rule out the fact that they may be *both*.

    :)

  2. Mu says:

    I find it more interesting that Issa is denying her immunity. He obviously has to gain more from the "5th" theater than from her actual testimony. Which means to me that he's afraid she'd testify "we bounced it around the office, and everybody thought it was a great idea, and I authorized it", killing his case against the administration. If he'd be sure he can blame someone higher up the food chain he'd grant immunity right away. That in turn begs the question why the Democrats don't do it via DoJ or a Senate hearing.

  3. Stuart Gray says:

    While taking the Fifth is a constitutionally guaranteed right, and that one should never be found guilty due to partaking of this right.
    She had already lied to the people. She looked really guilty before. She looks to the people even more guilty now.
    People have every right to judge people based on their actions and hers have been suspect.

  4. Beingmarkh says:

    "Negation of taint"

    hehe

  5. Scott says:

    @Stuart Gray:

    "She looks to the people even more guilty now."

    Yes, you and everyone else has the "right" to make such judgement. Saying you're wrong doesn't mean you shouldn't do that. You're "allowed" to be wrong. But you're still wrong.

    The whole point of protection against self-incrimination is the fact that it protects them against self-incrimination! It kind of defeats the purpose if our default response to invoking this protection is to infer it as some sort of incrimination!

  6. PLW says:

    ^Bah.. The fifth says we shouldn't draw incriminating judgments when sitting on a jury. The court of public opinion has its own set of rules.

  7. ALeapAtTheWheel says:

    "Ironically these comments often come from people who profess to oppose expansive government power"

    Perhaps they come from people who oppose expansive government power to destroy the lives of people who want nothing to do with the government, but don't really care if the government wants to turn its flailing tentacles of destruction on one of its constituent organs.

    As for me, I'd be happy with immunized compelled testimony. Its more important that disinfectant sunlight hits the problem than one particular functionary serves time.

  8. Scott says:

    Can you explain the magical transformation the members of the "court of public opinion" undergo when they are selected to be a jury such that they stop treating invocations of the 5th as implicit admissions of guilt?

  9. PLW says:

    I apply different standards for different judgments all the time. Nothing magical about it at all. Something that is perfectly OK to do to someone when playing football would probably get me arrested if I did it on the street.

  10. Jeff R. says:

    It's hardly magical; it involves taking an Oath and agreeing to follow the judge's instructions.

  11. Scott says:

    Being a jury member doesn't change the context of this situation. She's still pleading the 5th under this set of circumstances. Whether it is correct to infer guilt from that doesn't change depending on who's making the assessment.

  12. Quiet Lurcker says:

    Why isn't Ms. Lerner in jail already for contempt of Congress?

    Since Ms. Lerner was testifying regarding her actions as a public official, public interest mitigates in favor of a finding that she did waive her right, or – more correctly – that she should never have asserted it in the first place.

    And I do infer guilt based on her assertion of her fifth-amendment rights. If I were sitting a jury, I wouldn't, because I would then be reasoning based on information not presented at trial. This isn't a trial, so I have the right – if not the responsibility in the name of intellectual rigor – to assess all the information available, and that information, sadly, points squarely in the direction of criminal activity on the part of the IRS.

  13. Chris says:

    "Whether it is correct to infer guilt from that doesn't change depending on who's making the assessment."

    Of course it does. Judges and jurors labor under all sorts of restrictions on what information they can use to make their decisions. Judges cannot rely on evidence that they rule is inadmissible, juries are instructed to disregard things they hear during testimony all the time. Neither of them is allowed to draw any adverse inference from someone exercising their Fifth Amendment right not to testify. Thats how the system works.

    But if I'm not a judge or a juror, just a private citizen trying to decide my opinion on a particular individual or situation, I'm free to rely on all sorts of information that a judge or jury cannot. If a politician being investigated for corruption pleads the fifth, I can take that into account when deciding how to vote. If child porn charges against a neighbor are dismissed because evidence was gathered illegally, I can sure as hell take that into consideration when deciding whether or not to let him be around my kids. And when Lois Lerner pleads the fifth, I can take that into account when forming my opinion of her.

  14. Scott says:

    I'm not a lawyer, so forgive me here — but I'm not sure the documentation on the third link supports what you're saying.

    The third link text states "A witness may waive the Fifth Amendment right to self-incrimination in one proceeding, and then invoke it later at a different proceeding on the same subject."

    The linked appellate case says, in part, "The district court found that Appellant had no Fifth Amendment privilege [after already testifying on the matter under a plea bargain] and found him guilty of contempt. … On appeal, … we affirm."

    I skimmed the arguments in the case, and I didn't see anything relevant. The appellate case fully affirmed a conviction stating a defendant CANNOT waive his Fifth Amendment right in the first proceeding, and ask for it in the second. What gives?

  15. Dirkmaster says:

    Or they were being sardonic? You know, throwing the government's line used to poopoo away concerns about spying and privacy back in their face.

  16. James says:

    What Ken said ". . . it was reckless for her to make an opening statement if her genuine aim was to protect her Fifth Amendment rights . . ." Her lawyer should be flayed alive for letting her do that.

    As to why plead if you have nothing to hide school of thought . . . that is precisely the point of the 5th amendment. If the government thinks I have done something wrong it is up to them to prove it, not for me to disprove it. Period, full stop.

  17. Delvan says:

    As I understand it, during an appeal, normally new evidence can't be introduced if it could have been introduced during the course of the original trial. If a finding is appealed because a Kastigar inquiry was not addressed, is it still limited to that evidence given during the original trial? Or does the inquiry open the door to introducing said alternate evidence?

  18. Doug says:

    James said: "If the government thinks I have done something wrong it is up to them to prove it, not for me to disprove it. Period, full stop." Precisely, the limitation is on what the government can do. I think there is some talking past each other going on here. As a recent Popehat convert, I agree with the statement that we can not take a Fifth Amendment invocation and use that to declare guilt in the criminal sense. But I also agree with Chris that, as members of the public, we can take in the available evidence regarding an issue and come to our conclusions.

    Obama said there was not even a "smidgen" of corruption surrounding this issue. Lerner denied any wrongdoing. Despite these denials, an email from Lerner stated "We need to have a plan. We need to be caution so it isn't a per se political project." The Issa report spoke of "acute political pressure" to crack down on conservative groups. There have been public statements by the tea party groups involved that they haven't even been contacted regarding the ongoing investigation.

  19. Malc says:

    On its face, a notion that any organization devoted to the premise that the the government in general and the IRS in particularl over-reaches itself should receive closer scrutiny than an organization devoted to (say) pony welfare (or the lack thereof) is eminently reasonable.

    So the "scandal" isn't "did they target the tea party groups for extra scrutiny", but rather "did they unfairly target those groups".

    And that makes a successful prosecution much harder, unless you have smoking gun. Absent some kind of document saying "yep, we went after those tea party groups (and the occupy ones, too, but who cares about them?)", there's not much anyone can do to preempt a legitimate judgment call argument: "yeah, group X got extra scrutiny for one reason, while group Y got scrutinized for another, etc". The totality may be wrong, but how could you prove it?

    Unless, as I said, you have a smoking gun. So why provide them one, in the form of testimony? And if your defense is mainly that a superior whispered in your ear that this was policy, you may be unable to defend yourself due to the lack of evidence about the whispering, again, what have you to gain by providing evidence?

    So why no grant of immunity? My guess is that it is because no-one actually cares about what really happened. Instead, the narrative is that the right wing groups were unfairly targeted (together with the Occupy groups, obvs.), and that narrative is far more valuable in the absence of solid information than anything that might come out of knowing exactly what happened and how.

    In short, Issa et al. have more to gain from NOT knowing what happened than knowing what did happen.

  20. Joe Blow says:

    You take the 5th because the government can't be trusted, but she is the fucking government in this case.

    I don't mind if there's no prosecutions coming from this, but there should be civil remedies – firings and demotions – from what it looks like the IRS did, which was (feloniously) release tax return information of Republican candidates, and targeting conservative political groups attempting to lawfully organize and associate.

    If her testimony cannot be compelled, then effectively, she is above the law when acting extralegally in her professional capacity. As long as everybody stays silent, they are safe.

    I'm uncomfortable with that. Issa should compel the testimony, then let Eric Holder deal with any Kastigar problems.

    Hah. That last phrase was a joke. We all know that Holder isn't going to consider prosecuting anybody involved in this, not in a million years.

  21. jackn says:

    @Malc
    So the "scandal" isn't "did they target the tea party groups for extra scrutiny", but rather "did they unfairly target those groups".

    Exactly, they better be targeting political groups for extra scrutiny!

  22. Jason says:

    She is within her rights to plead the fifth. But it is totally within my rights as a citizen to be absolutely pissed that a "Public Servant" will not tell the deliberative body that makes the rules she is tasked with executing and is allowed to enforce, what she was doing when she was working as a "Public Servant".

    I think that every citizen should be afforded the right to not incriminate themselves, even Public Servants. BUT, Public Servants that are supposed to be serving the people should be immediately removed from their post and their retirement benefits forfieted if they refuse to tell congress (and therefore the people) how they execute the people's business.

  23. Joe Blow says:

    @Jackn Exactly, they better be targeting political groups for extra scrutiny!

    That would be facially violative of the First Amendment too. The govt can't target groups due to the content of their political speech, or because they choose to speak. Either violates the First. So does requesting membership lists, a principle that came out of one of the few successful "chilling" theory cases. Thanks for that precedent, National Lawyers' Guild!

  24. Peter H says:

    Jason,

    You could fire the employees for that behaviour, however seizing their retirement benefits would be a form of criminal punishment (a fine, specifically) that can't be lawfully imposed without due process. You have a property interest in a vested pension benefit the same as you have in your bank account or 401(k). And you can't criminally punish someone for exercising their constitutional rights.

  25. Mercury says:

    Interesting history lesson but what difference does it make?

    Nothing will happen to either Lois Lerner or the IRS even if video surfaces of LL leading human sacrifices in the bowels of IRS headquarters.

  26. jackn says:

    @joe blow

    They can target these groups when they apply to be an educational based non-profit. And that is what they did, and continue to do.

  27. Darryl says:

    They also gave scrutiny to liberal groups.

  28. Rafael says:

    I really like my country (Brazil0 interpretation of the equivalent right:" No one can be forced to produce evidence against themselves", for this to be effective the defendant is allowed to lie or to stay in silence, and there's no waiver.

  29. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    If she's guilty, she has a right to invoke the Fifth Amendment because, frankly, her guilt of innocence have little to do with her being haled before Congress. If she's innocent, she has the right to invoke the Fifth Amendment because only a fool trusts the integrity of politicians.

  30. Hal_10000 says:

    I don't understand how people can say 1) the Obama Administration is petty and vindictive and out to get their enemies; and 2) what does Lois Lerner have to fear? I mean, for reasons other than hackitude.

  31. George William Herbert says:

    Congress and the people have perfect rights to infer based on refusals to testify (without grants of immunity). Not all those assumptions will be correct, but we can still do so.

    Courts don't.

    I think this is obviously a political ploy; if it were seriously a criminal case, you start at the bottom, granting immunity to bit players until someone knows something that incriminates up the food chain, and then stop immunizing and get a conviction. Offer reduced sentence for rolling over on next level up, etc. up the food chain.

    Starting at the top and insisting on the point is political ploy. Everyone knows that.

  32. Jason says:

    Ok, Peter H, I'll take just fired. But Lerner's already retired so can't be fired. She should have been let go immediately after that first hearing.

    Hal_10000, you have a good point. Watching her take the fifth, I can't shake the feeling that she might be willing to be a patsy and make herself look bad because the information she may have may implicate an official much higher up.

  33. Xennady says:

    On its face, a notion that any organization devoted to the premise that the the government in general and the IRS in particularl over-reaches itself should receive closer scrutiny than an organization devoted to (say) pony welfare (or the lack thereof) is eminently reasonable.

    How so?

    I always figured that the First Amendment meant people could say whatever they wanted even if it was critical of the government- but you disagree.

    Good to know.

    So the "scandal" isn't "did they target the tea party groups for extra scrutiny", but rather "did they unfairly target those groups".

    And that makes a successful prosecution much harder, unless you have smoking gun.

    If the root cause of the "scandal" is mere "unfairness" and not "criminal behavior" then no prosecution should be possible because no law was broken.

    Absent some kind of document saying "yep, we went after those tea party groups (and the occupy ones, too, but who cares about them?)", there's not much anyone can do to preempt a legitimate judgment call argument: "yeah, group X got extra scrutiny for one reason, while group Y got scrutinized for another, etc". The totality may be wrong, but how could you prove it?

    My understanding is that Lerner refused to answer specific questions about her own emails, fearing they would incriminate her. From that, it seems to me the emails were already pretty damning evidence of criminal behavior, which seems to me to have already been well established via other evidence.

    Unless, as I said, you have a smoking gun. So why provide them one, in the form of testimony?

    If there was no real "scandal" here, with no law-breaking, how could anything Lerner say provide any sort of a smoking gun, especially if she simply answered questions about her own emails?

    And if your defense is mainly that a superior whispered in your ear that this was policy, you may be unable to defend yourself due to the lack of evidence about the whispering, again, what have you to gain by providing evidence?

    That's not really a defense. That's another rather more politically important accusation. And I'm sure Issa would have been thrilled if Lerner blamed her superiors for her actions. Because I'm sure he believes that's where the blame lies- as I do.

    In short, Issa et al. have more to gain from NOT knowing what happened than knowing what did happen.

    And Lois Lerner could totally destroyed Issa et al's evil plan by simply answering questions asked of her.

    Somehow, this didn't occur to her.

    Gosh. I wonder why.

  34. Xennady says:

    I think this is obviously a political ploy

    Then Issa should have done what democrats against Oliver North, and compelled testimony, not caring that later it would be thrown out.

    Starting at the top and insisting on the point is political ploy. Everyone knows that.

    Does this mean you think Lois Lerner is the top? Really?

    Hey, YMMV. But I doubt that very much.

  35. Zak N. says:

    human sacrifices in the bowels of IRS headquarters

    Murder charges?

  36. naught_for_naught says:

    "then you're either an idiot or a dishonest partisan hack."

    Isn't there a third option in there somewhere, like being exuberantly amnesic, or passionately dysphoric in the service of a righteous cause, something like that maybe?

  37. Wick Deer says:

    @Xennady There is no such thing as "simply answer[ing] questions" when one is being interrogated by law enforcement or Congress.

    I think Ken made the point very clearly in the penultimate paragraph of his post. If you still don't understand, click on the links to see real life examples of the things that can happen to you if you "simply answer questions."

  38. Wick Deer says:

    @naught for naught I think " being exuberantly amnesic, or passionately dysphoric in the service of a righteous cause" are subsets of the idiot class.

  39. Quite Possibly a Cat says:

    Really people? After all the articles about the correct thing to do when questioned in an investigation (hint: shut up), someone does exactly that and you think its evidence of guilt?

    There is a politically motivated investigation. They are targeting you. You don't testify. To paraphrase Ken "SHUT UP" If Congress wanted her testimony they could have it. They clearly want it, but want to preserve the ability to prosecute her. So no, you bloody well don't talk to Congress.

  40. Malc says:

    @ Xennady

    You appear terminally confused about what the First Amendment actually says. There is no right to tax exempt status anywhere in the whole Bill of Rights. Hence the First Amendment has no relevance in any investigation whether a group qualifies for tax exemption.

    Now, if a group appears to be a political advocacy group, it seems bleeding obvious that the IRS should investigate closely whether the political advocacy is of a form permitted by statute or not.

    On the other hand, if the group appears to be a pony welfare group, it seems less urgent to dig deeply into whether or not the group does/will indulge in impermissible behavior regarding political campaigns.

    Yes, I do understand that this flies in the face of the Frothing Loons who scream about how the IRS targeted tea party groups (and Occupy groups, which get ignored because who cares about them and that fact does rather dilute the strident complaints), but pretending that somehow the government isn't allowed to investigate whether or not a group qualifies for tax exempt status because of the First Amendment is patently foolish and ridiculous.

  41. Matthew Cline says:

    @Ken:

    Over at the "Right Thinking" trackback, Xetrov write:

    By definition, she can only claim fifth amendment protection if she did in fact break the law, and thus can’t be forced to incriminate herself.

    From what you've written on the Fifth this doesn't sound right, but IANAL.

  42. Castaigne says:

    @Joe Blow:

    I don't mind if there's no prosecutions coming from this, but there should be civil remedies – firings and demotions – from what it looks like the IRS did, which was (feloniously) release tax return information of Republican candidates, and targeting conservative political groups attempting to lawfully organize and associate.

    I cannot in good conscience agree. If we're going to change the evidentiary standard to "what it looks like" instead of "what it actually is", then we might as well call it by what it is – making decisions based on personal bias and whim.

    I mean, it looks like Obama is a Muslim Kenyan illegal allied with Al Qaeda. Guess we should label him an enemy combatant and drone his ass.

    And before you say that the example is extreme, extreme examples are necessary to get people's attention. If we're going to apply that evidentiary standard in this case, we should be applying it to ALL cases; what's good for the goose is good for the gander. So think carefully on how you would react being punishd for "what it looks like" you did, then what you actually did.

  43. Allen says:

    There are times when disclosing certain information to Congress would, in and of itself, constitute a crime. This state of affairs revolves around government employees. A few examples:

    Revealing financial information (IRS) to Congress about a taxpayer is generally illegal.

    Revealing information (FBI, et al.) to Congress about a criminal investigation is generally illegal.

    Revealing national security information (DOD et al.) to Congress against classification, oof, they'll probably feed you with a slingshot you're in so far.

    Which, are all laws written and passed by Congress and duly signed by the President.

    This is why much of the "testimony" given in Congressional committees is by other Congress members. They're Constitutionally immune from most laws.

    I don't blame this Lerner woman one bit. We might suspect her of bad acts, but doing anything but taking the 5th at a Congressional hearing is a bad idea.

  44. Trent says:

    Issa has it out for Lerner, he wants to force Obama to prosecute her then use it as political ammo in the upcomming midterms. He doesn't care whether she is guilty or
    not. She'd be utterly foolish to testify on anything, including to what she had for lunch. As Ken said, if Issa truly believed she knew something he'd compell orr offer immunity.

    501(c)4 is being abused by political groups, IMO illegally, to claim social charity status. The law says these groups are supposed to be involved in charitable education with only minor peripheral political involvement, such as teaching immigrants US history so they can pass the citizenship test but spending a little time discussing the platforms of yhe parties. Crossroad GPS, a Karl Rove group that spent more than 20 million on political attack ads in the last election and did notjing else is a 501(c)4 organization. I personally believe every single person running one of these political groups or that had a hand in filing for 501(c)4 should be in jail, regardless of party affiliation. The government is ignoring this blatent violation of the law for political reasons and it's disgusting.

  45. Adjoran says:

    It makes no sense to grant Lerner immunity without a detailed proffer of her testimony. Given her history of partisan harassment at FEC, her promotion to IRS may have seemed to her a pat on the back and unspoken instruction to "keep up the good work." She could be the mastermind of the whole thing.

    So she wants immunity but won't say what her testimony might be. I want a pony. Neither of us should expect gratification.

    The statute of limitations won't have run out when Obama leaves office. He could pardon her, but otherwise there will still be time to investigate and prosecute, if not unlimited time.

  46. this is one of the better defenses of the 5th A privilege, but i think it is legally wrong in one respect. The fear of prosecution for perjury in and of itself is not sufficient. this is implicit in the fact that the court require you to explain why you are afraid of being incriminated, and there'd be no point to the question if the answer is "i might lie and be charged with perjury."

  47. Castaigne says:

    @Adjoran:

    The statute of limitations won't have run out when Obama leaves office. He could pardon her, but otherwise there will still be time to investigate and prosecute, if not unlimited time.

    Prosecute with what? Investigate with what?

    You know, this is what, the 10th or 11th "investigation" done by Issa since 2008? And each time, it's gone nowhere. No evidence. No smoking guns. Fast & Furious, Benghazi, IRS targeting, Birtherism, the Census Bureau – it goes on and on, costing us millions in tax dollars and coming out with bupkiss. And then he's boneheaded enough to leak intelligence secrets on national TV, along with Chaffetz.

    If he had something to offer, it would have been on the table and prosecuted by now. As it is, until convinced otherwise Issa is just blowing smoke and going fishing.

  48. Narc says:

    It probably too late, being this far down in the comments, but one of the people saying this proves she's guilty of something is a US Congressman:

    Time to turn over Lois Lerner's emails- don't plead the 5th if you've got nothing to hide.(https://twitter.com/aaronschock/status/438402980577292289)

  49. Frank Ch. Eigler says:

    It's ironic that this time, she might invoke the fifth because government can't be trusted, partly because of people like Lois Lerner who as part of government do bad things. It's a little bit like the kids who killed their parents, then plead for clemency because they're orphans.

  50. the other rob says:

    I hold no brief for Lerner and find the allegations troubling, to say the least. Nevertheless, I must ask:

    What functional difference is there between saying "I broke no laws" then pleading the Fifth at a congressional hearing and saying "Not guilty" then pleading the Fifth at a trial?

  51. alanstorm says:

    Can't buy your final argument about taking the 5th. The BOR is all about limiting government. Yes, everything you said should apply to ordinary citizens. However, in this case, LL WAS the government. She was being askewd about her actions AS A GOVERNMENTAL ACTOR. There is no reason whatsoever she should be allowed to take the 5th.

  52. A. Nagy says:

    @Trent

    There is a difference between letter of the law and spirit of the law. I'm pretty sure if it was illegial then someone would be going after them. What ever happened to that lady at the hearing that said she was audited by like a dozen groups or something for a total of like 40+ times after starting a tea party group I can't seem to find anything on that anymore?

    Count me in the give her immunity camp.

  53. Tony says:

    A few years back I was in the federal building and using the elevator, the person beside me had a badge prominently displayed on his belt. The gentleman asked me what time it was, I looked at my watch, looked at his badge and told him I wanted a lawyer present before answering. He didn't care for the joke.

    I can only imagine what sitting before a fact finding commission would be like, I suspect the facts they find based on my factual answers may not reflect anything close to fact.

  54. Ken White says:

    @Aaron:

    The fear of prosecution for perjury in and of itself is not sufficient.

    Certainly. But the danger of the government charging you with perjury for telling the truth should inform your decision about whether to take the Fifth with respect to facts that could be incriminating.

    It is perfectly possible for facts to be incriminating if you're not guilty. If I wind up dead, and you didn't kill me, but you had a grudge against me and you were near my house the night of my death, those facts are incriminating, even if you didn't do it.

    The government is perfectly willing to set up a perjury trap for you.

  55. Ken White says:

    @Scott:

    I skimmed the arguments in the case, and I didn't see anything relevant. The appellate case fully affirmed a conviction stating a defendant CANNOT waive his Fifth Amendment right in the first proceeding, and ask for it in the second. What gives?

    You missed the statement of the general rule, which is buried in the middle of the case:

    We recognize that there is ample precedent for the rule that waiver of the Fifth Amendment privilege in one proceeding does not waive that privilege in a subsequent proceeding, often because circumstances have changed between the two proceedings. See, e.g., United States v. Burch, 490 F.2d 1300, 1303 (8th Cir. 1974); United States v. Licavoli, 604 F.2d 613, 623 (9th Cir.1979); United States v. Cain, 544 F.2d 1113, 1117 (1st Cir.1976); In re Neff, 206 F.2d 149, 152 (3d Cir.1953).

  56. Mu says:

    She was being askewd about her actions AS A GOVERNMENTAL ACTOR. There is no reason whatsoever she should be allowed to take the 5th.
    The problem is that she can't testify in that function. She's still personally liable for her actions, not the government. That's why she should get criminal immunity, but still be liable for her actions under government rules, e. g. forfeit benefits, seniority etc.

  57. David C says:

    @Alanstorm: Given the sheer number of government employees, from IRS agents to schoolteachers, it would be troubling to say the least to deny them all the 5th amendment.

    Certainly the 5th shouldn't protect her from job-related consequences, but she's still a citizen, and there's no reason to carve a huge hole in the 5th because of her job.

  58. jackn says:

    @Narc,

    It probably too late, being this far down in the comments, but one of the people saying this proves she's guilty of something is a US Congressman:

    Yeah, too bad your so late. If people had known a US Congressman had said this, it would change the whole thread.

  59. David C says:

    @Castaigne: It seems like you're saying that when there are accusations of improper activity that Congress should do nothing at all.

    When government officials are killed by foreigners, for example, it's certainly not out of line to call for an investigation. Even if high-ranking officials did nothing wrong, something WENT horribly wrong and we need to find out WHAT went wrong so it doesn't happen again. But any administration doing something improper is unlikely to investigate itself seriously, so if Congress cannot investigate that would leave zero oversight in the case where high-ranking officials ARE hiding something.

    Even if, as you suggest, there was absolutely no improper activity going on at the IRS, there were serious accusations of such improper activity, so it was perfectly appropriate to investigate so the public's mind could be put at ease. Certainly it seems that as a result of the investigations, YOU are satisfied that nothing improper happened.

  60. Joe Blow says:

    @Darryl They also gave scrutiny to liberal groups.

    Yeah, a token number. Around a dozen of them, versus >1000 Tea Party and other conservative groups. Coincidence, right?

  61. Joe Blow says:

    @Castaigne – I've reconsidered. You are correct.

    It'd be a huge abuse of authority for Issa to grant Lerner immunity, and compel her testimony. If the government could do that to her, they could do it to anybody. After all, it only *looks like* the IRS has singled out conservative groups for particular scrutiny based on their political views. Actual use of congressional investigations or the court system to look into this would be a monstrous abuse, of the sort we might all come to regret later on. As Rep. Elijah Cummings noted, it's un-American to make inquiries of this sort.

    In other words, we should trust the IRS when it says it wasn't violating anybody's rights, because if we failed to trust the IRS's word on this, we'd be violating the individual rights of IRS employees. That is a perfectly logical position, one that I cannot argue with…

  62. Garrett says:

    Given the number of Federal crimes, why wouldn't *every* official take the 5th if called before Congress? Not necessarily because they know they did something illegal, but because they might have done something illegal and would accidentally admit it. There's that whole principle of 3 felonies a day….

  63. luagha says:

    "@Darryl They also gave scrutiny to liberal groups.

    Yeah, a token number. Around a dozen of them, versus >1000 Tea Party and other conservative groups. Coincidence, right?"

    A better way to say it is this:

    They gave the standard scrutiny listed in their documented, legally tested, non-prejuidiced procedures to about a dozen liberal groups. This was handled by normal employees.

    They gave special scrutiny, never before given, never legally tested, specifically outside the bounds of their written guidelines, to several hundred conservative groups. When their questions were answered they made up more instead of processing the application, and these applications were handled by a special, tightly-knit manager's group who could be trusted not to blab.

  64. InnocentBystander says:

    "So the "scandal" isn't "did they target the tea party groups for extra scrutiny", but rather "did they unfairly target those groups".
    If anyone actually bothered to read the TIGTA report that started this mess, they would know that the IG analyzed whether the Tea Party groups should have been selected by Legal Objective means and he concluded that the vast majority of the applications SHOULD have been selected. Only about a dozen did not include evidence of any political activities at the time of their initial application, and would not have been chosen by objective means. Follow up evidence showed that some of that dozen were also involved in political activities and worthy of extra scrutiny. The IRS argued that some of the few "politics free applications" would probably have been chosen due to agent experience and judgment. (Translation: the agents would have reason to suspect that some of that dozen might have incomplete, inaccurate applications). In the end, of the 290 or so groups chosen for special scrutiny, 5-10 were probably improperly burdened due to the IRS methodology error. The statistical analysis done by the IG showed that the improper methodology employed by the IRS was only slightly less accurate at choosing groups for extra scrutiny than doing it properly. The tin foil hat conspiracy theorists can't explain why high level government officials would get involved in a conspiracy to select "Tea Party" groups by name for scrutiny who would otherwise legally be chosen anyway. Does anyone actually believe that there is a method for screening for potentially political 501 c(4) applications that would exclude Tea Party groups? No, this "scandal" was a problem of perception. Political abuse of 501 c(4) was clearly a hot topic since Citizens United. Enforcement of these regulations is a political mine field. The procedural error at the IRS has been turned into a "scandal" that allows one political party to shake the donation tree. There has been no actual evidence of criminal wrongdoing, so Lois Lerner's attempt to protect herself from being railroaded is turned into evidence of wrongdoing.

  65. Shane says:

    What I don't understand is if the 5th protects "us" from the "government", isn't the "government" a collection of individuals performing the will (laws) of "us"? Is Lois Lerner the "government"? Is an agent of the "government" the government? If these are true can the "government" take the 5th for which it can be used to protect against itself!??!! I am sure that there is a legalistic answer for this, I would love to hear it.

    My point in this is that when the "government" hurts "us" it is an individual or a small group of individuals that do the hurting. A rogue prosecutor, an overzealous judge a corrupt congressman a policeman and his partner etc… How do we deal with this?

  66. Dustin says:

    Ahhh,
    the difference between legal function and common sense.

    Obviously she is invoking the fifth amendment because she would self incriminate if she spoke honesty.

    Her emails do not make it any less clear that she was targeting organizations critical of the administration.

    When she did these things she was being paid by the American people, and today she is being paid an amazing retirement by the American people.

    For the sake of a functional and fair legal system, we cannot force people to be a witness against themselves. That's great. But she is still an evil person whose corruption is obvious.

  67. Dustin says:

    "If anyone actually bothered to read the TIGTA report that started this mess, they would know that the IG analyzed whether the Tea Party groups should have been selected by Legal Objective means and he concluded that the vast majority of the applications SHOULD have been selected. "

    That's true. A lot of organizations, like the NAACP, Moveon.org, and the ACLU, conduct activities that are political.

    And that shouldn't mean they are no longer tax exempt unless they are strictly political groups (the ACLU, for example, is not a political group, even though I think Moveon.org is).

    Where do you draw the line?

    Well, it's pretty damn important that the line is in the same place if you support the administration or if you oppose it.

    That's the problem. The administration took Lerner, a well established political hack a the FEC, and let her set this line. She set one line for those who support her administration (nearly impossible to breach) and another for those who oppose it (incredibly easy to breach).

    That's the inherent, common sense corruption in place.

  68. Ken White says:

    For those suggesting that the government ought to have a policy that you're fired if you take the Fifth in response to questions from your boss, the government:

    That's swell and all, except under the law it has the effect of immunizing the government employee from prosecution. That's exactly what happens with police officers. When police departments have "answer Internal Affairs questions or be fired" policies, the courts treat the resulting statements as compelled — and therefore immunized — creating the Kastigar problem explained in my post.

    So, you could pass a law that public employees have to answer questions or be fired, but the effect would be that it would become much harder to prosecute public employees for misconduct.

    Cynics (like me) suspect that police departments have such policies specifically in order to immunize cops from prosecution.

  69. Matt says:

    Compelled testimony is radioactive. If a witness is compelled to testify, in any subsequent proceeding against them the government has a heavy burden to prove that no part of the prosecution is derived from the compelled testimony, which is treated as immunized.

    IANAL, so can someone who is (or is darned close) explain to me how/when compelled testimony is to be treated as immunized? Is this a state/feds distinction?

  70. EPWJ says:

    And Ken, when does incompetence or dereliction, cross over into misconduct? Another reason for the fifth

  71. @Innocent Bystander,

    The tin foil hat conspiracy theorists can't explain why high level government officials would get involved in a conspiracy to select "Tea Party" groups by name for scrutiny who would otherwise legally be chosen anyway. Does anyone actually believe that there is a method for screening for potentially political 501 c(4) applications that would exclude Tea Party groups? No, this "scandal" was a problem of perception. Political abuse of 501 c(4) was clearly a hot topic since Citizens United.

    I would respond by quoting this WSJ article: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303426304579401513939340666

    The mainstream press has justified its lack of coverage over the Internal Revenue Service targeting of conservative groups because there’s been no “smoking gun” tying President Obama to the scandal. This betrays a remarkable, if not willful, failure to understand abuse of power. The political pressure on the IRS to delay or deny tax-exempt status for conservative groups has been obvious to anyone who cares to open his eyes. It did not come from a direct order from the White House, but it didn’t have to. [...]

    Now consider the following events, all of which were either widely reported, publicly released by officeholders or revealed later in testimony to Congress. These are the dots the media refuse to connect:

    • Jan. 27, 2010: President Obama criticizes Citizens United in his State of the Union address and asks Congress to “correct” the decision.

    • Feb. 11, 2010: Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) says he will introduce legislation known as the Disclose Act to place new restrictions on some political activity by corporations and force more public disclosure of contributions to 501(c)(4) organizations. Mr. Schumer says the bill is intended to “embarrass companies” out of exercising the rights recognized in Citizens United. “The deterrent effect should not be underestimated,” he said.

    • Soon after, in March 2010, Mr. Obama publicly criticizes conservative 501(c)(4) organizations engaging in politics. In his Aug. 21 radio address, he warns Americans about “shadowy groups with harmless sounding names” and a “corporate takeover of our democracy.”

    • Sept. 28, 2010: Mr. Obama publicly accuses conservative 501(c)(4) organizations of “posing as not-for-profit, social welfare and trade groups.” Max Baucus, then chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, asks the IRS to investigate 501(c)(4)s, specifically citing Americans for Job Security, an advocacy group that says its role is to “put forth a pro-growth, pro-jobs message to the American people.”

    • Oct. 11, 2010: Sen. Dick Durbin (D., Ill.) asks the IRS to investigate the conservative 501(c)(4) Crossroads GPS and “other organizations.”

    • April 2011: White House officials confirm that Mr. Obama is considering an executive order that would require all government contractors to disclose their donations to politically active organizations as part of their bids for government work. The proposal is later dropped amid opposition across the political spectrum.

    • Feb. 16, 2012: Seven Democratic senators— Michael Bennet (Colo.), Al Franken (Minn.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.), Mr. Schumer, Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Tom Udall (N.M.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.)—write to the IRS asking for an investigation of conservative 501(c)(4) organizations.

    • March 12, 2012: The same seven Democrats write another letter asking for further investigation of conservative 501(c)(4)s, claiming abuse of their tax status.

    • July 27, 2012: Sen. Carl Levin (D., Mich.) writes one of several letters to then-IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman seeking a probe of nine conservative groups, plus two liberal and one centrist organization. In 2013 testimony to the HouseOversight and Government Reform Committee, former IRS Acting Commissioner Steven Miller describes Sen. Levin as complaining “bitterly” to the IRS and demanding investigations.

    • Aug. 31, 2012: In another letter to the IRS, Sen. Levin calls its failure to investigate and prosecute targeted organizations “unacceptable.”

    • Dec. 14, 2012: The liberal media outlet ProPublica receives Crossroads GPS’s 2010 application for tax-exempt status from the IRS. Because the group’s tax-exempt status had not been recognized, the application was confidential. ProPublica publishes the full application. It later reports that it received nine confidential pending applications from IRS agents, six of which it published. None of the applications was from a left-leaning organization.

    • April 9, 2013: Sen. Whitehouse convenes the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism to examine nonprofits. He alleges that nonprofits are violating federal law by making false statements about their political activities and donors and using shell companies to donate to super PACs to hide donors’ identities. He berates Patricia Haynes, then-deputy chief of Criminal Investigation at the IRS, for not prosecuting conservative nonprofits.

    And why don't we add Senator Reid's recent declarations of Charles and David Koch's "unamerican"-ness to this list.

    With this much high-profile political pressure, do you really think only "tin foil hat conspiracy theorists" might suspect something improper? Is your faith in the steel-spined impartiality of the IRS truly that great?

    To the topic at hand: Ken, is there any kind of statutory remedy to this sort of thing? There seems to be a very obvious slippery slope to zero accountability. While I don't question Lerner's right to invoke the Fifth, I would like a complete accounting of everything she did under the auspices of the FedGov, and would daresay that, as a citizen, I am entitled to one.

  72. Devil's Advocate says:

    @Not Claude Akins:
    Which other government employees are you entitled to a complete accounting of everything they've ever done?

  73. Trent says:

    There is a difference between letter of the law and spirit of the law. I'm pretty sure if it was illegial then someone would be going after them.

    The reason it's not being prosecuted is it's being used by BOTH parties. Obama has several 501(c)4 organizations under his umbrella, Clinton has several and the republicans and tea party groups have them as well. It would be political suicide for anyone that went after these abuses criminally. That in and of itself is the most repulsive thing about this whole thing.

    Lerner screwed up, she was trying to fix a problem that had no political will on either side of the isle to fix and she was doing so outside the normal channel (which was IRS CID). The real scandal here is that none of these political groups with 501(c)4 status are being prosecuted for lying. Congress should change the law and make it very clear what constitutes abuse of 501(c)4 and then appoint special prosecutors to haul them all into court. And yes you need a special prosecutor because both Democrats and Republicans will try to stop these prosecutions. Either that or Congress need to eliminate the 501(c)4 category completely. No group doing political advertising and campaigning should be a non-profit (and no tax) charity. I see idiots on both sides of the political divide jumping on or defending this without one wit of regard for the real issue. 501(c)4 is being abused and it needs to be stopped.

  74. xtmar says:

    @Ken

    Can you take the 5th if you don't have anything incriminating, just on general principles?

  75. @Devil's Advocate,

    All of them. Every man Jack of 'em, old chap.

    And for those who thing The Real Issue Here is that people *aren't remitting enough in taxes to the government,* well, I fart in your general direction.

  76. Devil's Advocate says:

    @Not Claude Akins:
    How much are you willing to pay for gathering and transmitting all that information?

  77. CJK Fossman says:

    @DavidC

    Even if high-ranking officials did nothing wrong, something WENT horribly wrong and we need to find out WHAT went wrong so it doesn't happen again.

    I agree 100% with that statement.

    I would also be extremely gratified to be told which Republican asked Secretary Clinton a question like, "what do we have to do to keep things like this from recurring?"

  78. @Devil's Advocate,

    Well, I'm already paying a fraction of Mr. Issa's and his confederates' salaries, not to mention Ms. Lerner's. And the Fine Folks at America's Cable Companies have already blessed us with CSPAN. So I think we're good, no?

  79. Xennady says:

    You appear terminally confused about what the First Amendment actually says. There is no right to tax exempt status anywhere in the whole Bill of Rights. Hence the First Amendment has no relevance in any investigation whether a group qualifies for tax exemption.

    Now, if a group appears to be a political advocacy group, it seems bleeding obvious that the IRS should investigate closely whether the political advocacy is of a form permitted by statute or not.

    Pardon me, but I don't think I'm the one with a terminally confused view of what the first amendment means.

    On the other hand, if the group appears to be a pony welfare group, it seems less urgent to dig deeply into whether or not the group does/will indulge in impermissible behavior regarding political campaigns.

    There it is again. You appear to believe the government should get to decide how people can dissent. I disagree.

    Yes, I do understand that this flies in the face of the Frothing Loons who scream about how the IRS targeted tea party groups (and Occupy groups, which get ignored because who cares about them and that fact does rather dilute the strident complaints), but pretending that somehow the government isn't allowed to investigate whether or not a group qualifies for tax exempt status because of the First Amendment is patently foolish and ridiculous.

    Either you have a problem with the government attempting to crush dissent or you don't.

    You don't. That reflects poorly upon you, in my opinion.

    I'll add that if the government was attempting to prevent occupy groups from expressing their political views then I oppose that also. But having been alive while the occupy movement was being touted energetically by the press and democratic party I simply don't buy your assertion that the democrat-run government was targeting them.

  80. GeoffreyK says:

    @Not Claude Akins
    Allow me to preface this by saying that I'm not necessarily convinced of anyone's innocence on this matter.

    But…

    I look at your WSJ response, and I have trouble seeing your point.

    A. I wasn't aware that disagreeing with the outcome of Citizens United (which, had it gone the other way, or had subsequent campaign finance reform successfully replaced/overhauled it, would've been just as easily used against liberal political spending as against conservative political spending) constituted any part of a campaign specifically against conservatives.

    B. The only thing in there that seems even remotely like "foul play" to me is the one about ProPublica and the Crossroads GPS disclosure. And in isolation, I can go either way on that: if I were processing those applications, and I saw Crossroads GPS come across my desk, claiming to be a tax-exempt, educational, non-political entity, I'd probably have a good, long laugh, and then quietly contemplate sharing it with the media.

    Everything else looks like people complaining about groups that they don't like that they think are breaking the law, and asking for the IRS to investigate them.

    If your argument is that the IRS received a high volume of complaints that conservative 501c4's were breaking the law, and as a result, gave too much scrutiny to conservative 501c4's, when they should've ignored the complaints because the nature of complaints they were receiving was insufficiently politically balanced, then I'm flabbergasted. A stance that "We're only going to respond to reports of law breaking when the number of reports of law breaking are equally balanced between conservative and liberal law breakers" is nonsense.

    If, alternatively, you had a similar list of complaints from conservative lawmakers, referencing law-breaking by liberal 501c4's, and that the IRS selectively acted upon the complaints of the lawmakers belonging to the party of the current administration, while ignoring the complaints from conservative lawmakers, then I could see your point.

  81. AlphaCentauri says:

    This whole thing is based on the premise that groups with political views that are in opposition to the administration are being blocked from getting tax exempt status, when that status specifically requires them to not have significant political activities in the first place.

    Complaining about being subjected to 40 audits? Her application should have been denied after the first audit, instead of giving her 39 additional chances at the ring.

    Any groups whose political leanings are so obvious that everyone can agree whose side they are on politically doesn't need tax exempt status. And congress should point the finger back at themselves for thinking up such a stupid law, instead of passing the blame onto government employees who have to interpret it.

  82. Malc says:

    @ Xennady

    You really don't seem to understand the trivial point that tax exemption status is entirely and completely irrelevant to the issue of anyone dissenting.

    No-one is "being crushed", and your efforts to pretend otherwise are foolish.

    As others have noted, there's no rational reason why any political (or religious) lobby group should be granted tax exempt status, and whining about how that constitutes oppression demonstrates only that you have missed the point.

    So, no, I won't pardon you for your desperate efforts to conflate an issue of tax law with one free speech. Pay your taxes *and* protest, both.

  83. Captain Obvious says:

    "@Darryl They also gave scrutiny to liberal groups."

    Despite how often this is repeated, it is categorically false. The feeble evidence of this being bandied about is that liberal groups appeared on the LIST of groups TO BE subjected to extra scrutiny. Yet the list of liberal groups that HAVE BEEN subjected to extra scrutiny is still a big fat cipher.

  84. Castaigne says:

    @A. Nagy:

    There is a difference between letter of the law and spirit of the law.

    Yes, there is – and funny enough, everyone always agrees on what the letter of the law is, and they always differ on what the spirit is. One has to love the difference between objective and subjective.

    ===

    @David C:

    It seems like you're saying that when there are accusations of improper activity that Congress should do nothing at all.

    Not at all. They should do something; they should appoint a special commission of independent, bipartisan experts to conduct the inquiry. Not Issa, who has a political axe to grind. Not Cummings, who's going to hack for his party. Appoint people who know what they're talking about who don't have skin in the game.

    In the case of the IRS, we want tax lawyers and financial investigators from private industry. They'll know what to look for.

    Certainly it seems that as a result of the investigations, YOU are satisfied that nothing improper happened.

    You would be correct. I have seen nothing that is evidence-based that points in any direction of malfeasance. Lots of smoke, no fire.

    ===

    @Joe Blow:

    Yeah, a token number. Around a dozen of them, versus >1000 Tea Party and other conservative groups. Coincidence, right?

    Of the 298 applications that were collected and put on hold by the Internal Revenue Service between mid-2010 and mid-2012, 248, or 83%, were right-leaning, while 29, or 10%, were left-leaning. Of the right-leaning groups’ applications, about 45% have been approved, while about 70% of the left-leaning groups have been approved.

    It should also be noted that there was approximately a 1200% jump in the creation of right-leaning 501(c)4 groups in that time period, while creation of left-leaning ones remained steady. This is attributed to the increased campaigning of Tea Party groups, which sprouted like mushrooms in that time period.

    Make of that what you will – but let's do it with solid numbers. With such an influx of groups, I would imagine that investigation of such groups would increase proportionately. *shrugs* YMMV.

    It'd be a huge abuse of authority for Issa to grant Lerner immunity, and compel her testimony.

    I say it would be, yes, because he's going to play partisan about it.
    And I say the same about Cummings.
    See what I said to David C. about independent commissions.

    ===

    @luagha:

    They gave special scrutiny, never before given, never legally tested, specifically outside the bounds of their written guidelines, to several hundred conservative groups. When their questions were answered they made up more instead of processing the application, and these applications were handled by a special, tightly-knit manager's group who could be trusted not to blab.

    First, that wouldn't be "several hundred"; that would be 206. Second, I'll need citations for that supposition that "special scrutiny" was given, since I haven't seen that in the testimony. While Issa has refused to release the IRS transcripts, it WAS released by Cumming. Here's my personal link to the transcripts. Read through them and point out to me where your supposition is supported in the documentation.

    (Hint: You won't be able to. It's not there.)

    ===

    @InnocentBystander:

    If anyone actually bothered to read the TIGTA report that started this mess…[snip]

    Ah, but there you go bringing logic and fact into this.

    ===

    @Not Claude Akins:

    I would respond by quoting this WSJ article: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303426304579401513939340666

    The problem is, that article only gives smoke. No fire. I want fire. I want proof. I want something that will win a case. Not "he said, she said", not allegations, not "connect the dots" – anyone can create smoke out of nothing. It's part of the pattern bias of human perception, seeing connections where none exist. Let's have some evidence.

    Which other government employees are you entitled to a complete accounting of everything they've ever done?

    All of them. Every man Jack of 'em, old chap.

    God, that's fucking frightening. We have Robespierre and the Committee of Public Safety here. Christ, do you even think about the ramifications of your thought processes? Is there a time limit on this complete accounting? Are you allowed to drag them in and question them relentlessly on their sex life? On every conversation they've had with a subordinate? How long does this go on – 1, 5, 10, 20 years?

    Let's have some details of what you think a "complete accounting" is, because it must sure differ from what I consider a "complete accounting".

    Well, I'm already paying a fraction of Mr. Issa's and his confederates' salaries, not to mention Ms. Lerner's. And the Fine Folks at America's Cable Companies have already blessed us with CSPAN. So I think we're good, no?

    That's not a "complete accounting". It doesn't include the subpoena of documentation, the investigation into the personal lives and doings of the federal employees, endless questioning of actions – look, you do know that each of Issa's investigations have cost between 300-600 million apiece, right?

  85. Anony says:

    @AlphaCentauri:

    Why do you think political organizations (RNC, DNC, etc) should have to fork over a third of their unspent cash every year as income taxes, exactly? The tax code is specifically written for them to be tax exempt, anyway

  86. @Castaigne,

    God, that's fucking frightening. We have Robespierre and the Committee of Public Safety here. Christ, do you even think about the ramifications of your thought processes? Is there a time limit on this complete accounting? Are you allowed to drag them in and question them relentlessly on their sex life? On every conversation they've had with a subordinate? How long does this go on – 1, 5, 10, 20 years?

    Leaving aside the delicious irony of being compared to French revolutionaries by one of the most august and respected leftist voices here at Popehat, what I said was:

    While I don't question Lerner's right to invoke the Fifth, I would like a complete accounting of everything she did under the auspices of the FedGov

    So, unless her sex life involved fucking for Uncle Sam, I'm not interested. Is it somehow controversial to you that I feel entitled to know what my government is doing a.) to me b.) with my money, and c.) to others, in my name?

    Let's pretend we're talking about NatSec and not the IRS. Would you counter with this overheated rhetoric, and tell me how I am not entitled to every little detail of Obama's kill list, or every little bit of intelligence DNI Clapper is collecting on US citizens?

  87. Xennady says:

    You know, this is what, the 10th or 11th "investigation" done by Issa since 2008? And each time, it's gone nowhere. No evidence. No smoking guns. Fast & Furious, Benghazi, IRS targeting, Birtherism, the Census Bureau – it goes on and on, costing us millions in tax dollars and coming out with bupkiss. And then he's boneheaded enough to leak intelligence secrets on national TV, along with Chaffetz.

    Did you actually read your link?

    From it:

    The State Department displayed a satellite photograph showing two locations – the rented villa that served as a special diplomatic mission and the compound that officials had cryptically described as an "annex" or "safe house" for diplomatic personnel.

    When the satellite photo was displayed, a senior committee Republican, Representative Jason Chaffetz, complained that the discussion was drifting into "classified issues that deal with sources and methods," and the photo was removed from public display. No one at the hearing used the term "CIA base" to describe the facility.

    So the State Department was boneheaded enough to display a photo leaking intelligence secrets on national television- and when the Republican objected to the State Department's boneheadedness somehow he became responsible for it.

    Sure. Anyway, either you have a problem with the President giving weapons to Mexican drug cartels to further his gun control agenda, resulting in numerous fatalities- or you don't. Either you have a problem with the steaming pile of fail that comprised the Benghazi fiasco- or you don't. Either you have a problem with the government using the instruments of state power to harass and intimidate dissenters- or you don't.

    Hey, you don't. Your option.

    I'd reference "birtherism" and "the census bureau", too- except I'd never heard of Issa mentioned re either. I couldn't find anything about birtherism- but my search re "census bureau" revealed this:

    House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., asked the Census Bureau Tuesday for additional information after a report accused the bureau of manipulating monthly unemployment data ahead of the 2012 election.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/issa-demands-answers-after-report-of-fudged-unemployment-data/

    What a bast**d. He asked the census bureau for additional information after a report accused the bureau of manipulating monthly unemployment data.

    What was he thinking?! I mean, he's only the chairman of the House Oversight Committee.

    How dare he attempt any sort of oversight!!

    Evil Rethuglican!!!

  88. Zem says:

    If it is wise not to talk to the police, surely the same wisdom applies to a congressional panel.

    We all have something to hide, it's called privacy.

  89. Trent says:

    Sure. Anyway, either you have a problem with the President giving weapons to Mexican drug cartels to further his gun control agenda, resulting in numerous fatalities- or you don't.

    Nice hyperbole. Your either with us or against us, there is no middle ground.

    The middle ground is that the ATF has always been irresponsible. Did you miss what happened in Waco or are you just to young to remember it? What about Ruby Ridge? You have a police enforcement organization who's sole stated purpose is the control of alcohol, tobacco and firearms (and explosives). Considering the FDA has taken over the Tobacco portion and treasury along with the States handle a good chunk of the Alcohol regulation you're left with an organization who's largest mission is now the control of firearms. They've also proven many many times that they are terribly irresponsible involving numerous tragedies of which fast and furious was almost insignificant in comparison to the other incidents.

    I don't like gun control and I don't like the ATF, but I don't blame Obama for the actions of a wildly irresponsible police agency. The simple solution would be drastically scale back the ATF and reduce it's legal abilities. But the people making hay over F&F aren't interested in a solution, they are interested in making hay, in particular political hay. I'd like to see all federal law enforcement scaled back drastically, but as with all attempts to reduce federal spending there is entrenched protection on both sides that won't allow these programs to be cut. We want to stop the next F&F the solution isn't to bitch about Obama or the Justice department, it's to cut the ATF budget and mission. Hell, with a cut to ATF and an elimination of the DEA we could almost eliminate 12 billion in spending and the eventual drop in prison inmates would save another 6 billion. But that would mean all those private prisons would have less revenue and we can't have that.

  90. Fury says:

    So, unless her sex life involved fucking for Uncle Sam, I'm not interested.

    Dude, please. I just got done eating corn. I have to believe it's 'gonna hurt blowing it out my nose…

  91. Malc says:

    @ Trent

    Well said.

    And you didn't even have to point out that "the President giving weapons to Mexican drug cartels" should, strictly speaking, be "the Presidents giving weapons to Mexican drug cartels", on the basis that the same ATF bozos were doing the same "gunwalking" dipshittedness under both the current and the previous administrations. Granted, they changed the name from "Operation Wide Receiver" to "Operation Fast and Furious", but apart from that it's incredibly deceitful to try and associate a President with stupidity rather than the agency actually responsible.

  92. Castaigne says:

    @Not Claude Akins:

    Leaving aside the delicious irony of being compared to French revolutionaries by one of the most august and respected leftist voices here at Popehat,

    Except that I'm not a leftist. As you've been told repeatedly, I'm a pre-Burkean conservative. That means that I am far more to the right then you will ever be.

    So, unless her sex life involved fucking for Uncle Sam, I'm not interested.

    Of course it does. She is a federal employee. Every part of her life is government business, just like every part of my life is my employer's business. If I go to a strip club after work and a client sees me, then it reflects badly on my employer, as I represent my employer 24/7. (Yes, we do have regulations on this at my employer.) She represents the government 24/7. Every aspect of her life, down to what businesses she chooses to patronize for her groceries and who she decides to have lunch with every day, is government business.

    Let's pretend we're talking about NatSec and not the IRS. Would you counter with this overheated rhetoric, and tell me how I am not entitled to every little detail of Obama's kill list, or every little bit of intelligence DNI Clapper is collecting on US citizens?

    I damn well bloody would if you didn't have the security clearance and need-to-know for it. Without those two items, the only reason that I can conceive that a person would want that information is to leak it to enemies of the United States, either for pay or anti-American loyalties. Hell, I wouldn't want that information. I have no reasonable need to know it.

    (Also, you've got the wrong guy. I approve of drone killings. I also think we should get back into the assassination business – popping Putin between the eyes would settle this Ukraine business toot sweet. And I didn't have a problem with the intelligence collection back when it started in the late 1990s, considering it was legal then, and so I don't have a problem with it now.)

    ===

    @Xennady:

    Did you actually read your link?

    Yup. That I did.

    So the State Department was boneheaded enough to display a photo leaking intelligence secrets on national television- and when the Republican objected to the State Department's boneheadedness somehow he became responsible for it.

    Your forgot the last step of the logic. If Chaffetz had kept his mouth shut and never objected, no one would have ever had known. The fact that he wasn't intelligent enough to know that is, frankly, appalling.

    Anyway, either you have a problem with the President giving weapons to Mexican drug cartels to further his gun control agenda, resulting in numerous fatalities- or you don't.

    If proven, yes. Haven't seen proof. Haven't seen anything I can take to the bank.

    Either you have a problem with the steaming pile of fail that comprised the Benghazi fiasco- or you don't.

    I don't in that case. We know the cause; funding for security for State Department installations was cheaped out, going back to the mid-2000s, and this was the result. Which is unsurprising. You don't fund things properly, you get cheap-ass results. Same in government; same in private business. Can't tell you the number of corporate projects I've seen fail for the exact same reason.

    Either you have a problem with the government using the instruments of state power to harass and intimidate dissenters- or you don't.

    If proven, yes. Haven't seen proof. Haven't seen anything I can take to the bank.

    Evil Rethuglican!!!

    I don't give a damn what party he is. I want to know why he's wasting my money on shit that doesn't produce convictions. It's real simple; either you have a smoking gun or you don't. In, what, 5 years he hasn't turned up a smoking gun for anything? With the most incompetent administration of the past 30 years? Give me a break.

    Everything these days is videotaped, recorded, audio-taped, printed out, documented, and so on and so forth. It's all there. And yet, I'm somehow supposed to believe that the most incompetent administration on the face of the planet is so crafty and organized that they can hide anything and pull the wool over Issa's eyes. Just like the Birthers want me to believe that the almost-as-incompetent Bush2 administration somehow orchestrated 9/11 and covered it up.

    Uh huh. Sure.

    All someone has to do is show me the smoking gun. And I will bet you money that if independent commissions of experts were doing this, it'd be completed in a much shorter time with far less cost. I'll put $100 American on it, that's how confident I am.

  93. @Castaigne,

    Except that I'm not a leftist. As you've been told repeatedly, I'm a pre-Burkean conservative. That means that I am far more to the right then you will ever be.

    I stand corrected, and extend an apology, sir.

    Of course it does. She is a federal employee. Every part of her life is government business, just like every part of my life is my employer's business. If I go to a strip club after work and a client sees me, then it reflects badly on my employer, as I represent my employer 24/7. (Yes, we do have regulations on this at my employer.) She represents the government 24/7. Every aspect of her life, down to what businesses she chooses to patronize for her groceries and who she decides to have lunch with every day, is government business.

    Well, that's, like, your opinion, man. I certainly don't care about what she does in her spare time. I care about what she does with her power as a government official. This power has been loaned to her, indirectly, by the American people; she is accountable to us for its use.

    I have no reasonable need to know it.

    And this, I think, encapsulates our differences. I don't trust the bastards. [This statement holds for most values of "bastards"]

    Everything these days is videotaped, recorded, audio-taped, printed out, documented, and so on and so forth. It's all there. And yet, I'm somehow supposed to believe that the most incompetent administration on the face of the planet is so crafty and organized that they can hide anything and pull the wool over Issa's eyes.

    Here I will disagree with you. That the investigation has not borne fruit is not evidence that the investigation is worthless. This administration, like most administrations, has made effective use of simple stonewalling. Eric Holder was held in contempt of Congress, but no one cares. I think it's entirely plausible that smoking guns exist, but are being effectively squelched by this administration, its allies and partisans, and their "insider threat program."

    To return to analogy, Walter Sobchak was certainly correct in his assumption that little Larry Sellers stole the Dude's car. That he was unable to obtain a confession, and in the end was reduced to a rather impotent rage, is a testament to Sellers' political skill, but not to his innocence.

  94. Ibidem says:

    Pardon me: if you accept the proposition that the government targets organizations for IRS scrutiny because of their political views, and you still say things like "why take the Fifth if you have nothing to hide", then you're either an idiot or a dishonest partisan hack.

    (Italics mine.)

    Ahem. I'm afraid that you mean "think"; one could say that in parody, to demonstrate the inconstency of those who use this argument when defending aggressive prosecution.

  95. AlphaCentauri says:

    @Anony

    Why do you think political organizations (RNC, DNC, etc) should have to fork over a third of their unspent cash every year as income taxes, exactly? The tax code is specifically written for them to be tax exempt, anyway

    IANAL, and I'm way over my head here, but my understanding is that there are two different tax issues. One is that an organization may be not-for-profit, so that extra money has to stay in the organization to be used for the purposes related to the organization's mission, and no one's compensation is related to "profits," because there aren't any. The other is whether donors may deduct contributions to that nonprofit from their own taxes. So if I donate to the RNC or the DNC, I can't deduct that, but if I donate to the Red Cross, I can deduct it, even though all of those organizations are non profit.

  96. Allen says:

    Ken, it is a bit of a tangent. but it is something that interests me.
    The Congress, the President, and the Courts have expressly endorsed that government employees can commit certain crimes in the national interest.

    What is fascinating to me, is that admission of such, may be a crime itself. Always the 5th, always get a smart attorney involved.

  97. Xennady says:

    You really don't seem to understand the trivial point that tax exemption status is entirely and completely irrelevant to the issue of anyone dissenting.

    Hogwash. Tax exemption status is entirely and completely relevant to the issue of dissent. If a regime can use tax exempt status and the withdrawal thereof as measures against dissenters then something is seriously wrong, if you want a free society.

    So, no, I won't pardon you for your desperate efforts to conflate an issue of tax law with one free speech. Pay your taxes *and* protest, both.

    Reality says: People paid their taxes, without trouble, until Obama became president, and then they decided to become politically involved- wow, all of a sudden, the Federal government- IRS, OSHA, etc, became intensely interested in all of their personal and business activities.

    I don't think that a coincidence, and I don't think it's legal either.

    I do, however, understand why leftist partisans are so eager to deny that it happened.

    Can't have that compassionate smiley-faced mask slipping, to reveal the bloody brutal reality.

    The rubes might stop voting for you.

  98. bji says:

    Very informative. However the last section is definitely a strawman. I would postulate that the "nothing to hide crowd" are likely pro-government and are rather consistent on that matter or Poe's law is in effect and they are mocking pro-government people by using their own arguments against them pejoratively.

  99. the other rob says:

    I suspect that my question, above, might have been a stupid one. Nevertheless, it was sincerely asked and I'd be grateful for an answer (even if it ends "… you dumbass!").

    To save on scrolling it was: What functional difference is there between saying "I broke no laws" then pleading the Fifth at a congressional hearing and saying "Not guilty" then pleading the Fifth at a trial?

  100. Devil's Advocate says:

    @Not Claude Akins:

    Leaving aside the delicious irony of being compared to French revolutionaries by one of the most august and respected leftist voices here at Popehat

    This may come as a complete shock to you, but it's pretty likely that most leftists don't approve of the excesses of the French Revolution. Being the kind Devil's Advocate that I am, I'll let you in on a little secret: even though they are all leftists, they don't always agree on everything all the time ever, and sometimes even think that the opinions and actions of other leftists are wrong! It's almost like they are capable of independent thought!

    @Castaigne

    [T]ell me how I am not entitled to every little detail of Obama's kill list, or every little bit of intelligence DNI Clapper is collecting on US citizens?

    I damn well bloody would if you didn't have the security clearance and need-to-know for it. Without those two items, the only reason that I can conceive that a person would want that information is to leak it to enemies of the United States, either for pay or anti-American loyalties. Hell, I wouldn't want that information. I have no reasonable need to know it.

    You're absolutely right! Sunlight is the worst disinfectant. I can't think of anything more unreasonable in a democracy than to give a citizen what is needed in order to make sure the secret summary execution list is created justly and with due process. Even to think such a thought is anti-American!

  101. Joe Blow says:

    Two narrow the First Amendment issues here:

    1) Targeting of politically-oriented education groups for *special* scrutiny versus other types of non-profits is facially violative of the First Amendment because it punishes political activity per se. It doesn't matter what their viewpoints are; it's a categorical error that the IG does not address. An inquiry into the specific activities of the groups is appropriate under the tax code – that is permitted to ascertain that the groups are what they say they are. The appropriate question and follow-ons relate to the query, "Were you in fact predominantly an educational or public interest group?" That some politics are involved in the activities of such groups is irrelevant. The law assumes that – it's like asking if a church performs religious services – only a very tepid sort of inquiry is appropriate at the outset, and a more in-depth inquiry is appropriate if there are significant reasons to ask deeper questions. Even then, the inquiry is only supposed to reach whether the groups were performing activities that are expressly political, in violation of the stated purposes of their charters. (And the fact the unions are howling about the IRS Notice of Proposed Rulemaking functionally codifying these abuses is good evidence of the overreach here). The inquiries requesting membership lists, what the groups specifically believe (on standard questionaires produced by the TEA Party groups in litigation) go well beyond what is permissible targeting of *any* similarly situated group.

    2) The specific targeting of over a thousand TEA Party groups (the number reporting stalled applications) and the potential – but never actually shown – couple dozen Occupy groups – is facially violative because it singles out groups based on the content of their beliefs.

  102. CJK Fossman says:

    @Xennady

    Reality says: People paid their taxes, without trouble, until Obama became president,

    That statement is superlative in two categories. 1) funniest thing I've read this week. 2) dumbest thing I've read all year.

  103. Drewski says:

    Your claim of how many applications of which type were scrutinized was pretty well debunked earlier. Are you just shouting the same thing without reading replies? Because that's kind of a jerk move, and I'm not sure why you think it's persuasive.

  104. Anony says:

    @alphacentauri: That's deductibility, which is a separate issue from tax exemption. The exemption, as I understand it, simply means that they don't have to treat the revenue they don't spend in a year as taxable income that they are required to pay taxes on.

    Contributions to 501c(4)s generally aren't supposed to be deductible.

  105. InnocentBystander says:

    Dustin wrote: "Lerner, a well established political hack a the FEC, and let her set this line." Which has not be disputed as a legal standard. The issue was that after she corrected the agents for using an improper standard, her correction was quickly ignored. Her correction without the use of the Tea Party Name, according to the IG, was broader and swept in many additional groups. The reality was that ALL conceivable formulas checking for political activities would have swept in virtually all of the Tea Party groups. No matter how partisan LL was, there was nothing to be gained by gaming the system in the selection process. Is it possible that LL or others decided to emphasize enforcement of these regulations due to the impact of Citizens United? Of Course. With insufficient resources to fully fulfill their mission, the individual who manage the IRS are constantly shuffling limited resources . It is only natural that their decisions reflect their biases on what is important. Reading the TIGTA report clearly shows that the criticisms of EO were procedural and not political.

  106. Devil's Advocate says:

    @Drewski:
    What you don't understand is that there was a secret separate division of the IRS that detained hundreds or thousands of right-wing non-political political groups' tax exemption applications, and more deviously, detained around negative thirty left-wing non-political political groups' tax exemption applications. Issa hasn't even discovered this second division, let alone had them testify.

  107. Dan says:

    @the other rob

    What functional difference is there between saying "I broke no laws" then pleading the Fifth at a congressional hearing and saying "Not guilty" then pleading the Fifth at a trial?

    A plea of "not guilty" is not testimony that "I didn't do it" (it isn't testimony at all); it's in essence a shorthand way of saying, "I'm going to require you (i.e., the government) to prove every element of this offense beyond a reasonable doubt."

    Prior testimony can waive the Fifth Amendment, as Ken discussed in the article. However, entering a plea isn't testimony. That's the basic difference.

  108. Castaigne says:

    Because I don't have time this evening to do more than glance at replies, I'm only going to focus on this truly egregious one:

    @Devil's Advocate:

    What you don't understand is that there was a secret separate division of the IRS that detained hundreds or thousands of right-wing non-political political groups' tax exemption applications, and more deviously, detained around negative thirty left-wing non-political political groups' tax exemption applications. Issa hasn't even discovered this second division, let alone had them testify.

    Let's just lay this out, and it doesn't matter what way you lean politically, or if you lean politically at all.

    This is pure fucking bollocks.

    There is no "secret, separate division" of the IRS. There were no thousands of applications; as stated above there were less than 300. And if you've ever had to go through an audit with the IRS, or worse yet, work with the IRS, you'd realize that there would be no point to a secret division because they like to keep things nice and open for tax court. That is, if you're fucking up.

    If all you've got to offer is some Infowars nonsense that's going to eventually include the UN overtaking America on the orders of the New World Order, please keep your shit out of here and take it to some conspiracy wackjob forum where it will be appreciated. That's not an official request; it's a personal request from one who especially hates woo-mongers and whackaloons. Try "The Free Republic"; they regularly eat that shit up there.

  109. GeoffreyK says:

    @Castaigne
    Oh, Poe's law… I'm pretty sure Devil's Advocate was being sarcastic. Thus the implication that they were able to somehow flag a negative number of liberal reviews. Since you were only going to be able to respond to one argument, in the words of the Grail Knight: You chose… poorly.

  110. George William Herbert says:

    Xtmar wrote:

    Can you take the 5th if you don't have anything incriminating, just on general principles?

    The fifth doesn't just protect you from incriminating yourself if you're guilty. It protects you from incriminating yourself, period.

    The number of people who didn't commit an underlying prosecutable crime who were indicted and convicted for lying to investigators, or who made misstatements under interrogation which were taken as confessions despite factual evidence they were innocent, should make it PERFECTLY CLEAR that you can incriminate yourself if you are innocent.

    You should probably say nothing unless your attorney is there, and they carefully and deliberately agree that you can answer a particular question.

  111. the other rob says:

    @ Dan

    Thanks for the explanation. The fact that a plea is not, in law, some form of testimony had escaped me and your reply does serve to answer the procedural aspects of my question, for which I thank you.

    Nevertheless, this seems to me to be a very thin reed to base a claim of waiver upon. I suspect that one would be hard pressed to find a juror who didn't interpret "not guilty" as "I didn't do it" and I'd hate to see another precedent established whereby formalities trumped both the intent of the framers and the intent of the accused, as we've recently seen happen with the simple assertion of this right.

  112. Docraulgun says:

    However, it's not any particular groups'politics that were being investigated here. What was drawing attention is that it seems there are a lot of new PACs and SuperPACs popping up with funding from mysterious places. There are also evangelical churches who blatantly asking their members to vote a certain way from the pulpit but still want to remain tax-exempt when they really shouldn't be.

  113. Docraulgun says:

    No, we shouldn't trust the IRS.. but if you'd bother to look you'd see that *gasp* the government was doing its job in this case.

  114. Docraulgun says:

    Maybe that says something about these groups asking for tax-exempt status?

  115. Docraulgun says:

    How do you define "pro-goverment"? There are a number of people who are pro-law enforcement and pro-military but hate 'The Government'. Such people seem to me to be more often in the 'If you have nothing to hide' camp.

  116. Dan says:

    One thing I haven't noticed being discussed in this thread…

    A lot of the Tea Party-type groups that were investigated were explicitly anti-taxation. Doesn't it make sense that the organization responsible for managing taxation in our government might, I don't know, want to make sure that these non-profits weren't a kind of tax dodge?

    I'm not excusing what the IRS did; I'm just curious. I also don't have any evidence for the above. However, the original Tea Party was a protestation against taxes. It makes sense to me that maybe the IRS would look at them a little closer than other groups.

  117. Cat G says:

    I think people are overthinking this heavily. Lois invoked the 5th for one simple reason – to avoid being a sound bite featuring prominently on The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, FoxNews, The Late Show, etc, et al, yadda, so forth.

    She has nothing to gain personally from anything she says to Issa's committee. And I don't think anyone has any illusions that the committee (or Issa) are conducting an impartial investigation to disclose the facts – even if any of them are blessed with such lofty goals, that will not be the result and you all damn well know it.

    In the face of that, she provides nothing. Nothing she says will be beneficial to her, or any affiliation she may have. So she shuts up. It could have been worse. She could have been ridiculed for years about "not recalling" things, only to have it quietly dropped when it turns out she might have had Alzheimer's. (Yes, that's a Reagan reference.)

    Seriously, put yourself in her shoes. Regardless of anything you did or didn't do, the focus of the media is being relentlessly shoved in your face while gleeful partisan politicians are righteously demanding you to talk. (They have ways of making you, you know.) What in the hell do you gain by speaking? Nothing. What could you lose? Everything. You can prolong the hell. You'll definitely kill your later memoir sales. So, to take a page from Ken… you shut the hell up and start singing "Fifth!"

    She winds up getting more mud dumped on her, yes, but it reduces the overall life span because the People are fickle and lose interest qui-A SQUIRREL!

  118. Mark Koskenmaki says:

    I'm not a lawyer, and I don't play one on tv, or even in my imagination, so my opinions here are a bit suspect, legally. That being said… I"m a little confused about the part where you plead the fifth because you don't trust the government. Lerner WAS THE GOVERNMENT. What she is being questioned about WAS HER ACTIONS AS A GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL CHARGED WITH FULFILLING THE LAW. How does ANY government official who is not charged with individual wrongdoing have any right to assert the right to be silent? The people (and Congress) have an absolute right to know what their government does (and has done). It supersedes ANY personal right on the part of a government official to commit wrong and then be silent about it – in my opinion, of course.

    More to the point: This wasn't a trial. It is a Congressional investigation into the actions of her subordinates. Jury? What jury? What judge? What prosecutor? Sure, I suppose she doesn't want to be targeted for partisan rancor, but then she shouldn't have done the wrongdoing if she didn't want to be.

    It is inescapable that she did wrong, now. And whether this is legal guilt or not, she has demonstrated by perfect admission in the court of public opinion, that she knows her actions WOULD incriminate her in the court of public opinion, and so, she attempts to hide behind the not quite relevant legal right to not incriminate yourself in a court of law.

    It's a very obvious strategy. One I am dumbfounded that legal minds and supposed guardians of right and wrong here steadfastly refuse to condemn.

  119. pat jeffers says:

    This is the first time in my life I've witnessed American citizens DEFENDING the IRS, that in itself speaks volumes.

  120. pat jeffers says:

    Fact#1: The IRS publicly admitted to selectively targeting 501c groups.
    Fact#2: The overwhelming majority were conservative 501c groups
    Fact#3: The IRS has refused to turn over all emails pertaining to the investigation.
    Fact#4: The IRS director of exempt organizations refuses to testify before congress.
    Fact#5: The IRS is a bipartisan federal commission, taking NO political preference.

    Question#1:

    Why are some of you defending the IRS?

  121. Castaigne says:

    @GeoffreyK:

    Oh, Poe's law… I'm pretty sure Devil's Advocate was being sarcastic.

    I'm pretty sure he isn't. Over half the people I encounter during the course of business every day believe crap like that. On the internet, that goes to 90%+.

    ===

    @NotClaudeAkins:

    Well, that's, like, your opinion, man. I certainly don't care about what she does in her spare time.

    It's not an opinion; it's how government works. She drops off her kid at a daycare? Look for political favors to be owed. She goes to dinner with some friends? They're hobnobbin', making policy over the dinner courses. It's how Washington works; everyone's on, 24/7, 365.

    And this, I think, encapsulates our differences. I don't trust the bastards. [This statement holds for most values of "bastards"]

    OK, you don't "trust the bastards". However, Lerner would have access to, say, MY tax data. why exactly do you need to know MY tax data? To know where I live? To show up on my doorstep? Rape my wife, eat my corpse? Why should MY tax data be public information for everyone to know?

    That the investigation has not borne fruit is not evidence that the investigation is worthless. This administration, like most administrations, has made effective use of simple stonewalling.

    And it's all going to be given up. Prediction #1: There Will Be NO Smoking Gun. There will be bupkiss. The investigation will have proven to have been a waste.

    Eric Holder was held in contempt of Congress, but no one cares.

    Oh, I'm sure people cared. But the House knew it was a useless gesture anyway – executive privilege protects him. Now, if we want to do away with that concept, fine, but that opens up a whole other kettle of fish.

    I think it's entirely plausible that smoking guns exist, but are being effectively squelched by this administration, its allies and partisans, and their "insider threat program."

    Well, that's wonderful speculation.
    But do you have any dox to back it up?

    To return to analogy, Walter Sobchak was certainly correct in his assumption that little Larry Sellers stole the Dude's car. That he was unable to obtain a confession, and in the end was reduced to a rather impotent rage, is a testament to Sellers' political skill, but not to his innocence.

    As a fan of "The Big Lebowski", I have to disagree. Sobchak had a logical conclusion, but he was driven to impotent rage because he couldn't prove a damn thing. And then he fucks up another man's car who had nothing to do with it. Reminds me of Issa, as a matter of fact.

    ===

    @Xennady:

    Reality says: People paid their taxes, without trouble, until Obama became president, and then they decided to become politically involved- wow, all of a sudden, the Federal government- IRS, OSHA, etc, became intensely interested in all of their personal and business activities.

    I don't think that a coincidence, and I don't think it's legal either.

    Uh, wrong. It wasn't that these people paid their taxes without trouble till Obama became President. It's that these groups didn't exist until after Obama became President and then they popped up saying "Hey, we're a tax-exempt group whose primary purpose is devoted to the promotion of social welfare and the common good! Any group that pops up saying that, and I mean ANY, left, right, middle, fascist, communist, I don't care – they all need to be scrutinized up their assholes and down their throats.

    Why? Because 501(c)4 is the refuge of a whole lotta tax protesters and tax dodgers. Like the infamous Robert Beale, noted crank Irwin Schiff, and the (thank God) now-defunct Posse Comitatus.

    That designation should simply be abolished.

    ===

    @Devil's Advocate:

    You're absolutely right! Sunlight is the worst disinfectant. I can't think of anything more unreasonable in a democracy than to give a citizen what is needed in order to make sure the secret summary execution list is created justly and with due process. Even to think such a thought is anti-American!

    Hey, if you don't believe in secrets and classfied information, you are more than welcome to post your full real name, date of birth, SSN, bank account numbers and name of the bank, and your pin codes to this forum. After all, sunlight is a great disinfectant.

    ===

    @CatG: Wise man. Good comment.

  122. Lisa DeGraaf says:

    It looks like yet another elected official has forgotten who he actually works for and the values that this country was founded on.

  123. Mark says:

    Of course, this weekend, The Good Wife (a TV show ostensibly about lawyers and shenanigans) had a Lawyer invoke the Fifth. This made the judge and the audience believe that where there is smoke, there is fire. Of course there was – with wiretaps, but I was distracted by high heels and modernistic furniture. This speaks to the statement above about the law and the public perception of the law.

  124. Devil's Advocate says:

    @Castaigne

    Oh, Poe's law… I'm pretty sure Devil's Advocate was being sarcastic. Thus the implication that they were able to somehow flag a negative number of liberal reviews.

    I'm pretty sure he isn't. Over half the people I encounter during the course of business every day believe crap like that. On the internet, that goes to 90%+.

    It's a sad, sad world when a pseudonym of "Devil's Advocate," an assertion of something very unlikely, and an assertion of something that is actually logically impossible is not enough to defeat Poe's Law. :( And yet, I have seen a few equally absurd comments on political sites that resist all reasonable attempts to be constrained as sarcasm. But I think everything I've said in this thread (other than this message) was intended to be taken with a whole heaping teaspoonful of salt licks.

    You're absolutely right! Sunlight is the worst disinfectant. I can't think of anything more unreasonable in a democracy than to give a citizen what is needed in order to make sure the secret summary execution list is created justly and with due process. Even to think such a thought is anti-American!

    Hey, if you don't believe in secrets and classfied information, you are more than welcome to post your full real name, date of birth, SSN, bank account numbers and name of the bank, and your pin codes to this forum. After all, sunlight is a great disinfectant.

    If my full real name, date of birth, SSN, bank account numbers and name of the bank, and your pin codes to this forum were seriously and materially being used as justification for the murder of people (and sometimes their wedding guests and other associates) I would be happy to post them myself. Otherwise I guess I don't see the connection.

  125. For those who believe in the IRS,this piece by ex-CAPper Zaid Jilani is going to spark an IRS investigation, right?

    I mean, Podesta's place in the White House surely shouldn't matter to the bold and independent IRS.

  126. John Beaty says:

    Mark Koskenmaki, do you really think she is "the Government?" The whole thing? Ale to investigate, indite, prosecute, sentence, fine or imprison? No? Then your whole statement is ignorant. Of course she is afraid of the 99.9999% of "The Government" that she is not. That is as good a reason as any for not speaking.

    So your whole screed is a crock. I'll bet you are a Randite.

  127. George William Herbert says:

    pat jeffers wrote:

    Fact#1: The IRS publicly admitted to selectively targeting 501c groups.
    Fact#2: The overwhelming majority were conservative 501c groups
    Fact#3: The IRS has refused to turn over all emails pertaining to the investigation.
    Fact#4: The IRS director of exempt organizations refuses to testify before congress.
    Fact#5: The IRS is a bipartisan federal commission, taking NO political preference.
    Question#1:
    Why are some of you defending the IRS?

    The congresscritter is not (just) targetting potential IRS misbehavior; he's personalizing it and attempting an inquisitorial investigation of one particular ex employee.

    He could well be setting her up for a charge of false testimony, perjury, etc.

    Prosecutors do this in court. Police do this in interrogations. He's doing it in the hearing room.

    She is doing the smart thing. If they're out to get her, do not play along. If they actually want to know what happened and it did not involve criminal wrongdoing, the chairman of the committee should not be allowed to attempt to put her up on falsified charges. If she did do something wrong, she shouldn't cooperate in getting herself convicted.

    If something really illegal happened, they need to start lower on the food chain, immunize someone who might be able to incriminate someone up the food chain like her, and get to the bottom of it. But this is about political points and a congressman's vendetta at this point.

  128. Mark Koskenmaki says:

    John Beaty: Of course I don't believe she is "the whole government". What an absurd red herring!

    Then again, you need something to divert people's attention from your logic, which, when spelled out, reads like this: "No government official can or should ever be called to account for their actions or the actions of the department under their jurisdiction because the rest of the government acts like their agency did while under their jurisdiction."

    Or, in plainer language: "No official of our overreaching and corrupt government should ever account for their actions in being and doing so because it (the government) is, well, scary".

    If I used the appropriate word to describe your entire argument, including the attempt at ad hominem, will the audience really grasp what the word "expedient" implies?

  129. Mark Koskenmaki says:

    George William Herbert:

    You wouldn't happen to be a lawyer, would you? Your comments are all about her defending herself against inconvenience or embarrassment (who thinks this administration will ever prosecute a friend of Obama? It doesn't happen in Illinois, and now the fed is a carbon copy of Illinois.)

    I ask, because Lerner is morally and ethically bound as a trustee of the authority and responsibility lent her by the states, to to manage it (her department) and those under her for the benefit of the people, not her own convenience or benefit. Only a lawyer or politically ally would DREAM of advising her to abdicate all said responsibility and assist in covering up the wrongdoing that's been done.

  130. Mark Koskenmaki says:

    Devil's Advocate: You and others are asking the wrong question.

    What is the motivation to defend the IRS and attempt to discourage people from demanding accountability? Who would ally themselves with the IRS and why? The answer is obvious… Partisanship.

    "Things change" as some historical figures have been quoted, post WWII, when heroes of the war period became zeros of the post-war period. Parties arise and fall, and it is never within anyone's best interest to create an armory of political agency weapons which will then be turned against you. Thus, it is in nobody's rational self interest to create such dangerous fire to attempt to control, when there is a guarantee that in the future it will be turned upon you, by your former victims.

  131. Mark Koskenmaki says:

    Castaigne:

    Of course. But I have to ask, in what world is it both necessary and important to ensure that political groups (whether they are or not) are not given tax exemption?

    In the overall scheme of things, you claim you disagree with the purpose of the said exemption, but to what benefit? Who is harmed by it? Nobody. So why do you want such rigorous enforcement, but only against one side of a multi-partisan body politic? Partisanship, of course.

  132. Mark Koskenmaki says:

    Oh, and about the IRS "giving it all up"… We can trust them, of course we can.

    When domesticated porcine barnyard animals commence aerial maneuvers voluntarily, for need and enjoyment…

  133. Mark Koskenmaki says:

    Just in case anyone here starts to question Lerner's guilt, past is prologue:

    http://illinoisreview.typepad.com/illinoisreview/2013/06/lerner-asked-salvi-for-200000-plus-never-run-again-promise.html

  134. George William Herbert says:

    Mark Koskenmaki writes:

    You wouldn't happen to be a lawyer, would you? Your comments are all about her defending herself against inconvenience or embarrassment (who thinks this administration will ever prosecute a friend of Obama? It doesn't happen in Illinois, and now the fed is a carbon copy of Illinois.)

    I ask, because Lerner is morally and ethically bound as a trustee of the authority and responsibility lent her by the states, to to manage it (her department) and those under her for the benefit of the people, not her own convenience or benefit. Only a lawyer or politically ally would DREAM of advising her to abdicate all said responsibility and assist in covering up the wrongdoing that's been done.

    No, I am not a lawyer, though my late father was one (corporate attorney, not criminal).

    Nobody – not Congressman Issa, not President Obama, not the Supreme Court Justices, no employee of the IRS, no person in the US gives up their individual civil rights while working for the US government. Any of them, accused of wrongdoing, have the right (legal right) to shut up and not answer questions, unless immunity is granted etc. The same rights you or I would have.

    Perhaps this should be an automatically terminatable offense for public officials, when regarding their official duties. Perhaps investigators into government misbehavior can or will automatically infer the worst about the behavior. Issa seems to have done so.

    But it's not legally or morally required that people give up their rights in order to be government employees. As I said up some, given how easy it is for prosecutors or police (or Congress) to fabricate charges against someone and get them to incriminate themselves even if they are not guilty of an underlying criminal act any person who cooperates with such an inquisition is a fool, and any person who refuses to cooperate in framing or implicating themselves and insists on using legal representation is being wise.

    Again, if Issa actually wanted "the truth" and felt that a crime was committed, he'd do what is always done – immunize the lowest level employees who might know something, compel their testimony, and if it showed criminal misbehavior up the food chain then use that to get people charged and lever that into getting at the whole truth. That would not be good PR, however.

    What he's doing is either him being pissed off, or him trying to drag this out for maximum PR embarrassment to the Obama administration. Not actually effectively investigating.

    That is exactly the type of investigation she should shut up and refuse to cooperate with.

  135. Mark Koskenmaki says:

    George William Herbert:

    Great. Whom do you suggest will investigate and hold public officials accountable? That you would not suggest be obstructed "for the public good"?

  136. John Beaty says:

    Mark Koskenmaki, Red Herring? It wasn't me who suggested that she was "the government". Nor me who suggested that she gave up all her rights when she became employed by one particular part of the goverment.

    No, I was right. Libertard all the way. Anyone else would understand that she can be investigated, indicted, charged, fined and/or imprisoned but still doesn't have to testify against herself.

  137. Mark Koskenmaki says:

    John Beaty

    Yes, I'm sure name-calling is a valid factual ground for your argument.

    I notice you didn't address anything I said and simply repeated your argument.

    So, I will address the same question to you. Who, in your view, SHOULD investigate and prosecute wrongdoing by people in government who hold a position of authority?

    Your logic fails, precisely as I say it does, because your only alternative is to simply assume that no wrongdoing should or could EVER be investigated by the very branch of government charged with doing so – leaving every official free to do as they wish, only accountable with anyone with the authority to fire them.

  138. George William Herbert says:

    Mark Kostenmaki:

    Great. Whom do you suggest will investigate and hold public officials accountable? That you would not suggest be obstructed "for the public good"?

    I don't know; not prematurely politicizing investigations, so that people are not driven to take the fifth in the face of what is evidently an inquisition, might help.

    I have no problem with congressional hearings. I have no problem with the idea that, if they were directed by anyone in the White House to obstruct tax status determinations of conservative groups, this would constitute a likely criminal scandal. But you can't run criminal scandal investigations like a public inquisition and expect to find the underlying truth in a manner which can lead to prosecutions.

    If we're going to let Congress do this to people, then the answer is, we won't get answers.

    (same applies to criminal trials…).

  139. Mark Koskenmaki says:

    George William Herbert:

    So, it seems your only issue here, is to complain that it's political. Not that Lerner has been, for many years, abusive of her various positions for partisan purposes, but that you accuse Issa of being "partisan". this hardly seems like an objective, or even honest, argument.

    Other than partisanship, I can find no other mechanism to motivate a governing body to uncover and prosecute wrongdoing. They're sure not going to do it from dedication to due diligence – they are politicians, after all. And anyone who seeks authority is already morally and ethically suspect. And, as far as their "rights" go, I fail to see how any of them have any right to refuse to speak. Sure, the lawyers have concocted precedent to cover their own butts, but I see no real, material reason for it. Congress, BTW, does not prosecute individuals, ever. It would be eventually referred to the legal system and brought to a grand jury. And statements compelled that might serve to incriminate her wouldn't seem to be a valid basis for a prosecution – I would think they would be inadmissable, but what do I know, IANAL. I'm just an uneducated hick from the sticks.

  140. George William Herbert says:

    Mark Kostenmaki:

    So, it seems your only issue here, is to complain that it's political. Not that Lerner has been, for many years, abusive of her various positions for partisan purposes, but that you accuse Issa of being "partisan". this hardly seems like an objective, or even honest, argument.

    Other than partisanship, I can find no other mechanism to motivate a governing body to uncover and prosecute wrongdoing. They're sure not going to do it from dedication to due diligence – they are politicians, after all. And anyone who seeks authority is already morally and ethically suspect. And, as far as their "rights" go, I fail to see how any of them have any right to refuse to speak. Sure, the lawyers have concocted precedent to cover their own butts, but I see no real, material reason for it. Congress, BTW, does not prosecute individuals, ever. It would be eventually referred to the legal system and brought to a grand jury. And statements compelled that might serve to incriminate her wouldn't seem to be a valid basis for a prosecution – I would think they would be inadmissable, but what do I know, IANAL. I'm just an uneducated hick from the sticks.

    You are describing a hopeless, self-destructively corrupt system.

    I would rather one where normal, day to day business including fact-finding and the prosecution of ordinary crime and corruption in government can be done without descending into ineffective partisan rancor.

    We have had such within my lifetime. We've seen all of the Justice Department, Special Prosecutors, and Congressional investigations get it right.

    Issa is abjectly failing to get it right. And he's being self-destructively partisan about it, unless his underlying objective is being pissed off, or playing for political points. Him being partisan in this instance is not a value judgement against republicans or conservatives. Politicians politic and grandstand, given. One can point to nearly any other politician and find equivalent grandstanding or politicing. But most of the rest of them aren't both conducing inquisitorial investigations and objecting that people then take the fifth around them.

  141. Mark Koskenmaki says:

    George William Herbert:

    You said:
    "You are describing a hopeless, self-destructively corrupt system."

    You mean you haven't noticed it before now? That's why the political system should have such a minimal role in the everyday life of the individual, the economy, etc. Politics by nature IS "a hopeless, self-destructively corrupt system."

    That we have to have a government most of us agree on. That most seem to ignore reality about it, well, I can only attempt to shed light.

    You said: "I would rather one where normal, day to day business including fact-finding and the prosecution of ordinary crime and corruption in government can be done without descending into ineffective partisan rancor."

    While engaging in that rancor. Hmmm.

    And: "We have had such within my lifetime. We've seen all of the Justice Department, Special Prosecutors, and Congressional investigations get it right."

    When it went the way you wanted it to, right?

    You say that "Issa is abjectly failing to get it right", which is your opinion and you're free to hold it. Someone else could come along and say he's doing precisely what he is authorized to do, perhaps even obligated to do, and the ONLY material difference between your argument and theirs, is your assumption of Issa's motivation. I do, however, question your psychic abilities to factually discern his motivation, which means your criticism is based solely on the assumptions you make about HIM, not about any material or factual reasoning. On this basis, your logic is that you advocate that government officials (or any government employee for that matter) refuse to cooperate with ANY investigation, and that they should not.

    This leaves us with the default – that you believe that no government official should be subject to investigation by any branch of government.

    What an amazing argument.

  142. George William Herbert says:

    Quote:

    This leaves us with the default – that you believe that no government official should be subject to investigation by any branch of government.

    There is a problem here, but it's not what I am saying. That is not what I am saying. Your agenda has caused you to be unable to view the world in non-partisan terms, to your detriment (and this conversation's detriment).

    This flawed belief of yours is exactly why government employees do not and should not lose their right to avoid potentially incriminating themselves. You have just demonstrated the fundamental need and validity of that right.

    And that goes for employees under all administrations, past, present, and future, of whatever party.

  143. Mark Koskenmaki says:

    George William Herbert:

    You say I have an agenda. What agenda would that be? Also, what "partisan" argument am I making? Other than observing the truth that "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely", what "partisan" blindness do I supposedly have?

    How is that flawed? And where do I suggest that individuals be denied any rights? You offered only one possible scenario where you want investigations done, and those are where IN YOUR OPINION the person doing it isn't "partisan". But there are no non-partisan people elected in government. What is one man's "non partisan" investigation is the next man's "partisan witch hunt". Yet, your agreement to even the ACT of investigation rests solely on the judgement of whether or not you like the politics of the people doing it.

    And, applying your test ( if there might be partisan rancor ) to determining whether or not a government official should speak at a hearing means that NO GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL EVER WILL. It's that simple.

    I offered you a very simple and logically valid refutation – that anyone compelled to speak in a Congressional hearing be given a blanket immunity from having said sworn testimony used against them in a court of law. Yet, you ignored it and proceeded to criticize ME as being agenda driven and partisan and wanting to deny individuals their rights.

    I wholly understand (as do we all) that our laws are hopelessly convoluted and conflicting, such that any motivated prosecutor could probably indict any and every normally law-abiding person. But that's no reason to say that officials should never speak at a hearing.

    Provide an objective argument or condition (something other than "I don't like the guy running the hearing") where you think wrongdoing officials can and should be compelled to make the office they served in transparent and you can dig yourself out of the hole. There will ALWAYS be someone who believes the investigation is bad and politically motivated (or at least will argue it for partisan purposes). So, tell us, how DO we have accountability and transparency – other than electing only politicians you like?

  144. Barry says:

    I would add:

    1) Issa has a track record, and it's not good. This is not an investigation, in the sense of either looking for the truth, or looking for legitimate issues to use against one's opponent.
    2) We've already seen that the real situation is that the IRS was looking for organizations of any political orientation which were seeking tax breaks to which they were not lawfully entitled.
    3) We've also seen Issa take large swathes of testimony and release only redacted pieces. That's not the action of an honest man, or one who feels that the whole evidence will help him.

  145. Mark Koskenmaki says:

    Barry:

    Who was not entitled to what? And why? And, why does it not bother you that one side of the partisan world always gets what they want?

  146. Barry says:

    "Provide an objective argument or condition (something other than "I don't like the guy running the hearing") where you think wrongdoing officials can and should be compelled to make the office they served in transparent and you can dig yourself out of the hole. There will ALWAYS be someone who believes the investigation is bad and politically motivated (or at least will argue it for partisan purposes). So, tell us, how DO we have accountability and transparency – other than electing only politicians you like?"

    Simple – they grant her immunity. If they feel that there's actually something bad and significant going on, then that's a trivial price to pay. When somebody doesn't want to pay a trivial price, that's a clue.

  147. Charley says:

    Fact#1: The IRS publicly admitted to selectively targeting 501c groups.
    Fact#2: The overwhelming majority were conservative 501c groups
    Fact#3: The IRS has refused to turn over all emails pertaining to the investigation.
    Fact#4: The IRS director of exempt organizations refuses to testify before congress.
    Fact#5: The IRS is a bipartisan federal commission, taking NO political preference.

    Question#1:

    Why are some of you defending the IRS?

    While I find it likely that the IRS has screwed up here… I'm a skeptic. That means that I'm not going to jump to conclusions about what's been done, and I'm likely to argue with anyone who "just knows" that the IRS has engaged in partisan politics, if only because I disagree with how they've arrived at that conclusion.

    1. I'd guess for some people, it depends on exactly why they were selectively targeted; if they were targeted because they had political sounding names that raised alarm bells that they might be going beyond what a social welfare organization is allowed to do, adding an extra layer of scrutiny… that's very different than "was targeted for being conservative"

    2. That by itself isn't enough info; does anyone have the following list of statistics?
    -number of conservative groups
    -number & percentage of conservative groups targeted for extra screening
    -number & percentage of conservative groups with political sounding names (this last one is subjective)
    -percentage of conservative groups denied
    -Average, minimum, and maximum time for conservative groups to finish the additional screening.
    -number of non-conservative groups
    -number & percentage of non-conservative groups targeted for extra screening
    -number & percentage of non-conservative groups with political sounding names (again, subjective)
    -percentage of non-conservative groups denied
    -Average, minimum, and maximum time for non-conservative groups to finish the additional screening.

    That would paint a more accurate picture than "The overwhelming majority were conservative"

    3 & 4. It's the latest in a long series of politically motivated witch hunts. Refusing to participate in that seems smart, so as much as I don't like it, and think that it makes it more likely that some wrong doing actually occurred… I can't really fault them for that..

  148. David C says:

    @Charley:

    3 & 4. It's the latest in a long series of politically motivated witch hunts. Refusing to participate in that seems smart, so as much as I don't like it, and think that it makes it more likely that some wrong doing actually occurred… I can't really fault them for that..

    Those two items should not be lumped together. I can't fault her for not testifying now that she's no longer a government employee – but the IRS not turning over emails is something else altogether. Government agencies cannot take the fifth. Only people can. The IRS doesn't get to withhold records from an investigation merely because they think the opposition will use the records against them.

    @Barry:

    2) We've already seen that the real situation is that the IRS was looking for organizations of any political orientation which were seeking tax breaks to which they were not lawfully entitled.

    That's debatable at best. According to Wikipedia: The letter further stated that out of the 20 groups applying for tax-exempt status whose names contained 'progress' or 'progressive', 6 had been chosen for more scrutiny as compared to all of the 292 groups applying for tax-exempt status whose names contained 'tea party', 'patriot', or '9/12.' I realize it's unfair to compare raw numbers when one side has so many more applications, but that's still 30% vs 100%.

    In any case, pretty much everyone acknowledges that the IRS did not do things correctly: The IRS must apply the law in a fair and impartial way, and its employees must act with utmost integrity. This report shows that some of its employees failed that test. I’ve directed Secretary Lew to hold those responsible for these failures accountable, and to make sure that each of the Inspector General’s recommendations are implemented quickly, so that such conduct never happens again. But regardless of how this conduct was allowed to take place, the bottom line is, it was wrong. – Obama.

  149. Papillon says:

    @David C:

    Looking at the auditor's report, it's 96 "Tea Party", "9/12" or "Patriots" organizations, and 202 "Other" (see Report, p8). The "Other" group were not categorized according to political affiliation (TIGTAFinalResponse, p.3). As far as I could tell from my skim, "Progressive" had been used for flagging in the past, but was not used in the report's time frame. So inclusion of "Progressive" labeled groups was purely coincidence; they had been flagged for other reasons.

    Of the 96 "Tea Party", "9/12" or "Patriots" organizations 17 had no indication of significant political campaign intervention (18%), compared with 31% of all 298 groups flagged. I couldn't see anything indicating how many of the "Tea Party" groups would have been flagged anyway under other criteria.

  150. Castaigne says:

    @Devil's Advocate:

    If my full real name, date of birth, SSN, bank account numbers and name of the bank, and your pin codes to this forum were seriously and materially being used as justification for the murder of people (and sometimes their wedding guests and other associates) I would be happy to post them myself. Otherwise I guess I don't see the connection.

    Because sunlight! No secrets! No classified information! It should be available to everyone!

    I mean, I'm just following the logic of your suggestion.

    ===

    @Mark Koskenmaki:

    I ask, because Lerner is morally and ethically bound as a trustee of the authority and responsibility lent her by the states, to to manage it (her department) and those under her for the benefit of the people, not her own convenience or benefit.

    And here's where your argument just goes down the tubes. You say she's morally and ethically bound – according to your morals and ethics. Lerner could easily see what she's doing as moral and ethical and for the benefit of the people. You don't know, because you're not her.

    Trying to shoehorn everyone into your own subjective theory about how people should act is crap. You want her to act according to your morals and ethics? Make those morals and ethics law.

    What is the motivation to defend the IRS and attempt to discourage people from demanding accountability? Who would ally themselves with the IRS and why?

    Or standing for the Constitution and the 5th Amendment that it provides. I do not believe that any exceptions to the 5th Amendment are Constitutionally valid, myself. Ever. And it doesn't matter who uses them. Either convict her the right way or don't. But don't stray off the path.

    But I have to ask, in what world is it both necessary and important to ensure that political groups (whether they are or not) are not given tax exemption?

    In a nation where this group or that church is not set up as being exempt and privileged over everybody else, that's what world.

    In the overall scheme of things, you claim you disagree with the purpose of the said exemption, but to what benefit? Who is harmed by it? Nobody. So why do you want such rigorous enforcement, but only against one side of a multi-partisan body politic? Partisanship, of course.

    CRAP. You are being harmed by tax exemptions. I am being harmed by tax exemptions. Whether it's a person or a group, whether it's the Citizen's Tea Party Express or the Progressive Communists of Liberality, when someone receives a tax exemption they are being set up as god-kings above you, the plebeian serf. We had a revolution in the late 1700s to get away from that bullshit.

    Not only do I want rigorous enforcement of EVERYONE, right or left, if I had my druthers I'd kill ALL tax exemptions dead.
    For the right. For the left.
    Tax political groups.
    Tax the churches.
    Either tax EVERYBODY or tax NOBODY. What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

    If you think that's partisan, you're full of shit.

    Just in case anyone here starts to question Lerner's guilt, past is prologue:

    I do question it, because it has not yet been proven to my satisfaction – which is the same that a court of law or a scientific experiment would accept.

    Other than partisanship, I can find no other mechanism to motivate a governing body to uncover and prosecute wrongdoing.

    Pursuit of justice and law never occurs to you? A governing body NEVER has interest in that?

    And anyone who seeks authority is already morally and ethically suspect.

    A corporate CEO and the top tier of executives have more authority and power than any politician. Are they morally and ethically suspect?

    And, as far as their "rights" go, I fail to see how any of them have any right to refuse to speak.

    5th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution says so. Or do you regard the Constitution as not being valid law? Do you think that government employees are not due their Constitutional rights?

    I'm just an uneducated hick from the sticks.

    You don't say? You know, classes in basic American government are offered for free online these days.

    Politics by nature IS "a hopeless, self-destructively corrupt system."

    I disagree with your thesis entirely. I do not find it so.

    Someone else could come along and say he's doing precisely what he is authorized to do, perhaps even obligated to do, and the ONLY material difference between your argument and theirs, is your assumption of Issa's motivation.

    If he were doing it in the exact same manner as Issa was doing, I would say he's doing it wrong. Regardless of party affiliation.

    On this basis, your logic is that you advocate that government officials (or any government employee for that matter) refuse to cooperate with ANY investigation, and that they should not.

    I believe that every government official should have their Constitutional right to the 5th Amendment and should be able to exercise it as they deem fit. Just like every other citizen of the USA.

    I offered you a very simple and logically valid refutation – that anyone compelled to speak in a Congressional hearing be given a blanket immunity from having said sworn testimony used against them in a court of law.

    Fine. Get that put into law. Then I'll consider it.

  151. Mark Koskenmaki says:

    Castaigne said thusly: And here's where your argument just goes down the tubes. You say she's morally and ethically bound – according to your morals and ethics. Lerner could easily see what she's doing as moral and ethical and for the benefit of the people. You don't know, because you're not her.

    It isn't her opinion that matters. It is a matter of objective fact that the structure of our nation rests the highest authority on the states and people and the federal government is simply an agent for them. This means that she has no choice in determining what's in the best interest of the people, her job is simply to do as instructed and follow the laws given to her.

    Trying to shoehorn everyone into your own subjective theory about how people should act is crap. You want her to act according to your morals and ethics? Make those morals and ethics law.

    I think I dispensed with this expedient nonsense above.

  152. Mark Koskenmaki says:

    Castaigne: Or standing for the Constitution and the 5th Amendment that it provides. I do not believe that any exceptions to the 5th Amendment are Constitutionally valid, myself. Ever. And it doesn't matter who uses them. Either convict her the right way or don't. But don't stray off the path.

    This isn't a 5th Amendment issue, nor is it in ANY way a matter of her rights. She has no right to do wrong or allow wrong to be done, nor cover for someone else to do wrong as an agent of the states. This is not a criminal proceeding, and in this proceeding, there is absolutely NO consequence to her – she doesn't even have the office anymore, in which case they can't even fire her, much less fine or imprison, or anything else. Try being an employee of someone and spending their money badly and when asked to show the receipts saying "I refuse to speak on the matter – it's my right to be silent".

  153. Mark Koskenmaki says:

    CRAP. You are being harmed by tax exemptions.

    What material harm is that?

    I am being harmed by tax exemptions.

    What harm is that? Please explain.

    Whether it's a person or a group, whether it's the Citizen's Tea Party Express or the Progressive Communists of Liberality, when someone receives a tax exemption they are being set up as god-kings above you, the plebeian serf. We had a revolution in the late 1700s to get away from that bullshit.

    The last word in the quote describes the quote in excruciatingly accurate detail.

    Not only do I want rigorous enforcement of EVERYONE, right or left, if I had my druthers I'd kill ALL tax exemptions dead.
    For the right. For the left.
    Tax political groups.
    Tax the churches.
    Either tax EVERYBODY or tax NOBODY. What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

    When you explain how you define "profit" to tax for charitable organizations, get back to me. And then I'll remind you that it's your wholly subjective opinion and invalid. The creation of the income tax was a giant loophole the the government could use to crush the freedom of the people, we all get that – some think that good, some think it bad. But your argument doesn't end controversy, nor does it in any way create equality – it simply transfers the subjective arguments to other topics – it achieves nothing in terms of removing inequity in treatment.

    If you think that's partisan, you're full of shit.

    Since you appear to be a party of one, I'll hold to the notion that it is partisan, and extremely so.

  154. Mark Koskenmaki says:

    A corporate CEO and the top tier of executives have more authority and power than any politician. Are they morally and ethically suspect?

    CEO's and executives have precisely NO political power or authority. Zero. None. Like the rest of your arguments, they lack any objective reasoning or valid logic.

  155. Mark Koskenmaki says:

    Pursuit of justice and law never occurs to you? A governing body NEVER has interest in that?

    Not that you can count on to defend the rights and freedoms of the people, nor to scrupulously seek and remove corruption, wrongdoing, or abuse by said body. They are politicians, after all, seeking power and control. We, who are their bosses, are the ones who have the interest in that. It is their adversarial competition which is motivation to remove each other, which makes them interested in enforcing the law.

    Crude? yes. Undesirable? Yes. But that's politics and the pursuit of power for you. It is as old as humanity and it's not changing.

  156. Mark Koskenmaki says:

    If he were doing it in the exact same manner as Issa was doing, I would say he's doing it wrong. Regardless of party affiliation.

    Since no two investigations are ever the same, this is a specious (expedient, really) argument.

  157. Mark Koskenmaki says:

    You don't say? You know, classes in basic American government are offered for free online these days.

    Not being "educated" by modern institutions is probably a benefit, rather than being told what to think, I had to learn how to think in the real world, in which the latter is beneficial, the former a liability.

  158. Mark Koskenmaki says:

    I believe that every government official should have their Constitutional right to the 5th Amendment and should be able to exercise it as they deem fit. Just like every other citizen of the USA.

    You are conflating the acts conducted as an official of the United States, which the acts of an individual acting in his own capacity for his own purposes.

    In the matter of one branch of the federal government conducting its authorized investigation of another branch of the government, this is not a matter of an individual being tried.

  159. Devil's Advocate says:

    @Castaigne

    If my full real name, date of birth, SSN, bank account numbers and name of the bank, and pin codes to this forum were seriously and materially being used as justification for the murder of people (and sometimes their wedding guests and other associates) I would be happy to post them myself. Otherwise I guess I don't see the connection.

    Because sunlight! No secrets! No classified information! It should be available to everyone!

    I mean, I'm just following the logic of your suggestion.

    You seem to have missed the part where one set of information is being used to secretly kill people for secret reasons in my and your name and with my and your money when they aren't even being immediately and obviously threatening, which carries some clear moral interest in at least being able to know that it's being done judiciously, based on unimpeachable evidence, and not in a way that's likely to cause more harm than good in the long run, whereas there isn't any moral interest in disclosing that other information.

    It's a subtle distinction to be sure, but one that I find consequential enough. :)

  160. CJK Fossman says:

    In the matter of one branch of the federal government conducting its authorized investigation of another branch of the government, this is not a matter of an individual being tried.

    The case of Oliver North is instructive here. Especially in a world where

    Not that you can count on [the government] to defend the rights and freedoms of the people

    Unless one wishes to characterize government officials as non-people.

  161. Trent says:

    Not being "educated" by modern institutions is probably a benefit, rather than being told what to think, I had to learn how to think in the real world, in which the latter is beneficial, the former a liability.

    Ah the routine attack on education combined with the claim that you've learned in the "real" world. I highly doubt your stay on MTV's show was at all educational.

    BTW, posting 8 times in a row is a sign of mental illness. And if the tripe you posted above is a sign of the quality of your "real" world education I think you should demand a refund.

  162. EricE says:

    @Devils Advocate:"Which other government employees are you entitled to a complete accounting of everything they've ever done?"
    While acting on their official capacity – all of them! And this is coming from someone who is a public servant. Probably the best thing to ever happen to me early in my career was to be involved (participate in the response to, not the target of)in a high profile lawsuit involving the federal government. I think there are a great many government employees who have forgotten their oath of office and who they really work for – some for benign reasons and others for malicious. Either way it's not a good thing. If government employees don't like he idea of transparency or accountability then perhaps a carrer change should be in their future!

  163. Mark Koskenmaki says:

    Ah the routine attack on education combined with the claim that you've learned in the "real" world. I highly doubt your stay on MTV's show was at all educational.

    You confuse a commentary on the sad state of higher education with a rejection of knowledge and true education. Is that a sign of modern 'education'?

    BTW, posting 8 times in a row is a sign of mental illness. And if the tripe you posted above is a sign of the quality of your "real" world education I think you should demand a refund.

    Oh, so I'm "mentally ill"? And your medical diagnosis is based on someone breaking up an absurdly long post composed of a huge array of statements into individual responses?

    Must be more of that modern higher "education" at work.

  164. Harun says:

    Funny how people bring up Karl Rove's group and Tea Party groups, but no one mentions that the freakin' sitting president's campaign seamlessly converted over to 501(c)4 status.

    And no one considers that the top 20 or so contributing groups are all unions and give exclusively to Democrats.

    No, the real danger are small Tea Party groups. Let's ask them about the content of their prayers.

    And to all of the people saying there is nothing to see here because a few liberal groups were checked, well, that logic would mean a white police chief who just happens to pull over African-Americans a massively higher rates must not be racist either. Like 20-1 ratio. Would you be fine with that? No need for change? Wow, how "progressive."

    Also, the entire set up that says you can organize for legislation but not for candidates is stupid and impinges on free speech.

  165. Harun says:

    "but the IRS not turning over emails is something else altogether."

    Yes, I'd like someone to give me a non-political reason why they are stonewalling. And why the president opined on an open case. And why the FBI never interviewed the victims.

    But hey, if we must protect Obama at all costs, even to the point of allowing the politicization of the IRS, why not?

    Also, I don't see why the administration, which has admitted "errors" were made can't fire some of the "error" prone people.

    Because right now, if I worked for the IRS, I'd be seeing that the entire federal government has my back if I want to do illegal stuff like send taxpayer data to my personal email, or target groups, or whatever.

    Ohio at least fired the person who leaked Joe the Plumber's records to the press.

  166. Mark Koskenmaki says:

    Harun: Nice argument.

    Funny how it works, when you lead them to make all sorts of expedient arguments (and you even warn them by using the word "expedient"). I originally came to read this blog from time to time when Aaron Worthing and Patterico were being harassed. And later, when Prenda Law was making infamy, I spent more time here. Sadly, little said in the comments is principled in any way, rather just the convenient argument for the political fad of the day, and then on to the next one, forgetting yesterday's words. I marveled at the arguments that the IRS SHOULD make sure that no partisan purposes should be fulfilled by them, and that the "nutters" were using them for evil.

    Perhaps they're right, in a way. The income tax and corporate tax have been agents and enablers for vastly more evil than good, and should be abolished because of it. But don't look at the self-proclaimd moral purists to ever reach any such conclusion. It would interfere with their dreams.

  167. TMLutas says:

    I've read that Lois Lerner has talked to the DOJ without taking the Fifth. If you've no concern about talking to prosecutors, it does seem a bit odd to have a concern about talking to Congress. Isn't the entire basis for claiming the right a fear of prosecution?

  168. Bruce says:

    It makes no sense to grant Lerner immunity without a detailed proffer of her testimony. Given her history of partisan harassment at FEC, her promotion to IRS may have seemed to her a pat on the back and unspoken instruction to "keep up the good work." She could be the mastermind of the whole thing.

    I think that this idea that a proffer is necessary is likely correct. The Committee would be foolish to give her immunity (if they can – which is a different story, since I expect that it would need DoJ approval, which, being political, is maybe unlikely) absent a proffer. Right now, she looks to be the central figure in the scandal – the go-between between the low level employees in Cincinnati, and the higher-ups in DC. Apparently, she was the one telling the low level people to send these apps to DC for further review (which apparently became quite involved in many cases). The big question is whether there was higher up complacency, higher level direction, or was it just high mid-level partisans like Lerner. It is suspicious that the office of the IRS counsel was apparently somewhat involved, or at least on notice, and said counsel was a routine visitor to the White House (frequenting there more than several cabinet members combined). So, without the proffer, they risk giving Lerner immunity, and then finding that she was the central player in the scandal. They need her to lead them to higher ups, and if she can't, or won't, I don't expect to see immunity.

    It probably is illegal for her to have singled out conservative/Tea Party groups, as was apparently done. And, she did apparently at least violate IRS rules (which may not be illegal) when she sent taxpayer information by non-IRS email, though there is no indication yet that it was sent to non-IRS employees (which has happened more than once in the recent past, with confidential tax return information ending up in the hands of the press and/or Dem party operatives (and, maybe even the Senate Majority Leader)).

    That said, I suspect that, at least initially, when Lerner disclosed the tip of the scandal, that she didn't think that she had done anything illegal. She may have a different opinion now, after being in the limelight for so long as a result of the scandal. If she had a US Attorney go after her, the way the way that Patrick Fitzgerald went after Scooter Libby, I suspect that she could be found to have violated numerous federal statutes – mostly because most of us probably do on a regular basis.

  169. David Kramer says:

    The OFA of course is not political………it only pushes every Democrat agenda, every Obama want, everything that the government insiders want to implement. But HEY, that did not get any scrutiny.

    Come on, there was no extra scrutiny applied on the Tea Partiers! Look at the Lerner email, it specifically stated that they should do a little extra scrutiny of some on the left……….to make it seem like they were not be discriminatory.

    Nothing to see here, move along. This is not the fascist party you were looking for.

  170. Paul A'Barge says:

    Nice but …
    tl;dr

    Better to spend your time finding a way to put Lerner, Holder, Obama and the others in jail on federal felony charges. Wake me when you have a solution.

  171. MD Giles says:

    I have no problem with Lerner taking the 5th. However she was a government employee, being questioned, before Congress, on the performance of her job. By stating her 5th Amendment rights, she is signaling that she herself isn't sure whether or not actions of her's may or may not be criminal. As such, she should have been removed from her position. Can you imagine a situation where millions of dollars was stolen from an agency, and the person in charge of those funds, pleads the 5th, AND is allowed to keep her position and still be in charge of the remaining funds?

  172. Castaigne says:

    @Mark Koskenmaki:

    This means that she has no choice in determining what's in the best interest of the people, her job is simply to do as instructed and follow the laws given to her.

    No, sorry, I've heard the "Government employees are supposed to be unthinking robots." argument before and I don't agree with it at all. A government employee is to execute their job in the best interest of the people as they see fit. That is known at the "thinking agent". I elect the people who will execute their job as they see fit. I expect them to hire the people that will do their job as they see fit.

    I think I dispensed with this expedient nonsense above.

    It isn't expedient; it's fact. Note I said "fact" rather than "truth". I don't care what truth you hold to. I only care what the facts are. Truth is subjective make-believe fantasy-land. Fact is object, cold, hard, measured and weighed. I'll take the latter every time.

    So here's an objective fact for you: If it isn't illegal, it's legit. Lerner has not yet been proven to do anything illegal. When she is, you let me know.

    This isn't a 5th Amendment issue, nor is it in ANY way a matter of her rights…This is not a criminal proceeding, and in this proceeding, there is absolutely NO consequence to her – she doesn't even have the office anymore, in which case they can't even fire her, much less fine or imprison, or anything else.

    1) You are incorrect. Her testimony before the Congressional investigation hearing can lead to judicial consequences for her. Those separate judicial proceedings are not necessarily unconnected with what she testifies.

    2) It IS a matter of her rights. Per Watkins vs. United States (1957), the Supreme Court found that the Bill of Rights applies to Congressional hearings just as it does to courts. Thus, during a Congressional hearing of any type, any one asked to testify may cite the Fifth Amendment right to remain silent as justification for refusal to testify.

    In fact, Watkins specifically dealt with that particular issue. I quote from the decision: "This, of course, assumes that the constitutional rights of witnesses will be respected by the Congress as they are in a court of justice. The Bill of Rights is applicable to investigations as to all forms of governmental action. Witnesses cannot be compelled to give evidences against themselves."

    So you are factually wrong. It IS a 5th Amendment issue until such time as Watkins is overturned. IF you wish to do that, you are more than welcome to do so.

    What material harm is that?
    What harm is that? Please explain.

    You and I pay money that they don't have to.

    When you explain how you define "profit" to tax for charitable organizations, get back to me.

    Anything above the sum of 1) payment of salary and benefits to employees and b) operational expenses.

    And then I'll remind you that it's your wholly subjective opinion and invalid.

    No, I just gave you an objective, measurable bright-line. That's not subjective. If you have an objective argument to make against the objective standard I set, go right ahead.

    he creation of the income tax was a giant loophole the the government could use to crush the freedom of the people, we all get that

    No, I do not believe in the libertarian "Taxation is slavery." argument. I prefer the "Taxation are the dues you pay to remain part of the United States." argument. After all, if one doesn't want to pay their club dues, one is free to leave and renounce citizenship.

    But your argument doesn't end controversy, nor does it in any way create equality

    Sure it does. Everyone and every group gets taxed. I'll even provide the objective guidelines for it. That's equal.

    it achieves nothing in terms of removing inequity in treatment.

    So everyone and every group being taxed is inequitable.
    While you and me getting taxed and the Freedom Party of Progressive Tea Patriots Church not being taxed and spending that not-taxed money on Lear jets and cruise vacations and lavish bonuses to themselves is equitable.
    War is peace? Freedom is slavery?
    Pull the other one; it's got bells on.

    Since you appear to be a party of one, I'll hold to the notion that it is partisan, and extremely so.

    Except that's not what partisan means, but I'll forgive that since you hold education in such contempt.
    Partisan, in this context, means "prejudiced in favor of a particular cause". Since I'm going to apply it to everyone regardless of their cause, that does not fit the definition of partisan.

    CEO's and executives have precisely NO political power or authority. Zero. None.

    My boss can pick up a phone and call any federal, state, or local elected official we provide campaign funds to, and tell them how they are going to vote on this or that legislation. And if they fail to do so? No more funding, and they sure won't get elected in any district/state we operate in. That will be seen to. Those federal, state, and local officials are OBEDIENT to my employer's dictates. I know of no major corporation who does not do this.

    If you don't think that's power or authority, then I would say you have no idea what power or authority actuallt is.

    hey are politicians, after all, seeking power and control.

    I deny that this is the sole reason politicians become politicians. There are plenty who pursue politics out of idealism.

    We, who are their bosses, are the ones who have the interest in that.

    I'm not their boss. I don't walk into a federal building and order people around. I can't command them to get me coffee, run this report, give me a blowjob or lose your job. That's what a boss can do in a private business.

    But hey, you think you're the boss, walk into an FBI office and order them to arrest me. And fire them when they refuse. If you're the boss, they will be obedient. The boss commands, the employee obeys.

    It is their adversarial competition which is motivation to remove each other, which makes them interested in enforcing the law.

    Yes, I understand that is your belief. I consider you to be mistaken in it.

    Since no two investigations are ever the same, this is a specious (expedient, really) argument.

    Except that if you check both the Senate and House rules, you will find that they provide the procedures in which investigational hearings are to be conducted. Read the Hearings themselves; they go back to the late 1890s in documentation. The rules have not changed much over time and IRS and Benghazi investgations are conducted much the same as HUAC was.

    Not being "educated" by modern institutions is probably a benefit, rather than being told what to think, I had to learn how to think in the real world, in which the latter is beneficial, the former a liability.

    Nice of you to admit to Dunning-Kruger so readily.

    You are conflating the acts conducted as an official of the United States, which the acts of an individual acting in his own capacity for his own purposes.

    You are absolutely correct. And the Supreme Court agreed with me in Watson.

    In the matter of one branch of the federal government conducting its authorized investigation of another branch of the government, this is not a matter of an individual being tried.

    And the Supreme Court disagreed with you on this in Watson.
    Now you're probably going to tell me how that decision should be completely ignored. It's usually the next step in this line of thinking; those laws and decisions and caselaw which disagree with your morals and ethics are completely invalid and are to be ignored.

    You confuse a commentary on the sad state of higher education with a rejection of knowledge and true education

    Define "true education". Completely and concisely, please.

    The income tax and corporate tax have been agents and enablers for vastly more evil than good, and should be abolished because of it.

    Good luck with those court cases and Amendments and repeals.

    ===

    @Devil's Advocate:

    You seem to have missed the part where one set of information is being used to secretly kill people for secret reasons in my and your name and with my and your money when they aren't even being immediately and obviously threatening, which carries some clear moral interest in at least being able to know that it's being done judiciously, based on unimpeachable evidence, and not in a way that's likely to cause more harm than good in the long run, whereas there isn't any moral interest in disclosing that other information.

    I consider all secrets to be equal. And I don't acknowledge "moral" interests. I see no moral interest in either secret being disclosed, because morals don't enter into it. Only law.

    ===

    @EricE:

    While acting on their official capacity – all of them! And this is coming from someone who is a public servant.

    You do realize that you are in your official capacity 24/7/365, right?
    Still feel that way?

    ===

    @Harum:

    And to all of the people saying there is nothing to see here because a few liberal groups were checked, well, that logic would mean a white police chief who just happens to pull over African-Americans a massively higher rates must not be racist either. Like 20-1 ratio. Would you be fine with that? No need for change? Wow, how "progressive."

    Has it been proven the white police chief is racist? Do we have documentation, video, or audio of such? Do they walk around waving a Nazi flag? Or shouting "I hate n—-!"? Do we have objective evidence of such racism?

    Can the disproportionate ratio be explained by the racial demographic of the county/town? Are there 20 African-Americans to 1 Caucasian in his jurisdiction? Are there any other factors that can be considered other than racism?

    This is how the thinking person determines this. Not by gut and emotional bias, but by statistical analysis and the weighing of facts and evidence.

    Yes, I'd like someone to give me a non-political reason why they are stonewalling.

    Issa requested 64 million documents. That takes a lot of time to put together. I should know; I help develop Total Document Solutions for clients. I imagine that's the cause of the delay.

    And why the president opined on an open case.

    Is there a law against the President doing so? No?
    Then I assume because he felt like it.
    I certainly would do so, if not constrained by the law to not do so.

    And why the FBI never interviewed the victims.

    I wouldn't call them victims yet as we have no clear evidence of a crime yet. Speculation is not fact. However, it should make you happy that they finished questioning people in the IRS after seven months and began interviews with the said conservative groups starting January 10th. AS the FBI said when questioned by the committee, "We would request that the committee permit the investigators to complete their investigation and consult with federal prosecutors, as appropriate, to determine whether the evidence reveals a prosecutable violation of any statutes within our jurisdiction." I think that's clear enough.

  173. Mark Koskenmaki says:

    Castaigne said: No, sorry, I've heard the "Government employees are supposed to be unthinking robots." argument before and I don't agree with it at all. A government employee is to execute their job in the best interest of the people as they see fit. That is known at the "thinking agent". I elect the people who will execute their job as they see fit. I expect them to hire the people that will do their job as they see fit.

    Lois Lerner was NOT elected. It is NOT HER JOB to decide what is in the best interest of the people. Nor to make up rules.

  174. William Bell says:

    "You take the Fifth because the government can't be trusted. You take the Fifth because what the truth is, and what the government thinks the truth is, are two very different things. You take the Fifth because even if you didn't do anything wrong your statements can be used as building blocks in dishonest, or malicious, or politically motivated prosecutions against you. You take the Fifth because if you answer questions truthfully the government may still decide you are lying and prosecute you for lying."

    That proves too much. The same arguments could be made be made for refusing to testify about anything, at any time.

  175. Linda says:

    Just popping in to applaud Mark Koskenmaki's comments. I'm not sure how anyone can defend arbitrary, selective law enforcement on political dissidents with "they have to be a thinking agent, not a robot," but there you go. Somebody tried it.

  176. JeffC says:

    So she takes the 5th in Congress because the government can't be trusted ? but then does a full interview with Department of Justice lawyers … wait, aren't they part of the government ? I'm confused and apparently so is the writer …

  177. Ryan Waxx says:

    Pardon me: if you accept the proposition that the government targets organizations for IRS scrutiny because of their political views, and you still say things like "why take the Fifth if you have nothing to hide", then you're either an idiot or a dishonest partisan hack.

    Or perhaps you have the basic awareness of government to realize that the relationship of a government agency towards the ones it regulates is not the same thing as the formalized judicial rules governing the Lerner questioning.

    Or perhaps you have the basic memory skills required to recall that Nixon's attempt to manipulate the IRS directly failed badly yet Obama does not appear even to have needed to issue direct orders: In a government populated by liberals, what does a liberal have to fear from their own?

  178. Mark Koskenmaki says:

    Castaigne:

    And here's where your argument just goes down the tubes. You say she's morally and ethically bound – according to your morals and ethics. Lerner could easily see what she's doing as moral and ethical and for the benefit of the people. You don't know, because you're not her.

    To which I responded that she has no authority to decide what is of "the benefit of the people", she is an employee, bound to rules, not to impose whatever dreams she has on the public.

    And you said: Trying to shoehorn everyone into your own subjective theory about how people should act is crap. You want her to act according to your morals and ethics? Make those morals and ethics law.

    To which I responded that argument was expedient. Not even thought through. You hinted that it was immoral for me to wish to impose my subjective judgment on her, but that she had an OBLIGATION to impose HER subjective judgment on the public.

    You're not even following your own argument, because your response IS as follows:

    It isn't expedient; it's fact. Note I said "fact" rather than "truth". I don't care what truth you hold to. I only care what the facts are. Truth is subjective make-believe fantasy-land. Fact is object, cold, hard, measured and weighed. I'll take the latter every time

    I have no freaking clue what you've mixed up, but you were NOT responding to what you quoted.

    Regardless, you posted this gem:

    So here's an objective fact for you: If it isn't illegal, it's legit. Lerner has not yet been proven to do anything illegal. When she is, you let me know.

    So, Issa's investigation, being not conducted in the way you want, you attempt to discredit and imply illigitemacy, thereby justifying Lerner not cooperating in any way with Congress, while speaking freely to the DOJ (the people who COULD prosecute her), but then insisting that anything not illegal is perfectly fine – "legit" in your words.

    You argued:

    My boss can pick up a phone and call any federal, state, or local elected official we provide campaign funds to, and tell them how they are going to vote on this or that legislation. And if they fail to do so? No more funding, and they sure won't get elected in any district/state we operate in. That will be seen to. Those federal, state, and local officials are OBEDIENT to my employer's dictates. I know of no major corporation who does not do this.

    If you don't think that's power or authority, then I would say you have no idea what power or authority actuallt is.

    I would say that given your demand that I be wholly objective and immaculately scrupulous, and you then posting the above pretty much demonstrates what I've said all along, and that is that your arguments lack principle and reason – but now we can add "truth" and "consistency" to it – which was how I characterized your argument previously – that being "expedient".

    You objected strenuously to my characterization of politicians being greedy for power, and having little dedication to scrupulous ethics and/or morality by saying:

    Pursuit of justice and law never occurs to you? A governing body NEVER has interest in that?

    And almost immediately stated:
    My boss can pick up a phone and call any federal, state, or local elected official we provide campaign funds to, and tell them how they are going to vote on this or that legislation.

    Sigh. Yeah. They have a dedication to law and justice. And scrupulous ethics. Until your boss calls, that is.

    But of course, you believe in that because you said:

    A government employee is to execute their job in the best interest of the people as they see fit. That is known at the "thinking agent". I elect the people who will execute their job as they see fit.

    Until your boss calls, apparently.

    You went on to say:

    Nice of you to admit to Dunning-Kruger so readily.

    Given the inconsistency of your arguments, perhaps the bias or lack of objective perception isn't mine.


    And the Supreme Court disagreed with you on this in Watson.
    Now you're probably going to tell me how that decision should be completely ignored. It's usually the next step in this line of thinking; those laws and decisions and caselaw which disagree with your morals and ethics are completely invalid and are to be ignored.

    You are absolutely correct. I do not cease all intellectual activity the moment that SCOTUS rules, nor do I consider "case law" to have any more moral or ethical weight than the collective writings of L. Ron Hubbard.

    While useful for prevailing in legal cases, case law based decisions AND SCOTUS rulings have little demonstrable value in determining right and wrong, truth and error.

    Bragging that SCOTUS agrees with you isn't the mark of an educated person. Unless of course, "educated" means engaging in fallacies (quoted above, like ad hominem), expedient arguments which are then contradicted almost immediately, and a belief that any and all efforts to win the rhetorical argument at any cost, including engaging in fallacy is far more important than the ideas discussed.

    Since you feel free to judge my education, I guess that means since we're equal under the law, I'm free to judge yours – and from where I stand, you've defended "modern education" and must think highly of it, which means you've considerable experience with it.

    I'm not much impressed.

    And I'll repeat, so as to hand your desperately sought rhetorical "victory", that I'm just an "uneducated hick from the sticks". After all, I am of no importance whatsoever. But ideas are important, and I'd rather debate the merits of them, than the incantations of men in robes and divining the subtle points legally evading accountability on the part of public servants.

  179. Ryan Waxx says:

    The Fifth protects against self-incrimination: It does not protect against self-embarrassment nor does it protect against being questioned who don't like you on the theory that they might decide to prosecute you anyway: If it did, everyone would take the fifth everytime they came within 5 kilometers of a courtroom.

  180. Mark Koskenmaki says:

    Castaigne said:

    Has it been proven the white police chief is racist? Do we have documentation, video, or audio of such? Do they walk around waving a Nazi flag? Or shouting "I hate n—-!"? Do we have objective evidence of such racism?

    Not any more than Issa has been proven to be on a partisan witch hunt. Lack of proof hasn't stopped YOU from arguing things, why should you be critical of others?

  181. Robert What? says:

    Good points about the " nothing to hide" and "government can't be trusted" and avoiding "politically motivated prosecutions". There is only one thing you are forgetting: Lois Lerner *is* the government. She is the one who can't be trusted, who was engaging in politically motivated prosecutions and persecutions. She is not an innocent victim of government abuse : she is the gleeful perpetrator of government abuse. Forgive me for my lack of sympathy.

  182. Xennady says:

    Your forgot the last step of the logic. If Chaffetz had kept his mouth shut and never objected, no one would have ever had known. The fact that he wasn't intelligent enough to know that is, frankly, appalling.

    My apologies for not responding before now, but I was out of town.

    Anyway, I dispute your assertion. Again- the State Department brought a classified photo to a briefing. Why isn't it appalling that the state Department was so gob-smackingly stupid? Oh! I know!! Because everything, everywhere, at all times is the fault of the nearest Republican, no matter what.

    In, what, 5 years he hasn't turned up a smoking gun for anything? With the most incompetent administration of the past 30 years? Give me a break.

    Hey, ymmv. It seems to me he's uncovered evidence of several Watergate-level scandals- but the so-called press has no interest in going after their chosen leader.

    As law professor Glen Reynolds of Instapundit says they're nothing more than democratic operatives with bylines.

    Not good.

  183. Trent says:

    Oh, so I'm "mentally ill"? And your medical diagnosis is based on someone breaking up an absurdly long post composed of a huge array of statements into individual responses?

    They have this thing in the English language called paragraphs that are used to separate different statements into compact responses that are easy to parse, maybe you've heard of them.

    In addition, amazingly all this fancy technology involved in creating websites have these things called HTML tags that can be used to provide even more emphasis and separation (such as blockquote and bold, which ironically you've already used), a sample of them are listed right below the box you are typing comments on. If you are unsure how to use them you could Google a quick tutorial in less time than it takes to hit the submit button 7 times. They also have these things things called editors (such as notepad in windows) that allow you to compose and edit the comment in a separate window with all the appropriate tags, and possibly even spell check!, then post it all at once.

    Given all of the above and the fact that you posted 7 times in a row I assume mental illness, because otherwise it would just mean you are an ass, but if you'd rather assert it's cause of the later rather than the former I won't object.

    Since you feel free to judge my education, I guess that means since we're equal under the law, I'm free to judge yours – and from where I stand, you've defended "modern education" and must think highly of it, which means you've considerable experience with it.

    The only reason education was even brought up was because YOU felt free to make ASSumptions about the education of fellow posters and then attempted to ridicule that ASSumption. The only poster that has actually discussed their education is you. First when you attempted to make ASSumptions about others background and again when you attempted to ridicule other posters education. The only responses to those trollish ASSumptions have been snide comments about your rather typical trollish statement that you are educated in the "real world" along with repeating your assertion that you aren't interested in education. You've also repeatedly attempted to elicit class-based comments on your background and current location, likely as an attempt to ego stroke your class warfare presupposition. And even though no one responded to such a transparent attempt, you reply indicating it's already happened though no such comment was made!

    I've known many people like you over my lifetime, they run around screaming about how they are being persecuted and how it's evidence of how right they are. They are wrong, and so are you. No one posting to this forum cares what your education level is nor do they care where you live, how old you are or what you do for living nor is your opinion on the education of others you know nothing about called for or elicited by the discussion. Yet YOU keep bringing it up.

    All of this is almost as crazy as coming to a blog devoted to civil rights, who's most prolific poster is a lawyer who likes to discuss those rights as they relate to the internet, and arguing that someone working for a particular employer loses all rights guaranteed by the constitution while engaging in borderline trollish behavior.

  184. Mark Koskenmaki says:

    Trent sayeth thus:

    They have this thing in the English language called paragraphs that are used to separate different statements into compact responses that are easy to parse, maybe you've heard of them.

    In addition, amazingly all this fancy technology involved in creating websites have these things called HTML tags that can be used to provide even more emphasis and separation (such as blockquote and bold, which ironically you've already used), a sample of them are listed right below the box you are typing comments on. If you are unsure how to use them you could Google a quick tutorial in less time than it takes to hit the submit button 7 times. They also have these things things called editors (such as notepad in windows) that allow you to compose and edit the comment in a separate window with all the appropriate tags, and possibly even spell check!, then post it all at once.

    Given all of the above and the fact that you posted 7 times in a row I assume mental illness, because otherwise it would just mean you are an ass, but if you'd rather assert it's cause of the later rather than the former I won't object.

    I guess you'd be the authority on how people with mental illness behave?

    I mean, it couldn't have anything to do with the 6 line by 100 character (didn't really count it) editing box, it MUST be mental illness or personality defect that makes people do things like you don't want them to them. Right?

  185. Mark Koskenmaki says:

    Trent says:

    The only reason education was even brought up was because YOU felt free to make ASSumptions about the education of fellow posters and then attempted to ridicule that ASSumption.

    Not at all.

    It was Castaigne who suggested I needed a "free online class" so I'd know blithely repeat whatever it is he wants other people to think.

    And it was to George William Herbert that I made the following statement: And statements compelled that might serve to incriminate her wouldn't seem to be a valid basis for a prosecution – I would think they would be inadmissable, but what do I know, IANAL. I'm just an uneducated hick from the sticks.

    Which is entirely correct. I have no LEGAL education whatsoever. I'm just offering a reasonably Constitutional view that should Congress demand a federal official to account for the actions of the department they run and their actions, that any compelled statements, as far as the Constitution is concerned, would be compelled and thus should not be usable as evidence in any effort to prosecute. But, like I said, I'm not a lawyer. I don't subscribe to the fictions the profession seems to consider to be of utmost importance, such as "case law" and "stare decisis", which to me totally defy all logic and reason. After all, as a kid, I played the game of gossip, and erroneous things based on other erroneous things eventually make black into white and white into black.

    But I get it. How dare a mere commoner question a commenter on a legal blog? He must be insulted and chastized and told to shut his unworthy self up. After all, only the lawyers are fit to opine on weighty matters of right and wrong… Especially in a Constitutional Republic. How dare the people disagree with their learned dictat…

  186. blert says:

    Issa is slow-rolling this matter because — from the outset — it was obvious that the marching orders came from the Oval Office.

    Barry has entirely trumped RMN with his imperial dictat.

    And based upon the layers of liars willing to absorb and deflect any investigation (cf Watergate) Issa fully comprehended, from the outset, that the issue would only be decided at the polls.

    The postings above ^^^^ clearly indicate that partisanship clouds the minds of many.

    &&&

    Going back a century, at the very start of the IRS — and the need for all citizens to provide testimony against themselves (Form 1040 trumps the Fifth Amendment) it was established that violations of critical aspects of the agency would have to be treated harshly, to wit: as felonies.

    Yet here we stand, with the IRS employees grossly violating Federal statutes — leaking inside information — for partisan purposes, no less — yet there is little outcry.

    The punishment ought to be as severe as that of a counterfeiter.

    As it stands, because the maladministration feels benefited by such an outrage, no attempt is made to enforce the law of the land.

    We're looking at an imperial administration that cherry picks its objects of ire — and screens those who've criminally advanced its partisan desires.

    &&&&

    There is the common assumption that to be a tyrant one must operate Kamps, run a Gulag or farm the Killing Fields.

    Such is not so.

    Digital tyranny permits the modern tyrant the delightful option of wholly corrupting the polity while preserving the image of liberty and democracy.

    And, as we have seen, all of the despots of the 20th Century worked the public, running PR campaigns long after ensconced in power. Adolf's "Ja!" campaign and Saddam's screwy vote tallies highlighting the broadcast era.

    As Justice Roberts and Senator Feinstein have discovered (plus Petraeus and Broadwell) the 0bama regime is well enabled to spy and manipulate even high ranking members of the government. (The General's affair became public when it suited the President. Robert's affair has remained quiet — since he wrote BOTH sides of the ACA decision — the second, reversing himself.)

    The idea that the NSA was spying on Congress was so obvious I posted thereof month ago. Why spy on Merkel and not Feinstein? Answer: not a reason in the world!

    Combining the IRS ( via the ACAl 0-care ) with the NSA obviates the need for any further coercive tools.

    Understand that.

    Already, various journalists are coming clean: they, themselves, are coerced.

    Barry is in a position — THE position — to poison careers and to destroy companies — particularly media companies.

    The moguls of Hollywood cough up big to Barry because — in a practical sense — they HAVE to. Without the tyrant's favor they can't wheel big deals. (mergers)

    Without his sanction, they get SHUT OUT… all the way out.

    Unlike Bush or Clinton, 0bama practices Chicago rules.

    For partisans: you're enabling Chicago on the Potomac.

    Neither Mao, Stalin nor Hitler went off the rail during their first five years at the top. Things became very interesting from that point onwards, however. They all decided to settle in — like the Pope — and stay for life.

    Barry has actually run such notions past Bill Clinton… in a back-handed way. Bill ran to the microphone to bark. No-one was saluting Barry's hope. That such an exchange even had to occur is telling.

  187. daedalus says:

    I am especially interested in the gov't oversight of gov't actions impact of the assessment here. I get us plebians should shut up when confronted with the power of the state, even if that power currently seems latent in the specific scenario. State actors with respect to the checks and balances of over sight makes it more interesting. For those who argue in favor of LL's ability to plead the 5th with respect to her actions in an official capacity, a hypothetical:

    For purposes of this hypothetical, assume the 'other' party has current control of 2 of three elected branches of gov't, and the one 'your' party controls is attempting oversight of a situation, but furthermore postulate that 'both' parties officials on the oversight ctee are asking questions (assume away the Cummings role in LL).

    The hypothetical: On a near nightly basis, on a national footprint, black MRAP like vehicles with a dozen or so clad in black with no ID beyond "POLICE" on their backs are pulling up in front of people's houses, battering in doors, pulling the head of household, taking them away, haven't been heard from again. Local and state officials/prosecutors claim ignorance, and it is credible because it is happening across many states. For a significant while (weeks) this is deemed crazy conspiracy stuff, but more and more circumstantial evidence like snippets of video etc seems to point towards military, or military contractor, or some part of the national security apparatus involvement. The evidence is accumulating that someone/something is seriously violating the rights of significant number of citizens.

    The oversight panel calls the whole joint chiefs of staff, head of CIA, NSA, DIA and elected officials with both D and R after their names essentially asks "do you have anything to do with this?" and "Do you know what is going on, who is doing this?" And the members of the JCOS and other officials of the state, being aware of the 'SHUT UP' doctrine and the risk of being prosecuted by overzealous servants of the state even if not actually guilty of anything at all, respond (without any muddying opening statement) "I plead the 5th!" delivered with a smirk.

    Do they (JCOS etc) actually have the right to plead the 5th? If not, what is the differentiating distinction between these agents of the state and LL? If so, how are we to maintain a republic in the face of the unchecked and uncheckable power of the state? What is to stop every official ever asked about anything simply invokes the 5th?

  188. Old Red Joe says:

    You ALSO take the fifth BECAUSE you ARE guilty and don't want to convict yourself.

    This is in about 98% of the cases I've represented defendants in over the last 23 years.

  189. Devil's Advocate says:

    @Castaigne:

    I consider all secrets to be equal. And I don't acknowledge "moral" interests. I see no moral interest in either secret being disclosed, because morals don't enter into it. Only law.

    I tried to reconcile treating all secrets equally and only the law mattering with the fact that some secrets are required by law not to be disclosed, some are required by law to be disclosed to some people and not to others, some are required by law to be disclosed to some people and allowed to be disclosed to others, some are required by law to be disclosed to all people and in a very public way after certain circumstances but not to be disclosed before then, some are allowed to be disclosed at will but required by law to be disclosed to all people and in a very public way, some are allowed to be disclosed by some people and not by others, sometimes more than one of these conditions can occur simultaneously, and sometimes the law doesn't have anything really to say about a secret whatsoever. But then my head asploded. :)

  190. Devil's Advocate says:

    @Mark Koskenmaki

    It was Castaigne who suggested I needed a "free online class" so I'd know blithely repeat whatever it is he wants other people to think.

    You might want to consider the possibility that what he was offering was not a free brainwashing but a free all-you-can-eat buffet of exposure to ideas and experiences far outside the range of what you would think of or experience by yourself, and that you are free to accept or reject based entirely on how persuasive they are.

    Taking off my devil's advocate hat for a second, let me tell you one of my experiences. When I was much younger, I was a member of a group that didn't feel like they were getting a fair shake from the big bad people with power. One day when we were especially frustrated and people in the group were passionately recounting our mutual grievances against them, I had a sudden and profound realization. It started with one accusation that didn't quite make sense, and soon I came to realize that in every single case for our grievances, the people in charge weren't making malicious and prejudiced decisions but ones that no doubt seemed fair and reasonable to them.

    Ever since then, I've tried to never assume malice in someone's actions when any other explanation is reasonable. It might surprise you to find out that it turns out that most of the time it turns out people really aren't intentionally being awful, and you can avoid a whole lot of unnecessary problems that way. People aren't nearly as good at seeing how their actions appear to and effect other people as they think they are. If people really are being malicious it typically becomes completely unambiguous pretty quickly.

    OK, hat back on. My head was getting cold.

    I'm just offering a reasonably Constitutional view that [things that violate Supreme Court precedent] … But, like I said, I'm not a lawyer. I don't subscribe to the fictions the profession seems to consider to be of utmost importance, such as "case law" and "stare decisis", which to me totally defy all logic and reason.

    Here's the problem: the United States had common law before the Constitution, and the Constitution did not get rid of common law. In fact, the Constitution is a common law document and the whole reason the Constitution could be so short while still staying relatively unambiguous was because of the extremely frequent allusions to common law concepts. Case law and stare decisis are extremely important aspects of common law. It's simply not possible to have a "Constitutional view" that ignores it.

    So you can say that you think a given case was wrongly decided and should be overturned, or that a law or part of the Constitution should be amended to correct an interpretation you don't like, but the rules that we play by say that once the Supreme Court interprets a particular part a certain way, that's the only way that it can be interpreted unless they overrule themselves, which is something they should only do in really egregious cases. That's the Constitutional way to do it, and if you do it any other way, it's not the Constitutional way, even if you do it based on pieces of the Constitution.

    After all, as a kid, I played the game of gossip, and erroneous things based on other erroneous things eventually make black into white and white into black.

    Of course. Behold the mess the Interstate Commerce Clause has been misinterpreted into. No system is perfect. But there are a lot of advantages too. Precedent and stare decisis allow laws that are passed to be a lot shorter and less pedantic, because any details that end up needing hammering out will happen in the case law. Maybe more importantly, it makes the law much more consistent and certain, since it's much less often that you run into the case where you interpret the law one way, the other side interprets it a different way, and then the judge interprets it a third way. And you should almost never run into the case where the next judge in your area interprets it yet another way. Never knowing what the law you would be held to really is is a kind of exciting I don't want. And if things really turn out bad, you can always amend away the bad things that happen in case law.

    Here's an example in this very thread. It's reasonably ambiguous whether the plain text of the fifth amendment covers Congressional testimony. But the Supreme Court has ruled that it does, which effectively clears up the ambiguity and keeps the courts from having to endlessly debate the issue every time it comes up, and allows people who are affected the certainty of knowing that they really can claim the fifth and not have to get dragged through legal proceedings about whether or not it applies. And if it really turned out one day to be a horrible thing, we could always amend the Constitution to explicitly exclude Congressional testimony. I'd say that precedent is a huge win here.

  191. Devil's Advocate says:

    @blert

    Form 1040 trumps the Fifth Amendment

    Except of course in the real world, where it doesn't. On the other hand, sometimes people try to use it as an excuse to not report or file things but have no reasonable explanation as to how they would be self-incriminating. Unsurprisingly, nobody is fooled by that.

  192. Sir, if I could don your devil's advocate hat for a moment: Does pleading the 5th require a justification? Do you need to whisper your testimony to a judge, so he can decide if you're self-incriminating or not?

    And what on earth could be more complex than the US tax code? Isn't it entirely rational to fear that you might have somehow run afoul of it? I would venture to say that the average citizen could not fully comprehend the tax code even if they tried. Certainly many of the defenses of Lerner's taking the 5th apply to each and every one of us every tax season.

    The 16th amendment (may its authors burn in hell). says the government has the power to levy taxes. It doesn't say I have to help them. And I read that page you linked; the courts' justifications are, basically, "Yeah, it might be used against you in a legal procedure, but the government's need for your tax money comes first."

  193. blert says:

    @blert

    Form 1040 trumps the Fifth Amendment

    "Except of course in the real world, where it doesn't. On the other hand, sometimes people try to use it as an excuse to not report or file things but have no reasonable explanation as to how they would be self-incriminating. Unsurprisingly, nobody is fooled by that."

    Until the 16th Amendment no citizen was required to proffer ANYTHING to the government to remain in good standing.

    Form 1040 and its kin REQUIRE you to AFFIRM this and that even if you are merely breathing. It's quite unlike a customs declaration — so common with the EXTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE aka the Coast Guard — which is only required of those who desire to import goods. (from outside the USA, of course)

    [For those interested, this prior agency was both the inspiration for the sobriquet INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE it also explains why the Coast Guard had long been inside the Treasury portfolio -- not deemed an element of the armed forces. The Coast Guard was always Newspeak. The only thing it guarded was the Federal purse. The CG still has one legacy: all booze inside a CG base is sold without any import or excise taxes.(!) It has to be drunk on the spot. So the net effect is that every CG base has 'super happy hour' pricing every hour at its integral bar room: "Coasties." (It's the nic name of the establishment -- not a reference to anyone or CG personnel.)]

    Form 1040 is such an all inclusive trap that it's the fall back 'gotcha' for every super criminal to hit the slammer.

    That such would necessarily be so was seen even before the Amendment was adopted. To get it passed, the Amendment rode on a raft of provisos. At the top of the list was that ANY information so provided could not be used in cross-prosecutions. (eg Claiming income from prostitution could not be used to affirm the crime. — This pledge was, de facto, nullified almost at once. The IRS merely introduced 'penalty' income tax rates of 100%! The voters had been duped, yet again. The only way Al Capone could've ducked the income tax evasion charge was by coughing up ALL of his assets — and then some: IRS regs generally dis-allow any 'business' deductions for criminal enterprises.)

    As LL has proven, an enterprising hack can have a field day ensconced as a policy driving authority within the IRS.

    As you might imagine, the Nazi regime — and many another — found that income tax schemes were razor sharp at gutting opponents. This could — and usually did — take the 'high-minded' tactic of universally applying a tax rate against certain types of income. (Sound familiar?) Since opponents often were dominant in certain economic sectors (pawn, retail lending, jewelry, sugar importation, etc.) it was easy to target them with punitive rates — ruinous rates. On paper, nothing untoward was self-evident.

    We have the same skew going on with LL. Her ENTIRE professional life was one unending crusade against the GOP — and the old boy's network, generally. It's not for nothing that her 'insider crew' was female.

    BTW, it's pretty rich when LL is referred to as a 'government employee.' Her entire career had been political — one way or another.

    It's telling when a Democrat apparatchick is elevated to a critically, politically, sensitive position during a Republican administration. The IRS, itself, is a bastion of Democrats. This makes it no different than HHS, the EPA, the SBA and the CIA.

    Official (civil service) Washington is anything but non-partisan.

    This ultimately results in such strong Group-Think that the solvency and legitimacy of the Federal Government is imperilled.

    It's in the nature of the beast that institutionalized Group-Think is never recognized for itself. Instead, all and every (insider) thinks that their way is THE way, the right way, the correct way… just a few tweaks, here and there, and….

  194. Dave says:

    Ever since then, I've tried to never assume malice in someone's actions when any other explanation is reasonable. It might surprise you to find out that it turns out that most of the time it turns out people really aren't intentionally being awful, and you can avoid a whole lot of unnecessary problems that way. People aren't nearly as good at seeing how their actions appear to and effect other people as they think they are. If people really are being malicious it typically becomes completely unambiguous pretty quickly.

    QFT, and as something that I often see lost in political debates.

    Remember folks, your enemies are rarely ever evil in their own eyes.

    You may now return to your regularly scheduled bickering.

  195. Devil's Advocate says:

    @blert

    *Sigh*, https://xkcd.com/386/

    Until the 16th Amendment no citizen was required to proffer ANYTHING to the government to remain in good standing.

    Before the 16th Amendment, your tax form was the Census, as implied in Article I section 9 of the Constitution. It often contained questions specifically for the purpose of levying taxes. The first law requiring citizens to answer Census questions was An Act providing for the enumeration of the Inhabitants of the United States, section 6, passed March 1, 1790. And everyone over the age of 16 was required to answer, not just people who have income over some certain threshold like it is today.

  196. Mark Koskenmaki says:

    @ Devil's Advocate:

    You might want to consider the possibility that what he was offering was not a free brainwashing but a free all-you-can-eat buffet of exposure to ideas and experiences far outside the range of what you would think of or experience by yourself, and that you are free to accept or reject based entirely on how persuasive they are.

    Of course I'm 'free to' do that, but that would be the height of gullibility. He wasn't offering anything to be helpful, he was offering to be insulting. The assumption that anyone who doesn't think as you do must not be educated, or is ignorant, reveals a lot about a person's thinking. And none of it is good.

    Ever since then, I've tried to never assume malice in someone's actions when any other explanation is reasonable.

    True, but nothing else (in light of his diatribes and hostility) is reasonable.

    So you can say that you think a given case was wrongly decided and should be overturned, or that a law or part of the Constitution should be amended to correct an interpretation you don't like, but the rules that we play by…

    Yes, and those rules are wholly irrational and commit vastly more harm than any "good", they are born from laziness on the party those in the legal system, and arrogance of those on top.

    …say that once the Supreme Court interprets a particular part a certain way, that's the only way that it can be interpreted unless they overrule themselves, which is something they should only do in really egregious cases.

    There is literally nothing in the present that is NOT "egregious". Our adherence to the Constitution is a total joke. All you have to do is read it and you comprehend how vastly far from it we are, in pretty much EVERY facet of law and governance. And 99% of it is due to to those two traditions.

    And you should almost never run into the case where the next judge in your area interprets it yet another way.

    Happens constantly.

    Never knowing what the law you would be held to really is is a kind of exciting I don't want.

    LOL! Like that's not true now? Seriously? I can't imagine it being much worse.

    All one has to do is observe the ruling about Obamacare's mandate being a tax to realize that there IS NO INTEGRITY WHATSOEVER to our court system, nor its adherence to law. It makes it up whatever it feels like and through "stare decisis' it just keeps on doing so, with NEVER a reference to the original law – that being the Constitution.

    Respect SCOTUS? Not even possible. They're just unelected tyrants who do whatever they feel like and imposing whatever law the dream up.

    And if things really turn out bad, you can always amend away the bad things that happen in case law.

    They are bad, and no amending has happened.

    While possibly sincere, the argument is hollow.

  197. Mark Koskenmaki says:

    Here's an example in this very thread. It's reasonably ambiguous whether the plain text of the fifth amendment covers Congressional testimony. But the Supreme Court has ruled that it does,

    So? I don't really care what it rules. Those rulings should apply to that case ONLY, and not any other… ever. That debate IS NEVER OVER. And pretending it is is nothing but intellectual laziness on the part of everyone involved. And because they're cowards, they refuse to ever revisit the most egregious nonsense previous courts have constructed, out of fear they'll not be able to defend it.

    The problem is, the plain construct of the Constitution is CLEARLY being violated in a million ways, and rather than buck politics, the courts just make up intellectual cow dung rather than admit they can't defend it.

    Those arguments SHOULD be made, every last time. Unpredictable? No less than the travesties we have now. But AT LEAST WE WOULD BE MAKING HONEST DEBATE about what it really means, and obvious errors could not stand as case law.

  198. George William Herbert says:

    Mark K:

    So? I don't really care what it rules. Those rulings should apply to that case ONLY, and not any other… ever

    You are trying to tell a bunch of lawyers, and law-fans (of various stripes), on a law-centric blog, that the Supreme Court should not matter.

    I do not know if you are sane or not, but you hold viewpoints that are far enough outside reasonable or rational that we need to ignore you now.

    This was not the place to come and demonstrate your ignorance and disdain.

  199. Mark Koskenmaki says:

    You are trying to tell a bunch of lawyers, and law-fans (of various stripes), on a law-centric blog, that the Supreme Court should not matter.

    I said nothing of the sort.

    I do not know if you are sane or not, but you hold viewpoints that are far enough outside reasonable or rational that we need to ignore you now.

    Of course. Imagine if you had open enough mind to comprehend that disagreement is not a sign of insanity.

    This was not the place to come and demonstrate your ignorance and disdain.

    Or what? Is that a threat?

  200. Mark Koskenmaki says:

    Can you imagine, Herbert… Daring to defend the insanity that is in our legal system, rather than attacking someone who simply disagrees with what has become some extremely destructive traditions. Why, you can't do that, it's far preferable to just shout down any dissent and go on pretending your isolated world is paradise.

    I am and have been a genuine expert and authority on a couple of things in my lifetime, and what that experience taught me, is that experts should not be considered above criticism, or even "all that".

    Perhaps you fail to understand what horrendously terrible reputation the legal system has by those outside it, as they look at what it does and it's glaringly obvious defects, while you criticize me for not being in tune. Perhaps the defect is not me.

  201. This was not the place to come and demonstrate your ignorance and disdain.

    Eh. I think a healthy disdain is one of the better things about this blog. My own thinking has certainly been influenced by, for example, Ken's disdain for various parts of the criminal justice system. Scroll a few posts down for the discussion thread about grand juries. Certainly, some disdain is warranted.

    Not to mention, the Supreme Court has had some pretty weak decisions, from Dred Scott to Wickard v. Filburn to Kelo, with plenty more in between.

  202. blert says:

    As for the income tax authorities…

    Putin managed to lock up ALL of his TOP rivals via cooked up income tax law violations.

    Barry is walking down Putin's road.

    Politicizing the IRS was, from the outset, a primary concern — going back over a century.

    Putting LL in the decision seat = total politicalization of the agency.

    BTW, who can overlook the constant pilgrimage from the IRS to the White House during the last five years?

    No man is safe when the tax man is set loose. No man.

  203. Mark Koskenmaki says:

    Politicizing the IRS was, from the outset, a primary concern — going back over a century.

    Putting LL in the decision seat = total politicalization of the agency.

    That's how they do it in Illinois. The people at the top appoint or hire those under them who know explicitly what to do, without any emails or memos to incriminate. It's where Obama learned it.

    What's impressive, is that people who claim to be informed, educated, intelligent profess to be 'defending her rights' by expressing determined blindness to the overwhelming evidence. The hypocrisy is more than stunning.

    It may have been a concern and something to criticize 3 or 4 decades ago. Today, it's a Democrat Party strategy – blatant and intentional. It's an end run – meaning they intend to use the power of the government to crush all dissent, and when the people object… crush them, too.

  204. William Bell says:

    Actually, he's right: the function of judges is simply to decide cases. The President, members of Congress, and state officials swear to uphold the Constitution and the laws and therefore have an ethical duty to uphold laws they believe to be valid no matter what judges have said in parastatal cases. You may disagree, but that's a respectable opinion with a long pedigree that has been espoused by eminent, intelligent people, including Andrew Jackson.

  205. William Bell says:

    Obviously, she's not an enemy the Obama administration.

  206. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels says:

    no matter what judges have said in parastatal cases.

    What, exactly, is a parastatal case?

  207. William Bell says:

    I was typing with an iPod Touch while trying not to fall asleep. I have no idea what "parastatal" means,if anything. What I THOUGHT I was typing was "past cases."

  208. Mark Koskenmaki says:

    Parastatal:

    (of an organization or industry) having some political authority and serving the state indirectly, esp. in some African countries.

    It does change the meaning of your comment just a little > smile <

  209. barry says:

    What, exactly, is a parastatal case?
    parastatal law: like a statal rather than a federal law, except not really.

  210. I think somebody once pointed out that Congressional hearings are held for only three reasons:
    1. To get congressmen on television
    2. To get congressmen on television
    3. To get congressmen on television

    Unlike some other commenters here, I have no confidence that these hearings are a useful, revelatory or due process. They are forums for partisan hackery and grandstanding. Any resemblance to a proper inquiry or legal process is superficial and entirely coincidental. I am not surprised that Lois Lerner invoked her Fifth Amendment right. There was no possible upside to her testifying to a masturbatory preening collection of elected rabble. I agree with Ken that making her initial statement was difficult to justify and possibly unwise.
    The only way that the events will be properly analyzed is via a structured investigation that protects the interests of all parties so that they can freely talk. In other words, the exact opposite of the current Clown Show.

  211. blert says:

    @Shevlin…

    You're the first person in recent reading that has reduced democratic over-sight down to a Clown Show.

    If I want clowns, I tune in to Colbert and Stewart: both admitted professional comics trying to BE funny.

    As for Congressional hearings…

    Was Sam Ervin's Watergate Hearings a Clown Show?

    As for Senators and Representatives preening — what say you to our Presidents and Cabinet Secretaries?

    I dare you to get between a camera and Joe Biden!

    The fact is that members of Congress conducting such hearings are rarely ever launching themselves onto the national stage. They're ALREADY big wheels in their own districts/ states. Publicity in Washington doesn't help them win votes. They're already a 'lock' for victory — they're ranking members or chairmen!

    It's brutally difficult to gain the Presidency from the Senate. BHO and JFK are the only ones to do so. The established route to the presidency is through a state governorship, the bigger the state the better.

    Congressional hearings are political theatre — for sure — because the trial won or lost in PUBLIC OPINION.

    Nixon, Clinton, Andrew Johnson… no way they were going to be judged in a courtroom with rules of evidence… with a 'CSI Political Crimes Unit' wrapping the case up in two 60 minute episodes.

    Exposure IS the trial. Just ask Ervin and Nixon.

    Your impulse runs towards ratifying despotism. No tyrant can EVER be ejected by a court other than the court of public opinion. Just ask Putin, Saddam, Adolf, Stalin, Mao, … et. al.

  212. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels says:

    It's brutally difficult to gain the Presidency from the Senate. BHO and JFK are the only ones to do so. The established route to the presidency is through a state governorship, the bigger the state the better.

    This is not correct.

    Did you maybe mean directly from the Senate as an incumbent? If so that leaves out Harding. If you just meant Senators who became president there were another 13 who did that, so 16 in total.

    Even then you end up with 16 Senators who became Prez and 18 Governors.

  213. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels says:

    Of course, Issa is not a Senator anyway.

  214. Mark Koskenmaki says:

    Graham spake with his keyboard: Unlike some other commenters here, I have no confidence that these hearings are a useful, revelatory or due process. They are forums for partisan hackery and grandstanding. Any resemblance to a proper inquiry or legal process is superficial and entirely coincidental.

    It's true that in politics and war, the first casualty is truth. But I suspect that if this were being done by someone with a (D) after their name, you'd be demanding the corruption be found and removed.

    Still, unless you intend that Congress simply cease its oversight of how its laws are enforced and how the rules it has set are being followed, you're going to have to cease the "no confidence" voting. Unless you can provide us with a reasonable mechanism, besides the executive branch overseeing itself, this IS what there is and it isn't changing. Given that (unless you have a really magnficent argument you do not mean the implications you so strongly imply), your argument amounts to "just let them (IRS and other agencies) do what they want, because it's too messy and bad PR to have public hearings run by elected people", which clearly comes across as "it's not valid because the wrong party is doing it".

  215. Wick Deer says:

    @Mark K

    The history of the House Oversight Committee under Democratic leadership is less than glorious. The only investigation from that committee that ever produced any real and lasting action was the Major League Baseball/Steroids hearings, which had damn all to do with government oversight.

    Burton, Waxman and Issa have all made repeated political shows that have accomplished nothing of substance.

  216. blert says:

    Deer…

    You have missed it: the entire purpose of such hearings — by either party — is AS a MEDIA OPERATION.

    Getting air time was of their essence.

    That, viewing them from plebe-ville, you don't comprehend that, you've made patent.

    Beyond that, these media dramas are acts of a political art which play large inside the Beltway. That is, the primary audience for hearings is The Hill, itself.

    Your 'sophisticated' disdain is noted.

    Washington DC suffers from too much imperial — not too much over-sight and embarrassing exposure.

    As Snowdengate and other scandals show, left to its own devices the imperial executive 'system' — the White House apparat — is NOT a self-limiting institution.

    When the Democrats run the White House, I need to have the Republicans hound them.

    When the Republicans run the White House, I need to have the Democrats hound them.

    The primary ill our republic has today is that the MSM is now but a sub-set of the Democrat Party — body and soul — and lives in Group-Think denial about it.

    That the MSM is enthralled with ever bigger Big Government is not too surprising. It's the source of high image, high income, high vanity careers — for themselves. They become its adjuncts.

    The contrast with Corporate America is vast. Private enterprises can't bear, can't suffer, constant media blurbs. After all, the MSM is an 'ambulance-chasing' corps. The only entity that can survive constant association with disasters is Big Government — with its monopoly on violence and coercion.

    Big Media + Big Government = Self-Licking Ice Cream Cone.

    The economic consequences of this perversion is now pandemic, the connection, not made.

    We can do anything we want, we just can't want what we want. It's the MSM that's corrupting what we want. The nattering class is baying for Heaven on Earth. That such might actually be possible is a fantasy best held by superannuated adolescents. Hence we have sound bites and arrested analysis — all that a simpleton can absorb.

  217. 1 says:

    "MSM is now but a sub-set of the Democrat Party"
    So now even Rush Limbaugh and Fox News are 'sub-set[s] of the Democrat Party'.
    Or Rush Limbaugh and Fox News are scarcely-known underground news outlets.
    Whichever.

  218. Mark Koskenmaki says:

    LOL!!!! You are now calling Rush Limbaugh and Fox News "mainstream media"?

    If so, why are they bad?

  219. Mark, you are pretty good at convincing me that you are a pompous presumptive twit. Explain or show where I made any comment about the veracity of the allegations and how I could have made you suspect that I would be defending corruption if the perpetrators had a different party affiliation.
    Alternatively you could resist the temptation to speak impulsively with your keyboard, but based on the hundreds of monitor inches you have spewed already on this thread, I am not confident that will happen.
    Just in case my original points were misunderstood I will try again:
    1. Any resemblance to a useful investigative process in these hearings is coincidental and probably will not survive closer examination
    2. The hearings are about getting politicians one of their additional essential consumption items – publicity

  220. Mark Koskenmaki says:

    @graham shevlin:

    I guess words don't mean anything to you, so I'll not let your words mean anything to me. I did say that I "suspect" you'd have a different attitude if Issa were of the "other" party.

    Whatever the merits of that suspicion, if your criticism were to result in some action being taken, there would be NO oversight of anyone or anything. Same, too, with the comments of many in this column of responses. It is the system we have, and expecting politicians to act like lawyers (wait, they are lawyers, I think I see the problem) is… Wait, I don't want them to act like lawyers or other people educated in the art of obfuscation, legal evasion, etc.

    The real issue, is that they're too well educated in such things, and have little or no responsibility, accountability, or conscience.

  221. Cao says:

    Public employees should have NO 5th Amendment privileges relating to the execution of their public jobs. Failure to answer legitimate questions should result in immediate suspension without pay. They retain the right to lie, as history shows is too often the case…"I did not have sex with that woman", "I am not a crook"

  222. Jeff Ryan says:

    As it's 0100 hours, and I had to skim through the seemingly endless chain of comments (no criticism – it's good to see people exercising their brains and their judgment), I apologize if some of this comment is redundant. That said, some thoughts:

    Aside from the legal considerations, I agree with others here that it appears obvious that Issa and the Republicans are not interested in the actual facts. For one thing, their staffs and investigator have doubtless uncovered them anyway. Lerner is pretty low-hanging fruit, and if the Republicans actually believe there is malfeasance on the part of administration officials, or at least high-level IRS personnel, they would be giving her immunity on a platter. Even if Lerner were to go down, she's pretty small beer. The public will likely figure she's a low-level rogue, and that the whole affair means little. The only explanation, then, is that this is theatre, and theatre of a particularly cruel kind: it's akin to crucifying a homeless guy for unwittingly holding the door for a bank robber. The glee with which they are blithely destroying this bit player is unseemly, to say the least. As an oft-investigated, and once convicted criminal himself, Issa shows a cavalier approach to the Bill of Rights.

    But on the legal front, some commenters here hold a disturbing belief that one who toils for the low pay that comes with government service should also lose the constitutional protections that, thankfully, we all enjoy. Taking a government job doesn't, and shouldn't, mean that you thereby agree to be summoned, grilled, and criminally prosecuted in derogation of the rights everyone else takes for granted. Otherwise, take out your knitting and giggle "Guillotine!"

  223. William Bell says:

    Democrats in Congress leaned on the IRS to go after conservative non-profits before the 2012 election, and Lois Lerner and subordinates acting under her direction did exactly that, in a systematic way. Perhaps it would suit you just fine, Jeff Ryan, if a majority of the public concludes that "the whole affair means little," but what Obama said initially is quite right: using the power of the IRS to selectively harass and stifle advocacy groups on one side of the spectrum in advance of a national election is outrageous and intolerable. Whether she conspired with someone higher up or engineered it on her own initiative (with encouragement from Dem politicians), Lerner shouldn't get away with it scot-free.

  224. Jeff Ryan says:

    Okay, Mr. Bell, but what do you suggest? Deny her her rights and throw her under the bus? Not to be snarky, but no one is suggesting people shouldn't be prosecuted for criminal acts. However, that is the role of the US Attorney, not some congressional thugs who are not tasked with law enforcement.

    I don't understand your post. The issue is her invocation of the Fifth Amendment, not whether she is guilty or should be prosecuted. I used to be a prosecutor – we didn't get to haul a suspect in, put them under oath, and say, "Please make our case for us. Did you bring your toothbrush?" I don't believe it's even close as to her right to invoke the Fifth. And it is unseemly for these "paragons" of public service to call her out for contempt, when these proceedings display nothing but contempt for the law, common sense, and human dignity.

  225. Mark Koskenmaki says:

    Mr Jeff Ryan…

    Well, what I suggest is precisely that. We stop pretending that a congressional investigation is actually a court of law, and start demanding she answer… Or go to jail. No other choice. No public servant should EVER have to option of not revealing what was done by them in office. Ever.

    Now, as to whether that can be used in an actual court case against her in a criminal prosecution… Probably not. Still, the idea that any elected official has a right to not divulge their actions to the public and to Congress is an abomination to the notion of a Republic and is wholly immoral.

    Ok, edit. I see I left out a phrase… ".. any elected official or anyone they appoint, or anyone who serves at their discretion.." Basically, anyone who isn't hired by blind application to the job (only low level employees, in my view) has no right to be silent about ANYTHING. Transparency and accountability supersede any government official or employee's "rights" to not be embarrassed over wrongdoing.

    Frankly, everyone in this administration has been chosen based on their historical willingness to abuse their office for advancement of political agendas.

  226. Jeff Ryan says:

    Mr. Mark Koskenmaki,

    First, Lerner is not an elected official (I know, you also include those they appoint, etc.). Good luck getting people to work under those conditions.

    Second, there already is an investigation into the allegations. But I suppose we can just tell law enforcement that it is more important for these self-aggrandizing idiots to get their mugs on TV than to prosecute wrongdoing. I'm sure Oliver North's prosecutor would agree.

    Third, there is, sadly, a difference between such lofty principles and reality. Myself (and I don't know Ms. Lerner), I am repulsed at the bullying. To repeat – if they thought there was anything there, they would have given her immunity. The sight of Louie Gohmert flashing his room temperature IQ while berating his betters, while risible, is also nauseating.

    Fourth, this seems very of a piece with the "public's right to know". There is, as Potter Stewart sagely noted once, no such animal. What there is, is the right of anyone to tell the government to take a flying jump (even if they work for it).

  227. Mark Koskenmaki says:

    jeff Ryan said: First, Lerner is not an elected official (I know, you also include those they appoint, etc.). Good luck getting people to work under those conditions.

    Actually, there's plenty of people who will actually do their business without gleeful, partisan, and coordinated abuse of their office. True, you won't get Lerner types, nor her fellow accomplices in the IRS, FBI, BATF, OSHA, EPA, DOJ, and so on, who use their office to abuse the people for fun, profit, and Democrat votes, but that's a good thing, even if you don't think so.

    Second, there already is an investigation into the allegations.

    By whom? Nobody in this administration will enforce the law, if it's a fellow Democrat, or someone who is useful to them. Holder is the chief abuser and partisan activist. It is up to Congress, since the DOJ currently just an arm of the Barack Obama gang of thugs.

    But I suppose we can just tell law enforcement that it is more important for these self-aggrandizing idiots to get their mugs on TV than to prosecute wrongdoing. I'm sure Oliver North's prosecutor would agree.

    Well, seeing as how that was the purpose of attempting to prosecute North, I'm sure North's prosecutor will agree. The whole point was a failed attempt to destroy Reagan.

    Third, there is, sadly, a difference between such lofty principles and reality. Myself (and I don't know Ms. Lerner), I am repulsed at the bullying.

    Then I fail to see why you'd defend Lerner and her cabal of bullies. Hopefull, you're as repulsed as I am.

    To repeat – if they thought there was anything there, they would have given her immunity. The sight of Louie Gohmert flashing his room temperature IQ while berating his betters, while risible, is also nauseating.

    That's funny, in a sort of painfully agonizing way, seeing as how anyone with an IQ above room temperature knows that Lerner and her assorted accomplices at the aforementiond DOJ, FBI, BATF, OSHA, EPA, IRS, and so on, have been engaging flagrant partisan bullying and abuse of their powers. Why you'd be whining at Gohmert, I have no idea. I'd love to see Lerner tried before a jury of her victims, and then sentenced to hard labor, bound hand and foot and tied behind Cliven Bundy's cow every evening to experience the Nevada desert until her Maker sees fit to end her experience on this planet.

    Fourth, this seems very of a piece with the "public's right to know". There is, as Potter Stewart sagely noted once, no such animal. What there is, is the right of anyone to tell the government to take a flying jump (even if they work for it).

    Which is hilariously contradictory, seeing as how the federal government was given extremely limited powers to abuse the people, simple because the founders knew and wished to protect us FROM people like Lerner, who exist solely to sadistically abuse the people for fun, profit, and Democrat party electioneering. In their wisdom, they knew that the corrupting influence of power over others is irresistible, and thus, depriving them of power, and keeping the citizens armed and fully capable of self defense was probably the only means of retaining any semblance of a civilization and justice.

  228. MARK TRAINA says:

    LOIS LERNER gets a COMPLETE MAKE-OVER in 2014

    LOIS LERNER is lookin GREAT in 2014!

    LILY WHITE LIBERAL LIAR LOIS LERNER-UP-CLOSE and very PERSONAL:
    http://www.tpnn.com/2014/04/16/bombshell-lois-lerner-tried-to-get-obama-doj-and-fec-to-also-attack-tea-party-groups/

    LOIS LERNER CRASHES and BURNS under the OBAMABUST!

    OBAMABUST – defined – the OBAMABUST is going to CRASH, the question is just how many LIBERAL DEMOCRATS are going to be RIDING on the OBAMABUST when it CRASHES and BURNS! There is a good CHANCE the AMERCICAN PUBLIC is going to TURN-OFF and SHUT DOWN the ZIONNIST LIBERAL MEDIA as well.

    NATIONAL ASSOCIATION for the ADVANCEMENT of WHITE PEOPLE

  229. Ken White says:

    Now and then I let a really crazy one through so you all can see what's out there.

  1. March 5, 2014

    […] Lois Lerner, the former IRS official at the center of the IRS controversy over the targeting of Tea Party groups, took the fifth amendment again today, causing a contentious end to the hearings. There's been a lot of foolishness thrown around in the wake of this. I'll point you, once again, to Ken at Popehat […]

  2. March 6, 2014

    […] take note of what Ken White said yesterday at […]

  3. March 7, 2014

    […] From Ken White at Popehat. […]

  4. April 10, 2014

    […] Ken White of Popehat sifted through precedent on this issue last month and came to this conclusion: […]

  5. April 10, 2014

    […] I've already discussed the legal issues surrounding the claim that Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment privilege before, here and here, and California attorney Ken White discussed the issue last week at his blog Popehat: […]