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“Papers Please”: Remember What Happened The Last Time A Republican President Had A ‘Round Up Of Illegal’ Immigrants?

Ed Kilgore is right to be…um…”skeptical” that Peggy Noonan has tapped into some great Latino love for Donald Trump. She found one Dominican who is angry at illegal immigrants. Noonan bought his story because that’s what she wants to believe.

But I’ll give you one good reason why most brown people (Latino as well as other nationalities) in this country are terrified of what Donald Trump is saying he would do. It’s because some of them (and a few of us) remember what happened the last time a Republican president decided to round up a bunch of illegal immigrants and ship them home. We remember because it wasn’t that long ago.

Here’s what happened when ICE raided Howard Industries in Laurel, MS in 2008.

ICE´s approach humiliated all Latino workers in the plant with their Racial Profiling. Witnesses said ICE provided all White and Black workers Blue Armbands. All the Latino workers were put in line and forced to prove their legal status. ICE, in their uniforms and wearing side arms, caused ALL Latino workers to shiver in fear as they went through this ritual. The exits were sealed. Some Latino workers were sprayed with Mace.

Here’s how an ACLU press release (link no longer available) described what happened.

“We are deeply concerned by reports that workers at the factory where the raid occurred were segregated by race or ethnicity and interrogated, the factory was locked down for several hours, workers were denied access to counsel, and ICE failed to inform family members and lawyers following the raid where the workers were being jailed,” said Monica Ramirez, a staff attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project who has traveled to Mississippi to meet with family members and lawyers about the government’s actions.

So you see, brown people know that if Trump’s plan to “deport ’em all” was ever implemented, they’re all likely to be subjected to “papers please” interrogations – regardless of their legal status. It hasn’t been that long since that is exactly what happened in this country.


By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, August 29, 2015

August 30, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, Immigrants, Immigration | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Tapping A Dry Well”: Darrell Issa Seeks New Angle On Discredited IRS Controversy

Remember how the IRS “scandal” first started? The inspector general for the IRS issued a report pointing to special scrutiny applied to Tea Party groups, but ignoring comparable scrutiny of progressive organizations. Why didn’t IG J. Russell George provide a more accurate report highlighting trouble for groups on both sides? According to the IG himself, congressional Republicans told him to paint an incomplete picture on purpose.

The result was something of a fiasco: a controversy erupted to great fanfare, but then collapsed when we realized Tea Partiers hadn’t been singled out for unfair treatment, and liberal and non-political groups faced similar IRS scrutiny. The whole “scandal” was a mirage that quickly faded.

But Republicans don’t want to let go, especially after all the fun they had in May. So what happens now? As Dave Weigel reported, House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and his allies now want another “narrowly-focused” investigation from the IG’s office.

In a letter from Issa and Rep. Jim Jordan, the IG is being asked to dig into reports of tax-exempt conservative groups being subjected to audits. Based on information from conservative non-profits like the Free Congress Foundation, the Leadership Institute, and the Clare Booth Luce Institute, Issa and Jordan ask the IG whether any groups were targeted “for audits or examination based on their political beliefs or ideology.” The answers on this in the first investigation were inconclusive, as were the stories, but they should be grist for something. […]

The last couple of months suggest where this is heading. The Leadership Institute is obviously conservative, and run by longtime RNC committeeman Morton Blackwell, but plenty of liberal groups with 501 statuses are run by partisans — and they weren’t audited in 2011 or 2012, were they?

I’ve seen some suggestion that this means the IRS story is “expanding.” That’s a nice spin, but it’s wrong — this isn’t expansion, it’s redirection.

Issa kept trying to tap a dry well, to the point at which most sensible people decided it was time to ignore him. Desperate, the California Republican has begun digging again, assuring the political world that maybe this time he’ll find something useful.

Perhaps Fox and Peggy Noonan will find these partisan antics compelling, but I’m at a loss to explain why.


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, July 30, 2013

July 31, 2013 Posted by | Internal Revenue Service, Politics | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“When A Bombshell Is A Dud”: Republicans Don’t Seem To Realize The Extent To Which They Are Embarrassing Themselves

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), struggling to shake his well-deserved reputation as a “laughably inept” clown, did his level best this week to revive the discredited IRS “scandal.” Relying on a partial transcript — one of his favorite tactics — Issa fed the media what he said was a scoop.

When IRS officials in Cincinnati needed guidance on how to deal with questionable tax-exempt applications, they solicited feedback from the agency’s Washington office. Among those who weighed in was the IRS’s lawyer, which obviously makes sense given the circumstances.

The Wall Street Journal‘s Peggy Noonan, whose uncontrollable contempt for President Obama has become difficult to watch, found this revelation fascinating.

The IRS scandal was connected this week not just to the Washington office — that had been established — but to the office of the chief counsel.

That is a bombshell — such a big one that it managed to emerge in spite of an unfocused, frequently off-point congressional hearing…. Still, what landed was a bombshell. And Democrats know it.


It troubles me that the right doesn’t realize the extent to which it’s embarrassing itself. The revelation isn’t a “bombshell”; it’s trivia we learned in mid-May. Indeed, Peggy Noonan herself knows this. I don’t mean she should know this; I mean there’s evidence she literally knows it — she wrote a column in May that referenced the same boring tidbit she now considers a “bombshell.”

Here’s what probably happened. Noonan learned a fairly mundane detail in May and wrote about it in a column. Then she forgot it. Two months later, Darrell Issa said he wants the media to take the mundane detail seriously for no particular reason, and Noonan, unwilling to reference her own work, rediscovers her fascination with the unimportant point.

Ben Smith recently characterized Noonan as the “last interesting columnist standing.” If by “interesting” he meant “lazy and blindly partisan,” I’m inclined to agree.

Of course, Noonan isn’t the only Republican who’s failing miserably to revive the ridiculous IRS “scandal.”

Issa’s hearing was itself an attempt to convince the political world the story still deserves to be taken seriously. It arguably had the opposite of the intended effect.

The inspector general behind the critical report about the IRS’ targeting of tea party groups acknowledged Thursday that the information in his report was not complete.

J. Russell George, the IRS inspector general, told the House Oversight Committee that only in the past few weeks has he become aware of documents showing that the IRS screened progressive groups in addition to conservative ones. George said he was “disturbed” by the fact that these documents were not provided to his team of investigators prior to the audit’s release and that he was continuing to investigate the issue.

“I am concerned that there may be additional pieces of information that we don’t have,” he said. “I’m very concerned about that sir.”

Oh, you mean “additional pieces of information” such as the fact that liberal groups were subjected to the same scrutiny as conservative groups? And there was no targeting of conservative organizations? And that politics had nothing to do with the added scrutiny?

And that this entire controversy is based on a report that by its author’s own admission, presents an inaccurate picture of reality?

Perhaps my favorite moment of yesterday’s hearing came when George was asked why his report failed to mention that he found literally zero evidence of political motivations on the part of the IRS, even after he reviewed 5,500 emails on the matter. George responded that he couldn’t have known “if there was an email that was destroyed.”

Oh my.

Making matters much worse, the hearing devolved into farce when Issa accused Oversight Committee Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), who is African American, of reminding him of a “little boy.” Issa later clarified he didn’t mean for the comment to sound so racist.

I’m not going to say the IRS scandal is officially over now, because for anyone who gives a darn about reality, this point came and went weeks ago. I will say that to continue to believe this story has merit and deserves to be taken seriously is deeply, painfully foolish.


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, July 19, 2013

July 21, 2013 Posted by | Republicans | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Targeting Conservative And Liberal Groups Alike”: The So-Called IRS Scandal Ends With a Whimper

With Edward Snowdon on his whirlwind tour of countries unfriendly to the United States and the Supreme Court handing down a bunch of important decisions, this is a good week for stories to get lost in the back pages. So you may not have noticed that late yesterday, the IRS scandal, supposedly Worse Than Watergate™, came to a sputtering halt with the release of new documents in the investigation. The whole scandal, you’ll recall, is about how conservative groups applying for 501(c)(4) status were given extra scrutiny, while other kinds of groups just slid by. Well, it turns out, not so much:

The instructions that Internal Revenue Service officials used to look for applicants seeking tax-exempt status with “Tea Party” and “Patriots” in their titles also included groups whose names included the words “Progressive” and “Occupy,” according to I.R.S. documents released Monday.

The documents appeared to back up contentions by I.R.S. officials and some Democrats that the agency did not intend to single out conservative groups for special scrutiny. Instead, the documents say, officials were trying to use “key word” shortcuts to find overtly political organizations — both liberal and conservative — that were after tax favors by saying they were social welfare organizations.

But the practice appeared to go much farther than that. One such “be on the lookout” list included medical marijuana groups, organizations that were promoting President Obama’s health care law, and applications that dealt “with disputed territories in the Middle East.”

Taken together, the documents seem to change the terms of a scandal that exploded over accusations that the I.R.S. had tried to stifle a nascent conservative political movement. Instead, the dispute now revolves around questionable sorting tactics used by I.R.S. application screeners.

Questionable sorting tactics! Not quite the scandal of the century. So why did the Inspector General’s report that started this whole thing characterize it only as the singling out of conservative groups, ignoring the fact that liberal groups got treated unfairly too, and with the same means, the BOLO (“be on the lookout” memo) that instructed agents to give special scrutiny to certain kinds of groups? Steve Benen points out that the Inspector General (IG) was responding to a request from Darrell Issa to investigate the treatment of conservative groups, so that’s the likely reason his inquiry was restricted in that way. So Issa first asked the IG for a restricted investigation, then he released excerpts of interviews with IRS officials cherry-picked to make things look worse than they actually were, and now this.

But this “scandal” was already dying. Despite the most fervent wishes of conservatives, there hasn’t been any actual evidence showing that orders to crush the Tea Party came right from the White House. So in the last few weeks they’ve been reduced to arguing that there was a conspiracy of winks and nods, whereby everybody just knew what to do, even if nobody actually told anybody what to do. President Obama gave a speech criticizing “dark money,” and IRS agents swung into action! Or maybe there was a real conspiracy, but we just haven’t found it yet despite all the looking (“Some person or persons made the decision to target, harass, delay and abuse,” wrote Peggy Noonan. “Some person or persons communicated the decision. Some persons executed them.”). You can sustain that for a while, but eventually, you have to produce something real. You can’t just speculate forever.

And frankly, I’m not sure there’s anything wrong with these BOLO lists per se. If you have a situation where a bunch of similar groups are being created all at the same time and they all appear to be political groups masquerading as social welfare organizations, it’s perfectly reasonable to group them together and have the same agents develop an understanding of what they do and whether they deserve tax-exempt status. The problem isn’t that they got put into a pile, it’s what happens afterward. And what’s been really appalling from what we’ve learned is that the IRS agents seemed to have only the barest understanding of what the law was and how they were supposed to apply it. Maybe once this is all over, we can get around to fixing that.


By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, June 25, 2013

June 26, 2013 Posted by | Internal Revenue Service, Republicans | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Hoping No One Will Know The Difference”: Conservatives Shift Gears On IRS To “Income Tax Audits”

Something odd happened to Barack Obama’s approval rating last week: nothing. With a bunch of controversies swirling about the administration, one might think Americans would be thinking less of his performance. Yet the latest polls from Gallup and CNN both show his job approval essentially unchanged, at just at or above 50 percent.

So far anyway, these “scandals” are, like most scandals, an almost completely partisan phenomenon. Yes, there are some—Watergate, Iran-Contra—where the facts are so damning and undeniable that even the president’s own party can’t help but acknowledge them. But Benghazi and the IRS are not Watergate or Iran-Contra. Perhaps they’ll turn out to be, if we find out something completely shocking. Perhaps we’ll discover that Barack Obama is on tape personally ordering the Cincinnati IRS office to put the screws to Tea Party groups, just as Richard Nixon was on tape ordering his aides to get the IRS to audit his political opponents. But that hasn’t happened yet.

So conservatives are trying something new. If you were paying close attention the last couple of days, you saw them bringing up a new charge, one unrelated to the actual controversy: IRS income-tax audits. At first glance that may seem strange. After all, there hasn’t been any evidence that anyone was audited because of their political beliefs or activities. This controversy is about political groups being given undue scrutiny when they applied for 501(c)(4) status as “social welfare” organizations. The part of the agency that carries out those reviews doesn’t audit individuals’ tax returns. Yet here was Peggy Noonan, claiming “The IRS scandal has two parts. The first is the obviously deliberate and targeted abuse, harassment and attempted suppression of conservative groups. The second is the auditing of the taxes of political activists.” The “evidence” for Noonan’s explosive charge is that she read about a couple of conservatives who were among the 1.5 million Americans who were audited by the IRS last year (read Nate Silver for more on how unbelievably stupid Noonan’s allegation is). Here‘s an account of the weekend’s Virginia GOP convention, at which a whole slate of Tea Partiers was selected to run in November’s elections there: “By being here today, every one of you has just signed up for an audit by the I.R.S.,’ Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, said in a keynote speech. ‘You are officially now on the White House enemies list.'”

We’ll be hearing more of these stories. Because after all, if 1.5 million Americans were audited last year, plenty of them were conservatives. And plenty of those will be happy to tell their stories to Fox News or Rush Limbaugh or Peggy Noonan. “I signed up for my local Tea Party, and not six months later the IRS came after me!” they’ll say. Some of these stories will be told in high-profile forums, and others in more obscure outlets; for instance, here’s a conservative writer telling her tale of oppression to the Catholic News Agency. During her audit, she says, “They only wanted to talk about who was paying me to do my writing.” Really? “Hendershott said that the questions were not explicitly political, but she interpreted them to mean the agency was ‘wanting to know if there were individuals or groups who wanted me to write to advance their cause.'” Maybe. Or maybe because she’s a writer and they were auditing her income taxes, they were asking her who paid her to write because that’s where she gets her income. Just tossing that out there.

It’s pretty obvious what’s going on here. On one hand, nobody likes the IRS, so people are ready to believe the worst about the agency’s activities. On the other hand, getting your 501(c)(4) application subjected to unusual scrutiny is not something most people can relate to. Even worse, the reporting that’s emerging about the IRS office in Cincinnati (see here) paints a picture not of some coordinated effort at political oppression, but of a bunch of overworked, ill-trained people who barely understood the standards they were supposed to apply to these applications and didn’t get the support they needed from Washington. They ended up acting inappropriately, but it wasn’t a criminal conspiracy, and it didn’t reach up to the heights of power.

For conservatives, that’s not a very satisfying story. But they know that everyone fears getting their tax returns audited. So why not just tell everyone that’s what happened?

By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, May 20, 2013

May 22, 2013 Posted by | Conservatives, Internal Revenue Service | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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