About NewYorkLibertarian

I am a transplanted New Yorker living and working in Brooklyn. I have a BA, a JD, and a few opinions. this blog is not affiliated with any political party. I, as the author, am not personally affiliated with any political party.

501(c)(3) Social Welfare Organizations

One idea that has been kicking around in my head is blogging about an organizations attempts to gain 501(c)(3) status.  I am currently researching what it takes for an organization to seek such status and the requirements for the application.  If I find that this is something that will be worthwhile I will attempt to live blog the application process.

DOJ Story to Date

So far this seems to be the thrust of the DOJ story.

The damage that these actions will do to the true administration of justice will be felt for years to come.

 

New York Times Discriminates

The New York Times decided to delve into whether or not some of the Tea Party groups that were discriminated against nonetheless deserved it.  This article is a look at those who got caught up in a discriminatory scheme.  The article pushes the notion that some of those who were discriminated against based on their ideology actually deserved the scrutiny.

The true story is that people were discriminated against.  The story is not that some of those that were discriminated against actually deserved the extra scrutiny.

It reminds me of the controversial “stop and frisk” program initiated by the New York City Police Department.  The New York Times has discussed this policy in its reporting and on its editorial page.  In the non-editorial article cited here, J. David Goodman specifically included in his report the allegation by Mayor Bloomberg that the paper ignores the stories of those whom the policy saved or caught.

It seems to me that the New York Times is fairly hoisted upon its own petard.  In the IRS case they look at the victims of profiling and say that some deserved extra scrutiny irregardless of the discrimination.  In the “stop and frisk” story they refuse to look at those who were profiled and deserved the police attention irregardless of the discrimination.

I wish that the New York Times would universally accept that arguments in favor of discrimination based on the effectiveness of the discrimination must fail.  The New York Times does not accept the argument for race based discrimination and it should not, but it does, accept the argument for ideology based discrimination.

What I think this really shows, at its core, is the ideological filters at the paper.  They don’t treat claims of discrimination uniformly.  If there is a claim of race discrimination it is treated differently than if there is a claim of ideological discrimination.

As a side note, some may argue that the reporting on the specific IRS groups that claim discriminatory behavior by the government is merely good reporting.  They could argue that this type of reporting is merely showing all sides of what has transpired.  This could be acceptable if that same standard was used in other arenas such as in the “stop and frisk” arena. As I always say, what is sauce for the goose is also sauce for the gander.

Republican Overreach

I know, I know nobody warned about Democrat overreach during Abu Ghraib.  The problem is that the Obama Administration is deft at information control.  Remember the Obama birth certificate issue?  Obama watched as many people created theories about his birth.  He knew they were wrong, but instead of squashing this he allowed it to fester and grow.  Then he put out the document and labelled all republicans as conspiracy theorists.  It is working well for him currently as he argues that the  republican response to the scandals in Washington are nothing more than politics and conspiracy theorists.

The republicans need to remember this and wait until the facts are out.  Overreach is going to be the mantra.  Barack Obama controls the information.  The mainstream media will do everything in their power to point out every claim by republicans that ends up being incorrect.

The boy who cried wolf is instructive.  When it is real it will be that much harder to convince America.  Get to the bottom first, then lay blame.  The President will easily make you look bad later if the facts don’t add up to speculation.  That is not necessarily fair.  The mainstream media will be happy to help him out.  This will also be good for you when a republican is in charge and a scandal happens.

 

The Real Scandal?

I keep hearing that the real scandal involving the IRS is that there are these groups out there speaking without disclosing their names.  The real scandal is groups that are not paying taxes and speaking about politics.

This is disgusting.  We have a little thing called freedom of speech.  Thomas Payne’s Common Sense was initially published anonymously.  Anonymous speech scares the heck out of the government.  It erodes their power.  It is a good for the people.  Anyone who says the real problem is untaxed, anonymous speech is pushing a very scary argument.  When people hear anonymous speech than can discount it because they aren’t allowed to judge the reliability of the speaker.  The government has decided, in the name of free and fair elections, that they can ultimately restrict how one speaks.  This is not the governments role.

Meet the Press?

David Gregory is a good journalist.  This can be seen when he is interviewing republicans.  David Gregory is a third-rate hack journalist.  This can be seen when he is interviewing White House staff like Dan Pfieffer.

Dan Pfieffer was asked about all three current scandals.  He was allowed to give an answer and some follow up questions were asked to elucidate the points made.  He was barely challenged or pushed.  Then Senator McConnell was up.  David Gregory was pulling quotes from 1987.  He was combative.  He didn’t allow any explanation go unquestioned.

When interviewing republicans Mr. Gregory looked like Joe Montana leading his press team down the field.  When interviewing Dan Pfieffer he looked like Al Bundy reminiscing about his high school football days.

We should realize that politics drives news coverage.  It is inevitable.  If anybody told you Fox News or MSNBC didn’t push a certain ideology then you would laugh.  Why then does NBC, CBS, and ABC get a pass?  They push themselves as non-partisan watchdogs.  It is obvious that this is not true.  They are more ideologically receptive to liberal arguments.  That is who they are.  That is life.  The disservice they are doing is when they try to hide this.  I know when watching Fox News and MSNBC to discount what they say based on their ideology.  When watching NBC, CBS, and ABC we have to guess at to what part ideology plays.  That is a problem.  This is why people question when the heads of these news divisions are related to people high up in the administration.

The Threat of Bureaucracy

It is quite disheartening to watch this IRS scandal unfold.  We see the defense by the government taking shape.  Depending on where you sit in the executive branch effects the given excuse.  Let’s start at the at the lowest level and work our way up.  The NYTimes wrote a good article basically laying out the ineptitude defense.  Let us assume that this defense holds true and it was just some bumbling employees in Cincinnati that somehow don’t realize that targeting groups based on their ideology is wrong.  (Of course it could go up to the top, but we don’t know yet.)

At a minimum we have to hire better people.  If these units are staffed by incompetents then they need to be dismissed.  Also, it is obvious that there is no managerial control.  A group can target an ideology for years, through an election, and nobody puts a halt to it.

Furthermore, if this defense works then we have a larger problem.  We have a giant unaccountable bureaucracy.  We see that the bureaucracy can violate your rights.  They can target you based on ideology.  When this happens the Presidents claims that he is not responsible because the IRS is independent.  I understand the independence was created due to political interference, but it also rids the executive of  accountability for its own agencies.

We have three branches of government: executive, legislative, and judicial. Apparently our government has created a fourth branch: bureaucracy.  It is not accountable to anyone.  The President has the temerity to defend his white house by stating that he had no idea until the newspapers reported the story.  Our Constitution set up not just a system of government but a system of accountability.  It was open and honest so the people could make informed decisions on whom they wanted to elect.  These giant bureaucracies, the IRS is just one of them, threaten our freedoms.

Also, as a side note, everybody says the President is angry and looking to make sure this does not happen again.  How can he say that when he could not stop the first one?  Remember, he was allegedly a bystander by law.

Drone Warfare and Benghazi

As more details emerge about Obama’s drone policy, a more worrisome picture seems to be developing.  It is hard to intelligently discuss a policy that is being purposely kept from even top lawmakers.  However, when details do leak out they seem to paint an ugly picture.

Even though there are a myriad of topics that could be discussed on this issue I’ll just point out one inconsistency that seems to have cropped up in my mind. In the aftermath of the Benghazi attack the administration seemed to be arguing that drone footage alone does not give you an accurate picture of what is what is happening on the ground and because of this further intelligence is needed to act.  However, when targeting persons for death who are not in a theatre of war the administration seems to have no problem relying on drone video alone.

Again, without accurate information outlining the policy, its justifications, and its actual uses this is all just speculation.  Hopefully, if enough inconsistencies emerge then Congress will have enough popular support to actually force the White House to participate in meaningful oversight.

What can be stated now is that the administration’s refusal to share information with Congress is unacceptable.  The administration seems to conflate the executive branch’s broad authority on foreign affairs into the authority to hide its actions from Congress.  Just because you have the authority to set the policy and make the decision does not mean that you have the authority to hide the facts.

Keynesian Benefits?

I was recently reading this New York Times article.  The article was discussing unemployment benefit cutbacks for people who have already received 26 weeks of unemployment benefits.  That is, people who have been on unemployment for six and one half months. The main subject of the article was having her benefits cut back some forty-four dollars after six and a half months.

What really caught my attention was a particular sentence.  Ms. Cozart felt that the cutbacks were “really dumb and really mean, given that everybody knows that unemployment benefits stimulate the economy.”   The article seems to accept that statement as an obvious truth.  Is it?

I would think this would have been a great opportunity to investigate that allegation.  Ms. Cozart claims that she spends every dollar she gets from the government.  So the question that remains unanswered is what does it cost to get her one dollar of benefits?  If it costs the government one dollar and fifty cents to get her that one dollar then there is a net loss to the economy of fifty cents.  Not to mention every dollar she spends will have to be taxed to create the very benefits she uses.  If each dollar represents a fifty cent loss to the economy then her argument is dubious at best.  The New York Times fails to even consider this in their article.

If her thinking is erroneous, which the New York Times doesn’t seem to care about, then the errors she is making are compounded.  If she thinks her actions, taking unemployment benefits and spending them, are a net gain to the economy then her interest in getting off the government program is lessened.  We see this very type of disincentive with the other person in the article who decides against taking a minimum wage job because she takes home more money in unemployment benefits then she would with a minimum wage job.

The real point is that this article belongs in the opinion section of the paper.  A real news item would deal with where the money comes from, where it goes, the effects of those decisions, and possible policy alternatives.  This article is an attempt to make the reader feel bad for the person whose benefit is cut.  It does a disservice when it is pushed as news as opposed to opinion.

Tax Day For Me

Today I filed my federal and state income tax returns.  It’s always interesting to learn exactly how much of my money goes to the government.  This year I paid 29.79% of my income in state, federal, and local taxes.  Of course, this is excluding all of the fees, surcharges, sales taxes, and other various items of taxation.  This means that I work approximately 4 months out of the year for “the common good.”  I understand that roads need to be built.  I understand that a standing military is a necessity.  I also understand that  assistance to the poor is a necessity.  However, it seems to me that a bipartisan consensus can be formed around eliminating all forms of government waste. Senator Coburn and the GAO have found billions of dollars of waste in our federal programs.  The government needs to get its house in order and root out this waste.  Then we can then root out the fraudsters. The billions saved would be well worth the effort and may help me get back a portion of those four months.