Great moments in bureaucratic stupidity: requiring a disaster plan for a magician’s rabbit

June 30, 2013

And yet the bureaucracy wonders why we laugh and point at them. Magician Marty Hahne received a letter from the US Department of Agriculture ordering him to submit a disaster plan for the rabbit he uses in his act:

My USDA rabbit license requirement has taken another ridiculous twist. I just received an 8 page letter from the USDA, telling me that by July 29 I need to have in place a written disaster plan, detailing all the steps I would take to help get my rabbit through a disaster, such as a tornado, fire, flood, etc. They not only want to know how I will protect my rabbit during a disaster, but also what I will do after the disaster, to make sure my rabbit gets cared for properly.  I am not kidding–before the end of July I need to have this written rabbit disaster plan in place, or I am breaking the law.

Oh, he also has to prove he’s received training in how to implement Operation Save The Bunny.

My plan: In the event of disaster, Mr. Hippity-Hop is on his own.

File this under “Things so stupid, they have to be real.”

via Iowahawk

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

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Josef Stalin Would Have Admired the U.K.’s Government-Run Healthcare System

June 29, 2013

Hyperbole, but perhaps justified by the horror stories coming out of Britain’s NHS. I wonder how long it will take under Obamacare before we have our own to tell?

International Liberty

One of history’s worst butchers, Josef Stalin, is rumored to have said that, “The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic.”

Sadly, there’s probably some truth in that statement.

I’ve shared a bunch of horror stories about the U.K.’s government-run healthcare system (see here, here, here, here, here, herehereherehereherehereherehere, here and here) and I challenge you to read them without feeling some mix of anger, sadness, despair, and disgust.

Now read these passages from a story earlier this year in the UK-based Daily Mail.

As many as 1,165 people starved to death in NHS hospitals over the past four years… According to figures released by the Office for National Statistics following a Freedom of Information request, for every patient who dies…

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Immigration, the latest legislative farce

June 27, 2013

I’ve been taking a break, catching up on my reading, and a recent column by Andrew McCarthy reminded me of the disgust I felt at the shameful process by which Obamacare was passed, a feeling I’m experiencing again as the Senate moves closer to the passage of the 1,000+ pages-long immigration bill. So, I thought I’d share an excerpt from it that sums up my feelings quite nicely:

But there is a larger point: no “important legislation” should be 100 pages long, much less 1,200 (or the even more mind-boggling girth of monstrosities like Obamacare). The United States Constitution is about 4,500 words long — outfits like Cato and Heritage publish it in small pamphlets that can be read in a few minutes. Nowadays, not only are the bills so gargantuan that no one could conceivably master them and predict their consequences; each page produces even more pages of regulations. They can’t even be lifted, much less digested.

You cannot have a functioning democratic republic when the laws are so voluminous no one can know what the law is. And that is especially the case when (a) the rationale for passing new laws — according to “reform” proponents like Senator Marco Rubio and Rep. Paul Ryan — is that we don’t enforce the laws currently on the books; (b) key parts of legislation consist of commitments to do what previously enacted law already commands; and (c) the president, notwithstanding his oath to take care that the laws are faithfully executed, claims the power to refrain from enforcing whatever laws he disapproves of. Washington has made a farce of the legislative process and of the once proud boast that we are ”a nation of laws not men.”

Yep. My only quibble would be to add “Once again,…” to the start of the last sentence.

Then again, what’s the point of making it even just one page, when many don’t feel a need to even read the bills they’re voting on?

Shameful and disgraceful.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


IRS Inspector General calls acting IRS head, in effect, a liar

June 27, 2013

Following up on this item from a couple of days ago, in which the claim that the IRS had also asked inappropriate questioned and otherwise hassled progressive groups, as well as conservative and Tea Party organizations, was shown to be false by Eliana Johnson of National Review.

Now along comes to Inspector General to confirm that, no, progressive groups were not targeted the same way as groups on the Right. Not at all:

Liberal groups seeking tax-exempt status faced less IRS scrutiny than Tea Party groups, according to the Treasury Department’s inspector general.

J. Russell George, Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration, told Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) in a letter dated Wednesday that the IRS did not use inappropriate criteria to scrutinize groups with “progressives” in their name seeking tax-exempt status.

“Our audit did not find evidence that the IRS used the ‘progressives’ identifier as selection criteria for potential political cases between May 2010 and May 2012,” George wrote in the letter obtained by The Hill.

The inspector general stressed that 100 percent of the groups with “Tea Party,” “patriots” and “9/12” in their name were flagged for extra attention, while only 30 percent of the groups with “progress” or “progressive” were highlighted as potentially political. George’s letter does not say why the progressive groups were given extra scrutiny.

“While we have multiple sources of information corroborating the use of Tea Party and other related criteria we described in our report, including employee interviews, e-mails and other documents, we found no indication in any of these other materials that ‘progressives’ was a term used to refer cases for scrutiny for political campaign intervention,” George wrote to Levin, the top Democrat on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee.

Democrats are claiming that liberal groups were targeted, too, though the IG’s testimony shows that it was not nearly at the level at which conservative were culled. They’re also taking an awfully long time producing these targeted liberal groups.

But even if they do produce them, we know from Johnson’s investigations that, if progressive groups were set aside for special examination, they could still be approved by line agents; 501c applications from conservative groups, on the other hand, were all sent to Washington for “special review.”

Democrats on Ways and Means are right to challenge George over why his testimony has discrepancies; that’s part of the job, and no groups deserved to be subjected to intrusive questions, but it doesn’t change the fact of disparate treatment between liberal and conservative applications.

Of greater interest is how and why Acting Commissioner Werfel only recently found “liberal words” and why he didn’t know about the differences in handling. Why wasn’t this mentioned by Lois Lerner or former Commissioner Schulman?

Sounds to me like another desperate, busted distraction.

via Legal Insurrection, which has cruelly preserved a screen capture of the Left’s now-spoiled joy. Heh.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Scandalabra: another #IRS official takes the Fifth

June 26, 2013
"They took down Capone, but can they handle the IRS?"

“They took down Capone, but can they handle the IRS?”

But it’s not over targeting conservative groups: this one seems to be centered around good old-fashioned graft. Almost refreshing, really:

A Virginia company inappropriately secured contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars from the Internal Revenue Service based on false statements and personal ties to an IRS official, the top Republican investigator in the U.S. House of Representatives said on Tuesday.

A report issued by Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa of California said the IRS, which is embroiled in a series of unrelated controversies, awarded the contracts to computer networking and security company Strong Castle Inc.

The report said Strong Castle’s president, Braulio Castillo, relied on a friendship with an IRS contracting official, Gregory Roseman, to win business. It said the company made false statements to beat rivals for the work.

The cost of Strong Castle’s 2012 contracts to the IRS, including for work in future years, could reach nearly $500 million, the report said.

And, guess what, Rosenman’s lawyer has notified the committee he plans to take the Fifth. That’ll do wonders for the agency’s image.

Can anyone give me one good reason, even if we did maintain our Byzantine tax code, why we shouldn’t subject the IRS to Roman decimation, disband the survivors in disgrace, and then tear down their headquarters and salt the earth? They loathe more than half the population that employs them; they deny them equal treatment under the law based on their political beliefs; and apparently they’re steering public money to their buddies. (In return for…?)

And now they have the nerve to plead self-incrimination. Estes Kefauver, where are you when we need you?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the IRS and the Obama administration overall are making a better case for limited government than all the conservative and libertarian group combined have made over the past 20 years. Flat tax or fair tax, I don’t care which you replace the current income tax with, but it’s time to repeal the Sixteenth Amendment and abolish the IRS.

via PJM

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Parliament On A Knife Edge Part VIII – Panic Stations And A Palace Coup

June 26, 2013

Really interesting background piece on yesterday’s Labor Party coup in Australia, which saw former PM (and noted earwax-eater) Kevin Rudd topple PM Julia Gillard, who herself had ousted him a couple of years ago. Australians are among the nicest people you meet, but, as James Delingpole wrote, their intra-party politics make Game of Thrones seem bland by comparison. Recommended for all politics and backstabbing geeks.

Be Responsible - Be Free!

Punch and Judy

This has now gone so far beyond a joke that I hardly know where to start.

So much ink has been spilled by hoary press gallery veterans covering Labor’s leadership soap opera, that there is very little new that LibertyGibbert could possibly add. So I thought instead, I’d simply summarize the state of play for my (understandably bewildered) overseas readers. Feel free to switch off or scroll to the end if it becomes too tedious or repetitive—and believe me, folks, it does.

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Debunked: #IRS not targeting progressive groups like they did Tea Party groups

June 25, 2013

On Monday, The Hill and others carried a story that seemed to strongly change the narrative of the IRS “targeting scandal.” In testimony before the House Ways and Means committee, acting IRS head Danny Werfel said that the targeting had gone on longer than originally thought –into 2013– and that it had included liberal and progressive groups:

But Rep. Sandy Levin (Mich.), the top Democrat on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, said that the IRS told Congress for the first time on Monday that “progressive” was also a term used on BOLO lists. 

In a release, Ways and Means Democrats stressed that liberal groups were among almost 300 groups seeking tax-exempt status that Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration reviewed for the May audit outlining the targeting of Tea Party groups. 

Levin said Monday that the audit left that information out, and called for Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) to bring Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration Russell George back for more testimony. 

“The audit served as the basis and impetus for a wide range of Congressional investigations and this new information shows that the foundation of those investigations is flawed in a fundamental way,” Levin said in a statement.

This would seem to weaken at least one aspect of what has been a major scandal for the Obama administration, that conservative and Tea Party groups were singled out inappropriately for special attention that amounted to political harassment and a denial of equal treatment under the law, based on their political views. If left-liberal groups were given similar treatment, then the charge becomes one of mere bureaucratic incompetence, rather than political persecution. And it would tie in with the administration’s favorite defense in scandals: “We’re not evil. We’re just stupid.”

But… Not so fast.

Writing for National Review, Eliana Johnson looks at this new revelation and finds yet another smokescreen:

Acting IRS commissioner Danny Werfel on Monday told reporters that the now-infamous “Be On The Lookout” list was far broader than was originally disclosed in the Treasury Department inspector general’s report. Reports from outlets including the Associated Press, which I cited in my original report, and now Bloomberg News, confirmed Werfel’s account, indicating that various versions of the list not only included terms like “tea party,” but also “progressive,” “Occupy,” and “Israel.” 

A November 2010 version of the list obtained by National Review Online, however, suggests that while the list did contain the word “progressive,” screeners were in fact instructed to treat “progressive” groups differently from “tea party” groups. Whereas screeners were merely alerted that a designation of 501(c)(3) status “may not be appropriate” for applications containing the word ”progressive” – 501(c)(3) organizations are prohibited from conducting any political activities – they were told to send those of tea-party groups off IRS higher-ups for further scrutiny. 

That means the applications of progressive groups could be approved on the spot by line agents, while those of tea-party groups could not. Furthermore, the November 2010 list noted that tea-party cases were “currently being coordinated with EOT,” which stands for Exempt Organizations Technical, a group of tax lawyers in Washington, D.C. Those of progressive groups were not. 

In other words, “Nice try, Representative Levin, but you might want to contact the White House to find out what’s next on the list of distractions.”

This does raise several questions, though. First, Acting Commissioner Werfel surely had to know of the disparate treatment of conservative and liberal groups and its significance in this scandal. Why bring this up as if it was exculpatory? A little “suggestion” from the White House? It may be time for him to come back to testify under oath to explain himself.

Second, this scandal has been known for weeks, and there have been days of testimony by various Right-wing groups complaining about mistreatment by the IRS. If lefty groups were similarly picked on, where were they? Why didn’t they demand to be heard? Why didn’t the Democrats produce them as witnesses? Surely they deserve justice, too, don’t they?

As Johnson’s research shows, they weren’t at the hearing because they had no complaint. The bureaucracy wasn’t interfering with the exercise of their constitutional rights.

Just ours.

RELATED: Evidence shows 12 different IRS groups targeted conservatives across the land. Those “rogue agents” sure got around. Jay Cost on the need for bureaucratic reform to protect the republic.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)