The deteriorating developments on Benghazi, the Internal Revenue Service and the Justice Department’s Associated Press probe all offer a vivid, daily tutorial on the pitfalls of unlimited government. The dangers of America’s bloated, bullying state are inescapable.
• Big Government often hammers its foes.
As horrified Americans have learned, the IRS targeted at least 471 conservative organizations for tough treatment. As the IRS’ inspector general explained, these included self-identified tea party and “patriot” groups and those “focused on government spending, government debt, taxes and education on ways to ‘make America a better place to live.’” The IRS reportedly approved zero Tea Party tax-exemption applications for 27 months beginning in February 2010. Some applicants abandoned their ambitions.
Meanwhile, the IRS inappropriately asked these groups for donors’ lists, public-policy opinions and the names of board members’ relatives who might seek public office.
A chilling Politico.com story contends that a “special unit” at IRS has scrutinized Jewish institutions. It asked one: “Describe your organization’s religious belief system toward the land of Israel.” A pro-Israel group called Z Street complained that IRS inquired whether its activities “contradict the administration’s public policies.”
• Big Government usually helps its friends.
“As applications from conservative groups sat in limbo, groups with obviously liberal names were approved in as little as nine months,” USA Today reported Tuesday.
According to Charles C. Johnson of The Daily Caller.com, the Barack H. Obama Foundation — directed by Abongo Malik Obama, the president’s half-brother — filed IRS Form 990s for 2008 through 2010 in May 2011. It then scored 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status on June 26, 2011, retroactive to April 30, 2008. The reputedly Virginia-based foundation won this valuable designation without registering with state authorities.
The IRS also sent ProPublica, a liberal news organization, the confidential, unapproved nonprofit applications of nine conservative groups. ProPublica redacted financial information and then published six of these forms.
• Big Government overreaches.
On national security grounds, the Justice Department justifies snatching two months of phone records associated with the Associated Press. This includes 20 office, home and cellphone numbers. Justice appears to be investigating a leak related to al-Qaida’s attempt to bomb a U.S.-bound plane in 2012. However, Justice is using a paint roller where a fine brush might do. It evidently ran roughshod over its own guidelines, which require a more limited search, and only after requesting such records.
• Big Government lies through its teeth.
Once public servants conclude that the public serves them, they soon hold the people in contempt. At that point, why bother to tell them the truth?
Thus, Obama stood before the White House press corps on Monday and declared about the events in Benghazi last Sept. 11: “The day after it happened, I acknowledged that this was an act of terrorism.”
However, The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler reported in his “Fact Checker” column that Obama broadly denounced “terror” just after Benghazi, but refused to call that attack an act of terrorism. Then, over the next two weeks — on “60 Minutes,” “The View,” “Late Show with David Letterman,” on Univision and before the United Nations — Obama cited that now clearly irrelevant anti-Muslim video as well as his uncertainty in light of ongoing investigations. But he did not pin Benghazi on an act of terrorism.
This earned Obama four out of four Pinocchios, The Post column’s distinction for big-time lies.
“What we see emerging here is a pattern, a culture, a culture of intimidation, of hardball politics that we saw both on the campaign trail and now through the apparatus of government,” Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) told the Senate last week. “These are the tactics of the Third World.”
Deroy Murdock is a Scripps Howard News Service columnist, Fox News commentator and media fellow with Stanford University’s Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace.