As long as there has been an America, there has been a curmudgeonly streak in our politics that views any government imposition as tyrannical no matter how beneficial our politicians may think it to be. Our Founders fought a revolution against King George; not even a decade later, Daniel Shays led an armed rebellion against harsh taxes levied by his fellow Americans. A few years later the Whiskey Rebellion showed that the issues hadn't gone away; it took the moral authority of President George Washington to put the genie back in the bottle.
The true moral greatness of Washington is well illustrated by how he handled the Whiskey Rebellion: yes, he gathered an army to put down the uprising, but he also sent peace commissioners to negotiate with the aggrieved protesters. By the time the army arrived, the protesters had agreed to go home; the ringleaders were arrested and put on trial, but were acquited or pardoned. This upheld both liberty and the rule of law.
Washington had established two key principles: yes, citizens do have to pay their taxes, but the government is obliged to respect public concerns. The Whiskey Tax stayed around just long enough to make the point, and then was repealed.
Contrast this nobility of spirit and leadership with the astonishing arrogance on display by IRS Commissioner John Koskinen while testifying under oath before Congress! As a "public servant" charged with faithfully executing the duly-passed laws of the United States, not only is Congress his direct boss, but Congress is the directly elected representatives of his ultimate bosses, the American people.
It is now a proven fact that the IRS did, in fact, intentionally discriminate against conservative Tea Party activist groups for the express intention of hampering their ability to make their views known before the 2012 election. This is no longer under serious debate; the Inspector General's report said as much.
Such perfidy and such arrogance strikes at the very heart of democracy. It is absolutely essential for agents of the government to treat citizens equally without regard to their political opinions. We rightly condemn discrimination by race or gender, but political opinions are an even more essential fundamental freedoms.
When the most powerful and feared government agency whose employees not only live off our tax money but also collect our personal taxes uses its awesome power to crush groups which advocate lower taxes, that goes beyond a horrific conflict of interest. It's tyranny, pure and simple; as the Wall Street Journal opined, it's far worse than Watergate.
We all know that power corrupts, so for unfireable government bureaucrats to be so utterly corrupted isn't wholly surprising. What's stunning is the shamelessness shown by their leaders and the blatancy of the coverup.
We know that IRS executive Lois Lerner led the biased, partisan, illegal witch-hunt against Tea Party groups. We know she believes she committed crimes, that's what it means to plead the Fifth Amendment - you do that when you know if you speak the truth, you'll be confessing guilt to a crime, so you shut up.
We also know, on some level, Barack Obama himself understands the severity of what the IRS did. When news of the scandal broke, he said:
If in fact IRS personnel engaged in the kind of practices that have been reported on and were intentionally targeting conservative groups, then that's outrageous and there's no place for it.
The then-head of the IRS resigned in the wake of the scandal; Mr. Koskinen was appointed with the specific remit to get to the bottom of what went on.
And what did he have to say to Congress?
In a stunning admission under questioning from Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, Koskinen divulged that the IRS made no effort to recover Lerner’s email archive from the six month backups after her initial computer problems in June of 2011. [emphasis added]
Lois Lerner has the Constitutional right not to incriminate herself, but the forces of law have every right to collect other, independent evidence of her crimes. Obviously, the record of her emails would show what she told who to do when, and even more importantly, if perhaps there were other higher authorities giving her illegal orders.
What a strange coincidence, then, that her hard drive should abruptly fail! And how astonishing that IRS Commissioner Koskinen didn't even ask about checking the backup tapes until they had, again oh-so-conveniently, been destroyed! No wonder that, as Rep Paul Ryan pointed out to him, "Nobody believes you!" And dare we mention the fact that Mr. Koskinen has donated around $100,000 to Democrats and $0 to Republicans?
Where are we today? Under pointed questioning by Congress, the Archivist of the United States was forced to grudgingly admit that the IRS "did not follow the law," which requires that a) government agencies store all emails and b) if for some reason they lose them, immediately to notify the Archivist. The IRS did neither.
In a sense, it really doesn't matter what the IRS did or why they did it. As Hillary Clinton would say, "What difference, at this point, does it make?" We are long past the realm of an ordinary scandal of government malfeasance and corruption.
What we have before us is a government bureaucracy that thumbs its collective nose at the American people, at their elected representatives, and at the law. Koskinen knows he has lied under oath. He knows he has broken the law. He knows, or thinks he knows, that he will pay no penalty whatsoever for doing either.
Since he did this all on national TV, every other bureaucrat in the United States now knows this too.
Whether by accident or by design, Mr. Koskinen has set up a personal litmus test for American democracy and the rule of law. If we are to be a nation of laws, or even to be able to make that claim without laughing out loud, Mr. Koskinen personally must be imprisoned for hard time, stripped of his pension, and bankrupted by civil lawsuits for dereliction of duty and every other charge that imaginative prosecutors come up with.
Otherwise? Well, in that case, we'll be confronted with a massed army of bureaucrats, hundreds of thousands strong and with countless trillions of your forcibly-extracted dollars at their back, who now know that they quite literally answer to no one outside their own hierarchy, and are responsible for obeying no laws of any kind.
If that's not a tyranny, we don't know what is. They truly will be our masters, not even bothering to mask it.
Over the past five years, the editors have been secretly working on a book that summarizes the fundamental viewpoints of Scragged.