Wednesday, June 5, 2013

McDermott: Tea Parties Asked For It

Dear Congressman McDermott:

I am writing to deplore your conduct at a hearing of the House Ways and Means Committee on Monday, June 3, 2013.

As a US citizen and voter in Washington State's 7th District, I am ashamed of what I saw you do in your official capacity as my representative in the US House of Representives.

Look, I'm a conservative and you are a liberal institution here in liberal North Seattle.  But what you did on Monday shamed every First Amendment believing liberal in the nation.  Or it should have done, for any liberal that had, at last, any sense of decency.

Of course, the funny thing is that the gist of your remarks amounted to the idea that the Tea Party groups that applied for 401(c)4 status behaved like a woman that "asks" to be raped.

And we know what liberals think about that.  Blaming the victim is the least of the judgments that liberals make on people that suggest, even obliquely, that a woman asks for trouble when, e.g., she dresses "provocatively."  It shouldn't matter how a woman is dressed.  Rape is rape.  Right?

How provocative is it to put "Tea Party" in the name of your organization!  Talk about push-up bras!

By the way.  I see that in IRS Publication 557, 401(c)4 groups are titled "Civic Leagues, Social Welfare Organizations, and Local Associations of Employees."  What part of that is relevant to the notion that "if you didn’t come in and ask for this tax break, you never would have had a question asked of you"?

You see, Congressman, it matters a lot how an organization is registered with the government, and the Tea Partiers know it.  It's not just a question of tax-deductible contributions, or exemptions from income tax.  Tea Partiers know that you liberal chaps want to legislate lots of laws around the actions of corporations influencing elections, particularly corporations organized for the purpose of political education and persuasion.  In fact, I thought that you chaps want to overturn the Citizens United decision on corporate donations and electioneering.  Remember, Citizens United wasn't a grocery store that decided to get involved in changing the plastic bag law.  It was a corporation of concerned citizens that wanted to play in the public square on public issues.

So it is rather important for any "civic league" to make sure that it has ticked the right boxes with the government.  Otherwise the IRS or the FEC or the EPA or OSHA or ATF might come calling.  Golly, they did!  Especially since the folks at the Obama administration get really interested in the dotted "i"s and crossed "t"s of conservative organizations and conservative people when they get anywhere near public advocacy.  Hey, Lois!  How yer doin' babe?

Oh, I know what you were doing on Monday.  I understand completely.  You Dems are really worried about the air going out of the balloon of liberal enthusiasm.  With the IRS hearings droning on, day after day, and Jay Leno getting big applause on his IRS one-liners, you need to keep the liberal team pumped up.  You need to keep those liberal trolls going at full throttle down at Jen Rubin's blog.  And then there's the 2014 mid-terms.  So, who else do you ask to throw out the partisan red meat than good old Jim McDermott (D-WA-7), the guy representing the most liberal congressional district in the nation?  It's a dirty job, but somebody has to do it.

So I understand the political imperatives, Congressman, and the imperatives of political tactics.

But let's look at the bigger picture, Jim.  Let's peer beyond the parameters of daily talking points and partisan political tactics.  Let's start the good old post-mortem.  What went wrong?  How come that we find ourselves railing away at the IRS and the Obama scandals, day after day?  Is there something beyond mere Republican opposition and mean-spirited extremism?

Yes, there is.  In fact there's a big lesson to be learned from the current mess that you Dems are in.

It's simple really.  The "rules" and "rights" are not there just to protect the weak from the powerful, as we all endlessly declare.  They are not there just so that a Mom and Pop Tea Party organization can get a fair shake from the IRS.  The "rules" are also there to protect the powerful from themselves.  They are an insurance policy against hubris in the ruling class.

Here's the deal.  Anyone with political power is tempted to use it.  Even abuse it.  Sometimes liberals abuse their power.  Imagine that!  So we Americans limit the power of government to limit the power of the rulers.

It's all very well to decide what's needed to make America better and then legislate a program to change it.  Anyone can do that.  Anyone can then sit in a government bureaucracy and issue regulations to force people to conform to the new law.  But what if you are wrong?  Suppose that you pass a law on health care and predict that it will lower insurance premiums.  And then, four years later it becomes clear that you were wrong, and that health insurance premiums will go up?  What then?  Do you have to have an election and elect new legislators?  A new president?  Suppose that a significant minority is deeply hurt by the legislation but that a majority of the voters refuse to modify the law to accommodate them?  What does that minority do, if it is, say, composed of undocumented workers? Or, alternatively if it is composed of people working for small businesses that will lose their health insurance?  Or gays?

The fatal flaw in liberal politics is that it assumes that liberals will always be the first to see and respond to social injustice.  But suppose liberals were blind on some issue?  Suppose they just didn't get it?  What do we do then?  Given the power that liberals have, how will the people get the government to listen to their grievances?

Well, it's obviously going to be more difficult for the people to get their voices heard when you Dems sicc the Lois Lerners of the IRS on them.  And in the bigger context, that's going to hurt liberals.  Because, in a word, you chaps have put the Lois Lerners in there to suppress dissent from your liberal agenda.  How do we know who is right?

That is what came over so clearly in your remarks on Monday, Congressman.  You told us all that you do not understand the possibility that you liberals might, just once, be wrong on something.

The Greeks had a god that took care of people like you, Congressman McDermott.  The name of the god was Nemesis.

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