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New credibility for old conservative gripes

By: The Gazette editorial
May 14, 2013 Updated: May 14, 2013 at 10:30 am
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These are good times for conservatives who have shouted in the woods for decades about mistreatment from government and the mainstream national press. Today, evidence mounts in support of their concerns.

Anyone who follows conservative pundits knows they complain about serving as targets for abuse by the IRS. Fox News anchor Bill O'Reilly complained in 2002 of enduring three IRS audits since his program began in 1996. Glenn Beck complained in 2010, insisting the IRS targeted him for an audit because he was critical of then-Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner for failing to pay $35,000 in Social Security and Medicare taxes.

Multiple grass-roots tea party organizations have complained of mistreatment by the IRS, and their concerns have received no significant media attention. Until now.

The IRS, faced with irrefutable evidence, apologized Friday for doing exactly what conservatives accused them of. The agency issued an apology for scrutinizing groups with conservative titles such as "tea party" or "patriot" in their names. Government also targeted those who scrutinize government spending, debt and tax policies.

IRS brass want us to believe the abusive behavior was the fault of "low-level" (read: expendable) employees. That may not be true. Further investigation may find low-level workers merely followed instructions from on high, which seems more likely than a conspiracy percolating up from the mail room.

Conservatives must not let this go. They should demand congressional hearings and a thorough investigation. A government that uses tax collectors with badges and guns to punish a political philosophy is one that has no respect for free speech or a fair process of representative, limited-democracy governance. A government that targets individuals for their beliefs treats taxpayers as subjects, not customers. To use the most frightening agency of federal government to punish or discourage a political movement is a step toward tyranny. Government scandals don't get much worse than this.

To his credit, President Barack Obama appears appropriately outraged.

"I've got no patience with it. I will not tolerate it, and we will make sure that we find out exactly what happened on this," President Obama said Monday.

Americans on the left, right and middle must hold President Obama to his word. This cannot continue and must never happen again. Those responsible must be found and must pay.

By law, the greatest punishment an IRS employee faces for discriminatory enforcement is firing. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, announced plans for a bill Monday that would make politically motivated IRS actions a crime, punishable by up to five years in prison.

The IRS scandal comes on the heels of new information about last year?s Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. consulate in Libya. Concerns about President Obama's handling of the deadly terrorist strike were mostly ignored by conventional media until conservative journalists at the Weekly Standard unveiled the paper trail of a scheme, involving the White House, to misinform the public. Government, including the executive branch, belongs to the public and exists only to serve the public. When government employees try to fool the public, they corrupt the system.

Then there's the trial and conviction of Dr. Kermit Gosnell. The trial resulted in conviction of Gosnell on three counts of first-degree murder of babies born alive at his abortion business. He was also convicted of infanticide, racketeering and more than 200 counts of violating Pennsylvania?s abortion laws. He may get the death penalty.

Gosnell's trial involved what law enforcement describe as a "house of horrors" - a poorly maintained abortion facility in which children were murdered for profit with a procedure too gruesome to describe. Parts of bodies were shelved like trophies in bottles of liquid. Yet, for almost a month of trial, the three major networks and some of our country's largest newspapers - including the Washington Post and the New York Times - mostly ignored it. It?s doubtful any other serial killer of children has received so little press.

"Details of this murder trial raise serious questions about abortion, the liberal media?s most sacred cow," said Brent Bozell, president of the conservative Media Research Center.

The world's largest wire service, the Associated Press, even violated its standard when initially reporting the verdict Monday. The first paragraph said "the 72-year-old abortion doctor accused of murdering four babies after they were allegedly born alive" was convicted.

At that juncture, the word "allegedly" violated AP style. It says: "do not use alleged to describe an event that is known to have occurred."

Conservatives have long felt marginalized by government and the mainstream media. Their complaints are no longer abstract concepts for the listener to accept or dismiss. Emerging facts support their claims. Americans, regardless of their politics, should not stand for it.

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