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An Army of Darryls


As Jamelle points out, conservatives are doing everything in their power to create a climate in which impeachment proceedings seem inevitable. They’re not — nor should they be — but if they can create the appearance of a beleaguered and ultimately ineffectual administration, the case for the Republican candidate in 2016 will seem a stronger by comparison. So conservatives threw a Benghazi Day Party that resembled a poorly managed support group: the people who didn’t leave in tears were confused and nothing was decided, not even who’d bring the coffee next time.

Over the weekend, they decided it was time to throw another TEA Party. If you’ll recall, the “TEA” in TEA PARTY stands for “Taxed Enough Already,” and so it should come as no surprise that when groups whose founding principles involved paying as little as their fair share of the tax burden started applying for 501(c)(4) tax exempt status, some scrutiny might be in order. Were these TEA Party organizations “generally civic” and promoting “social welfare,” and anyway, why did they only apply for tax exempt status after January 21, 2010?

These organizations were only able to claim [a more expansive] tax exempt status after the Supreme Court decided Citizens United, which meant that in the following weeks the small IRS office in Cincinnati — a city but a single state removed Obama’s Illinois — that processed tax exempt status was inundated with thousands of applications from previously unheard of organizations. Because it was 2010 and the conservative grassroots machine was preparing for the 2012 elections, it stands to reason that many of these new organizations would have names that bespoke their constituents’ creativity: The Tea Party, The TEA Party, The T.E.A. Party, The Patriot Party, The American Patriot Party, The American Patriot Party of Arizona, The 912 Project, The 9-12 Project, The 9/12 Project, and my personal favorite, The Central Michigan 912 Patriot Tea Party.

Creating special categories to deal with identically conceived, similarly named applicants strikes me less like “using keywords to go after conservatives” and more like using keywords. Citizens United created a bureaucratic nightmare for the IRS because the majority of the people who sought to take advantage of it were like the kid who’d take cardboard, macaroni and glue during art class and make a box of macaroni out of it. When your creative team consists of people who stand before a great works of art and agree upon their re-sale value and you put them under pressure you shouldn’t be surprised when they all come up with slight variations of the same hackneyed concepts.

In other words: the IRS “singled out for additional reviews” groups with “tea” or “patriot” or “912”  in their corporate documents because you don’t have a damn thought in your head that someone else didn’t put there. Your creative failure isn’t the IRS’s fault.

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