This week the IRS conservative targeting scandal turned 500 days old. It’s been 500 days since we learned that Lois Lerner’s former agency targeted right-leaning groups applying for nonprofit status and audited ones that already exist. And it has been more than 500 days since I paid my taxes.
500 days later, the IRS still hasn’t produced emails from Lerner and the more than 20 other IRS employees whose computers allegedly crashed, whose Blackberries were thrown away and “upgraded,” and, in Lerner’s case, whose hard drive was “scratched” and destroyed. But we know that Lerner exchanged confidential taxpayer information on conservatives with top White House adviser Jeanne Lambrew during the 2012 election cycle. We know that Lerner and her White House-visiting underling Nikole Flax were involved in a “secret research project” involving conservative donor information that was approved by then-IRS commissioner Steven T. Miller. President Barack Obama first called the whole thing “outrageous.” Then he said there’s “not a smidgen of corruption.”
How much longer will this go on? New IRS chief John Koskinen said that “hard drive crashes continue as we speak.” Lerner is giving softball interviews with Politico about how conservatives (who she once called “assholes”) are trying to ruin her life. The White House has yet to be subpoenaed for the emails it exchanged with Lerner. Same goes for the Department of Justice.
What has happened in these last 500 days, since I first started covering the “phony” IRS scandal and realized that these faceless bureaucrats harassing the president’s political enemies were maybe not worthy of my hard-earned $619 that they claimed I owe to them in 2014? What happened in America in these 500 aggravating days?
The government shut down because of Obamacare and Republicans got blamed. The Obamacare website was screwed up. ISIS beheaded three Western journalists. The “knockout” game ravaged pedestrians in major cities. Vladimir Putin seized Crimea. Guatemalan children poured across the border. John Kerry let Iran keep having nuclear power plants. War raged between Israel and Hamas. Armed federal agents stole a rancher’s cattle and then it was all okay because the rancher said something racist. Ebola broke out. A Malaysian plane got lost. Racial tensions spilled over in Ferguson. Obama’s Gallup rating dropped six points, from 49 to 43.
Robin Williams died. So did Joan Rivers. Top-rated Jay Leno was forced off The Tonight Show and replaced by lame, unfunny overachiever Jimmy Fallon. David Letterman announced his retirement and CBS picked Stephen Colbert to replace him. “Big Brother” became the highest-rated entertainment program even though nobody knew it’s still on. Tucker Carlson fell asleep on television. Jon Stewart directed a movie. Tyler Perry created three TV shows.
Professional football got roasted for violence, domestic violence and having an Indian team name. ESPN turned into MSNBC. My favorite writer got convicted of a campaign finance felony. My favorite radio host got slammed for saying something he didn’t say. Rick Perry got indicted for nothing. California changed for legal purposes the words “husband” and “wife” to “spouse” and “spouse.” Its schoolchildren now get to pick which gendered bathroom they use.
500 days ago, I lived alone in a crappy apartment in the depressing Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington, D.C., six Metro stops from work. Now I live with a roommate I’d never met before in a crappier apartment in the even more depressing neighborhood of [redacted], seven Metro stops away.
I got into some fights, verbally: on Twitter, with my landlord, with my bank manager, with people who work for the Washington Area Metro Authority, with a guy on the street who said he was going to beat my ass for wearing a sportcoat. I got mugged. My glasses got broken. I had to go to the free community health clinic. I found out that my lungs are all screwed up due to smoking. I refused to quit smoking. PNC Bank frequently fined me for not having any money. I was the victim of identity theft. My computer and phone were repeatedly hacked into (and they’re still in there….I’m on to you, Holder).
The Democratic National Committee led a boycott against me. Many journalists tried to get me fired. Someone named Dave Weigel called me “impotent.” My friend, former Caller editor Will Rahn, left to go join a lame liberal mainstream publication called “The Daily Beast.” I don’t know how to create viral content like college kids can, which is going to end up being pretty bad for me in journalism. Truth-challenged flack Jay Carney, meanwhile, got a job at CNN.
These have not been a good 500 days. The country slogged through it, confused, unhappy, looking for others to blame. I was one of them.
Was the IRS scandal responsible for all of these terrible things happening in our country, the world and my downmarket Washington neighborhoods? No. But it didn’t help.
500 days ago, we learned that the most powerful tax-collecting agency in the United States has been turned into a political weapon and their enemy is average hardworking American citizens. When people find out such a thing, it tends to lead to feelings of hopelessness. It makes people cynical. Important institutions have been corrupted and there’s nothing we can do about it because they claim that the computers crashed and that’s the end of it? And 500 days later, we still don’t have the emails?
This 500-day mark should be the point where we as Americans decide we’re not going to take it anymore, when we demand answers, when we try to get basic information out of our government so we can have just one tiny fragment of justice and decency and common sense back in our lives. But it doesn’t feel like it. It feels instead like the force of 315 million people shrugging. It feels like a country accepting that we’re circling the drain as a free-market democracy, putting their headphones in and going back to looking down at their not-at-all-private cell phones. 500 days of this. 500 days.
I did not pay my taxes this year. I just didn’t have the money. Now I will not pay my taxes until every single Lois Lerner email is released and the people who planned and carried out this governmental travesty are held accountable. So start watching that clock, John Koskinen, if you think you’re going to get my overdue money, and every day this goes on is another day I’m not giving you a dime (soon it will hit 619 days, one for every hard-earned dollar I “owe.”)
I’m not giving you $619 I need so I can subsidize a fraction of a new salary bonus for some unethical bureaucrat who audited my friends and fellow countrymen. Your corruption cast a hopeless pall over this great but troubled country and its great but jaded people.
I will not pay, IRS. Because America already did.