What in the Name of…

…the wide wide world of sports is going on here? The IRS trolling for specific information on members of individual American Legion posts, requiring proof of the individual member’s veteran status as a way of pinning local American Legion posts to the wall, for some kind of purpose besides vulgar curiosity … hmm, that’s just what they did to various Tea Party organizations applying for certain exemptions. Asked for terribly specific information … my, who doesn’t think that isn’t going into some enormous database somewhere? Military veterans and retirees, in my humble opinion and experience tend to be rather more to the libertarian-conservative side of the political scale, for a number of reasons, chief of them being that we spent a certain number of years living a fairly conformist and regimented life … for which we (save those initially drafted before the advent of the all-volunteer force) freely volunteered. But the military experience doesn’t necessarily leave us with a lifetime fondness for living under the watchful eye of a higher authority and having every teeny little jot and tittle of personal lives and conduct scrutinized and counseled over… oh, no, my chickadees. It does not.

Quite often, it inculcates a dislike of all-encompassing chicken-sh*t authority exercised over the minutiae of daily living and a wide streak of defiant independence. Looking back on my service life, I suppose that for me the breaking point came when one of my troops – blessed with living in base housing at a base which shall be unnamed – was called at about mid-morning of an extremely busy work-day by a representative of the base housing office. He had inadvertently left his back door porch light on. Nothing would content the minions who ruled base accommodations but that he drop everything that he was doing, rush home, and turn off the back porch light. Apparently, the housing office felt that a 20-or-so watt bulb burning for another five hours was an insupportable burden. And yes – it is true that the power bill for such did come to the base housing office – but still. I took away from the experience that I would never want to live in base housing, ever. And if I chose to leave a damned 20 watt bulb burning, I would, as long as I was paying for it myself.

The other things that the military experience leaves indelibly imprinted on those who have served is a sense of responsibility, a sense of obligation which runs both ways – what you are obligated to society for, and what, if anything, society owes you – and of possibility. The military veteran’s interpretation of responsibility, obligation and possibility are all, I suspect, anathema to the current administration; I also suspect that their world-view inclines them to believe that getting something changed consists merely of making a great and stinking fuss about that which does not please them – rather like test animals working out the right way to pull the right lever. Eventually the powers that be grumble and randomly or purposefully disgorge a meager pellet of solution.

Veterans are used to getting things done and seeing things through. They are often accustomed to working together in coordinated fashion, able to see the possibilities and to work toward a viable solution, who bring solid experience in real-world planning and coping with unexpected contingencies … well, such people are not much inclined to waste time randomly pulling a lever, but are more interested in direct action … and not playing games of the sort that Thomas Wolfe described as ‘mau-mauing the flack-catchers.’ It must appear to the current administration that very effective organizations formed around veterans – the Legion and the VFW, not to mention any number of smaller and informal groups, or even just groups with a large veteran component, like local Tea Parties, or even the post-WWII Battle of Athens, where a number of veterans coordinated a political response to a viciously corrupt local machine. The DHS appears to consider military veterans as possible potential future terrorists, too – so, one might be forgiven for assuming that this current administration entertains lively fears regarding veterans as a group in opposition, or in at least, potential opposition.

(Crossposted at www.ncobrief.com)

14 thoughts on “What in the Name of…”

  1. With 3 kids retired Military (2 Marines, 1 Army), with several Iraq and Afghanistan deployments can someone tell me what in the heXX the IRS cares about the VFW? Are these posts selling too much beer, playing bingo, having too emotional Memorial Day Events, raising money for Republicans – what? I don’t understand what the IRS wants! Or what they need!

  2. Veterans understand and take seriously their oath of office, and that mindset stays with them throughout their lives. Allegiance to the Constitution itself rather than the office holder, and an understanding of the concept of “all enemies, foreign and domestic” is problematic if you want to operate outside the parameters of the Constitution.

    And, Veterans have already proven themselves highly capable of self-organizing and adapting. And they tend to be good Leaders.

    If one wanted to subvert or ignore the Constitution, Veterans would be an obstacle.

  3. VS – exactly. Veterans, according to their experience are good at leading when called upon, following when it’s needful, improvising when necessary… and Stan – it’s probably the raising money for the Repubs that has gotten the IRS goat.
    It was brought up on an Instapundit thread on this topic, about setting up a contest about how many ‘potential enemies of the State’ lists that various of us might be on. I must be on at least six or seven, as a center-of-right blogger, a mil-blogger, a military veteran, a Tea Partier, libertarian-to-conservative in sympathies, partner in an independent small business, registered Republican …

    (Hey, NSA duty guy? We’re having ground beef stroganoff for supper – let me know of you want a plate. I can do some extra buttered noodles for you. Just stop by in twenty minutes. You know the address…)

  4. I asked someone, here is answer.

    Per Essex County Prosecutor and Essex County Executive [NJ]. Here’s what’s they say. Congress on behalf of the IRS is asking each post to maintain a record of basically DD214’s. this will allow the American Legion to continue to receive a TAX EXEMPT status with the IRS. This whole thing is apparently legit because its in the IRS manual. Which they should have changed. However the IRS will get off and not violate anything because they are not asking for them to have copies of service member records but only that the post maintain them for their own records. As per requirements to IRS regulations.

  5. Sgt Mom, I’m puzzled. Your posts and comments have totally persuaded me that I can trust your thinking. By that I don’t mean that you agree with me, but that I can expect your positions to have come from not merely reasonable, but well-thought steps. However,it appears to me that a conflict exists between what VXXC says and your specific unhappiness with the IRS. What VXXC says
    is my take on 501C groups, several of whose boards I have served and have done the paperwork to get and keep 501C status, and my take on veterans associations. I see the IRS as reasonable, but I read you as not seeing it that way.

    I utterly get your 40 watt light bulb illustration(BDG, Been there, Done that, Got the T-shirt). If you had gripped about a plethora of mickey mouse hassles launched as punitive measures, I’d get that, too. I even appreciate your standing invitation to the NSA guy. Yet these do not seem to me to apply in this situation: the vet groups already have at hand the data requested since that data is part of their membership requirements and part of what they agreed to for 501C-19 status. So I see the IRS manual as reminding agents of SOP for their actions.

  6. Roy,
    I’m puzzled.

    Why after 90-something years does the IRS find the need to remind their agents of the need to ‘verify’ membership eligibility?
    Goodness, the VFW, AmVets and American Legion might have a few non-veteran members scattered here and there.
    Its as if the IRS had nothing better to do than harass veterans organizations. Perhaps with all the time freed up from investigating Tea Party groups, they can get their own employees to pay their back taxes.
    This is a witch hunt plain and simple. Target: conservatives of any stripe.

  7. Roy,

    The govt behavior raises suspicions because 1) as Tomw points out, Why now? and 2) it fits in a pattern where right-leaning organizations get minutely scrutinized while left-leaning organizations get caught breaking the rules and nothing happens. But maybe it’s all coincidence.

  8. The United States was founded as a government of laws. Obama is the man who converted the USA to a government of men.

    The transition has been going on slowly since Woodrow Wilson. The Constitution has become a Living Document whose meaning changes with the weather and the mood of the ruling class.

    Yes! There is a ruling class and, quite properly, they claim The Right to ferret out and crush the enemies of Order.

    To them Our Leader Obama is not above the law; He Is The Law. His every thought is Law. Hopefully, he will be President for Life and Lead us. How lucky we are that He taught Constitutional law.

    Read Dr Zhivago (the book, not the movie) to get an idea what it is like to live in a period when the socialists take over.

  9. “Read Dr Zhivago (the book, not the movie) to get an idea what it is like to live in a period when the socialists take over.”

    Better yet, follow Paternak’s trials after he wrote the book. He was not allowed to accept the Nobel Prize and was vilified until Gorbachev .

  10. Roy, any other time, any other president – the IRS reminding Legion posts about the membership requirements might have passed without comment. There have been a fair number of fraudulent veterans, here and there, so a reminder to be vigilant would have been timely … But this comes on top of the IRS scrutinizing Tea Parties’ memberships with a magnifying glass, of identifying veterans as potential recruits for terrorist groups – and generally being petty and spiteful towards those not completely adoring of our current chief executive. It’s part of a larger pattern – and a very ugly one. This administration has burned through a lot of trust lately. Thoughtful, law-abiding middle-class people generally have – or had – a high degree of trust in our government, or at least assumed that the various government organs were fairly benign, occasionally crashingly incompetent — but not downright malicious. These days, you can’t go very far wrong assuming intentional malice from the very start.

  11. According to CIA, NSA, DHS, FBI, DEA and Dept of Ariculture

    1. terrorists disguise themselves to llok like ordinary people

    2. therefore everybody is a suspect except muslims because no terrorist would be foolish enough to disguise him/her self as a moslem.

    3. Terrorist BOLOs. Look for ordinary people who are familiar with guns. Eg veterans. Also people who are unhappy with government. Eg Tea Party, Libertarians. Ignore Progressives because they can’t possibly be terrorists because “You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs”.

  12. OK, Mom et al. Chalk it up to my resisting panic, or to my wanting more explicit connecting of dots.

    But don’t think I’m not generally in agreement with you.

    One of the more significant books I’ve read in the last several decades was Jonah Goldberg’s “Liberal Fascism”. (If those reading this don’t go borrow a copy and read it, at least take time to read thru a few dozen of the 1 and 2 star and of the 4 and 5 star reviews.) Goldberg details several socialist/fascist histories of the sort of use of gov’t power to monitor and control society which I think similar to Sgt Mom’s recognizing a line in the sand. Goldberg then observes the same sort of details for the same sort of reasons springing up in the USA.

    Put a different way. 1984 and Brave New World both came from pens of disallusioned socialists who saw where their hope would actually lead. In 1984 one reads of a totalitarian control by invasion of privacy, by fear, and by force. But possibly more subtle and more dangerous because it seems so caring, is the totalitarian control by sweetness, the orgy provider of Brave New World. And of what’s on every page of today’s USA media regarding our gov’ts goal of providing for us.

  13. I’m a member of the American Legion. I never showed them a copy of my DD214. I might have showed them my ID card. Note that one of the IRS specific requirements was that the posts have knowledge of the “character” of the member’s military service. The only record of that which a vet has is his her DD214. Maybe because I have a retiree ID card, they can legitimately infer my service was honorable.

    I agree that organizations registered as tax exempt should maintain the required records, but only those absolutely necessary on members to establish membership requirements. Having copies of DD214’s should not be necessary any more than that the American Legion have a birth certificate copy to establish citizenship or a driver’s license to establish residence.

    I to find it more than coincidental that veterans groups get this pointed reminder. Exactly why would non-veterans want to participate in a veterans group escapes me. Why would the veteran group want non-vets enrolled as full members also begs explanation. One think a vet will not suffer is a vet poser. Could there be a minimal number of accomplished liars who have infiltrated the vet groups to attain the status of full membership? Sure, but I’d bet precious few. Would vets less than honorably discharged seek membership? I doubt that is a concern. Being around honorably discharged vets would only serve to remind them of their dishonor. If they want to trade on their service, such as it was, by lying about it, they’ll try that in a bar among those they assume lack a BS detector.

    In summary, the IRS is chasing an issue that is purely theoretical. That stems from either bureaucratic stupidity or ideological bent or both. Gosh, who would believe they have such defects.


Comments are closed.