From The Blaze
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
From The Right Scoop
From Tulsa Channel 8
Posted: May 16, 2013 5:52 PM CDTUpdated: May 17, 2013 11:19 AM CDT
Posted by: Jennifer Zeppelin, Chief Meteorologist - email
May typically has been our peak month for tornadoes, but after the warmest year on record followed by an ongoing drought and cooler than normal temperatures - our weather has been anything but normal for the past 12 months.
Meteorologists with the national severe storms laboratory track all the tornado stats for the U.S. and have noticed an interesting trend over the last decade - fewer tornadoes.
From January through early May this year, the U.S. has experienced 240 tornadoes, which is the lowest number recorded in recent years.
What's behind the record low numbers? The drought last year and cold start to 2013 have been the biggest contributing factors to the absence of tornado activity in the United States.
However, even with few tornadoes reported - Oklahoma's 30 year annual average ranks us fourth in the U.S. As for the number of fatalities during that same time frame, Oklahoma also remains one of the highest in country.
So the key is not to let your guard down.
Even though Monster tornadoes like the EF-5 and EF-4 that ripped across our state 14 years ago are very rare, an EF 1 can do some serious damage as we saw earlier this year in Bixby.
From USA Today
Quiet tornado season forecast to last into next week, at least.
The USA in the past 12 months has seen the fewest number of tornadoes since at least 1954, and the death tolls from the dangerous storms have dropped dramatically since 2011.
Just two years after a ferocious series of tornado outbreaks killed hundreds of Americans, the USA so far this year is enjoying one of the calmest years on record for twisters. Through Thursday, tornadoes have killed only three Americans in 2013; by the end of May 2011, 543 Americans had died.
The seven people killed from May 2012 to April 2013 is the fewest in a 12-month period since five people died in September 1899-August 1900, according to Harold Brooks, research meteorologist with the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Okla.
The year-to-date count of tornadoes is probably approaching the lower 10% of all years on record, said Greg Carbin, warning coordination meteorologist with the Storm Prediction Center in Norman.
The reason: An unusually cool weather pattern from the Rockies to the East Coast. "Generally, the lower the temperature and/or the drier the air, the lower the number of thunderstorms," said AccuWeather meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.
Severe thunderstorms produce tornadoes, along with large hail and high winds.
So far in May — usually the USA's most active month — only three tornadoes have formed. All have been rated EF-0 on the Fujita scale of tornado intensity. EF-0 is the weakest rating for tornadoes, with wind speeds of about 65-85 mph.
The EF-5 tornado that ravaged Joplin, Mo., two years ago, had estimated wind speeds as high as 250 mph and killed 158 people.
The record low in tornadoes comes less than two years after a record high from 2010 to 2011, Weather Underground meteorologist Jeff Masters said. "The extraordinary contrast underscores the crazy fluctuations we've seen in Northern Hemisphere jet stream patterns during the past three years," he said. "Call it 'weather whiplash' of the tornado variety."
Current weather patterns are expected to continue into the first part of summer, likely keeping 2013 well behind the curve for violent thunderstorms and tornadoes, AccuWeather reports.
From The BBC
Warming Not As Likely
Continue reading the main story
Scientists say the recent downturn in the rate of global warming will lead to lower temperature rises in the short-term.
Since 1998, there has been an unexplained "standstill" in the heating of the Earth's atmosphere.
Writing in Nature Geoscience, the researchers say this will reduce predicted warming in the coming decades.
But long-term, the expected temperature rises will not alter significantly.
Continue reading the main story
Dr Alexander OttoUniversity of OxfordThe most extreme projections are looking less likely than before”
The slowdown in the expected rate of global warming has been studiedfor several years now. Earlier this year, the UK Met Office lowered their five-year temperature forecast.
But this new paper gives the clearest picture yet of how any slowdown is likely to affect temperatures in both the short-term and long-term.
An international team of researchers looked at how the last decade would impact long-term, equilibrium climate sensitivity and the shorter term climate response.Transient nature
Climate sensitivity looks to see what would happen if we doubled concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere and let the Earth's oceans and ice sheets respond to it over several thousand years.
Transient climate response is much shorter term calculation again based on a doubling of CO2.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported in 2007 that the short-term temperature rise would most likely be 1-3C (1.8-5.4F).
But in this new analysis, by only including the temperatures from the last decade, the projected range would be 0.9-2.0C.
"The hottest of the models in the medium-term, they are actually looking less likely or inconsistent with the data from the last decade alone," said Dr Alexander Otto from the University of Oxford.
"The most extreme projections are looking less likely than before."
The authors calculate that over the coming decades global average temperatures will warm about 20% more slowly than expected.
But when it comes to the longer term picture, the authors say their work is consistent with previous estimates. The IPCC said that climate sensitivity was in the range of 2.0-4.5C.Ocean storage
This latest research, including the decade of stalled temperature rises, produces a range of 0.9-5.0C.
"It is a bigger range of uncertainty," said Dr Otto.
"But it still includes the old range. We would all like climate sensitivity to be lower but it isn't."
The researchers say the difference between the lower short-term estimate and the more consistent long-term picture can be explained by the fact that the heat from the last decade has been absorbed into and is being stored by the world's oceans.
Not everyone agrees with this perspective.
Prof Steven Sherwood, from the University of New South Wales, says the conclusion about the oceans needs to be taken with a grain of salt for now.
"There is other research out there pointing out that this storage may be part of a natural cycle that will eventually reverse, either due to El Nino or the so-called Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, and therefore may not imply what the authors are suggesting," he said.
The authors say there are ongoing uncertainties surrounding the role of aerosols in the atmosphere and around the issue of clouds.
"We would expect a single decade to jump around a bit but the overall trend is independent of it, and people should be exactly as concerned as before about what climate change is doing," said Dr Otto.
Is there any succour in these findings for climate sceptics who say the slowdown over the past 14 years means the global warming is not real?
"None. No comfort whatsoever," he said.
Follow Matt on Twitter.
From Newsweek in 1975
The Cooling World
Newsweek, April 28, 1975
Here is the text of Newsweek’s 1975 story on the trend toward global cooling. It may look foolish today, but in fact world temperatures had been falling since about 1940. It was around 1979 that they reversed direction and resumed the general rise that had begun in the 1880s, bringing us today back to around 1940 levels. A PDF of the original is available here. A fine short history of warming and cooling scares has recently been produced. It is available here.
We invite readers interested in finding out about both sides of the debate over global warming to visit our website: Climate Debate Daily — Denis Dutton
There are ominous signs that the Earth’s weather patterns have begun to change dramatically and that these changes may portend a drastic decline in food production – with serious political implications for just about every nation on Earth. The drop in food output could begin quite soon, perhaps only 10 years from now. The regions destined to feel its impact are the great wheat-producing lands of Canada and the U.S.S.R. in the North, along with a number of marginally self-sufficient tropical areas – parts of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indochina and Indonesia – where the growing season is dependent upon the rains brought by the monsoon.
The evidence in support of these predictions has now begun to accumulate so massively that meteorologists are hard-pressed to keep up with it. In England, farmers have seen their growing season decline by about two weeks since 1950, with a resultant overall loss in grain production estimated at up to 100,000 tons annually. During the same time, the average temperature around the equator has risen by a fraction of a degree – a fraction that in some areas can mean drought and desolation. Last April, in the most devastating outbreak of tornadoes ever recorded, 148 twisters killed more than 300 people and caused half a billion dollars’ worth of damage in 13 U.S. states.
To scientists, these seemingly disparate incidents represent the advance signs of fundamental changes in the world’s weather. The central fact is that after three quarters of a century of extraordinarily mild conditions, the earth’s climate seems to be cooling down. Meteorologists disagree about the cause and extent of the cooling trend, as well as over its specific impact on local weather conditions. But they are almost unanimous in the view that the trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century. If the climatic change is as profound as some of the pessimists fear, the resulting famines could be catastrophic. “A major climatic change would force economic and social adjustments on a worldwide scale,” warns a recent report by the National Academy of Sciences, “because the global patterns of food production and population that have evolved are implicitly dependent on the climate of the present century.”
A survey completed last year by Dr. Murray Mitchell of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reveals a drop of half a degree in average ground temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere between 1945 and 1968. According to George Kukla of Columbia University, satellite photos indicated a sudden, large increase in Northern Hemisphere snow cover in the winter of 1971-72. And a study released last month by two NOAA scientists notes that the amount of sunshine reaching the ground in the continental U.S. diminished by 1.3% between 1964 and 1972.
To the layman, the relatively small changes in temperature and sunshine can be highly misleading. Reid Bryson of the University of Wisconsin points out that the Earth’s average temperature during the great Ice Ages was only about seven degrees lower than during its warmest eras – and that the present decline has taken the planet about a sixth of the way toward the Ice Age average. Others regard the cooling as a reversion to the “little ice age” conditions that brought bitter winters to much of Europe and northern America between 1600 and 1900 – years when the Thames used to freeze so solidly that Londoners roasted oxen on the ice and when iceboats sailed the Hudson River almost as far south as New York City.
Just what causes the onset of major and minor ice ages remains a mystery. “Our knowledge of the mechanisms of climatic change is at least as fragmentary as our data,” concedes the National Academy of Sciences report. “Not only are the basic scientific questions largely unanswered, but in many cases we do not yet know enough to pose the key questions.”
Meteorologists think that they can forecast the short-term results of the return to the norm of the last century. They begin by noting the slight drop in overall temperature that produces large numbers of pressure centers in the upper atmosphere. These break up the smooth flow of westerly winds over temperate areas. The stagnant air produced in this way causes an increase in extremes of local weather such as droughts, floods, extended dry spells, long freezes, delayed monsoons and even local temperature increases – all of which have a direct impact on food supplies.
“The world’s food-producing system,” warns Dr. James D. McQuigg of NOAA’s Center for Climatic and Environmental Assessment, “is much more sensitive to the weather variable than it was even five years ago.” Furthermore, the growth of world population and creation of new national boundaries make it impossible for starving peoples to migrate from their devastated fields, as they did during past famines.
Climatologists are pessimistic that political leaders will take any positive action to compensate for the climatic change, or even to allay its effects. They concede that some of the more spectacular solutions proposed, such as melting the Arctic ice cap by covering it with black soot or diverting arctic rivers, might create problems far greater than those they solve. But the scientists see few signs that government leaders anywhere are even prepared to take the simple measures of stockpiling food or of introducing the variables of climatic uncertainty into economic projections of future food supplies. The longer the planners delay, the more difficult will they find it to cope with climatic change once the results become grim reality.
—PETER GWYNNE with bureau reports
Monday, May 20, 2013
Sunday, May 19, 2013
Friday, May 17, 2013
From The WSJ
The bureaucrats at the Internal Revenue Service did exactly what the president said was the right and honorable thing to do.
Was the White House involved in the IRS's targeting of conservatives? No investigation needed to answer that one. Of course it was.
President Obama and Co. are in full deniability mode, noting that the IRS is an "independent" agency and that they knew nothing about its abuse. The media and Congress are sleuthing for some hint that Mr. Obama picked up the phone and sicced the tax dogs on his enemies.
But that's not how things work in post-Watergate Washington. Mr. Obama didn't need to pick up the phone. All he needed to do was exactly what he did do, in full view, for three years: Publicly suggest that conservative political groups were engaged in nefarious deeds; publicly call out by name political opponents whom he'd like to see harassed; and publicly have his party pressure the IRS to take action.
Mr. Obama now professes shock and outrage that bureaucrats at the IRS did exactly what the president of the United States said was the right and honorable thing to do. "He put a target on our backs, and he's now going to blame the people who are shooting at us?" asks Idaho businessman and longtime Republican donor Frank VanderSloot.
Mr. VanderSloot is the Obama target who in 2011 made a sizable donation to a group supporting Mitt Romney. In April 2012, an Obama campaign website named and slurred eight Romney donors. It tarred Mr. VanderSloot as a "wealthy individual" with a "less-than-reputable record." Other donors were described as having been "on the wrong side of the law."
This was the Obama version of the phone call—put out to every government investigator (and liberal activist) in the land.
Twelve days later, a man working for a political opposition-research firm called an Idaho courthouse for Mr. VanderSloot's divorce records. In June, the IRS informed Mr. VanderSloot and his wife of an audit of two years of their taxes. In July, the Department of Labor informed him of an audit of the guest workers on his Idaho cattle ranch. In September, the IRS informed him of a second audit, of one of his businesses. Mr. VanderSloot, who had never been audited before, was subject to three in the four months after Mr. Obama teed him up for such scrutiny.
The last of these audits was only concluded in recent weeks. Not one resulted in a fine or penalty. But Mr. VanderSloot has been waiting more than 20 months for a sizable refund and estimates his legal bills are $80,000. That figure doesn't account for what the president's vilification has done to his business and reputation.
The Obama call for scrutiny wasn't a mistake; it was the president's strategy—one pursued throughout 2012. The way to limit Romney money was to intimidate donors from giving. Donate, and the president would at best tie you to Big Oil or Wall Street, at worst put your name in bold, and flag you as "less than reputable" to everyone who worked for him: the IRS, the SEC, the Justice Department. The president didn't need a telephone; he had a megaphone.
The same threat was made to conservative groups that might dare play in the election. As early as January 2010, Mr. Obama would, in his state of the union address, cast aspersions on the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling, claiming that it "reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests" (read conservative groups).
The president derided "tea baggers." Vice President Joe Biden compared them to "terrorists." In more than a dozen speeches Mr. Obama raised the specter that these groups represented nefarious interests that were perverting elections. "Nobody knows who's paying for these ads," he warned. "We don't know where this money is coming from," he intoned.
In case the IRS missed his point, he raised the threat of illegality: "All around this country there are groups with harmless-sounding names like Americans for Prosperity, who are running millions of dollars of ads against Democratic candidates . . . And they don't have to say who exactly the Americans for Prosperity are. You don't know if it's a foreign-controlled corporation."
Short of directly asking federal agencies to investigate these groups, this is as close as it gets. Especially as top congressional Democrats were putting in their own versions of phone calls, sending letters to the IRS that accused it of having "failed to address" the "problem" of groups that were "improperly engaged" in campaigns. Because guess who controls that "independent" agency's budget?
The IRS is easy to demonize, but it doesn't exist in a vacuum. It got its heading from a president, and his party, who did in fact send it orders—openly, for the world to see. In his Tuesday press grilling, no question agitated White House Press Secretary Jay Carney more than the one that got to the heart of the matter: Given the president's "animosity" toward Citizens United, might he have "appreciated or wanted the IRS to be looking and scrutinizing those . . ." Mr. Carney cut off the reporter with "That's a preposterous assertion."
Preposterous because, according to Mr. Obama, he is "outraged" and "angry" that the IRS looked into the very groups and individuals that he spent years claiming were shady, undemocratic, even lawbreaking. After all, he expects the IRS to "operate with absolute integrity." Even when he does not.
Write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by Eddie at Friday, May 17, 2013
Thursday, May 16, 2013
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Carol Platt Liebau | May 15, 2013
[# More #]
Carol Platt Liebau | May 15, 2013
As I note below, the Inspector General seeks to blame the targeting of conservative groups on "ineffective management" or "ineffective oversight."
To the extent such an explanation is plausible, it becomes increasingly incredible when one learns that other executive agencies likewise discriminated against conservatives.
The Washington Examiner reports that the EPA waived FOIA fees for 92% of administration-friendly groups, while denying 93% of FOIA requests from conservative groups.
Until it was investigated by the House Oversight Committee in 2011, the Department of Homeland Security likewise tried to politicize FOIA requests.
With evidence mounting that no corner of government was immune from politicization in the Obama era, it becomes less and less likely that the IRS debacle resulted from anything as innocuous as poor oversight or mismanagment.
IG Report: Some Questions for the IRS (and the IG!)
Carol Platt Liebau | May 15, 2013
Perhaps by design, the IG report released yesterday cloaks some pretty shocking revelations in mind-numbing bureaucratese. Interestingly, it seeks to blame a pattern of obvious partisan abuse on "ineffective management" and "ineffective oversight by management." Although admissions of government incompetence generally have some truth behind them, here, it seems that the IG deliberately chose the most innocuous version of events to put forward as the truth, and demonstrates a willingness to suspend disbelief about some pretty startling admissions of ignorance and targeting. Notwithstanding the timelines provided in the report, there are significant holes especially regarding who knew what about the targeting, and when.
There's nothing in there about the targeting of individuals, as I noted last night.
There's nothing in there about who leaked documents to the media (which I wrote about here).
There's nothing in there about how an Obama relection campaign chairman came to possess confidential information he used to attack Mitt Romney.
What the report reveals -- more than anything else -- is that it's a starting point for some sharp inquiry by Congress, raising more questions than it answers. Some of the issues that might profitably be addressed are as follows:
1. The report's highlight page states that the wrongful IRS activity at issue was a result of "ineffective management." Has there ever been an example of similar activity in the past by low-level employees that "managers" needed to stop? What was it? By whom? How was it stopped? By whom?
2. On page 3, the report notes that "During the 2012 election cycle, some members of Congress raised concerns about selective enforcement." What were these members told? What investigation had been done internally -- and by whom -- before members like Orrin Hatch were assured that their concerns were baseless?This goes to whether members of Congress were deliberately lied to -- and by whom -- and whether their concerns were even taken seriously in the first place.
3. Also on page 3, the report states that some members of Congress asked the IRS to investigate whether existing 501(c)(4)'s were engaged in improper campaign activity. In other words, some members were urging greater scrutiny of 501(c)(4)'s. What members were these? Whom did they contact at the IRS? What were they told, and by whom? It would be interesting to know whether any former staffers of these members participated in the wrongdoing. What's more, if top officials were responsive to these requests, it might suggest where direction for the targeting came from.
4. On page 5, the report states that "The Determinations Unit developed and used inappropriate criteria to identify applications from organizations with the words Tea Party in their names." Who headed the Determinations Unit? Who was part of the Unit? Did any members of the Unit raise contemperaneous objections to the improper criteria? If so, how were those objections addressed and by whom?
[# More #]
5. Footnote 13 on page 5 notes that "until July 2011, the Rulings and Agreements office [NB: located in Washington, DC!] referred to these cases as Tea Party cases. Afterwards, the EO function [Exempt Organizations function] referred to these cases as advocacy cases." Who headed the Rulings and Agreements office? Was any impropriety detected in the fact that cases reflecting a particular viewpoint (Tea Party) received a designation reflecting that viewpoint? How did the designation come to be changed and by whom? For how long was the Rulings and Agreements office aware that there was a "Tea Party" category of cases? When did the EO become aware of the designation, and was any other action or investigation undertaken when the terminology was changed?
6. Page 5 of the report notes that the IG "identified some organizations' applications with evidence of significant political campaign intervention that were not forwarded to the team of specialists for processing but should have been. We also identified applications that were forwarded to the team of specialists but did not have indications of significant political campaign intervention. All applications that were forwarded to the team of specialists experienced substantial delays in processing." What were the applications that were not forwarded for futher review but should have been? (Were these all left-leaning groups?) What were the applications that were incorrectly forwarded and therefore delayed? Were these all right-leaning groups? Goes to issue of whether incompetence and "managerial ineffectiveness" or deliberate malfeasance occurred.
7. On pages 5-6, there is a significant redaction, followed by the sentence "Soon thereafter, according to the IRS, a Determinations Unit Specialist was asked to search for applications with Tea Party, Patriots or 9/12 in the organization's name as well as other 'political-sounding' names." Nice use of the passive construction, but who exactly instructed the Determinations Unit Specialist to make this search and why?
8. On page 6, it states "In June of 2010, the Determinations Unit began training its specialists on issues to be aware of, including Tea Party cases." What other issues was the unit to "be aware of"? Who at the Unit initiated the training? Who else knew about or order the training? Did any member of the unit (or anyone else) flag such training as inappropriate, and if so, whom?
9. On page 6, the report reads "EO function officials stated that Determinations Unit specialists intepreted the general criteria in the BOLO ["Be on the lookout"] listing and developed expanded criteria for identifying potential political cases." The attached footnote states that "during interviews" the IG "could not specifically determine who had been involved in creating the criteria." It was later "clarified" that the "expanded criteria were a compilation of" various unit "specialists' responses on how they were identifying Tea Party cases." Who compiled these criteria? Who were the Determinations Unit specialists? When the EO Director "raised concerns," why was this issue kept secret and under whose directive? Something is amiss here.
10. On page 7, the IG states that "we asked the Acting Commissioner, Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division; the Director, EO; and Determinations Unit personnel if the criteria were influenced by any individual or organization outside the IRS." All said no , "Instead, the Determinations Unit developed and implemented inappropriate criteria in part due to insufficient oversight provided by management." (emphasis added). Obviously, further inquiry is warranted. If the criteria was developed "in part" due to insufficient oversight, what is the other "part" of how it was developed? With whom (inside and outside the IRS) did they discuss the criteria? Who ARE these people, anyway? Are they career officials or political appointees? What are their partisan backgrounds?
11. On page 7, it states "only first-line management approved references to the Tea Party in the BOLO listing criteria before it was implemented." Fine, but who else KNEW about the references, even if they didn't approve them, and when did they have that knowledge? Apparently, at some point, the Rulings and Agreement Office became aware (see #5 above). When did that happen, and how?
12. There is a significant paragraph at the bottom of page 7. Apparently, the Director of Exempt Organizations demanded that the criteria be changed. But "the team of specialists subsequently changed the criteria in January 2012without executive approval" (emphasis added). This screams for investigation. How did this happen? Who exactly was this "team of specialists" and what motivated them to freelance this way -- if, indeed, this is what happened?
13. Three months later, the Director, Rulings and Agreements, learned this criteria had been changed by the team of specialists and required all criteria changes to be approved at the executive level before being implemented. (page 7). How did the R and A director find out about the criteria change? Has such an edict ever been necessary before, and in what circumstances?
14.On page 8, the report states that "Accoding to the Director, Rulings and Agreements, the fact that the team of specialists worked applications that did not involve the Tea Party, Patriots or 9/12 groups demonstrated that the IRS was not politically biased in its identification of applications for processing by the team of specialists. But of course it does no such thing -- and only opens the veracity of the director to question. That's because the IG admits on page 8 (footnote 18) that "we could not determine which potential political cases may have been identified based on an organization's policy positions." This admission alone points out the need for further impartial investigation.
15. Page 8 "All cases wtih Tea Party, Patriots or 9/12 in their names were forwarded to the team of specialists." That is, they were flagged for harassment. This indicates that something more than "ineffective oversight" or "ineffective management" was at work.
16. Page 9 - 141 applications were not appropriately identified as political cases. Were these liberal groups?
17. Page 10 - The report notes that 31% of the 296 applications that had complete documentation and were referred to the "team of specialists" (ie for harassment) showed no "indications of significant political campaign intervention" (i.e., there was no reason to forward them). The EO function officials disagree with the IG's findings on this point, and provided explanations about why they should have been flagged-- but "the case files did not include the specific reason(s) the appllications were selected." So why does the EO function believe they should have been selected?
18. On page 11, the IRS essentially rejects the IG recommendation that procedures be developed to "better document the reason(s) applications are chosen for review by the team of specialists." Instead, the IRS "stated it will review its screening procedures to determine whether, and to what extent, additional documentation can be implemented without having an adverse impact on the timeliness of case processing." While the stated concern about timeliness(!) is commendable, could it be possible the real motive is to maintain some degree of subjectivity in flagging applications?!
19. On page 12, the IG asserts that "Potential political cases took significantly longer than average to process due to ineffective management oversight" (emphasis added). Again, how has this conclusion been reached? Is it based only on the assertions of those interviewed at the IRS? And whose management, specifically?
20. Page 12 also notes a signficant delay in processing potentially political cases [once knwon as Tea Party cases] from 10/10 through 11/11 while the team of specialists waited for assistance from the Technical Unit allegedly to ensure consistency in processing. But the report states that the Exempt Organizations management didn't ensure that a formal process was in place for tracking or monitoring assistance requests. This is a procedural critique, not a substantive one -- but what should really be probed is whether and when requests for assistance were made; by whom; by whom they were received; how they were handled; who knew about them.
21. Page 13 says that in April 2010 the Determinations Unit Program Manager requested a contact in the Technical Unit for help with processing the applications, and a technical unit specialist was assigned to work with the team of determinations specialists. Who was this person, and what kind of assistance was needed? Was it given? And why did the team of specialists stop processing potential political applications in October if they already had the help they had requested? Did this helper simply put in place another way to slow-walk the applications (see #20)?
22. On page 13, the report states that the team of determinations specialists stopped processing potential political applications in October 2010 without closing any, but the Determinations Unit Program Manager thought the cases were being processed. Why did s/he think so? On what basis did s/he reach that conclusion? The IG was informed "later" by "the Director, Rullings and Agreements, that there was a miscommunication about processing the cases." What was this miscommunication? Who was involved in these miscommunications -- with whom, and how? Is there any written record of this "miscommunication"?
23. Draft written guidance from Technical finally came in November 2011 (13 months after Determinations Unit stopped processing the potential political cases) -- but as of the end of February 2013, the guidance had not been finalized because the EO function decided to provide training instead. Who made this decision? It appears that the whole need assistance / need consistency in processing guidelines / provide training instead conveniently allowed the whole process to be pushed past the 2012 elections. Was this in fact the intent?
24. On page 14, the IG states that there "appeared to be some confusion by Determinations Unit specialists and applications on what activities are allowed by IRC 501(c)(4) organizations." The IG attributes this "confusion" to a "lack of specific guidance on how to determine the 'primary activity'" of such an organization. Has there been similar "confusion" in the past? Why was this "confusion" evident only now? 501(c)(4) organizations have been around for some time.
25. The team of specialists were trained about 501(c)(4) organizations in May 2012. Before this, only 2% of 298 applications were approved. Which six were they? After this training, an additional 102 applications were approved by December 2012 (28% involved Tea Party, Patriot or 9/12 organizations). When exactly were these approvals granted? Who were the other approvals? Were the bulk of them after the election, or so close to it that the organization's function was irretrievably compromised?
26. On pages 16-17, the IG again recommends development of publicly available guidance on tax-exempt status involving potentially significant political campaign intervention. And again, the IRS is resisting objective, public standards for making such determinations (see #18 above). Why? Who is in charge of the responses to these recommendations and is resisting transparency and objectivity?
27. On page 18, the report notes that the "Determinations Unit requested donor information from 27 organizations [13 of which had Tea Party, Patriot or 9/12 in their names] that it would be required to make public if the application was approved, even though this information could not be disclosed by the IRS when provided by organizations whose tax-exempt status had been approved." Who in the unit requested this information? Was it given to any other outside groups, like Pro Publica? Which groups were targeted with such requests?
Posted by Eddie at Wednesday, May 15, 2013