MARTY RUSSELL: Summer may be late but silly season is early

By Marty Russell

This just in: News reports reveal that the Internal Revenue Service has been targeting children’s lemonade stands for the past two summers in what it calls a crackdown on tax evasion and funneling profits to clandestine political organizations in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling.
Meanwhile the Justice Department has seized the Twitter accounts of “Entertainment Tonight” reporters for allegedly having insider information about Angelina Jolie’s double mastectomy and withholding it from the government. She is, after all, a UN special envoy.
And Republicans are threatening even more Benghazi-like hearings over an Iowa farmer who voted for Obama and is accused of shutting his barn door after the horses had already escaped.
The IRS, already under fire for targeting conservative groups with words like “Tea Party” and “Patriot” in their names, said it is going after the lemonade stands because, as an IRS spokesman put it, “these same kids also like to stage tea parties” and because, “lemonade is a lot like OJ and we all know OJ is guilty of something.”
Conservatives have blasted the agency for targeting conservative groups even though the head of the IRS up until last November was a Republican appointed by President Bush. The supposed targeting began shortly after the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Citizen United case in 2010 that corporations, labor unions and such could not be restricted in spending on political campaigns.
The IRS claims it was simply making sure that the many groups that sprang up in the wake of the ruling were legitimate. The scrutiny, it says, made some groups look for other means of making and funneling under-the-table campaign contributions and hence the lemonade stand investigation. A spokesman said the agency now fears that, with the current criticism, those groups will be able to operate without oversight.
The Justice Department, on the other hand, is going after the liberals, the media, and seizing phone records from groups like the Associated Press after discovering that those groups knew something they didn’t because of government leaks, a possible case of who has the real intelligence around here? Or is there any real intelligence around here?
In a turnaround the GOP is criticizing the Justice Department for going after the media over government leaks after criticizing the Justice Department last year for not going after the media over leaks about the killing of Osama bin Laden.
Meanwhile, Republicans in Congress continue to hammer at the Obama administration for not acting quickly enough in the wake of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Like that Iowa farmer, they say, the administration should have known the horses were about to escape and not waited until after the fact to take action. This coming from the same people who were in charge on 9/11.
It’s all a little silly and blown out of proportion but then it seems the silly season is starting earlier and earlier. Can everyone say 2016?
MARTY RUSSELL writes a Wednesday column for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at

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