John Ransom

Over the weekend the New York Times carried a story on the front page about the IRS scandal. The subhead of the story proclaims: “Scrutiny went beyond conservative groups.”

Want proof?

“Overseen by a revolving cast of midlevel managers,” writes the Times, “stalled by miscommunication with I.R.S. lawyers and executives in Washington and confused about the rules they were enforcing, the Cincinnati specialists flagged virtually every application with Tea Party in its name. But their review went beyond conservative groups: more than 400 organizations came under scrutiny, including at least two dozen liberal-leaning ones and some that were seemingly apolitical.”

So 24 groups with liberal sounding names came under scrutiny out of 400?

24 groups out of 400: That adds up to six percent of all the applications cited in the story.

So technically, yes, if indeed, other groups besides conservatives were targeted, they have 24 applications that they can point to for proof.

But I point to it as another type of proof.

Six percent in a sample of 400 is about the margin of error, more or less.  If one was targeting just conservative groups, the margin of error says that you’d accidentally include that many liberal groups just out of random chance.   

So you can believe it was just all a big mix-up, with overworked bureaucrats bravely doing a hard job incompetently… 

Or you can believe that the numbers don’t lie and some else is lying instead. 

But the numbers don’t stop Ezra Klein from pretending like the rest of us are idiots: “There continues to be no evidence that the targeting was directed by agency higher-ups, much less anyone related to the Obama campaign. In fact, there’s still not much evidence that the targeting was politically biased in intent, even as it was clearly politically biased in effect.”

Here’s Klein’s argument boiled down to the bones: We didn’t intend to cheat; we’re just so stupid that it had the same effect as cheating. And make no mistake. Klein walks hand in hand with the president on messaging.

This is the same guy who argues in his sleep that Obamacare will really, really save healthcare, balance the budget deficit, prevent acne and whatever else it needs to do, so that an ungrateful Senate won’t repeal it.

John Ransom

John Ransom’s writings on politics and finance have appeared in the Los Angeles Business Journal, the Colorado Statesman, Pajamas Media and Registered Rep Magazine amongst others. Until 9/11, Ransom worked primarily in finance as an investment executive for NYSE member firm Raymond James and Associates, JW Charles and as a new business development executive at Mutual Service Corporation. He lives in San Diego. You can follow him on twitter @bamransom.

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