The Big Think

May 16, 2013

Who’s Got the Juice?

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 11:49 am

Did The IRS Try To Swing Election To Obama?:

“as details of the IRS scandal emerge, it’s increasingly giving the appearance of a wide-scale effort to tilt the playing field against conservative activist groups who might have been helpful to Republican candidates in the 2012 election, while at the same time coddling liberal groups helpful to Obama.

Consider what we now know the IRS did:

• Gave preferential treatment to liberal groups. On Tuesday, USA Today reported that while the IRS was hounding conservative groups and holding up their applications for tax-exempt status, it was quickly ushering liberal groups with names like ‘Progress Florida’ and ‘Missourians Organizing for Reform’ through the process.

USA Today found that in the 27 months after Feb. 2010, the IRS did not approve a single Tea Party application. Over those same months, however, dozens of applications submitted by liberal groups that were engaged in the same type of activities and were seeking the same tax status as the conservative ones sailed through the agency.

‘As applications for conservative groups sat in limbo,’ USA Today reported, ‘groups with liberal-sounding names had their applications approved in as little as nine months.’

Meanwhile, the IG found that of the 296 applications filed by conservative groups it examined, more than half were still in limbo, with some of them having been on hold for more than three years.

• Made unusual document requests. Not only did the IRS target conservative groups for extra scrutiny, it also asked for massive amounts of information that it couldn’t possibly need to determine tax-exempt status, among them: donor names, blog posts, transcripts of radio interviews, resumes of top officers, board minutes and summaries of material passed out at meetings.

In the end, the IRS managed to put its thumb on the political scale by squelching political activity on the right — some groups report curtailing get-out-the-vote efforts, spending piles of money on legal fees or disbanding altogether in the face of IRS inquisitions.

And all of it happened during a close and hotly contested presidential election where such mischievousness could make a real difference.”

However, this could have just been a massive coincidence.

More at the link.

UPDATE: And from the Fiscal Times:

“Americans who believe that the IRS should enforce its regulations neutrally already have plenty of reason for concern, if not outrage. They should be concerned about the fact that the IRS is about to get a lot more powerful through the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.

The law makes the IRS the enforcement agent for the individual mandate and health-plan acceptability, and that power can be perverted for political purposes.”

But I’m sure we have nothing to worry about.

Georgia Tech Takes MOOCs to the Next Level | Via Meadia

Filed under: Education — jasony @ 9:37 am

Georgia Tech Takes MOOCs to the Next Level: “Georgia Tech announced yesterday that it is teaming up with Udacity, one of the leading providers of massively open online education, to offer a full graduate program in computer science. For a mere $7,000 dollars—or 1/6 the cost of the equivalent program offered on campus—students who meet the prerequisites can fulfill the requirements of a master’s degree entirely through open courseware.

This is a big deal. As the Washington Post notes, even MOOC-friendly colleges like Stanford, Harvard, and San Jose State have been reluctant to actually grant credentials for their online courses, preferring to use them as a teaching aids rather than as the foundation of a program. There have been the usual concerns about quality control, as well as worries that an all-MOOC degree could dilute the value of Georgia Tech’s traditional degrees, but Georgia Tech claims it has taken these concerns into account.”

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