Timothy Bloodworth

As Virginia and New York debate and ratify, North Carolina’s delegates gather in Hillsborough to decide the fate of the ratification in North Carolina. The Delegates were elected back in March at the direction of the State Legislature, and the Federalists are badly (2:1) outnumbered. They know that they will most likely lose. The Anti-Federalists aren’t against the Constitution per se. They are just dead set that they will not vote to ratify without a Bill of Rights.

Among them is one Timothy Bloodworth and he is an example of everything that is right with The United States and the Anti-Federalist idea.

In an unusual twist to the debates so far, the Federalists believe that the Constitution doesn’t go far enough in the powers it grants to the new central government. But they are resigned to defeat in the matter. Consequently, they do two things:

First, they hire a stenographer. If (when) they lose, they intend to make it stick to the Anti-Federalists. Secondly, they decide to take a long view of the matter. Like New York, they realize that the Constitution is a done deal.

Even though North Carolina will vote to neither ratify or reject, the stage will be set for the final battle.

In the process of show prep I came across this BRILLIANT song parody

that a teacher uses to teach his kids about the ratification debates:


Was It Worth It?

Mark Zuckerberg has made it clear that he does not understand the 1st Amendment. Or what “political speech” actually is.

Now, within the context of his creation, Facebook, he is free to promote or suppress speech as he sees fit. The problem is that he doesn’t want to do it. I mean, he does want to do it, but he doesn’t want to be blamed for it. Instead, he wants the government to do it for him.

The problem is, of course, that like many in the entertainment and governmental industries, he doesn’t seem to grasp that the Government cannot do that… well… in fairness, there aren’t very many people who grasp that.

It all makes my annual question to 129 men who died this day in 1963 more poignant.

Cold Water

Tomorrow, April 10th is one of those days.

I will have nightmares tonight because I will – once again – read words long ago memorized. Words that describe with clinical detachment and sterile passion the final microseconds of the USS Thresher.

These were words that terrified me in the summer of 1984 when I was working on the last of my own Submarine qualifications. Thirty-two years after my last dive into the depths of the ocean, the words still chill the blood in my veins and make my knees weak.

Of all the things that I wish that I did not know, the facts – cold, hard, sanitary and shocking – of Threshers final seconds are at the top of the list. That it was painless is one of the Navy’s great salves. But it wasn’t painless.

Men who knew their jobs every bit as well as I did, men who believed that they could save their ship from anything, felt every bend of the steel. They felt the terror of knowing what was about to happen.

Their pain lives on in every man or woman who has closed the hatch and dived into the cold waters since that day. We all read the reports and the clinical description.

And in the dark, when nobody else can see, we feel their pain and we weep for them.

Truth From a Well


Let’s say that Person A says that he or she thinks that something is so.

Let us also accept that Person B disagrees with what Person A says.

Once upon a time, there would be a discussion, some reasoning, some logic, some research and maybe even a snarky comment or two. Ultimately though, for the most part, the facts of the matter would win out. Sure, some people would still cling to whatever person was incorrect, but it wasn’t a matter of life and death.

Over the last weeks, Person A, who made the discovery that he thinks is highly significant, wanted to let people know about his potentially significant discovery. So… he wrote the paper, submitted the research paper to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences – and when the journal announced that it would publish it, the University he works with sent out a Press Release announcing the discovery.

Or… at least hinting at what the discovery might be. Or at least stirring the pot about what the discovery could possibly represent…

It set off a firestorm of argument, debate, furious Social Media postings, and even a text chat between myself and my favorite Paleontologist.


All of this over a bed of fossils that may or may not have been formed when an asteroid hit the Earth 65 Million years ago.

But there is a lesson in it for the rest of us…

Congress Is About to Ban the Government From Offering Free Online Tax Filing. Thank TurboTax. — ProPublica

So… is this what YOU want from your legislator? Assuming that you, like me, don’t want this, why are we the people ignored in favor of a cash donating, lobbying private business to pass a law to benefit themselves, but not you?

Have you read Federalist 57 lately?

My Congressman is about to hear from me. How about your Congressperson??


A bill supported by Democrats and Republicans would make permanent a program that bars the IRS from ever developing its own online tax filing service.

Source: Congress Is About to Ban the Government From Offering Free Online Tax Filing. Thank TurboTax. — ProPublica

Just in time for Tax Day, the for-profit tax preparation industry is about to realize one of its long-sought goals. Congressional Democrats and Republicans are moving to permanently bar the IRS from creating a free electronic tax filing system.

Last week, the House Ways and Means Committee, led by Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass.passed the Taxpayer First Act, a wide-ranging bill making several administrative changes to the IRS that is sponsored by Reps. John Lewis, D-Ga., and Mike Kelly, R-Pa.

In one of its provisions, the bill makes it illegal for the IRS to create its own online system of tax filing. Companies like Intuit, the maker of TurboTax, and H&R Block have lobbied for years to block the IRS from creating such a system. If the tax agency created its own program, which would be similar to programs other developed countries have, it would threaten the industry’s profits.

“This could be a disaster. It could be the final nail in the coffin of the idea of the IRS ever being able to create its own program,” said Mandi Matlock, a tax attorney who does work for the National Consumer Law Center.

Experts have long argued that the IRS has failed to make filing taxes as easy and cheap as it could be. In addition to a free system of online tax preparation and filing, the agency could provide people with pre-filled tax forms containing the salary data the agency already has, as ProPublica first reported on in 2013.

The Free File Alliance, a private industry group, says 70% of American taxpayers are eligible to file for free. Those taxpayers, who must make less than $66,000, have access to free tax software provided by the companies. But just 3% of eligible U.S. taxpayers actually use the free program each year. Critics of the program say that companies use it as a cross-marketing tool to upsell paid products, that they have deliberately underpromoted the free option and that it leaves consumer data open to privacy breaches.

The congressional move would codify the status quo. Under an existing memorandum of understanding with the industry group, the IRS pledges not to create its own online filing system and, in exchange, the companies offer their free filing services to those below the income threshold.

One member of the Free File Alliance explicitly told shareholders that the IRS “developing software or other systems to facilitate tax return preparation … may present a continued competitive threat to our business for the foreseeable future.”

The IRS’ deal with the Free File Alliance is regularly renegotiated and there have been repeatedbipartisan efforts in Congress to put the deal into law.

Those efforts have been fueled by hefty lobbying spending and campaign contributions by the industry. Intuit and H&R Block last year poured a combined $6.6 million into lobbying related to the IRS filing deal and other issues. Neal, who became Ways and Means chair this year after Democrats took control of the House, received $16,000 in contributions from Intuit and H&R Block in the last two election cycles.

Neal, who describes himself as a longtime champion of the existing Free File program, has argued that it would “would help low- and moderate-income taxpayers.”

Free File Alliance Executive Director Tim Hugo called it “a great idea when you can provide a great product — free tax returns — to Americans at no cost to the federal government.” An H&R Block spokesperson said the company believes “Free File should be the subject of ongoing improvement, and we are committed to working with all parties to strengthen and improve Free File on behalf of the American taxpayer.”

Spokespeople for Neal, Lewis and Kelly did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the provision. A companion Senate bill with the same provision has been introduced by Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Ron Wyden, D-Ore.

While efforts to make the IRS’ deal with the tax preparation industry permanent have fizzled in the past, critics are particularly worried this year. The Taxpayer First Act also includes a provision that would restrict the IRS’ use of private debt collectors to those above a certain income. A Wyden spokesperson said the current bill is a “bipartisan, bicameral compromise so it includes priorities of both chairmen and ranking members.” Wyden “supports giving the IRS the resources it needs to offer more services to taxpayers,” the spokesperson added.

Do you have information about the IRS or the tax preparation industry? Contact Justin Elliott at justin@propublica.org or via Signal at 774-826-6240.

Portrait of Justin Elliott

Justin Elliott

Justin Elliott is a ProPublica reporter covering politics and government accountability. To securely send Justin documents or other files online, visit our SecureDrop page.

The Best Feeling In The World

It was a wonderful vacation. I finally got to Crescent City and Ft Bragg. I caught four innings of a Stockton Ports game and spent some great time with my folks.

I also turned off all of my news apps. Well… until one story snuck through…

March 30, 1945 We’re All Jews Here

Today in History

“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me”. – Martin Niemöller

last_great_act_of_defiance1Before the age of the internet meme, office jokes and bits of folk wisdom were passed around and copied and copied again. There was one, “The Last great of Defiance“, which will live for all time as my favorite. The picture speaks for itself. I had one on the wall, for years.

This is one of those stories.

The last great effort of German arms burst out of the frozen Ardennes forest on December 16, 1944, aiming…

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