Why WOULDN'T the IRS pay closer scrutiny to a flood of tax-exemption requests from groups named variations of "Taxed Enough Already"?
Open thread below...
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Why WOULDN'T the IRS pay closer scrutiny to a flood of tax-exemption requests from groups named variations of "Taxed Enough Already"?
Open thread below...
A Plain Blog About Politics - impeachment off the table?
Balloon Juice - the IRS has never picked on liberal groups! And ... Benghazi!
Booman Tribune - turns out people with guns kill people;
Instaputz - or maybe not with the impeachment thing;
Legal Schnauzer - no one could have predicted that a big bank would abuse the debt collection process.
If you've spent any time on Twitter, you've inevitably bumped up against someone who is hateful. If you tweet about politics on Twitter, racist and homophobic tweets are as common as falling leaves on an autumn day. They come from many different sources, as you've seen just from our Stupid Right-Wing Tweets feature.
Geographically, though, they emanate from a concentrated area of the South and Midwest, as shown on the map above, as analyzed by FloatingSheep.org:
The prominence of debates around online bullying and the censorship of hate speech prompted us to examine how social media has become an important conduit for hate speech, and how particular terminology used to degrade a given minority group is expressed geographically. As we’ve documented in a variety of cases, the virtual spaces of social media are intensely tied to particular socio-spatial contexts in the offline world, and as this work shows, the geography of online hate speech is no different.
Rather than focusing just on hate directed towards a single individual at a single point in time, we wanted to analyze a broader swath of discriminatory speech in social media, including the usage of racist, homophobic and ableist slurs.
Using DOLLY to search for all geotagged tweets in North America between June 2012 and April 2013, we discovered 41,306 tweets containing the word ‘nigger’, 95,123 referenced ‘homo’, among other terms. In order to address one of the earlier criticisms of our map of racism directed at Obama, students at Humboldt State manually read and coded the sentiment of each tweet to determine if the given word was used in a positive, negative or neutral manner. This allowed us to avoid using any algorithmic sentiment analysis or natural language processing, as many algorithms would have simply classified a tweet as ‘negative’ when the word was used in a neutral or positive way. For example the phrase ‘dyke’, while often negative when referring to an individual person, was also used in positive ways (e.g. “dykes on bikes #SFPride”). The students were able to discern which were negative, neutral, or positive. Only those tweets used in an explicitly negative way are included in the map.
That last paragraph describes how important this study really is. By actually analyzing the context and meaning contained in the individual tweets, students were able to cull out those tweets which may have used their key terms but not in an intended negative manner.
While the IRS Tea Party Targeting 'Scandal' looks terrible on its face, the ones who look terrible are the IRS, as evidenced by the just-released Inspector General's report. When asked directly by reporters today whether the White House had any knowledge whatsoever of the IRS' activities with regard to approving 501(c)(4) organizations, Jay Carney answered with an unequivocal "No."
That doesn't stop Fox News from trying to link it up to Watergate and Richard Nixon. Lou Dobbs just came out and said it, while others have been only slightly less blatant.
Fox's Lou Dobbs and Megyn Kelly attacked President Obama as "Nixonian" and claimed that he revealed his "inner Nixon" over scrutiny that the IRS applied to tea party groups, despite the fact that the president labeled the IRS's actions "outrageous."
Obama addressed concerns at a press conference Monday over reports that the IRS applied extra scrutiny to tea party groups. He vowed to hold the agency "fully accountable" and called the alleged misdeeds "outrageous." Pointing to those comments, Kelly asked if Obama's condemnation was forceful enough, while Dobbs compared Obama with President Nixon, stating, "This is an agency with an enemies list. This is Nixonian. This is a president whose inner Nixon is being revealed."
I just did a review of the 990s I've collected over the years. For all the sound and fury, there is no question that the IRS was on the right track with regard to their scrutiny. We can argue about whether they targeted the right groups, and in fact, the IG's report specifically points out that they missed an entire group of political/advocacy organizations that deserved further scrutiny, but there is absolutely no question about the need for a closer look.
Congress could fix this if they weren't so addicted to Beltway hair-on-fire news cycles. All they have to do is bar tax-exempt organizations from any political activity relating to elections and election cycles. But no, instead they'd just as soon run around waving their arms in the air shouting "Scandal! Nixon! Investigation! Whitewater!" and so on, because they can and they can hope it stirs the masses enough to give Republicans cover for the 2014 midterms.
Rep. Henry Waxman should make a promise to his constituents, but he doesn't want to. So, instead of promising that he'll protect Social Security from President Obama's proposed benefit cut, Waxman told one of his constituents the very idea of asking representatives to make "pledges" is wrong.
This notion that "pledges are bad" a new Washington cliché in this, the age of anti-democratic (with a small "d") and anti-Democratic (with a big "D") budget deals. There's just one little problem: Representatives begin their terms by taking a pledge. It's called the "Oath of Office," and in it each member of Congress promises to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic."
The Oath of Office pledge is clearly acceptable, which raises the question: Which pledges are not?
A "pledge" is defined as "a solemn binding promise to do, give, or refrain from doing something." That sounds like a good thing, doesn't it? Of course, neither Rep. Waxman nor the president, who shares his aversion for the word, oppose pledges on principle. They've simply imbibed the conventional wisdom that members of Congress should be free to negotiate anything without being bound by commitments made beforehand.
That may even be a reasonable principle... in reasonable times. But where Washington is concerned, these are not reasonable times. Extremist Republicans are hell-bent on dismantling government and tearing up the social contract that has kept us prosperous for generations. Their counterparts in the Democratic Party are frequently too conflict-averse, too sympathetic to this corporatist agenda -- or both -- to fight.
Rather than make a clear and inarguable statement of principle, these Democrats have "pledged not to pledge." This has already led to several very bad outcomes:First, the president and many other leading Democrats have adopted the rhetoric of discredited austerity economics, which usually masquerades under the catch-all phrase "Simpson Bowles," leaving the public's wishes and interests unarticulated in our national debate. At best, they've muddied the differences between themselves and their opponents.
Secondly, the president and his fellow Democrats have agreed to a series of reckless budget-cutting measures instead of fighting for jobs and protecting the social contract. This has deepened and lengthened the lingering recession (or "Long Depression") which continues to devastate millions of American households.
And third, Democrats have set themselves up for repeated political losses by diluting their traditional pro-jobs, pro-growth, pro-Social Security and pro-Medicare agenda with mixed messages and disastrous deals. The president's waffling over Social Security and Medicare, for example, led directly to the GOP's "Seniors Bill of Rights" campaign in 2010 -- which helped Republicans retake the House and inflict a disastrous loss on Democrats that year.Democrats clearly haven't learned their lesson. When pressed by constituent Kim Kaufman to sign the "Grayson-Takano" letter pledging to reject Social Security and Medicare benefit cuts, Waxmansaid: "I can see possibilities that some things that we don't like may be in a final budget and that will get us a lot of things we do want."
The biggest "thing we don't like" on the table right now is Obama's Social Security cut, which is also a middle-class tax hike. The chained-CPI will permanently punish the country's already under-protected elderly and disabled citizens. The "things we want" are likely to be slightly less draconian cuts to other social service programs, or some "genteel" tax hikes which target everybody but the wealthy - perhaps the loss of health, child care, or mortgage interest deductions.
President Obama has nominated five people to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Two are Republicans. All are waiting for confirmation by the Senate. Let your Senators know these nominees should be confirmed so the NLRB can get back to work.
What Is The NLRB?
The NLRB is the agency that "safeguards employees' rights to organize and to determine whether to have unions as their bargaining representative. The agency also acts to prevent and remedy unfair labor practices committed by private sector employers and unions."
The NLRB supervises elections to form or decertify unions in the workplace. It investigates charges that employees, unions or employers violated rules over labor practices and rules on the charges. It works to get problems resolved rather than taken to court. And finally, when the NLRB has issued a ruling that is ignored it can take the parties to court.
But if the NLRB is prevented from operating there is no one to make sure that the rules for labor practices are being enforced. This hurts workers and companies.
Background Of The Nomination Battle
Individual workers have little power when up against giant corporations. They can ask for better pay, benefits and working conditions, please, and the giant companies can just say, "you're fired" if they do -- and working people know that. However, when the employees all band together it gives them collective power. It's the old story of how a person can break a single stick, but when all the sticks are bundled together the person is not able to break them. Banding together the workers have the power to get better wages, benefits and working conditions.
The other side of this is that big companies can make a lot of money if they can keep their workers from organizing unions. So they use their money and power to try to stop workers from organizing unions.
Because the economy does better when people have better wages, benefits and working conditions, and because strikes and lawsuits can plug things up, it is the law that workers have the right to form unions and bargain collectively to balance out the immense power of the giant corporations.
This is why the NLRB battle matters. For years elected officials allied with anti-union businesses worked to block the NLRB from operating, so that workers are not able to form unions and existing unions are not able to enforce labor rules. At the same time these elected officials worked to get anti-union judges into the courts and block impartial judges from being confirmed. This enabled the giant companies to make more money -- and working people less money. (Meanwhile as wages dropped nationally the economy slowed and slowed.)
As his performance over the past week suggests, Rep. Darrell Issa's response to the tragic deaths of American citizens in the Middle East apparently depends on which party controls the White House. After all, in February 2007 Issa mocked the families of four Blackwater contractors slaughtered in Fallujah. Now, the Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has accused former CIA Director David Petraeus of carrying water for the Obama administration's supposed Benghazi cover-up. That would be the same General David Petraeus Issa charged six years ago was being targeted by Democrats "as part of an ongoing partisan smear campaign against U.S. efforts in Iraq."
Appearing on Meet the Press with host David Gregory on Sunday, John Boehner's Benghazi Grand Inquisitor suggested that Petraeus and the members of the independent Accountability Review Board did President Obama's bidding on the Benghazi probe:
GREGORY: Chairman, my reporting of the immediate aftermath of this talking to administration officials is that CIA Director David Petraeus made it clear when he briefed top officials that there-- that there was a spontaneous element to this, that it was not completely known that this was a terrorist attack right away. You don't give any credence to the notion that there was some fog of war, that there were-- there were conflicting circumstances about what went on here.
Four years ago, some conservatives created an uproar when pro-choice President Barack Obama was invited to deliver the commencement address at Notre Dame University. (That protest was more than a little hypocritical, given the school's tradition of featuring pro-choice speakers including Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.) Now, Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley has announced he will boycott next week's graduation speech at Jesuit Boston College by Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny.
For Cardinal O'Malley, Kenny's offense is his support for new legislation allowing Irish physicians to perform emergency abortion procedures only in those dire circumstances in which the life of the mother is in immediate jeopardy. That bill arose after the 2012 case of Savita Halappanavar, who needlessly died in agony after doctors refused her pleas to terminate her already miscarried pregnancy. While the legislative debate continues, Halappanavar's husband has since accepted apologies from both University Hospital Galway and the midwife who told him as his wife was dying that "this is a Catholic country."
But as Huffington Post reported, Cardinal O'Malley is apparently in no mood for apologies:
In a bizarre twist in the non-scandal known as Benghazi, it appears that someone doctored an email from Ben Rhodes to make it appear that he was more interested in protecting the State Department than telling the truth of what happened during the Benghazi attacks.
Ben Rhodes is a hard target of the right wing over the whole Benghazi invention. A search on the terms CBS and Ben Rhodes shows page after page of efforts to smear Rhodes by making hay out of the fact that his brother is a top CBS executive.
Rhodes is a target because of leaked emails reported by ABC and the Weekly Standard which seemed to indicate Rhodes was more interested in protecting the State Department than he was in telling the truth about what happened. This is why the right is so focused on the talking points now. They're sure they were filled with lies.
It turns out the only real lie was one told by whoever leaked those emails. Jake Tapper has the story:
In the email sent on Friday, September 14, 2012, at 9:34 p.m., obtained by CNN from a U.S. government source, Rhodes wrote:
“Sorry to be late to this discussion. We need to resolve this in a way that respects all of the relevant equities, particularly the investigation.
“There is a ton of wrong information getting out into the public domain from Congress and people who are not particularly informed. Insofar as we have firmed up assessments that don’t compromise intel or the investigation, we need to have the capability to correct the record, as there are significant policy and messaging ramifications that would flow from a hardened mis-impression.
“We can take this up tomorrow morning at deputies.”
What was reported:
ABC News reported that Rhodes wrote: “We must make sure that the talking points reflect all agency equities, including those of the State Department, and we don’t want to undermine the FBI investigation. We thus will work through the talking points tomorrow morning at the Deputies Committee meeting.” The Weekly Standard reported that Rhodes "responded to the group, explaining that Nuland had raised valid concerns and advising that the issues would be resolved at a meeting of the National Security Council’s Deputies Committee the following morning."
Whoever provided those quotes and paraphrases did so inaccurately, seemingly inventing the notion that Rhodes wanted the concerns of the State Department specifically addressed. Nuland, particularly, had expressed a desire to remove mentions of specific terrorist groups and CIA warnings about the increasingly dangerous assignment. Rhodes put no emphasis at all in his email on the State Department's concerns.
If we assume that ABC and the Weekly Standard were given paraphrases of the emails rather than the actual text, it would appear as though the leaker took great pains to alter the meaning and words Rhodes actually wrote in order to invent scandal where none existed.
Gosh, who would do a thing like that?
Republicans say he quit a month ago, but it's all over the place today. Moral: Wingnut Republicans are wingnut Republicans, and normal people are normal people, and never the twain shall meet. This guy turned his back on a high-paid, high-profile job and burned his bridges. That's how bad these people are:
When Republicans appointed Pablo Pantoja to State Director of Florida Hispanic Outreach for the Republican National Committee, they hoped he would be able to bridge the sizable gap that only expanded during the 2012 elections, when the state’s 4.7 million Hispanic voters supported Barack Obama over Mitt Romney by a 20 percent margin.
But after months of inaction by Congressional Republicans on comprehensive immigration reform and stiff resistance by Republican-leaning groups like the Heritage Foundation, Pantoja has had enough; on Monday, he announced via email that he was leaving the party and registering as a Democrat:
Yes, I have changed my political affiliation to the Democratic Party.
It doesn’t take much to see the culture of intolerance surrounding the Republican Party today. I have wondered before about the seemingly harsh undertones about immigrants and others. Look no further; a well-known organization recently confirms the intolerance of that which seems different or strange to them.
Pantoja goes on to specifically cite last week’s revelation — that an author of Heritage’s false report on the cost of the Gang of Eight’s immigration bill wrote a dissertation in which he suggested that Hispanics are at a permanent disadvantage because they have lower IQs — as the final straw in his political evolution.
Prior to assuming the role of state director, Pantoja served in the National Guard, doing multiple tours abroad in Kuwait and Iraq before returning to the states and getting involved in Republican politics. In 2010 he served as a field director in Florida during the midterm elections.