Conservative Pundit Erick Erickson Preaches The Gospel of Iranian Mullahs

 Erick Erickson makes it worse

 Erick Erickson makes it worse When accused of sexism, don’t reference your opponents’ “panties”.

Erick Erickson, the conservative blogger and Fox News personality, became the most hated man on Twitter today after responding to a much-discussed Pew survey on female breadwinners by saying that science says that men should dominate women (to be fair to Erickson, Juan Williams and Lou Dobbs expressed equally retrograde sentiments on the very same segment, but have largely escaped the drubbing).

Erickson tried to clear things up with a blog post this afternoon, but only made matters worse by showing how much he doesn’t get it. The missive started off poorly, with some whining about how feminists and “emo lefties have their panties in a wad” (pro-tip: when accused of sexism, don’t reference your opponents’ panties while mounting your defense) and only got worse from there.

First there was a science lesson:

I also noted that the left, which tells us all the time we’re just another animal in the animal kingdom, is rather anti-science when it comes to this. In many, many animal species, the male and female of the species play complementary roles, with the male dominant in strength and protection and the female dominant in nurture.

There are also species where males castrate themselves before sex to avoid being eating alive by females. Perhaps Erickson would like to experience that — you know, because science?

Erickson goes on to equate all female breadwinners with single mothers, and then to assume that the outrage directed at his comments was about some kind of politically correct effort to destroy families…

First of all, Freedom. We live in a democratic republic. We have a free market economy. It is not for conservatives to decide who should make the most based on strange criteria  such as gender, race or religion. If some women make more money than men or have more power in their relationships, that is their personal business. It is a result of their circumstances, life choices and some luck, good or bad. You know where you can here the same conservative misogynistic nonsense? From Iranian fundamentalists. Robbed of simple pleasures – Women’s rights in Iran

 Equality does not take precedence over justice… Justice does not mean that all laws must be the same for men and women. One of the mistakes that Westerners make is to forget this…. The difference in the stature, vitality, voice, development, muscular quality and physical strength of men and women shows that men are stronger and more capable in all fields… Men’s brains are larger…. Men incline toward reasoning and rationalism while women basically tend to be emotional… These differences affect the delegation of responsibilities, duties and rights.
— Hashemi Rafsanjani, Iranian Parliament Speaker, 1986

It is as though Erickson read that and simply repeated it in his own words ( with  Juan Williams and Lou Dobbs nodding in agreement). From 1998, Women in Iran – A look at President Khatami’s first year in office

Iranian women were strong participants in the 1979 revolution, but fundamentalists, led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, seized control after the revolution. Once in power, the fundamentalists betrayed the work and humanity of women by implementing a crushing system of gender apartheid. Fundamentalists built their theocracy on the premise that women are physically, intellectually and morally inferior to men, which eclipses the possibility of equal participation in any area of social or political activity. Biological determinism prescribes women’s roles and duties to be child bearing and care taking, and providing comfort and satisfaction to husbands.

Men were granted the power to make all family decisions, including the movement of women and custody of the children. “Your wife, who is your possession, is in fact, your slave,” is the mullah’s legal view of women’s status. (2) The misogyny of the mullahs made women the embodiment of sexual seduction and vice. To protect the sexual morality of society, women had to be covered and banned from engaging in “immodest” activity.

I don’t know who first used the term, but Erickson, Dobbs and Will aims are examples of the observation that many conservatives embrace an American Taliban mentality. With the attitude that only men can make decisions, only men can lead, only men can think clear thoughts, only men should be allowed to compete in the commercial marketplace, and the marketplace of ideas. I do not see how men do anything but profit from equality with women. Unless you’re an American or Iranian conservative who has a fundamentalist fixation on controlling every aspect of someone’s life. More on Erick’s dream world,  Mullahs’ parliament adopts bill prohibiting issuance of passport for single women

On November 13, mullahs’ parliamentary Commission on National Security and Foreign Policy, in consideration of the Passport Bill, had adopted this article for “single women under 40” (IRGC news agency – Fars). However, mullahs’ parliament declared on December 11 that mention of a particular age has been dropped in this bill. Safar Naimi, a mullahs’ parliamentarian said: “It is the belief of most members of the committee that issuance of passport for women, whether single or married, should be conditioned on the approval of her guardian or the Shariat judge; meaning that a single woman would need approval from her guardian father, grandfather or Shariat judge; and a married woman has to have the approval of her husband, guardian or the Shariat judge”.

 

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Forbes and Former Romney Advisor Twist Costs of California Obamacare

Model Train wallpaper

Model Train wallpaper

First, who is Avik Roy, according to his little background biography box at Forbes:”The Apothecary, a blog about health care and entitlement reform, is edited by Avik Roy, a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research and a former health-care policy adviser to Mitt Romney. Avik also writes a weekly column on politics and policy for National Review.” Used to work for the guy who likely set a record for lies, distortions, half truths and egregious smears during a presidential election. He works for a radical conservative “think tank” that publishes bought and paid for research and writes for The National Review. The latter’s most recent triumph of truth and reason being the defense of a report claiming all Latinos have low IQs and saying the U.S. should fight on the side of murderous dictator Bashar al-Assad. Avik could still write the truth about something, but his background does speak to a less than stellar character. Rate Shock: In California, Obamacare to Increase Individual Health Insurance Premiums by 64-146%.

Here’s what happened. Last week, Covered California—the name for the state’s Obamacare-compatible insurance exchange—released the rates that Californians will have to pay to enroll in the exchange. “The rates submitted to Covered California for the 2014 individual market,” the state said in a press release, “ranged from two percent above to 29 percent below the 2013 average premium for small employer plans in California’s most populous regions.”

[  ]…The next cheapest plan, the “bronze” comprehensive plan, costs $205 a month. But in 2013, on eHealthInsurance.com (NASDAQ:EHTH), the average cost of the five cheapest plans was only $92. In other words, for the average 25-year-old male non-smoking Californian, Obamacare will drive premiums up by between 100 and 123 percent.

I’ll try to keep this as brief as possible. There are some number wonks who enjoy this sort of news, but arguing about numbers also bores many people. That last paragraph is Avik’s big gotcha. His, look what they’re not telling you that I discovered. There is a little problem with that:

1. I went over to the site where he got his numbers, used the 25 year old single male non-smoker ( which does leave out categories like married, over 25, insurance that is part of a group plan associated with one’s job – the kind of plan most people have). Right now that male can get a monthly plan for as low as $75 a month. One of the huge things he leaves out is what each plan offers in return for that premium. The lowest priced plans are generally awful – they have high deductibles, high out of pocket costs, a percent of any costs after the deductible and many have yearly cost ceilings – like they will not pay over $15k per year. They go as high as $230. Or think of it this way; if cars averaged $150, which would be the best car. The $75 car or the $230 car. One would think a uber conservative wonk like Avik would understand how the market works. That site is pretty easy to use if anyone would like to get an estimate on their insurance – just plug in your situation, single, married, family, age etc and you get quotes from at least ten companies. Obamacare has set a base standard for coverage. As those nefarious liberals said in the past, a few people may see their individual plans go up. Though there is no proof, none, and Avik offers none, that his 25 year old male buying individual insurance will positively  go up a hundred percent.

2. It seems odd that California would go up as much as 100% when Oregon rates and Massachusetts rates have gone down.

A Family Care Health Plans official on Thursday said the insurer will ask the state for even greater decrease in requested rates. CEO Jeff Heatherington says the company realized its analysts were too pessimistic after seeing online that its proposed premiums were the highest.

“That was my question when I saw the rates was, ‘Can we go in and refile these?'” he said. “We’re going to try to get these to a competitive range.”

( Avik also failed to take into account tax credits)…Another is higher premiums in the 2014 individual market, though for many people they’ll be offset by tax credits. The higher rates are because people with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied coverage. Also, plans have to offer stronger benefits than they used to, leading to higher premiums.

The same is true for California in that category of insured – the single male getting their own insurance. For many people, though not all, those costs will be offset. We are arguing here with a person who makes a living pushing propaganda for the conservative movement, so of course he does not do subtle distinctions. I mentioned Massachusetts. Ezra Klein just reviewed the history of Romneycare in that state, which is basically the same thing as Obamacare, and he found that overall, insurance rates are down. Credit to Avik and Forbes for including some of the rebuttal he has received,

Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic argues that I’m being unkind to California (1) by not describing the mandates that Obamacare imposes on insurers in the individual market, and (2) not explaining that low-income people will be eligible for subsidies that protect them from much of the rate shock.

3. Cohn also wrote on that California report,  California Will Be Spared the Obamacare Apocalypse No sticker shock here—just affordable insurance premiums

It’s hard to provide a precise figure on premiums in the new exchange, which is officially called Covered California, because so much depends on individual circumstances, plan selection, and region. But you can get a sense of the prices by looking at what a 40-year-old single person would pay, on average, for the second cheapest “silver” plan on the new market. Such a plan, which would cover about 70 percent of a typical person’s medical expenses, would go for about $300 a month or around $3,600 a year. That compares favorably with what insurance costs today. The typical employer plan, for example, presently costs about $5,500 a year. Employer plans are generally more generous than the silver plans would be, so you’d expect them to be more expensive—but not by such a large margin.

( and this is important for people making in the minimum wage to a few dollars more)…Somebody with an income at 250 percent of the poverty line, or around $29,000 a year, would on average pay just $2400 a year in premiums for that same silver plan. Somebody with an income of 150 percent of the poverty line, or about $17,000 a year, would pay just around $700 a year. This person could also get a “bronze” policy, which comes with higher out-of-pocket expenses, for essentially no premiums at all.

I encourage everyone to read Avik, the California report and Cohn. The report is not that difficult to read through. It seems like they anticipated that people find insurance jargon less than easy to read and tried to make it clear. Yet because insurance is so dependent on individual circumstances, and you’ll get to pick among more insurance companies because of increased competition ( yes it is a capitalist oriented plan that will mean more income for insurance companies) that one can get side tracked in details. In some markets – some states and some regions, only one or two insurance companies have all the business. Obamacare increases the amount of competition, How Obamacare May Help Make Health Care Cheaper By Forcing Insurance Giants To Compete

Setting up the insurance marketplaces is one of the last major Obamacare provisions to take effect — and as the administration works to prepare for that enrollment period to begin in 2014, critics on both sides of the aisle have decried their efforts to implement the health reform law as a “train wreck.” While overhauling the nation’s current health care system certainly hasn’t been without some bumps along the way, Obamacare has not exactly been disastrous so far. The health reform law has already provided better preventative care for millions of previously-insured Americans, forced some health insurers to lower their premiums, and begun to encourage a greater emphasis on primary care.

Obamacare is not my dream, I would have rather seen the ability for everyone to opt into Medicare – a single payer plan. If like Avik, someone was paying me big bucks to find some ragged edges to Obamcare, I could certainly muddy the waters. The net effects of Obamacare are the average insured will see their premiums go down a bit, and millions more Americans will have access to health care. That is not perfect, but it is better than the status quo.

The Atlantic takes down the newest non-scandal, The Fake Story About the IRS Commissioner and the White House. White House records show Douglas Shulman signed in for 11 visits, not 157, between 2009 and 2012. What does it say about conservative “values” that they have to hide behind so much mendacity.

The World Economy Has Embraced Conservatism

Low Tide Driftwood wallpaper, sunset, beach

Low Tide Driftwood wallpaper

 

The world’s economy is becoming conservative/libertarian, The World’s Richest 8% Earn Half of All Planetary Income

Wealth-inequality is always far higher than income-inequality, and therefore a reasonable estimate of personal wealth throughout the world would probably be somewhere on the order of the wealthiest 1% of people owning roughly half of all personal assets. These individuals might be considered the current aristocracy, insofar as their economic clout is about equal to that of all of the remaining 99% of the world’s population.

Milanovich says: “Among the global top 1 per cent, we find the richest 12 per cent of Americans, … and between 3 and 6 per cent of the richest Britons, Japanese, Germans and French. It is a ‘club’ that is still overwhelmingly composed of the ‘old rich’,” who pass on to their children (tax-free in the many countries that have no estate-taxes) the fortunes that they have accumulated, and who help set them up in businesses of their own – often after having sent them first to the most prestigious universities (many in the United States), where those children meet and make friends of others who are similarly situated as themselves.

Framing be a large part of our economic problems, or at least discussion them, i wish they had not used the word “earn.” Once someone has earned or otherwise accumulated some wealth, work is not a big part of the picture. Wealth erans interests. Despite what the working class hears on the news, some people are raking in plenty of cash. They do that with safe to moderately risky investments in bonds, treasury bills, mutual funds. Though those are the immediate sources of income, tracing the river of money back to its source will find a worker making something or providing a service – performing some kind of actual labor. Labor that is rewarded based on merit. The combined labor of millions of people creates enormous wealth for the few. Who decided that what the CEOs, bankers and hedge fund mangers do, constitute such rare and valuable skills and services that they must be rewarded with the income thousands of workers. If capital is the cake, why are workers getting  a smaller and smaller slice of that cake. Did the market really decide that, as conservatives and libertarians insist. Or did those who control the levers of power, absent any counter balance from workers, like strong unions, decide that they could get away with vastly over rewarding themselves and get away with it. This is whatever – a plutocratic economic system, a crony corporate economic system, economic corruption that has become the new normal – it is not merit based capitalism. This s the reality of a kind of world governance. Compared to the twisted misdirection of Fox news and Glenn Beck’s bizarro  U.N.’s Agenda 2, in which the U.N. will supersede U.S. sovereignty. Well the for’ners and international banking already have more say in U.S. legislation than the average red state conservative voter. And any attempts by people like Sen. Warren (D-MA) to reign in some of this power, are derided by conservatives as interference with their freedom.

NMMNB and The Atlantic on Rand Paul (R-KY) and peddling snake-oil to the true believers, WHEN THE GOING GETS PARANOID, THE PARANOID TURN PRO 

The Atlantic’s Philip Bump notes that Rand Paul got big laughs in a recent speech joking about the large number of diagnostic codes that will be used under Obamacare. It won’t shock you to learn that there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for the new codes, but this is the right doing what it does best — killing good ideas it doesn’t like by making them seem ridiculous to the rubes — and Senator Paul seems quite good at it:

An excerpt:

I’m a physician, and when you come in to see me, I put down a little diagnostic code and there was 18,000 of these. But under Obamacare, they’re going to keep you healthier, because now there’s going to be 140,000 codes. Included among these codes will be 312 new codes for injuries from animals. 72 new codes for injuries just from birds. Nine new codes for injuries from the macaw. The macaw? I’ve asked physicians all over the country: Have you ever seen an injury from the macaw?

Among other industries I have done some work with medical insurance data bases. They are an absolute necessity. The number of codes grows every year – based on hospital and doctor requirements. Steve explains the well grounded rationale for this at the link. What is funny, in a dark way, is that Paul thinks he is a physician. he seems to be gearing up for a presidential run. Good for him. Though this “I’m a physician” business is going to haunt him, Dr. Paul: Not board-certified, but self-certified

Libertarian ideology rejects most of the modern regulatory systems that protect consumers, because everyone should be responsible for determining whether the hamburger contains E. coli on his own. But does that do-it-yourself dogma apply to the regulation of medicine, too? If you’re Dr. Rand Paul, practicing ophthalmologist, the answer is emphatically yes.

According to an amusing story in today’s Louisville Courier-Journal, the Kentucky Republican Senate candidate bills himself as a “board-certified” physician even though he is not actually certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology — the only recognized body that certifies doctors in his specialty.

Paul’s only certification was provided instead by something called the National Board of Ophthalmology, which is very convenient because he operates that organization himself. As the Courier-Journal explains drily, the American Board of Ophthalmology, which maintains a fully staffed headquarters in Philadelphia, has existed for roughly a century and currently lists about 16,000 doctors on its rolls. (Most hospitals and insurance companies strongly prefer doctors who are board-certified because certification indicates that they have kept up with changes in technology, best practices and so on.) The National Board of Ophthalmology has existed since 1999, when Paul “founded” it, lists no more than seven doctors, and its address is a post-office box in Bowling Green, Ky. He had claimed to be certified by both boards, but Courier-Journal reporter Joseph Gerth quickly discovered that claim was false.

I’ve been reading this stuff from the libertarian and conservative fringe for years – we have too many certifications and boards, just let people practice Ophthalmology, heart surgery, airplane design, bridge building, whatever – without all this gov’mint red-tape. let the market decide. Once there are a few bad eye treatments or a few badly designed planes fall out of the sky, people will stop doing business with them, another triumph of the market. No doubt offering great solace to all the now blind people listening to their TV. The fringe, who are not great on fact checking or rational thought, get a kick out of Rand, just like they did his dad. You can take the clown out of the circus tent, but he’s still wearing clown shoes, and he likes it that way.

Memorial Day Notes and More On How Conservative Groups Gamed The IRS

“Great White Fleet” Of The U.S. Navy. The “Great White Fleet” was a large fleet of American battleships which Theodore Roosevelt sent around the world on a goodwill mission.        December 1907. The fleet, composed of 16 battleships and their escorts, actually circumnavigated the globe from 6 December 1907 to 22 February 1909. While there was some international goodwill involved, the large and increasingly modernized fleet over the course of two years, was also meant as a demonstration of growing U.S. Naval power. Though had there been a Fox News and Drudge at the time, they probably would have called it an apology tour.

The First Memorial Day

In the weeks after the Civil War ended, it was, some said, “a city of the dead.”

On a Monday morning that spring, nearly 10,000 former slaves marched onto the grounds of the old Washington Race Course, where wealthy Charleston planters and socialites had gathered in old times. During the final year of the war, the track had been turned into a prison camp. Hundreds of Union soldiers died there.

For two weeks in April, former slaves had worked to bury the soldiers. Now they would give them a proper funeral.

The procession began at 9 a.m. as 2,800 black school children marched by their graves, softly singing “John Brown’s Body.”

Soon, their voices would give way to the sermons of preachers, then prayer and — later — picnics. It was May 1, 1865, but they called it Decoration Day.

On that day, former Charleston slaves started a tradition that would come to be known as Memorial Day.

There is a photo at the link that goes with this very moving piece of U.S. story.

One has to wade through some of the notorious history of some radical conservative groups to get to the point, but it is a well made point, The IRS has had legal reason to investigate the religious right

At last week’s ways and means committee hearing on the Internal Revenue Service’s treatment of tax-exempt organizations, Representative Aaron Schock (an Illinois Republican) helped propel a new firestorm across conservative media: in addition to tea party groups, Schock maintained, anti-abortion organizations were also being subjected to “horrible instances of IRS abuse of power, political and religious bias, and repression of their constitutional rights”.

In one of the hearing’s most charged moments, Schock interrogated the outgoing acting IRS Commissioner, Steven Miller, about how IRS personnel asked one of the groups to describe its public prayers. Senator Charles Grassley (an Iowa Republican) joined the fray during the Senate’s finance committee hearings Tuesday.

For anyone who knows the history of the religious right, the possible revocation of tax-exempt status for claimed religious belief is a potent flashpoint. In his book, Thy Kingdom Come: An Evangelical’s Lament, religion historian Randall Balmer argues that contrary to conventional wisdom, which Balmar calls the “abortion myth”, evangelical voters were not propelled to political activism by the supreme court’s 1973 decision in Roe v Wade.

Instead, the issue that mobilized these voters was the IRS’s 1975 revocation of the tax-exempt status of the segregationist Bob Jones University. Rightwing religious architect Paul Weyrich told Balmer that it was “the federal government’s moves against Christian schools” that actually “enraged the Christian community”.

Bob Jones University claimed its ban on interracial dating and admission of students in interracial marriages was rooted in the Bible. It did not end its ban on interracial dating until 2000. The IRS’s decision – which went through protracted litigation that ultimately ended when the supreme court let the revocation stand – was in response to new IRS regulations and a 1972 Supreme Court case holding that educational institutions with racially discriminatory policies were not entitled to tax exemption.

Balmar concluded:

“The Religious Right arose as a political movement for the purpose, effectively, of defending racial discrimination at Bob Jones University and at other segregated schools.”

Denying tax-exempt status to racially discriminatory schools – regardless of whether they claim their religion commands it – is not the only issue which the IRS can lawfully examine an applicant’s or organization’s activities. Under IRS regulations, tax-exempt organizations “may not have purposes or activities that are illegal or violate fundamental public policy”. The Bob Jones University case is just one example of the IRS applying this test. Its treatment of anti-abortion groups may be another.

Questioning anti-abortion groups – even the content of their prayers – could very likely have been aimed at determining whether these groups engaged in activities outside abortion clinics that ran afoul of the law. Because of the history of abortion clinic violence by those claiming a religious imperative, the IRS could have been attempting to determine whether the groups’ activities were in violation of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (Face), a 1994 law which prohibits the use of force, the threat of force, or physical obstruction to injure, intimidate or interfere with someone’s access to or provision of reproductive health services.

At last week’s hearing, Schock entered a 150-page exhibit into the congressional record, a compilation of correspondence about tax-exempt status of three anti-abortion organizations. Two of them, Christian Voices for Life and Coalition for Life of Iowa, claim they were subjected to “unwarranted” questioning during the application process. A third, Small Victories, which already had tax-exempt status, claims to have been “harassed” and exposed to an “intrusive investigation”. Christian Voices for Life and Coalition for Life of Iowa eventually obtained their tax-exempt status, and Small Victories’ remained intact.

The exhibit was assembled by the groups’ attorneys at the Thomas More Society, a rightwing law firm that defended anti-choice activists in National Organization for Women v Scheidler. The National Organization for Women (Now) brought that lawsuit aiming to put an end to clinic violence that had included: “invasions, violent blockades, arson, chemical attacks and bombings of women’s health care clinics, assaults on patients, death threats and shootings of health care workers and administrators, including the murder of eight abortion providers.”

Although Now’s efforts to sue these protestors under federal racketeering laws was ultimately unsuccessful at the supreme court, the Thomas More Society still calls the litigation “a transparent attempt to gag pro-life activism at abortion clinics nationally”.

The Face statute was enacted while this litigation was ongoing. It would not be unprecedented, for example, for an anti-choice activist to pray that an abortion provider die. While we still do not know what the IRS’s thinking on this matter was, it is not entirely irrelevant or intrusive for the IRS to make such inquiries, including the nature of prayer.

Despite the hype and outrage about the Thomas More Society’s clients’ treatment by the IRS, the IRS ultimately did not penalize any of these organizations. But a religious right grudge against the IRS runs deep – back to its defense of Bob Jones University. It was just waiting to surface again.

If logic was part of the general reaction to the IRS and it’s action, one would think everyone would want them to make sure that all tax payers do not end up giving special tax exempt status to any group that violates the law. Conservatives might get some advantage, but liberal groups would as well. We’d be subsidizing the other sides political activity. In the case of the Thomas Moore Society’s clients, who have engaged in violence and various forms of intimidation. Well, there is a logic to the reaction of conservative groups, they can ratchet up a non-scandal to both rally the troops and to intimidate the IRS from doing its job. That more liberal groups might also get the same advantage doesn’t seem to factor into the equation.

I don’t know what kind of drugs Rand Paul (R_KY) is on, but they should not be legalized, Rand Paul: Obama ‘losing the moral authority to lead this nation’

“Nobody questions his legal authority,” the Kentucky Republican explained. “But I think he’s really losing the moral authority to lead this nation. And he really needs to put a stop to this.”

“If no one is fired over this, I really think it’s going to be trouble for him trying lead in the next four years,” Paul added.

Steven Miller, the IRS acting commissioner was fired. President Obama asked for Bush appointee Lois Lerner, the director of the tax-exempt organizations division at the Internal Revenue Service, has been placed on administrative leave. And conservative groups were not targeted. No conservative group was denied their 501(4) status.

The poor beleaguered victims are coming out of the woodwork. While doing so they demonstrate what the IRS was up against. Conservatives actually angry that all tax payers not be required to underwrite their activities, Groups Targeted by I.R.S. Tested Rules on Politics

When CVFC, a conservative veterans’ group in California, applied for tax-exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service, its biggest expenditure that year was several thousand dollars in radio ads backing a Republican candidate for Congress.

The Wetumpka Tea Party, from Alabama, sponsored training for a get-out-the-vote initiative dedicated to the “defeat of President Barack Obama” while the I.R.S. was weighing its application.

And the head of the Ohio Liberty Coalition, whose application languished with the I.R.S. for more than two years, sent out e-mails to members about Mitt Romney campaign events and organized members to distribute Mr. Romney’s presidential campaign literature.

Representatives of these organizations have cried foul in recent weeks about their treatment by the I.R.S., saying they were among dozens of conservative groups unfairly targeted by the agency, harassed with inappropriate questionnaires and put off for months or years as the agency delayed decisions on their applications.

But a close examination of these groups and others reveals an array of election activities that tax experts and former I.R.S. officials said would provide a legitimate basis for flagging them for closer review.

“Money is not the only thing that matters,” said Donald B. Tobin, a former lawyer with the Justice Department’s tax division who is a law professor at Ohio State University. “While some of the I.R.S. questions may have been overbroad, you can look at some of these groups and understand why these questions were being asked.”

The stakes are high for both the I.R.S. and lawmakers in Congress, whose election fortunes next year will hinge in no small part on a flood of political spending by such advocacy groups. They are often favored by strategists and donors not for the tax benefits — they typically not do have significant income subject to tax — but because they do not have to reveal their donors, allowing them to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into elections without disclosing where the money came from.

This is a summary of who qualifies for 501(4) status; 501(c)(4) organizations are generally civic leagues and other corporations operated exclusively for the promotion of “social welfare”, such as civics and civics issues, or local associations of employees with membership limited to a designated company or people in a particular municipality or neighborhood, and with net earnings devoted exclusively to charitable, educational, or recreational purposes….How is organizing political activists, distributing pamphlets composed of political advocacy and holding rallies advocating the election of specific candidates qualify under those provisions for status.

Attorney General Eric Holder Did Not Lie Under Oath Period Full Stop

Blue Unisphere wallpaper

Blue Unisphere wallpaper

 

Two of my otherwise good fellow Democratic bloggers might need to go back and do a more careful reading. Firedoglake writes: Did Attorney General Eric Holder Lie To Congress Under Oath?

During Attorney General Eric Holder’s testimony before the House Oversight Committee he made an interesting statement in response to a question from Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA):

JOHNSON: I yield the balance of my time to you.

HOLDER: I would say this with regard to potential prosecution of the press for the disclosure of material. That is not something I’ve ever been involved in, heard of, or would think would be wise policy. In fact my view is quite the opposite.

Interesting statement given that we now know Holder approved a search warrant for a reporter’s emails who was cited as a co-conspirator in a leak investigation.

Holder was under oath at the time raising the possibility of a perjury charge.

In no way, shape or form does their own post show that Holder lied. Words have meanings. Fairly simple. He said he would not be involved in “prosecution” of the press. It is not quite see Rover fetch the ball, but close in it’s simplicity. We’ll get to some further analysis, but first this post from another Democratic blogger,  The Rosen quest: In (partial) defense of Eric Holder

The pattern emerges again: Obama says the right words, but his administration does the wrong thing.

The news that the Obama administration fought to be able to access Fox News reporter James Rosen’s emails over a long period of time underscores just how much the DOJ latched onto the theory that Rosen was a potential criminal.

Rosen was targeted by the DOJ for his communication with State Department adviser Stephen Kim, who allegedly leaked him information about North Korea’s nuclear program. The DOJ infamously labeled Rosen a “co-conspirator” for his attempts to get the information from Kim. Rosen’s personal emails were searched, and the records of five different phone lines used by Fox News were also surveilled. On Thursday, it emerged that Attorney General Eric Holder had personally signed off on the Rosen warrant.

President Obama said on Thursday that he worried the investigations would chill national security and investigative journalism, and that reporters should not be prosecuted for “doing their jobs.” But his Justice Department apparently did not know this.

One of the most interesting exchanges to derive from this brouhaha may be found on the Brad Blog. Brad wrote a piece which cited Glenn Greenwald’s vigorous condemnation of the Obama administration cavalier attitude toward privacy. In response, a reader accused Greenwald of being close kin to Darrell Issa, the Republican Cairman of the House Oversight Committee.

This is, of course, the overheated rhetoric often employed by those who reduce all of politics to a simplistic game of shirts vs. skins, Us vs. Them. But Greenwald’s response deserves to be quoted:

As for the “substance” of the commenter’s accusations: what I said is 100% accurate. At the time Rosen published his article, barely anybody noticed it. It created almost no furor. Nobody suggested it was a leak that was even in the same universe as the big leaks of classified information over the last decade in terms of spilling Top Secret information into the public domain: the NYT’s exposure of the Bush NSA and SWIFT programs, Dana Priest’s uncovering of the CIA black site network, David Sanger’s detailing of Obama’s role in the Stuxnet attack on Iran, etc.

Nor has anyone claimed that this leak resulted in harm to anyone or blew anyone’s cover. That’s what makes it “innocuous”: it’s a run-of-the-mill leak that happens constantly in Washington, where government officials give classified information and intelligence reporting to DC journalists, who then print it. That happens all the time. All the time. And it has for decades.

All that’s happening here is that Obama followers are doing what Bush followers constantly did to defend their leader: screaming “harm to national security!” to justify secrecy and attacks on the press. But there is no demonstrated harm to national security from this leak and nobody has remotely claimed it’s anywhere near the level of leaks that prompted Bush officials threaten to prosecute journalists at the New York Times.

The effort to spy on Rosen resulted from a classic over-reaction, of the sort we’ve seen time and again in leak investigations.

That blogger ( usually a pretty good one) and Glenn Greenwald ned to get a basic understanding of the difference between a national security leak and whistle-blowing. In the examples that Greenwald cites, those were whistle-blowers who revealed crime committed by the Bush administration. James Rosen leaked a national security secret. Rosen, Fox news and  was and State Department adviser Stephen Kim violated national security laws, compromised the U.S. and U.N. bargaining position on North Kora’s nuclear weapons program. At the very lest Greenwald and those who are like minded should say they don’t care about the marked differences or do not care about national security secrets, or claim that it should not have been a national security secret because it is just Obama beng too secretive and wrap that up with some liberal’s long standing grudge against Obama for that reason. Gleen claims without evidence “But there is no demonstrated harm to national security from this leak.” That is not the case. If it is, Greenwald has offered exactly zero evidence to prove it. I’ve been reading Greenwald for years. he used to make almost iron clad arguments, with supporting evidence, as he did during the Bush administration> What happened. Now he seems to have gone into the ‘ they all do it” and liberals are hypocrites business. Again, with no more proof, than his adamant assertion he is right, period. He seems that a true champion of civil liberties is getting lazy.

The Fox case involved a report by Rosen in June 2009 that American intelligence officials had issued warnings that, should the United Nations adopt sanctions that were under consideration, North Korea would begin conducting new nuclear tests. According to the F.B.I. affidavit in the case, the information was top secret and was contained in an intelligence document disseminated to a small number of government officials that same morning. The report was marked top secret.

Probably no lasting harm was done, but that is simply an educated guess on my part. North Korea has proven to be sociopathic when it comes to acting in it’s own best interests. So they probably would have resumed new tests anyway. Greenwald and bloggers who agree with him do not say that. They claim with absolute, evidence free certainty, that no big deal, it does not matter. As though the humility that Glenn has shown in the past is excess baggage in this case. Glenn is doing what quite a few old-fashioned liberals used to do and still do – though Glenn has never officially declared his political affiliations. They want so much to be regarded as being independent minded, of not being a partisan hack, that they end up being hacks against the truth. This is simple. A very brief story, with some little details that seem to be getting short shift, Fox News Whitewashes Reality To Smear Holder With Perjury Accusations

It was recently revealed that the Justice Department obtained a search warrant for the communications records of Fox News reporter James Rosen in an effort to track down a leaker who provided him with classified information on North Korea in 2009. On May 15, during a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) asked Holder about the warrant and the potential for prosecuting journalists accused of publishing classified information that they obtained from government sources. Holder responded (emphasis added):

With regard to the potential prosecution of the press for the disclosure of material. That is not something that I’ve ever been involved in, heard of, or would think would be a wise policy.

On May 24, the Justice Department released a statement clarifying Holder’s involvement in the approval process for the warrants in question (emphasis added):

“The Department takes seriously the First Amendment right to freedom of the press. In recognition of this, the Department took great care in deciding that a search warrant was necessary in the Kim matter, vetting the decision at the highest levels of the Department, including discussions with the Attorney General. After extensive deliberations, and after following all applicable laws, regulations and policies, the Department sought an appropriately tailored search warrant under the Privacy Protection Act. And a federal magistrate judge made an independent finding that probable cause existed to approve the search warrant.”

Fox News’ Special Report on May 24 argued that these statements were inconsistent and concluded that the Attorney General had previously lied to the Judiciary Committee and thus had committed perjury. Host Shannon Bream began the show stating, “It’s his story, but he’s not sticking to it,” claiming that Holder has “chang[ed] his tune” on his involvement in the scrutiny of journalists. Contributor Steve Hayes claimed that Holder’s two statements were “incongruent” and Charles Krauthammer speculated that it may be “a case of perjury.”

In fact, the statements are not “incongruent” whatsoever. Holder’s comments to the Judiciary referred to the possibility of prosecuting journalists for publishing classified information, but that is not the crime the Justice Department’s warrant accused Rosen of committing. DOJ investigators were concerned with Rosen’s solicitation of classified information, not any subsequent publication of it. Wired explained (emphasis added):

According to the affidavit (.pdf), FBI Agent Reginald Reyes told the judge there was probable cause to believe that Rosen had violated the Espionage Act by serving “as an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator” in the leak. The Espionage Act is the same law that former Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning is accused of violating when he leaked information to the secret-spilling site WikiLeaks.

To support his assertion, Reyes quoted an email exchange between Kim and Rosen, in which Rosen told him that he was interested in “breaking news ahead of my competitors” and had a particular interest in “what intelligence is picking up.” He also told Kim, “I’d love to see some internal State Department analyses.”

The suggestion was that Rosen broke the law by soliciting information from Kim, something that all journalists do routinely with sources.

Nonetheless, the federal judge found there was probable cause to believe that Rosen was a co-conspirator and approved the warrant.

In other words, Holder’s on-the-record denial of involvement in any prosecution of news organizations for publishing classified information in no way conflicts with any knowledge he may have possessed or action the DOJ may have taken against reporters for soliciting said information. Fox’s perjury accusations simply don’t align with the facts.

Among those getting the Holder story wrong, Glenn, being a veteran lawyer, should know there is a difference between getting a warrant to track and identify the leakers of a national security secret and prosecuting a reporter. Warrant versus persecution. All the difference in the world between those two things and Glenn knows it. I expect this kind of truth twisting, half facts, balling up everything into smearing sun bites from Fox News, but not someone who has such a great record on keeping his facts straight. Even HuffPo is running with Fox’s lie.

The IRS Scandal That Never Happened

View of the Damage from the Hurricane of 1906

View of the Damage from the Hurricane of 1906. This storm made landfall on September 27, 1906, west of Biloxi, Mississippi, but wreaked its greatest damage from Mobile, Alabama to Pensacola, Florida. The storm caused the deaths of 134 people and millions of dollars in damage in Alabama and Florida. From the cozy perspective of past history it is fascinating to see this boat’s engine, probably coal fired steam, still going as the boat slowly sinks.

“Bang” Gas Station. ca1910. The gas pumps are arranged in an arc – you can see one behind the boys and one behind the woman, and one to the left.

This article includes links to the NYT among other media outlets that have clearly not done their homework on the IRS story, The Truth Comes Out, Conservatives and The Tea Party Were Not Targeted By The IRS

The corporate media is blasting out the story that the IRS “targeted conservative groups.” Some in the media say there was “IRS harassment of conservative groups.” Some of the media are going so far as claiming that conservative groups were “audited.”

This story that is being repeated and treated as “true” is just not what happened at all. It is one more right-wing victimization fable, repeated endlessly until the public has no choice except t believe it.

Conservative Groups Were Not “Targeted,” “Singled Out” Or Anything Else

You are hearing that conservative groups were “targeted.” What you are not hearing is that progressive groups were also “targeted.” So were groups that are not progressive or conservative.

All that happened here is that groups applying to the IRS for special tax status were checked to see if they were engaged in political activity. They were checked, not targeted. Only 1/3 of the groups checked were conservative groups.

Once again: Only 1/3 of the groups checked were conservative groups.

Conservative groups were not “singled out,” were not “targeted” and in the end none were denied special tax status — even though many obviously should have been.

From last week’s House hearings on this:

Rep. Peter Roskam, R-IL: “How come only conservative groups got snagged?”

Outgoing acting IRS commissioner Steve Miller: “They didn’t sir. Organizations of all walks and all persuasions were pulled in. That’s shown by the fact that only 70 of the 300 organizations were tea party organizations, of the ones that were looked at by TIGTA [Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration].”

[   ]…And from Bloomberg reporting: IRS Sent Same Letter to Democrats That Fed Tea Party Row, (emphasis added, for emphasis)

One of those groups, Emerge America, saw its tax-exempt status denied, forcing it to disclose its donors and pay some taxes. None of the Republican groups have said their applications were rejected. Progress Texas … faced the same lines of questioning as the Tea Party groups from the same IRS office that issued letters to the Republican-friendly applicants. A third group, Clean Elections Texas, which supports public funding of campaigns, also received IRS inquiries.

In a statement late yesterday, the tax agency said it had pooled together the politically active nonpartisan applicants — including a “minority” that were identified because of their names. “It is also important to understand that the group of centralized cases included organizations of all political views,” the IRS said in its statement.

Again, for emphasis: “It is also important to understand that the group of centralized cases included organizations of all political views,” the IRS said in its statement.”

Fact: No groups were harmed. There were delays while the groups were checked to see if they should have special tax status. That’s it. But the rules are that they are allowed to operate as if they had that status while they waited for official approval.

Fact: The only groups actually denied special tax status were progressive groups, not conservative groups. In 2011, during the period that “conservative groups were targeted” the NY Times carried the story, 3 Groups Denied Break by I.R.S. Are Named . The three groups? Drum roll … “The I.R.S. denied tax exemption to the groups — Emerge Nevada, Emerge Maine and Emerge Massachusetts — because, the agency wrote in denial letters, they were set up specifically to cultivate Democratic candidates.”

Fact: The IRS commissioner in charge at the IRS at the time this happened was appointed President George W. Bush.

Recently ABC was caught read-handed passing off a fake GOP e-mail as news and have yet to apologize. What are the chances the NYT, WaPo, ABC, NBC, CNN, CBS and AP will do the right thing and make sure they let the public know that they all, at the very least, mangled the IRS story.

Virginia lt. gov. nominee: Not sorry for hate speech ‘because I’m a Christian’

The Republican nominee for lieutenant governor in Virginia says that he is a Christian and has no reason to apologize for his history against of hate speech against LGBT people, liberals and abortion providers.

It was only after African-American minister E.W. Jackson won the nomination at the Virginia Republican Party Convention last week that many became aware of his history of saying gay people were “perverted” and “sick people psychologically.”

“Homosexuality is a horrible sin, it poisons culture, it destroys families, it destroys societies; it brings the judgment of God unlike very few things that we can think of,” he said last year.

He has also called Democrats “slave masters” and compared Planned Parenthood to the Ku Klux Klan.”

“Liberalism and their ideas have done more to kill black folks whom they claim so much to love than the Ku Klux Klan, lynching and slavery and Jim Crow ever did, now that’s a fact,” Jackson said in a 2012 interview.

E.W. Jackson is carrying the tradition of other black conservatives like Herman Cain, echoing the same talking points, using the same inflammatory language. As is usually is is also factually wrong and lacking simple logic. It does not take a Harvard study to know that Christianity is not just one rigid universally accepted set of beliefs. If that were true there would not be Baptists, Methodists, Quakers or Protestants and Catholics. And Catholics would not be divided up into liberal, moderate and conservative in terms of doctrine, Jackson talks about Christianity the way radical Muslim talk about Islam ( Jackson, by implication is saying that Jews have no moral authority in the issue at all). These Con-Christians have and only they have been revealed the one and only truth. That doesn’t quite work in the context of American culture or the Constitution. We’re all free to worship as we see fit. Jackson by implication does not support that right. Thus Jackson does not exactly have a patriotic set political beliefs. Plantation, plantation. Democrats have not killed any black children via abortion. Democrats have promised black women that we will uphold their right to have dominion over their own body and their health care decisions. Plantation owners did not do that. They were conservatives. They made the reproductive decisions for black women. Jackson wants to have the final word on the reproductive decisions of every black woman. That makes him a modern plantation owner in his beliefs. Jackson wants to have total control over his wife’s health, and your wife and every woman on the street where he lives. That is the way authoritarians and dictators think. This is what Jackson’s “Christian” world view looks like –  El Salvador court delays ruling on abortion case while woman’s life hangs in the balance.

After more than a month of delays, El Salvador’s Supreme Court has announced that it will decide whether or not a critically ill woman may receive a lifesaving abortion within the next two weeks. The 22-year-old woman, identified only as Beatriz, pleaded with the justices to spare her life last week, telling the court: “This baby inside me cannot survive. I am ill. I want to live.”

How Conservatives Zealots Influence PBS Programming

Lesson in Astronomy

Lesson in Astronomy by Giuseppe Angeli. Italy, Late 1750s. I found this in a collection of paintings I have on CD. Teaching women science? Must have been some heretical liberals of the era.

By all means let’s have a national conversation about intimidating journalists, spinning the news and buying influence, How Far Did PBS Go To Avoid Offending David H. Koch?

“Park Avenue” includes a multifaceted portrait of the Koch brothers, telling the history of their family company and chronicling their many donations to universities and think tanks. It features comments from allies like Tim Phillips, the president of the Kochs’ main advocacy group, Americans for Prosperity, and from activists in the Tea Party, including Representative Michele Bachmann, of Minnesota, who share the Kochs’ opposition to high taxes and regulation. (It also contains a few quotes from me; in 2010, I wrote an article about the Kochs for this magazine, noting that they were funding much of the opposition to President Barack Obama by quietly subsidizing an array of advocacy groups.)

[  ]…According to Shapiro, Koch, who rarely speaks in public, passed on the roundtable offer, saying, “I may just want to take it in and watch it, and form an opinion.” He agreed to think about contributing a written response.

Shapiro acknowledges that his call to Koch was unusual. Although many prominent New Yorkers are portrayed in “Park Avenue,” he said that he “only just called David Koch. He’s on our board. He’s the biggest main character. No one else, just David Koch. Because he’s a trustee. It’s a courtesy.” Shapiro, who joined WNET six years ago, from NBC News, added, “I can’t remember doing anything like this—I can’t remember another documentary centered around New York and key people in the city, and such controversial topics.”

PBS has standards for “editorial integrity,” and its guidelines state that “member stations are responsible for shielding the creative and editorial processes from political pressure or improper influence from funders or other sources.” A PBS spokesperson, when asked if it considered WNET’s actions appropriate, said, “WNET is in the best position to respond to this query,” noting that member stations are autonomous.

They did air the documentary, but let the Kochs and Chuck Shumer (D) have a preview, which no one else received, and a rebuttal aired afterwards. Neither the Koch,s most certainly, or Chuck lack for the resources to reply to a documentary and when did investigative documentary film makers start having their works submitted to their subjects before the public. Behavior like this muddies the waters. Is the public seeing what the filmmaker intended to show or was it toned down to placate big money donors like the Kochs (they don’t say if Shumer donates to PBS). Another aspect is that far Right zealots are sitting on the boards of this local PBS stations at all. How many decisions are made that mean a documentary is never even made. This also slays another conservative snowball of lies about PBS being run by radical leftists. It is increasingly run by anyone with lots of money a little spare time. That is not a recipe for television in the public interests. This part of a long investigative piece so I recommend reading the entire article for the clash over the film “Citizen Koch.”