Bill Nye, the harmless children's edu-tainer known as "The Science Guy," managed to offend a select group of adults in Waco, Texas at a presentation, when he suggested that the moon does not emit light, but instead reflects the light of the sun.
As even most elementary-school graduates know, the moon reflects the light of the sun but produces no light of its own.
But don't tell that to the good people of Waco, who were "visibly angered by what some perceived as irreverence," according to the Waco Tribune.
Nye was in town to participate in McLennan Community College's Distinguished Lecture Series. He gave two lectures on such unfunny and adult topics as global warming, Mars exploration, and energy consumption.
But nothing got people as riled as when he brought up Genesis 1:16, which reads: "God made two great lights -- the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars."
The lesser light, he pointed out, is not a light at all, but only a reflector.
At this point, several people in the audience stormed out in fury. One woman yelled "We believe in God!" and left with three children, thus ensuring that people across America would read about the incident and conclude that Waco is as nutty as they'd always suspected.
I'm going to take a wild guess that it wasn't the "moon" thing that got them all upset so much as the "science" thing in general.
Va. GOP picks conservatives for fall ticket; black minister is lieutenant governor choice
“The tea party leaders in Virginia are not for toning it down,” said Mark Daugherty, chairman of the Virginia Tea Party Patriots Federation, which unites 46 tea party groups across the state. “We think folks who left us billions in debt and deficits and regulations, they need to tone it down. . . . Trying to move to the middle, or moderate your view, or tone down your conservative view is the wrong approach to future electoral success.”
Jeff Ryer, spokesman for the state Senate Republican caucus, said party activists are yearning for unabashed conservatives.
“I just get the sense that most Republicans are looking for candidates that are forthright, that are direct,” Ryer said. “They’re looking for people who aren’t embarrassed . . . like they’re at a cocktail party and they chose the wrong fork.”
That description could apply to North, the former Marine Corps lieutenant colonel and Iran-contra figure who attended the convention to support businessman Pete Snyder for lieutenant governor.
“I go all over the country for my party, and I’m not ashamed to do so,” North said in an interview Friday. “The best chance we have as a party is to find young, positive, free enterprise-experienced conservatives who understand what the media describe as social issues are really deeply moral and spiritual issues. And those candidates we need have not only that full background, but they’re unashamed to stand up and say so.”
And to think that just a couple of months ago everyone was writing the right wing's epitaph. Again.
That's not to say they wouldn't be wiser to moderate and try to capture at least a small portion of the middle of the American electorate. But they still aren't convinced they need to. And if they have a good 2014, they will remain assured they are on the right track.
I wonder how much this has to do with the fact that they've successfully bullied a large portion of the country to identify itself as "conservative" in polls even though they aren't. That sort of thing could easily lead to self-delusion.
And now that they know the tyrant King Obama sicced the jack-booted thugs on their tax-exempt applications well ...
That's right. Chief Fox news researcher Karl Rove gets everyone back on track with the "scoop" that the State Department spokeswoman said the National Security Staff was on the case. It's very important that everyone keep their eye on the prize which is the implication that the White House was petrified of being found out to be the national security blunderers they really are.
I'm sure this is a banal observation but I'll make it anyway since it's an important factor in understanding why people drift to modern conservatism: it's the right that is afraid --- of losing its reputation as the military leaders of American culture. It is, after all, at the center of their emotional appeal. That's why this bizarre Benghazi obsession remains at the center of the Fox News cycle and why they are so excited about it. In their minds, it washes away any Democratic advantage from killing of bin Laden and puts the Democrats back in the coward corner where they rightfully belong.
They have a deep psychological need to see themselves as the "manly party", protecting the babies from the bad guys. Sure, they hate taxes and love traditional values. These are very important pieces of their philosophy. But at the heart of their self-image is the idea that they are the warriors. If you look at the past 50 years of conservative thought, it's that which animates their engagement and it's that which they need to get back in order to feel confident again.
The IRS thing speaks specifically to the paranoid, small government, anti-tax, Obamacare hating part of the Republican Party. That part overlaps with the larger macho, military-worshiping, imperial part of the GOP. (Unfortunately, that part also overlaps a big part of the Democratic party as well ...) It's been neglected since Bush screwed the pooch with Iraq. But they aren't going to give it up. It's a major piece of their identity.
What do Jonathan Karl and James O'Keefe have in common?
Jay Rosen has a critique of the Jonathan Karl brouhaha over the edited Benghazi emails on his site that's well worth reading if you haven't paid attention to the details. Like Rosen, I sort of expected that ABC This Week would address it, but they didn't.
This part of Rosen's piece is the most pertinent:
I had been following all this and last night I said on Twitter: “Jon Karl got played. But he refuses to admit it. Every ABC anchor who doesn’t ask him about it is complicit, too.” I was anticipating Karl’s appearance on ABC’s signature political program, This Week with George Stephanopoulos. He had appeared on May 12th, two days after his original report, to talk about Benghazi with guest host Martha Raddatz. There had been big news in the intervening week: the release of the original emails.
I figured that ABC News would have him on again, if they believed so strongly in his original report. He is, after all, ABC’s Chief White House Correspondent; the story that dominated Washington all week was the re-emergence of a scandal narrative. A typical headline: Obama Pivots to Jobs Tour at End of Scandal Filled Week. (That’s from The Note, the politics blog at ABCNews.com, to which Karl is a major contributor.) Well, here’s the line-up for This Week with George Stephanopoulos. No Jon Karl. Instead, ABC News Senior Washington Correspondent Jeff Zeleny.
When a confidential source burns a reporter, a reporter is within his rights to burn–that is, “out”–that source. But it almost never happens because reporters are concerned that potential sources will take it as a sign that the reporter cannot be trusted to keep their names secret. That’s bad enough. But this is worse. Karl had a chance to limit the damage to ABC News from his faulty reporting when he first responded to Jake Tapper’s report.
He blew that. Inexplicably, an ABC News spokesperson then doubled down on Karl’s original reporting: strike two. They had a chance to recover by asking Karl to explain how he got misled on This Week. They blew that when they chickened out and asked Jeff Zeleny to appear instead.
Karl came to mainstream journalism via the Collegiate Network, an organization primarily devoted to promoting and supporting right-leaning newspapers on college campuses (Extra!, 9-10/91)—such as the Rutgers paper launched by the infamous James O’Keefe (Political Correction, 1/27/10). The network, founded in 1979, is one of several projects of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, which seeks to strengthen conservative ideology on college campuses. William F. Buckley was the ISI’s first president, and the current board chair is American Spectator publisher Alfred Regnery. Several leading right-wing pundits came out of Collegiate-affiliated papers, including Ann Coulter, Dinesh D'Souza, Michelle Malkin, Rich Lowry and Laura Ingraham (Washington Times, 11/28/04)[...]
After a stint at the New York Post, Karl soon found his way to CNN, but he was still connected to ideological pursuits; he was a board member at the right-leaning youth-oriented Third Millennium group and at the Madison Center for Educational Affairs—which, like the Collegiate Network, seeks to strengthen young conservative journalism. After moving to ABC in 2003, Karl contributed several pieces to the neo-con Weekly Standard, such as his April 4, 2005 article praising Bush Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as out to “make her mark with the vigorous pursuit of the president’s freedom and democracy agenda.”
Karl’s high profile at ABC demonstrates that conservative messages can find a comfortable home inside the so-called “liberal” media. Karl channeled former ABC corporate cheerleader John Stossel with a segment (3/5/11) complaining that regulation of the egg and poultry industries was “almost embarrassing,” since different government agencies regulate different aspects of the industries. “Got that?” Karl asked. “Fifteen separate agencies have responsibility for food safety.”
During the rollout of Paul Ryan’s budget plan, Karl (1/26/11) gushed that the Republican media darling was “a little like the guy in the movie Dave, the accidental president who sets out to fix the budget, line by line.” And while Democrats were saying Ryan “is a villain,” Karl was clear about which side he was on: “Ryan knows what he sees.... Paul Ryan is on a mission, determined to do the seemingly impossible: Actually balance the federal budget.” (Actually, even with its draconian spending cuts and absurdly optimistic economic assumptions, the Ryan plan still foresees a cumulative deficit of $62 trillion over the next half century—Congressional Budget Office, 1/27/10.)
There's more and some of it, in my view, are just examples of the beltway media being beltway media. But Karl's history does suggest that he's tied in with the conservative network in DC, which means that his reasons for not exposing his source may very well be personal. I'd guess they all know a lot of things about each other. It would be risky.
The news that atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, the most important global warming gas, have hit 400 parts per million for the first time in millions of years increases the pressure on President Obama to deliver on his pledges to limit this country’s greenhouse gas emissions.
America cannot solve a global problem by itself. But as Mr. Obama rightly observed in his inaugural address, the United States, as both major polluter and world leader, has a deep obligation to help shield the international community from rising sea levels, floods, droughts and other devastating consequences of a warming planet. In his State of the Union speech, he promised to take executive action if Congress failed to pass climate legislation.
Which is just what he will have to do. The prospects for broad-based Congressional action putting a price on carbon emissions are nil. The House is run by people who care little for environmental issues generally, and Senate Republicans who once favored a pricing strategy, like John McCain and Lindsey Graham, have long since slunk away. Meanwhile, Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee have spent the last two weeks trying to derail Mr. Obama’s nominee to run the Environmental Protection Agency — a moderate named Gina McCarthy. Ms. McCarthy has served two Republican governors (Mitt Romney was one) but is considered suspect by the right wing because she wants to control carbon pollution, which is driving global temperatures upward.
So we just have to accept the coming climate immolation, right? Well, not so fast:
As this page has noted, it is possible to adopt a robust climate strategy based largely on executive actions. The most important of these is to invoke the E.P.A.’s authority under the Clean Air Act to limit pollution from stationary industrial sources, chiefly the power plants that account for almost 40 percent of the country’s carbon emissions. The agency is reworking a proposed rule to limit emissions from new power plants. A more complex but no less necessary task is to devise rules for existing power plants, which cannot be quickly shuttered without endangering the country’s power supply, but which can be made more efficient or phased out over time.
Mr. Obama can also order the E.P.A. to curb the enormous leakage of methane, a potent global warming agent, from gas wells and the pipes that bring natural gas to consumers. This is critical if America’s bountiful supplies of cheap natural gas are to become a cleaner bridge from coal to alternative energy sources like wind and solar power.
The article goes on to note other executive actions the President can take as well. Will executive actions be remotely enough? Of course not. But they can help a great deal.
It's not as if Republicans are being remotely cooperative, anyway. Nothing is getting done in Congress. The President might as well step up and do the right thing. Washington, D.C. is a cold war zone. The President might as well do what's right and let the chips fall where they may.
The Seattle International Film Festival is in full swing, so over the next several weeks I will be sharing highlights with you. SIFF is showing 272 films over 26 days. Navigating such an event is no easy task, even for a dedicated buff. Yet, I trudge on (cue the world’s tiniest violin). Hopefully, some of these films will be coming soon to a theater near you…
In Our Nixon, director Penny Lane strives to construct an arch portrait of The Tricky One by sneaking in through the back door. It seems some of the president's men were home movie buffs. A treasure trove of Super8 footage taken by H.R. Haldeman, John Erlichman and Dwight Chapin during their White House tenure recently surfaced. Lane blends choice snippets of the aforementioned with archival news footage, interviews with the three aides and excerpts from the infamous secret Oval Office recordings. It's the Nixon administration retooled as an episode of Entourage. No new revelations or insight for political junkies, but for viewers of a "certain age", it sustains an oddly nostalgic tone.
Forbidden Voices (from Swiss director Barbara Miller) is an excellent doc profiling three influential "cyber-feminists" who bravely soldier on in the blogosphere whilst running a daily gauntlet of intimidation from their respective governments, including (but not limited to) overt surveillance, petty legal harassment and even physical beatings. Despite the odds, Yoani Sanchez (Cuba), Farnez Seifi (Iran, currently exiled in Germany) and Zeng Jinyan (China) are affecting change (if only baby steps). In an interesting (and disturbing) bit of kismet, a day after I saw this, the DOJ/AP phone records scandal broke.
Big Joy: The Adventures of James Broughton is an aptly entitled profile of the free-spirited poet, playwright and filmmaker (1913-1999) who was part of the "San Francisco Renaissance" (pre-cursors to The Beats). Stephen Silha's documentary is as playful and provocative as his subject, who emerges here as one of those fascinating, Zelig-like figures who managed to remain relevant to and in simpatico with nearly every major counter-culture arts/social movement from the Beats and the hippies to gay liberation and beyond. I admit being previously unfamiliar with Broughton, but this film made me a fan.
Canadian actress Sarah Polley has quietly made a name for herself as a feature film director in recent years (Away from Her, Take This Waltz). Now she turns the camera inward, for her documentary Stories We Tell. Polley uses her film as a sort of family therapy session, seeking to uncover the truth regarding her late mother's rumored dalliances outside the marriage. Polley was 11 when her mother (also an actress) died of cancer. As Polley gently grills her father (a retired actor), siblings and long-time family friends, secrets, lies and unbelievable truths slowly burble to the surface, Rashomon-style. It teeters toward the navel-gazing side, but it unravels like a good mystery should.
My favorite Emo Philips joke goes: A man came to my door and said "I'd like to read your gas meter." I said, "Whatever happened to the classics?" A breezy documentary called Out of Print takes that rhetorical question to the next level: Whatever happened to reading? That is, “reading” in the traditional sense…as in holding a book and turning pages? Director Vivienne Roumani examines the impact of digital media on the world of publishing, with a variety of industry mavens weighing in with their take on the central question: “Is the book dead?” The issues raised mirror the economic, legal and aesthetic hysteria stirred up by the advent of music file sharing back in the late 90s. Absorbing, if not essential (and at 54 minutes long, it’s surely destined for PBS). Meryl Streep narrates.
The Horde is an historical epic from director Andrey Proshkin based on a relatively obscure event (well, outside of Russia) that occurred in the 14th century, when the Metropolitan of Moscow (a monk also known as St. Alexius) saved his city from destruction by the Mongolian Golden Horde by “healing” the Khan’s mother, who had been stricken blind. The first half is involving, with royal intrigue and (literal) backstabbing amongst squabbling members of the Khanate, but once the story shifts to the endless suffering of St. Alexius as he wends his way home (we get it…he’s a saint) the film suffers too. Lavish production design and fine acting helps makes up the deficit.
The Rocket could prove to be one of this year’s sleepers. Aussie writer-director Kim Mordaunt tells the story of Ahlo (Sitthiphon Disamoe, in a remarkable performance), a 10-year old Laotian boy who can’t catch a break. In rapid succession, a member of his family dies in a freak accident and then the surviving members are forced to relocate after their village gets earmarked for razing to make way for a hydroelectric project. Ahlo’s dour grandma labels him as a “bad luck charm”. Determined to redeem his standing, Ahlo sets out to win an annual Rocket Competition. Mourdaunt has a Terrence Malick-like penchant for gorgeous “magic hour” composition; perfectly capturing the dichotomy of UXBs and battle-scarred ruins as they contrast with Laos’ lush, rugged natural beauty.
Note: You may or may not have noticed that the site I have been using for the past year or so to archive my reviews, Clipboard.com has put up a notice on their home page advising that they will be going dark at the end of June (I know..."So whaddya expect for free?"). I'm currently scrambling to find a similar site that I can port the archives over to.
People, people: the IRS wasn’t roaming around the countryside looking for Tea Party groups to persecute; it was responding (yes, poorly, no doubt) to voluntary applications for a tax exemption that has been routinely and massively abused over the years. Nobody’s doors were being kicked down; nobody was being fined or threatened, so far as we know. Yes, a benefit was delayed or withheld to which the applicants might have (or might not have) been entitled as a matter of (really bad, in my opinion) public policy. But any “monster under the bed” was entirely in their own minds, as it is in Mike Kelley’s.
This is what we used to call the paranoid strain in American politics. It isn't confined to the right, but any means. But they are the only one's to make such a tidy profit at it.
If I were you, I'd buy smelling salts futures. Why should they make all the money off of this nonsense?
Paying for their sins: human sacrifice edition by digby
I don't know if you've had the interest or time to follow the "Michael Kinsley" debate over the past few days, but suffice to say that he wrote something that indicated that we must have human sacrifice to pay for our sins. You know the drill. Anyway, at is so often the case, Paul Krugman features heavily in this discussion and a number of people have weighed in with interesting observations.
Kinsley’s original screed about inflation ... is in a way where all this started. It’s very worth reading, and not just because he was dead wrong (and learned nothing from the experience). For it is pure Schumpeter/Hayek/Mellon liquidationism:
In short, I can’t help feeling that the gold bugs are right. No, I’m not stashing gold bars under my bed. But that’s only because I lack the courage of my convictions.
My fear is not the result of economic analysis. It’s more from the realm of psychology. I mean mine.
But this cure has been one ice-cream sundae after another. It can’t be that easy, can it? The puritan in me says that there has to be some pain. That’s not to say that there hasn’t been plenty of economic pain. But that pain has come from the recession itself, not the cure.
Look, folks, when I write about the urge to see economics as a morality play, I am not just inventing this out of thin air. I read a lot; I also talk to a fair number of these people at things like Group of 30 meetings. Yes, there’s class interest; yes, there’s disaster capitalism at work. But the gut feeling that there must be pain (your pain, of course, not theirs) is very, very real too.
I'm not sure why we're so reluctant to believe this explanation. Every day we see wealthy, celebrity pundits all around us insisting on the need to "sacrifice" things which will cause them no pain but will make the rest of us suffer. It's very hard not to believe that this is some sort of psychological/emotional/spiritual belief that has overtaken the "winners" in this society, which suggests to me that it's a way of justifying the success they've had, either at the expense of others or in spite of what they know are their own ordinary talents. In order to live with themselves they've had to order their world around the notion that anyone who achieves material success in life does so because of their natural goodness. Those who fail to achieve such success must have failed because we are bad. Therefore, we must be punished.
Here's the young scion of a wealthy, influential family and recipient of nepotistic largesse from his father's employer --- Luke Russert:
Both parties don't want to tell the American people it's time to drink their tough medicine.Both parties are going to try to take 2012 as the avenue to have this debate further. But as this debate goes on and on and on. The real difficult decisions, the real ideas of how are we going to cut this deficit, they go unanswered.
Yes, the idea that this 25 year old richie rich believes that the American people must be punished doesn't seem like a stretch to me. And if Little Luke Russert believes it you can be the super-rich CEOs and Wall Street MOUs do. After all, we've failed to be properly respectful to our betters and made them feel embarrassed about their superiority. That will not stand.
Anyway, just read this. It gets to the crux of the problem.
Compared to Watergate, on the basis of everything we know about what are the current “scandals” amount to a piffle. Watergate was a Constitutional crisis. It was about a pattern of behavior on the part of the president of the United States abusing power to carry out his personal vendettas. It was about whether the president was accountable to the other branches of the government; it was about whether the Congress could summon the courage to hold accountable a president who held himself above the law. It was about a president and his aides who were out of control in their efforts to punish the president’s “enemies.”
It was also about, though this has still gone largely unrecognized, an attempt by a sitting president to determine the nomination of the opposition party’s presidential candidate. Potentially strong challengers were spied upon, their offices broken into and files disappeared, their campaign events disrupted by what were diminished by their categorization as laughable “dirty tricks.” It was about black bag jobs and paying criminals to carry out ideas that sprang from the fevered brain of a president who saw opponents, political and otherwise, as enemies, and then trying to hush the whole thing up. The attempt, not unsuccessful though not exclusively their doing, to try to get the opposition party to nominate its weakest candidate was a step along the road to fascism. It was a putsch by a head of state.
Nixon’s extraordinary abuse of his new power started almost as soon as he had put away his Inaugural finery. In February 1969 he told his staff that he wanted private funds raised to establish an intelligence unit within the White House to carry out around-the-clock surveillance of political opponents. This led to the hiring of a group of fanatics, bums, fools, and losers—most of them paid for with private funds but run by White House aides and right out of the Executive Office Building, next door to the White House. Some were of Cuban origin and had participated in the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba; to motivate them Nixon instructed that they be told that their mission was to root out Communists in the Democratic Party. (He even ordered that they be required to read the chapter of his memoir Six Crisis that recounts his exposure of Alger Hiss as a spy for the Soviet Union. But Nixon was always telling people, even Mao, to read Six Crises. The shrewd Mao had beat him to it.).
The following year Nixon signed off on a plan (the “Huston plan”) that included not just wiretaps also but break-ins and intercepting mail; the plan was so extreme that even the powerful FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, no civil libertarian, objected; though Nixon said that the plan had been rescinded parts of it were implemented. The list of “enemies” he ordered John Dean to draw up, was considered by many who were on it funny and even a point of pride, but it was a chilling exercise of power: the president used the levers of government, including the IRS, to audit and harass his opponents, a wide swath of people in public and private lives. Nixon was often heard on the tapes telling his aides he wanted them to “get the goods” on this or that perceived enemy. Edward Kennedy, presumably Nixon’s most powerful opponent for reelection, was put under twenty-four hour surveillance for a time by one of the clowns hired by the White House to carry out Nixon’s plan.
Nixon’s most serious problems arose out of his obsession about the leak of the Pentagon Papers, in 1971. This led—shortly after the Papers were first published in The New York Times—to the establishing, four days later, the White House “plumbers” office in the EOB. A sign saying PLUMBERS was on the door. But even before the plumbers office was fully set up Nixon’s aides implemented “Special Operation No. 1”: in a first step toward punishing the leaker, Daniel Ellsberg, the White House sanctioned the gravest offense—a break-in at the office of Ellsberg’s psychiatrist in order to get the files of this particular patient. A raid of the office of the psychiatrist of a private citizen on the orders of the president of the United States. This clear flouting of the Fourth Amendment protection of private property from searches and seizures was the most disturbing act during this extraordinary period and it shook even conservative senators; Nixon knew that its discovery was the single greatest danger to him, and this was what he was so frantically trying to cover up. As it happened, even though one of the plumbers had cased the place, the psychiatrist’s office contained no files at all.
The obsession over the leak of the Pentagon Papers also led to the mad suggestion by the president of the United States that the offices of the Brookings Institution be firebombed in order to get to the safes in the offices of former Kissinger aides, Leslie Gelb and Morton Halperin, who were suspected of keeping the drafts of some unpublished chapters of the Pentagon Papers. The president could be heard on the tapes instructing his aides: “Godammit. Get in there and get those files. Blow the safe and get it.” You see, Kissinger had ordered up the study. Ellsberg had been assigned by Kissinger to do a super-secret study on the papers and had been given access to them, which were stored at Rand. Though one of the burglars had searched Brookings and reported that the files existed, there were none. In any event, some White House aides thwarted that plan before it was fully carried out.
In this context the break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate office building on June 17, 1972 was almost routine. This one, when the burglars were caught, which started the unraveling of Nixon’s secret plots against his enemies, was actually the burglars’ fourth attempt: in the first attempt they faked a banquet to get into the building but ended up locked in a closet; the second time they couldn’t break the lock on the DNC office door; the third time, on Memorial Day, they got into the DNC office but put a bug on the wrong phone, so on they went back to fix it. Perhaps because breaking in had become so habitual they got sloppy and left the immortal piece of tape on a door. That the plumbers were stumblebums doesn’t negate the sinister nature of what they were told to do.
Read on to see what a congress that wasn't insane did in response to these revelations.
There have been scandals before and since. The 80s featured another blatant executive power grab with Iran-Contraand the 90s were one long investigation into the personal lives of the president and his family and associates. The Bush administration was investigated for yet more abuse of its executive power and at least one instance of using classified information to punish a political enemy. But none of those scandals reached both the scope and combination of personal pettiness and abuse of power of Watergate.
This White House has continued many of the executive prerogatives begun in the Bush administration in the name of the Global War on Terror. Indeed, there's never been an administration that "gave back" power once granted to its predecessor. (Yes, some of us mentioned that back in the day ...) But there is no evidence whatsoever that the President is anything like Richard Nixon. It's absurd to even suggest it. It was The Mother Of All Political Scandals.
And the Republicans will never stop trying to find something to even the score, I'm afraid. Had Clinton resigned, they might have calmed down. But I doubt it. Watergate was so huge on every level that it's hard to imagine there will be another one like it in their lifetimes. Sorry --- Nixon was uniquely corrupt.
They're on a roll. This one's from the anti-marriage equality, the National Organization for Marriage:
Dear Marriage Supporter, The road to tyranny is paved with incidents like this. Private Citizen Harassed for Her Political Writings For Prof. Anne Hendershott, the phone call to her home from the IRS came out of the blue in May 2010:
"The IRS calls my house and says ... 'I just wanted to let you know that we're going to be auditing your business' and I said 'My businesses?' and he said, 'You know the expenses you take off for writing."Prof. Hendershott is a sociologist and a fierce Catholic critic of what she calls "fake" Catholic, Soros-funded groups supporting pro-abortion Pres. Obama and Obamacare's mandates on Catholic groups.
Prof. Hendershott made very little money publishing a few pieces a year for places ranging from the Wall Street Journal to the Catholic Advocate.
But the IRS demanded she come to New Haven, Connecticut without her husband, met with her, and grilled her about every check she had deposited, demanding to know irrelevant questions like what kind of groups the money came from, etc.
The chilling effect of any abuse of the IRS' power, terrifying to millions of ordinary American taxpayers, is very real. The tactic worked:
"I haven't written for them since the audit, because I was so scared," she said.
This is what tyranny feels like.
Because nobody ever gets audited unless they are anti-abortion. It's just how it works.
All the liberal cognoscenti are pooh-pooing this scandal as being much ado about nothing and assuming that it will pass. I think they are missing the point. Just as Obaaaaahmacare got the troops all riled up in 2010, the GOP sees this as having a similar effect in 2014. The right wing already believes it is an oppressed minority --- they believed it even when George W. Bush was president and they held both houses of congress and a majority on the Supreme Court. This could feed their persecution complex for years. (Also too: there's money in it.)
There will likely be huge numbers of people they can drag out with similar tales as these. After all, people get audited all the time, even wingnuts.
Inflation is low, conservative economists are wrong, sun rises in east
by David Atkins
Remember how all the Serious People said that quantitative easing, loose monetary policy and fiscal stimulus was going to lead to out-of-control inflation that would doom the dollar, destroy America, and hamper the world's economy? About that:
The leading economies of the industrialized nations may not have a lot in common, but they are all afflicted by this: Inflation is too low.
That was the astoundingly consistent theme out of a range of data released Thursday. Prices rose 1.1 percent over the 12 months that ended in April in Germany, 0.8 percent in France and 1.3 percent in Italy. In the United States, the consumer price index rose 1.1 percent over the last year. Japan reported surprisingly strong first-quarter growth this week as its aggressive new stimulus policies took effect, but that came against a backdrop of continued falling prices; its consumer price index fell 0.9 percent in the year that ended in March.
The leading central banks at this point are all unified on this: 2 percent is the amount of annual inflation they are aiming for. And they are all failing in that mission, and nearly all failing in the same direction (Britain is the notable exception; prices there rose 2.8 percent over the year that ended in March, the most recent data available).
The world is in deflationary spiral, not an inflationary one. Just as Keynesian economists predicted, and as conservative economists insisted could never happen.
Throw this in there with the disproven claims that bond vigilantes would punish the dollar for the S&P downgrade, that tax cuts would lead to economic growth, that deregulation would lead to endless prosperity and self-policing markets, that lower taxes would lead to increased revenues, and that austerity would lead to increased investor confidence and lower unemployment. All wrong. Dead wrong.
Is there anything that conservative economists have gotten right lately? Anything at all?
This one might get you misty: Nine-year-old Alayna Adams threw out the first pitch before Thursday's Tampa Bay Rays-Boston Red Sox game. She was told she'd been selected by the U.S.O. for the honor, partially because her father, Lt. Col. Will Adams, had been deployed overseas in Afghanistan for most of the past two years.
Before Alayna threw her pitch, a message from Dad played on the video board, saying he'd see her soon. Indeed he would.
Because it turned out the whole thing was a ruse orchestrated by the U.S.O and the Rays. Lt. Col. Will Adams was, in fact, dressed in catcher's gear, crouching behind home plate, awaiting the throw from his daughter.
When he caught the ball and flipped up the catcher's mask, Alayna looked at him for a second, realized what's going on, ran full speed toward him and launched herself into his arms.
Dana Adams, Will's wife and Alayna's mom, didn't know about the surprise either. Soon, she joined them in tears.
Stocks continued their climb into uncharted territory on Friday, racking up the fourth week of gains in a row as encouraging economic data prompted investors to pick up shares of growth companies.
The Dow and the S&P 500 finished at fresh record highs, driven by gains in energy and industrial shares. The indexes have pushed to a series of never-before-seen levels as part of the rally that has lifted equities more than 16 percent for the year so far.
In a sign of how far the market has come, the S&P 500 is also about 1,000 points above the low hit in March 2009 in the wake of the credit crisis and recession. Shares picked up strength late in the day on Friday, with the S&P 500 rising 1 percent not long before the closing bell.
Until wages start going up and unemployment comes down to more moral levels, all stock market records represent is a theft by the top 5% from the people who actually create that wealth. A theft that is legal today but that will, I am confident, be illegal one day under international law so that the plutocratic class cannot play one nation-state against another to perpetuate their state-sanctioned larceny.
The IRS scandal is an official free-for-all. I'm hard-pressed to find any right wing group that isn't wailing about its persecution. Here's just one example of the religious right's horning in on the action:
Friends of the family,
This past week, revelations about the IRS targeting conservativegroups seemed to keep coming. Just yesterday, we learned that the Internal Revenue Service acting commissioner Steven Miller has submitted his resignation for his agency's "inexcusable" targeting of conservative groups who had applied for tax-exempt status. According to Fox News, the IRS targeting went broader than originally reported. Apparently, the IRS’ additional scrutiny “went beyond targeting ‘Tea Party’ and ‘patriot’ groups to include those focused on government spending, the Constitution and several other broad areas.” One of these ‘other areas’ now appears to be churches and faith-based organizations.
In the Christian community, several established organizations were apparently targeted, including Franklin Graham, whose two North Carolina charities came under sudden scrutiny after he and his father, Rev. Billy Graham, published pro-marriage and pro-family election ads. In a letter to President Obama, the Grahams explain that an IRS agent visited both groups in October to conduct a surprise tax "review." National Organization for Marriage was another target, as their confidential documents were released to the Human Rights Campaign--whose then-president was a chairman for Obama's re-election campaign.
Pro-Life non-profit groups are reporting being stonewalled by IRS agents as well. Some were told that they would not qualify as an educational 501(c)3 organization unless they advocated for abortion as well, while others had their applications held up until they promised not to protest outside of abortion clinics! Let me be clear that MFI is an educational and advocacy non-profit that, as you know, is grounded in Judeo-Christian morality. We are exactly the type of organization that the IRS now appears to have been targeting.
What we must do now, as men and women committed to bringing salt and light into the public square, is refuse to be intimidated into silence, even when the sword of the state is used against us. Unfortunately, this sort of hostility and interference from the IRS towards faith-based groups is not new. The IRS has been targeting churches since the passage of the Johnson Amendment in 1954, which amended section 501(c)(3) of the tax code and has since been applied to intimidate churches and pastors across the country into silence on the moral qualifications of candidates and the positions they hold. There is no difference between what the IRS has been caught doing with conservative groups and what the IRS has done to churches for the last 59 years. Both are intimidation. Imagine the impact of a system of intimidation targeting a particular group left unchecked for over half a century. That is exactly what has happened with America’s churches. Free speech is a fragile thing and it needs breathing space to exist. The power of government can all too easily squelch dissent. People will not speak at all if there is uncertainty over whether the power of government will come down on them if they say something that might violate the law. This is what we are seeing first hand with the revelations of the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups. And this has been the problem with the Johnson Amendment and the IRS’ vague regulations enforcing it. The law does not give any certainty over what is allowed and what is permitted from the pulpits of America’s churches. So pastors, concerned that they might say something that would trigger the enforcement power of the IRS (a very powerful government agency), stay silent. America’s churches have suffered for too long under the intimidation of the IRS. The best way to shine the light on that intimidation is to stand in the face of it.
That’s why we ask you to encourage your pastor to participate in June 9th’s Pulpit FreedomSunday. And that’s why we hope that if you are a pastor, you will go today to sign up to participate in Pulpit Freedom Sunday. It’s time for the IRS to stop using its power to squelch free speech and freedom of religion for America’s churches.
For our families,
Rep. now about to pop a blood vessel at the IRS hearing is Rep. Tim Griffin, central player in the US Attorney Firing Scandal.
Oh, that's not even the half of it:
Thursday, May 22, 2008
So I hear that Tim Griffin has abandoned his quest to become a fearless crime fighting lawman to go back to being the nasty dirty trickster he was born to be:
The Republican National Committee is hiring one of the party's toughest oppo-researchers -- former Karl Rove protege Tim Griffin, who was also at the center of the U.S. Attorney scandal -- to dig into Barack Obama's past and unearth info to damage his general election candidacy, a senior Republican operative confirms to me.
Griffin played a lead role in the GOP oppo operation during the 2004 campaign, unearthing info that damaged John Kerry's presidential bid. According to the senior GOP operative, who's familiar with Griffin's past work, he was instrumental in unearthing a videotape of a 1971 interview that Kerry did in which he appeared to confirm that he renounced his medals to protest the Vietnam War.
The video was subsequently used in an ad by the Swift Boat Vets, whose work was renounced by McCain. The McCain campaign -- and the RNC -- declined to comment on Griffin's hiring.
"Griffin is basically going to consult for the Republican National Committee on working out Obama's vulnerabilities," the senior Republican said, somewhat euphemistically. "The hope is to do to Obama what folks successfully did with John Kerry."
If you want to see Griffin in action, you can watch Digging the Dirtthe BBC documentary on oppo-research from the 2000 election.Here's an article about the movie from Time magazine about it:
[T]he overwhelming coup of the film is the insight it brings to the Republican version of Carville's War Room - the seething boiler room at RNC headquarters in D.C. where GOP Head of Research Barbara Comstock and Deputy-Head Tim Griffin ply a rough trade that has probably cost Gore the election.
The nasty secret of the 2000 elections is undoubtedly the enormous growth in the past four years of the people who "do oppo" the nickname for the innocuously titled "Opposition Research" departments in each campaign.
That both sides maintain teams dedicated to unearthing material on the other side is not new. What IS new is the intensity of the digging, the sheer breadth and depth of the search - and most of all the now seamless and instant deployment of the results through the spin meisters directly into the mass media.
In fact, the film reveals how much the media has come to depend on the Oppo research teams for material.
Where newspaper journalists and TV producers once conducted independent research of charges made by a campaign - that has now dwindled. That is because the media has become aware that the research offered by both sides is so intensively fact-checked and triple-checked that it can safely accept the word if offered by the oppo experts.
In the film we see RNC glee as AP accepts their oppo research on a Gore misstatement during the first debate. During their months of filming BBC producers also observed producers for NBC's Tim Russert among others calling to enquire if the team had any new material. This was apparently normal trading on both sides.
RNC researcher Griffin comments in the film: "It's an amazing thing when you have topline producers and reporters calling you and saying 'we trust you.... we need your stuff.'"
The instances where such research - by either side - has proven to be false are very few in number. [really???] The backfire effect on the campaign that issues the material would be far too devastating. It is this that presumably gives the media its comfort zone.
So one might say that if the oppo research of both sides is so accurate - where is the harm in them disseminating and the media accepting the information?
The problem lies not in the veracity of the information per se - but in the significance and disproportionate magnification that is then placed on the information - and how its disbursement reinforces other themes in the campaign gameplans.
The program established its bona fides with the Bush campaign early in the year. Being a 'foreign' film crew from the impeccable BBC was the irresistible blandishment. Obviously without a dog in the race - the BBC were granted the sort of access that American journalists dream of.
But even more remarkable is the way the subjects react in front of the camera. They KNOW they're being filmed. They KNOW that what they're doing might appear sly and devious. And yet they can't resist the lens. Like a team of art thieves in the Louvre heisting the Mona Lisa. Even though the snap might be incriminating - they can't quite resist the lure of posing for a quick vacation Polaroid. "Me and Chuck heisting some old painting in Paris, France."
And so - on the night of the first debate - we see a pumped-up Tim Griffin (deputy head of RNC Research) barking orders to his large team of "oppos." Lehrer tosses Gore the question about him having cast doubt on whether Bush has sufficient experience to lead. Gore demurs and parses his response. Griffin leaps into loud action. Within minutes his team have tracked down an obscure Gore quote buried within the transcript of a lengthy speech. Gotcha! "It directly contradicts what he just said in the debate! He just lied!" crows Griffin. Seconds later Griffin has fed the contradiction to the Associated Press. This is beyond post-debate spin. This is play-by-play impeachment. And incredibly effective.
Moments later the topic is the Balkans. Gore speaks of how the First World War started there and says "my uncle was a victim of poison gas there." The RNC oppo staff giggles at this and Griffin bellows: "This family stuff is killing me... let's check his uncle! Let's see if it's Witt Lafont. He's under investigation for drug-trafficking..." There is a flurry of activity and history books being consulted - and then palpable disappointment that Gore's uncle really was a gas victim. "OK so that is not a lie..." Griffin grimaces and phones the bad news to a waiting colleague: "Hey... we confirmed the uncle tear-gas story...."
But when Gore makes what turns out to be his misstatement about visiting Texan fire sites with James Lee Witt (Director of FEMA) - Griffin senses blood. "Have Jeanette take a look at that!" he cries. And his hunch is right. Gore has transposed dates or people. And that gives Griffin another opportunity.
The BBC cameras catch him on the phone exulting to a colleague: "You know what this would be perfect for is... Get one of these AP reporters or somebody on it for the next few days and then we get a lie out of it... and roll a few days with a new lie!"
And "LIE" was what they got. The New York Post trumpets LIAR LIAR on its front page - and the post-debate spin cycle becomes about Gore's perceived chronic character flaw. And so it has gone every week since the debates. The image is enshrined.
Was the fact that Gore DID visit Texan firesites - but on that occasion with another FEMA executive relevant? Did it matter that he had made other visits to Texas with James Lee Witt? Were Gore's words a misstatement or a lie? What would have been the benefit in intentionally lying about such a trivial fact? Was it important either way?
To Griffin it is all very simple:
"If there's something really good that we can attack on then we will... Research is a fundamental point. We think of ourselves as the creators of the ammunition in a war. Research digs up the ammunition.. We make the bullets."
The enduring legacy of the 1992 campaign was the large sign in Carville's War Room - bearing a phrase that subsequently entered the political lexicon. "It's the economy, stupid."
Behind Tim Griffin in the RNC Oppo Room, the BBC camera captures a large sign he has erected. "On my command - unleash hell on Al."
It's just hilarious to see him today as an elected official acting as if he's the second coming of Honest Abe. Who says there are no second acts in American life?
Wow, an "air of crisis." And where did this "air of crisis" come from? It surely did not come from financial markets, were investors have shown a willingness to lend the United States governments trillions of dollars at very low interest rates in the years since President Obama took office. It certainly did not come from competent economists who were able to recognize that the large deficits were a direct result of the economic collapse in 2008. It also did not come from the millions of people who lost their jobs due to the downturn and looked to government stimulus as the only possible source of demand that could re-employ them.
A more accurate statement might be that:
"the improvement in the short-term forecast has removed the air of crisis around the budget deficit that the Washington Post and its allies have sought to promote since President Obama took office."
Let's be serious here, the crisis was invented by people in Washington who have an agenda for cutting Social Security and Medicare. That is as clear as day. The deficit crisis does not actually exist in the world. In the world we have a crisis of a grossly under-performing economy that the Post and its allies have attempted to perpetuate.
Deficit fever may have finally broken, but the ravages of the disease are still painful. So, it's not as if they can't have any fun at all.