Everybody Has an Opinion v 2.0

It seems like everybody has an opinion on world affairs and what this President should or should not do even today on the Sunday morning political shows . Arm chair diplomats seem to be everywhere. In fact, every Tom, Dick and Harry is now an expert on Syria, Iraq, Iran, or the terrorist group — ISIS aka ISIL. It’s truly an amazing phenomenon to witness so much commotion from our elected officials, media personalities or everyday citizens. Some want to declare war; others want to bomb, bomb, and bomb; yet while others don’t want any troops deployed, and scrutinize every plane and/or drone that is used.

California’s senior Senator Dianne Feinstein from San Francisco led the Democrats and took her best shot at the President for being too cautious on last week’s Sunday’s Meet the Press, but seems to be coming around to support the President after his statements today. But adding to the polemic is the ever growing pack of Democrats up for re-election, and the Republicans with their tom-tom drums stirring up fear and even more adversity. These GOP naysayers come in all shapes and sizes from the Boobsie Twins, aka Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who are both continuously stirring the proverbial pot on the world stage and at home; to Governor Chris Christie who is pounding his chest this week about Russia’s Putin while judiciously checking his poll numbers. Really, really wish there was a way to simmer them all down because it is just not helping. Words do matter and this type of rabble rousing makes people even more uneasy during this time of great upheaval. Frankly, nothing good can come from Geraldo Rivera’s evocative words on social media, except more unrest:

“Morning, the president finally declared our strategic goal to ‘degrade and destroy’ ISIS. We must hold him to it. Behead the ISIS butchers.” 5:35 AM — 3 Sep 2014 New York, NY, United States

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What Are We All Supposed To Be Afraid Of This Week?

Is it still ISIS? It’s not Syria anymore … right … it’s the other side now.

Previous weeks’ scare stories: Children coming from Central America? Ebola? Black mobs playing “knockout game”? Remember the smallpox scare? Remember the fear during the “runup” to the Iraq war?

Remember that fear causes people to be more conservative.

For some perspective (before we start bombing someone) on things to be afraid of, tobacco kills more than 480,000 Americans each year. And you don’t have to be the one smoking to be hurt or killed by the smoke.

Three Charts to Email to Your Right-Wing Brother-In-Law — Updated

Problem: Your right-wing brother-in-law is plugged into the FOX-Limbaugh lie machine, and keeps sending you emails about “Obama spending” and “Obama deficits” and how the “stimulus” just made things worse.

Solution: Here are three “reality-based” charts to send to him. These charts show what actually happened.

Spending

Bush_Obama_Spending_2014

Government spending increased dramatically under President Bush. It has not increased much under President Obama. This is just a fact.

Deficits

Bush_Obama_Deficit_2014

Note that this chart starts with Clinton’s last budget year for comparison.

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Puppy Crushers: How The Front-Group Game Works

Hunter explains how the front-group hame works in this post,

“Sorry—the story of wealthy businessmen funding ballot measures to pass transparently self-serving but state-damaging things is a bit of a sore spot in this state, it being something that happens Every Single Damn Election. The measures are then advertised by groups like “Citizens for Happier Puppies,” which turns out to be a front for the American Puppy Crushers Association, and we get lovely ads about how taxes will go down if we stop oppressing industries that just want to give all our puppies sharp metal hugs.”

Immigrants And Disease

Immigrants and disease? Really? Isn’t this KKK / Nazi stuff?

This is what the right is pushing. It’s old, racist, KKK/Nazi/Bircher stuff. Pushing it out to the public through supposedly “credible” outlets is called “mainstreaming” where they make white supremacist / KKK / Nazi stuff seem more normal and acceptable for people who are not radicalized into the racist right yet. But this is just the same old “mongrel races” and “mud people” stuff they’ve been pushing for a long time.

The following are just headlines, think of all the stuff that doesn’t have it as a headline. And most of this has been pushed out through Drudge, etc…

Beitbart June 2
REPORT: LICE, SCABIES, DISEASE AT CHILDREN’S IMMIGRATION SHELTER ON TEXAS AIRBASE

American Thinker June 8
Illegal immigrant flood bringing disease outbreaks

WND June 17
Deadly diseases crossing border with illegals

Daily Caller June 23
Doctor Says Illegal Immigration’s Causing ‘Public Health Crisis’ [VIDEO]

Breitbart June 23
DOCTORS WARN OF LOOMING HEALTH CRISIS DUE TO FLOOD OF YOUNG ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS

National Review June 24
Texas Immigration Center a Magnet for Disease

The Blaze June 24
‘Potential for a Public Health Disaster’: Illegal Immigrant Surge Leaves Officials With ‘No Idea’ Which Diseases Are Coming Across

Newsmax June 24
Infectious Disease Outbreaks a ‘High Risk’ for Border Immigrants

American Thinker June 26
Diseases are Crossing the Border, Too

Liberty News June 29
OBAMA’S UNLOADING DISEASE-CARRYING ILLEGAL ALIENS INTO LARGE U.S. CITIES IS A ‘PERFECT STORM’ FOR PANDEMIC DISEASE OUTBREAK IN THE USA

Fox News June 30
Immigration crisis: US experiencing major public health crisis, too

WND June 30
TERRORIST ATTACK VIA INFECTIOUS DISEASE?
“…these illegal disease carriers.”

WND June 30
TB, swine flu assaulting border agents: Who’s next?

WND July 3
Savage: Media ‘hiding’ illegal-alien disease threat

American Thinker July 6
It’s happening: Border Patrol personnel infected by illegal immigrant flood

National Review July 6
Scabies Spreads Among Border Detainees

Fox July 7
Border Patrol union claims scabies ‘outbreak’ threatens agents, public

Fox July 7
Immigration crisis: Tuberculosis spreading at camps

Fox July 7
Dr. Manny: Is America on the verge of a major health crisis?

Fox July 7
Immigrant illness: What you need to know about scabies and tuberculosis

Daily Caller July 7
Scabies Outbreak At US Border

Townhall July 8
Illness on the Rise: Cases of Scabies, Tuberculosis and Swine Flu All Reported at US Southern Border

Breitbart July 8
BORDER DOCTOR: PREVIOUSLY-DEPORTED ILLEGAL ALIEN WITH TUBERCULOSIS IGNORED BY FEDS

Good Lord, Republicans STILL Pretending There Is An “IRS Scandal”

It has become a “truth” on the right that the IRS “targets” conservative “political” groups. Here is what is going on.

Sea Of Smear Ads From Anonymous Donors

Who is providing the sea of anonymous money behind the nasty smear-campaign ads in local, state and national elections? You might (not) be surprised to find out that these ads are from “social welfare” organizations! These organizations don’t have to disclose their donors because they are tax-exempt nonprofits that, according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), “must be operated exclusively to promote social welfare.”

That’s right, your community, state and nation elections are being flooded with nasty, political, smear-campaign ads from organizations that claim to “further the common good and general welfare of the people of the community” and have no involvement with political campaigns.

Social Welfare Organizations

Here are the technical details. A 501(c)(4) charity is a group that does not have to disclose its donors to the public. The law says these groups must operate “exclusively” as “social welfare” organizations and not political organizations. They “must operate primarily to further the common good and general welfare of the people of the community.” (Disclosure: The Campaign for America’s Future operates as a 501(c)(4) organization; its sister organization, the Institute for America’s Future, is a 501(c)(3) organization.)

But government agencies have to “interpret” laws when it comes to their own day-to-day operating rules, and there are grey areas between activities that could be seen as “social welfare” and activities that could be seen as electoral politics. Is voter-registration a general social welfare activity or a political activity? Is issuing a well-researched policy paper on the effect of a higher minimum wage on poverty a social welfare activity or a political lobbying activity?

So years ago the IRS decided that these social welfare groups could spend “up to 49%” of their efforts in politically related activity.

“Congressman Bob Bobson Eats Babies” Is Not A Political Ad?

Obviously these groups are not supposed to be running campaign ads. But a smear ad appearing a week before an election that says “your member of Congress Bob Bobson eats babies” but not “vote against Bob Bobson for eating babies” has been “interpreted” to be a social welfare activity and not a political ad.

Because of this huge, vast, gaping loophole a number of (mostly Republican) political election campaign-related organizations that wanted to hide their donors figured out they could become “social welfare” organizations to run these campaign ads. Then “the Republican majority” on the Supreme Court as E.J. Dionne calls them, allowed billionaires and corporations (even foreign-owned corporations) to put unlimited sums of money into politics. This opened the floodgates of influence-buying – the more money you put into politics, the more tax breaks, contracts, subsidies, monopoly protection, etc. you get back – and a race was on.

Keeping Campaign Donors Secret

Corporations and billionaires that wanted to keep their influence-buying secret could put money into these “social welfare” organizations (and the people running these organizations could make themselves a fortune), so there was a flood of applications to the IRS to start conservative, tax-exempt, “social welfare” nonprofit organizations.

At the same time, Senate Republicans also filibustered the DISCLOSE Act that would let the public know who was funding all of these smear ads.

The Phony IRS “Scandal”

Republicans charge that the IRS is “targeting” conservative “political” groups when they look to see if “social welfare” groups are actually illegally engaging in election-related politics. It has become a “truth” on the right that “the government” is “harassing” conservatives for their politics. They say the IRS is “intimidating” them by looking into “their political activities.”

This all feeds into the Republican/Fox News/Wall Street Journal/talk radio/blog “scandal machine.” For example, the Wall Street Journal today has this “story” today, “GOP Report on IRS: Only Tea Party Groups Received ‘Systematic Scrutiny’.” The party issues a “report” and the conservative media machine blasts the “findings” around the wingnutosphere, and the “outrage” ensues.

Republicans in the House of Representatives have been holding hearings intended to drive this idea of IRS “harassment” out to their followers. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has his Oversight and Government Reform Committee holding televised (FOX) “hearings” that haul people before them to be yelled at by various Republicans. One person, threatened by Republicans with prosecution and jail, was advised by her attorney to assert her Fifth Amendment rights, so Republicans made her appear for hours, repeating again and again that she was “pleading the Fifth.” Now Republicans plan to vote to hold her in “contempt” for asserting her constitutional rights, and have even created a logo advertising the contempt vote:

Here’s The Thing

The IRS is required by law to look at all applicants to see if they are engaged in impermissible political activity. If they are engaged primarily in political activity, they are neither “charities” nor “social welfare” organizations and, by law, are not supposed to receive special tax status allowing them to keep their donors secret. That alone should tell you that something is fishy with the corporate/conservative accusation that the IRS is “targeting” conservative “political” groups. The IRS is required by law to see if groups are “political.”

This is really about Republicans trying to stop the IRS from policing the big right-wing political groups that are using special tax status to mask their donors. This is an intimidation tactic; it’s an attempt to keep the IRS from seeing if these groups are engaged in political campaign activity and shut down the ones that are, all in an effort to mask their billionaire/corporate and foreign corporate donors.

See also:

The Latest Lie: IRS Targeted Conservatives

The Latest Lie: “IRS Targeting Was Broader Than Thought”

The IRS “Scandal” Was A Set-Up

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This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF. Sign up here for the CAF daily summary

The Health Insurance Website Works – What Will Media Whip Us Up With Next?

OK HealthCare.gov works now. The people in states that didn’t set up their own websites can get insurance. The great panic of October/November 2013 is over. What will we be whipped into a lather over this week? What will the media sensationalize next? What about our real problems?

Will the media whip the public up into a frothing fit over the terrible state of the nation’s infrastructure? What about the millions of unemployed, underemployed and underpaid (and how they could get jobs if we start fixing the infrastructure)? What about the 443,000 Americans who will die from tobacco this year, and next year, and every year? What about the pending collapse of coastal real estate prices when people realize that climate change is real? Will it be the terrible trade deficit that is draining our economy and is killing the middle class?

The answer is: probably not. We are probably going to be manipulated into being all worried about something that either makes a ton of money for a bunch of large corporations (to the detriment of smaller businesses and the rest of us), or something that ends up benefitting the Republican Party. Because that’s how our modern corporate media works now.

For decades the Republican/conservative/corporate machine has worked to “inject” their topics into the national media. For the last few weeks it was “Oh my God the Health Care website doesn’t work, shut down the government” followed by “A few people claim their health care costs went up and maybe that is because of Obamacare and not insurance company greed – never mind that tens of millions can finally get health care.”

Anyway, we’ll see. But we can be sure the corporate media will work to whip the public into a lather about something that distracts from the country’s real problems. Because that’s how our modern corporate media works now.

People tend to follow where the media points their noses. For example, “Black Friday.” People get all whipped up about “Black Friday” to the point where they are fighting each other in stores over a 40% discount on crap. (Even bringing stun guns to move other shoppers out of the way.)

PS you have 200 people in line, and you have 24 items on special sale, and you don’t think there’s going to be fighting and chaos? Really?

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This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF. Sign up here for the CAF daily summary

Clean Coal?

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This week the EPA a nnounced new rules for CO2 emmissions in new coal-powered plants. The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) is up in arms, saying this could mean the end of coal as a power source.

So you’d think that the “clean coal” organization would be praising these new rules, because they are all about “clean coal,” right?

Ot maybe not so clean, just a slogan?

The Deficit Is Down By Half – PolitFact Says It’s OK To Say It Is Growing

The blogosphere is talking about how Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor was caught in an outright falsehood about the country’s deficit, and how PolitiFact backed him up. Cantor said Sunday that Congress should be “focused on trying to deal with the ultimate problem, which is this growing deficit.” Fact: the deficit is shrinking faster than any time since the end of WWII, and is down 50% from where Bush left it. But PolitiFact declared Cantor’s lie “half true.”

Fact: the deficit is down more than 50% from where Bush left it. Fact: the deficit is falling at the fastest rate since the end of WWII. This chart is from my February post, Deficit Is Falling Dramatically, But Only 6% Know That: (Note, the 2009 budget was Bush’s last budget year, before the “stimulus” kicked in.)

PolitiFact excuses Cantor for saying the country’s “ultimate problem … is this growing deficit” because even though the deficit is shrinking rapidly, at some point in the future deficits might maybe perhaps start to grow again. Or not.

Steve Benen writes about Cantor and PolitiFact at the MaddowBlog, PolitiFact finds its pants on fire, (click through, there are links in the text)

What Cantor said was the opposite of the truth — he said the nation has a “growing deficit,” when in reality, we have a shrinking deficit. We can have a discussion about whether the House Majority Leader was deliberately trying to deceive the public — Republicans have an incentive to convince the public that U.S. finances are in worse shape than they really are — or whether Cantor simply doesn’t know the basics of current events. But I’m afraid it’s either one or the other.

Unless, that is, you’re PolitiFact.

Atrios declared Politifact “Wankers of the Day“.

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Conservative Is Not An Ideology – It Is Corruption

I should do a series… Is keeping the minimum wage low really part of an ideology? Or is it really just big companies paying legislators to keep their profits high at the expense of We, the People?

It that ideology, when giant companies pay legislators to boost their profits? Is it ideology when big companies fund conservative “think tanks” that are really just propaganda machines, to tell people that there is an “ideology” that demands that wages be lowered?

Or is this just corruption?

I have been thinking that a lot of the fight going on isn’t about ideology at all, it is about corruption and the influence of money and how money uses its ability to influence society behind a MASK of ideology. You can justify a lot more if what you are doing is seen as an ideological effort, because that is about ideas and the clash of ideas and free speech, where money is just about money and power and force.

When it is ideas, it is ideology, when it is money it is just corruption. But calling it ideology keeps you out of jail.

I am just back from England… Toured a lot of castles, etc. and studied a lot of the history of the monarchy. The royalists used to justify their rule by saying God mandated it, etc.. So there was an “ideology” that kings should rule and royalty was sacred etc., but really it was about thugs who were stronger than other thugs, and then it was about keeping that power in the hands of a chosen few.

Was that really ideology?

Oil Company That Started Tea Party Now Fighting Tea Party

The “Tea Party” was started and funded by Koch Oil and its owners. But now the Tea Party in Georgia supports free market alternatives to oil monopolies, and Koch Oil is fighting them.

Summary: Georgia Power wants to expand its use of solar energy as the price of solar goes down. Georgia’s Tea Party likes the idea because it means consumers will get free-market choices. Of course Koch Oil has been fighting solar, wind, high-speed rail, electric cars and efforts to fight climate change because all of those hurt their lucrative oil business, and their front group Americans For Prosperity — the group behind the Tea Party in the first place — has launched a typical misleading smear campaign.

Think Progress has the story, in Koch Brothers Fund Effort To Undermine Tea Party Support Of Solar Energy in Georgia,

Tea Party members supporting the solar expansion see it as a simple free market issue. They believe consumers have the right to choose where their electricity comes from and shouldn’t be forced to remain dependent on a single source, especially in light of the rapidly declining cost of solar.

Despite the Tea Party’s support, Americans For Prosperity, a conservative group funded by the Koch brothers, came out against the proposed solar measure last week — launching what it calls “a multi-pronged, grassroots driven initiative” urging activists to pressure members of the PSC to reject the solar expansion.

In an email to its 50,000 members across the state, AFP Georgia director Virginia Galloway asks, “What if I told you something you’re not even hearing about in the news is about to raise your electricity bill by more than 40 percent and reduce the reliability of every appliance and electronics gadget in your home? That’s what will happen when your Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) votes on July 11th if you don’t take action today!”

Go read the rest