Jeb! Sticks Foot In It — Again

Today’s dog-bites-man story is that Jeb! Bush said something really stupid. Again.

Jeb! says Pope Francis should keep his climate views to himself because he’s not a scientist. HuffPo: “Jeb: Pope Shouldn’t Discuss Climate Change Because He’s ‘Not A Scientist'”:

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) said he disagrees with Pope Francis’ call to fight climate change and thinks the pope should not delve into the issue because he “is not a scientist.”

“He’s not a scientist, he’s a religious leader,” Bush said, according to a video posted by the Democratic opposition research group American Bridge.

But the Pope actually is a scientist. He is a chemical engineer with a Master’s degree from the University of Buenos Aires.

I’m Not A Scientist


Last year it seemed that every Republican in the country was saying “I’m not a scientist,” when asked about climate change. Obviously this deflection phrase was cooked up by well-paid strategists using well-funded focus groups, all likely paid for by the oil and coal companies.

Coral Davenport, writing at the NY Times’ Political Memo, in “Why Republicans Keep Telling Everyone They’re Not Scientists”:

For now, “I’m not a scientist” is what one party adviser calls “a temporary Band-Aid” — a way to avoid being called a climate change denier but also to sidestep a dilemma. The reality of campaigning is that a politician who acknowledges that burning coal and oil contributes to global warming must offer a solution, which most policy experts say should be taxing or regulating carbon pollution and increasing government spending on alternative energy. But those ideas are anathema to influential conservative donors like the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch and the advocacy group they support, Americans for Prosperity.

“I’m Not A Scientist” by “PsychoSuperMom“:


But Wait, There’s More!

Just in time for the Pope’s visit Jeb! Bush penned a Tuesday op-ed for Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal titled: “How I’ll Slash the Regulation Tax: As president, I’ll repeal the coal ash rule, the clean water rule, net neutrality, and much more.”


As president, I will repeal the Environmental Protection Agency’s new rule extending federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act over millions of acres of private land, its new regulation of carbon dioxide under the Clean Power Plan, and its new and costly coal-ash standards for power plants. I will also work to repeal the so-called net-neutrality rule forced on the Federal Communications Commission by the White House and the Department of Education’s “gainful employment” rule that punishes for-profit colleges. That’s for starters.

Why did Bush write this to appear just before the Pope arrived in the US? Seriously, what did he think the Pope was about to say to the country?

The Pope, speaking to Congress:

Politics is, instead, an expression of our compelling need to live as one, in order to build as one the greatest common good: that of a community which sacrifices particular interests in order to share, in justice and peace, its goods, its interests, its social life.

[. . .] The right use of natural resources, the proper application of technology and the harnessing of the spirit of enterprise are essential elements of an economy which seeks to be modern, inclusive and sustainable.

Jeb says the Pope should shut up because he isn’t a scientist. He uses the stock phrase without checking if the Pope might actually be a scientist. He sets up the Pope’s appeal to stop worshiping money, bring scammers and polluters under control and elevate people by proposing to unleash money and corporations on the people.

Turns out that ‘W’ was “the smart one.” Jeb! puts the “clown” in “Republican clown show.”


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 and/or for the Progress Breakfast.

Are Unions An ‘Us’ Or A ‘Them’?

Divide and conquer works. When you face a strong enemy it’s always a good strategy to find ways to break them apart into smaller units that can be fought separately. A state initiative to gut California’s public-employee pension and healthcare benefits is trying to do just that.

A well-funded campaign is underway (again) to take advantage of the state’s constitutional amendment initiative process, this time to place a proposition called the “Voter Empowerment Act of 2016” on the 2016 ballot. The initiative would require that voters approve any pension and health benefits in contracts for new teachers, nurses, police and other government employees as well as any pension enhancements for existing employees.

This initiative follows a pattern well-known to California public-interest advocates. Ballot initiatives must receive 585,407 signatures to qualify, and corporate/billionaire-funded initiatives hire paid signature gatherers to get this done. Then they launch a well-funded, deceit-filled campaign to scare voters.

Similar anti-pension campaign have been, are and will be underway in states and municipalities across the country.

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It’s Time To Close All The Military Bases In Texas

So Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Senator Ted Cruz are trying to “calm” Texans who think the US government is planning a “military takeover” of the state. They say people’s fear is based on distrust of Obama.

Here is a way to help “calm” Texans. Lets close all of those US military bases in Texas. They cost a tremendous amount to keep open, and they cause Texans to worry that the United States is going to “take over” Texas.

Texas Governor Deploys State Guard To Stave Off Obama Takeover

Texans blame secret military takeover for Walmart closings

Remember When Republicans Filibustered The Cybersecurity Bill?

One would think that the media would be mentioning this in light of the recent attacks on computers… Sony … North Korea … hackers …

NYT, August 2, 2012, Cybersecurity Bill Is Blocked in Senate by GOP Filibuster, (BARF WARNING — there is big picture of Joe Lieberman.)

A cybersecurity bill that had been one of the Obama administration’s top national security priorities was blocked by a Republican filibuster in the Senate on Thursday, severely limiting its prospects this year.

The bill would have established optional standards for the computer systems that oversee the country’s critical infrastructure, like power grids, dams and transportation.

The next paragraph says everything you need to know about Democrats in recent years:

In the hopes of winning over Mr. McCain and the other Republicans, the bill had been significantly watered down in recent weeks by its sponsors, led by Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, who made the standards optional. Original versions of the bill said the standards would be mandatory and gave the government the power to enforce them.

They watered it down hoping to get Republican votes, made the rules optional, etc — and it was filibustered anyway.

As for the media silence about this right now, this is sort of like how two police officers were killed by two people who had been at the Bundy Ranch, and they laid a Tea Party flag on one of the officers and … nothing in the news about that. But the killings of two cops in NYC, we have wall-to-wall coverage blaming protesters, liberals, Obama, etc…

Just sayin’…

Scariest Silly Right-Wing Propaganda Ever

My favorite scary but silly right-wing propaganda ever is still “Chevy Volt Runs Out Of Juice In Lincoln Tunnel.”

1) I say silly to contrast with deadly propaganda that tries to start wars, etc., or toxic conservative propaganda that tries to make people hate Muslims, blacks, Hispanic or poor or sick people, public schools, government, Europe (especially France), etc.

2) The Volt’s gas engine kicks in to charge the battery when it runs low — something that is hard to even notice. The car certainly didn’t stop in the tunnel or anything like that.

Second is the scare that “electric cars are a fire hazard.” As compared to cars that have big tanks full of gasoline!

Question: Why does conservative propaganda so often line up with things the generate profits for oil companies, Wall Street, or other billionaires?

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.



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



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

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Benghazi WTF?

Republicans aren’t for things. Instead they run from one hysterical anti-something scream to the next. They have shifted from the “noun-verb-911” of the Bush years to “Obama said you didn’t build this” road and bridge, then to “Obamacare failed” and after Obamacare succeeded it was “Bundy” then it was “Oops” and now it’s “Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi” all the time. So what is Benghazi about?

First, you have to sift through all the wild conspiracy theories. Many Republicans say that Obama ordered the military to “stand down” and allow the attack to take place. Some Republicans say the attack was a “hit job” ordered by Obama to kill our ambassador. Others say Obama is having Benghazi witnesses and even investigators killed.

Now Speaker Boehner is setting up a Spanish inquisition special committee to “investigate” and deliver anti-Obama conclusions just in time for the election. Boehner said the committee will look into why the administration is “obstructing the truth about Benghazi.”

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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


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

To Understand Republican Government, Read This

NY Times today, A Lieutenant Governor, an Artist and a Portrait of a Smear. It describes one case of Republicans using smears to make people think government is wasteful and corrupt, and the way the smears hurt people.

In her first year in office, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno opened a frontal attack on an unlikely target, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.

Its contracting was “inexcusably” flawed, she said. Its practices were “unethical” and too cozy. Its director had to go.

Like Joe McCarthy, they needed a target.

In spring 2011, she began a new offensive. She went before legislative committees and pilloried a man doing work on an Arts Council contract, building a 9/11 timeline at Liberty State Park in Jersey City. His contract was no-bid, she said, the money unclear.

OK, there’s your waste, fraud and abuse. You’ve got to read the details.

Just like that, Mr. Aubrey fell into reputation’s ditch, and the Christie administration piled dirt atop him. Except — and this is not incidental to our story — Mr. Aubrey did nothing wrong.

Again, read the details, he really, really did nothing wrong.

“None of it was true,” the newspaper noted in a December 2011 editorial. “The state could find no evidence of wrongdoing.”

But wait, there’s more.

It was, in fact, worse than that. The lieutenant governor and Department of State, it turns out, had control of the Arts Council’s spending all along. Her divisions signed off on every payment.

So not only did these Repubicans smear a good man who had done nothing wrong — who in fact was practically donating his time — the Lt. Gov. office was the responsible party all along.

Think about that the next time you hear a Republican run down things like Arts Councils and other things government does to make our lives better – also known as “government spending.”

Republicans. They just lie.

Campbell Brown’s Ridiculous Attack On Teacher Unions

Today’s ridiculous attack on teacher unions is one that accuses them of supporting sexual predators in schools. Let’s see if we can figure out what’s behind it.

In a Wall Street Journal hit-piece, Campbell Brown – you may remember her as a former television news personality – accuses teacher unions of trying to block a bill to keep sexual predators out of schools. In the op-ed “Keeping Sex Predators Out of Schoolrooms,” subtitled “Congress is considering better background checks for teachers. Why won’t unions support the bill?” Brown describes the bill and asks, “These are sensible measures that are overdue. Yet the two most powerful teachers unions in the country have voiced objections to the bill.”

Of course, the objections that teacher unions have voiced are not objections to protecting kids against sexual predators. The teacher unions want to strengthen the bill, not stop it. (See the full letter to Congress from American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten here.) But no matter; the bill is a set-up. While it is about stopping “sexual predators,” it is used here as a honey-trap to elicit objections that can be used against unions. Then ANY objection to a bill that supposedly is about stopping sexual predators is described as an effort to help sexual predators. This is one of the oldest propaganda techniques in the book.

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