The Latest Lie: IRS Targeted Conservatives

Remember the video of the guy in the “pimp costume” who got advice from ACORN employees on how to run his prostitution ring? Turns out the whole story was just a lie, a doctored-video smear job on an important organization. The guy never wore a “pimp costume” and the real, undoctored videos showed that ACORN employees did nothing wrong. But a lie travels around the world before the corporate media bothers to check the facts. The “news” media blasted the story everywhere, and Congress was so outraged they forced ACORN to close its doors. And here we are again.

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

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

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

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

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

Once again: Only one-third of the groups checked were conservative groups.

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How Companies Turn People Against Unions

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.

If you had a company and could make people work for free, keeping all the proceeds just for yourself, you might do that. If you could. What’s stopping you? There are plenty of unemployed people in the country and in the world – more every day thanks to population growth, and computers and machines doing more of the work that needs to be done. So if someone complains, you can just replace them with someone who doesn’t complain. You have the power. So what’s stopping you?

As a working person, how do you negotiate for fair pay, benefits and rights where you work? People in a job can be on their own against a lot of power, taking whatever the employer is willing to trade for their work. Or they can join with the rest of the employees at the workplace and negotiate as a group. Banding together to fight for a fair share is called organizing into a union.

People who own companies think that the company is their “private property” and they can do what they want with it, regardless of the effect on the people who work there or the surrouding community. Their goal is to make as much money as possible and to do that you lower costs as much as possible. Those costs include the cost of disposing of harmful waste products, the quality and safety of the products produced, and the pay and benefits you provide workers. In this equation unions are a problem. They have the power to make you pay more and provide safety and benefits, so they are in the way of keeping as much as you can just for yourself.

Obviously the greater society — the people who make the rules that companies are supposed to follow — has very different interests from the people who own companies. Society wants to avoid being exposed to harmful waste products, and wants the people in the society to be paid well and have good benefits. Society wants healthy communities. Society wants good and safe products that don’t use up our resources. The people in the society are generally going to want rules that lead to better results for the greater number of people. Unless they can be convinced otherwise.

So the owners of companies try to convince us that unions are bad. They form and fund “business groups” like the Chamber of Commerce, to fight to keep unions from having the right and power to organize their workers. We hear it repeated over and over in our corporate-dominated society, a drumbeat that labor unions are sinister, shady, harmful, corrupt, violent, “raise prices,” ”cost jobs,” and generally hurt the economy and country. We hear they force workers to pay dues (never mind that unionized workers pay the dues from higher pay and benefits.) We hear that “union bosses” tell workers what to do and “union thugs”make them do it. Nothing could be further from the truth, of course. The owners of companies have a lot of money to spend on convincing the public to let them have free reign, and they know from selling products how to sell things to the public. Repetition, repetition and repetition. Marketing works.

This Labor Day weekend we can expect to hear even more of this. Business groups plan Labor Day blitz against Senate Dems, candidates,

Local chapters of groups like the National Federation of Independent Business, state Associated Builders and Contractors and other commerce and retail groups will hold events on Monday targeting the incumbents and candidates, particularly on their stance on the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA, or “card-check”).

But you shouldn’t expect to see, hear or read on any corporate-owned TV station, radio station or newspaper about the benefits to people from joining a union. Think back and see if you can remember the last time you heard it explained to the public in one of these outlets how members of unions are better off?

How widespread is the anti-labor effort? Here’s a quick, admittedly unscientific check. On Google today there are 54,800 websites that refer to “union thugs,” 154,000 websites that refer to “union bosses” and 200,000 that refer to “big labor.” Please click through and look not only at the ridiculous things being written, but also at who is writing them.

The first page of Google “results for “union bosses” lists anti-union pages from Big Government, The Center for Union Facts , The Washington Times, Human Events, Redstate, Townhall, The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and the book “Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics” by Fox News analyst Linda Chavez and Danial Gray of the National Right to Work Committee.

The Center for Union Facts, The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and the National Right to Work Committee are anti-union sites funded by corporations and right-wing foundations. According to a report in SourceWatch, The National Right to Work Committee and National Right to Work Legal Defense and Education Foundation even share facilities and employees. Big Government, Human Events, Townhall, Redstate, Fox News and the Washington Times are conservative movement outlets that are part of the coordinated Right Wing Noise Machine, or echo chamber, in which a number of outlets appear to be different entities but work as part of a single movement with a shared goal. (P.S. Big Government is the site where the doctored ACORN videos and doctored video of Shirley Sherrod were promoted.)

Admittedly unscientific, but interesting nonetheless. There’s a lot of anti-union money floating around out there.
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NYTimes Owes Us An ACORN Smear Retraction

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
A month ago while covering the arrest of James O’Keefe after his attempt to tamper with the phones at Senator Mary Landrieu’s office the New York Times repeated conservative misinformation that smeared ACORN, and is now refusing to retract their “reporting.”

James O’Keefe previously had released videos that purported to show ACORN employees supposedly advising a “pimp” on how to evade the law. These videos were widely publicized in conservative outlets as part of a larger conservative campaign to destroy ACORN, because the organization registers poor people to vote. Usually-careful major media outlets like the New York Times then picked up the “story” from these conservative outlets and repeated the false accusations against ACORN.

An an example of how the Times has repeated the misinformation, this Times story, High Jinks to Handcuffs for Landrieu Provocateur, contained the following:

Mr. O’Keefe made his biggest national splash last year when he dressed up as a pimp and trained his secret camera on counselors with the liberal community group Acorn — eliciting advice on financing a brothel on videos that would threaten to become Acorn’s undoing.

In fact, O’Keefe was NOT “dressed as a pimp.” He represented himself as a candidate for Congress who was trying to help women who were being exploited. He then doctored the resulting videotapes to make it appear that ACORN acted improperly. He only dressed as a “pimp” when publicizing his videos, using the racist stereotype to amplify his false claims. This preposterous 1970’s blaxploitation-movie costume seemed to resonate with media outlets like the Times. (The woman who played the “prostitute” in the videos has herself been videotaped verifying that O’Keefe DID NOT wear a “pimp” costume.)

Compare the impression left by this NY Times story with other independently verified facts of the case as explained in : ACORN Report Finds No Illegal Conduct, which describes former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger’s investigation of the accusations. Among the investigation’s conclusions,

The videos that have been released appear to have been edited, in some cases substantially, including the insertion of a substitute voiceover for significant portions of Mr. O’Keefe’s and Ms. Giles’s comments, which makes it difficult to determine the questions to which ACORN employees are responding. A comparison of the publicly available transcripts to the released videos confirms that large portions of the original video have been omitted from the released versions.

The Brad Blog has taken the lead with efforts to get the NY Times to retract their reporting. From yesterday’s post, Exclusive: NYTimes Public Editor Declines to Recommend Retraction for Multiple Erroneous Reports on False ACORN ‘Pimp’ Story,

We’ve spent the last several weeks here reporting and demonstrating how the O’Keefe/Breitbart ACORN video hoax was exactly that — a political partisan scam that was publicized uncritically by the New York Times, and dozens of otherwise reputable outlets.

Despite the Times’ repeatedly misreporting that O’Keefe was dressed or posed as a “pimp” while meeting with ACORN employees in those videos, and even after being shown in no uncertain terms that he did not, the Times’ Public Editor has declined to recommend the paper retract its reporting on this story.

The next day, in NYT Public Editor Accuses The BRAD BLOG of ‘Political Agenda’ on Par With ACORN Smear Artists, Hoaxsters Breitbart and O’Keefe, New York Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt offered the following stunning statement,

The story says O’Keefe dressed up as a pimp and trained his hidden camera on Acorn counselors. It does not say he did those two things at the same time

Also at this Brad Blog post are links to a number of other blogs following this story.

You can take action by clicking through to: Tell the NY Times: retract anti-ACORN reportage.

NYTimes “Stands By” False Reporting

Last month I posted NYT Propels Anti-ACORN Propaganda,

The NY Times ran a story today about the “high jinks” of the right-wing smear artist O’Keefe, repeating the smears on ACORN, without mentioning the investigations that concluded his ACORN videotapes were doctored and that ACORN employees did nothing wrong.

The Times reported as fact that O’Keefe was “dressed as a pimp” – he was not, he was representing himself as a candidate for Congress – and that ACORN employees gave advice on setting up a brothel – when an investigation concluded that the videos were “heavily edited” and had “substitute voicovers” inserted to make it sound like ACORN employees said things they did not.

Brad Friedman pressed the Times on this. The Times said it “stands by” the story and cites FOX News as their source.

Go read the whole thing – it’s really quite stunning.

NYT Propels Anti-ACORN Propaganda

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The NY Times ran a story today about the “high jinks” of the right-wing smear artist O’Keefe, repeating the smears on ACORN, without mentioning the investigations that concluded his ACORN videotapes were doctored and that ACORN employees did nothing wrong.

High Jinks to Handcuffs for Landrieu Provocateur – NYTimes.com

Mr. O’Keefe made his biggest national splash last year when he dressed up as a pimp and trained his secret camera on counselors with the liberal community group Acorn — eliciting advice on financing a brothel on videos that would threaten to become Acorn’s undoing.

There is a problem with this NY Times report of the ACORN affair: O’Keefe was not dressed as a “pimp” when visiting the ACORN office, instead representing himself as a candidate for Congress trying to save girls from exploitation. He only dressed as a “pimp” when publicizing his videos, using the racist stereotype to amplify his false claims.

Compare the impression left by this NY Times story with : ACORN Report Finds No Illegal Conduct, which describes former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger’s investigation of the accusations. Among the investigation’s conclusions,

The videos that have been released appear to have been edited, in some cases substantially, including the insertion of a substitute voiceover for significant portions of Mr. O’Keefe’s and Ms. Giles’s comments, which makes it difficult to determine the questions to which ACORN employees are responding. A comparison of the publicly available transcripts to the released videos confirms that large portions of the original video have been omitted from the released versions.

I located this information after using The Google for maybe two minutes. I propose that the New York Times consider offering Google Training to its “reporters.”

Republican Operatives Caught Bugging Dem Senator’s Phones

A Republican operative has been arrested along with others, for attempting to bug the office of Democratic senator Mary Landrieu. From the Shreveport Times,

An FBI affidavit says the incident happened Monday. At least two of the suspects were dressed in work clothes and construction hats and claimed they were technicians for a telphone company.
The four were identified by the U.S. Attorney’s Office on Tuesday as James O’Keefe, 25; Stan Dai, 24; Robert Flanagan 24; and Joseph Basel, 24.

Before this, O’Keefe was known for filming ACORN employees and editing the tapes to make it appear the employees were engaged in improper behavior. An investigation by the Congressional Research Service found that O’Keefe and the videotapers were the only party to the affair that had violated any laws.

Another investigation by former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger found that,

The videos that have been released appear to have been edited, in some cases substantially, including the insertion of a substitute voiceover for significant portions of Mr. O’Keefe’s and Ms. Giles’s comments, which makes it difficult to determine the questions to which ACORN employees are responding. A comparison of the publicly available transcripts to the released videos confirms that large portions of the original video have been omitted from the released versions.

Dems Who Validated Attacks On ACORN

ACORN registers millions of voters.

The Republicans are talking about taking back the Congress next year. That strategy depends on keeping people from coming to the polls.

So they attack ACORN, in a typical, coordinated smear and fear campaign, leading up to a vote in Congress to defund the organization. And many Democrats went along with it.

I kind of hope that many of those Democrats are defeated next year because people who would have been registered to vote are not registered so can’t vote.

Except for the consequences to the country and world when Republicans are in charge.

HOW many Iraqis died? HOW badly did they wreck the economy?

Newspaper Irresponsibility — Reprinting Propaganda Lies

From Sept. 23 Readers’ letters – San Jose Mercury News

ACORN corruption is no trivial matter

In his interview with George Stephanopoulos on Sunday, ex-ACORN attorney President Barack Obama denied any knowledge of that organization having received over $55 billion in federal funding. He stated he had not paid attention to such trivial matters as he had bigger issues to deal with. That the liberal media swallow such indigestible fodder is reinforced by the Nick Anderson cartoon (Opinion, Sept. 21). Like our president, this gullible cartoonist views the ACORN corruption as an nonevent stirred up by contentious conservatives.

$55 billion?

In the last 15 years ACORN has received a total of $53 million – with an ‘M’ – in funding from the government. That comes to $3.5 million a year. That amount is more than 1000 times less than SJ News readers would now believe. Almost all of this is to “ACORN Housing” for providing assistance with low-income housing programs — things like helping poor people fight off foreclosures.

Obama Campaign Asks Special Prosecutor To Look Into DOJ/McCain Campaign Collusion On ACORN Charges

The Obama campaign today sent a letter to Attorney General Mukasey asking that he expand the scope of the ongoing investigation into Justice Department politicization to “include a review of any involvement by the Justice Department and White House officials in supporting the McCain-Palin campaign and the Republican National Committee (RNC)’s systematic development and dissemination of unsupported, spurious allegations of vote fraud.”

Briefly, the DOJ politicization scandal stems from Republican efforts to conduct partisan vote fraud investigations before the 2006 election. Prosecutors who refused were fired, prosecutors who played along were not fired (and are still there). After an outcry and the resignation of Attorney General Gonzales the new Attorney General, Michael Mukasey, appointed a special prosecutor to look into the politicization. The current vote fraud accusations and accompanying Justice Department, FBI and White House involvement follow the same pattern, and are based on no credible evidence, so the Obama campaign believes that it may be related to the ongoing partisan politicization of the government’s law enforcement.

More coming…

Update - Ari Melber at The Washington Independent has more,

Citing an “unholy alliance” between Republican operatives and potentially illegal conduct by law enforcement targeting voter fraud, the Obama campaign demanded Friday that the U.S. special prosecutor looking into the U.S. attorney scandal investigate the matter.
General counsel Bob Bauer sent a letter to Atty. Gen. Michael Mukasey charging that coordinated “misconduct” by McCain campaign representatives and GOP officials were relevant to the special prosecutor’s work, because the activities may relate to the dismissal of seven U.S. attorneys in late 2006.
The letter requests that the special prosecutor’s inquiry “include a review of any involvement by Justice Dept. and White House officials in supporting the McCain-Palin campaign [and RNC's] systematic development and dissemination of unsupported, spurious allegations of vote fraud.”