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The Nerve of the IRS

The craziness of the IRS “scandal” cannot be underlined or emphasized enough. The fact that the IRS decided to scrutinize a group of Americans who basically state that they hate paying taxes and would go to any means to avoid paying taxes should not be a surprise to anyone. In my mind, scrutinizing tea party groups is a little like asking Willie Sutton why he robs banks. (His famous answer, “because that’s where the money is,” may be an urban myth but I like it nonetheless.) Since the disastrous, thoughtless Citizens United decision, the number of 501(c) 4 organizations has skyrocketed from a little over 1700 to well over 3300. The majority of these 501(c) 4 groups were, wait for it… conservative, tea party groups.

More from Vanity Fair:

Unfortunately, given the way this I.R.S. scandal slid so easily into ideological definitions, I fear that few non-politicos are recognizing the real disgrace here: that the federal government—Congress, the White House, the tax agency, and the Supreme Court—has created a situation where blatantly political organizations are able to legally break the law by pretending they’re something that they’re not.

The key to this obscene state of affairs is an entity known as a 501(c)(4), named for the section of the tax code that created it. Supposedly, these are civic associations or organizations devoted to social welfare, which can operate tax-free, but whose donors aren’t allowed to deduct their contributions. Fair enough. (more…)

By |2013-05-23T22:26:15-04:00May 23rd, 2013|Obama administration, Party Politics, Taxes|Comments Off on The Nerve of the IRS

Obama Wins… and that was the easy part.

The president has won reelection. Barack Obama, against amazing odds, has been reelected as president of the United States. Let’s think about this just for a second. Barack Obama had to stand up against the most withering criticism; not just during this election cycle, but over the last four years. Fox News was constant and consistent. Citizens United, the Supreme Court decision which allowed unlimited money to be spent by mysterious shadow billionaires, allowed hundreds of millions of dollars to be spent in negative ads against the president. Additional stimulus packages, which would’ve added up to millions of jobs for Americans, died in the Republican-held House. So, instead of the economy, which with additional stimulus would have come slowly but surely roaring back is limping along, gaining steam month after month.

I’m sorry to say that many Republicans were completely duped. Over the last couple weeks I had many Republicans telling me not only that they were optimistic and supremely confident but they KNEW that Mitt Romney was going to win. They were listening to the lies of Fox News:

Dick Morris: “This is going to be a landslide.” The former Clinton adviser predicted a dominant Romney win, calling it “the biggest surprise in recent American political history.” Claiming that polls were oversampling Democrats, Morris wondered if “it will rekindle the whole question on why the media played this race as a nailbiter.”

Karl Rove: “At least 279 electoral votes.” “It comes down to numbers. And in the final days of this presidential race, from polling data to early voting, they favor Mitt Romney,” Rove wrote in a WSJ op-ed, ignoring the fact that most polls showed growing momentum for the president. He predicted that Romney would win 51 percent of the popular vote and “at least 279 electoral votes.”

Peggy Noonan: “There is no denying the Republicans have the passion now.” Noonan is one of the most respected political columnists in the country, despite her penchant for deciding things based on her gut rather than actual data. But her Romney prediction wasn’t exactly well thought out, even by her own standard. According to Noonan, “all the vibrations [were] right” for a Romney win because “something old was roaring back.” While this might be the right way to open an H.P. Lovecraft novel, it probably isn’t the best way to think about presidential elections.

Newt Gingrich: “A Romney landslide.” The former House Speaker predicted that Romney would take 53 percent of the popular vote and at least 300 electoral college votes. “My personal guess is you’ll see a Romney landslide, 53 percent-plus . . . in the popular vote, 300 electoral votes-plus,” Gingrich said. He also predicted that Republicans “may come very close to capturing control of the Senate.” He apologized for the faulty call the morning after the election.

Obama’s Victory Speech

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By |2012-11-07T23:08:49-04:00November 7th, 2012|Elections|Comments Off on Obama Wins… and that was the easy part.

The true progressive movement

Many people are standing around dazed and bewildered. With Martin Luther King’s birthday coming on the heels of the massacre in Tucson, many people are wondering where this country is heading. Let me suggest that we “take the bull by the horns.” That we start wondering where the country is headed and take the country in the direction that we wanted to go. Let’s start with some inspiration. Maya Angelou.

Now let’s move onto something a little bit more concrete. From HuffPo:

In 1955, except for a recent Supreme Court decision on school segregation widely held to be unenforceable, there was no support from the government to end the racial order in the South. The Democratic Party was fatally dependent on the votes of Southern racists. The Republican Party of Lincoln was failing to lead even on something as rudimentary as a federal anti-lynching law.

Yet within a decade, the legal foundations of what Pulitzer Prize winning author Douglas Blackmon called “slavery by another name” had crumbled. Half a century later, public attitudes were continuing to evolve, glacially to be sure, but in the direction of Dr. King’s arc of justice. Far sooner than he might have expected, our country elected an African American president.

I mention all this not just because this is the day to remember Dr. King, but because we progressives have been depressing the hell out of each other lately and wringing our hands about President Obama’s missed opportunities.

It is all too easy to make a list of why all political possible avenues to a more progressive society are blocked. If you want to wallow in it, here is the list:

  • Wall Street capture of both parties.
  • An alliance between billionaires and disaffected common people.
  • The Citizens United case ushering in a new era of money overwhelming citizenship.
  • A grievously weakened labor movement.
  • President Obama spending his prestige seeking a nonexistent middle ground.
  • A right wing media machine/echo chamber with no counterpart on the liberal left.
  • An almost certain Republican takeover of both houses of Congress in 2012.
  • A prolonged era of deep recession that, weirdly, energizes the right rather than the left.
  • A new dark age of theocracy and denial of verifiable scientific truth
  • A national psychosis embracing guns as a basic civic right

I look at this list and think of ways that we can come together to make our country better. What do you think about when you read this list?

By |2011-01-18T15:24:37-04:00January 18th, 2011|Domestic Issues, Other Political Thoughts|Comments Off on The true progressive movement
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