How Rev. Billy Graham Taught the Republican Party to Sacrifice the Poor on the Altar of Big-Business

Source: AlterNet

Author: C J Wehrleman

Since turning 95 last month, Reverend Billy Graham’s health has deteriorated, and judging by his family’s call for prayers, his life is nearing its end. Many things will be written about Graham’s life by both disciples and his detractors, but if you want to know where the base of today’s Republican Party—the Christian Right—gets its mojo, look no further than this Southern Baptist preacher.

The genetic makeup of the GOP is one chromosome away from Graham’s DNA. Today’s Republican Party is a neo-Confederate pro-corporation movement, thanks to the supposed life-long Democrat (when he wasn’t endorsing Mitt Romney)—the Reverend Billy Graham. A childhood friend of Richard Nixon’s it was Graham who helped the disgraced president articulate the “Southern Strategy,” which won Nixon the White House in 1968.

Steven P. Miller, author of Billy Graham and the Rise of the Republican South,writes that it was Graham’s public relationship with Southern Baptist ministers, and quips like, “Prejudice is not just a sectional problem” and “Criticism of the South is one of the most popular indoor sports of some Northerners these days,” that made him an much-loved figure among his fellow Southerners. Miller also says that Graham’s evangelical understanding of the sins of racism allowed many white Southerners to declare themselves absolved from past guilt.

Millennials can be forgiven for mistakenly thinking the Christian Right has been the main strain of the GOP since ad infinitum. It hasn’t. The Christian Right is still a relatively new dynamic on the American political landscape. Prior to the election of Jimmy Carter in 1976, no serious presidential candidate ever claimed to have been “born again,” and the emphasis of faith for a politician seeking high office was as rare then as a candidate declaring his atheism is today.

But something weird happened on the way to the forum. Religious fundamentalists banded together to oppose Jimmy Carter’s 1980 reelection campaign (Carter was a Southern Baptist), and in turn, put their support behind Ronald Reagan, who was a divorced Hollywood actor. This strange coalition on the right became a movement better known as the Moral Majority, and Billy Graham and Jerry Falwell were the tip of the sword.

The Moral Majority surprised nearly everyone by helping sweep Reagan into the White House. The Sarasota Journal wrote as much on Feb 9, 1981: “The merging of the political right with the religious right has taken the country by surprise.”

Until then, not even your most casual political observer believed that conservative Christians could or would play a pivotal role in shaping the outcome of elections. Screenplay writer Norman Lear said at the time, “The Moral Majority is neither the moral point of view, nor the majority.”

With help from the likes of Pat Robertson and a coalition of anti-gay, anti-Muslim, anti-feminist, and anti-ACLU networks, the Moral Majority became the Christian Right. While Graham publicly distanced himself from the Moral Majority, this was done purely for political optics. The media’s gullibility in falling for the “genteel, bipartisan, apolitical preacher” narrative gave Graham’s voice even more political clout.

Graham was a skillful orator, and he adeptly infused the teachings of Ayn Rand with those of Jesus Christ. In the Bible, Jesus says, “The meek shall inherit the earth,” and urges his followers, “To sell what you have and give to the poor.” But Graham, with the biggest Christian following in America during the ’80s,

But something weird happened on the way to the forum. Religious fundamentalists banded together to oppose Jimmy Carter’s 1980 reelection campaign (Carter was a Southern Baptist), and in turn, put their support behind Ronald Reagan, who was a divorced Hollywood actor. This strange coalition on the right became a movement better known as the Moral Majority, and Billy Graham and Jerry Falwell were the tip of the sword.

The Moral Majority surprised nearly everyone by helping sweep Reagan into the White House. The Sarasota Journal wrote as much on Feb 9, 1981: “The merging of the political right with the religious right has taken the country by surprise.”

Until then, not even your most casual political observer believed that conservative Christians could or would play a pivotal role in shaping the outcome of elections. Screenplay writer Norman Lear said at the time, “The Moral Majority is neither the moral point of view, nor the majority.”

Where Bible Jesus feeds the masses with two loaves of bread, Ayn Randian Jesus says, “Bugger off, this bread is mine, you lazy moochers.” While Graham removed Southern Christians’ guilt over segregation, Ayn Rand removed the Christian Right’s guilt for being selfish and uncaring about anyone except themselves. Bruce E. Levine, author of Get Up, Stand Up: Uniting Populists, Energizing the Defeated, and Battling the Corporate Elite [4], wrote on AlterNet, “Not only did Rand make it ‘moral’ for the wealthy not to pay their fair share of taxes, she ‘liberated’ millions of other Americans from caring about the suffering of others, even the suffering of their own children.”

With the explosion of cable television, Graham turned his church into a mega money-making empire for himself. The self-proclaimed political non-partisan also turned his massive flock into a loyal legion of storm troopers for the Republican Party. Today, Graham’s son, Franklin, is the CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. He has continued his father’s legacy of being a shill and supporter of far-right pro-corporate causes while pulling down a $600,000 salary.

On the eve of the 2012 election, the younger Graham bragged that it was his father’s appearance with George W. Bush at a rally in Florida which won the Texas governor the presidency in 2000.

In endorsing Mitt Romney, Billy Graham said, “I believe it is vitally important that we cast our ballots for candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles and support the nation of Israel. I urge you to vote for those who protect the sanctity of life and support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman. Vote for biblical values this November 6, and pray with me that America will remain one nation under God.”

Today, evangelism is synonymous with sacrificing the poor on the altar of big-business’ interests and is becoming the most reliable and agitated voting bloc of the Republican Party since the election of Reagan. We can rightfully accuse the Christian Right of ushering in three decades of failed trickle-down economics, which has made this nation one of the most wealth-disparate of the developed countries. It’s the political descendants of Graham who shut down the government with their radical Jesus said replace every government-funded service with a for-profit corporation ideology.

Graham’s coalition of hate also put social issues front and square in the GOP primary process, and no one was more hateful than Graham. White House tapes recorded him openly telling President Nixon he believed that the Jews had a “stranglehold on the American media” and that “this Jewish stranglehold has got to be broken or the country’s going down the drain.”

The National Archive tapes reveal the nation’s best-known preacher in agreement with a stream of bigoted Nixon comments about Jews and their perceived influence on American life. “If you get elected a second time, then we might be able to do something. There also the ones putting out the pornographic stuff,” said Graham. To which Nixon replied, “the Jews are an irreligious, atheistic, immoral bunch of bastards.”

Repeatedly, Graham’s judgment was found wanting, yet politicians on both sides seek his and/or his family’s approval and photo-ops, which shows how far the Christian Right has pulled this country to the right since 1980.

Graham blames today’s economic doldrums on God punishing the nation for its growing secularization and what he perceives to be an increase in immorality. “I don’t see our country turning to God…Maybe he will have to bring this country down economically before we turn our hearts back to God. We need to repent.”

Come the 2016 campaign season, when the likes of Rand Paul, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum talk about how “Christianity is under attack” and how the “takers” are destroying America, it will be Billy Graham’s shadow you have to blame for that.

Emphasis Mine

see: http://www.alternet.org/tea-party-and-right/how-rev-billy-graham-taught-republican-party-it-could-sacrifice-poor-altar-big?akid=11287.123424.rDZ6dc&rd=1&src=newsletter937898&t=5

 

Obamacare’s real danger for the GOP is that it will succeed

Source: Washington Post

Author: Eugene Robinson

” To understand the crisis in Washington, tune out the histrionics and look at the big picture: Republicans are threatening to shut down the federal government — and perhaps even refuse to let the Treasury pay its creditors — in a desperate, last-ditch attempt to keep millions of Americans from getting health insurance.

Seriously. That’s what all the yelling and screaming is about. As my grandmother used to say, it’s hard to know whether to laugh or cry.

The GOP has tried its best to make Obamacare a synonym for bogeyman and convince people that it’s coming in the night to snatch the children. In fact, and I know this comes as a shock to some, Obamacare is not a mythical creature. It is a law, incorporating what were originally Republican ideas, that will make it possible for up to 30 million people now lacking health insurance to obtain it.Officially, the law in question is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Republicans intended the term “Obamacare” to be mocking, which is perhaps why President Obama started using it with pride.It is, indeed, an achievement of which the nation can be proud. About 48 million individuals in this country lacked health insurance in 2012, according to the Census Bureau, representing about 15 percent of the population. Other industrialized nations provide universal health care — and wonder if this is what we mean when we talk about American exceptionalism.

About 25 percent of people in households with annual incomes below $25,000 are uninsured, compared with just 8 percent in households earning more than $75,000. Do the working poor not deserve to have their chronic medical conditions treated as punishment for not making enough money?

Other rich countries provide truly universal care through single-payer systems of various kinds. Obama chose instead to model the Affordable Care Act after a program implemented on the state level by the Republican governor who became Obama’s opponent in the 2012 presidential election. Yes, before Obamacare there was Romneycare, a private-sector, free-market solution designed to be in accord with the GOP’s most hallowed principles.

But in the years between Mitt Romney’s tenure in Massachusetts and his presidential run, the Republican Party lost its way, or perhaps its mind.

The party shows no serious interest in finding a GOP-friendly way to provide the uninsured with access to health care. Rather, it pursues two goals at any cost: opposing Obama no matter what he does, and making people see Obamacare as a failure.

For the radical far right, making health care more widely available through the existing network of insurers, most of them for-profit companies, is a giant leap toward godless socialism. These extremists hold outsize power in the GOP — enough to make sane Republican officials fear, with some reason, that anything short of massive resistance to Obamacare could lead to a primary challenge and a shortened career.

Some of Obamacare’s provisions are already in force and seem to be having the intended effect. For example, young adults are now allowed to stay on their parents’ health insurancepolicies until age 26. In 2009, 29.8 percent of those 19 through 25 were uninsured; in 2012, 27.2 percent lacked insurance, a modest but significant decline.

Now the central provisions of the Affordable Care Act are set to come into effect — the individual mandate, the insurance exchanges, the guarantee of coverage for those with preexisting conditions. Republicans scream that Obamacare is sure to fail. But what they really fear is that it will succeed.

That’s the reason for all the desperation. Republicans are afraid that Obamacare will not prove to be a bureaucratic nightmare — that Americans, in fact, will find they actually like it. The GOP fears that Obamacare will even be credited with slowing the rise of health-care costs to a more manageable rate. There are signs, in fact, that this “bending of the curve” is already taking place: Medical costs are still rising much faster than inflation but at the slowest rate in decades.

Keeping premiums under control will require persuading lots of young, healthy people to buy insurance — and thus, in effect, subsidize those who are older and sicker. That is why a group called Generation Opportunity, funded by the ultraconservative Koch brothers, plans to tour college campuses with disgusting ads in which a creepy Uncle Sam subjects a young woman to a pelvic examination.

The GOP message: Whatever you do, don’t buy health insurance. It may be — shudder — good for you.”

Read more from Eugene Robinson’s archivefollow him on Twitter or subscribe to his updates on Facebook. You can also join him Tuesdays at 1 p.m. for a live Q&A.

Emphasis Mine

see: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/eugene-robinson-obamacare-the-gop-nightmare/2013/09/23/fd29187a-246a-11e3-b75d-5b7f66349852_story.html?wpisrc=nl_opinions

Here are the 43% of americans who dont pay federal income tax

Source: Business Insider, via  Portside

Author: Mandi Woodruff

N.B.: this article uses the TLA ‘TCP’ where it appears TPC would be correct.

“Of the 43% of households owing no federal income tax this year, about half simply earned too little income to qualify, including many retired workers who live on Social Security. The remaining households likely qualify for breaks via the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit.
Mandi Woodruff
September 6, 2013

Since 2009, the percentage of Americans who pay no federal income taxes has fallen from 47% to 43%, according to a recent report by the Tax Policy Center. The catalyst for the drop is due to two factors — federal tax cuts that expired after the Great Recession and an improving economy.

These charts from the TCP  break down exactly who the 43% are:

Last year, TPC’s 2009 estimate might have been the nail in the coffin for Mitt Romney‘s ill-fated bid for the Presidency after he criticized the “47%” of Americans who don’t pay federal income taxes at a fundraiser.

Like Romney, a lot of people assumed that these households were getting off tax-free across the board. That wasn’t the case then and it’s certainly not the case now.

“The notoriety of the 47 percent figure has come largely from a misunderstanding—or less charitably, a misrepresentation—of what that number actually means,” writes Robert Williams of the TCP.

Thanks to payroll taxes, it’s nearly impossible to get away completely tax-free today. In fact, “just 14% of households pay neither income nor payroll tax and two-thirds of them are elderly,” according to the TCP. And then there are taxes closer to home to consider. You’d be hard-pressed to find households who don’t get hit with state or local income, sales, and property taxes.

Of the 43% of households owing no federal income tax this year, about half simply earned too little income to qualify, including many retired workers who live on Social Security. The remaining households likely qualify for breaks via the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit.

This year, the TCP put together a helpful video breaking down the 43%:

Looking ahead, the TCP estimates that the number of workers who pay no federal income taxes will continue to fall, reaching just 33% by the year 2024.”

Mandi Woodruff edits the personal finance vertical for Business Insider. Before joining BI, she covered breaking legal news for Law360.com, was a research editor at Reader’s Digest, and reported on education in her home state of Georgia.

Posted by Portside on September 6, 2013

– See more at: http://portside.org/2013-09-07/here-are-43-americans-who-dont-pay-federal-income-tax#sthash.F4Acp11u.dpuf

Emphasis Mine

See: http://portside.org/2013-09-07/here-are-43-americans-who-dont-pay-federal-income-tax

11 GOP Positions Loathed by Young People — According to College GOP Report

Young people have strong disagreements with Republican policies and are far more likely to support progressive positions.

Source:Think Progress via AlterNet

Author:Igor Volsky

“The College Republican National Committee released a report on Monday outlining the major challenges facing the GOP as it seeks to rebrand and redefine itself in the aftermath of the 2012 election. The survey criticizes the party’s singular focus on “big government” and “tax cuts” and calls on Republicans to become more tolerant and open on issues like same-sex marriage and women’s reproductive health.

But a close reading of the 90-page report finds that young people have strong disagreements with Republican policies — including large parts of former candidate’s Mitt Romney’s platform — and are far more likely to support progressive positions. Here are 11 examples:

1. GOP economic polices are to blame for the recession. “Although ‘Republican economic policies’ is the factor least likely to be viewed as playing a major role in causing the crisis, this is mostly due to young Republicans in the sample hesitating to pin blame directly on their own party, and an outright majority of young people still think those Republican policies are to blame – hardly an encouraging finding.”

2. Lower taxes will not create jobs.” In the August 2012 XG survey, there was not a strong consensus around the virtues of lowering taxes and regulations on business. Only 34% of respondents in that survey thought they’d be better off if the corporate tax rate were lowered, and only 36% thought such a move would make it easier for young people to get jobs.”

3. Increase taxes on the wealthy. “Perhaps most troubling for Republicans is the finding from the March 2013 CRNC survey that showed 54% of young voters saying ‘taxes should go up on the wealthy,’ versus 31% who say “taxes should be cut for everyone.”

4. End the attacks on women’s reproductive health. “[T]he issue of protecting life has been conflated with issues around the definition of rape, funding for Planned Parenthood, and even contraception. In the words of one female participant in our Hispanic voter focus group in Orlando, “I think Romney wanted to cut Planned Parenthood. And he supports policies where it would make it harder for a woman to get an abortion should she choose, even if it were medically necessary. That goes head in hand with redefining rape.”

5. Expand universal health care coverage. “Many of the young people in our focus groups noted that they thought everyone in America should have access to health coverage. In the Spring 2012 Harvard Institute of Politics survey of young voters, 44% said that “basic health insurance is a right for all people, and if someone has no means of paying for it, the government should provide it.” … As one participant in our focus group of young men in Columbus put it, “at least Obama was making strides to start the process of reforming health care.”

6. Provide comprehensive immigration reform. “The position taken most frequently by young voters was that “illegal immigrants should have a path to earn citizenship,” chosen by 35% of respondents… Some 19% chose “illegal immigrants should be deported or put in jail for breaking the law,” while another 17% took the position that “illegal immigrants should have a path to legal status but not citizenship.”

7. Cut the defense budget first. “Indeed, a large number of respondents pointed to the defense budget as the place where cuts should start. In the survey, 35% of respondents thought that “we should have a smaller defense budget and leaner military,” including 49% of young independents.”

8. Democrats are more responsive on student loans. “Many focus group members did think that Democrats were responding to the student loan crisis. “I think they’re more in tune to what we need right now with student loans, getting a job, fixing the housing market and the environment,” observed one participant from Orlando, with another adding that he had “heard Obama once say, oh, he has student loans, he went to school, he knows what we’re going through.”

9. Climate change is real. “Ultimately, while voters may say they are concerned about climate change, they rarely list it among the issues on the top of their minds.”

10. Bush’s wars blew up the deficit. “The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan themselves, however, were largely viewed as having been a net negative for the U.S. In fact, during focus group discussions about the recession, one respondent said she felt that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had contributed in part to the economic crisis.”

11. Marriage equality for all. “Surveys have consistently shown that gay marriage is not as important an issue as jobs and the economy to young voters. Yet it was unmistakable in the focus groups that gay marriage was a reason many of these young voters disliked the GOP.”

Igor Volsky is a Health Care Researcher/Blogger for ThinkProgress.org and The Progress Report at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Igor is co-author of Howard Dean’s Prescription for Real Healthcare. Reform.

Emphasis Mine

see: http://www.alternet.org/gop?akid=10516.123424.HktpYH&rd=1&src=newsletter849631&t=7

 

Poverty in America

The Census Bureau has reported that one out of six Americans lives in poverty. A shocking figure. But it’s actually much, much worse.

Source:AlterNet

Author: Paul Buchheit

“The Census Bureau has reported that one out of six Americans lives in poverty. A shocking figure. But it’s actually much worse. Inequality is spreading like a shadowy disease through our country, infecting more and more households, and leaving a shrinking number of financially secure families to maintain the charade of prosperity.

1. Almost half of Americans had NO assets in 2009

Analysis of  Economic Policy Institute data shows that Mitt Romney‘s famous  47 percent, the alleged ‘takers,’ have taken nothing. Their debt exceeded their assets in 2009.

2. It’s Even Worse 3 Years Later

Since the recession, the disparities have continued to grow. An  OECD report states that “inequality has increased by more over the past three years to the end of 2010 than in the previous twelve,” with the U.S. experiencing one of the widest gaps among OECD countries. The 30-year  decline in wages has worsened since the recession, as low-wage jobs have  replaced formerly secure middle-income positions.

3. Based on wage figures, over half of Americans are now IN poverty.

According to IRS data, the average household in the bottom 50% brings in about $18,000 per year. That’s less than the  poverty line for a family of three ($19,000) or a family of four ($23,000).

Census income figures are about 25% higher, because they include unemployment compensation, workers’ compensation, Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, public assistance, veterans’ payments, and various other monetary sources. Based on this supplemental income, the average household in the bottom 50% brings in about $25,000, which is just above the $23,000 poverty line for a family of four.

4. Based on wage figures, 75% of Americans are NEAR poverty.

According to IRS data, the average household in the bottom 75% earns about $31,000 per year. To be eligible for food assistance, a family can earn up to 130% of the federal poverty line, or about $30,000 for a family of four.

Again, Census income figures are about 25% higher because of  SNAP reporting requirements, bringing average household income for the bottom 75% to about $39,000.

Incredibly, Congress is trying to  cut food assistance. Republican Congressman Stephen Fincher of Tennessee referred to food stamps as “stealing.” He added a Biblical quote: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” A recent  jobs hearing in Washington was attended by  one Congressman.

5. Putting it in Perspective

Inequality is at its ugliest for the hungriest people. While food support was being targeted for cuts, just  20 rich Americans made as much from their 2012 investments as the entire  2012 SNAP (food assistance) budget, which serves 47 million people.

And as Congress continues to cut life-sustaining programs, its members should note that their 400 friends on the Forbes list made more from their stock market gains last year than the total amount of the  foodhousing, andeducation budgets combined.

Mr. Fincher should think about the tax breaks that allow this to happen, and then tell us who’s stealing from whom.”

Paul Buchheit teaches economic inequality at DePaul University. He is the founder and developer of the Web sites UsAgainstGreed.orgPayUpNow.org and RappingHistory.org, and the editor and main author of “American Wars: Illusions and Realities” (Clarity Press). He can be reached at paul@UsAgainstGreed.org.

Emphasis Mine

see: http://www.alternet.org/economy/real-numbers-half-america-poverty-and-its-creeping-toward-75-0?akid=10488.123424.nAEOOK&rd=1&src=newsletter845974&t=5

The Tea Party, The IRS ‘Scandal’ — And The Actual Facts Of The Case

Rather than the so-called IRS scandal cooked up by Tea Party groups and their partisan supporters, the real criticism of the IRS may be that it has permitted so many of these groups to obtain tax-exempt status despite apparently egregious violations.

Source: National Memo

Author: Devin Burghart

While it is well known that the so-called IRS scandal has been used by Tea Partiers to bash the IRS, less well known are the actual facts of the case.

Specifically, while the IRS delayed confirming the tax-exempt status of some groups, and some also faced additional scrutinynot a single Tea Party organization was denied tax-exempt status.

A May 14 draft report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration found that none of the 296 questionable applicants had been denied: “For the 296 potential political cases we reviewed, as of December 17, 2012, 108 applications had been approved, 28 were withdrawn by the applicant, none had been denied, and 160 cases were open from 206 to 1,138 calendar days (some crossing two election cycles).”

In fact, the only known 501(c)(4) applicant whose request for tax-exempt status was recently denied happens to be a progressive group: the Maine chapter of Emerge America, which trains Democratic women to run for office. Although the group did no electoral work, and didn’t participate in independent expenditure campaign activity either, its partisan nature disqualified it from being categorized as working for the “common good.”

The Inspector General’s report found that in the “majority of cases, we agreed that the applications submitted included indications of significant political campaign intervention.” In fact, only 91 of the 296, or roughly 31 percent of the applications reviewed for the report, did not have “indications of significant political campaign intervention.” In other words, more than two-thirds of groups flagged for processing by a team of specialists had those indications.

That sort of political campaign intervention would normally disqualify a group from 501(c)(4) status, but the deluge of Tea Party applications combined with the politicization of the process has allowed them to slip through. A closer look at the activities of some of the Tea Party groups that are currently under review or have received non-profit status from the IRS reveals a difficult and potentially dangerous situation.

The First Coast Tea Party Inc. of Jacksonville, Florida, for example, which applied for 501(c)(4) status in 2009 — and received it in 2011. Commenting about the recent IRS controversy on Facebook, the group declared “We file a tax return, account for every penny. We do not endorse candidates, that is a no no.” Yet the First Coast group has boasted about directly helping Republican campaigns. In an August 30, 2012 Facebook post, for instance, the group advertised a Jacksonville rally for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan, adding, “bring your chairs and your signs, make sure they know that the First Coast Tea Party is and has been helping their campaign.”

Three weeks later, the same group declared a “state of emergency” on Facebook, pleading with supporters to campaign for Romney: “FLORIDA FRIENDS, IF YOU LIVE IN ANY OF THESE 3 COUNTIES GET OFF THE COUCH NOW, GET YOUR FRIENDS OFF THE COUCH. GET TO THE REPUBLICAN HEADQUARTERS AND OFFER AND THEN DO SOME WORK. PHONES, (YOU CAN EVEN DO THESE CALLS FROM HOME) AND WALK AND KNOCK. NOW. WE CANNOT LOSE FLORIDA TO OBAMA.. NOW. THIS IS MOST CRITICAL [emphasis in original].” These weren’t posts from some random supporter on the group’s Facebook page; they were posts from the official account of the organization.

Similarly, the IRS granted 501 (c)(4) tax-exempt status to the Louisville Tea Party in 2009.  The same group published a list of “officially tea party endorsed candidates for the 2011 Kentucky primary.” They also published an article headined “The Rationale for Romney-Ryan,” arguing that Tea Partiers should vote for the Republican candidate.

Then there is the Katy Tea Party Patriots, which filed for 501(c)(4) status in 2009. This group actually ran an “Oust Obama 2012” campaign, organizing block-watching with the Fort Bend GOP and phone-banking against Obama at GOP headquarters in Sugarland and Houston, Texas. Still featured on the front page of the group’s website is an October 4, 2012 article titled “Our Country’s Future,” by Katy Tea Party Patriots president Darcy Kahrhoff, who urged members to vote for Romney. “Please take time to talk with friends and family you may have living out of state, and try to convince them to vote for Governor Romney, especially if you have friends and family in Florida, Colorado, or Ohio. Also, find a Senatorial candidate to support in these states, and go to FreedomWorks to phone bank for these patriots.  Everything you can do to help will matter.  We can, and we must, win this!

Not to be outdone was the Central Valley Tea Party Inc., a regional California Tea Party group that won the much more politically restrictive IRS 501(c)(3) tax status in 2009.  It should be noted that 501 (c)(3) status explicitly prohibits any partisan political activity.  “Under the Internal Revenue Code,” as the IRS explains, ”all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. The prohibition applies to all campaigns including campaigns at the federal, state and local level. Violation of this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.”

Despite its 501 (c)(3) designation, the Central Valley Tea Party group appears to have been involved in partisan political activity. Currently, the front page of the group’s website features “upcoming events” instructing members to “Volunteer for Measure G,” and “Volunteer for Vidak for Senate.” In the latter case, the website simply instructs members: “Please volunteer to do phone banking or precinct walking to help win the election.”

Further stretching IRS regulations, the same group’s newsletter endorsed and advertised conservative candidates. In an article in the October, 2012 issue of the Central Valley Tea Party Times – headlined ”Why You Should Be Excited to Vote for Mitt Romney” — Paul Szopa told fellow Tea Partiers to get out and campaign for the Republican presidential candidate. “So it’s time to get excited to vote for the better candidate. It’s time to talk him up to friends and family. It’s time to join with groups like Operation Swing State (www.operationswingstate.org) and make calls in support of his candidacy.” Published on the front page of the newsletter was a “Voter Guide” that seemed even less ambiguous, listing all the candidates that the group recommended as well as their positions on all of the ballot measures.

The newsletter also featured advertisements for conservative candidates. The April-June, 2012 edition of the Central Valley Tea Party Times carried an ad for Whelan for Congress on page 27, another for Frank Bigelow for the 5th District California Assembly seat on page 38, and an ad “Elect Richard J. (Rick) Farinelli, Madera County Supervisor District III” on page 39.  The newsletter’s August-September, 2010 edition featured an ad for Diane Lenning, a write-in candidate for California Superintendent of Public Instruction; so did the October-November, 2010 edition.

Another Tea Party group granted the 501(c)(3) non-profit status by the IRS, is the Tifton, Georgia-based Tiftarea Tea Party Patriots, Inc., which received the designation in 2010. This group too appears to have engaged in openly political activity, including publicly endorsing candidates. On October 9, 2012, in a post on its website — “Are you ready to vote?” — the Tiftarea group strongly endorsed Romney: “The choice is simple. Obama has stated, He will transform America and acted to do such. Everything this Administration stands for, is Government and control of every aspect of life.  This is the pipe dream of a Socialist’s mentality, for in their eyes, you the individual, do not know and cannot do, what is right, so someone else has to make decisions for you, to ensure, you do not make the wrong choices or actions. Or you chose Romney, who does not want to transform America, the greatest nation in history of human kind.  He wants to allow, the individual, to have the right, to succeed and fail on his own regard, while ensuring those freedoms, given by our Creator and to assure those inalienable rights, written about in the Declaration of Independence are retained by their proper owners, ‘We the People.’”

These are but a few of the many examples of political intervention by Tea Party non-profits catalogued by IREHR. There are many, many more and they’re not difficult to find. Rather than the so-called IRS scandal cooked up by Tea Party groups and their partisan supporters, the real criticism of the IRS may be that it has permitted so many of these groups to obtain tax-exempt status despite apparently egregious violations.

After the firing of several high-level IRS employees over this incident, how likely is it that Tea Party groups will be sanctioned for these kinds of violations in the future?

This is adapted from a special report of the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights. To request a printed version of the report, complete with exhibits, please email the Institute at info@irehr.org.

 

Emphasis Mine

See: http://www.nationalmemo.com/the-tea-party-the-irs-scandal-and-the-actual-facts-of-the-case/

How the State of the Union Worked

From: HuffPost

By: George Lakoff

N.B.: Prof Lakoff is the master of the message, friend of the frame, and not easily pleased: he was.

“Political journalists have a job to do — to examine the SOTU’s long list of proposals. They are doing that job, many are doing it well, and I’ll leave it to them. Instead, I want to discuss what in the long run is a deeper question: How did the SOTU help to change public discourse? What is the change? And technically, how did it work?

The address was coherent. There was a single frame that fit together all the different ideas, from economics to the environment to education to gun safety to voting rights. The big change in public discourse was the establishment of that underlying frame, a frame that will, over the long haul, accommodate many more specific proposals.

Briefly, the speech worked via frame evocation. Not statement, evocation — the unconscious and automatic activation in the brains of listeners of a morally-based progressive frame that made sense of what the president said.

When a frame is repeatedly activated, it is strengthened. Obama‘s progressive frame was strengthened not only in die-hard progressives, but also in partial progressives, those who are progressive on some issues and conservative on others — the so-called moderates, swing voters, independents, and centrists. As a result, 77 percent of listeners approved of the speech, 53 percent strongly positive and 24 percent somewhat positive, with only 22 percent negative. When that deep progressive frame is understood and accepted by a 77 percent margin, the president has begun to move America toward a progressive moral vision.

If progressives are going to maintain and build on the president’s change in public discourse so far, we need to understand just what that change has been and how he accomplished it.

It hasn’t happened all at once.

In 2008, candidate Obama made overt statements. He spoke overtly about empathy and the responsibility to act on it as the basis of democracy. He spoke about the need for an “ethic of excellence.” He spoke about the role of government to protect and empower everyone equally.

After using the word “empathy” in the Sotomayor nomination, he dropped it when conservatives confused it with sympathy and unfairness. But the idea didn’t disappear.

By the 2013 Inaugural Address, he directly quoted the Declaration and Lincoln, overtly linking patriotism and the essence of democracy to empathy, to Americans caring for one another and taking responsibility for one another as well as themselves. He spoke overtly about how private success depends on public provisions. He carried out these themes with examples. And he had pretty much stopped making the mistake of using conservative language, even to negate it. The change in public discourse became palpable.

The 2013 SOTU followed this evolution a crucial step further. Instead of stating the frames overly, he took them for granted and the nation understood. Public discourse had shifted; brains had changed. So much so that John Boehner looked shamed as he slumped, sulking in his chair, as if trying to disappear. Changed so much that Marco Rubio‘s response was stale and defensive: the old language wasn’t working and Rubio kept talking in rising tones indicating uncertainty.

Here is how Obama got to 77 percent approval as an unapologetic progressive.

The president set his theme powerfully in the first few sentences — in about 30 seconds.

Fifty-one years ago, John F. Kennedy declared to this Chamber that ‘the Constitution makes us not rivals for power but partners for progress…It is my task,’ he said, ‘to report the State of the Union — to improve it is the task of us all.’ Tonight, thanks to the grit and determination of the American people, there is much progress to report. …

First, Obama recalled Kennedy — a strong, unapologetic liberal. “Partners” evokes working together, an implicit attack on conservative stonewalling, while “for progress” makes clear his progressive direction. “To improve it is the task of us all” evokes the progressive theme that we’re all in this together with the goal of improving the common good. “The grit and determination of the American people” again says we work together, while incorporating the “grit and determination” stereotype of Americans pulling themselves up by their bootstraps — overcoming a “grinding war” and “grueling recession.” He specifically and wisely did not pin the war and recession on the Bush era Republicans, as he reasonably could have. That would have divided Democrats from Republicans. Instead, he treated war and recession as if they were forces of nature that all Americans joined together to overcome. Then he moved on seamlessly to the “millions of Americans whose hard work and dedication have not yet been rewarded,” which makes rewarding that work and determination “the task of us all.”

This turn in discourse started working last year. Empathy and social responsibility as central American values reappeared in spades in the 2012 campaign right after Mitt Romney made his 47 percent gaff, that 47 percent of Americans were not succeeding because they were not talking personal responsibility for their lives. This allowed Obama to reframe people out of work, sick, injured, or retired as hard working and responsible and very much part of the American ideal, evoking empathy for them from most other Americans. It allowed him to meld the hard working and struggling Americans with the hard working and just getting by Americans into a progressive stereotype of hard working Americans in general who need help to overcome external forces holding them back. It is a patriotic stereotype that joins economic opportunity with equality, freedom and civil rights: “if you work hard and meet your responsibilities, you can get ahead, no matter where you come from, what you look like, or who you love.”

It is an all-American vision:

It is our unfinished task to make sure that this government works on behalf of the many, and not just the few; that it encourages free enterprise, rewards individual initiative, and opens the doors of opportunity to every child across this great nation.

“Our unfinished task” refers to citizens — us — as ruling the government, not the reverse. “We” are making the government do what is right. To work “on behalf of the many, and not just the few.” And he takes from the progressive vision the heart of the conservative message. “We” require the government to encourage free enterprise, reward individual initiative, and provide opportunity for all. It is the reverse of the conservative view of the government ruling us. In a progressive democracy, the government is the instrument of the people, not the reverse.

In barely a minute, he provided a patriotic American progressive vision that seamlessly adapts the heart of the conservative message. Within this framework comes the list of policies, each presented with empathy for ideal Americans. In each case, we, the citizens who care about our fellow citizens, must make our imperfect government do the best it can for fellow Americans who do meet, or can with help meet, the American ideal.

With this setting of the frame, each item on the list of policies fits right in. We, the citizens, use the government to protect us and maximally enable us all to make use of individual initiative and free enterprise.

The fact that the policy list was both understood and approved of by 77 percent of those watching means that one-third of those who did not vote for the president have assimilated his American progressive moral vision.

The president’s list of economic policies was criticized by some as a lull — a dull, low energy section of the speech. But the list had a vital communicative function beyond the policies themselves. Each item on the list evoked, and thereby strengthened in the brains of most listeners, the all-American progressive vision of the first section of the speech. Besides, if you’re going to build to a smash finish, you have to build from a lull.

And it was a smash finish! Highlighting his gun safety legislation by introducing one after another of the people whose lives were shattered by well-reported gun violence. With each introduction came the reframe “They deserve a vote” over and over and over. He was chiding the Republicans not just for being against the gun safety legislation, but for being unwilling to even state their opposition in public, which a vote would require. The president is all too aware that, even in Republican districts, there is great support for gun safety reform, support that threatens conservative representatives. “They deserve a vote” is a call for moral accounting from conservative legislators. It is a call for empathy for the victims in a political form, a form that would reveal the heartlessness, the lack of Republican empathy for the victims. “They deserve a vote” shamed the Republicans in the House. As victim after victim stood up while the Republicans sat slumped and close-mouthed in their seats, shame fell on the Republicans.

And then it got worse for Republicans. Saving the most important for last — voting reform — President Obama introduced Desiline Victor, a 102-year spunky African American Florida woman who was told she would have to wait six hours to vote. She hung in there, exhausted but not defeated, for many hours and eventually voted. The room burst into raucous applause, putting to shame the Republicans who are adopting practices and passing laws to discourage voting by minority groups.

And with the applause still ringing, he introduced police officer Brian Murphy who held off armed attackers at the Sikh Temple in Minneapolis, taking twelve bullets and lying in a puddle of his blood while still protecting the Sikhs. When asked how he did it, he replied, “That’s just how we’re made.”

That gave the president a finale to end where he began.

We may do different jobs, and wear different uniforms, and hold different views than the person beside us. But as Americans, we all share the same proud title: We are citizens. It’s a word that doesn’t just describe our nationality or legal status. It describes the way we’re made. It describes what we believe. It captures the enduring idea that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations; that our rights are wrapped up in the rights of others; and that well into our third century as a nation, it remains the task of us all, as citizens of these United States, to be the authors of the next great chapter in our American story.

It was a finale that gave the lie to the conservative story of America, that democracy is an individual matter, that it gives each of us the liberty to seek his own interests and well-being without being responsible for anyone else or anyone else being responsible for him, from which it follows that the government should not be in the job of helping its citizens. Marco Rubio came right after and tried out this conservative anthem that has been so dominant since the Reagan years. It fell flat.

President Obama, in this speech, created what cognitive scientists call a “prototype” — an ideal American defined by a contemporary progressive vision that incorporates a progressive market with individual opportunity and initiative. It envisions an ideal citizenry that is in charge of the government, forcing the president and the Congress to do the right thing.

That is how the president has changed public discourse. He has changed it at the level that counts, the deepest level, the moral level. What can make that change persist? What will allow such an ideal citizenry to come into existence?

The president can’t do it. Congress can’t do it. Only we can as citizens, by adopting the president’s vision, thinking in his moral frames, and speaking out from that vision whenever possible. Speaking out is at the heart of being a citizen, speaking out is political action, and only if an overwhelming number of us speak out, and live out, this American vision, will the president and the Congress be forced to do what is best for all.

By all means, discuss the policies. Praise them when you like them, criticize them when they fall short. Don’t hold back. Talk in public. Write to others. But be sure to make clear the basic principles behind the policies.

And don’t use the language of the other side, even to negate it. Remember that if you say “Don’t Think of an Elephant,” people will think of an elephant.

Structure is important. Start with the general principles, move to policy details, finish with the general principles.”

George Lakoff is Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley and is the author, with Elisabeth Wehling, of The Little Blue Book.

Emphasis Mine

see: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/george-lakoff/how-the-state-of-the-unio_b_2693810.html