Ben Carson: Screw The Constitution, Muslims Should Be Banned From The Presidency

“I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that.”

source:Occupydemocrats.com

author:John prager

Emphasis mine

Among his peers, Ben Carson may be meek and silent, as we have seen at the most recent Republican debate, but when one gets him alone, the braindead neurosurgeon is just as bigoted as the rest of his compatriots. According to Carson, no Muslim should ever be President of the United States.

In an interview with NBC Sunday, Carson explained that Islam should immediately disqualify a presidential candidate. “Let me wrap this up by finally dealing with what’s been going on, Donald Trump, and a deal with a questioner that claimed that the president was Muslim,” Chuck Todd asked the presidential hopeful. “Let me ask you the question this way. Should a President’s faith matter? Should your faith matter to voters?”

“Well, I guess it depends on what that faith is. If it’s inconsistent with the values and principles of America, then of course it should matter,” Carson replied. “But if it fits within the realm of America and consistent with the constitution, no problem.”

“So do you believe that Islam is consistent with the constitution?” Todd asked.

No, I don’t. I do not,” Carson said, adding:

“I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that.”

The United States was not founded on one particular religion, no matter how much right-wing extremists like Carson scream it from the mountaintops, but instead on a freedom of religion. In other words, all Americans — Christian, Jew, Pastafarian, Muslim, Dudeist, or any other religion — may be President. Of course, in suggesting a religious test for the office of President, Carson’s suggestion is actually in violation of the Constitution. Article 6 of the Constitution makes this abundantly clear:

“The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.“

For a candidate in a party that uses the word “Constitution” only slightly less than they say “Benghazi,” it is rather surprising that Carson would propose an unconstitutional idea like barring Muslims from running for higher office.

One of the right’s favorite boogeymen, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, called on Carson to hang his head in shame and drop out of the race after the brain surgeon‘s (a term that it is difficult to use sarcastically in this scenario) horrific remarks. In a statement, the organization blasted Carson’s ignorance and bigotry:

Mr. Carson clearly does not understand or care about the Constitution, which states that ‘no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office,’” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. “We call on our nation’s political leaders – across the political spectrum – to repudiate these unconstitutional and un-American statements and for Mr. Carson to withdraw from the presidential race.”

He said this incident demonstrates why the Constitution is needed to protect Americans of all faiths.”

Carson should not only drop out of the race, but out of the public eye because his sole purpose is to serve as an embarrassing reminder that we have a long way to come as a country. Carson is clearly feeling the “Trump effect” and has begun speaking more inflammatory in a desperate grasp for attention that only serves to remind us as to how unqualified he truly is for the job of President. Muslim-Americans have every right participate in the American nation and the right-wing’s campaign to marginalize minorities is an affront to our democracy.

 

John Prager is an unfortunate Liberal soul who lives uncomfortably in the middle of a Conservative hellscape and likes to refer to himself as an “island of reason in a sea of insanity.” While he is not a fan of politicians, period, he has developed a deep-seated hatred for the bigotry, fear mongering, and lies of the Right Wing. John also works as a counselor at one of Barry Soetoro’s FEMA re-education camps and as a HAARP weather control coordinator. John’s life’s aspiration is to rule the world with an iron fist, or find that sock he’s been looking for. John can be reached at americanlesionx@gmail.com if you have any questions or comments.

See: http://www.occupydemocrats.com/ben-carson-screw-the-constitution-muslims-should-be-banned-from-the-presidency-video/

Actually, Tea Party Groups Gave the IRS Lots of Good Reasons to Be Interested

RS profiling was a fiasco. Yet, some tea party groups have left a trail of fiscal problems and possible tax-code abuse.

Source: Mother Jones

Author: Stephanie Mencimer

“Virtually everyone in Washington agrees on at least one thing about the IRS scandal: The tax agency’s trolling for tea party groups and giving extra scrutiny to their applications for nonprofit status was an egregious violation. Exactly how and why that conduct took place remains under investigation. But as conservatives in particular decry the IRS failure, it’s also worth considering the dubious fiscal history of some tea party groups, including their pursuit of non-profit status. While the IRS had absolutely no business profiling any groups based on political criteria, it is not blaming the victim to observe that scrutiny was warranted in specific cases—and they include some major tea party outfits and their leaders, documents show.

Indeed, despite the tea party’s emphasis on fiscal prudence in government, would-be nonprofit groups launched since the movement’s rise in 2009 have left a trail of tax-code shenanigans, infighting, and fiscal irresponsibility. Money raised by some groups was spent frivolously, and in some cases in ways that appeared to flout the tax rules barring nonprofits from political activity. There have been lawsuits between competing organizations over money, and tea party groups have disintegrated because of financial and other mismanagement.

None of which is particularly surprising, given the deluge of fledgling groups. After the tea party movement took off in 2009, thousands of people around the country rushed to join in, many of them creating small nonprofit groups in their local areas. It didn’t take long for infighting to set in and for claims of financial improprieties to fly—for example, there was the story of Saint Augustine Tea Party vs. Saint Augustine Tea Party Inc. Scuffles arose around the country as aspiring tea party groups saw money disappear or rules violated.

Since 2009, the Tea Party Patriots, a large national umbrella group, has claimed no fewer than 3,500 affiliates. Many applied for nonprofit status with the IRS, a prime reason the agency was so overwhelmed with applications. The people leading these groups were often neophytes politically and organizationally—or, as Dan Backer, a lawyer for TheTeaParty.net, explained in an interview with Mother Jones this week, “they didn’t understand the complexity of what’s involved.”

Other tea partiers were part of a constellation of right-wing groups that seek to make money with fundraising appeals for conservative causes. And finally, some high-profile tea party leaders wrestled with personal tax problems before trying to start new political organizations.

Whether the IRS focused on any specific groups for any of these reasons is not clear. But here are some examples of these groups and why the IRS might have wanted to take a closer look at them:

True The Vote/King Street Patriots: True the Vote was among the active conservative groups that sought to police the polls during the 2010 and 2012 elections to root out alleged voter fraud. The group was created by the King Street Patriots, a Houston-based tea party organization and a 501(c)(4). But True the Vote is a 501(c)(3), a tax-exempt designation that allows a group’s donors to write off their contributions but also has strict rules prohibiting electioneering and partisan political activity. True the Vote and King Street share board members and often co-sponsored events.

True the Vote trained volunteers to go into predominantly minority neighborhoods across the country and keep an eye on potential violations by presumed Democratic voters. Its activities drew accusations of voter intimidation; in Ohio, its volunteers were banned from Franklin County polling places amid allegations that it had forged signatures to secure poll-watcher status. In TexasTrue the Vote’s alleged partisan activity included a poll-watching guide instructing trainees to consult the Harris County Republican Party website for advice on voting rules, and the group only invited Republicans to its candidate forums.

Catherine Engelbrecht, True the Vote’s president, is among those now complaining that her group was inappropriately targeted. “The IRS treatment of us lends to the appearance of a politically-motivated abuse of power and an assault on free speech,” she told Breitbart News. (She did not respond to a request for comment.)

Engelbrecht has released a letter from the IRS requesting extensive documentation and information from True the Vote as part of its nonprofit application. But the IRS’ requests point to concerns that critics have long raised about the organization. In 2010, an ethics complaint and lawsuit against King Street Patriots alleged illegal political activity, and last year a Texas judge agreed, ruling that the organization was not a nonprofit but in fact was operating like a political action committee and illegally helping the GOP. In August 2012, True the Vote donated $5,000 to the Republican State Leadership Committee, a 527 group that raised nearly $30 million dollars to elect GOP candidates in state legislatures.

TheTeaParty.net/Stop This Insanity: TheTeaParty.net/STI is a 501(c)(4) group incorporated in Arizona in early 2010 by Todd Cefaratti, who runs a “lead generation” company that provides contact information to reverse-mortgage companies, some of whose operations have been compared to those of the subprime lending industry. The group advertises under a number of variations on the tea party name, and some other tea partiers have complained almost from its inception that the group is nothing more than a data harvesting operation. (Cefaratti defended himself against the criticism in a long post here.) FEC filings show that a “leadership fund” set up by the group raised almost $1.2 million in 2012, and gave only $52,000 to candidates for federal office.

TheTeaParty.net/STI has not yet received non-profit status approval; Dan Backer, the group’s lawyer, says he is now considering suing the IRS for targeting his clients. Yet, Backer also describes the group’s founders as neophytes, and he acknowledges that some tea party groups may have run in to trouble trying to properly manage grassroots organizing around politics. “These are folks who are not lawyers, they’re not part of the political establishment,” he says. “In fact they deeply reject the political establishment, so they’re trying to navigate a system designed by the establishment.”

More than one aspect of TheTeaParty.net/STI’s forays into politics might have triggered a closer look from the IRS. Its founders initially set up the group as both a 501(c)(4) and a political action committee that it registered with the FEC—as a single entity. That was a clear violation of the non-profit rules on political activity, as Backer himself acknowledged to me. (The group eventually shut down the PAC.) In 2012, when the group sought to create a “leadership fund” in hopes of collecting unlimited campaign contributions, it ran afoul of federal campaign finance rules; it ended up suing the FEC, arguing that the agency should be prevented from enforcing those laws against it (and it lost).

Tea Party Patriots: One of the largest tea party umbrella groups that formed as a 501(c)(4), it was co-founded by Mark Meckler, a former high-level distributor for Herbalife, a multilevel marketing company that has repeatedly been accused of operating in a manner similar to a pyramid scheme. (Meckler, who left TPP in February 2012, has long refused to talk to Mother Jones and never responded to requests for comment on his past business enterprise when we first exposed it in 2010.) In 2009, the organization raised $12 million in fiscal 2010. But only about $3 million of that went to its “social welfare” mission, according to an IRS 990 form filed in May 2012. Millions more went to professional telemarketing firms, which in some cases cost more than they raised; extensive travel costs; and legal fees incurred as the group sued competitors over its claim to own the “tea party” franchise.

Some conservative leaders came to the tea party with significant tax or financial problems of their own. Another TPP founder is Jenny Beth Martin, a Georgia-based political activist. When she started TPP in 2009, her husband Lee Martin had a half-million dollars in federal tax liens against him; he went on to serve as the group’s “assistant secretary” in 2010 and 2011 and was intimately involved with the group’s financial management.

Other tea party leaders with tax problems include:

Michael Patrick Leahy, a management consultant who organized the National Tea Party Coalition, had $150,000 worth of IRS tax liens and court judgments to his name.

Judson Phillips, the founder of the (for-profit) Tea Party Nation filed for bankruptcy in 1999, and had $22,000 in federal tax liens in his past. After Tea Party Nation planned a July 2010 tea party convention in Las Vegas and then canceled due to lack of interest, the organization stiffed the Venetian Hotel for more than 1,500 rooms it had reserved. That resulted in ajudge ordering the organization to repay the hotel nearly $750,000.

And then there was tea partier Christine O’Donnell, the Senate candidate from Delaware whose IRS tax lien for nearly $12,000 came to light during her 2010 campaign.

Conservatives now say there was a partisan motive behind the IRS targeting of tea party groups. (An Inspector General’s report released Tuesday did not find any evidence to that effect.) As evidence, they point to a lack of similar scrutiny directed at liberal groups. But it is also true that the tea party movement does not have an equivalent on the left; the Occupy Wall Street movement, perhaps the closest parallel, did not receive financial support on the scale that tea party organizations did, nor did it spawn legions of aspiring tax-exempt groups. When Occupy groups did seek out formal structure, they tended to use the traditional charitable 501(c)(3) status, which bars all political activity.

The tea partiers, on the other hand, went for the c(4) designation for political non-profit organizations, helping make them the focus, as we now know, of IRS staffers.”

Emphasis Mine

See: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/05/irs-tea-party-tax-problems

 

Is It Time To Start Taxing Churches?

From: Care2

By:Robin Marty

“As institutions of faith, churches are not forced to pay taxes like the citizens and (usually) corporations in the rest of the United States.  The original argument was that, like charity, church profits and donations go to doing public good — feeding the poor, caring for the sick and other projects that help to build a better, stronger community, and that those advantages outweigh the tax revenue lost.

Churches have grown to take greater advantage of this exemption.  The surge in “televangelism” allowed many corrupt pastors to house themselves and keep themselves in luxury without paying taxes by declaring them allowable living expenses.  Megachurches began popping up, buying cheap land to build on and using subsidies and avoiding paying property taxes while still taking full advantage of the services other residents pay out for.  Some have businesses on site — coffee shops, book stores, all tax exempt by funneling their “profits” back into the church.  Others have taken their earnings both from their businesses and donations and used them to evangelize and increase their missions, supporting the church and recruiting new members.

All of this is legal.  And despite the growing stretch of the definitions of non-profit, of charity, and living expenses, most Americans would agree that all of this should be allowed.

But the only firewall that was set up is now breaking down.  Churches weren’t supposed to get involved in political issues.  No endorsing, no campaigning.  It’s a rule that many religious organizations have been tiptoeing to the line on for years.  “Family values” religious organizations have sanctioned off 501c4s to allow them the ability to advocate for candidates and issues, with donations kept separately from their main group and taxed accordingly.  Pastors and priests have allowed candidates to come in and give testimony during services while winking that they aren’t endorsing a politician or party.  And a growing number have actively endorsed despite the law against it, daring the government to come down on them.

Within the last few years, the “evangelical vote” has been a major driving force behind elections, and the United States Council of Catholic Bishops has actively become a political force, sending missives to their priests telling them to preach to the congregation about the evils of the Affordable Care Act, or convincing the Komen Race for the Cure Foundation to drop Planned Parenthood as a group they donate to — a move that would free up more funding to go to Catholic charities and hospitals to provide mammograms.

Apparently, even this hasn’t been brazen enough.  So now, one church is collecting donations explicitly to oppose a gay marriage ballot initiative in Maine.  The Associated Press reports, “Scores of Maine churches will pass the collection plate a second time at Sunday services on Father’s Day to kick off a fundraising campaign for the lead opposition group to November’s ballot question asking voters to legalize same-sex marriages. Between 150 and 200 churches are expected to raise money for the Protect Marriage Maine political action committee, said Carroll Conley Jr., executive director of the Christian Civic League of Maine evangelical organization and a member of the PAC. Conley is also trying to drum up support for the Maine campaign from religious leaders from around the country.”

Again, totally legal, as long as they don’t advocate for a specific candidate.  The churches are following the letter of the law, but not the intent.  Religious institutions now get all of the benefits of tax exempt status, but have become one of the most politically active groups in the nation.

Should churches continue to keep their tax exempt status while become key players in elections? Let us know what you think in the comments.”

Read more: 

Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/is-it-time-to-start-taxing-churches.html#ixzz1vzKmGK80

Emphasis Mine

see:

A Framing Memo for Occupy Wall Street

Unless you frame yourself, others will frame you – the media, your enemies, your competitors, your well-meaning friends. Above all: Frame yourselves before others frame you.

From ReaderSupportedNews, by Dr. George Lakoff

“I was asked weeks ago by some in the Occupy Wall Street movement to make suggestions for how to frame the movement. I have hesitated so far, because I think the movement should be framing itself. It’s a general principle: Unless you frame yourself, others will frame you – the media, your enemies, your competitors, your well-meaning friends. I have so far hesitated to offer suggestions. But the movement appears to maturing and entering a critical time when small framing errors could have large negative consequences. So I thought it might be helpful to accept the invitation and start a discussion of how the movement might think about framing itself.

About framing: It’s normal. Everybody engages in it all the time. Frames are just structures of thought that we use every day. All words in all languages are defined in terms of frame-circuits in the brain. But, ultimately, framing is about ideas, about how we see the world, which determines how we act.

In politics, frames are part of competing moral systems that are used in political discourse and in charting political action. In short, framing is a moral enterprise: it says what the character of a movement is. All politics is moral. Political figures and movements always make policy recommendations claiming they are the right things to do. No political figure ever says, do what I say because it’s wrong! Or because it doesn’t matter! Some moral principles or other lie behind every political policy agenda.

Two Moral Framing Systems in Politics

Conservatives have figured out their moral basis and you see it on Wall Street: It includes: The primacy of self-interest. Individual responsibility, but not social responsibility. Hierarchical authority based on wealth or other forms of power. A moral hierarchy of who is “deserving,” defined by success. And the highest principle is the primacy of this moral system itself, which goes beyond Wall Street and the economy to other arenas: family life, social life, religion, foreign policy, and especially government. Conservative “democracy” is seen as a system of governance and elections that fits this model.

Though OWS concerns go well beyond financial issues, your target is right: the application of these principles in Wall Street is central, since that is where the money comes from for elections, for media, and for right-wing policy-making institutions of all sorts on all issues.

The alternative view of democracy is progressive: Democracy starts with citizens caring about one another and acting responsibly on that sense of care, taking responsibility both for oneself and for one’s family, community, country, people in general, and the planet. The role of government is to protect and empower all citizens equally via The Public: public infrastructure, laws and enforcement, health, education, scientific research, protection, public lands, transportation, resources, art and culture, trade policies, safety nets, and on and on. Nobody makes it one their own. If you got wealthy, you depended on The Public, and you have a responsibility to contribute significantly to The Public so that others can benefit in the future. Moreover, the wealthy depend on those who work, and who deserve a fair return for their contribution to our national life. Corporations exist to make life better for most people. Their reason for existing is as public as it is private.

A disproportionate distribution of wealth robs most citizens of access to the resources controlled by the wealthy. Immense wealth is a thief. It takes resources from the rest of the population – the best places to live, the best food, the best educations, the best health facilities, access to the best in nature and culture, the best professionals, and on and on. Resources are limited, and great wealth greatly limits access to resources for most people.

It appears to me that OWS has a progressive moral vision and view of democracy, and that what it is protesting is the disastrous effects that have come from operating with a conservative moral, economic, and political worldview. I see OWS as primarily a moral movement, seeking economic and political changes to carry out that moral movement – whatever those particular changes might be.

A Moral Focus for Occupy Wall Street

I think it is a good thing that the occupation movement is not making specific policy demands. If it did, the movement would become about those demands. If the demands were not met, the movement would be seen as having failed.

It seems to me that the OWS movement is moral in nature, that occupiers want the country to change its moral focus. It is easy to find useful policies; hundreds have been suggested. It is harder to find a moral focus and stick to it. If the movement is to frame itself, it should be on the basis of its moral focus, not a particular agenda or list of policy demands. If the moral focus of America changes, new people will be elected and the policies will follow. Without a change of moral focus, the conservative worldview that has brought us to the present disastrous and dangerous moment will continue to prevail.

We Love America. We’re Here to Fix It

I see OWS as a patriotic movement, based on a deep and abiding love of country – a patriotism that it is not just about the self-interests of individuals, but about what the country is and is to be. Do Americans care about other citizens, or mainly just about themselves? That’s what love of America is about. I therefore think it is important to be positive, to be clear about loving America, seeing it in need of fixing, and not just being willing to fix it, but being willing to take to the streets to fix it. A populist movement starts with the people seeing that they are all in the same boat and being ready to come together to fix the leaks.

Publicize the Public

Tell the truth about The Public, that nobody makes it purely on their own without The Public, that is, without public infrastructure, the justice system, health, education, scientific research, protections of all sorts, public lands, transportation, resources, art and culture, trade policies, safety nets, … That is a truth to be told day after day. It is an idea that must take hold in public discourse. It must go beyond what I and others have written about it and beyond what Elizabeth Warren has said in her famous video. The Public is not opposed to The Private. The Public is what makes The Private possible. And it is what makes freedom possible. Wall Street exists only through public support. It has a moral obligation to direct itself to public needs.

All OWS approaches to policy follow from such a moral focus. Here are a handful examples.

Democracy should be about the 99%

Money directs our politics. In a democracy, that must end. We need publicly supported elections, however that is to be arranged.

Strong Wages Make a Strong America

Middle-class wages have not gone up significantly in 30 years, and there is conservative pressure to lower them. But when most people get more money, they spend it and spur the economy, making the economy and the country stronger, as well as making their individual lives better. This truth needs to be central to public economic discourse.

Global Citizenship

America has been a moral beacon to the world. It can function as such only if it sets an example of what a nation should be.

Do we have to spend more on the military that all other nations combined? Do we really need hundreds of military bases abroad?

Nature

We are part of nature. Nature makes us, and all that we love, possible. Yet we are destroying Nature through global warming and other forms of ecological destruction, like fracking and deep-water drilling.

At a global scale, nature is systemic: its effects are neither local nor linear. Global warming is causing the ferocity of the monster storms, tornados, floods, blizzards, heat waves, and fires that have devastated huge areas of our country. The hotter the atmosphere, the more evaporated water and the more energy going into storms, tornados, and blizzards. Global warming cannot be shown to cause any particular storm, but when a storm system forms, global warming will ramp up the power of the storm and the amount of water it carries. In winter, evaporated water from the overly heated Pacific will go into the atmosphere, blow northeast over the arctic, and fall as record snows.

We depend on nature – on clean air, water, food, and a livable climate. And we find beauty and grandeur in nature, and a sense of awe that makes life worth living. A love of country requires a love of nature. And a fair and thriving economy requires the preservation of nature as we have known it.

Summary

OWS is a moral and patriotic movement. It sees Democracy as flowing from citizens caring about one another as well as themselves, and acting with both personal and social responsibility. Democratic governance is about The Public, and the liberty that The Public provides for a thriving Private Sphere. From such a democracy flows fairness, which is incompatible with a hugely disproportionate distribution of wealth. And from the sense of care implicit in such a democracy flows a commitment to the preservation of nature.

From what I have seen of most members of OWS, your individual concerns all flow from one moral focus.

Elections

The Tea Party solidified the power of the conservative worldview via elections. OWS will have no long-term effect unless it too brings its moral focus to the 2012 elections. Insist on supporting candidates that have your overall moral views, no matter what the local issues are.

A Warning

This movement could be destroyed by negativity, by calls for revenge, by chaos, or by having nothing positive to say. Be positive about all things and state the moral basis of all suggestions. Positive and moral in calling for debt relief. Positive and moral in upholding laws, as they apply to finances. Positive and moral in calling for fairness in acquiring needed revenue. Positive and moral in calling for clean elections. To be effective, your movement must be seen by all of the 99% as positive and moral. To get positive press, you must stress the positive and the moral.

Remember: The Tea Party sees itself as stressing only individual responsibility. The Occupation Movement is stressing both individual and social responsibility.

I believe, and I think you believe, that most Americans care about their fellow citizens as well as themselves. Let’s find out! Shout your moral and patriotic views out loud, regularly. Put them on your signs. Repeat them to the media. Tweet them. And tell everyone you know to do the same. You have to use your own language with your own framing and you have to repeat it over and over for the ideas to sink in.

Occupy elections: voter registration drives, town hall meetings, talk radio airtime, party organizations, nomination campaigns, election campaigns, and voting booths.

Above all: Frame yourselves before others frame you.
George Lakoff is the author of “Moral Politics, Don’t Think of an Elephant!,” “Whose Freedom?,” and “Thinking Points” (with the Rockridge Institute staff). He is Richard and Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley, and a founding senior fellow at the Rockridge Institute.


Emphasis Mine

see:http://www.readersupportednews.org/opinion2/275-42/7970-a-framing-memo-for-occupy-wall-street

Noah Chomsky on why the right hates social security.

It’s a very successful program. A large number people rely on it. It doesn’t pay munificently, but it at least keeps people alive, not just retired people, people with disabilities and others. Very low administrative costs, extremely efficient, and no burden on the deficit, doesn’t add to the deficit. The effort to try to present the Social Security program as if it’s a major problem, that’s just a hidden way of trying to undermine and destroy it.

From an interview on Democracy Now, see link below.

(N.B.:  While little is new,  it is presented very well.)

AARON MATÉ: Noam, you mentioned entitlements, and obviously this is an issue that’s come up a lot in the deficit debate. Governor Rick Perry, the Republican presidential hopeful, has called it a Ponzi scheme. But even Democrats seem to buy into this narrative that it’s in crisis. Can you address that?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Social Security is not in any crisis. I mean, the trust fund alone will fully pay benefits for, I think, another 30 years or so. And after that, taxes will give almost the same benefits. To worry about a possible problem 30 years from now, which can incidentally be fixed with little—a little bit of tampering here and there, as was done in 1983—to worry about that just makes absolutely no sense, unless you’re trying to destroy the program. It’s a very successful program. A large number people rely on it. It doesn’t pay munificently, but it at least keeps people alive, not just retired people, people with disabilities and others. Very low administrative costs, extremely efficient, and no burden on the deficit, doesn’t add to the deficit. The effort to try to present the Social Security program as if it’s a major problem, that’s just a hidden way of trying to undermine and destroy it.

Now, there has been a lot of opposition to it since—you know, since the 1930s, on the part of sectors of extreme wealth and privilege, especially financial capital. They don’t like it, for several reasons. One is the rich don’t barely—for them, it’s meaningless. Anyone with—you know, who’s had a fairly decent income, it’s a tiny addition to your retirement but doesn’t mean much. Another is, if the financial institutions and the insurance companies can get their hands on this huge financial resource—for example, if it’s privatized in some way or vouchers—I mean, that’s a huge bonanza. They’ll have trillions of dollars to play with, the banks, the investment firms and so on.

But I think, myself, that there’s a more subtle reason why they’re opposed to it, and I think it’s rather similar to the reason for the effort to pretty much dismantle the public education system. Social Security is based on a principle. It’s based on the principle that you care about other people. You care whether the widow across town, a disabled widow, is going to be able to have food to eat. And that’s a notion you have to drive out of people’s heads. The idea of solidarity, sympathy, mutual support, that’s doctrinally dangerous. The preferred doctrines are just care about yourself, don’t care about anyone else. That’s a very good way to trap and control people. And the very idea that we’re in it together, that we care about each other, that we have responsibility for one another, that’s sort of frightening to those who want a society which is dominated by power, authority, wealth, in which people are passive and obedient. And I suspect—I don’t know how to measure it exactly, but I think that that’s a considerable part of the drive on the part of small, privileged sectors to undermine a very efficient, very effective system on which a large part of the population relies, actually relies more than ever, because wealth, personal wealth, was very much tied up in the housing market. That was people’s personal wealth. Well, OK, that, quite predictably, totally collapsed. People aren’t destitute by the standards of, say, slums in India or southern Africa, but very—suffering severely. And they have nothing else to rely on, but what they—the, really, pittance that they’re getting from Social Security. To take that away would be just disastrous.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Noam Chomsky. He has a new book out, 10 years after his book 9-11. This is called 9-11: Was There an Alternative? We’ll come back to this conversation in a minute. And if you’d like to get a copy of the full show, you can go to our website at democracynow.org. Stay with us.”

Emphasis Mine.

see:http://www.readersupportednews.org/off-site-opinion-section/72-72/7440-noam-chomsky-on-why-the-right-hates-social-security

How the Political Right Bullied the US Government Into Ignoring the Threat of Right-Wing Extremism

After right-wingers freaked out about a report detailing the rise in right-wing extremism, Homeland Security effectively dismantled a unit tasked with tracking it.

From AlterNet, by Rania Khalek

“In the wake of the terrorist attack in Norway by right-wing Christian extremist Anders Breivik, conservative media pundits rushed to vilify anyone who brought up the underlying far-right ideology that fueled Breivik’s violence.

The uproar that follows any suggestion that right-wing extremism is on the rise works to silence the conversation about the danger of right-wing militancy. According to disturbing revelations by a former Homeland Security Intelligence Analyst, the consequences of this dynamic extend to the highest branches of the US government.

For six years, Darryl Johnson headed a Department of Homeland Security team tracking domestic extremist groups. Now Johnson, who is no longer with DHS, says that conservative furor over the report’s findings pressured Homeland Security to abandon reporting on and monitoring the rising threat of right-wing extremism for the past two years.

In April 2009, DHS issued an intelligence assessment, co-authored by Johnson, titled “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment.” The document was one of many threat assessments shared between DHS and state and local law enforcement agencies to keep them apprised of potential and looming threats, and warned of a surge in right-wing extremism due to the election of the country’s first black president and the economic recession.

Although the report was intended only for distribution to law enforcement agencies, it was immediately leaked to the media causing a political firestorm among conservativepundits, who wrongly suggested that it labeled all conservatives as potential terrorists.

DHS initially defended the report, but within days caved to political pressure and practically disowned it, with Secretary Napolitano apologizing to the American Legion for the report’s mention of military veterans. But DHS did more than just publicly buckle under the political weight of conservative critics. According to Johnson, the department effectively dismantled his intelligence team following the right’s uproar.

In an in-depth interview published in the Southern Poverty Law Center’sIntelligence Report, Johnson reveals the level of sway the political right had in thwarting intelligence work on right-wing extremism. He says DHS deliberately mischaracterized the report as unauthorized, even though it had passed through proper channels and instituted restrictive policies that brought the important work of his unit to a virtual standstill. As a result, Johnson left DHS in dismay and was followed by almost all the members of his team, leaving a single analyst where there had been six. In comparison, there are at least 25 analysts devoted to tracking Islamic terrorism.

When questioned about Johnson’s claims — which have been confirmed by current and former department officials in the Washington Post – DHS officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, have repeatedly disputed his account and insist that the level of activity by right-wing extremist groups has remained consistent over the past few years. In addition, they claim the perception of increased extremist activity may be due to increased awareness of the threat by the government and the public. But the numbers beg to differ.

Right Wing Extremism on the Rise

Johnson’s report was consistent with data from the Southern Poverty Law Center, which finds that hate groups topped 1,000 for the first time since SPLC began counting such groups in the 1980s. The most dramatic growth was seen in antigovernment “Patriot” groups — militias and other extremist organizations that see the federal government as their enemy — which came roaring back to life over the past year after more than a decade out of the limelight. SPLC’s Intelligence Project identified 824 anti-government “Patriot” groups that were active in 2010, up from just 149 in 2008.

According to Mark Potok, director of SPLC’s Intelligence Project, these groups are driven by resentment over changing racial demographics, which he describes as, “The idea that the country is becoming less white every day and in fact the prediction by the census bureau that whites will lose their majority about the year 2050 in the United States is very important. Virtually every white supremacist in America knows that date.” Other drivers include frustration over the economy, and the mainstreaming of conspiracy theories and propaganda aimed at various minorities.

Potok told AlterNet that events following the 2009 DHS report have proved it to be prescient. 

In May 2009, just one month after the report’s release, an anti-abortion zealot murdered Dr. George Tiller in Kansas. In June 2009, neo-Nazi James von Brunn murdered a security guard at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. In March 2010, nine members of a Michigan militia were charged with seditious conspiracy and attempted use of weapons of mass destruction in connection with an alleged plot to murder police officers.

On May 20, 2010, two West Memphis Arkansas police officers were shot to death during a routine traffic stop by a father-son duo of “sovereign citizens,” a group of US residents who believe the government has no authority over them. West Memphis Police Chief Bob Paudert, whose son was one of the officers killed, told me that prior to the loss of his son, he had never heard of sovereign citizens, nor had any other law enforcement officials he spoke to about the matter. After some digging and research he discovered that his son’s murder was not an isolated incident, and in fact sovereign citizens were responsible fordozens of police officer deaths around the country.

Paudert was particularly surprised to learn that the Sovereign movement is estimated at 300,000 people strong and growing, which is why he was disappointed in the federal government’s failure to alert state and local law enforcement that such a threat existed. Paudert says he is absolutely positive that had they been alerted and trained to recognize sovereign citizens, “my son would still be alive today.”

Conservatives Throw a Temper Tantrum

The loudest outcry came from the right-wing shock jocks like Rush Limbaugh, who claimed that Janet Napolitano and Barack Obama were “portraying standard, ordinary, everyday conservatives as posing a bigger threat to this country than al-Qaeda terrorists or genuine enemies of this country like Kim Jong-Il.”  Sean Hannity warned his Fox News viewers that “if you have a pro-life bumper sticker on your car, if you have an ‘America is overtaxed’ bumper sticker, if you have a pro-Second Amendment bumper sticker, they’re viewing you potentially as a radical.”

In possibly the most deranged interpretation, conservative blogger Michelle Malkin wrote that the report was a “hit job on conservatives” and “one of the most embarrassingly shoddy pieces of propaganda I’d ever read out of DHS. I couldn’t believe it was real….the piece of crap report issued on April 7 is a sweeping indictment of conservatives.”

In a sad sort of irony, Johnson told SPLC that the conservative media personalities who misinterpreted and attacked his report “would have been shocked to know that I personify conservatism. I’m an Eagle Scout. I’m a registered Republican. I’m Mormon. In fact, I was helping the Boy Scouts with a fundraiser when I heard the report being attacked on the news.”

Outrage over the report’s findings quickly spread to Congress, where several conservative lawmakers demanded the ouster of DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano. Among them was Rep. John Carter, R-Tex., who remarked, “We shouldn’t even give her the respect of letting her resign. She should be fired by the administration for accusing honest, American citizens — because of their political beliefs — of being domestic terrorists.”

The self-described conservative and Christian non-profit Thomas More Law Center went even further and filed a lawsuit against Secretary Napolitano on behalf a Michigan-based anti-abortion group, claiming the DHS report was all part of a conspiracy between the Obama administration and liberal groups to violate their constitutional rights.

The section of the report that stirred the most controversy referred to “disgruntled military veterans” and cautioned that “rightwing extremists would attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans to boost their violent capabilities.”

This did not sit well with David Rehbein, the commander of the veterans’ organization American Legion, who wrote in a letter to Secretary Napolitano, “To continue to use McVeigh as an example of the stereotypical disgruntled military veteran is as unfair as using Osama bin Laden as the sole example of Islam.” Had Rehbein actually read the full report he would have discovered that this specific concern was based on factual data collected by the FBI.

The DHS assessment cited a July 2008 report by the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division under the Bush administration, titled “White Supremacist Recruitment of Military Personnel since 9/11.” Based on its findings the 2008 FBI report observed that “some returning military veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have joined extremist groups,” and that “military experience is found throughout the white supremacist extremist movement as the result of recruitment campaigns by extremist groups and self-recruitment by veterans sympathetic to white supremacist causes.” Furthermore, based on analysis of FBI case files from October 2001 to May 2008, the report identified 203 military personnel or veterans who were active members in white supremacist organizations during that period.

It’s not surprising that conservatives threw a fit. What’s disturbing is that these conservative complaints prompted DHS to withdraw the report.

Pretending the Threat Doesn’t Exist

I spoke with Johnson, who has been following right-wing extremism in a professional capacity since the early ‘90s. Upon the Democratic nomination for president of then Senator Obama, Johnson says that based on his experience and expertise, he immediately recognized that “this would be a huge recruiting tool for groups like white supremacists, militia extremists, sovereign citizen extremists, those extremists groups that are on the fringes of the right of the political spectrum, which we refer to as right-wing extremists in the counterterrorism community.”

When it was clear that Barack Obama would win, Johnson became worried about the “potential radicalization factor” that would ensue following the election of America’s first black president. “It would agitate people to go beyond their mainstream and law-abiding protest activity to more criminal activity and violence because people would see that these ‘enemies’ so to speak, these minorities in America are actually integrated in society and they’re actually fulfilling the American dream.”

All of this prompted the drafting of the report in the early months of the Obama administration.

He chose to go public because “the conditions that existed back in 2008 and 2009 when we drafted this document still persist today….the climate in this country from a political standpoint and economic standpoint has not changed. The economy is still sluggish, unemployment’s still flirting with 10 percent, and there’s this anti-government sentiment and agitation out there in this country. That’s one thing that concerns me is that we’ve had two years now where these people have been boiling in this environment that could possibly agitate somebody to carry out a violent act.” 

Mark Potok told AlterNet that DHS’s handling of the report’s criticism was “nothing more than an act of political cowardice,” but it doesn’t change the report’s disturbing accuracy.

The Southern Poverty Law Center keeps a detailed and unsettling list of major terrorist plots and racist rampages that have emerged from the American radical right in the years since Oklahoma City, a pattern Potok says continues to this day. That prompted SPLC’s president, J. Richard Cohen, to send a letter to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano two months ago, urging her to reassess the level of resources that DHS is devoting to the threat of non-Islamic domestic terrorism.

The letter highlights several recent examples of thwarted attacks, one of which occurred this past January, when a neo-Nazi activist was arrested for planting a bomb along an MLK Day parade route in Spokane, Washington. That same month, another neo-Nazi was arrested on his way to the Arizona-Mexico border and later charged with possessing explosive devices packed with ball bearings – to “maximize human carnage,” as a federal prosecutor put it. In March, authorities arrested five members of a militia in Alaska and charged them with plotting to murder or kidnap police officers and judges if their leader, who was then fleeing prosecution on weapons charges, were arrested or killed. Unfortunately, Secretary Napolitano has yet to respond to SPLC’s letter.

That the right’s outrage over the report managed to influence the Department of Homeland Security should raise alarm bells for anyone who is concerned about homegrown extremism. It’s frightening that the US government bowed to political pressure. The atrocity that took place in Norway is a reminder of the brutality that ideological extremists are capable of dishing out.

According to Johnson, Anders Breivik “was under the radar, he acquired relatively unsophisticated weaponry and was able to go and target people that he opposed because of his ideology and beliefs and was able to kill close to 80 people, and it was done effortlessly. He didn’t go to some place in Pakistan and learn how to build a bomb.  He learned how to do this on the Internet, and he was able to acquire these materials legally. And I know for a fact that that is going on here in this country, people are stockpiling weaponry.”

Potok believes the right’s ability to silence the conversation about right-wing extremism will have fatal consequences, warning, “The danger of pretending this movement doesn’t exist is that it will grow more and more deeply entrenched in our society and more dangerous. There’s an immediate criminal danger. Timothy McVeigh murdered 168 men women and children in 15 seconds. It absolutely could happen again. It hasn’t because we are lucky and because law enforcement has done a fine job overall.”

Similarly, Daryl Johnson fears that, “These incidents are starting to add up. Yet our legislators, politicians and national leaders don’t appear too concerned about this. So my greatest fear is that domestic terrorists in this country will somehow become emboldened to the point of carrying out a mass-casualty attack, because they perceive that no one is being vigilant about the threat from within. This is what keeps me up at night.”

Rania Khalek is a progressive activist. Check out her blog Missing Pieces or follow her on Twitter @Rania_ak. You can contact her at raniakhalek@gmail.com.

Emphasis Mine

see:http://www.alternet.org/story/152033/how_the_political_right_bullied_the_us_government_into_ignoring_the_threat_of_right-wing_extremism?akid=7406.123424.6GLo_-&rd=1&t=5

A New Day for Government’s Role in the Economy

No – NOT Morning in America-

“WASHINGTON — The Senate’s vote on — and the likely approval of — an $838 billion economic-stimulus plan Tuesday will signal a decisive new expansion of the government’s role in the economy.

The package will include tens of billions of dollars to help states pay for health-care, education and highways. It’ll provide tax breaks for new car and home buyers. It will help to computerize health records and invest heavily in 21st-century renewable energy technology.

“Just think about Rosie the Riveter manufacturing solar panels and wind turbines,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., describing the bill’s long-term impact.”

(McClatchy)

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/economics/story/61844.html

A Proud Centerist

“What do you call someone who eliminates hundreds of thousands of American jobs, deprives millions of adequate health care and nutrition, undermines schools, but offers a $15,000 bonus to affluent people who flip their houses?  A proud centrist. For that is what the senators who ended up calling the tune on the stimulus bill just accomplished.”

Krugman

NY Times today http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/09/opinion/09krugman.html?_r=1