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Bill USA

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Member since: Wed Mar 3, 2010, 04:25 PM
Number of posts: 3,466

About Me

Quotes I like: "Prediction is very difficult, especially concerning the future." "There are some things so serious that you have to laugh at them.” __ Niels Bohr Given his contribution to the establishment of quantum mechanics, I guess it's not surprising he had such a quirky of sense of humor. ......................."Deliberate misinterpretation and misrepresentation of another's position is a basic technique of (dis)information processing" __ I said that

Journal Archives

Tea Party "Working The Refs" in IRS Scandal



In the spirit of not letting facts get in the way of a good story, the mainstream and conservative media have glommed onto the IRS "Scandal," trying to link it with the Benghazi screw up (but no conspiracy), and the Justice Department's chilling efforts to spy on journalists, and are reveling in calling it Obama's Scandal Trifecta.

While the crux of the scandal is seen as the IRS being overzealous when looking into Tea Party and other conservative groups applying for 501(c)(4) status, the real scandal might be how ill-equipped the IRS has been to actually ferret out groups that are have been doing political work, not social welfare work as required by the IRS to receive 501(c)(4) status.

A new report by the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights (IREHR) titled "The Tea Party And The IRS 'Scandal': The Actual Facts Of The Case," approaches the IRS kerfuffle with an attempt to ferret out truth from fiction.

According to the IREHR report, "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the 296 potential political cases we reviewed, as of December 17, 2012, 108 applications had been approved, 28 were withdrawn by the applicant, none had been denied, and 160 cases were open from 206 to 1,138 calendar days (some crossing two election cycles).'"

What “Social Welfare” Work Do Tea Party Groups Perform? Does Karl Rove hold bake sales?


President Obama demanded and received the resignation of the acting commissioner of the IRS on Wednesday. The agency gave special scrutiny to conservative groups applying for 501(c)(4) status, which is reserved for “social welfare” organizations. Many Explainer readers have asked the obvious question: What social welfare functions do Tea Party groups perform?

They educate you on the dangers of big government. In its application for 501(c)(4) status, Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS claimed it would spend 20 percent of its resources on research, 30 percent to influence policy, and 50 percent on educating the public on such issues as the national debt, health care, and pension reform. The conservative Center for Individual Freedom told the IRS its education efforts would focus on “promoting individual freedom and constitutional protection.” Liberal 501(c)(4)s also claim to be primarily educational. America’s Families First, for example, claims to educate the public on “creating jobs for the middle class” and “improving public education.”

Public education, even regarding political issues, constitutes social welfare as the IRS understands the term. The agency doesn’t require 501(c)(4) groups to hold bake sales for the school marching band or walks for cancer research. Those sorts of activities are undertaken by charities, which typically organize under 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. By the agency’s own admission, social welfare is a “very broad category,” and it undoubtedly includes issue advocacy. In the IRS’s view, pro-choice and anti-abortion groups are both working to improve public welfare.


The challenge is determining when public education efforts become electioneering, which is not considered social welfare work and can constitute only a minor portion of a 501(c)(4) group’s activities. The IRS has a multi-prong test, including such factors as whether the advocacy occurs close to an election, whether an advertisement mentions a candidate by name, and whether the group has a long-standing position on an issue. (Christian churches, which are typically 501(c)(3) organizations and barred from political advocacy, are allowed to engage in anti-abortion campaigning, for example, because their opposition didn’t emerge simply for purposes of defeating individual political candidates.)


Syrian rebel leader: U.S. will Act When War Widens


The leader of the Syrian opposition says the conflict engulfing the country will draw in neighboring states before international players such as the U.S. move in to help bring about its end.


"Now there is one country with 23 million people involved," he said. "In time, if the situation continues, there will be five countries and 80 million people involved in this conflict. When this happens, and when Israel is involved, then America will act."


The conflict has already destabilized fragile political activities in neighboring Lebanon, and last week 51 people were killed in two car bombs in Turkey that officials blamed on supporters of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Sunni-Shiite divisions in the region have been exacerbated by the role played by the Shiite-Lebanese group Hezbollah, which experts say is fighting on the side of the Syrian regime in the western part of the country.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar, two Sunni monarchies, have been instrumental in providing cash and weapons to the mostly Sunni rebel groups fighting the Syrian government. With Assad backed by Iran and Hezbollah, and rebels by Gulf states, Sabra says he believes a long, sectarian war involving all sides may be imminent.

Things your GOP toady of M$M won't tell you: GOP Busted Altering Benghazi Emails released by WH

... for those who just might have missed this important post over on Vid & Multimedia:


I should point out that CBS News ... did report on this on their evening news broadcast, http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18563_162-57584947/wh-benghazi-emails-have-different-quotes-than-earlier-reported/

Let their be high praise for CBS News in reporting news the GOP won't like. Initially, I thought CBS just reported this on their web-site only, but it appears it was part of their network broadcast.

McClatchy: Ambassador Stevens twice said no to military offers of more security, U.S. officials say


CAIRO — In the month before attackers stormed U.S. facilities in Benghazi and killed four Americans, U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens twice turned down offers of security assistance made by the senior U.S. military official in the region in response to concerns that Stevens had raised in a still secret memorandum, two government officials told McClatchy.

Why Stevens, who died of smoke inhalation in the first of two attacks that took place late Sept. 11 and early Sept. 12, 2012, would turn down the offers remains unclear. The deteriorating security situation in Benghazi had been the subject of a meeting that embassy officials held Aug. 15, where they concluded they could not defend the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi. The next day, the embassy drafted a cable outlining the dire circumstances and saying it would spell out what it needed in a separate cable.

“In light of the uncertain security environment, US Mission Benghazi will submit specific requests to US Embassy Tripoli for additional physical security upgrades and staffing needs by separate cover,” said the cable, which was first reported by Fox News.

Army Gen. Carter Ham, then the head of the U.S. Africa Command, did not wait for the separate cable, however. Instead, after reading the Aug. 16 cable, Ham phoned Stevens and asked if the embassy needed a special security team from the U.S. military. Stevens told Ham it did not, the officials said.

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/05/14/191235/amb-stevens-twice-said-no-to-military.html#.UZTNYu2fM98#storylink=cpy

Benghazi Review Board Co-Chairs Ask GOP To Testify In Public - Issa wants "closed doors" testimony


National Security Brief: Benghazi Review Board Co-Chairs Ask GOP To Testify In Public

By ThinkProgress on May 16, 2013 at 9:08 am

The co-chairs of the independent review board tasked with investigating the Obama administration’s response to the Benghazi terror attacks last year are asking House Oversight Committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) for a chance to testify in public.

Issa and former review board co-chairs Ambassador Thomas Pickering and former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Adm. Mike Mullen have been engaged in a recent back and forth over whether Issa invited them to testify at his hearing on Benghazi last week. Pickering and Mullen said they’d be willing to testify but Issa refused their participation. Issa has also challenged the credibility of the review board’s findings, which blame State Department officials for lack of diplomatic security in Benghazi last September.


“Recently, you seem to have changed your position on the terms of our appearance, apparently asking for a transcribed interview behind closed doors,” Pickering and Mullen wrote in a letter to Issa, which was obtained by CNN. “In our view, requiring such a closed-door proceeding before we testify publicly is an inappropriate precondition.

“Having taken liberal license to call into question the Board’s work, it is surprising that you now maintain that members of the committee need a closed-door proceeding before being able to ask informed questions’ at a public hearing,” they said. “The public deserves to hear your questions and our answers.”

Meanwhile, McClatchy reports that in the month before the Benghazi attacks, Ambassador Chris Stevens, who was killed in assault, “twice turned down offers of security assistance made by the senior U.S. military official in the region in response to concerns that Stevens had raised in a still secret memorandum.”

Stephens: Rationale for Bush v. Gore was “unacceptable”


Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens said Thursday night that he’s come to the realization that the rationale behind the court’s Bush v. Gore decision that effectively decided the 2000 presidential election “was really quite unacceptable” because it differentiated between so-called “hanging chads” and “dimpled chads.” That distinction, he told a gala event for the liberal watchdog group Public Citizen in Washington, “violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution.” All votes should have been considered the same way, he explained.

Former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor recently expressed regret that the court had taken up the case at all, and Stevens said he was “pleased to hear” about O’Connor’s shift. The liberal Stevens wrote the dissent in that case.

Stevens, who retired in 2010 and is now 93, was introduced as a “rock star” at the event and received applause for holding the record for the most dissents written by a single justice — a whopping 720. Excerpts from his stinging objection to the Citizens United decision were displayed on large posters around the room.

Wonkbook: House Republicans hate Obamacare. But they also kind of need it.


On Thursday, the House of Representatives cast its 37th vote to repeal all or part of the health-care law. Or possibly its 38th vote. And I’ve heard some say its 36th vote. It depends how you count.

Why try another? Because a number of freshmen haven’t yet had a chance to vote on a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act. And the House Republican Conference feels that repealing Obamacare is something every House member should get to do at least once. It’s a rite of passage, like dry-heaving after Paul Ryan’s P-90X class, or offering your first amendment in committee.

The repeal passed the House though it will, as usual, be ignored by the Senate. But these news stories that put the words “repeal” and “Obamacare” near to one another have had an effect. As my colleague Sarah Kliff writes, “Last month, the Kaiser Family Foundation polled Americans on whether the Affordable Care Act is still law. Twelve percent of Americans — that’s about one in eight people — think that Congress repealed the Affordable Care Act. Another 23 percent aren’t sure or refused to answer the question.”


This vote had another interesting side effect, though. “It also repeals a central deficit-reduction component of the GOP’s own budget by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), which was released in March with much bravado and projections that it would balance the budget within a decade,” writes TPM’s Sahil Kapur.

The scandals are falling apart - Ezra Klein, WaPo


Things go wrong in government. Sometimes it’s just bad luck. Sometimes it’s rank incompetence. Sometimes it’s criminal wrongdoing. Most of the time you never hear about it. Or, if you do hear about it, the media eventually gets bored talking about it (see warming, global).

But every so often an instance of government wrongdoing sprouts wings and becomes something quite exciting: A political scandal.

The crucial ingredient for a scandal is the prospect of high-level White House involvement and wide political repercussions. Government wrongdoing is boring. Scandals can bring down presidents, decide elections and revive down-and-out political parties. Scandals can dominate American politics for months at a time.

On Tuesday, it looked like we had three possible political scandals brewing. Two days later, with much more evidence available, it doesn’t look like any of them will pan out. There’ll be more hearings, and more bad press for the Obama administration, and more demands for documents. But — and this is a key qualification — absent more revelations, the scandals that could reach high don’t seem to include any real wrongdoing, whereas the ones that include real wrongdoing don’t reach high enough. Let’s go through them.

America’s staggering defense budget, in charts



The United States spends far more than any other country on defense and security. Since 2001, the base defense budget has soared from $287 billion to $530 billion — and that’s before accounting for the primary costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. But now that those wars are ending and austerity is back in vogue, the Pentagon will have to start tightening its belt in 2013 and beyond. If Hagel gets confirmed as secretary of defense, he’ll have to figure out how best to do that.

Below, we’ve provided an overview of the U.S. defense budget — to get a better sense for what we spend on, and where Hagel might have to cut:

1) The United States spent 20 percent of the federal budget on defense in 2011.


All told, the U.S. government spent about $718 billion on defense and international security assistance in 2011 — more than it spent on Medicare. That includes all of the Pentagon’s underlying costs as well as the price tag for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which came to $159 billion in 2011. It also includes arms transfers to foreign governments.

(Note that this figure does not, however, include benefits for veterans, which came to $127 billion in 2011, or about 3.5 percent of the federal budget. If you count those benefits as “defense spending,” then the number goes up significantly.)

U.S. defense spending is expected to have risen in 2012, to about $729 billion, and then is set to fall in 2013 to $716 billion, as spending caps start kicking in.


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