Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The truth behind the IRS "scandal"

From the report:

According to the Director, Rulings and Agreements, thefact that the team of specialists worked applications that did not involve the Tea Party, Patriots, or 9/12 groups demonstrated that the IRS was not politically biased in its identification of applications for processing by the team of specialists.

Note: it's not just that they worked on applications not involving those groups, it's that the majority of their applications didn't involve those groups. But this is even more interesting:

Based on our review of other BOLO listing criteria, the use of organization names on the BOLO listing is not unique to potential political cases.16

So there were other groups included as well. But they don't list them...hey, what's footnote 16?

16 We did not review the use of other named organizations on the BOLO listing to determine if their use was appropriate.

Why not? Why did they only look to see whether or not Tea Party groups were targeted?

Now if we look back to see why they started this investigation: "TIGTA initiated this audit based on concerns expressed by members of Congress." Ah, so that's why they only looked at whether or not the Tea Party groups were treated inappropriately! 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

How to lower the unemployment rate? Stop firing people.

Via Corey Robin, an Atlantic article on how few government jobs we have now:
First, credit where it's due. The Hamilton Project has produced a beautiful graph illustrating the government employment to population ratio. As it shows, there are now fewer public sector employees per American than at any time dating back to the Carter administration (To be clear, we're talking state, federal, and local here). 
Here's the graph:
You think having much fewer government jobs available than we otherwise would have might contribute to the lack of jobs? Or, as Corey Robin put it: "I think we know the answer: First, stop firing people. Second, start hiring people."

Friday, August 3, 2012

Koch-funded skeptics admit climate catastrophe is real as nation of Kiribati is being swallowed by the sea and street lamps melt in Oklahoma

Global warming denialism is one of the reactionary causes that the billionaire Koch brothers are known for throwing money towards. This might get a bit more difficult, as even the deniers they are funding are starting to realize that we're facing a climate catastrophe:
CALL me a converted skeptic. Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I’m now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause.
That's nice. That's good. I'm glad he's figured this out. But as nations are being swallowed by rising sea levels:
But for residents of the Pacific island nation of Kiribati, global warming is a terrifying real problem: Their entire country is about to be submerged under water.
And the heat in Oklahoma is getting so hot that it's melting street lamps:
Case in point: KFOR TV in Stillwater, Oklahoma is reporting that temperatures are so high that the street lamps have begun melting.
Do we have time to wait for every denier to realize that what the experts have been saying for years is, indeed, true?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

New York police spying on Americans around the country

From this AP article about a superintendent in New Jersey who reported their suspicious apartment to the local police:
Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, the NYPD, with training and guidance from the CIA, has monitored the activities of Muslims in New York and far beyond. Detectives infiltrated mosques, eavesdropped in cafes and kept tabs on Muslim student groups, including at Rutgers.
The NYPD has infiltrated and photographed Muslim businesses and mosques in New Jersey, monitored the Internet postings of Muslim college students across the Northeast and traveled as far away as New Orleans to infiltrate and build files on liberal advocacy groups.
Maybe policing New York isn't exciting enough for these people? 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Lest we forget: the government created the internet

People shouldn't have to be reminded of this:
In truth, no private company would have been capable of developing a project like the Internet, which required years of R&D efforts spread out over scores of far-flung agencies, and which began to take off only after decades of investment. Visionary infrastructure projects such as this are part of what has allowed our economy to grow so much in the past century. Today’s op-ed is just one sad indicator of how we seem to be losing our appetite for this kind of ambition.
The government developed the internet, which put the US at the forefront of the tech boom. Makes you wonder what could be done today if the government was focused on developing new technology and not on dismantling the government to give money to billionaires.

Newspapers let government officials alter and clear quotes

From McClatchy:

As you are aware, reporters from The New York Times, Washington Post, Bloomberg and others are agreeing to give government sources the right to clear and alter quotes as a prerequisite to granting an interview. 
To be clear, it is the bureau’s policy that we do not alter accurate quotes from any source. And to the fullest extent possible, we do not make deals that we will clear quotes as a condition of interviews.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

DC initiative against corporate donations gets 30,000 signatures

Washington DC's initiative 70, the effort to ban direct contributions from corporations (as well as LLC's and partnerships) just turned in 30,000 signatures on it's way to getting on the ballot this fall. A little over 23,000 were needed, so it looks like this has a good shot of getting on the ballot.

Many people have mistakenly assumed that this initiative is directly tied to the Citizens United ruling. The Citizens United ruling allows unlimited donations to certain political action committees (PACs) - dubbed Super PACs - if said PACs do not donate to candidates. The Federal Election Committee (FEC) further stated that these Super PACs couldn't coordinate directly with the candidates, though there's often a lot of indirect coordination.

Initiative 70, on the other hand, deals with money that's donated directly to the politician. What's been happening in DC is that people have been creating numerous dummy corporations to circumvent donation limits to the candidates.

So initiative 70 won't undo the effects of Citizens United. In fact, it would just bring DC up to the level that 22 states and the federal government is already at. But the initiative would help to clean up DC politics and send a strong message to the city's leaders. And the experience and networking gained by pushing forward such an initiative has been invaluable. If we want to take back our country, we're going to have to start small, and work our way back up.