Stepping up its probe of allegedly improper campaigning by churches, the Internal Revenue Service on Friday ordered a liberal Pasadena parish to turn over all the documents and e-mails it produced during the 2004 election year with references to political candidates.
All Saints Episcopal Church and its rector, the Rev. Ed Bacon, have until Sept. 29 to present the sermons, newsletters and electronic communications.
Posts filed under ‘Our Tax Dollars’
Barack Obama, February 12, 2013:
News breaking out of D.C. this afternoon:
The United States and Afghanistan have resolved most issues and are nearing completion of an agreement that paves the way for an American military presence after 2014 that will include a limited U.S. counterterrorism force and military advisers.
“We’re at the point now where we concluded the text,” said a senior State Department official familiar with the negotiations. “We’re in a period of endgame.” The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal is not official.
After 2014, the Afghan security forces “will still require substantial training, advising and assistance — including financial support — to address ongoing shortcomings,” according to a Pentagon report released this week.
The agreement spells out two missions for the U.S. military after 2014: assisting Afghan security forces and establishing a U.S. counterterrorism force that will be limited to pursuing al-Qaeda and its affiliates.
Three words: Our. Tax. Dollars.
So, Detroit filed for bankruptcy on Monday, right? Then what the f’ing hell is going on here:
A state board on Wednesday unanimously gave the go-ahead for a new Red Wings hockey arena in downtown Detroit to be paid for in part with $284 million in tax dollars even as the broke city works through bankruptcy proceedings.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and others defended against criticism that the $650 million project should be financed entirely with private money because the city currently can’t provide basic services and retirees are facing cuts in their pensions.
Really? Since when are economic development taxes [where do tax revenues come from people?] “private money:”
The Michigan Strategic Fund Board approved the Detroit Downtown Development Authority’s request to use economic development taxes for the project. The board also took a preliminary step toward issuing $450 million in bonds to build the arena, to be paid off in no more than 30 years by the Red Wings’ owner and the city.
You’d think Snyder would at least, at least, wait a few weeks before letting this happen but no. He apparently doesn’t care how bad the optics look of doing this 36 hours after the city filed for bankruptcy. Arrogance and callousness at a level that is truly stunning.
Dean Baker over at the Center for Economic and Policy Research makes a great point here:
In the last few weeks Edward Snowden has been holed [sic] in Moscow’s airport trying to negotiate terms of asylum with various countries around the world. Thus far it doesn’t seem that Snowden has been able to find any acceptable offers.
Part of the reason is that the United States government has been openly threatening governments that are considering offering asylum, warning of dire consequences. Governments throughout the world take these threats seriously.
In fact, governments take threats from the United States very seriously. France and Portugal both broke with international conventions a few weeks back and refused to allow Bolivia President Evo Morales to use their airspace because the Obama administration had heard rumors that Snowden was on board his plane.
Clearly when something matters to the United States government, it is willing to go to extraordinary lengths to get what it wants. And even relatively powerful countries like France quickly bow to its wishes, even when it means breaking with well-established international protocols.
Now let’s get back to Edward Snowden’s efforts to get asylum. Apparently there is a lot that the United States can and will do to prevent sovereign countries from granting him asylum. Does anyone really believe that if the United States used just a fraction of the same power to persuade the Cayman Islands or some other country not to set itself up as a tax haven, that it would be met with a stonewall?
This is absurd. If countries are allowed to act as tax havens against a financial speculation tax or any other measure it is because the administration in Washington is content to let them act as tax havens. When it actually wants something to happen, the Obama administration, like its predecessors, is prepared to do a full Snowden. And in nearly every case, it will get what it wants.
So, through its silence, the U.S. government condones the use of overseas tax havens by the corporatocracy and the rich.
You may have heard about the Black Forest fire burning just outside Colorado Springs. It started yesterday. It has burned roughly 8,000 acres and as of this morning it’s still out of control. An estimated 40-60 homes have been destroyed. We’ll know more when the El Paso County Sheriff holds a press conference this morning at 9:00 a.m. local time.
The Black Forest area is just outside Colorado Springs, one of the most conservative “small government” areas of the state (and the country for that matter) despite the fact that the Air Force Academy and NORAD are located there and government money pours in.
My husband and I watched live images like this yesterday afternoon of million dollar homes catching fire and collapsing in a matter of seven or eight minutes.
This morning, of course, all three local news outlets are covering the story wall-to-wall and the big news at the heart of it is that, according to CBS4 at 5:00 a.m., there are “not enough crews to fight the fire.”
So here’s a shout out to “small government” lovers everywhere. This is small government in action.
I live in Boulder, Colorado, 30 miles northwest of Denver in an area that is tinder dry and ready to burst into flames at any minute. As I write, there are five uncontrolled wildfires burning here. The humidity is roughly 4%, the winds are blowing out of the west at 20 to 30 mph and the temperature is 100 degrees, the highest temperature recorded on this date since record-keeping began in 1878.
So, natch, this makes me feel a whole lot better:
Five wildfires in Colorado in one day, never mind what might be happening in SoCal or Arizona, and the Fores Service has ONE air tanker ready to help?
Oh. My. F–king. God.
I’m really tired of my tax dollars going to wars and defense contractors.
News like this is precisely why I created an “Outrage Overload” category:
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter is defending his city’s decision to close 23 schools and lay off thousands of workers in the face of a $304 million deficit—all while Pennsylvania is investing in a $400 million state prison in suburban Philly.
Geezus. We’ve gone insane.
To understand how broken spending on the military is, read this: Plan to Shut Military Supermarkets Shows Difficulty of Cutting Defense Spending.
Here’s a taste:
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. — Motion sensors and razor-wire coils ring the ammunition depot on this vast Marine Corps base. Sentries stand watch in the lobby of the headquarters complex. Military police officers patrol the barracks every few hours. But no building here boasts the defenses of the giant, government-run supermarket, whose bright, wide aisles are stocked with seemingly every brand of every food product available in America — Heinz ketchup, Oscar Mayer bacon, Lay’s chips — all sold at close to wholesale prices.
The cost of ordering the goods, filling the shelves and checking out customers is all borne by the American taxpayer.
Three summers ago, Richard V. Spencer, a retired investment banker who serves on a Pentagon advisory board, proposed shutting down the commissary at Camp Lejeune and every other domestic military base, a step that would save taxpayers about $1 billion a year.
He called several large retailers to see if they would be willing to take over the markets. None were, but Wal-Mart, which has stores within 10 miles of most U.S. bases, proposed offering equivalent discounts to troops, their spouses and their retired brethren. He figured other national chains would follow suit.
When the Defense Department bureaucracy that runs the commissaries learned of Spencer’s plan, it sounded an alarm among allies in industry and in Congress. A trade group whose mission is to represent companies that sell goods in military stores fired off a letter to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, warning him it would be “ill-advised” to make major changes. Senators and representatives dispatched similar missives. So did veterans groups. As the correspondence stacked up in his inbox, Gates summoned Spencer and other members of the Defense Business Board.
“Richard, my fax machine is vomiting letters of complaint,” Spencer recalled Gates telling him. Worried that congressional anger would doom other Pentagon cost-cutting initiatives, Gates told Spencer to drop his commissary plan.
“Nobody up here [in congress] wants to be tarred as anti-military, and they don’t want to say no to the veterans groups,” said a senior aide to a Republican representative on the House Armed Services Committee who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the subject candidly. “Those guys are organized — and they vote.”
The commissary proposal, as envisaged by Spencer, actually would have provided a greater benefit to retirees. They would have received the same commissary discount at large retailers closer to their homes, saving them from driving onto bases. “Nobody was going to have to pay more,” he said. “It was just a more efficient way to deliver the service.”
The story of how the plan was developed — and how it died — is instructive, Punaro said, because “it shows just how broken the system has become.”
I don’t see how we get out from under this.
Have you seen this headline yet?
Three people were rescued from water after a bridge along Interstate-5 in Washington State collapsed on Thursday evening, plunging cars into Skagit River below, according to Washington State Patrol.
This could be just the beginning. Check out the collapse in public infrastructure spending over the last five or six years:
This is the reality of putting two wars on the credit card and cutting taxes on the rich (thanks George). I.e., we don’t have money to make sure our bridges are safe.
What a way to run a country, huh?
Geezus. Republicans are going nuts over the IRS investigating Tea Party organizations — claiming political harassment — yet in April, 2011 they asked the IRS to investigate AARP because? Politics:
Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee asked federal tax authorities Friday to look into AARP’s finances.
The request was widely expected after the committee released a report last week raising questions about the hundreds of millions of dollars the nonprofit seniors’ lobby gets for endorsing insurance products.
“The facts laid out in our report strongly suggest that AARP, Inc., and its affiliates may no longer qualify as a tax-exempt organization,” said the letter to IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman.
AARP says all its revenue supports its mission of helping seniors.
And Democrats say Republicans are simply trying to punish the seniors’ lobby for putting its considerable weight behind healthcare reform.
Just sayin’ folks. Let’s not forget that the Bush administration did some pretty reprehensible things with the IRS too:
The IRS investigation was triggered by an antiwar sermon delivered by its former rector, the Rev. George F. Regas, at the church two days before the 2004 presidential election. The summons even requests utility bills to establish costs associated with hosting Regas’ speech. Bacon was ordered to testify before IRS officials Oct. 11.
The tax code bars nonprofits, including churches, from endorsing or campaigning against candidates in an election.
Facing the possible loss of his church’s tax-exempt status, Bacon said he plans to inform his roughly 3,500 active congregants about the investigation during Sunday’s services. Then he plans to seek their advice on whether to comply.
“There is a lot at stake here,” Bacon said in an interview. “If the IRS prevails, it will have a chilling effect on the practice of religion in America.”
In July, the IRS warned 15,000 tax-exempt groups across the nation, including churches and nonprofit organizations, to stay neutral on politics.
At the time, IRS officials said the agency also began expediting investigations into charges of improper campaigning under a new enforcement program, the Political Activity Compliance Initiative. Under it, the IRS will no longer wait for an annual tax return to be filed or for the tax year to end before investigating allegations of wrongful campaigning.
Since 2004, the IRS has investigated more than 200 organizations nationwide.
Geezus. All I can say is (1) the dronemaker lobby is obviously spending a whole hell of a lot of money and time in Washington, and (2) the life of my neighbor’s 3-year-old grandson, Noah, is going to be indescribably different than mine was. Oh, and I’ve heard stories about how people in Afghanistan hear a near-constant buzz of U.S. drones overhead. Is that where we’re headed? You know, we sit outside on a summer’s evening and hear a never-ending whurr? And what happens when they crash into each other or into private planes or jets and the debris rains down?
Yeehah! Our tax dollars at work…against us.
You may have heard about the documentary film, Dirty Wars. It’s based on the book by the same title written by one of the U.S.’s bravest and most patriotic journalists, Jeremy Scahill.
It’s on my must-see list.
The trailer was released today. Here it is:
Yo, Californians: Your tax dollars at work. I mean really?
Gosh, who could have seen this coming?
Here’s Oregon Rep. Greg Walden, who chairs the National Republican Campaign Committee (NRCC), talking to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer:
“His budget kind of lays out a shocking attack on seniors, if you will,” says Walden. “I’ll tell ya, when you’re already going after seniors, the way he’s already done with Obamacare, taking $700 million out of Medicare to put into Obamacare, and now coming back at seniors again, I think he’s crossing that line.” Prodded by Wolf Blitzer, who (wrongly) says that Paul Ryan’s budget also reforms Social Security (it actually just cuts taxes and expects more revenue to flow in), Walden says again that Obama is “trying to balance this budget on the back of seniors.“
Shocking, isn’t it?
Then again, if Obama hadn’t come out in favor of Chained CPI, they’d slam him for that too.
Here’s my Tweet of the Day:
The moral of the story: Republican know if they just dig in, fold their arms across their chest, stick their nose in the air and walk away, Obama will cave. Then they’ll ask for more. Obama will say absolutely not but they’ll turn and walk away again; they’ll wait a few months until Obama cave and gives them all the new stuff they asked for.
As an aside, there’s this about Obama hosting a dozen Republican Senators for dinner at the White House tonight but as for progressive Democrats having face-time with him? The invitation has apparently been lost in the mail.
When I think of debtors’ prison, I think of Medieval Europe and the poorest of the poor being snatched out of grimy, rat-infested alleys and thrown in jail because — being dirt poor — they couldn’t pay their debts. And I always wondered about that logic. How in the world is someone who’s sitting in a jail cell supposed to earn money to pay a debt that landed them in jail in the first place? Made. Zero. Sense.
But here we are, it’s 2013 in the United States of America and the Republican-controlled state of Ohio is doing the exact same thing:
The Outskirts of Hope: How Ohio’s Debtors’ Prisons are Ruining Lives and Costing Communities
They are unconstitutional. They are against state law. And yet, debtors’ prisons – jailing people because they are too poor to pay their court fines – are common across Ohio, according to a report released today by the ACLU of Ohio.
Most people who receive a traffic ticket or a fine related to a criminal conviction simply pay it and move on with their lives. But for the poor, court fines and fees may be completely unaffordable. Thirty years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional to imprison debtors simply because they cannot pay court fines or fees. State law in Ohio also requires that a judge determine whether a person can pay a fine before she is jailed. Nonetheless, many courts throughout the state are simply ignoring the law and routinely incarcerating people multiple times for failing to pay their fines.
Over the past several months, I have traveled across the state meeting with people who were tossed in jail because they could not afford to pay court fines, which were sometimes as low as $200. While the details of their stories are different, I kept hearing the same, sad refrain: debtors’ prison has ruined my life and I cannot escape.
Today, in addition to releasing a report highlighting stories of people trapped in the debtors’ prison cycle, the ACLU contacted seven courts that are violating the law by jailing low-income people who cannot pay their fines and urged them to stop immediately.
Those seven courts are merely the tip of the iceberg. The ACLU has asked the Ohio Supreme Court to issue guidelines forcing courts to obey the law and hold accountable judges who engage in debtors’ prison practices. We have also asked people concerned about debtors’ prison to take action and contact the state Supreme Court.
A more apt title for the article, instead of “Outskirts of Hope…” would be “No Hope.” Click on the link (More, immediately above) and read the story of John Bundren and Samantha Reed, two kids in their early 20s who have a nine month old baby. They’re about as down and out as two people can be yet they’re trapped in the debtors’ prison cycle and it’s hard to imagine how they’ll ever get out.
It’s unbelievable we treat people this way. Why not give them a job and let them work off their debt? I mean, this makes no sense. Say one of them owes $200 in court fines which they literally can’t pay. We throw them in jail at taxpayer’s expense at who-knows-how-much-per-day. There they rot and no matter how long they stay they still won’t be able to pay. That’s insane.
Here’s a chart showing our tax dollars (approximately 1993 – present) spent on things like roads, bridges and public transportation:
Versus our tax dollars (1947 – present) spent on the military:
Again, we’re talking some really screwed up priorities around here people.
Hah! Now THIS is funny. Michele — Drown Government in the Bathtub — Bachmann is already wailing about sequester cuts in her district:
Michele Bachmann has taken a fair amount of heat lately for various over the top statements about the evils of government spending, from her false claim that 70 percent of food stamp money goes to “bureaucrats” to her false claim that President Obama and his family enjoy $1.4 billion in personal “perks and excess.”
But there’s nothing like a few spending cuts in your own district to concentrate the mind.
Bachmann is, understandably, upset to hear that the Federal Aviation Administration — as part of its move to close air traffic control towers across the country due to sequestration’s spending cuts — will be closing two towers in Bachmann’s district. And she’s suddenly making sense, putting out a statement decrying the sequester cuts and calling for a more “responsible” approach.
As the Star-Tribune’s headline aptly put it: “FAA tower closings bring sequester home for Bachmann.”
But the point here is that, with some Republicans trying to cast the sequester as a “victory” for the GOP, not even the ardently anti-government-spending Bachmann can maintain this pretense when it comes to cuts that are hitting her district with particular force. Instead, she’s forced to distance herself from them by positioning herself as an advocate for replacing them with something more “responsible.”
[W]e’re not even in April yet and the Tea Party warrior queen herself is already crying out for relief. So, yes, this could prove to be a long game.
Cuts to government are good as long as they aren’t in your backyard, huh Michele?
I can’t wait to see if some of these wild-eyed, off the rails Republicans do a little inadvertent maturing over the next few months.
$2.2 trillion and who knows how many hundreds of thousands of deaths later, this is what happened in Iraq today:
BAGHDAD – Secretary of State John Kerry pressed Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki on Sunday to stop Iran from flying arms across Iraqi territory to the beleaguered Syrian regime, but found him unwilling to give ground.
WARNING: Outrage overload ahead:
Bonuses at Wall Street firms will rise 15 percent this year despite ongoing pressure from investors, regulators and politicians about compensation levels, according to compensation-consulting firm Johnson Associates Inc.
The projected rise in pay would come after a 5 percent increase in 2012, which was considered “disappointing,” Alan Johnson, head of the firm, said in a presentation to the Wall Street Compensation and Benefits Association that was released publicly on Friday.
Johnson expects chief executives to receive pay packages of $12 million to $25 million, even as investors question what they perceive as a misalignment between performance and pay.
Johnson’s projections – based on his work with banks, brokerages and asset management firms – are closely watched on Wall Street, particularly as compensation remains a hot-button issue for investors and taxpayers alike.
We bailed these people out and now they’re doing this?
When is enough enough and when are We the People going to make some noise?
I don’t know what to say on this, the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. I was against the war before it began and I’ve been against it ever since. I thought we were being lied to all along and it turns out, that’s exactly what was happening.
So much misery.
In my opinion the invasion was one of the greatest tragedies the world has ever seen.
(It’s indicative of the fantasyland George Bush lived in when we’re reminded that Bush gave his “mission accomplished” speech six weeks — SIX WEEKS — after the March 19, 2003 invasion. (The war officially ended on December 15, 2011).)
One of the reasons I’m not a Republican:
[Yesterday] afternoon, Senate Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee cast a vote that underscores the genuine nature of the differences between Republicans and Democrats on taxes in a fresh way. They voted unanimously against an amendment — to the Dem budget — that would seek to close loopholes that enable profitable corporations to pay nothing in taxes.
So that way of raising revenue to help balance the budget is out as far as Republicans are concerned but hey, they’re gung ho to cut Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and things like school lunch programs.
Viciously screwed-up priorities imho.
As we know, oil and gas companies are amongst the most profitable in the history of the planet. So why are We the People paying them billions of dollars? Seems to me it’s past time for that to stop. As a matter of fact, I think they should pay us for the oil and gas they take out of our land. How is it that private companies can extract resources from land owned by the citizens of the United States and then turn around and charge us for them? (Answer: Really good lobbyists.)
Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Keith Ellison launched a new piece of legislation that would repeal $113 billion of tax-breaks, handouts, and subsidies for the fossil fuel industry over the next 10 years.
Not only is fossil fuel the richest industry on earth, but any of us who pay taxes write it a hefty check each year. It’s as if we’re paying them a performance bonus for wrecking the climate. We’ll never get to renewable energy if we keep handing gobs of money to oil and coal and gas.
The bill would strip away these outrageous subsidies. As you can imagine, the fossil fuel industry is going to fight back hard, so we need to come out as strong as possible.
Sign the petition in support of this legislation here.
When I hear John McCain urging an attack on Iran (or any other country, which he’s fond of doing), I wonder why anyone listens to him. He got Iraq so, so wrong. As with bankers, there are no consequences.
The Right War for the Right Reasons
The critics also have it wrong when they say that the strategy of the United States for the opening hours of the conflict — likely to involve more than 3,000 precision-guided bombs and missiles in the first two days — is intended to damage and demoralize the Iraqi people. It is intended to damage and demoralize the Iraqi military and to dissuade Iraqi leaders from using weapons of mass destruction against our forces or against neighboring countries, and from committing further atrocities against the Iraqi people.
The force our military uses will be less than proportional to the threat of injury we can expect to face should Saddam Hussein continue to build an arsenal of the world’s most destructive weapons.
sn’t it more likely that antipathy toward the United States in the Islamic world might diminish amid the demonstrations of jubilant Iraqis celebrating the end of a regime that has few equals in its ruthlessness?
What a difference four months makes:
House Republicans will preserve Medicare cuts that their presidential nominee loudly denounced last year and accept tax increases they sternly opposed just months ago in a new tax-and-spending blueprint that would bring the federal budget into balance by 2023, senior Republicans said Wednesday.
I just watched Miles Nadal, the founder and CEO of MDC Partners,
MDC Partners Inc. (NASDAQ: MDCA, TSX: MDZ.A) is a holding company based in New York City, United States and Toronto, Canada. It was founded as Multi Discipline Communications Inc in 1980 by Miles Nadal who is also the CEO of MDC Partners.
They are the 8th largest advertising holding company in the world. Unlike other holding companies, MDC positions itself as a “partner,” taking majority stakes, generally 51%. It has invested in companies in many sectors: advertising, B2B, branding, crisis management, digital/interactive, direct marketing, experiencial marketing, entertainment, investor relations, media buying, media planning, multicultural advertising, PR, product innovation, publishing, social media, strategic planning.
on “Morning Joe” talking about the need to cut
entitlements earned benefits by raising the retirement age.
Nothing infuriates me more than millionaire businessmen who don’t have a financial care in the world, telling me I’ve got to work three, four, five more years before I can retire to a retirement income of something like $24,000.
Silly, greedy, spoiled brat, moocher me.
Oh, and here’s more on Mr. Nadal. In 2011 he got a 278% pay raise: From just over $6 million to just under $24 million.
If schools want to teach creationism, fine (though I pity the kids). Go ahead, but don’t use my tax dollars to do it. Public funds should not be used to promote any religion or religious point of view.
Interactive Map: Voucher Schools Teaching Creationism
This week on Moyers & Company, 19-year-old education activist Zack Kopplin joins Bill to talk about his campaign to get creationism out of science classes in publicly funded schools. He discovered that students attending private and parochial schools in states with school voucher programs were taught creationism in addition to — or, in some classrooms, instead of — the theory of evolution.
Using data compiled by Kopplin, this map shows private schools that accept state vouchers [taxpayer dollars] and teach creationism. Hover over each dot to read Kopplin’s findings on that school. To zoom in, double click on the map or use the map tools that appear in the upper left corner.
Go here to access the interactive map. Below is a screenshot of the home page (oy, Florida)
Remember how Republicans have been ranting endlessly about the deficit and the need for spending cuts since January 20, 2009? So what’s up with this?
New group Wants to Raise Water Levels in Lakes Michigan, Huron
A newly formed coalition is demanding action to raise water levels in Lakes Michigan and Huron.
Restore Our Water International is an alliance of U.S. and Canadian groups worried about declining levels in the two lakes over the past 14 years. Its members represent shoreline property owners and commercial interests.
The chairman is Roger Gauthier, a retired U.S. Army Corps of Engineers hydrologist.
He says dredging and mining in the St. Clair River corridor years ago reduced Lakes Michigan and Huron by at least 20 inches. He says that has combined with a warmer and drier climate to keep the levels abnormally low.
Existing law allows the government to place structures in the river to slow the flow of water out of Lake Huron. But it’s never been done.
I just had a creepy thought. As the effects of climate change become more and more pronounced, “shoreline property owners and
commercial interests corporations” will ask We the People to pay for hugely expensive stuff like this — so they can maintain their lake-front views — while they blackmail us into doing so by saying we’ll “lose jobs” if we don’t.
Say it ain’t so already.