A government of, by and for the deplorables

This opinion piece was written by Gilbert Schramm of the Newport [Oregon] News Times.

I think that Mr: Schramm puts his concerns (mine also) front and center when he says:

Trump’s new cabinet breaks his promises that he would “drain the swamp” and “give the government back to the people.” Unfortunately, most appointees are generals and corporate billionaires that personify the military-industrial complex, whose rising power President Eisenhower once warned us against.

Even though Mr. Schramm used the pejorative “deplorables” in this article (I generally try to avoid such terms since it reduces the readership), I think he has several good points for people to read and consider.

So… Read on…

Central Oregon Coast NOW

Gilbert Schramm is a resident of Newport.

The time has come, the ego has landed.  

Trump is president, and he clearly thinks he is now the sole law of the land. It is time for people to draw the line on this arrogant and false assumption. I sincerely thank the some 1,600 locals who joined millions nationwide to march in Newport the day after the inauguration.  

His apologists continue to insist that we should “give Trump a chance.” It has been several weeks: Trump has already blown his chance. We already know all we need to know.  

Trump’s first broken promise was that he would be “ready to govern on day one.” Instead, he wasted three months of transition time in tweeting and arousing the ire of foreign leaders from Germany, to China, to the Middle East, to Mexico. He has now antagonized Australia. The British just…

View original post 561 more words

Special Report: IRS Scandal Shakes Washington (OR IS IT?)

I just read this blog by Michael J. Rosen about the extra scrutiny of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status. I decided to repost his blog with three sets of comments. My comments give thought to three different sets of questions:

  1. What else besides what we’ve heard about might have helped lead to this “scandal?”
  2. Is it really a “scandal?” Do we know?
  3. Is this issue likely to go away soon?

What else might be behind this scandal?

Besides a lack of training and oversight that we’ve heard about, I think another part of this whole problem is the backlog of applications in the non-profit division of the IRS. I talked to them the other day about a non-profit I work with that is attempting to get its 501(c)4 status reinstated due to the 990-N issue. The agent I talked to said that they are getting over 5,000 applications every month and are working on them on a first come, first serve basis.

The IRS website says that with the small staff they have, there is an even greater backlog on applications than what the agent told me. Here’s that IRS statement.

“All [non-profit] applications are sent to the IRS Determinations Office in Cincinnati. This office receives approximately 70,000 applications for tax-exempt status of all kinds each year [that averages out to 5,833 new applicants each month]. This includes applications from section 501(c)(3) and section 501(c)(4) organizations. This office, which includes fewer than 200 people working directly on applications, is primarily responsible for working determination applications.”

The agent helped me to figure out the current status of this VERY SMALL non-profit that I’m working with (if it brings in $400/year for this group, it’s doing well). He told me that the records show that all of the paperwork at our end is basically complete, but the application won’t be reviewed until the office gets to the applications marked as “complete” as of September 2012 (when he says my group officially completed the paperwork). And, directing me to another section of the website, he pointed out that the office is currently working on applications from early May 2012 – i.e., over a 1 year delay in processing!

The aforementioned web page also goes into more detail, from the official IRS viewpoint, of what happened with the Tea Party organizations. It says that approximately 70 Tea Party groups were put into the in-depth “centralized” review; that out of a total of, currently, about 470 organizations being given similar treatment.

Is it a Scandal? Do We Really Know?

A scandal is defined as “a circumstance or action that offends propriety or established moral conceptions or disgraces those associated with it.” A political scandal is “an instance of government wrongdoing” that offends or disgraces those directly associated with that wrongdoing.
In this case, so far, it doesn’t appear to be a scandal that rises to the level of the White House. According to the Washington Post, based on increasing evidence, the IRS issue is very bad press for the Obama administration. According to their report,

If we believe the agency inspector general’s report, a group of employees in a division called the “Determinations Unit…” started giving tea party groups extra scrutiny, were told by agency leadership to knock it off, started doing it again, and then were reined in a second time and told that any further changes to the screening criteria needed to be approved at the highest levels of the agency.

The White House fired the acting director of the agency [this week] on the theory that somebody had to be fired and he was about the only guy they had the power to fire. They’re also instructing the IRS to implement each and every one of the IG’s recommendations to make sure this never happens again.

And from all the evidence obtained so far, there is no evidence of any connection between the “Determinations Unit” and the Obama administration. So unless there is a smoking gun hidden somewhere, there is no political scandal within the White House. Time will tell.

Is this issue likely to go away anytime soon?

No, I personally doubt that the issue will “go away” anytime soon.

Three reasons:

  1. partisan politics to continue attacking Obama’s executive branch;
  2. long history of spying and intrusiveness; and
  3. free-speech issues.

The first issue is purely partisan. Issues that Republicans think will make President Obama look bad are brought up again and again even when the public, to some extent (but not the base) has moved on. Has the Benghazi issue died? How many times will the Republican-dominated House vote to revoke Obamacare before they give up?

The second issue is spying and intrusiveness that, for the first time in a long time, concerns both sides of the aisle. There has been a long history of the feds, usually the FBI, targeting non-profits. Think of the Friends (Quakers) peace-related work for example or the Communist-baiting of the 1950s. Usually it’s the more progressive, left-leaning groups that are targeted. These groups have a long memory and I think may, in this case, support the concerns raised in this non-profit scrutiny case. And since there were progressive groups in this list of targeted non-profits, both sides have some ammunition to push back against the actions of the IRS.

The third is a First Amendment issue. Combine these IRS actions with the free press concerns over the Justice Department’s review of press reporters’ phone logs; both sides have screamed NO. What you have here are two different departments of the executive branch allegedly intruding on the First Amendment: one department—the IRS—may be attacking an individual’s free speech rights and another department—the Justice Department—may be attacking freedom of the press. Both protections are contained within the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

So no, based on all three routes of concern, I don’t think this issue will go away anytime soon.

Michael Rosen Says...

This week, the US Internal Revenue Service acknowledged and apologized for behavior that had long been rumored. The IRS improperly targeted for extra scrutiny conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.

IRS logoThe IRS did not ultimately deny tax-exempt status to a single group receiving extra scrutiny. Some say this proves that the actions of the IRS were baseless.

The scandal has now shaken the nation’s capital:

President Barack Obama directed Jack Lew, Secretary of the Treasury, to request the resignation of Steven Miller, Acting IRS Commissioner.

Miller resigned and Lew accepted the resignation.

The Justice Department has initiated a criminal investigation.

Exercising its oversight responsibility, Congress has begun its own probe of the IRS scandal.

Obama addressed the nation on television saying, “It’s inexcusable and Americans are right to be angry about it and I am angry about it. I will not tolerate this kind of behavior in any agency, but particularly…

View original post 371 more words

US Congress passes Violence Against Women Act: Article via AFP

This article was first posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 2:12:14 PM.  It gives a very good summary of how the Violence Against Women Act passed and why it took so long.

US Congress passes Violence Against Women Act (via AFP)

After months of partisan delay, the US Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act on Thursday, reauthorizing protections from domestic violence and sexual assault for millions of women. The bill — a reauthorization of legislation first enacted in 1994 but which includes new protections — passed…

About AFP: AFP is a global news agency delivering fast, in-depth coverage of the events shaping our world from wars and conflicts to politics, sports, entertainment and the latest breakthroughs in health, science and technology.

House Republicans Introduce Partisan VAWA that Fails to Protect ALL Victims

NOW Board Supporting VAWA 2-24-13 editedToday, I am presenting a guest blog by my dear friend and colleague Pat Reuss. Pat describes herself as “a longtime women’s rights activist pretending to be retired and currently serving as a policy adviser to NOW [National Organization for Women] and the National Task Force [to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women].”

Pat has a history several decades-long advocating for a comprehensive Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). She first started working on this issue in the early 1990’s.  At that time, she worked as the policy director for what was then called the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund (now known as Legal Momentum).  In that capacity, she worked very closely with then Senator, now Vice-President Joe Biden to write the first VAWA passed by Congress and signed into law in 1994.

This is Pat’s statement calling on anti-violence advocates to contact their representative in the US House of Representatives to vote for the comprehensive Senate-passed version to reauthorize VAWA:

The Republican’s version of VAWA, which substitutes the Senate’s inclusive, comprehensive version of S.47 for a bill that excludes effective protections for LGBT, immigrant, tribal and campus victims, will likely be on the House floor this Thursday.  The National Task Force [to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women] (NTF) and NOW oppose this [House substitute] bill.  We need to call our Representatives and firmly ask them to vote against the House Republican Leader’s substitute VAWA and ask them to vote for the field-approved VAWA passed in the Senate.

Tomorrow [February 27], Representatives Issa (R-CA) and Cole (R-OK) will ask the Rules committee to allow them to offer an amendment to replace the House’s flawed tribal provisions with improved language that will provide effective, constitutionally sound protections for Native victims of domestic violence. Call your Representatives and ask them to tell House leadership to accept these amendments.

78 Senators from both parties and over 1,300 local, state and national professional and policy organizations support the Senate-passed bill as do law enforcement officials, health care professionals, community program and service providers, and the tens of millions of survivors and their families, friends and loved ones who rely on and have benefited from and used the services and resources provided by the 19-year-old law.

It must be noted that after months of tireless efforts by advocates working with the Republican leadership staff, there are some small but very important improvements in this substitute and the bill is not the punitive version of last year’s House bill. 

That said, the [House] Republican version of the bill  fails victims in a number of critical ways:

  • Fails to include the LGBT provisions from the Senate bill. 
  • Fails to include “stalking” among the list of crimes covered by the U visa (a critical law enforcement tool that encourages immigrant victims to assist with the investigation or prosecution of certain enumerated crimes); current law already includes domestic violence and sexual assault, among others, and the Senate bill’s inclusion of “stalking” recognizes the serious threat this crime poses to safety.
  • Provides non-tribal batterers with additional tools to manipulate the justice system, takes away existing protections for Native women by limiting existing tribal power to issue civil orders of protection against non-Native abusers, while weakening protections for Native women.
  • Contains harsh administrative penalties and hurdles for small struggling programs and an additional layer of bureaucracy through the office of the Attorney General.
  • Drops important provisions in the Senate bill that deal with improving campus safety and that work toward erasing the rape kit backlog.
  • Weakens protections for victims in public housing.

We must oppose this partisan substitute and pass the Senate version of VAWA.  201 Democrats are sponsors of H.R. 11, the House replica of the Senate bill as introduced. 19 Republican Representatives have asked the House Republican leaders to pass a bipartisan bill that “reaches all victims” and dozens more Republicans support some or all of the Senate provisions that are not included in the Republican VAWA imposter.

BIPARTISAN ACTION ITEM: Call your Democratic House members to ensure that they will oppose the Republican leadership’s substitute and support the “real” S. 47, the Senate passed bill.

Find out if your Republican Representative is one of the 19 who supports a bipartisan, inclusive VAWA and ask them step up and to oppose the Republican leader’s substitute and demand and support a vote on the Senate bill:

  1. Call or email the 19 (Poe R-TX and Ros-Lehtinen R-FL have added their names) who signed the letter to House leadership. See letter and signatories here. Names and contact information here.
  2. Call or email the 7 Members who voted against last years’ harmful, non-inclusive Republican VAWA.
  3. Call or write the 26 House members who have interest in one or some of the Senate’s inclusive provisions.

Update Wednesday evening February 26:

Thanks to your calls and emails and tweets (or however you interacted with your US Rep,), it looks like our push-back to stop the watered-down version of VAWA is starting to work.

A Politico.com report at 6:48 this evening (February 26) states that “House Republicans seem to be resigned that their version of the Violence Against Women Act is a loser with their own members and are likely to pass the Senate bill this week without changes.”

Let’s keep up the pressure. Call your Representative tomorrow and tell him/her to vote for the original Senate version of S.47.

We Did It! White House ERA Petition Receives Over 25,000 Signatures

Between 1:30 and 1:54 pm EST today the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) ratification petition received the required minimum 25,000 signatures that triggers a response from the White House. This means that White House staff will review it, send it to the appropriate policy experts, and issue an official response in the very near future.

Luanne J. Smith, one of the organizers for the petition drive, sent out this congratulations announcement as soon as we passed the 25,000 mark:

Yes!!!! We have passed the 25,000-signature mark, and with 3 1/2 days to spare!!!! Congratulations to Tammy Simkins, who initiated the petition and coordinated the petition drive, and to the entire team of ERA supporters who have worked so hard to see us reach this milestone!!! If you haven’t already joined the team by signing and sharing the petition, please do so NOW! Let’s get the Equal Rights Amendment moving forward! ERA NOW!!!

And here’s a screen shot at 1:54 pm EST today, February 6, 2013 showing 34 signatures over the 25,000 signature threshold.

Screenshot of "We the People" website showing more 25,034 signatures on ERA petition.

Screenshot of “We the People” website showing more than 25,000 signatures on ERA petition.

Signature number 25,000 was from Knoxville, TN.  Which by the way is rather neat.  It was Tennessee’s ratification of 19th amendment on August 24 1920 that gave women the right to vote. And that ratification vote was by a majority of one vote. So having signature 25,000 come from someone from Tennessee is appropriate.

The ERA petition to the White House will remain open for signing until 11:59 pm EST February 9, 2013.  Please add your name to the groundswell for this historic petition. For more information on the petition, check out my earlier blogs here and here.

Congratulations everyone for all your hard work!

White House Petition for the Equal Rights Amendment: Deadline to Sign is February 9

Please go to the White House’s “We the People” website & sign the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) ratification petition; just 4 days left. Here’s an email I received from NOW and the Feminist Majority indicating that we can make this deadline IF each and every one of us acts now. For more details on why the ERA is needed, check out my earlier blog, “Why We are Pushing for Ratification of the ERA (the Equal Rights Amendment).”

ERA YES antique button

Dear Joanne ,

A petition for Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) ratification is currently collecting signatures through the We the People petition process on the White House website.

The ERA petition has over 18,000 signatures. If the petition has 25,000 signatures by 11:59pm on February 9, the White House staff will review it, send it to the appropriate policy experts, and issue an official response. (Currently, the We the People process requires over 100,000 signatures, but the ERA petition was filed before the increased requirement.)

It is time to get the ERA back high on the national agenda. This petition asks the White House to support lifting the deadline on the original 1972 ERA. Women would only need three more states to get full rights if the deadline was lifted. Thirty-five states have already ratified the ERA. We need you to go to the White House website and sign the petition.

Sign it today. Women have waited long enough for equality.

For equality,

   
Eleanor Smeal
President
Feminist Majority Foundation
  Terry O’Neill
President
National Organization for Women