"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“The Only Way Victory Can Be Achieved”: Republicans Still Obsessed With Message-Sending

There was a weird little sidelight to the just-concluded mini-crisis over funding for the Department of Homeland Security, which was that the American Action Network, a group allied with John Boehner, was running ads criticizing conservative Republicans for not supporting a clean DHS funding bill, even as Boehner was trying to win them over with a much softer approach. But what really struck me watching this was something about the message itself:

You may have noticed that when the ad says “put real teeth in immigration enforcement,” the image is of a Predator drone, presumably because we’ll be raining missiles down on people wading through the Rio Grande. Which is…interesting. But here’s the text:

“While the threats grow, conservatives in Congress want to beef up our security, enhance cybersecurity, and put real teeth in immigration enforcement. It’s the right message to send to our enemies. But some in Washington are willing to put our security at risk by jeopardizing critical security funding. That’s the wrong message to send to our enemies. Tell Congressman Tim Huelskamp to fund homeland security. Our safety must come first.”

This is a common argument, particularly when it comes to national security policy. “Sending messages” is supposed to be extremely important, and not just to friends and potential supporters, but to adversaries and enemies as well. Indeed, sometimes it seems that victory can be achieved if only we “send the right message.”

George W. Bush was particularly fond of citing the importance of proper message-sending. For instance, here are some of the things he said in the first debate he did in 2004 with John Kerry:

“[Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi] doesn’t want U.S. leadership, however, to send mixed signals, to not stand with the Iraqi people…I don’t see how you can lead this country to succeed in Iraq if you say wrong war, wrong time, wrong place. What message does that send our troops? What message does that send to our allies? What message does that send the Iraqis?…I know we won’t achieve if we send mixed signals. I know we’re not going to achieve our objective if we send mixed signals to our troops, our friends, the Iraqi citizens…The way to make sure that we succeed is to send consistent, sound messages to the Iraqi people…I think that by speaking clearly and doing what we say and not sending mixed messages, it is less likely we’ll ever have to use troops…But by speaking clearly and sending messages that we mean what we say, we’ve affected the world in a positive way…[Kim Jong-Il] wants to unravel the six- party talks, or the five-nation coalition that’s sending him a clear message…You cannot lead if you send mixed messages. Mixed messages send the wrong signals to our troops. Mixed messages send the wrong signals to our allies. Mixed messages send the wrong signals to the Iraqi citizens.”

Now I don’t mean to say that message-sending is never important. Adversaries and allies alike notice both what we do and what we say. But the idea that what matters in defeating ISIS is the message we send them is kind of crazy. There are plenty of reasons why it would have been a bad idea to shut down DHS, but it’s not like somewhere in Mosul a bunch of ISIS fighters would be watching CNN and say, “We were prepared to abandon this war, but this sends a message of weakness. The time to strike America is now!”


By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect,  March 4, 2015

March 5, 2015 Posted by | GOP, National Security, Republicans | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Special Hide The Money Designations”: The IRS Should Outlaw All Social Welfare Political Fronts

If you’re covered in political stink, it might be prudent to avoid yelling “dirty politics” at others.

Lately, a mess of right-wing Tea Party groups have been wailing nonstop that they have been targeted, harassed and denied their civic rights by partisan, out-of-control, Obamanistic IRS thugs (no adjective too extreme when assailing Obama or the IRS). The groups certainly are right that it’s abhorrent for a powerful agency to run a repressive witch-hunt against any group of citizens just because of their political views. After all, liberals have frequently felt the lash of such official repression by assorted McCarthyite-Nixonite-Cheneyite forces over the years, and it must be condemned, no matter who the victims.

In this case, however, the right-wing groups were not targeted by government snoops and political operatives, but tagged by their own applications to be designated by the IRS as 501(c)(4) “social welfare” groups. This privileged status would allow them to take unlimited bags of corporate cash without ever revealing to voters the names of the corporations putting up the money. The caveat is that 501(c)(4)s are supposed to do actual social welfare work and cannot be attached to any candidate or party, nor can politics be their primary purpose.

Forget what the rule says, though. Such notorious political players as Karl Rove and the Koch brothers have cynically set up their own pretend-welfare groups, openly using them as fronts to run secret-money election campaigns. Suddenly, hundreds of wannabe outfits were demanding that they be given the special hide-the-money designation, too, brazenly lying about their overt political purpose. Some even asserted that they were engaged in no political activity, when their own websites bragged that they were.

It was these groups’ stupidity and audacity that prompted the IRS inquiries, and their current hissy fit about the agency is really just a PR effort to let them continue their “social welfare” fraud.

I think of a “social welfare charity” as being an altruistic enterprise, like The Little Sisters of the Poor — not the avaricious Little Koch Brothers of the Plutocracy.

Yet the brothers have created their very own 501(c)(4) charity, which they used last year as a political front group for funneling $39 million into campaigns against Democrats. Interesting, since, the law bans these tax-exempt entities from spending more than 49 percent of their funding on political efforts to promote their “issues.”

Yet, there they are — hordes of political (c)(4)s, mostly right-wing, operating primarily as political pipelines for secretly gushing corporate money into raw, partisan campaigns. Their hocus-pocus lawyers and congressional consiglieres have badgered the IRS into handing them the (c)(4) get-out-of-jail-free card, then defied the agency to stop them as they dump millions of corrupt dollars into our elections.

For example, American Action Network, a “charity” created by Wall Street lobbyists, has spent two-thirds of its revenue on elections, including putting up $745,000 from secret donors to elect Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. How ironic, then, that Johnson is now one of the Tea Party mad dogs howling at IRS officials.

It’s scandalous, Johnson shrieks, that some Tea Party groups have not been given (c)(4) status, because IRS agents have had the temerity to question whether the groups actually are charitable enterprises — or just rank political outfits fraudulently posing as charities.

While Tea Party groups should not be singled out for IRS scrutiny, neither should they be allowed to cheat in elections by shamefully masquerading as Little Sisters of the Poor. That’s the real IRS scandal.


By: Jim Hightower, The National Memo, June 5, 2013

June 7, 2013 Posted by | Internal Revenue Service, Tea Party | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Accidental Disclosure”: Aetna Shareholders “Dismayed” Over Company Donations To Anti-Obamacare Campaigns

A group of Aetna shareholders is challenging the health insurer for donating to the American Action Network and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — two organizations dedicated to undermining Obamacare.

Aetna donated over $7 million to the two groups during the Democrats’ effort to enact health care reform, though the contributions did not become public until this year, when the company accidentally “made the disclosure in a year-end regulatory filing with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.”

In a letter to Aetna on Monday, the shareholders claim that the company did not comply with disclosure policies or inform its investors about the donations:

We believe Aetna is not in compliance with its corporate political and lobbying disclosure policy, a policy which we negotiated and expected would be met in spirit and in letter,” read the Monday letter to Aetna CEO and President Mark Bertolini from Mercy Investment Services Inc. and the Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth, two Catholic groups with investments in Aetna. […]

But in their recent complaint to Aetna, the Catholic investors point to a 2007 letter of agreement in which Aetna promised shareholders that it would disclose all expenditures for lobbying and political purposes, as well as trade association payments and grass-roots spending. The Aetna policy followed a 2006 shareholder resolution calling for the company to disclose its political spending.

“We, investors, withdrew the resolution in good faith expecting that the resolution establishing oversight and transparency would be followed, revised as best practices evolved and in place for reference by the members of the committee preparing the annual reports,” read the letter. In an interview, Sister Valerie Heinonen, one of the letter’s authors, said investors were “dismayed” that the agreed-on policy had not been followed.

Aetna maintains that it intended the funds to be used for educational purposes, yet both the American Action Network and the Chamber are still fighting reform. Just days after the Supreme Court’s decision upholding the constitutionality of the law, AAN announced a $1.2 million advertising campaign urging Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

By: Igor Volsky, Think Progress, July 14, 2012

July 15, 2012 Posted by | Health Reform | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


%d bloggers like this: