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Oh dear, oh dear. If the IRS rules that KKKarl Rove's Crossroads GPS superPAC is taking part in political campaign activity, not only will they be on the hook for a 70 percent tax bill, they might have to disclose their donors, too. On the bright side, they will be on the hook for a 70 percent tax bill, and they'll have to disclose their donors! Via Dan Froomkin:
WASHINGTON -- A new report from Congress' nonpartisan research arm suggests that the Internal Revenue Service won't have much patience with the argument from groups like Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS that the ads it buys shouldn't be counted as political campaign activity.
The claim that ads attacking candidates aren't political -- as long as they avoid words like "vote" or "elect" -- is key to the empire of shadowy non-disclosing political groups that Rove, the Koch Brothers and other major political players have created.
By insisting that most of their budget goes toward "issue advocacy," rather than influencing elections, these groups exploit a loophole that allows certain non-political groups to keep their donors secret.
The Aug. 30 report from the Congressional Research Service (CRS), first reported by Diane Freda for Bloomberg BNA, reviews IRS rulings on what qualifies as issue advocacy, and strongly indicates that the Rove-style ads wouldn't be a tough call for the agency -- which could revoke an organization's tax-exempt status.
For instance, a recent $4.2 million Crossroads GPS ad buy attacked four Democratic Senate candidates, using the figleaf of calling on them to do such things as repeal health care or "cut the debt" -- as if there was imminent action about to be taken on the Hill.
The CRS report notes, however, that "when there is no pending legislative vote or other non-electoral activity, the IRS rulings suggest it can be difficult for an ad to avoid being classified as campaign activity."
Crossroads GPS publicly released its 2010 and 2011 tax filings in April, claiming tax-exempt status as a social welfare group under section 501(c)(4) of the tax code.
But the IRS has not yet approved its status. Should the IRS conclude that the group is primarily political in nature, the results could be politically explosive. Tax experts tell The Huffington Post that political groups that don't disclose their donations and expenditures to the IRS are subject to a 35 percent penalty on all donations that should have been disclosed but weren't and another 35 percent for the expenditure of that donation.
Let me start by saying that I have never had a lot of respect for Ben Smith. He worked for Politico, for gawds sake, and it's founder, Roger Simon, is the Cowardly Lion version of Roger Ailes. He's not as smart or as brazen, but he's still a right-wing hack extraordinaire, and would never hire anyone who would -- or even could -- put the lie to the right-wing nonsense the outlet peddles. But I digress -- he works for BuzzFeed now. That said, old habits die hard and he just can't get past the right-wing apologia and "both sides do it"
Now that I've got that out of the way...if this isn't the most pathetic, weak, flacid and impotent defense of he-said-she-said-we'll-have-to-leave-it-there stenography, I will eat your hat.
The revelation that Rep. Paul Ryan may have casually exaggerated his speed in running a marathon is the lastest sign that he's a pathological liar.
Yes, actually, it does. Four hours is damned impressive in and of itself. It's pathological to lie for no good reason. Hell, that's pretty much the clinical definition of a pathological liar.
As soon as I read that opening sentence, I knew that things were not going to go well for Mr. Smith.
Consider the evidence: The Washington Post awarded a scientifically-determined "four Pinocchios" to a Romney-Ryan campaign ad about welfare; their convention involved skewing and intensifying the meaning of an Obama comment about businesses' dependence on public goods; and the New York Times, in a headline still visible in the URL but subsequently changed, said his speech contained a "litany of falsehoods."
When you got nothin' else, mock. That's what Smith does with his "scientifically-determined" dig, but in reality, the fact-checkers gave it "four Ponicchios" because -- wait for it -- there wasn't a word of truth in it, including the adverbs, adjetives and conjunctions. It was nothing but lies, from beginning to end, hence they gave it the rating it earned by being utterly mendacious and deliberately, willfuly and blatantly lying. The NY Times approached actual journalism by calling him out for -- you guessed it -- lying in his acceptance speech. "Litany of falsehoods" was actually putting a gloss on the fact he lied from beginning to end.
And indeed, a casual read could mistake this for evidence about Ryan's character. It is, in fact, something approaching the opposite: This is how a bogus political narrative gets built. For reasons that aren't obvious at a moment when policy disagreements on the central questions of taxing and entitlement spending are actually clear, the Democratic Party chose to make its core critique of the Republican National Convention the claim that, as Senator Al Franken once eloquently put it, Republicans are lying liars. Also, as the most-prolific of the fact-checking sites, PolitiFact has it, that their pants are on fire.
I've reread this passage eleventy-billion times and I can't get my head around how the fact Ryan is a Rand-worshiping, pathologically-lying sociopath is not about his character, but is in fact a "false narrative" when the real false narrative is, apparently, any sentence uttered by Paul Ryan. And I'm not sure what he expected the Democrats to do with the dare the GOP threw at their feet when they used a false narrative as their freakin' theme.
The Democrats are hoping to do to Paul Ryan what Republicans so successfully did to Al Gore: To conflate stray real personal exaggerations; rhetorical simplifications; and actually policy differences into an unfair character attack.
That part sent me running for my blood pressure medication. The MEDIA did the number on Al Gore. He DID write the legislation that gave us the internet that allows you to read this post and that allows me to attend a school this semester that is physically 130 miles away. He DID bring Love Canal to the attention of the Congress. He got fucked over by the clowns in the media who decided they would rather have a beer with the dry-drunk C-student frat boy than the wonky and "wooden" Gore. I look back at the eight years of hell they delivered us into and wonder why Maureen Dowd and some of the others -- but especially the catty and hateful MoDo -- who filleted him on a daily basis haven't found themselves hanging by their heels from lightposts.
But the attack on his honesty was an Obama Campaign tactic last week, one reporters should be wary of echoing. Let's look at some of the examples. Among the facts being checked are actual policy disagreements, like the welfare ad. That spot may play on voter resentment; it may not appeal to better angels; and it may overhype an actual policy move with the verb "gutted"; but as the Chicago Tribune noted, there is an actual policy disagreement (of long standing) here over the work requirement in welfare, and an actual White House policy move to offer exceptions to it. The Romney ad contains heated rhetoric of the genre of Democratic allegations that Ryan would "end" Medicare -- but what's wrong with heated rhetoric? Do the fact checkers now also carry thermometers?
The best way for Ryan to have avoided the attacks on his honesty would have been for him to actually, yanno, be honest and not give the Obama campaign the ammunition to fire at him. If he had told the truth instead of lying his ass off every time he opened his mouth, he would have never been called a liar. That appears to be a concept beyond the ability of Ben Smith to grasp. As for the allegations that Obama waived the work requirements in welfare, Smith is a bigger liar than Ryan, and that's a high bar to clear. The waivers were asked for by REPUBLICAN governors and are only granted if the states propose an alternative that they have researched and analyzed and can show will be more effective in their unique cases than the federal requirements would be. Then he executes the last refuge of a scoundrel masquerading as a journalist -- he makes a false equivalency. The Romney-Ryan campaign is lying their asses off, and Smith knows it, but he equates it with "Democratic allegations that Ryan would "end" Medicare," and dismisses both as "heated rhetoric." The only problem is, Ryan WOULD end Medicare as we know it for me and everyone else currently under age 55. People my age have thirty years invested in the system as it is, and he wants to give us a coupon to take to the local insurance broker and get what we can with it, and if we want a better policy, pay the difference out-of-pocket. What he is proposing isn't Medicare, I don't give a fig whether they keep the name or not, it's wouldn't be Medicare.
He continues this line of bullshit for another 700 words or so, making false equivalencies and grasping at straws, anything he can get two impaired neurons around to pretend that Democrats are just as bad as repubicans.
Having made the mistake of reading something scribed by a POLITICO hack before noon, I had to make a choice...I could either start drinking, or I could confront the source of my aggravation. Fortunately, Twitter makes the latter option possible:
One of the great themes in American politics involves national security. Right-wing hawks argue that America must increase military spending to protect itself from its enemies. This is a very common theme, and it works. America spends five dollars on[...]
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This from The Daily Show last night was brilliant. A truer biopic that the one shown at the convention.
Normally, the Wrap takes Saturday and Sunday off, but with the Republican National Convention in the rearview mirror, we have a rare weekend edition of the Wrap to see what, if any, improvement we can see in the fortunes of the GOP ticket post-Tampa.
And, as has been the case for most of the past week, the answer is: little, if any.
Now, a caveat applies. Since the speeches come so late in the evening, there really has only one wholly post-convention day in the sampling, and that was last night. And with that outsized tracking sample that Gallup employs (seven days), we are still at a point where the slight majority of respondents were queried about their preferences before Ann Romney and Chris Christie took the stage.
That said, there is quite a bit of evidence that the convention did not yield an outsized bounce for the Republicans, and will come well short of the 11-point bounce Romney's own campaign was flogging a while back.
On to the numbers:
NATIONAL (Gallup Tracking): Obama d. Romney (47-46)Thus, with three tracking polls, the current average is a Romney lead of 0.3 percentage points. On Tuesday, before the RNC began in earnest, these three tracking polls yielded an average which gave the president a lead of 1.0 percentage points.
NATIONAL (Ipsos/Reuters Tracking): Obama d. Romney (44-43)
NATIONAL (Rasmussen Tracking): Romney d. Obama (47-44)
Therefore, in the only apples-to-apples "bounce" comparison we can make, the bounce stands at 1.3 percentage points. That is, historically, a very weak bounce.
Also, given the trajectory of the data, it is somewhat hard to see how it will grow substantially. The momentum has been with Obama in the Ipsos/Reuters tracker over both of the last two days, as Romney has lost three points since Thursday's release. Gallup has been steady for three days, which hints that if there is any positive movement towards Romney in the last few days of polling, it has been quite muted. Only Rasmussen (perhaps predictably) is seeing real movement for Mitt Romney.
And if anyone needed any further reason to be skeptical of the House of Ras, look at what they released today:
After falling for two straight months, the number of Americans who consider themselves Republicans jumped nearly three points in August.So, in summary, the House of Ras sees a likely electorate, in a presidential election year, of GOP +4. The only problem? Exit polls show that a presidential electorate with more Republicans than Democrats has not occurred in the past 35 years. Add that to a pretty formidable pile of reasons why it is pretty easy to accuse Rasmussen of having their thumbs (and forefinger, and middle finger) on the scale when they assess the state of American politics.
During August, 37.6% of Americans considered themselves Republicans. That?s up from 34.9% in July and 35.4% in June. It?s also the largest number of Republicans ever recorded by Rasmussen Report since monthly tracking began in November 2002. The previous peak for the GOP was 37.3% in September 2004. See History of Party Trends.
The GOP now holds a partisan identification advantage of 4.3 percentage points. That?s the largest advantage ever held by Republicans and the largest for either party since April 2010.
The polling data so far suggests that the Republican convention may produce only a modest bounce in the polls for Mitt Romney.
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One of those classic Daily Show segments where you wonder, Do the targets get the joke?[...]
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"You might as well have watched it on a black-and-white TV," President Obama tells an Iowa crowd.[...]
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