Sunday, June 2, 2013

Part 2: Flaming, Red Hot Crisis at the GOP Scandal Factory

[This is Part Two of this post series.]

Part Two
of three parts 

No, wait...we LOST the election??

Gosh.  How much will it cost to turn THAT around?

Of course, these shabby scandals really are both a tragic eye sore and a pathetic revelation of oligarchic panic.  However, it will be a bit more substantial if we examine three of the most "road weary" cases in a little depth.  While these have been the "red meat" leads for countless, bone crushing, relentless days of "breathless media scandal reporting," the underlying incentives driving such a bold and risky gambit remain largely unreported.  Some are obvious; some are devious. All of them lead directly back to the check books funding the wing nut think tanks, and those checks bear the signatures of the rapacious oligarchs.

Tracking Security Leaks with AP phone records
Benghazi as a domestic Muslim conspiracy
Targeting 501C-4 "social welfare" non-profits for exemption compliance

1. Plugging Security Leaks In The Government

Some highly classified information about exactly how it was possible to thwart a terrorist jet liner bombing appeared in the press.  What was made public did not include all the details of the affair, but it contained enough information to allow an investigative reporter or two to "rough out" the missing links.

The damage was quite material.  CIA under cover operatives had penetrated this Yemeni terror cell, and the revelations appearing the AP more or less directly identified them -- more than closely enough for the bat shit crazy jihadists in charge.  Afterwards, the value of this valuable intelligence asset as represented by these in-place operatives evaporated.  Further, the lives of these valuable men and their families were immediately placed in grave jeopardy.

The Administration was not only troubled by the security leak, but also compelled -- by law -- to discover the source of the leak.  Standard policy requires that a list of people who know about such matters be maintained for exactly this reason.  Someone on that list called someone in the AP.  Naturally, it was necessary to know where the leak was to protect national security.

The FBI did not monitor the content of AP phone calls, but instead -- quite legally with a warrant from a court with jurisdiction -- investigated the list of phone numbers called from the AP phones which very reasonably might have included the specific call which constituted the leak.  If your hair is on fire over the prospect of illegal wire tapping, that would be the W. Bush Administration.  They monitored the content of phone conversations without warrant, not the Obama Administration.

The motivation for "amplifying the outrage" over the legal monitoring of these phone lines is obvious when we recall that the media is owned by and controlled by the corporate interests of the oligarchs [6 US media corporations own the domestic network giants - Read more.].  The "low hanging fruit" was another possible opportunity to inflame the information devoid hill billies with specious claims that the President was acting dictatorially, but the play also included opportunities for promoting distrust of the government to the larger base while offering "covering excuses and explanations" for the continuing deterioration of media credibility.

2. The Unending Benghazi Story

The "feet of clay" for this "scandal" were unavoidably exposed in the constantly less believable flip flops of ABC news.  The "scandal" was supposed to be based on revelations of press release manipulation to obscure an undefined Administration scheme to shield the President after he "ordered" American forces to "stand down" instead of defending the Ambassador to Libya from the attack in Benghazi.

As the "elephant in the living room" with respect to things that evoke the GOP's sheer terror, the corporatists eagerly ordered their media to attach this particular fabricated scandal -- no matter how tenuously -- to Hillary Clinton as a conspiring protagonist in this comical hodge podge.  The increasing likelihood of her campaign for President in 2016 sends spine freezing, electrifying panic through the blood of the oligarchs, hopefully with good reason.

Keep listening.  It's...uh...Hillary's "Benghazi problem." (Image)
While the geopolitical details of the implied conspiracy were never clearly presented, the tale's potential for inciting more distrust in public opinion was simply too appealing to refuse.  However, the "scandal" suffered a mortal wound when the specific email containing these "Administration cover up instructions" turned out to be utterly falsified.  That email never existed.  Initially, ABC News reported that their reporter had seen this email.

The "had seen" part of that claim, once the facts were exposed, was quickly modified to "had access to a source purportedly sharing of the contents of that email," but the thing was, by this point, wallowing in its "scandal" death throes on the floor of ABC's city desk room.  The affair had officially transformed itself from a "deliciously deceptive fly by" to a monumental embarrassment of quickly clotting ratings blood.

When the Obama Administration -- under the pressure of ABC's faux news "reporting" -- had released all the actual emails, the foundation of the manufactured "scandal" fractured and collapsed.

Obviously, if this had worked better, a public opinion reaction would have served to pre-emptively soil the very likely Hillary Clinton campaign for President in 2016, but right here MeanMesa must add a "little something" about ABC's media reputation.  To consider this corporate monster as an innocent victim of one or two rogue reporters in this matter would be a mistake.

A few weeks after the 9/11 attack in New York ABC broadcast a two hour long "documentary" intended to concretely insinuate that the previous President, Bill Clinton, was actually responsible for allowing the tragedy.  The "documentary" was aired without commercials.  ABC "absorbed" the broad cast's estimated $2.5 Mn cost without any compensation from commercial sponsorship.

We were supposed to forget this outrageous editorial exposure and start, once again, to believe that there was something materially objective in ABC's thoroughly biased "reporting" policy and, hence, the corporation's claim for membership in a noble "fourth estate."  We would have been fools to believe ABC in 2001, and we would need to be fools to believe ABC in 2013.

The reporting of the arrogant, duplicitous fabrication of this non-existent email should not come as a surprise.

3. The Heartbreaking IRS Search
for 501C-4's "Social Welfare"

We should begin with just a bit of history, in this case of course, history of the notorious 501C-4exemption clause.  MeanMesa will turn the task over to a nice summary provided by the Wall Street Journal Law Blog. (Please note:  The Wall Street Journal is currently owned by [FOX] Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. Read more.)

The Surprisingly Muddled History of the 501(c)(4) Exemption

Sen. Oscar Underwood (D-Al) source
As the IRS scandal grips the capital, Law Blog wondered about the history behind the section of the tax code at the center of the controversy.

It turns out that the origins of section 501(c)(4), providing exemptions for “social welfare” groups, are surprisingly foggy.

“There’s almost no history on it,” said New Mexico tax attorney Robert J. Desiderio, a former dean of the University of New Mexico School of Law, in an interview with Law Blog.

Here’s what we know.

The roots trace back a century ago to when Congress enacted the Revenue Act of 1913, also known as the “Underwood Tariff Act,” according to Mr. Desiderio and other tax

“The legislative history of the Tariff Act contains no reason or explanation for the exemption. The general belief is that [the] United States Chamber of Commerce pushed for the enactment of exemptions for both civic and commercial nonprofit organizations,” wrote Mr. Desiderio in a book about tax-exempt groups.

The statute, described as a precursor to section 501(c)(4), aimed to patch up a gap in the law and carve out exemptions for “organizations which could not qualify as charitable, educational, or religious, but whose activities somehow benefited the general public,” wrote Case Western Reserve University law professor Laura B. Chisolm in a 1988 article for the Indiana Law Journal.

Over the years, the IRS expanded the exemption into more political territory, allowing 501(c)(4) groups to engage in lobbying and other political activity.

The “notion that the section 501(c)(4) social welfare organization category is an appropriate classification for politically active charitable organizations seems to have originated with the IRS in the 1950′s,” wrote Ms. Chisolm.

She cited a 1955 IRS revenue ruling that was spurred by questions over the tax-exempt status of an unnamed group whose stated missions involved encouraging government to “practice wise economy in public spending.”

The IRS stated that one of its “principal means of accomplishing these purposes is the printing and dissemination of literature devoted to advocating the principles which it supports. Occasionally, the literature may advocate or oppose pending legislation.”

The agency ruled:

It is deemed that the above method is an indirect means of subsidizing the dissemination of the literature produced by the M organization and constitutes in effect a contribution to the latter organization in support of its own purposes rather than a contribution to the recipients of the literature.

Four years later, the federal government codified that policy, assigning the label of “action organization” to any legislatively active organization and issuing regulations stating that an action organization can qualify as a social welfare organization under section 501(c)(4), wrote Ms. Chisolm.

The IRS then loosened the rules on political campaign activity in 1981 with another ruling, which stated:

[An] organization may carry on lawful political activities and remain exempt under section 501(c)(4) as long as it is primarily engaged in activities that promote social welfare.

As Law Blog discussed earlier, exactly when a 501(c)(4) crosses the line has never really been sorted out. “It’s always been a tough question,” said Mr. Desiderio.

While the actual bill may be somewhat dated, the purpose of the 501C-4 exemption clause has been a quietly utilized, ill defined "legislative gizmo" from the outset.  Now that this decade's clutch of "Citizen United eggs" have hatched under the warm rear ends of a notably oligarchic Supreme Court majority, the current paranoid tax collection maelstrom was not only predictable but inevitable.

The aspects of the 501C-4 exemption criteria which are almost narcotically attractive to these modern anti-democracy wealth redistribution experts are two fold:

First, after a carefully manipulated "re-definition" of the already cloudy language in the clause, massive political activity, massive political media purchases and equally stinky "black money" -- frequently from other 501C-4s or thinly veiled PAC check books -- channelled over to obediently sympathetic political candidates have all become "entirely consistent" with the "newly interpreted" intention of the exemption. 

Very much strangers to those "social welfare" interests, these dollars, in the wink of an oligarch's eye, became officially free to purchase the most outrageous, sordid advertisements -- advertisements characterized by MeanMesa as "campaign assistances."  The messages they carry are typically issue of outright racism, incendiary ideology, incomprehensible, arcane and grotesque false accounts of history, perverse religionist "pitches" implying divine or biblical approval of one candidate over the other and so on, but in every case these were such rancid messages that not even the most reckless wing nut tea bag candidate would even consider personally associating them with his campaign.

Second, the identities of the "donating parties" remains undisclosed and legally nonymous even though it turns out that most of the "anonymous donating parties" which contributed to the 501C-4s in question have, in their own turn, still freely deducted their contributions as altruistic, tax exempt "social welfare" contributions on their own tax returns.  If you see a picture in which the average tax payer pays twice, you are "seeing clearly."

The 501C-4 clause acts as a very well Congressionally lubricated, ravenous "black box" into which all these heavily soiled, tax deductible, mean spirited billionaire dollars flow, and from which they emerge as bright, shiny, tax exempt, "wholesome social altruism" dollars literally sparkling with an almost ethereal, virginal, "free market innocence."  Moments after this glacier of cash enters one of these full service "Citizens United laundromats," five hundred wing nut radio shows are proclaiming that the President is an Islamic terrorist and someone other than George W. Bush had looted the economy into its current comatose state.

Heh, heh.  Thanks to the think tanks the talking points on every one of those five hundred "independent" radio shows are astonishingly identical. Don't underestimate the advantage of owning the media.

Meanwhile, the 501C-4 managers are gleefully checking the box on their tax exemption form giving forth a solemn promise that they will not engage in any sort of direct political action.  Why would anyone at the IRS possibly suspect otherwise?  The utterly cynical, tax deductible, anonymously donated, "social welfare"  is, of course, rushing out the 501C-4's door to conveniently invisible boxes to equally conveniently invisible trucks, an allegedly striking example of a generous, albeit invisible and immaterial, "safety net" to those who in need.

Naturally, if you are an oligarch with coup d'etat fantasies of a total economic take over, all this is absolutely nothing less than an irresistible "heroin and cheap sex sandwich" dangling in front of your plutocratic nose.  Actually, however, it is no more than a cheap cover for the oligarchs' real skull duggery lurking just out of sight.

The remaining post in this series has everything to do with skull duggery.

Please visit Part Three, the final post of this MeanMesa series.

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