Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Beautifully Dreary Day on the Oregon Coast

My father and I went out to the Oregon Coast, and of course it rained. I actually kind of like beach days like this, with intermittent rain and stoppage.

A recumbent bicycler has himself in harness for the U.S. Highway 101 hill above Manzanita:

Fishing boats at Garibaldi:

Here was the view at Cape Lookout where it was raining:

The beach at Cape Meares:

We spent a good part of the afternoon driving around Tillamook County looking for Dutch Belt cows. There used to be a Dutch Belt herd along Netarts Highway between the Tillamook and Trask rivers. We didn't find any Dutch Belts there or, for that matter, on the beach at Cape Lookout or Cape Meares. After we gave up, we did spot one along the Wilson River Highway going back to Portland. Of course, when we got back to Portland my brother informed us that there is a Dutch Belt herd down at Pacific City.

I don't want to leave the impression we left Tillamook County empty handed. We picked up some smoked clams in Garibaldi and I got this little treat at the Tillamook Cheese Factory:.

Note: this post been backdated to the day trip.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

When It Rains It Doesn't Pour on President Obama

When your friends and enemies start posting the same picture, it may be time to take notice and start doing something different. Last week it was an umbrella. The Baltimore Sun called it The most famous umbrella since Neville Chamberlain went to Munich. John E. McIntyre offered this precipitation:
"Mr. Obama became president by majority vote in two elections whose legitimacy has not been challenged, and he is entitled to the perks that we bestow to our chief magistrates. There is a good deal about his administration that does not bring a spring to my step and a song to my heart, and it would be some service to the public to focus on substantive matters rather than engage in idiotic distractions."
The New Yorker had Obama and the Nixonian Umbrella:

The Blaze had Was It Against Uniform Protocol for the Marine to Hold Obama's Umbrella?

BuzzFeed found pictures of 10 Presidents with Umbrellas and this one of President Obama that makes him look even more ridiculous than in The Blaze:

Zimbio called it GOP Freak-Out: Sarah Palin's Criticism of Obama Over 'Umbrellagate' Hypocritical as Usual, with pictures of a Sarah Palin, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Nancy Reagan all being sheltered by umbrellas. A curious thing in these other pictures is that all the umbrellas are shown being held to shelter both the dignitary and the person holding the umbrella. President Obama's problem may have been a Marine who was too proud to stand under the umbrella. It's a Marine Corps tradition that only female Marines are authorized to carry umbrellas. Or maybe President Obama's umbrella is just too small.

Speaking of which, here's an old reference to Barack Obama's umbrella in a viral video from March 7, 2008:

March 2008 was a simpler time but not so different than 2013. The country had recovered somewhat from the last recession, everyone was disappointed with the sitting President, the long war in Iraq was about ready to be wound down, and Hillary Clinton was on her way to being elected the next President of the United States. It's five years later, substitute Afghanistan for Iraq, and we are in the same place. Or are we? Only the umbrella knows.
Now that it's raining more than ever
Know that we'll still have each other
You can stand under my umbrella
You can stand under my umbrella

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Tea Party Pins IRS to Mat with Reverse Alinsky

Tea Party groups have been wrestling with the IRS over tax exempt status for the last several years. You'd occasionally hear unsubstantiated stories about applications lost in the bureaucracy, inappropriate and invasive questions, and the like. IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman went so far as to categorically dispel such rumors by testifying before a Congressional hearing on March 22, 2012:
"There is absolutely no targeting. This is the kind of back-and-forth that happens when people apply for 501(c)(4) status."
That, it turns out a year and two months later, was a complete lie. The IRS now admits it was intentionally targeting Tea Party, Patriot, and 9/12 Project (Glenn Beck) groups. Bombshell. Glenn Beck's balls just dropped.

Make no mistake, the Tea Party has managed to embroil the IRS in a huge scandal. David may not have slain Goliath, but this scandal is going to leave a mark. It's even possible some IRS officials may have to go to jail. Given that TEA stands for "taxed enough already" and the IRS is the national tax collection agency, this is a major coup for the Tea Party.

How did they do it? At first it would appear the Tea Party has taken its tactics out of Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals, the left-wing radical organizing bible all the Tea Partiers ran out and bought after they heard the winning tactics of the 2008 Obama campaign were based on it. At first look, this seems to be textbook Rule 4:
4. Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.
How it went down was simple. Local Tea Party groups around the country applied to the IRS for tax exemption under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code for "civic leagues or organizations not organized for profit but operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare."

Now, I know what you are going to say, that these Tea Party groups are involved in politics, and what does that have to do with social welfare? I'll spare you the lesson on how civics is about government, how we as citizens relate to it and each other, and how we relate to our elected officials. We're not talking talking about public charities under 501(c)(3) to which you can make tax-deductible contributions. What do you think a civic league is?

But don't listen to me, this is what the IRS itself says the criteria are for 501(c)(4) Social Welfare Organizations (emphasis added):
"Seeking legislation germane to the organization's programs is a permissible means of attaining social welfare purposes. Thus, a section 501(c)(4) social welfare organization may further its exempt purposes through lobbying as its primary activity without jeopardizing its exempt status."
And this:
"Promoting social welfare does not include direct or indirect participation or intervention in political campaigns on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public of­fice. However, if an or­ganization is organized exclusively to promote social welfare, it may still obtain exemption even if it participates legally in some political activity on behalf of or in opposition to candidates for public office. Political activities may not be the organization's primary activities, however."
That negative above in reference to political campaigns and candidates sounds discouraging but there is significant caveat:
"A section 501(c) organiza­tion can set up a separate segregated fund that will be treated as an independent political organization. The earnings and expenditures made by the separate fund will not be attributed to the section 501(c) organization."
Let's review. A 501(c)(4) can:
(A) Engage in lobbying as its primary purpose.

(B) Engage in some political activity on behalf of or in opposition to candidates for public office, so long as its primary purpose is lobbying.

(C) Create a separate segregated fund to function as an independent political organization.
So if your Tea Party group is going to hold meetings and rallies inviting people to hear discussion and speeches on civic affairs and public policy, engage in lobbying for your Tea Party viewpoints, and get involved in a few political campaigns, you're still eligible for a 501(c)(4) tax exemption. All the IRS had to do was review the documents and stamp them "Approved."

This is where the Tea Party pulled the Reverse Alinsky by directly contradicting Rules 2 and 3:
2. Never go outside the expertise of your people.
3. Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy.
What did these Tea Party groups know about applications for tax exempt status? Nothing. What did the IRS know? Everything.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Markey Drops Cooter, Will He Also Drop Coakley?

Ben Jones has been unceremoniously disinvited from performing at an Ed Markey for U.S. Senate fundraiser tonight.

Ben has two claims to fame. The first is that he played the garage mechanic Cooter Davenport on the lovable 1979 to 1985 hit TV show The Dukes of Hazzard. That's become a lifetime occupation for Ben, who now plays country music under the name Cooter's Garage Band, organizes Dukes of Hazzard fan fairs around the country, and generally tries to make a living off his website Cooter's Place. Just a good ol' boy, never meanin' no harm.

Ben's second claim to fame is that he served 4 years in the U.S. House of Representatives as a Democrat from Georgia from 1989 to 1993. He got squeezed out by redistricting following the 1990 census and then lost U.S. House races to Newt Gingrich in Georgia in 1994 and to Eric Cantor in Virginia in 2000. Just the sort of fellow Democrat you might have play at your political fundraiser.

Cooter got himself canceled because of the stand he took against political correctness a year ago during the NASCAR controversy over whether the 1969 Dodge Charger from the TV show would be allowed to take a lap at a Phoenix racetrack. What could be wrong with a car from an old TV show? The orange car has a Confederate Battle Flag painted on its roof. For Cooter it was personal:
"At a time when tens of millions of Americans are honoring their Union and Confederate ancestors during this Sesquicentennial of the Civil War, NASCAR has chosen to dishonor those Southerners who fought and died in that terrible conflict by caving to 'political correctness' and the uninformed concerns of corporate sponsors."
Now, I will point out Team PC was fooling around with Ben Jones's livelihood. Nonetheless, Andrew Zucker, U.S Senate candidate for Massachusetts Ed Markey's spokesperson, was unequivocal:
"Ed Markey only learned about Ben Jones's comments today, he strongly disagrees with them and has asked Jones not to be part of tonight's event. Ed believes such Confederate relics are highly offensive, and should not be displayed in public settings, period."
Is the relic he's talking about the flag, the car, or the man? Only the man can be accused of racism. I'll have to side with Ben Jones on this:
"While it is true that the Confederate Battle Flag has been desecrated by bigots and racists, these groups also misuse the American Flag and the Christian cross in their shameless rituals. The vast majority of the display of the St. Andrews Cross Flag is in a benign spirit of remembrance and reverence."
Don't get me wrong. I'm from a Northern family that saw service on the Union side. I believe we should have made the surrendering Confederate officers who had previously taken the oath to support and defend the Constitution draw lots for execution as traitors at the end of the war, the traditional decimation of the ranks for mutiny. But since 260,000 of the 1,000,0000 Southern men who took up arms against their country during the conflict were killed in battle or died of decease, their ranks were decimated.

Let's take Ed Markey at his word. What about his fellow Democrat and Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley and her two Labradors, Jackson and Beauregard, who are named after Confederate General Stonewall Jackson and Confederate General P. G. T. Beauregard? I can understand a certain ancestral remembrance from a Southerner like Ben Jones. It's all about context. But what's the excuse for an Irish-American from Massachusetts giving her dogs racist names? We'll see how fast Ed Markey denounces Martha Coakley.