Dave has his finger on the political pulse of the nation with the latest results of the Zogby Poll.
Responding to the question what "Most Americans would like to see," Letterman said that 6% said they would like to see Mitt Romney's tax returns. He then (jokingly?) said he believes that Romney has "not paid a nickle" in federal income tax, and then adds "We have a felon running for President ."
That’s the question Florida Congressman Bill Young was moved to ask after reading a letter written to him by Matthew Sitton, a young soldier who was killed in Afghanistan in August. In this powerful broadcast essay, Bill talks about the congressman’s surprising change in perspective, the soldier who inspired him, and how that question needs to be posed to the two men now vying to be our Commander-in-Chief.
BILL MOYERS: Matt Sitton knew the war in Afghanistan was going badly. He knew because he was fighting it. 26 years old, with a wife and child back home, Staff Sergeant Sitton was on his third combat tour there. His third.
Time and again, he and his men were sent through what he called “A minefield on a daily basis.” His comrades were being blown apart. At least one amputee a day, he said, “Because we are walking around aimlessly through grape rows and compounds that are littered with explosives.”
Morale was low. The men struggled to remain alert. Sitton said he asked his officers to give them a break but was told to stop complaining. “I am all for getting on the ground and fighting for my country when there is a desired end state and we have clear guidance of what needs to be done,” he wrote. “but when we are told basically to just walk around for a certain amount of time…not sitting well with me.”
At home in Florida, Matt Sitton had attended a Christian school run by the Baptist church attended by Congressman Bill Young. He wrote Congressman Young and told him what was happening. “I’m concerned about the well-being of my soldiers,” he said. “… I just want to return my guys home to their families healthy.” He ended, “If anything, please pray for us over here. God bless.”
Well, at least we know how Justice Antonin Scalia will be leaning as new cases arrive at the Supreme Court this year. He offered a glimpse into his decision-making process during an event at the American Enterprise Institute. RightWingWatch has an excellent run-down on AEI here.
Scalia calls himself a “textualist” and, as he related to a few hundred people who came to buy his new book and hear him speak, that means he applies the words in the Constitution as they were understood by the people who wrote and adopted them.
So Scalia parts company with colleagues who have come to believe capital punishment is unconstitutional.
“The death penalty? Give me a break. It’s easy. Abortion? Absolutely easy. Nobody ever thought the Constitution prevented restrictions on abortion. Homosexual sodomy? Come on. For 200 years, it was criminal in every state,” Scalia said at the American Enterprise Institute.
Scalia also took issue with justices who try to be true to the values of the Constitution as he applies them to a changing world. This imaginary justice goes home for dinner and tells his wife what a wonderful day he had, Scalia said.
This imaginary justice, Scalia continued, announces that it turns out “’the Constitution means exactly what I think it ought to mean.’ No kidding.”
According to the Washington Examiner, Scalia was asked by an audience member how he stays hopeful in the face of the Obama administration's "failure to leave lawmaking to Congress."
Scalia first responded, "Who says I'm hopeful?" before saying he soldiers on.
"I feel like I'm Frodo in 'Lord of the Rings,' " he said. "The evil eye will get us sooner or later, but it's worth the fight."
Personally, I think Scalia got into the wine for the wine and cheese receptionbefore his speech. His remarks are bolder than his usual partisan, pompous rhertoric. And my aren't we lucky with this windbag on the bench that we're not still burning witches, or any number of "crimes" and their punishments that been vanquished from the books in our changing world.
Justice Scalia's reference to the Obama administration as "the evil eye" is an exclamation point on his career of allowing his right-wing leanings to influence his rulings, and there have been multiple calls for his impeachment. It's well past time we got it done, then he can go peddle his books and criticize anyone he wants, and leave outdated laws in the past where they belong.
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Did you catch this line from Mitt Romney during the debate on Wednesday night?
"The place you put your money makes a pretty clear indication where your heart is!"
This one line speaks volumes about Mitt Romney and his wanting to be President to help America. The truth is Mitt wants to be President because it is the rich man's version of putting on his father's State Trooper uniform and acting like he's "the man."
Well, when he tells the truth in this short clip from the 2012 Presidential Debate, it was the one thing that rang true.
A dark money nonprofit group that has run more than $1 million in ads in the Ohio race for U.S. Senate told the IRS last year it did not plan to spend any money to influence elections when it applied for recognition of its tax-exempt status.
ProPublica first reported on the group, the Government Integrity Fund, after information from television station political ad files became available online (see our Free the Files project), showing extensive spending by the Fund.
The group's filings with the IRS illustrate how "social welfare" nonprofits, also known as 501(c)(4)s, are playing an aggressive role in this election, pouring tens of millions of dollars into races around the country, while taking advantage of the donor anonymity their tax status provides.
The Fund applied for IRS recognition last December and received the IRS' approval less than two months later.
Question 15 on the application asks, "Has the organization spent or does it plan to spend any money attempting to influence the selection, nomination, election, or appointment of any person to any Federal, state, or local public office or to an office in a political organization?"
Much hinges on this: Under the tax code, social welfare nonprofits may not have political campaign activity as their primary purpose, though exactly what that means is a subject of much debate.
Fund chairman Tom Norris, who signed the Fund's application, checked the "No" box on Question 15.
In a statement to ProPublica, the Fund said that "legally, the concept of ‘influencing elections' has been narrowly defined" and that "throughout its existence, [the Fund] has regularly consulted with experienced tax counsel to ensure it is in full compliance with the federal tax laws." (See the full statement.) Norris, a Columbus lobbyist, did not respond to calls.
Ads paid for by the Fund, which ran through the summer, praised Republican Josh Mandel and attacked Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown. One spot features Mandel telling a veterans group, "I think this campaign is all about the past versus the future." A voiceover chimes in: "Josh Mandel served our country with two tours in Iraq. Now he's fighting for taxpayers, fighting for our future."
There are several reasons groups may prefer answering "No" to Question 15. Those answering "Yes" are instructed to explain in detail and list the amounts to be spent, which can lead to scrutiny that slows down the IRS approval process, tax experts say.
"Checking yes is a yellow flag for the IRS, which likely would cause the IRS to refer the application to an agent for consideration and follow-up questions," said Lloyd Hitoshi Mayer, an expert in nonprofit tax law at the University of Notre Dame law school. "There could be donors saying, ‘I'm not comfortable giving to you until I know you are a 501(c)(4) and my identity is protected. So I want that IRS [approval] letter.'"
The Fund's IRS application did provide other clues about its intentions. In one section of the form, the Fund said its budget for 2011 was $78,000. It then projected a budget of $6.7 million for 2012, an election year, before going back down to $50,000 for 2013, a nonelection year.
Mayer said the IRS typically wouldn't scrutinize a group's spending until it files a tax return — and in the case of the Fund, the return covering 2012 could be filed as late as November 2013. If the IRS found that the Fund was improperly taking advantage of its status as a social welfare group, it could impose a fine and make the group operate as a political organization that does have to report donors.
The group's application for IRS recognition was signed under penalty of perjury, but Mayer said it was rare for the agency to pursue charges against an applicant for lying.
The IRS did not respond to a request for comment.
The Fund's application for tax-exempt status also sheds a bit more light on who is running the group. It names four men as board members, including Norris. Another of the board members, Jeffrey L. Dean, referred questions to Jonathan Petrea, who was campaign manager and district director for Mandel when he ran for the state legislature.
Petrea told ProPublica he had no official role in the Fund, but helped Norris find potential board members.
"I was just doing a guy a favor by putting him in touch with people who might be interested," Petrea said.
Norris and the Mandel campaign did not respond to questions about Petrea's relationship to the Fund or the candidate.
Petrea was also previously Ohio grassroots director for Americans for Prosperity, a conservative 501(c)(4) backed by the Koch brothers, and has recently done work for Energy Citizens, a group advocating oil and gas development.
The Fund's ads have been off the air since Sept. 6, according to the Brown campaign. (After that date, certain types of ad spending had to be reported to the Federal Election Commission.)
The group's attorney, William Todd, said he doesn't know about its plans "for future education efforts."
The U.S. added 114,000 jobs in September, causing the unemployment rate to slip to 7.8 percent—a figure not seen since January 2009, when President Obama first took office. There were other unexpected nuggets of good news, too: numbers for July and August were revised upward to show 86,000 more jobs created than previously reported. The numbers could have a crucial effect on the presidential election, in which Mitt Romney has been running on the weak economy.
Total employment rose by 873,000 in September, a significant jump that could help explain the drop in the unemployment rate.
This is also the first report to be released since the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced it had undercounted employment for the previous year by 386,000.
On the morning after the first presidential debate, President Obama mocked the Mitt Romney he encountered last night as decidedly different from "the real Mitt Romney" on the campaign trail. During the chilly morning at Sloan’s Lake Park in Denver on Thursday, Obama touted his plan for restoring the middle class.G
Now, the reason I was in Denver obviously is to see all of you, and it’s always pretty, but we also had our first debate last night. And when I got on to the stage, I met this very spirited fellow who claimed to be Mitt Romney. But it couldn’t have been Mitt Romney because the real Mitt Romney has been running around the country for the last year promising $5 trillion in tax cuts that favor the wealthy. The fellow on stage last night said he didn’t know anything about that. The real Mitt Romney said we don’t need any more teachers in our classrooms, but -don't boo, vote – but the fellow on stage last night, he loves teachers, can’t get enough of them. The Mitt Romney we all know invested in companies that were called pioneers of outsourcing jobs to other countries, but the guy on stage last night, he said that he doesn’t even know that there are such laws that encourage outsourcing. He’s never heard of them. Never heard of them. Never heard of tax breaks for companies who ship jobs overseas. He said that if it’s true, he must need a new accountant.
Now, we know for sure it was not the real Mitt Romney because he seems to be doing just fine with his current accountant. So you see, the man on stage last night, he does not want to be held accountable for their real Mitt Romney’s decisions and what he’s been saying for the last year and that’s because he knows full well that we don’t want what he’s been selling for the last year. So Governor Romney may dance around his positions, but if you want to be president, you owe the American people the truth. So here’s the truth – Governor Romney cannot pay for his $5 trillion tax plan without blowing up the deficit or sticking it to the middle class. That’s the math. We can’t afford to go down that road again. We can’t afford another round of budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthy. We can’t afford to gut out investments in education or clean energy or research and technology. We can’t afford to roll back regulations on Wall Street or on big oil companies or insurance companies. We cannot afford to double down on the same top-down economic policies that got us into this mess. That is not a plan to create jobs, that is not a plan to grow the economy, that is not change, that is a relapse. We don’t want to go back there. We’ve tried it, it didn’t work and we are not going back, we are going forward.
Now, I’ve got a different view about how we create jobs and prosperity. This country doesn’t succeed when we only see the rich getting richer. We succeed when the middle class gets bigger. We grow our economy not from the top down, but from the middle out. We don’t believe that anybody’s entitled to success in this country, but we do believe in something called opportunity. We believe in a country where hard work pays off and where responsibility is rewarded and everybody’s getting a fair shot and everybody’s doing their fair share and everybody plays by the same rules. That’s the country we believe in. That’s what I’m fighting for, that’s why I’m running for a second term as President of the United States, and that’s why I want your vote.