Mojo - November 2012

Millionaires to Washington: More Taxes, Please!

| Thu Nov. 15, 2012 4:03 AM PST

A pack of millionaires descended on Washington, DC, Wednesday to tell Congress to take more of their money. The Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength, a group formed in 2010 to push Obama to allow the Bush tax cuts on millionaires to expire, are back, and lobbying for the same thing as Congress faces the looming fiscal cliff.

A dozen or so 1-percenters, representing the group's total membership of about 200, are meeting with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle this week to deliver the message that "we care as much about our country as we do about our money," and that any budget agreement Congress cobbles together in the coming weeks should include fat taxes on the rich.

At a press conference to kick off the campaign Wednesday, Frank Patitucci, CEO of NuCompass Mobility, explained why the group is seemingly advocating against its own interests. "We believe we've been able to achieve our circumstance in life because of the vibrancy of the American system we live under," he said. "Right now we're in danger of losing some of what has been valuable to us." He noted that Americans like him often pay lower tax rates than, say a middle-income single mom with two kids. "We're losing the opportunity to achieve the American dream the way we have."

Garrett Gruener, a venture capitalist and entrepreneur from Oakland, California, laid out the specifics of their demands: allow top tax rates to return to Clinton-era rates of 39.6 percent, and create a new tax bracket for those who make over $10 million; let taxes on capital gains return to Clinton-era levels of between 20 and 28 percent; tax dividends at the same rate as ordinary income; bring back a hefty estate tax; and limit itemized deductions for the wealthiest Americans.

The millionaires are quick to point out that they are not just a bunch of bleeding-heart libs. They're a coalition of Democrats, Republicans, and independents who see upping taxes on the rich as a practicality, not charity.

"I'm acting out of selfishness," said Woody Kaplan, a businessman from Boston (who incidentally voted for Gary Johnson for president). "With every business I've owned, customers have been terribly important. If we give the middle class a break, then we're much more likely to grow the middle class, and that will make all of us stronger."

That sounds nice, but what about all that GOP grumbling that higher taxes on the rich will curb job creation? Balderdash, says Gruener. "Their theory is by reducing my tax rates, I'll do more to create jobs. It just isn't true. If I thought they were right about that I'd be on their side of this negotiation. But my own experience as a venture capitalist is that this sort of investment they're talking about, in fact, has nothing to do with marginal tax rates."

T.J. Zlotnitsky, chairman and CEO of iControl Systems, agreed. "When it's time for my company to hire someone, I don't make a decision based on my personal tax rate. It's based on what my customers need. It's whether we see a new opportunity, a new concept."

The Patriotic Millionaires are meeting with nine Dems and three Republican legislators over two days. When asked how exactly they planned to convince the GOP to include the millionaires' plan in a budget compromise, Zlotnitsky appeared almost offended by the idea that their proposal was partisan. "There's an assumption that everyone here is of one political persuasion," he said. "I don't think it's about that. I think it's about putting Americans first. Putting country ahead of our party. The message is that people who are fortunate in this country such as ourselves are prepared to do more for our country. Now it's up to [the GOP] to be patriotic as well."

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How the Israeli Army Used Social Media to Brag About an Assassination

| Thu Nov. 15, 2012 4:03 AM PST

On Wednesday, the Israeli Air Force took out a car carrying Ahmed Said Khalil al-Jabari, head of the military wing (the Al-Qassam Brigades) of Hamas, the Palestinian terror group that governs the Gaza Strip. Shortly after, the Israeli military started going to town on Gaza, again.

And like that, the Israel Defense Forces took to social media to promo the assassination.

The IDF quickly posted a 10-second, black-and-white video of the killing to its official YouTube page. It was titled, "IDF Pinpoint Strike on Ahmed Jabari, Head of Hamas Military Wing," and vividly shows the moment of impact. By Wednesday night the video had been taken down "because its content violated YouTube's Terms of Service." (UPDATE: On Thursday, the video was reposted to YouTube in full.) Here's a screenshot:

Via YouTubeVia YouTubeThis image went up on the IDF's official Facebook timeline, with random Facebook users tagging the picture with names like "dead idiot":

Via FacebookThe update also read, "We recommend that no Hamas operatives, whether low level or senior leaders, show their faces above ground in the days ahead." Via Facebook

And with a message identical to the one on their Facebook update, the Israeli military began smack-talking via Twitter, setting off this feud with the official account of Hamas' Al-Qassam Brigades:

Keep in mind that Twitter feuds are . Via Keep in mind that Twitter feuds are typically what happen between G-Unit and Game, not armies with huge geopolitical stakes attached. H/t Alex Yudelson

Another IDF spokesperson tweet, from earlier:

There was the obligatory live-blogging, with regular updates on the offensive:

viaidfblog.comAlso, updates through the IDF Flickr stream:

More can be More pages of IDF pics here. It seems the only thing missing was Instagramming the air strike, or possibly hashtagging the assassination (the IDF did, however, hashtag the general military operation with #PillarOfDefense).

Watch: Obama Blasts GOP Attacks on UN Ambassador Susan Rice

| Wed Nov. 14, 2012 2:51 PM PST

During a White House press conference on Wednesday, President Obama took a few minutes to push back on a burgeoning media narrative.

ABC correspondent Jonathan Karl asked the president about the likely nomination of UN ambassador Susan Rice to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, as well as the determination of certain Republicans to block her nomination.

Here's video and a transcript of the president's response:

Let me say specifically about Susan Rice, she has done exemplary work. She has represented the United States and our interests in the United Nations with skill and professionalism and toughness and grace...If Senator McCain and Senator Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me. And I'm happy to have that discussion with them. But for them to go after the UN ambassador, who had nothing to do with Benghazi and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received and to besmirch her reputation is outrageous...I don't think there's any debate in this country that when you have four Americans killed, that's a problem. And we've got to get to the bottom of it, and there needs to be accountability...But when they go after the UN ambassador, apparently because they think she's an easy target, then they've got a problem with me. And if I think that she would be the best person to serve America [at the] State Department, then I will nominate her.

Top Georgia GOP Lawmakers Host Briefing on Secret Obama Mind-Control Plot

| Wed Nov. 14, 2012 2:11 PM PST

President Obama is using a Cold War-era mind-control technique known as "Delphi" to coerce Americans into accepting his plan for a United Nations-run communist dictatorship in which suburbanites will be forcibly relocated to cities. That's according to a four-hour briefing delivered to Republican state senators at the Georgia state Capitol last month.

On October 11, at a closed-door meeting of the Republican caucus convened by the body's majority leader, Chip Rogers, a tea party activist told Republican lawmakers that Obama was mounting this most diabolical conspiracy. The event—captured on tape by a member of the Athens-based watchdog Better Georgia (who was removed from the room after 52 minutes)—had been billed as an information session on Agenda 21, a nonbinding UN agreement that commits member nations to promote sustainable development. In the eyes of conservative activists, Agenda 21 is a nefarious plot that includes forcibly relocating non-urban-dwellers and prescribing mandatory contraception as a means of curbing population growth. The invitation to the Georgia state Senate event noted the presentation would explain: "How pleasant sounding names are fostering a Socialist plan to change the way we live, eat, learn, and communicate to 'save the earth.'"

Watch:

Agenda 21 Full Video from Bryan Long on Vimeo.

The meeting consisted of a PowerPoint presentation followed by a 90-minute screening of the anti-Agenda 21 documentary, Agenda: Grinding America Down. It was emceed by Field Searcy, a local conservative activist who was forced out of the Georgia Tea Party in April due to his endorsement of conspiracy theories about the president's birth certificate and the collapse of World Trade Center Tower 7. The presentation also featured a special video cameo from conservative talking-head Dick Morris in which the former Clinton aide warns that Obama "wants to force everyone into the cities from whence our ancestors fled."

About 23 minutes into the briefing, Searcy explained how President Obama, aided by liberal organizations like the Center for American Progress and business groups like local chambers of commerce, are secretly using mind-control techniques to push their plan for forcible relocation on the gullible public:

They do that by a process known as the Delphi technique. The Delphi technique was developed by the Rand Corporation during the Cold War as a mind-control technique. It's also known as "consensive process." But basically the goal of the Delphi technique is to lead a targeted group of people to a pre-determined outcome while keeping the illusion of being open to public input.

How perilous is the situation? Here's a slide from the presentation comparing Obama's record to that of Mao and Stalin:

Slide TKCourtesy of Better GeorgiaObama, of course, has taken no steps to bring the United States under the control of a United Nations sustainable-development-themed dictatorship. (Environmental groups complain that he hasn't even taken sufficient action to combat climate change.) But that hasn't stopped state legislatures and local conservative groups from taking aim at the perceived threat. In May, the Kansas Legislature approved a resolution blocking Agenda 21 from being implemented in its state, following in the footsteps of Tennessee. Rogers, the Georgia Senate majority leader, introduced legislation in January that would have blocked the nonbinding UN resolution from being applied to his state. Among other things, the resolution noted that, "according to the United Nations Agenda 21 policy, social justice is described as the right and opportunity of all people to benefit equally from the resources afforded by society and the environment which would be accomplished by socialists and communist redistribution of wealth."

If it seems as if Rogers is just repeating John Birch Society conspiracies, he is—literally. As in Tennessee, large portions of his 2012 bill, SR 270, were lifted word-for-word from draft legislation prepared by the Birchers.

But as Seth Clark, the Better Georgia volunteer who filmed the Capitol conspiracy bash, points out, Rogers' warning extended well beyond the actions of liberal politicians. According to one slide that was featured at the presentation, "Smart Growth and Sustainable Development are often promoted by NGO's, Chambers of Commerce and [public–private partnerships] that are unelected and unaccountable to the people." In August, when the Georgia Chamber of Commerce handed out its official grades for state legislators, Rogers got an A+.

Apparently the conspiracy is coming from inside the Capitol.

Update, 11/15/12: Rogers defended the presentation in an email to the Cherokee (Ga.) Tribune, noting that the meeting had been requested by constituents. "This is not the first time our office has facilitated this type of request and won’t be the last, I am sure," he said.

Update II: That was quick. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Jim Galloway reports that Rogers has withdrawn his name from the Senate majority leader race.

We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for November 14, 2012

Wed Nov. 14, 2012 8:44 AM PST

Army Staff Sgt. Mathew Fox waits to engage a target in the live-fire stalk event during the 2012 International Sniper Competition at the U.S. Army Sniper School on Fort Benning, Ga., Nov. 3, 2012. Fox, a sniper, is assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division's 3rd Brigade, 2nd Battalion, 69 Armor Regiment. U.S. Army photo by Ashley Cross.

Glenn Beck's New Book Looks Incredible

| Wed Nov. 14, 2012 8:15 AM PST
How it begins.

Glenn Beck's new novel, Agenda 21, is set in a dystopian future in which in the implementation of a United Nations treaty on sustainable development has turned the United States into a police state where workers spend their waking hours attempting to minimize carbon emissions and to have children with as many different partners as possible, as ordered by the central government. I should just end this post right there, really, but the rest of the book's blurb is too good to pass up:

Woken up to the harsh reality of her life and her family's future inside the Republic, Emmeline begins to search for the truth. Why are all citizens confined to ubiquitous concrete living spaces? Why are Compounds guarded by Gatekeepers who track all movements? Why are food, water and energy rationed so strictly? And, most important, why are babies taken from their mothers at birth? As Emmeline begins to understand the true objectives of Agenda 21 she realizes that she is up against far more than she ever thought. With the Authorities closing in, and nowhere to run, Emmeline embarks on an audacious plan to save her family and expose the Republic—but is she already too late?

It's like The Giver, but for conservatives who think the end times are coming. (It's nothing like The Giver.) Beck's novel sounds absurd, but it actually taps into a very real concern on the far right, centering on Agenda 21, a non-binding United Nations declaration to promote sustainable development and global harmony that was introduced two decades ago and never ratified by the US Senate.

Some conservatives, including Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), have long argued that the internationalist endorsement of sustainable development—that is, leaving a little bit of Earth for future generations when we can manage it—amounted to a dangerous step toward collectivism. As Bachmann put it, "They want Americans to move to the urban core, live in tenements, [and] take light rail to their government jobs." This, in turn, has had serious policy consequences at the state and local levels, with activists fighting everything from public transit to zoning plans to manatee habitats under the auspices of taking on the blue helmets.

Obviously in the event of an actual invasion by United Nations manatees, you should disregard this post entirely and go buy Glenn Beck's book.

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Corn on MSNBC: Will the Tea Party Let Boehner Make a Deal With Obama?

Wed Nov. 14, 2012 2:07 AM PST

David Corn, The Grio's Joy Reid, and Bloomberg View's Bill Cohan joined Martin Bashir on MSNBC to discuss the upcoming showdown between President Obama and the House Republicans over the so-called "fiscal cliff" negotiations.

David Corn is Mother Jones' Washington bureau chief. For more of his stories, click here. He's also on Twitter.

After Obama Win, Calls For Secession Pour In (Again)

| Tue Nov. 13, 2012 11:07 AM PST
Confederate flag superman bro

Well, President Barack Obama won reelection. And by quite a lot, actually.

The options for despondent conservatives are somewhat limited at this juncture: They can pout. They can turn on each other. They can keep their heads and plot a 2016 comeback. They can call for impeachment hearings.

Or they can play the secession card.

In the days since the election, the White House website has been inundated with secession-related petitions on its "We the People" page, with concerned citizens requesting the "peaceful" secession of more than half of the country's states. The Louisiana petition has received over 28,000 signatures, and Texas' now has over 25,000. Per the "We the People" rules, these petitions now have enough signatures to merit an official response from the White House. "None of the petitions explicitly cite Obama's reelection as a reason for independence, but all were created after last week's elections," Politico's Byron Tau reported on Monday. "Most of the petitions simply quote the Declaration of Independence in their request to depart the country." Via his press secretary on Monday, Texas governor (and former 2012 Republican presidential candidate) Rick Perry came out against secession while emphasizing his continued "frustrations" with the federal government. (It appears Perry's tone has softened since 2009.)

Nearly identical secession petitions have also been created for over 30 states. Here's an example of one petition asking the federal government to, "Peacefully grant the State of New York to withdraw from the United States of America and create its own NEW government." It's important to note that this petition was created by "C R" in Grand Forks, North Dakota, not by anyone in New York. It cropped up on November 10, and currently has upwards of 11,000 signatures:

The White HouseThe White House(A minor backlash to these on "We the People" includes a counterpetition titled, "Deport Everyone That Signed A Petition To Withdraw Their State From The United States Of America.")

Though the "We the People" petition page is a nice enough idea, it frequently unleashes spates of White House-sanctioned trollmageddon. If the parade of lazily crafted secession entreaties aren't enough for you, here's the Obama administration's response last year to two separate petitions demanding answers regarding an X-Files-style alien cover-up. There was also that one petition asking the White House to start taking these petitions more seriously.