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Watchdog: Rove-Founded Group Broke the Law By Not Disclosing Certain Donors

| Thu Nov. 15, 2012 1:45 PM EST
Karl Rove.

The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) claims that Crossroads GPS, the dark-money nonprofit co-founded by GOP political gurus Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, broke the law by not disclosing certain donors.

In complaints filed with the Federal Election Commission and the FBI, CREW says that Crossroads GPS—which spent more than $70 million on the 2012 elections—violated election law by not naming who funded Crossroads' ads in Ohio's Senate race between Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown and Republican Josh Mandel. Under current law, groups like Crossroads don't have to disclose who funds their ads if their donors don't earmark their money for a specific purpose—say, for an ad to run on Monday, November 6 attacking Sherrod Brown on the auto bailout. Of course, donors rarely give these kinds of instructions—they mostly fork over their money and let the experts do the work.

But CREW says some of Crossroads' Ohio Senate bankrollers should be revealed because they did earmark their donations. At an August fundraiser in Tampa, Rove told attendees that an anonymous out-of-state donor had pledged $3 million in matching money specifically to defeat Sherrod Brown. All Rove had to do was raise the other $3 million. "Bob Castellini, owner of the Cincinnati Reds, is helping raise the other $3 million for that one," Rove said, according to the Bloomberg Businessweek editor who attended the private fundraiser.

That unnamed $3 million donor should be revealed because he or she donated specifically to influence Ohio's Senate race, CREW contends. "Karl Rove and Crossroads GPS didn't just skirt around the edges of the law; this time it appears they jumped headlong into a criminal conspiracy," Melanie Sloan, CREW's executive director, said in a statement.

Crossroads spokesman Jonathan Collegio dismissed CREW's claims as politically-motivated nonsense. "CREW is a hyper-partisan, labor-funded front group that files frivolous complaints like this as part of its mission," Collegio wrote in an email. "Crossroads is aware of the laws governing the groups and follows all of them closely."

As a nonprofit, Crossroads GPS does not disclose any of its donors. The group was among the biggest-spending dark-money group of the 2012 election cycle. In all, $208 million in dark money was spent during the 2012 elections, according to the Sunlight Foundation. Eight out of every $10 in dark money went to benefit Republicans.

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We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for November 15, 2012

Thu Nov. 15, 2012 11:50 AM EST

Infantrymen assigned to the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, stack before clearing and securing a building, one of the final tasks of Hammer Strike, a brigade level exercise conducted at the Udairi Range Complex near Camp Buehring, Kuwait. US Army photo.

Millionaires to Washington: More Taxes, Please!

| Thu Nov. 15, 2012 7:03 AM EST

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."

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

| Thu Nov. 15, 2012 7:03 AM EST

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 5:51 PM EST

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 5:11 PM EST

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.

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

Wed Nov. 14, 2012 11:44 AM EST

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 11:15 AM EST
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.

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

Wed Nov. 14, 2012 5:07 AM EST

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.

New Group Unveils Its Plan to Get Money Out of Politics

| Tue Nov. 13, 2012 7:17 PM EST

The 2012 election wrapped up barely a week ago, which means that fundraising for the 2014 midterm election has begun in earnest. But a new campaign to get money out of politics has just launched as well. Represent.Us says its goal is to pass the American Anti-Corruption Act, a nine-point plan to crack down on lobbyists, strengthen the flimsy law intended to prevent super-PACs from coordinating with campaigns, and put a stop to undisclosed donations funneled through dark-money nonprofits. (Represent.Us is a project of United Republic, a campaign finance reform group that, like many of the outside spending organizations it takes aim at, is a 501(c)(4).)

Represent.Us boasts a high-profile, bipartisan board of advisors, among them former Federal Elections Commission chair (and Stephen Colbert's "personal lawyer") Trevor Potter, Lawrence Lessig, disgraced lobbyist-turned-reformer Jack Abramoff, representatives from Occupy Wall Street and the DC Tea Party Patriots, and even Teddy Roosevelt's great-grandson, Theodore IV. The group hopes to to convince 1 million American citizens to join its cause, building on popular revulsion to what it deems "the worst political corruption in American history."

After that, Represent.Us plans to introduce the Anti-Corruption Act to Congress by the end of 2013 and rally cosponsors. It's also got its eye on 2014: The group says it will wage a "hard-hitting campaign" against members of Congress who fail to sign on. No word yet on how it would fund its efforts to unseat those incumbents.

Here's the group's call to action: