Friday, October 26, 2012

Muzzling Pastors With the IRS

Should the IRS tax churches that engage in politics?

Rick Cohen in a recent Nonprofit Quarterly piece, suggested that allowing pastors to endorse political candidates or speak out on political issues is somehow bad for the nonprofit sector and that churches that engaged in political speech were somehow at odds with the constitution.  I respectfully disagree. 

Every nonprofit lobbies for their party (usually Democrat) in some way. Whether they call it "educating the public" or "informing our representatives", it's obvious which political camp any given nonprofit 501(c)3 is sitting in.

Churches are not strictly in the same category as the mainstream 501(c)3.  Churches are, in fact, a unique segment of the nonprofit sector, protected four ways in the Bill of Rights - freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion and freedom of the press (should they have one). Historically, churches have always been a factor in political activity in America. During the Civil War, it was largely church folk that pressured Lincoln to make the war about ending slavery. Powerful speakers rose in pulpits across the land (even a few brave souls in the South did) to call for the end to the pernicious institution. The Revolutionary War was practically organized in church houses across the country. If the IRS had taken this attitude during the 50s and 60s, Dr. Martin Luther King would have had some difficulty fighting for Civil Rights.  Remember, Dr. King was a preacher.  And it was church people that forced the Congress to take up the issue of Civil Rights - both black and white church people exercising their rights of free speech and assembly.  Churches were burned and bombed, but they stood firm.

And the desire to muzzle political in churches, I have noticed is never applied to liberal pastors like Rev. Jesse Jackson or Rev. Al Sharpton who both speak wherever they want to and have, so far, not left a trail of tax-paying churches in their wake.

Freedom of Religion is not Freedom From Religion. As unions, political parties and advocacy groups speak for workers, population groups and people of various political persuasions, so churches speak for the members of their congregations. To muzzle pastors is absolutely unconscionable. It is to silence people because of their creed and we would certainly not condone silencing people because of their race or color.
Churches are in no way profit-making enterprises. When naughty pastors misuse church funds they should be arrested and thrown in jail and taxed. I know of few Christians who would object to that. When churches profiteer off their members, they should be investigated and taxed like all git-out! BUT to muzzle this country's clergy for instructing their congregations regarding things political is unconscionable and deprives the political process of a key element of decision-making - a conscience.

This attack on churches through taxation is little more than an attack on religion itself.  Like the so-called gay marriage initiatives, the quashing of religious political speech is little more than a thinly veiled attack on the Christian faith itself.  It is all about misusing the "fairness" argument to make the case for forcing institutions of faith out of the public square and back behind the church's closed doors.

From there it is but a short step to forcing the church underground and out of the public eye altogether, as though it were some sort of perversion rather than an expression of faith and belief.

Perhaps we should change the designation of churches to separate them from nonprofits that accept federal and state grants. If churches accept government money, then fine, they need to shut up about politics. BUT so long as a church operates as a religious institution and is in fact, not for profit, operates ethically and accepts no support from the government, then by all that's holy let them speak up and say what they will.

Labor Unions are tax exempt, although donations or payments to a union are not tax exempt.  But then that makes sense.  Unions are designed specifically to enrich their members by brokering deals with employers for better pay and benefits.  While church donations are exempt from taxation, their purpose is not to enrich their members.  Church members don't strike against God or the government for better pay, for instance.

Unions are essentially profit-making entities. They earn raises and benefits for their members. that is their chief purpose. That's a whole different story from churches.

Churches, just like unions serve as a critical voice for their people.  Throughout US history churches have traditionally been the conscience of our nation. Perhaps you don't like churches, hate pastors and have nightmares about the Sunday School teacher who used to wag her boney finger at you and tell you that you were going straight to hell because your hair was too long or your skirt too short. Well too bad. Sorry for your trauma, but that gives you no excuse to silence people of faith, just because you have a problem with religion in general or some religious people in particular and have chosen to remove yourself from their company.

Churches have a perfect right to exist and if unions can do the political organizing that they do, then so can churches. I listened in on an SEIU meeting a few weeks ago. It was little more than a rally for Democrat candidates.  The leaders manipulated the truth throughout in an attempt to frighten members into voting for Democrats. For some reason that's not troublesome, while Pastor Bob's telling his members that two dudes sleeping together is immoral is no matter what some arbitrary law says on the subject is somehow a threat to the Republic.

Turning the IRS loose on churches that speak their mind, is hypocritical, especially when it's Democrats pressing for churches to be punished for political speech.  In the past month, I've watched a parade of liberal pastors appearing on commercials in support of an initiative here in Washington State to legalize gay marriage.  I plan to introduce evidence to the IRS calling for the same level of scrutiny for the churches that employ those liberal pastors that the IRS applies to scrutinizing conservative pastors who endorsed candidates during the recent "Pulpit Freedom Sunday". Oh, and what about the church pastors in this country who accepted "sermon notes" from the Obama administration to guide them as to how to support the president's policies from the pulpit.

What's sauce for the goose and all that.....

I'm just sayin'


Friday, October 19, 2012

Tragedy in Texas - White House Responds

Dateline: 10/19/2012 - The White House

Within minutes of the announcement that the beloved symbol of the Texas State Fair, "Big Tex" caught fire this morning and burned, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney released the following statement:
  • Our hearts go out to the people of the great State of Texas. The president wants everyone to know that no effort will be spared to catch and punish the perpetrators of this outrage. Former president, Bill Clinton, has volunteered to lead a task force of FBI agents and several cute interns who  are looking into reports that notorious right wing terrorist, Glenn Beck has established a secret terrorist cell in the Dallas area thanks to the failed policies of George W. Bush.
The president was unavailable for comment say White House sources due to his not knowing about it, having skipped the morning security briefing to play golf with a Hungarian-American donor. Carney promises that the president will "give a damn" should the subject come up on one of the talk shows he's scheduled to appear on this coming week. 

Big Tex tragedy unfolds.
 Officials of the Texas State Fair have already issued a no-bid contract to Houston-based Halliburton for reconstruction of Big Tex. In a press release to Fox News, Halliburton CEO, Dave Lesar, promised to "Have him back up in a couple of days."

The new and improved "Big Tex" will be made largely of kevlar and concrete, according to Dallas architect/designer, "Ox" Buchanan, who, according to sources within the State Fair, volunteered his services to Fair officials even before the fire was fully extinguished.

Governor Rick Perry announced that he would send a Texas Ranger to Dallas to handle the investigation and shoot the "friggin' little Yankee perp". Minutes after the governor's announcement Chuck Norris called the governor and reportedly begged, "Oh, please let me....."

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Separated at Birth? Joe Biden & Walter

JB:  That Ryan guy really p*&%#'s me off.....
Walter:  So why didn't you tell him to "Shut the h%#$  up?
JB:  I was afraid it would make me look rude.
Walter:  Shut the h%*$# up!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Open Letter to a Liberal Snob

Response to a post on how pointless Sarah Palin is.

"The peasants are revolting!"
I love it when you libs spend all that energy explaining how some conservative or other is pointless. If Sarah Palin is so pointless, why are you guys so perturbed about her? If she's like all the other people over the years that liberal pundits have proclaimed either stupid, trivial or, now, "pointless", you may be in trouble. I read in the Times and New Yorker recently how Glenn Beck is an idiot and stupid and far beneath notice of the author of the piece - though he did manage to notice him enough to write an article about how stupid he is. Next thing I know, the same guys are whimpering because the New York Times bestseller list is dominated by books Glenn Beck has recommended, pushing off all the glib liberal pundits that used to live there in cool intellectual security.

Hey, Glenn has people reading again. He’s not just selling his books; he’s selling millions of books for obscure professors and academics, newspaper columnists and freelance writers. Where's the kudos to him for that! The publishing industry must be loving the sales numbers. They're probably scrambling right now looking for the next conservative blockbuster they can get him to recommend. All the while, you can bet their staff holds its collective pseudo-intellectual nose (not forgetting to endorse those paychecks when they deposit them, though).

From articles like this and others in the liberal blogosphere, it's obvious that you guys really do think regular folks like me are complete idiots that never check out anything but simply stumble around blindly doing as we're told.

Well you're wrong. What scares the willy out of the progressive left right now is that the conservative tea party movement doesn't seem to be collapsing. The mythical payoffs from big insurance were supposed to run out and all those grandmas and grandpas and guys in overalls and feed store caps were supposed to stop coming to rallies once they weren't being paid anymore
What happened? Why are the rallies growing ever larger? Why are we dominating the bestseller lists? Why are news media that offer a conservative viewpoint burying the mainstream media that sits solidly on the left? Why are the incumbents in both parties that got our country into this mess in the first place dropping like flies in the primaries (or bailing out while they can still collect their pensions)?

You may not like us, Bub, but we're real and we will not go quietly into that good night as we were expected to (and yes, we do read poetry). You may think we are just a collection of the most stupid people in the country and that we are being herded sheep-like by golden-tongued radio personalities.

Keep thinking that and you really will continue to be utterly surprised as we stand up en masse to oppose the blind rush to socialism that the left has been engineering for so long.

Once, the lower 50% of the IQ range in this country belonged to the Democrat party and voted blindly because they were told (more like chanted at really) that Republicans were rich exploiters and besides FDR saved us from the depression. Unfortunately for Dems, the conservatives are beginning to dip down into the loyal Democrats for new converts. Simple folks are beginning to hear a coherent message from conservatives like Palin, Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity and others that makes sense to them. The Democrats are doing stuff that makes them so mad, they’ve forgotten FDR and the propaganda about how evil Rush Limbaugh is supposed to be. They’re having a little listen and discovering that the evil conservatives are a lot more like them than are the spokeswomen for the “People’s Party”.

You're losing them and you haven’t a prayer of gaining any traction with the diverse and often very bright set of folks that have taken up the tea party banner. As people grow more angry with what the federal government is up to, you’ll see more folks lose their fear of being seen publicly to align themselves with the tea party. The crowds will continue to swell and the ratings will continue to rise.

You libs remind me of the fat burghers in Europe who lived constantly in dread that the peasants would figure out what was going on and rise up and murder them in their beds. Of course, they were also constantly trying to figure out how to keep the peasants fed (but not too well fed), how to keep them quiet, but busy on the farms and how to work them to a stupor so they wouldn’t have time or energy to figure out how scared the barons and earls really were of them.

It won't happen like that here. America’s peasant class is well fed (by its own efforts), but not so quiet. America’s one of the few countries in the world where obesity is a problem among our poor. It’s kind of odd really.

It is nice that you fear that we’ll murder you all in your beds. It makes for some really entertaining media. We enjoy watching jumpy liberals look for boogers at every tea party rally. Some of you guys have even resorted to manufacturing boogers and taking them to tea parties – I suppose to relieve your anxiety. By the way, you need to work on being a little more subtle when you misspell words on signs. The gun-toting Nazis in the group can pick you out like an orange pig in yellow grass.

I mean after all the tea party people are supposed to be gun-toting Nazis aren’t they? The progressive ideology says so. If the tea party folk aren’t gun-toting Nazis, what else could be wrong with progressive ideology? And that thought is apparently unthinkable to the progressive mind. We see that in socialist countries where the news reports vary widely from actual conditions on the ground in those countries. The elitist socialist will not tolerate variance from his ideology, even in the face of reality. Better to manufacture evidence than admit the ideology is flawed.

People tend to see the world through their own prejudices, beliefs and attitudes. Thieves see everyone as a potential thief. People who love power think everyone around them wants to take their power from them. After all, it’s what they’d do if the tables were turned. People, who think they are smarter than everyone else, tend to view others not in their “class” as stupid. They delude themselves into believing that most everyone except for themselves and their circle is stupid and that they should, somehow, be smart enough to figure out how to make all those stupid people do what they want them to do. They are, after all, stupid and incapable of governing themselves. The ideology says so.

What you've done, though, is finally get the attention of all those folks you thought were so stupid. You see, all those wonderfully diverse and intelligent folks out there who were content to let you guys play power games for all these years, so long as you left them alone to do their business and live their lives, have suddenly realized that you guys are really starting to mess things up. When you start diddling with people’s paychecks, you get their attention. You're taking their money for things they don't want to buy. You're mortgaging their children's futures

And, yes, Virginia, conservatives have learned, to your horror, how to use slogans effectively - a propaganda technique you always hoped we were too stupid to figure out. People with no interest in technology or the Internet have picked up this useful tool and the propaganda techniques to go with it in response to the threat they see from progressive socialism. And they are using it to devastating effect. Grandmas and grandpas are networking and organizing in a way that would give Saul Alinsky an orgasm if we all were progressive socialists.

Ah, but there's the rub. Once again, an enemy of America has misunderstood the character of the nation and badly misjudged. The Japanese did it back in the 30’s. They thought our preoccupation with business and digging ourselves out of a depression and our love for peace and our tiny military, meant we would fold easily once confronted with the might of the Japanese Empire. After all, Americans are far from warlike was the thinking. The resulting war, which had been going quite well for the Japanese up until they won that great "victory" at Pearl Harbor, turned out rather badly for them once Americans got into it..

The progressive movement thinks that free market capitalism is an "antique" notion and that folks will gladly give up capitalism and a few of our freedoms and privileges as Americans - at least a few at a time - in exchange for small payoffs like healthcare. They think, despite evidence to the contrary, that the time is ripe for the really smart people to finally fix things. They see themselves creating a world without hunger, ill health, homelessness or joblessness. What could be better than that? Oh, and the fat burghers who help create this new worker’s paradise will get to keep their treasure and prestige while the proletariat and working middle class and working wealthy will level out into a nice dreary gray sameness under the benign control of the new government. And the so-called classless society the progressives fantasize about will pretty much ossify the classes into just two - the elite leaders and the proletariat.

Imagine the shock when they begin to reach for our liberties and get their fingers bit off.

It'll be quite a shock to the ideology that believes the ignorant masses will go quietly into that dreary dusk of a once-thriving civilization. But, the left isn’t there yet. They’re still true believers like the arrogant Japanese military leaders in the heady days after Pearl Harbor. They didn’t yet realize they were doomed.

You see, we have help coming soon, from a quarter that no amount of central planning can prepare for. Whatever gains the progressives think they are making, whatever powerful coalitions they think they are creating, they are simply binding themselves into bundles - just like the ones I put out by the curb on Tuesday and Friday.

The brilliant Japanese admiral, Yamamoto, said it best when he lamented after Pearl Harbor that he feared that all they had done was “…waken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”

Tea anyone?

Just one man’s opinion….

Tom King
(c) 2010 originally printed in "Uncle Tom's Traveling Salvation Show" - Open Salon, May 5, 2010

In Their Own Nest

More Gloom & Doom for the One Percenters From the New York Times.

A Libertarian Friend sent me a link to the New York Times.  Reporter Chrystia Freeland believes the top 1% of income earners in the U.S. are so busy protecting their own piles of wealth that the rest of us can no longer rise in the world and escape our own class. Predictably, she tells us that it’s much better in Europe if you want to rise into a higher class.

The temptation is to abandon ship.
Well, duh? Europe has more classes than Carter has liver pills. The place is a monument to the class system. A 15 cent raise will get you in a more elite social group over there. She goes on to quote champions of free market capitalism like Karl Marx and several of Barak Obama’s advisors and concludes that America’s 1% oligarchy is destroying the very system that created them. Why she should lament that puzzles me as I thought Progressives wanted a classless society. So where's the need to rise from your class unless you're in a hurry to get one of the higher class statuses BEFORE the Progressive Apocalypse freezes everyone in place.

Surprisingly, I agree with Ms. Freeland with regards to the 1% oligarchy protecting it's own butt. That's what I've been saying for years. What I don’t agree with is who she and the pundits of the NY Times see as the saviors of the middle class.

The Dems had every opportunity to do something about the often pitifully low tax rates enjoyed by the super-wealthy, simply by closing loopholes in the tax codes. They don't. They never do. They spout all this crap about the unfairness of it all and then they sell their souls behind closed doors for campaign contributions, weaving elaborate money protection schemes into the tax codes to protect the very people they castigate publicly. Oh, yeah, they’ll bump up the tax rate all right, but it won’t affect the 1%. They will continue to buy protection for their own fat piles of money.

The ones that will get hammered are the working wealthy – the ones trying to break into the upper income brackets. It’s the job creators that will become the actual victims of all the Occupy/Progressive symbolism. The Dems are not trying to end the class system. They’re trying to make it fair!

And the tea party, the group that most opposes the elitist sweetheart deals the giant corporations get from the government and who believe that abusive financial giants should be allowed to come crashing down instead of getting bailed out by the rest of us when their card houses come fluttering down – we are the ones who get castigated as extremists by both the left and the so-called` moderates in our own party. The Libertarians aren’t any better. They offer us legalized marijuana, conspiracy theories and isolationism and not a snowball's chance in hell to win an election.

The heartland is increasingly left with nowhere to go, politically.

I think we may be at the fall of the empire. The mainstream media and academia all believe we should trade the corrupt wealthy elitist manipulated mess we have now for a big bloated elitist government spouting progressive rhetoric while continuing to support the exact same corrupt wealthy elitist manipulated mess we have now.

The only hopeful thing going in American business right now is a burgeoning free market space industry. I think a lot of people would like to get off the planet, go somewhere and start over and leave Earth to stew in the vast swamp of its own corruption.

I think the private space race may be a manifestation of this feeling we all have that we need to get out of here before it all blows up in our faces. Look at the people that are driving it – working wealthy entrepreneurs like Paypal billionaire, Elon Musk and Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson working with aerospace cowboys like Burt Rutan and Robert Bigelow. Those are the guys that will get squished by the progressive’s misguided efforts to “make ‘em pay”. I think most Americans are beginning to suspect that all this is going to end badly.

Look at all the dystopian, post-apocalyptic TV shows and movies lately. Hardly anybody thinks things are going to turn out well. I certainly don’t. As a Christian I figure Jesus has already loaded up the bus and is comin’ to get us. All I can do is pray daily, "Even so, come Lord Jesus."
It would be kinda fun, though if He had to pick some of us up off the moon or Mars, though when he does come.

Tom (c) 2012

Monday, October 8, 2012

Screwing Around With the Constitution - Is This a Concerted Effort to Suppress Religion

 The IRS recently threatened to go after the nonprofit status of churches whose  pastors included political ideas or instructions in their sermons to their congregations or in their literature, brochures and pamphlets. Cruise the net and you'll discover tons of angry vitriolic calls for Christians (mostly) to sit down and shut up where politics are concerned, calling for the muzzling of religious groups under the principle of "separation of church and state".

Don't get me wrong, I believe strongly in the separation of church and state.  The constitution (the amendments part anyway) clearly forbids the government to establish any state religion and not to meddle with churches governance or the exercise of the principles of any church's faith by it's members.

The Amendment which guarantees these rights, however, does not, forbid religious people or their leaders from sticking their nose into government by lobbying or the exercise of the freedom of the press, speech or assembly.  The establishment clause is a one way prohibition.  It clearly restricts the government from meddling with one's religion, not vice versa.  Free exercise is a right of the citizenry. The government is not allowed to interfere with that.

Pastors, under the free exercise amendment can say whatever they want to, ask their members to vote anyway they want to and even lobby if they wish. If union leaders can do it, why not pastors.  Union leaders instruct their members as to how to vote all the time and nobody's going after them for that!  I listened in to a live SEIU union teleconference in Washington State last week that was nothing less than a political rally for Democrat candidates.  The freedom of assembly, speech and the press allows them to do that.

Trying to say churches cannot do the same thing is at the very least trying to game the system in favor of nonreligious groups and at worst an attempt to suppress the free exercise of religion at worst.  If nonprofit animal rights and environmentalist groups can do what they do and maintain their nonprofit status, churches must be allowed to do the same.

The American Constitution is a unique document in that it protects citizens from the government. Nowhere in there is anything that protects the government from it's citizens.

I'm just sayin'

Tom King

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Disappointment’s Haunting All Their Dreams….

© 2012 by Tom King
The split screen was unkind to the President.
If Mitt Romney manages to avoid shooting himself in the foot and wins this election, then for a long time after his inauguration is over and done, pundits, political consultants and Democrat true believers will be still shaking their heads and wondering how things went so very, very wrong.
After all, they had this guy. They were so certain sure. I mean, how could Obama lose when Mitt Romney had so much going against him?
  1. He is a Mormon. No self-respecting conservative redneck Christian was ever supposed to vote for a Mormon so that meant he would certainly lose the Christian right?
  2. He’s rich. The Occupy Movement was supposed to define Romney as one of the privileged exploiters in the top 1% - something guaranteed to turn the proletariat 99% against him, or so, their Marxist professors assured them.
  3. He presided over the creation of a state health care system while he was Massachusetts governor. This should have turned all the hard right fiscal conservatives against him.
  4. He was the Republican candidate most diametrically opposed by Ron Paul in the primary. The Paulistas were supposed to reject a Romney nomination and carry Ron Paul on their shoulders into the presidential race as a third party candidate and divide the Republican vote. How could Ron Paul not lust for the presidency so much that he would take the opportunity to bask in all that national attention? Surely he knew he’d have the support of the mainstream media. How could he do something as principled as consider the good of the country over his own ego? Isn’t he a politician after all?
  5. He laid off workers as president of Bain Capital. This was supposed to undermine his reputation as a job creator and turn all the unions against him – even the coal miners who could be counted to vote Democrat despite Obama’s anti-coal rhetoric.
  6. He’s awfully white. The minority vote was supposed to be solidly against him.
Romney, like McCain before him, was supposed to be a political straw man; an easy target for the charismatic Barak Obama, the emblem of hope and change, the brilliant speaker and the “clean and articulate” black person. Working hand in glove with the mainstream media, the Obama campaign pummeled Romney’s primary opponents for him while smoothing his way to the Republican nomination – even inducing Democrats to vote for Romney in the primary to insure he would be the candidate.
In focusing so hard on setting up the Republican Party to lose the 2012 election, President Obama’s handlers failed to notice that the president’s policies were a disaster.
  1. The new tone from the American president was supposed to send people into the streets around the world to cheer the new and improved United States foreign policy. Even Islamists were supposed to like us. Instead, if anything, things got worse. We’re hated more than ever. Terrorists are hitting us on our own soil again, murdering diplomats and continuing to blow themselves up willy nilly, even though we left Iraq like we were supposed to. 
  2. Obama was supposed to save us from the disastrous policies of George W. Bush and save the economy. In reality, the stimulus packages did little for the economy besides give corporate bigwigs a golden parachute and jack up the national debt beyond what anyone can imagine and put us heavily into debt to China, which doesn’t really like us much. Unemployment is higher than any time under President Bush and persisted throughout the Obama administration. The economy is relentlessly bad and small business has pretty much lost hope.
  3. Obama was supposed to unite America and end partisanship in a burst of rainbows and unicorns. Instead, the country is more sharply divided along political lines than it has been since 1859 and we all know what started up in 1861. I saw a political cartoon the other day showing a small businessman boarding up his windows “in case Obama is re-elected”. He should probably go ahead and keep them boarded up if Romney is elected. It could get ugly!
  4. Obama was supposed to close Gitmo and end the war and stuff. Gitmo is still open; troops in Iraq went from being soldiers to “advisors as though that counts as withdrawing. We’re mired in Afghanistan under rules of engagement reminiscent of those that hamstrung G.I.’s in the Vietnam era. Obama, almost reluctantly and at great personal risk to his political career, ordered Seals to capture Osama(with a “U”) Bin Laden, then saw his staff leak so much information that it compromised the security of intelligence assets, got people arrested and probably more than a few killed. A helicopter full of Seals wound up shot down shortly after the operation. The timing was more than a little troubling.
  5. Obama was supposed to give us universal health care and lower the debt in the process. Ironically he did get the bill passed, but the whole “you can’t see what’s in it till we pass it” strategy left Americans deeply suspicious of the bill and rightly so. Reading the bill brought forth a litany of horrors that shocked the economy into inactivity. Homeowners who were supposed to not lose their homes lost them anyway. Small business took cover and stopped creating jobs. Corporate giants chose to sit on their piles of money till the dust settles, if it ever does.
  6. Obama was supposed to collapse the economy by overloading the government with entitlement spending. The American economy proved more resilient than Obama advisors Bill Ayers or Frances Fox Piven counted on and the Progressive Millennium did not arise from the ashes of capitalism like it was supposed to.
  7. He was supposed to bring true equality and opportunity to all minority Americans. They were supposed to march lock step to the polls because Obama was a man of color like them. In his first term he became a man at odds with the church that the majority of members of one of those “reliable” minorities belong to; a man who is being burned in effigy by mobs of the minority whose schools he attended as a child; a man who has done more to increase the numbers of his own ethnic group who are joining the Republican Party, the tea party and other conservative groups than any president in history; a man on whose watch saw black unemployment rise to almost double the unemployment rate of the general population. Between inflation and falling wages, guess who got hit the hardest by the recession?
  8. Finally, the mainstream media was supposed to make this election a walk in the park. Unfortunately for the president, the failures of his administration have left blood in the water and reporters are more closely kin to sharks than sheep. If he looks like he’s losing, the MSM will rush it’s armies of pundits to the nearest microphones and get it on record that they knew Obama was toast long before the election.
The president’s mistake was confusing sheep with sharks, cats with dogs and freeloaders with fans. The media smells blood and circles the source in a feeding frenzy. The almost-feline prides of pundits wander away to look for someplace where they will be better fed and will look more attractive. The mob will turn on him because they expected free housing, free food and their car payments to be covered with cash from the Obama stash. All they got were free cell phones.
Seriously, there could be pitchforks!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Cut-Rate Community Organizing Disrupts Traditional Political Advocacy

Even the Anarchists are whining. The traditional methods of grass roots organizing are being challenged by the low cost community organizaing tools being offered by the Internet and the new technology.  Here's the problem as they see it. 

Advocacy groups with absurdly small budgets can have a surprisingly large impact on public opinion, on the vote and on the actions of politicians.  Where once large budget political groups could virtually buy themselves a grassroots movement, the new amazingly cheap communications technology has muddied the water with second opinions.

There is an old adage that "What is "sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander."  When the Internet first appeared, pundits feared that the web would intrude into our lives in a downright Orwellian fashion.  To their surprise, the Wild West country of the World Wide Web, rather than supressing opinion and free expression, actually encouraged an incredible outburst of creativity, free speech and political debate. It seems few people care whether or not Big Brother is watching all this (and he probably is) Talented individuals have proved capable of influencing public opionion profoundly, creating high quality films, essays and promotional pieces that regularly get millions of viewers from being passed around on Youtube, Facebook and talked about on Twitter.  These rogue public opinion shapers are able to bypass all the traditional filters like network news media, editorial boards and publishers and speak directly to the public.  It's little wonder that the leaders of last century's great political movements are 'disturbed'.  All the tools they have worked so hard to establish control over are suddenly becoming obsolete. 

Technology has had a powerfully disruptive effect on good old boy networks everywhere, whether they be corrupt county judges and their cronies, unions, corporations, anarchists, Marxist progressives or the local garden club. I've been involved for some years with a small npo that teaches other small nonprofits how to do what I call "fund-raising without permission". This group helps train and organize collaborative projects that skirt the traditional "permission of the local elders" track that for decades has limited the numbers and types of charitable activities that are conducted locally. If you didn't have the blessing of the local equivalent of the Skull & Bones Society, you just couldn't raise money for your cause.
After almost 15 years of teaching grant-writing and community organizing, things have changed dramatically in the area. One bank complained that local groups were creating "too much affordable housing". Others complained that there were too many nonprofits in town for them to control. City officials, on finding out a group had applied for funds to develop affordable senior housing in a town that advertised itself as Texas' first 'certified retirement city' was quite upset. "We don't want to attract THOSE kinds of retirees!"

One group I worked with was actually able to co-opt a member of the ruling elite who called in a favor and got us federal funding for a transit project that helped people with disabilities get home from second shift jobs. Many such things were done that would have been impossible without the Internet and the technological tools that have burst upon our culture in the past couple of decades.

But as I said what is sauce for the goose......

As we've gained access to new more sophisticated communication resources, talented organizers have risen who care about doing what's good for the community. We work across political lines without stopping to ask who among us are Republicans or Democrats. The question, in an organization with an absurdly small budget tends to be, not what is good for my union, my party or my company, but what is good for my children, my community, the poor, people with disabilities or our seniors.

The troublesome Tea Party rose so quickly because of the Internet and social media. Social media provided a perfect organizing tool. Whatever you might think about the values and beliefs of the Tea Party, it is as thoroughly grass roots an organization as you'll find. If you don't believe me, check Craigslist under "nonprofit jobs" and see how many "re-elect Obama" paid jobs are being offered by organizations like SEIU and ACORN (or whatever it's calling itself now) versus how many paid "Elect Romney" jobs are being offered by the Tea Party. Hint: I have yet to find a single paid Tea Party job and I've looked.

I do agree that the new low-cost advocacy is going to be a disruptive development, especially for those with powerful ideologies. The ability of poorly funded groups to slug it out with massively funded political action committiees dilutes the power of the pursestrings to some extent. It's not entirely gone, but as an ever-larger segment of the population becomes tech-savvy, it's only goint to make political cow-herding more difficult. Demographics that certain political groups have always found "reliable" are no longer reliable as the Republicans found out in the last election when they pushed a moderate onto their conservative base and expected them to show up at the polls and vote as instructed. The Obama administration is discovering to its dismay this go-round that it's base is beginning to think for itself and may not just pull the lever because they've been told to.

As in every new cultural upheaval, there is potential for great good and great evil. If the wise amongst us don't keep their heads and learn to use these new tools for the greater good; if they keep using the old kiss some babies and vote the graveyard tactics, things will blow up in their faces.

And perhaps it's a good thing if they do. And perhaps with access to a better understanding of history, we footsoldiers in the infowars won't wind up in a political version of the first World War where the generals, using the tactics of the 18th century, marched blindly obedient soldirs into the guns of the 20th century.

Hopefully, we're smarter than that these days.We certainly have access to better quality information and organizational tools than we ever have in the history of the world. . One wonders whether the next war will be fought to preserve the freedom we've come to enjoy on the World Wide Web.

Tom King