As the murder trial for George Zimmerman begins, his father has released an emotional and highly unusual e-book, publicly opining on all aspects of the case. The book by Robert Zimmerman Sr., called “Florida v. Zimmerman: Uncovering the Malicious Prosecution of my Son, George” was released today on Amazon for $3.99.
The most striking chapter is called “Who Are The True Racists,” an apparent effort to rebut claims that his son’s actions were racially motivated.
Previously, Zimmerman Sr. “believed generally racism was a thing of the past.” He says that, personally, he hadn’t encountered much racism, even though his wife is Hispanic. But after his son shot and killed Trayvon Martin, however, Zimmerman learned that racism is “flourishing at the insistence of some in the African American Community.” He then goes on to list various black leaders and organizations that he believes are racist:
Congressional Black Caucus. “[A] pathetic, self-serving group of racists… advancing their purely racist agenda.” He later adds that “all members of Congress should be ashamed of the Congressional Black Caucus, as should be their constituents.” And finally: “They are truly a disgrace to all Americans.”
The NAACP. “[S]imply promotes racism and hatred for their own, primarily finical, interests” and “without prejudice and racial divide, the NAACP would simply cease to exist.”
NAACP President Benjamin Jealous. “[W]hat I would expect of a racist.”
Trayvon Martin’s funeral director. A “racial activist and former head of the local NAACP.”
Benjamin Crump, Natialie Jackson and Darrly Parks, attorneys for Travyon Martin’s family. “The scheme team.”
The National Basketball Players Association.
Black Chamber of Commerce.
National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers.
National Black United Fund.
United Negro College Fund.
While stopping short of explicitly calling President Obama a racist, Zimmerman Sr. does say that Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have “shamelessly” sought to exploit his son’s case “to obtain great advantage in the African-American community.”
Zimmerman Sr. says that because of Holder’s decision to investigate whether Trayvon Martin’s death violated federal civil rights laws, the FBI did not have “adequate resources to investigate clearly identified potential terrorist [sic] in the Boston area.” Now, “tragically, we have suffered the consequences of Mr. Holder’s politically motivated decisions.”
Let’s be clear here, Glenn Beck wants to replace his former Fox News colleagues as the most outrageous commentator in the media. His brand of manufactured outrage sells and believe me he’s selling and his audience is buying: his books, lectures, rallies and so on. Having said that, what blows my mind is that millions of people listen to this clown and believes every word he utters. To that, I say: Yikes!
“They are a joke, and an affront to everything that Martin Luther King and anybody who ever… Booker T. Washington, Frederick Douglass, you are an affront to their memory,” Beck said.
While discussing the IRS scandal, Beck hurled insults at the Obama administration and the NAACP, saying the White House was concentrating on revenge and that the century-old African-American organization was illegitimate.
Beck went on to try to drive his point home with an even stranger defense, asserting that 20 percent of lynchings performed by the Ku Klux Klan were of white people–a point he apparently “hates to keep bringing up.” He then went on to compare those white people who were lynched to members of the Tea Party.
“You know what, I contend the white people that were lynched are exactly the kind of people that would be in the Tea Party today,” he said.
I absolutely agree with former NAACP Chair, Julian Bond. This entire faux outrage fiasco is designed to make the president look bad. That has been the objective of the GOP since Tuesday, January 20th, 2009.
As my colleague Egberto Willies wrote on Tuesday, this whole tempest in a teacup over the IRS scrutiny of groups who used “tea party” or “patriot” in their names is foolish. He is correct in stating that the IRS was well within its boundaries and, indeed, was doing exactly what it should have been doing. The granting of a 501(c) status is a very big deal. When I was on the staff of the one of the largest Pagan churches in the country, it took us years to be approved for that tax-free status. The IRS doesn’t hand those exemptions out like candy: you must prove that you fit the qualifications. Most of the Tea Party groups most certainly did not, not if they were engaged in politics.
We are not the only ones who think that the IRS was doing its job, either. Former NAACP Chairman, Julian Bond, told Thomas Roberts of MSNBC:
“I think it’s entirely legitimate to look at the tea party. Here are a group of people who are admittedly racist, who are overtly political, who’ve tried as best they can to harm President Obama in every way they can.”
Mr. Bond found himself in a similar situation back in 2004 when, after a speech he’d given criticizing then-President George Bush, he received a letter from the IRS advising him that the NAACP was being investigated because of what he said. He thought that he was exercising his right to free speech but, as some of us know, criticism of Bush was not covered by that right.
But criticism of Obama? Well, that’s an entirely different matter. We’ve seen it time and again: Tea Party “patriots” with outrageous signs saying horrible things about a duly elected president. And these are most definitely not non-political groups. As Mr. Bond noted:
“They are the Taliban wing of American politics. We all ought to be a little worried about them.”
When Roberts asked Bond if that wasn’t a bit harsh – calling the TP the “Taliban wing” of American politics – Bond replied that it wasn’t at all too harsh and that we should all be concerned about their influence. He did say that it was wrong of the IRS to be so heavy-handed and chided them for not explaining their actions better. But Bond was adamant that this situation has no parallel to the targeting of the NAACP in 2004.
Now a liberal group called Progress Texas has come forward saying that they received the same level of scrutiny that the Tea Party groups did. Their executive director, Ed Espinoza, said in a statement:
“Progress Texas and the Tea Party strongly disagree on the role of government. Yet, when we applied for tax-exempt status, Progress Texas received the same type of additional scrutiny that Tea Party groups are complaining about. The similar treatment indicates the IRS was likely addressing a flood of 501(c)4 applications after Citizens United, and undermines the paranoid notion that Tea Party groups were singled out.”
Exactly. This entire “scandal” is being blown up out of all proportion. The IRS, the agency that collects the taxes for the American people to run our government, should be wary of groups that apply for 501(c) status. Even more so when the applicants have been so brazen about its involvement in politics. This faux outrage is silly. The IRS was just doing its job and the Tea Party groups are doing what they do: blame the government and whine about taxes. Same as it ever was.
Under George W. Bush, it went after the NAACP, Greenpeace and even a liberal church
While few are defending the Internal Revenue Service for targeting some 300 conservative groups, there are two critical pieces of context missing from the conventional wisdom on the “scandal.” First, at least from what we know so far, the groups were not targeted in a political vendetta — but rather were executing a makeshift enforcement test (an ugly one, mind you) for IRS employees tasked with separating political groups not allowed to claim tax-exempt status, from bona fide social welfare organizations. Employees are given almost zero official guidance on how to do that, so they went after Tea Party groups because those seemed like they might be political. Keep in mind, the commissioner of the IRS at the time was a Bush appointee.
The second is that while this is the first time this kind of thing has become a national scandal, it’s not the first time such activity has occurred.
“I wish there was more GOP interest when I raised the same issue during the Bush administration, where they audited a progressive church in my district in what look liked a very selective way,” California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff said on MSNBC Monday. “I found only one Republican, [North Carolina Rep. Walter Jones], that would join me in calling for an investigation during the Bush administration. I’m glad now that the GOP has found interest in this issue and it ought to be a bipartisan concern.”
The well-known church, All Saints Episcopal in Pasadena, became a bit of a cause célèbre on the left after the IRS threatened to revoke the church’s tax-exempt status over an anti-Iraq War sermon the Sunday before the 2004 election. “Jesus [would say], ‘Mr. President, your doctrine of preemptive war is a failed doctrine,’” rector George Regas said from the dais.
The church, which said progressive activism was in its “DNA,” hired a powerful Washington lawyer and enlisted the help of Schiff, who met with the commissioner of the IRS twice and called for a Government Accountability Office investigation, saying the IRS audit violated the First Amendment and was unduly targeting a political opponent of the Bush administration. “My client is very concerned that the close coordination undertaken by the IRS allowed partisan political concerns to direct the course of the All Saints examination,” church attorney Marcus Owens, who is widely considered one of the country’s leading experts on this area of the law, said at the time. In 2007, the IRS closed the case, decreeing that the church violated rules preventing political intervention, but it did not revoke its nonprofit status.
And while All Saints came under the gun, conservative churches across the country were helping to mobilize voters for Bush with little oversight. In 2006, citing the precedent of All Saints, “a group of religious leaders accused the Internal Revenue Service yesterday of playing politics by ignoring its complaint that two large churches in Ohio are engaging in what it says are political activities, in violation of the tax code,” the New York Times reported at the time. The churches essentially campaigned for a Republican gubernatorial candidate, they alleged, and even flew him on one of their planes.
Meanwhile, Citizens for Ethics in Washington filed two ethics complaints against a church in Minnesota. “You know we can’t publicly endorse as a church and would not for any candidate, but I can tell you personally that I’m going to vote for Michele Bachmann,” pastor Mac Hammond of the Living Word Christian Center in Minnesota said in 2006 before welcoming her to the church. The IRS opened an audit into the church, but it went nowhereafter the church appealed the audit on a technicality.
And it wasn’t just churches. In 2004, the IRS went after the NAACP, auditing the nation’s oldest civil rights group after its chairman criticized President Bush for being the first sitting president since Herbert Hoover not to address the organization. “They are saying if you criticize the president we are going to take your tax exemption away from you,” then-chairman Julian Bond said. “It’s pretty obvious that the complainant was someone who doesn’t believe George Bush should be criticized, and it’s obvious of their response that the IRS believes this, too.”
In a letter to the IRS, Democratic Reps. Charles Rangel, Pete Stark and John Conyers wrote: “It is obvious that the timing of this IRS examination is nothing more than an effort to intimidate the members of the NAACP, and the communities the organization represents, in their get-out-the-vote effort nationwide.”
Then, in 2006, the Wall Street Journal broke the story of a how a little-known pressure group called Public Interest Watch — which received 97 percent of its funds from Exxon Mobile one year — managed to get the IRS to open an investigation into Greenpeace. Greenpeace had labeled Exxon Mobil the “No. 1 climate criminal.” The IRS acknowledged its audit was initiated by Public Interest Watch and threatened to revoke Greenpeace’s tax-exempt status, but closed the investigation three months later.
As the Journal reporter, Steve Stecklow, later said in an interview, “This comes against a backdrop where a number of conservative groups have been attacking nonprofits and NGOs over their tax-exempt status. There have been hearings on Capitol Hill. There have been a number of conservative groups in Washington who have been quite critical.”
Indeed, the year before that, the Senate held a hearing on nonprofits’ political activity. Republican Sen. Charles Grassley, the then-chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said the IRS needed better enforcement, but also “legislative changes” to better define the lines between politics and social welfare, since they had not been updated in “a generation.” Unfortunately, neither Congress nor the IRS has defined 501(c)4′s sufficiently to this day, leaving the door open for IRS auditors to make up their own, discriminatory rules.
Those cases mostly involved 501(c)3 organizations, which live in a different section of the tax code for real charities like hospitals and schools. The rules are much stronger and better developed for (c)3′s, in part because they’ve been around longer. But with “social welfare” (c)4 groups, the kind of political activity we saw in 2010 and 2012 is so unprecedented that you get cases like Emerge America, a progressive nonprofit that trains Democratic female candidates for public office. The group has chapters across the country, but in 2011, chapters in Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada were denied 501(c)4 tax-exempt status. Leaders called the situation “bizarre” because in the five years Nevada had waited for approval, the Kentucky chapter was approved, only for the other three to be denied.
A former IRS official told the New York Times that probably meant the applications were sent to different offices, which use slightly different standards. Different offices within the same organization that are supposed to impose the exact same rules in a consistent manner have such uneven conceptions of where to draw the line at a political group, that they can approve one organization and then deny its twin in a different state.
All of these stories suggest that while concern with the IRS posture toward conservative groups now may be merited, to fully understand the situation requires a bit of context and history.
Until yesterday, I thought of Mitt Romney as a spineless, disingenuous, and supercilious but more or less decently intentioned person who at least wasn’t the race-mongering pyromaniac that some other Republican candidates of my lifetime have been. Then he gave his speech to the NAACP, and now I think of him as a spineless, disingenuous, supercilious, race-mongering pyromaniac who is very poorly intentioned indeed, and woe to us if this man sets foot in the White House as anything but a tourist.
But he wasn’t a race-baiter until yesterday. That speech wasn’t to the NAACP. It was to Rush Limbaugh. It was to Tea Party Nation. It was to Fox News. Oh, he said some nice things. And sure, let’s give him one point for going there at all. But listen: You don’t go into the NAACP and use the word “Obamacare” and think that you’re not going to hear some boos. It’s a heavily loaded word, and Romney and his people know very well that liberals and the president’s supporters consider it an insult. He and his team had to know those boos were coming, and Romney acknowledged as much a few hours later in an interview with . . . guess which channel (hint: it’s the one whose web site often has to close articles about race to commenters because of the blatant racism). Romney and team obviously concluded that a little shower of boos was perfectly fine because the story “Romney Booed at NAACP” would jazz up their (very white) base.
Blame the media for making such a big deal of it? Come on. When a candidate’s staffers are preparing a speech, they know very well exactly what line the press is going to lead with. Speeches are written with precisely that intent (or if they’re not, someone is sleeping on the job). The mention, for the record, was couched, with appropriate plausible deniability, in the middle of a list of five things he’d do to get the economy humming again. (Speech text here.) Point three concerned reducing government spending and bring down the debt: “To do this, I will eliminate expensive non-essential programs like Obamacare, and I will work to reform and save Medicare and Social Security, in part by means-testing their benefits.”
Mitt Romney had this remarkable message for the members of the NAACP who booed him when he told them he’d repeal the Affordable Care Act:
Remind them of this: If they want more stuff from government, tell them to go vote for the other guy—more free stuff. But don’t forget, nothing is really free.
Rachel Maddow reported on Romney’s remarks tonight, which he made at a fundraiser in Hamilton, Montana.
Romney has been accused of hoping to get booed during his speech at the NAACP in order to drum up right-wing support, and as Maddow pointed out, these latest comments lend support to that theory.
“It seemed like Mitt Romney wanted to get booed at the NAACP this morning,” Maddow said. “He wanted to wear that around his neck like a badge of courage. It looks like he is not wasting any time in doing so.”
And later on The Last Word, Goldie Taylor of The Grio had a more visceral response to Romney’s comments.
“That tells me all I need to know now about Mitt Romney, who at first I believed is just disconnected,” Taylor said. “Now I know his problem is much bigger than that.”
The board of the NAACP, the “nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization,” endorsed marriage equality at a meeting this afternoon. The move comes 10 days after President Obamaannounced his support of same-sex marriage.
The NAACP’s move comes as attitudes about gays and lesbians in the African American community are changing rapidly. A recent poll found that 54% of African Americans supported President Obama’s recent decision.
Maxim Thorne, formerly of the NAACP, broke the news over Twitter:
Since Obama’s announcement, numerous influential political figures — including Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and House Assistant Minority Leader James Clyburn — have joined him in supporting marriage equality.
I’m fully aware of GOP political games now. Basically when the little “nobodies” in the party, like Allen West, Virginia Foxx, even Newt Gingrich, et al want attention or publicity, they make the silliest and most ignorant statements solely for the publicity it garners.
Now, having said that, here is Allen West’s latest meme:
Florida Republican congressman Rep. Allen West has torn a page from Sarah Palin’s book and issued a proclamation to the world via his Facebook page.
West cited the 13 percent unemployment rate among black Americans and wrote, “The failed economic policies of President Obama are destroying the black community and lessening the chances for economic freedom while promoting economic dependence.”
Referencing the fact that he was recently un-invited by the NAACP to speak at an event, West said, “Perhaps this is what the NAACP was afraid to hear me address.”
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NNACP) was actually quite clear about its reasons for rescinding an invitation to West to speak at the Martin County, Florida NAACP’s Tuesday Freedom Banquet earlier this week.
Gore was referring to a recent assertion by West that there are currently “about 78 to 81 members of the Democrat Party who are members of the Communist Party. It’s called the Progressive Caucus.”
West has taken a novel approach to addressing critics of the remark, saying to conservative blog The Daily Caller that a “stupid” reporter took his remarks out of context but then days later assuring CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien that he meant the statement exactly as he made it. However, when the congressman was pressed by O’Brien to name specific members of the progressive bloc who are Communists, West declined.