Archive for progressive living

Why we all went to Raleigh


Vicky and Doug Ryder were acquitted of all charges in their Moral Monday arrest.

The prosecution has it all wrong in the Moral Mondays cases.

The state thinks we all went to Raleigh just to be arrested. I’ll be honest, we all knew it was a possibility — even a probability. But by the third week, I expected the police would hand out citations, not arrest us.

I went to court yesterday, and although my case wasn’t heard, the cases of Vicki and Doug Ryder were. The trial lasted six hours and the defense lawyer Scott Holmes was amazing.

He talked about our Constitutional right to address our legislators, who have continually refused to talk to us about the issues or listen to our concerns as they passed laws that actually jeopardize our way of life here: slashes to education and unemployment, refusal to expand Medicaid — putting health care out of reach of a half million people — voter suppression, degradation of the environment, denial of climate change, approval of fracking … and on and on. And the thing of it is, all these issues are intertwined.

I am passionate about making health care accessible for every human being, and they’re taking it away. And because of the rejection of Medicaid, hospitals and clinics that serve the poor will lose a great deal of their indigent care funding. Some will close. This is about human lives, and I am desperate to be heard.

That’s why I went to Raleigh, and that’s why Vicki and Doug went to Raleigh. Doug told the prosecutor that he went to give voice to people who have none — to people in minimum-wage jobs who can’t take a day off work to go to Raleigh and petition their lawmakers.

I have said time and again I am not afraid to be arrested, although I won’t go anywhere with the intention of being arrested. We went to have our voices heard and they decided to arrest us.

Then, Scott and the other defending attorney, Dave Neal, proved that the General Assembly Police chief knew we intended to protest but allowed us into the building anyway.

He showed that the people standing in front of the doors to the Senate chamber weren’t preventing senators and staff from getting into the chamber — which was called into session while the protesters stood outside.

Scott and Dave asked whether Chief Weaver was ever afraid we might resort to violent behavior and he said no. Scott asked whether there were other people in the rotunda who were cheering and clapping but were not arrested and he admitted there were, but they “weren’t within the perimeter we had set up.”

In the early afternoon, Judge Joy Hamilton dropped two of the charges, and about 4 o’clock, she dismissed the final charge.

We couldn’t whoop it up like we wanted, but there were a lot of smiles and tears of relief in Courtroom 402 yesterday afternoon.

We have said all along we are doing nothing more than exercising our Constitutional right to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, and our right to talk to our legislators about our grievances.

House Speaker Thom Tillis literally ran away from us when we went to see him.

How else can we be heard?

Those of us who are determined to have a trial have had to go to Raleigh at least three times so far. For me and several others from this region, that means a four-hour drive each way and an overnight, plus meals.

This is not justice. People who have jobs and can’t make trip after trip to Raleigh are forced to take the plea deal of 25 hours of community service and payment of $180 in court costs. Many of them can’t afford that, but they can’t lose their jobs to fight for vindication either.

Yesterday, the judge agreed with the defense attorney. That gives the rest of us hope that we will be vindicated as well, but we still have to go back unless the DA dismisses all the charges against all of us.



Anger and lies on the right

Image by Huffington Post. This graphic shows the cost of health care premiums state-by-state. It shows the average weighted cost for the least expensive policy on the bronze tier. Dark colors are the most expensive, light the leaSt.

Image by Huffington Post. This graphic shows the cost of health care premiums state-by-state. It shows the average weighted cost for the least expensive policy on the bronze tier. Dark colors are the most expensive, light the least.

As the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces finally open for business, opponents of health reform are getting desperate.

Take, for example, the 21-hour circus sideshow fake filibuster by Texas Republican Ted Cruz in the Senate.

Take the willingness of Republicans to take down the entire government in a desperate last-ditch effort to kill the law.

Look at the TV ads with the frightening Uncle Sam head popping up behind a doctor’s examining table.

In the last week, my son read stories about how Georgia will be the most expensive state in the county to buy insurance. I did some reading on my own and found the numbers in the story were NOT the average prices but the worst-case scenario — you know, someone my age who would not be eligible for assistance.

In fact, Georgia is not the most expensive, it’s the middle of the the pack, and if you make less than four times the federal poverty level (about $46,000 for an individual, $60,000 for a couple and $93,000 for a family of four), you will get help paying for your premiums.

Then yesterday, I heard North Carolina will be the most expensive. Look at the graphic here. It’s in the middle of the pack too, along with California and New York. I’ll bet they have similar misinformation campaigns in every state.

In all, prices are about 16 percent below what was first predicted. Granted, it’s not cheap, but for most people, it will be affordable. The hysterics are nothing more than lies perpetrated by the very people who want the law gone. These are the people who are going around telling young adults to “burn your Obamacare draft card.”

I suppose people could do that if there were an Obamacare draft card, but there isn’t.

Those creepy Uncle Sam head TV ads also are lies. You will buy your insurance from a private company and you will see your own doctor.

Your insurance company can no longer deny necessary treatment, thanks to the law.

They can’t charge you a co-pay for annual physicals, cancer and other screenings or immunizations, thanks to the law.

They can’t put annual or lifetime caps on coverage.

They can’t throw you to the curb if you get sick.

They have to pay out 80 to 85 percent of what they collect in premiums on direct services.

And they don’t like all this regulation because it cuts into their obscene profits.

Because of all the money spent to spread the misinformation, 70 percent of the people who are eligible for help in paying for their premiums don’t know it. More than one-third of Americans think the law was repealed.

The truth is the Republicans in the House of Representatives have voted 41 times to repeal the law, but have failed to get it done, thank God.

The truth is that 45,000 Americans died in this country every year from lack of access to care before the Affordable Care Act, and thousands will continue to die because of GOP-led efforts to deny Medicaid expansion.

These are not pro-life people, no matter what they say. I have had some argue that point with me, but the truth is that if you want to deny people access to life-saving care, if you lie to convince people not to take advantage of access to care, you are not pro-life, no matter how much you love unborn babies.




Fire Aldona Wos now

vos & mccroryIn the last few weeks, it has been revealed that NC Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Vos has hired young campaign workers and paid them more than double what an experienced teacher makes in this state.

Then this week it came out that a colleague of her husband’s has been paid more than a quarter million dollars as a consultant in just eight months.

Today, the news is that another consultant has been paid $100,000.

Talk about blatant cronyism.

This is happening while Wos wants to privatize Medicaid, which will inevitably cut money for services for people in need. Privatization is what happened to mental health services a decade ago and it caused our system to implode.

Reimbursement rates went down so no one could make a profit, providers went out of business, leaving thousands of our most vulnerable people without services.

This is what Wos wants to do with Medicaid instead of expanding it, which would cost the state nothing for three years and then just 10 percent after that.

She has lied about the reason for not expanding Medicaid, saying our Medicaid program is “broken.” Well, before the Republican General Assembly de-funded it two years ago, it was a national model.

Then she said it was because our computer system wasn’t up to the task. She didn’t mention that the state turned down millions of dollars in federal money to build the system up.

Then she said it really wasn’t her decision anyway. I replied that if she and the governor had come out strongly in favor of it the way Gov. Jan Brewer did in Arizona, we could have gotten it through. I also mentioned that the shit-eating grins on her and the governor’s faces were not the demeanor of people who were disappointed with the outcome of the vote.

She walked away from me.

So, we don’t have the money to pay teachers a decent wage, we’re too broke to help people who are unemployed through no fault of their own, our infrastructure is starting to crumble and we have to cut as many social safety net programs as we can.

But Aldona Wos can fritter away hundreds of thousands of dollars hiring friends and campaign workers.

She needs to go. Now.

Here is the letter I e-mailed to Gov. Pat McCrory. Feel free to use it as a template for your own letter to the governort:

Governor, it is time to cut your losses and fire Secretary Aldona Wos. She has violated the public trust again and again.
While Secretary Wos cries about the state Department of Health and Human Services being too broke to provide health care and other services to people in need, she pays a colleague of her husband a quarter million dollars in just eight months, pays another contractor more than $100,000 and gives jobs paying $80,000 and more to young, unqualified campaign workers.
These are not the actions of a devoted public servant; they are the actions of a woman on the take. How can you criticize people who are unemployed and then approve of Secretary Wos’s actions? How can you cut services, refuse to take federal money for an expanded Medicaid, slash funds for education, all because we’re “broke,” and allow this? It is the height of arrogance and hypocrisy.
Fire Aldona Wos now.


You’ll find less news in our local paper

The Citizen-Times cut loose some of its best, most experienced people today. Six people from the newsroom, all of whom had been with the paper for years.

Jaime McKee and her son, Lucas.

Jaime McKee and her son, Lucas.

The first to go was Jaime McKee, who started at the paper in 1998, while she was still in college.

I think she grew up in that newsroom as she grew into someone who knows more about the web than anyone I know. I don’t know how they plan to maintain a quality web site without her.

I’m sure she’ll do well, either with another full-time job or as a freelance web builder. I know I’d hire her. Her husband is a teacher and we all know how hard it is to live on a teacher’s salary in North Carolina.

If you want to know more about Jaime, visit her blog at


RobThe next to go was Rob Mikulak, a copy editor with 40 years experience in the business. He was two years away from retirement and an excellent editor. No one knew more about newsroom operations and no one had a keener eye for mistakes in copy.

Rob also happens to be my husband. We haven’t put that out in public a whole lot because we didn’t want the Tea Party to go after him the way they did me. He always said, “Someone in this house has to have a real job.”

It’s not that he thinks running a small nonprofit isn’t a real job; it just doesn’t pay a real salary yet.

Anyway, he’s been counting the days until he can retire, and the countdown just accelerated to zero. He seems relieved, but the paper will be less reliable without him.

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford

Then there’s Jason Sandford, the popular Ashevegas blogger. Jason brags that he has been hired at the paper more times than anyone else — four. He is a native of Asheville, and he knows everyone.

Former publisher Randy Hammer considered him an asset partly because of all the people he knew and who would talk to him. That’s a pretty powerful thing in the communications business.

Jason is so even-tempered — a rarity in this business. He loved coming to work every day and he often made the days a little more bearable for those of us who were less even-tempered.

Jason will continue to work on Ashevegas. Look for him to do good things with it.

Susan Reinhardt.

Susan Reinhardt.

Susan Reinhardt has a huge following because of her quirky sense of humor — part Southern belle, part neurotic mother of teenagers.

We all identify with her takes of family and friends. We see ourselves in her or her Aunt Betty.

Susan also has a huge heart for people who are less fortunate, and her telling of their stories touched a lot of hearts.

She’s never been a “hard-news” writer, but her gift for story-telling earned her a huge following. She will be OK as she continues to tell her stories in books.

Thomas Fraser

Thomas Fraser

Thomas Fraser came to the paper six years ago from another Gannett newspaper in New Jersey. We had a number of mutual friends, since I worked at papers in Central New Jersey.

Thomas worked the worst shifts, 3 to 11 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, and he rarely complained.



fletchpixI couldn’t find a photo of photographer John Fletcher, one of the most talented people I know, so I included one of the photos he took.

Fletch takes breathtakingly beautiful photos of our mountains and he captures the best of the people he shoots.

I was surprised to hear he was one of the ones let go today.

Actually, I was surprised to hear about all the decisions. These are six really talented people who have always performed well. They have been loyal, hard-working, good employees.

Without these people, there will be fewer stories on the Citizen-Times web site, fewer stories in the paper, more mistakes, less truth.

Perhaps that’s what Gannett wants. This huge corporation cares nothing for talent, for loyalty, for the value of people who work for them, or for informing people of the truth.

Newspapers used to be a better way to get information than television; they could go into depth and analyze the issues. That’s not true anymore. There are so few people in newsrooms anymore that no one has time to investigate anything, and that’s how big business wants it.

Newspapers are killing themselves. The Citizen-Times is profitable — for now; Gannett is profitable. But they continue to make decisions that leave people less informed, when information is supposed to be what they sell.

All six of these people who were canned today will lose their insurance unless they can afford COBRA. Fortunately for all of us, the Affordable Care Act takes effect in January, so my husband, who has had bypass surgery, and I, with my asthma, will be able to get health insurance.

Shame on Gannett.


Let’s talk about women’s health and “balanced” reporting

femcareAs a reporter, I was always careful to tell both sides of a story, unless the “other side” was a lie — i.e. tobacco is safe, the world is flat or the free market can handle health care without any regulation whatsoever.

It was particularly important when dealing with controversial issues like abortion. I bent over backwards to be fair because although I am pro-choice, I chose not to have an abortion when I was advised to have one. There might have been a circumstance under which I would have chosen to end a pregnancy, but I didn’t encounter it.

I will not, however, condemn any woman who chooses an abortion because I am not in her shoes. According to the law of the land, she has a right to make that choice, with choice being the operative word here.

This week, the only clinic in the state that was eligible to perform safe, legal abortions was shut down by the state, just after the governor signed a law that will close the other 15 clinics.

The thing is, this isn’t just about abortion. These clinics aren’t abortion factories; they provide affordable care to women who are uninsured. I know because I got my primary care at an “abortion clinic” for several years when I didn’t have insurance and I never had an abortion. I’m not the only person who realizes how important these women’s clinics are for women’s overall health.

Women’s clinics also do well-women care such as cancer screenings. Many also have obstetricians who offer affordable care through pregnancy and childbirth. When you close down women’s clinics, you close down women’s access to health care. A lot of people are aware of this, and I would expect newspaper reporters to be among them.

However, when I opened my newspaper this morning, I might have thought I was the only one who knows about the diversity of services offered at women’s clinics and the importance of having them in the community. The front-page headline stated that the “abortion clinic closure” was “praised.”

Perhaps the closure was praised by people who oppose abortion under any circumstance, but the issue here is also access to affordable care, cancer screenings, contraception and other medications.

The problem here is that there is precious little help for women now. A woman of childbearing age (which I no longer am) has a right to decide when and if she will have a child. That’s pretty simple if she has effective contraception, but now that Femcare is closed, that makes affordable contraception more difficult to get. And the very people who deny women access to abortion also want to deny them access to contraception. Then, when the inevitable happens and a baby is born, these same people complain that poor women keep “pumping out” babies.

No matter what, they want to lay the blame on women — not on the men who impregnate them, not on a society that punishes people for being poor, but on women, often because we’re seen as sinful. Eve committed the first sin, after all. That’s what I was taught growing up.

So now, a group of old white men in Raleigh has decided that women can’t have access to abortion and the newspaper reporter can’t find a single person to say it’s not a good thing? No one is available to say women need the services this clinic provided?

I find that hard to believe.


‘You don’t agree with me so I hate you!’

stand-your-ground-lawI’m still feeling a little rattled.

I was loading groceries into my car when an older woman with perfectly sprayed hair and a sparkly gold top came stalking over to me.

“You are dumb as crap!” she said with a sneer.

“Excuse me?”

“Dumb as crap!” she repeated, pointing at the magnet on the back of my car that said, “Health care for all.”

I have a few liberal leaning stickers, such as, “God bless the people of every nation,” and “Question war,” plus one that says, “I can’t believe I’m still protesting this crap!”

She started walking away and I said, “Losing a child to our broken health care system has colored my opinion.”

“Keep chattering, Miss Dumb as Crap!” she said.

She opened the door to a huge gas guzzler of a car and threw her purse in. On the back of the car was a bumper sticker that read, “I wear lipstick and I own a gun,” which is OK by me as long as you know how to use it safely and you don’t go around shooting people you don’t like — like me.

“I suppose you’re a Christian,” I said as I walked my empty grocery cart to the corral on the other side of her car.

She sneered at me again and got into her car.

“Well, there goes the love of Jesus,” I announced loudly as she slammed the car and other people in the parking lot smiled. One woman looked at me and shrugged her shoulders.

So, she looked like the aggressor, which she was. I looked like the reasonable one, which took a lot of effort, believe me.

But why did she hate me just because we disagree? What’s more, what made her think we didn’t have ANY common ground?

If she had been carrying her gun in a stand-your-ground state, she could have pulled it out and shot me as I walked toward her with my empty grocery cart, even though the cart corral was on the other side of her car.

She could have claimed she felt threatened, especially if I wasn’t white.

That is no exaggeration.

George Zimmerman was declared not guilty after shooting an unarmed teenager — after stalking him and chasing him down — because he felt threatened.

We live in a culture where it’s OK to hate people who disagree with you — in fact, it’s encouraged.

We are told people who disagree with us have little or no worth, that they’re stupid and that we can aggressively corner them and tell them that.

And in stand-your-ground states, we can then open fire on them when they get mad right back at us.

I felt absolutely furious at that woman. Who the hell is she to judge me, knowing absolutely nothing about me as a fellow human being?

It took some real self-control not to yell insults back at her.

But someone had to be the grownup here, and I already knew it wasn’t going to be her.

Since George Zimmerman has been set free, it seems to me like it’s open season on anyone you think can be provoked into making you feel threatened.

Love, validated

This is the motto og the United Church of Christ, which was the first mainline Protestant denomination to come out in favor of marriage equality.

This is the motto of the United Church of Christ, which was the first mainline Protestant denomination to come out in favor of marriage equality.

Today the US Supreme Court struck down the misguided Defense of Marriage Act and upheld the right to marry in California.

It’s a big day for millions of gay and lesbian people who have long deserved to marry and enjoy the same rights as straight couples. Since the only objections I’ve ever heard come from opponents’ religious beliefs, the ban on gay marriage is obviously unconstitutional. Any two consenting adults should have the right to enter into the legal contract of marriage.

Despite the statements of opponents who say it will lead to bestiality, child rape and the fall of civilization, marriage equality just means two consenting adults can enter into this contract, whether they be opposite sex or same-sex couples.

My sister and her spouse were married in Massachusetts in 2006, and I couldn’t have been happier for them. They deserved the same rights as my husband and I get. When my sister died of lung cancer, her spouse was able to make the decisions they had agreed upon. No one could come in and claim they had a superior right to make those decisions. That gave both of them the peace of mind they deserved in my sister’s final days.

This morning’s ruling told gays and lesbians across the country that they have every right to love whom they please and the state has no right to discriminate against them.

This afternoon, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the military would extend benefits, including health care and housing, to same-sex spouses as quickly as possible.

Rep. Michele Bachmann went on a rant about how God created marriage and, well, blah, blah, blah, or to quote Rep. Nancy Pelosi, “Who cares?”

Justice Antonin Scalia’s angry scree of a reply was just the ranting, childish tantrum of a poor loser. Although many people have said he is brilliant, I don’t believe anyone with such a closed mind can be brilliant.

Opponents will carry on for a little while, but the tide has turned in favor of equality, just as it did for African-Americans in the 1960s. Eventually, every state will accept marriage equality, and a little farther down the road, the bigots will age and die, leaving society to wonder what the big deal was anyway.



Why I go to Raleigh for Moral Mondays

This is from two weeks ago, when we had about 2,000 people. We had about the same size crowd last Monday when there was a tornado watch. We are dedicated to making change.

This is from two weeks ago, when we had about 2,000 people. We had about the same size crowd last Monday when there was a tornado watch. We are dedicated to making change.

I think it’s important to talk about Moral Mondays here,  to explain why I got involved, why I got arrested on May 13, and why I continue to go for the rallies.

First of all, let me say in response to those who say we can’t accomplish anything with these demonstrations, I wouldn’t have gone if I didn’t think we could make a difference, and I am willing to tolerate the vitriol of people who would discourage us because I think they are afraid of us and what we stand for.

I go because I feel a moral obligation to protest the General Assembly’s and the governor’s refusal to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Their ideological decision puts a half-million lives at risk in this state, and estimates are that at least 2,000 will die prematurely because of this decision,

Those lives matter to me. Each one of them matters. I don’t care if it is a homeless person who is addicted to drugs and alcohol. I believe each life has worth. If you don’t believe the same, please don’t call yourself pro-life in front of me.

My primary passion is health care, but when we take away unemployment compensation from more than 70,000 people, it has consequences. Most of them also lack access to health care because you can’t pay for COBRA if you don’t have any income, and most adults aren’t eligible for Medicaid here in NC.

When we de-fund schools, we rob children of the chance to rise out of poverty and provide for themselves and their families. They also will be the ones most likely to not have access to health care later on.

These issues are deeply connected to each other. Living wage impacts poverty, and all the stresses that come with it. People who have enough to live on are healthier overall because they don’t have the stresses associated with poverty.

I have visited my legislators repeatedly to educate them on the importance of access to health care and about the lower costs associated with access to care. My representative voted against Medicaid expansion. He voted to cut unemployment benefits. He supports a voter ID law that is a thinly disguised poll tax.

I am frustrated beyond words. I cannot fathom the reasoning behind barring access to health care for 500,000 people.

Our state’s computer system is their first excuse. It isn’t up to the task, they say. But then they decline to mention that we turned down federal money to upgrade the system.

When I reminded them of that, they said we have to fix Medicaid first. Well, North Carolina’s Medicaid system was a national model until its funding was slashed two years ago. Restore the funding and the system will be a model again. Instead, though, they are going to try and privatize it the way they did with the mental health system a decade ago. That “reform,” you may recall, was an unmitigated disaster.

When I explain that, they usually have a meeting they have to rush off to.

They aren’t listening, and it frustrates those of us who oppose what they’re doing. My heart breaks for people who will die because of these misguided decisions; it breaks for the families of those casualties.

Unless you have held the hand of a loved one as he or she dies unnecessarily, you can’t know the pain.

As a person of faith, I take seriously the Bible’s instruction to care for “the least of these.” And it is not just Christianity that requires this of people; it is a basic tenet of every major religion, and it is important to just about every atheist I know.

That’s why nearly 400 people have gone into the Legislature Building and been arrested. Dozens of them are clergy. Some are teachers and professors, students, old, young, black, white, Asian, hippies and lawyers.  This is a diverse crowd, and its members are passionate about justice for all North Carolinians, not just the wealthiest.

As the ones being arrested go into the building, they are cheered by a crowd of thousands. Hundreds of people move to the side of the building to await the departure of prison buses filled with people who are not afraid to speak truth to power.

When I was arrested, those cheering voices assured me I was doing the right thing. They gave me courage and hope.

I do not go to Moral Mondays for political reasons; I go for moral reasons. I go because if I do nothing, I am as much to blame as those taking the immoral actions.

I go because every life has worth.

We the people mean business

This was taken May 13, the night I got arrested.

This was taken May 13, the night I got arrested.

Moral Monday is rolling around again, and I plan to go to Raleigh to support those people who are volunteering to be arrested.

I was arrested on May 13 and I am banned from Legislature property until my case is resolved. I go to court on July 1.

My friend, Sarah Skinner, and I are going and there’s room for two or three more people in my car. If we get enough people we can rent a 12-passenger van for the trip.

Sarah has been my traveling companion on several trips, including two to Washington for rallies and another two for the Occupy movement and one to Charlotte to take part in the Planned Parenthood demonstration during the Democratic National Convention.

We are fellow unreconstructed hippies.

Because Sarah is a breast cancer survivor, she started dying her hair pink during October for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Now she calls the pink hair her “war paint,” so you’ll be able to spot us on Monday by her shocking pink mop-top.

We need more people to go to Raleigh and tell the General Assembly they work for us, and we are not happy. They may think we’re a nuisance, but they’re about to find out we’re much more than that — we are a movement.

So far, 157 people have been arrested for second-degree trespass, which is a misdemeanor. I doubt we’ll be placed on the no-fly list or locked up for an extended period.

I spent three hours in the jailhouse — some of the early protesters who were arrested have spent as much as eight or nine hours being processed. I think the processing is streamlined now that they know we’re going to be there in ever-increasing numbers.

I went to protest the refusal to expand Medicaid and the proposal to privatize it; others were there to protest the laws that harm unemployed people, students, workers, the environment, voters and low-income people.

There are so many reasons to protest it’s hard to pick just one. I have never seen anything like this group of legislators, and I’ve been aware of government abuses of power for 50 years.

When I have tried talking to these legislators, I get the brush-off or I get excuses filled with half-truths and out-and-out lies. When you call them on their lies, they change the subject or move on to another talking point. They aren’t listening.

They were elected to serve us, not corporate overlords, and yet they are serving the wealthiest and most powerful at our expense.

Sen. Tom Apodaca said we should know how he feels and he isn’t about to change his mind, no matter what the people think.

I don’t know what it will take to change the minds of some legislators, but we only need to reach a few to stop them from having a super-majority. Then we can work to throw the bums out in 2014.

As I said, Sarah and I are going. Anyone want to join us?

If you’re don’t stand up to protest injustice, you become part of it.

Turns out there is no scandal

its buildingSo, here’s what really happened with the Internal Revenue Service.

No one was targeting conservative groups. These political groups had applied for tax-free status and were being vetted for approval — as ALL groups must be before being granted tax-free status.

To get 501(c)(4) status, the group has to be working on social welfare programs as well as doing its political work. No more than half of its activities can be political. The IRS is tasked with making sure these guidelines are followed.

So, were they just looking at conservative groups? Here’s something from last week’s Congressional hearings:

Rep. Peter Roskam, R-IL: “How come only conservative groups got snagged?”

Outgoing acting IRS commissioner Steve Miller: “They didn’t sir. Organizations of all walks and all persuasions were pulled in. That’s shown by the fact that only 70 of the 300 organizations were tea party organizations, of the ones that were looked at by TIGTA [Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration].”

That’s only about 25 percent.

But even though the truth is that right-wing groups weren’t targeted any more than anyone else, this is their story and they’re sticking to it because if you repeat a lie long enough, people will believe it.

Remember what happened with ACORN after the fake news story with pseudo-journalist James McKenzie posing as a pimp that was nothing more than a cleverly set up and carefully edited lie. It took down an organization that helped people register to vote.

The right-wing groups want people to believe they’re being persecuted, even though they’re not.

Or perhaps there’s good reason for their paranoia.

The reason these groups want 501(c)(4) status is because it allows them to keep their donors hidden, and they want to protect their sugar daddies and mamas.

Since the Citizens United decision allowing unlimited corporate money in elections, various groups have rushed to get 501(c)(4) status. The IRS, which is understaffed, didn’t have time to research every group, so its employees looked for flags that might suggest a group was mostly a political organization, which is ineligible for 501(c)(4) status.

Should IRS officials have searched for organizations with “Tea Party” or “Patriot” in their names? Probably not. But that’s about the worst thing that happened here.

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