Official at Heart of IRS Tea Party Scandal Spiked Audits of Big Dark-Money Donors

See on Scoop.itOUR COMMON GROUND Informed Truth and Resistance

In 2011, the IRS killed audits of five big-time donors. Inside the IRS mess you haven’t heard about.

OUR COMMON GROUND Omnibus‘s insight:

"Yet lawmakers have no qualms with using politics to bend the IRS to its will. In 2011, under pressure from House and Senate Republicans, Miller, then the IRS’s deputy commissioner, spiked audits investigating whether five big donors to 501(c)(4) groups—the type of nonprofit that can get involved in campaigns and elections but can’t make politics its "primary activity"—avoided paying taxes on their donations. It’s not known which party any of these donors favored, but suffice it to say that Miller’s decision erased any worry that wealthy political patrons might have had about giving millions to politically active nonprofits during the 2012 campaign season.

For some tax lawyers, it was a surprising move that raised red flags. "They were stopped mid-audit, which is an extraordinary move," says Marcus Owens, a tax lawyer who ran the IRS division that oversees politically active nonprofits for 10 years. "I’ve been practicing tax law for close to 40 years, and I’ve never seen that. To have Miller reach out and stop those audits, that’s something that really deserves an inquiry."

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Sliding Into Homelessness – Zakkiaya Bowen

See on Scoop.itOUR COMMON GROUND Informed Truth and Resistance

Zakkiaya applies for several types of public housing before she turns 21, but nothing comes through in time. Soon, she’s sleeping on the subway.

OUR COMMON GROUND Omnibus‘s insight:

Three months before my 21st birthday, I applied to NYCHA but they closed my case because I didn’t have a job and I couldn’t pay my share of the rent.

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Our Thoughts on Michele Obama & Fantasizing about Ballers and Rappers

See on Scoop.itOUR COMMON GROUND Informed Truth and Resistance

Michelle Obama gave a speech over the weekend at Bowie State saying that too many Black kids fantasize about being ‘ballers and rappers’..Her exact quotes were as follows… Today, more than 150 ye…

OUR COMMON GROUND Omnibus‘s insight:

She concluded that many Black kids think getting an education is acting white… Her quote was “reject the slander that a black child with a book is trying to act white.”

Damn Michelle who the hell wrote your speech??

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Kanye West’s ‘New Slaves’ & 3 Other Dope Songs U Should Know that Tackle This Subject

Davey D's Hip Hop Corner

I’m loving the way Kanye West got his anti-prison message across with his new song ‘New Slaves’.. He stepped outside the box and had the video beam on sides of buildings in 66 cities.. That got every talking.. His appearance on Saturday Night Live added to the hype and of course him calling out private prisons (CCA-Corrections Corporation of America) took it over the top..

peep the lyrics to Kanye’s song..

[Verse 1]

My mama was raised in an era when/Clean water was only served to the fairer skin
Doing clothes you would have thought I had help/But they wouldn’t be satisfied unless I picked the cotton myself
You see its broke nigga racism/That’s that “don’t touch anything in the store”
And there’s rich nigga racism/That’s that “come in and buy more”
What you want a Bentley, fur coat and diamond chain?/All you blacks want all the…

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Kanye West’s ‘New Slaves’ & 3 Other Dope Songs U Should Know that Tackle This Subject

See on Scoop.itOUR COMMON GROUND Informed Truth and Resistance

I’m loving the way Kanye West got his anti-prison message across with his new song ‘New Slaves’.. He stepped outside the box and had the video beam on sides of buildings in 66 cities.. That got eve…

OUR COMMON GROUND Omnibus‘s insight:

I love Davey D’s third eye.

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Obama and Morehouse: The Bell Tolls

See on Scoop.itOUR COMMON GROUND Informed Truth and Resistance

When I entered Morehouse College, in the late summer of 2004, I was told, quite literally, that there was a bell that tolled for me. Along with several hundred other freshmen, I had just moved onto campus, and was…

OUR COMMON GROUND Omnibus‘s insight:

"A more holistic assessment of the disparities in America—and of the actors who neglect to remedy them—has to include the role that Congress has played, and what everyday Americans can do to challenge our government into action. Coates, for example, targets “the timidity [the Obama Administration] showed in addressing a foreclosure crisis which devastated black America."

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Bullying Pulpit: Racism, Barack Obama and the Selective Call for Personal Responsibility

Tim Wise

May 19, 2013

Sometimes, white privilege isn’t about stuff. It’s not always about better opportunities, or more money, or even greater access to those things than people of color.

Sometimes, white privilege is as simple as knowing that, generally speaking, if you’re white, you’ll be perceived as competent and hard-working until proven otherwise, while people of color — even those who have proven themselves competent and hard-working — will still be subjected to presumptions that they just might not be, and that somehow, they (but not you) need to be reminded of the importance of hard-work and personal responsibility, lest they (but never you) revert to some less impressive group mean.

To wit, President Obama’s commencement address today at Morehouse College — one of the nation’s preeminent institutions of higher learning, and perhaps its most famous historically black college or university — during which, among plenty of rather standard commencement speech boilerplate, the president lectured this year’s graduates about the importance of taking personal responsibility for their lives, and not blaming racism for whatever obstacles they may face in the future.

It’s hard to know what’s more disturbing.

Either that President Obama thinks black grads at one of the nation’s best colleges really need to be lectured about such matters; or, alternately, that White America is so desirous of exculpation for the history of racial discrimination that we need him to say such things, and he knows it, thereby leading him to feed us the moral scolding of black men we so desperately desire, and which he must know will be transmitted to us by way of media coverage of his talk.

Either way, the result is tragic.

If the former, then Barack Obama has for once and all revealed himself to be not nearly the deep and analytical thinker so many have long believed. After all, Morehouse men like the ones to whom the president delivered his commencement address today, are not the type to slack off, or make excuses for their shortcomings, or wait for others to do things for them. They earned admission to an amazing school, and have now graduated from said school, on the basis of their own merit and hard work. To hector them like they were potential supplicants looking for a handout is crass and beneath the dignity of a President of the United States, and especially one who shares the coloring of most, if not all of those graduates.

Barack Obama knows how demanding a school Morehouse is. So to preach hard work to these men, as if they had never heard of it — as if they now intended to kick back and wait for things to be handed to them — is to not only insult their intelligence, but also to feed every vicious stereotype already held by too many white Americans about black males, no matter how educated. It is to give us fuel for our already too-well-stoked racist fires, made ever hotter now by the ability to say, “See, even Obama knows the truth about black men! Even he knows they’re always making excuses for their failures.”

(And yes, I realize that admonitions to hard work, personal responsibility and “no excuses” have always been common in the black community — in large measure because of the history and contemporary reality of racism, both of which the president rightly acknowledged in the address — but those typically are offered behind closed doors, not in public and by the most prominent person in the country, within listening range of white ears, more than a little prepared to hear only the parts that reinforce pre-existing biases).

Meanwhile, if the President thought it necessary to upbraid this year’s Morehouse graduates about not being lazy or using racism as an excuse for their shortcomings, precisely because he thinks (or perhaps knows) that white folks love that shit — the second possibility — then that too is pitiable.

First, that Barack Obama sometimes seems to think he still needs to go out of his way to please white people is maddening. The white folks open to liking him don’t need him to serve as black folks’ moral scold, and the ones who need that will never be satisfied until he does the full Herman Cain: which is to say, until he is prepared to basically lay all the problems of the nation at the feet of folks of color and sing Negro spirituals in white churches while little old white ladies, either literally or figuratively, rub his head.

To the extent the president no longer needs white folks to like him for the sake of re-election, that he regularly panders to our biases about the black community — as with his repeated lectures to black men, but only black men, on multiple father’s days to be better dads (cuz God knows white men need no similar instruction!) — suggests that perhaps it is he whose views of the black community are to blame here. Perhaps it is he who has internalized the idea that black people, even highly educated ones, are would-be malingerers, just waiting for a reason to go soft and “blame the world for trying to keep a black man down” (yes, he actually used that phrase in his speech).

Needless to say, Barack Obama will never tell white people at a traditionally white college or university to stop blaming affirmative action for every job we didn’t get, or every law school we didn’t get into, though we’ve been known to use both of these excuses on more than a few occasions.

He won’t tell white graduates at a traditionally white college or university to stop blaming Latino/a immigrants, for “taking our jobs,” which excuse we’ve also been known to float from time to time.

He would never tell graduates at a mostly white college to stop blaming immigrants, or so-called welfare for our supposedly high tax burdens, even though these remain popular, albeit incorrect, scapegoats for whatever taxes we pay.

He won’t tell white grads at white colleges to reject the entreaties of their right-wing radio hosts and talking heads, who keep blaming the Community Reinvestment Act and other fair housing laws for the mortgage and larger economic meltdown, even though such things were not to blame.

In short, to Barack Obama, it is only black people who need lectures about personal responsibility. Onlythey who make excuses when things don’t go their way. Only they who need to be reminded to do their best, because white graduates — like the majority of the grads at Ohio State to whom he also spoke recently — have got all that on lock. Their work ethics are unassailable. They would never make excuses for their failings. They would never blame a 35 percent tax rate, or capital gains taxes, for instance, for causing them to not invest their money, or create jobs. They would never blame gay marriage for threatening their own heterosexual marriage.

Because white people never make excuses for anything.

And so we get to remain un-lectured, un-stigmatized, un-bothered, and un-burdened with a reminder of our own need to be responsible. We get to remain, in short, privileged and presumed competent, presumed hard-working, presumed responsible, until proven otherwise, while even some of the best and brightest black men in America will start their careers having been weighted down with the realization that even the president, at some level, doesn’t really trust them to do the right thing, unless reminded to do so first, and by him.

Quite a mixed blessing, such a graduation gift as that.

ABOUT Tim Wise

Tim Wise, whom philosopher Cornel West calls, “A vanilla brother in the tradition of (antiracism and antislavery fighter) John Brown,” is among the most prominent anti-racist writers and educators in the United States. He has been called “One of the most brilliant, articulate and courageous critics of white privilege in the nation,” by best-selling author and professor Michael Eric Dyson, of Georgetown University. Wise, who was named one of “25 Visionaries Who are Changing Your World,” by Utne Reader in 2010, has spoken in all 50 states of the U.S., on over 800 college and high school campuses, and to community groups across the nation. He has also lectured internationally in Canada and Bermuda on issues of comparative racism, race and education, racism and religion, and racism in the labor market.

Wise is the author of six books, including the highly acclaimed memoir, White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son; an academic volume on affirmative action, entitled, Affirmative Action: Racial Preference in Black and White; an essay collection, entitled,Speaking Treason Fluently: Anti-Racist Reflections From an Angry White Male; two books on race and racism in the Obama era, entitled respectively, Between Barack and a Hard Place: Racism and White Denial in the Age of Obama, and Colorblind: The Rise of Post-Racial Politics and the Retreat from Racial Equity; and his latest, Dear White America: Letter to a New Minority, which examines rising white anxiety in an increasingly multicultural nation. His next book, The Culture of Cruelty: How America’s Elite Demonize the Poor, Valorize the Rich and Jeopardize the Future will be released in Fall, 2013. He has contributed essays to twenty-five books, and is one of several persons featured in White Men Challenging Racism: Thirty-Five Personal Stories, from Duke University Press. He received the 2001 British Diversity Award for best feature essay on race issues, and his writings have appeared in dozens of popular, professional and scholarly journals.