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The Koch Brothers' Slow Poisoning of America PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chet   
Monday, 25 April 2011 10:45

North Dakota Badlands

...is rooted right here in North Dakota.

The tiny Summer tourist town of "Medora" sits in the Badlands of Western North Dakota, about 25 miles from the Montana border.  It's a seasonal tourist town, the county seat of Billings County, ND.  Population:  50 to 100, approximately.  I'm guessing closer to 50.  It's about the size of the Democratic-NPL caucus in the North Dakota legislature and it supported John "Get off my lawn" McCain 3 to 1 in the 2008 election.

Named after the wife of French nobleman Marquis de Mores, Medora is known regionally for its summertime nightly productions of the "Medora Musical," a folksy, patriotic, taste of 1950s-era Americana.  The musical is presented in a comfortable, modern outdoor amphitheater naturally cut into the side of a Badlands butte, with the colorful shadows of the sunset spread out across more badlands above and behind  the stage and set. Take the whole family to the musical after eating oil-boiled steaks and corn-on-the-cob at the "pitchfork fondue" in the picnic shelter at the top of the butte. At the musical, expect a juggler or balancing act, some cowboy yodelling, a fair amount of polka and two-steppin', and a mostly-accurate lesson about the history of the town. (The musical, like Theodore Roosevelt did himself, typically exagerates how much time Roosevelt spent in North Dakota.) The last two times I was there, we also got to watch a short video clip of then President George W. Bush welcoming me to the musical. After the show, drive down the winding road on the other side of the pitchfork fondue and you'll pass by the "Chateau de Mores" before turning right onto Pacific Street, the road that takes you back into Medora.

In downtown Medora you'll find several gift shops, a great book store, an ice cream shop, a nice playground for toddlers, mini-golf, a couple small restaurants, museums and a hotel.  If instead of heading downtown you continue down Pacific Street, headed towards the rodeo grounds on the west end of town, you'll pass the Iron Horse Saloon (or Boots Bar & Grill [it'll always be the Iron Horse to me]) and then the "mini-mall," a collection of shops and snack bars connected a la "strip mall" but with a rustic, old-west boardwalk with a rail for hitchin' the horse you rode in on.

Taffy_ShopOne of the shops in the mini-mall is the Rushmore Mountain Taffy and Gift Shop. Like virtually every other retail store in town, the taffy shop closes when the Musical shuts down for the "Winter" right around Labor Day and will open back up again some time just before Memorial Day.

You wouldn't know it by looking at the taffy shop from the outside -- or inside, for that matter -- but for several years now, it has been the legal home to "The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity," a multi-million dollar right-wing non-profit set up for the sole purpose of facilitating indoctrination of Americans through the creative use of old-fashioned, right-wing misinformation and fake, slanted "news."

UPSStoreMThe Franklin Center (FC) is a non-profit organization that uses a "post office box" in the United Parcel Service Store in Bismarck.  The UPS Store provides a mail forwarding service to the folks at the Franklin Center. But the taffy shop, until very recently, was FC's "official" mailing address. North Dakota law requires nonprofits to have a "physical address," too, so citizens have a place to go if they want to ask for a copy of records nonprofits have to make available for public inspection, or to serve court papers on the organization.

"The registered office is the physical address (not just a post office box number) where the registered agent is available to receive service during regular business hours. Since the address of the registered office is often used for mail delivery, a post office box number must be included in the address if mail is not delivered to the physical address."

ND Secretary of State

For its first two years of operation, FC used the UPS Store PO Box and the seasonal Medora taffy store addresses somewhat interchangeably.  Either way, good luck getting a copy of those public records if you want to inspect them. And you are never going to find the Franklin Center's executive director in Medora to serve papers on him.


The Franklin Center's Executive Director is a guy named Jason Stverak.  Good luck finding Stverak -- the Center's only known North Dakota employee -- in North Dakota. He lives on the East Coast.  And by "East Coast," I do not mean "Fargo." He lives in New Jersey or Virginia or somewhere really East. 

Stverak's name may sound familiar to you; he used to be the Executive Director for the North Dakota Republican Party. He quit that gig back in about 2007 to become Rudy Giuliani's North Dakota state campaign director. That didn't go so well. Then in January of 2009, he formed the Franklin Center (FC) with the help and money of the Chicago-based "Sam Adams Alliance" (SAA) and the former state Republican Party directors who've graduated to its staff.  

The Franklin Center was officially incorporated in North Dakota in January of 2009. The Secretary of State (SOS) 2009 filings list a Texas attorney's address -- actually a "caging" operation -- as the organization's mailing address and the local UPS Store mail-forwarding service PO Box as it's physical address. In its first public federal tax filing, FC lists the address of the seasonally-opened Medora taffy shop owned by Stverak's father in Medora as its "physical" address.  Because North Dakota non-profits are required, by state law, to have a physical address.

Box176In a nonprofit corporation filing FC turned in (late) to the North Dakota Secretary of State's Office a couple weeks ago, FC informed the Secretary of State for the State of North Dakota that the Medora address is no longer its physical address.  Its new physical address is the Post Office Box 176 at the UPS Store in Bismarck.  Legal requirements be damned.

The Texas lawyer/caging operation, coincidentally, also does legal work for "Club for Growth," Alan Keyes' "Declaration Foundation," the CPAC sponsoring "Young Americas Foundation," the "Minuteman" militia people, the "Traditional Values Coalition," and a whole host of mostly far right-wing fringe organizations. It appears the lawyer -- Maureen E. Otis -- operates her law office out of an organization she leads called "American Caging."

The Franklin Center raised about $3 million in its first year of operation, 2009.  

You read that right.

For you headline-writing copy editors out there, here's your headline:  

"THREE MILLION DOLLARS raised by a little North Dakota non-profit based in a taffy shop in tiny town of Medora"

A source tells me most or all of FC's money comes from the Koch brothers. (My source's information is consistent with the information from a Playboy story that was scrubbed from the internet almost immediately after publication, but salvaged by a writer for the Atlantic.)  FC's tax records for 2009 show FC disbursed a bunch of this Koch money (nearly $700,000) in the form of grants to a variety of state-based, right-wing "news" services. These services universally approach stories from the far right. FC is behind, for example, "Watchdog.org" and a variety of state-based "watchdog.org"-type websites in lots of states, but --today -- they also fund other non-Watchdog.org outfits,including PlainsDaily.com in North Dakota, KansasReporter.com, CapitolBeatOK.com in Oklahoma.

In its first year, FC sent $200,000 to "Missouri News Network" and $150,000 to "Tennessee Watch". They've given money to fake "news" bloggers in Wyoming, New Mexico, Montana, Hawaii, Nebraska, Texas, Alaska, Maine, West Virginia, California, Washington, New Hampshire... all over, really. As noted, they gave away nearly $700,000 in grants to these "news" bloggers during their first year. I can't wait to see their Form 990 for 2010. Stverak brags the organization funds these right wing political hacks in more than 40 states.

PlainsDaily.com, the North Dakota version of the Franklin Center's fake "news" service, made the news a month or so ago. A story in the Grand Forks Herald originated with a Plains Daily blog post about the University of North Dakota using a UND Foundation aircraft to ferry people to and from Bismarck to (among other things) testify on issues relevant to the University. Plains Daily's capitol beat "reporter" -- the author of the UND plane story -- is Kate Bommarito. Before becoming a fake "journalist," Kate worked on Kevin Cramer's 2010 Republican Party campaign for the U.S. House. She has been active in North Dakota Republican Party politics for quite a while.  Her husband, I'm told, is Mike Bommarito, a former ND GOP executive director. When Kevin Cramer's campaign for Congress was caught buying support of delegates to the GOP convention by paying convention fees a couple years ago, the Bommarito family name came up as the conduit for some of those payments.

Plains Daily has been credentialed to use "press" space in the "Press Room" in North Dakota's Capital. There's an interesting national debate happening all over the country about whether bloggers like the ones at PlainsDaily should get such space in capitol news rooms.  The question is "should partisan bloggers or news sites be given 'press' credentials in state houses?"  It's an important debate you won't find in a local newspaper.  It's an important debate that obviously never took place in North Dakota before Plains Daily was credentialed in the capitol.

I asked Dale Wetzel -- Bismarck's main AP reporter -- how PlainsDaily got space in the capitol news room. Here's a bit of his response:

PlainsDaily.com does have space in the press room. It has one of the 10 carrels in the press room (there is also other space that is used by reporters). It was assigned by me.

Interestingly, there is a state law on this topic, 48-08-03 [Click here]. I don’t know when it was approved, but it has been on the books for as long as I have been here (Sept 1984).

The PlainsDaily person, Kate Bommarito, is here almost every day and uses the space to work. I don’t keep track of what she does, but she sometimes covers the same things I do. She uses a laptop and usually brings a small video camera and tripod.

As I understand it the PlainsDaily site is part of the WZFG-AM station in Fargo, The Flag, which is a member of AP. The PlainsDaily site posts AP stories, according to the Google alerts I get. I don’t look at the site regularly.

One real media person told me they thought Plains Daily could be cited as a legitimate news source because they are or the Franklin Center (who funds Plains Daily) is funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts.  "The Pew Charitable Trusts do not give out money to partisan hacks," was the implied message conveyed to me.

I called the Pew Center folks.  Among other things, I was able to confirm -- with the help of helpful staff at Pew -- that no Pew money goes to either the Franklin Center, or to Plains Daily.  I do not know who started a rumor (if it's out there) that FC or Plains Daily is funded by Pew, but they are not.

I also separately asked Amy Mitchell, Deputy Director of the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism, about these mysteriously funded, agenda-driven non-profits funding online news services.  Here's what she said

It is important to know the background of the mission and funding of these types of organizations.  Clearly in the traditional press there has been a diminishing in the resources devoted to state level / local level government reporting. Local newspapers have had to cut back on their staff. It has left a void. These new nonprofit-funded online sources are saying they’re coming in to fill that void. Clearly there is a need. The question that arrises, as a news organization, you need to know where you are coming from, who is reporting for you, and let your consumers know.

Asked why non-profit funded online outlets are any different from the local paper, when most people don't know who owns the local newspaper, Mitchell said, "The issue isn't whether they know; the issue is, 'Is the information available?'  Even if people are choosing to not obtain it, is it available?'  There is with all news organizations a responsibility to be transparent with your consumers."

There's lots of very interesting information in the Medora-based non-profit's 2009 IRS Form 990. For example, The Franklin Center spent nearly $500,000 on attorney fees their first year. They spent $236,000 on conferences/conventions/meetings. Another $74,000 on travel. They had 15 employees who received a total of $450,000 in combined compensation. The form lists three directors:  (1) Rudie Martinson (Director and Secretary).  Rudie is a very liberterian lobbyist for North Dakota's Hospitality Association and a former Assistant State Director for the North Dakota Chapter of the Koch brother's funded astroturf group, Americans for Prosperity; (2) Doug Loen (Director). I'm not sure who Doug is. The only Doug Loen I could find is a lawyer for the South Dakota Department of Corrections. I do not know if that's the same Doug Loen; and (3) Jason Stverak (President and Chairman). The tax form lists the Medora taffy shop address as the "physical address" of the "person who possesses the books and records of the organization." That -- they've told the IRS -- is FC's physical address.  (Check out the Franklin Center's 990 form by clicking here.)

FranklinCenterI ran into FC board member Rudie Martinson (the Center's only known human connection to North Dakota anymore) a couple weeks ago at a "Fun Caucus" gathering in downtown Bismarck on a Thursday night. I tried to ask Rudie some questions about the Franklin Center. He declined to answer any of my questions, referring me to the organization's headquarters. Asked how I reach them, Rudie was kind enough to give me his business card. What address is given on the business card?  127 S. Peyton St., Suite 200... Alexandria, Virginia. That's "Old Town" Alexandria, an area of Alexandria just across the river from Washington, D.C., right on the Potomac River.  (See photo of their front door, below).  Close enough to lobby the U.S. Congress, and far, far away from the Medora International Airport.  Even the Franklin Center's only known human connection has a Northern Virginia area code on his business card.

FranklinCenter03There are numerous stories about these fake "news" bloggers out there, too. Read, for example, this great report from Harvard University, entitled "Ants at the Picnic: A Status Report on News Coverage of State Government," (read the whole thing, but especially starting about half-way down page 23).  And this.  And thisThisThisThis. And This.  When one (or two) North Dakota media editors decided to reject the garbage work of North Dakota's bought-and-paid-for Franklin Center "news" blog, they could have pointed to any of these stories. They could have done their own research.  Instead they just called the Plains Daily "irresponsible to the extreme." Had they done their legwork, our local media could have provided some facts to help the people understand "why" and "how" Plains Daily is so irresponsible. They could have helped legislators to understand why North Dakota needs stronger non-profit organization disclosure requirements and some "teeth" to the laws we do have.

I may be writing about things many of you already know, but I'm including this so I know everyone is on the same page. Non-profit organizations have to file an IRS Form 990.  "Form 990 is an annual reporting return that certain federally tax-exempt organizations must file with the IRS. It provides information on the filing organization's mission, programs, and finances."  (Guidestar.org)  "

Schedule B 990 (Schedule of Contributors) is used by organizations that are exempt from paying income tax. It is filed in conjunction with Form 990, 990-EZ, or 990-PF and provides the names and addresses of contributors to the organization."  (ehow.com)  Schedule B is the only part of the 990 that is exempt from disclosure under FOIA. The tax code requires disclosure of this info only to the IRS so the IRS can cross-check against taxpayers' claimed deductions for charitable giving. Failure to provide the required Schedule B information can result in a $100 per day fine, up to $50,000, for a donor with significant donation income.  I believe they can also lose their tax exempt status.

Rather than complying with that tax code disclosure requirement, FC and SAA both have chosen to submit what I'll characterize as being an "objection" to the Schedule B requirement. Here is what their submission (a "Schedule O"; which is not exempt from FOIA) says (and it's nearly identical for both the FC and SAA 990s):

"The [organization] does not provide specific identifying information on its donors on the ground that such disclosure may chill the donors' First Amendment right to associate in private with the organization. NAACP v. Alabama, 357 U.S. 449 (1958); International Union UAW v. National Right to Work, 590 F.2d 1139, 1152 (D.C. Cir. 1978). While the other information has been provided on this Schedule B, actual identities have been protected by assigning a number or letter to each donor listed."

I've read those two federal cases and I don't think either of them says what FC and SAA say they say. I've also done some looking on Westlaw and find nothing supporting their position. But I'm not a tax or non-profit organizations lawyer. There are, however, two more-recent U.S. Supreme Court cases NOT cited by FC and SAA, that I think cast a lot of doubt on the objection.  (Read thisthis and this.)  I've contacted a few different attorneys, nationally, who have done some work in this area.  One pointed out that the two cases cited by by SAA and FC relate, ironically, to protections for groups engaging in political activity, and a 501(c)(3) nonprofit is not supposed to be engaging in political activity.

If FC and SAA are correct, then there should be a First Amendment right for political parties to also refuse to disclose to the IRS, the FEC and state Secretaries of State where they get their large donations.The cases I link to in the previous paragraph appear to reject this notion, thus leaving FC and SAA high and dry. But maybe their goal is to litigate this issue. Maybe it's their goal to get first amendment privacy/secrecy protection for political parties, so they -- too -- can raise funds in secret.

I need to throw this out there in the interest of full disclosure, too. One of the non-profit attorneys I spoke to noted that there are non-profits on both ends of the idealogical spectrum that make similar claims of confidentiality for their donors. I trust what he told me, but I looked (not a lot, but some) and found none that lean to the left that refuse to disclose donors to the IRS. This type of conduct -- whether done by left-leaning or right-leaning organizations -- seems like an invitation for everybody to pick and chose which IRS laws they want to follow.

There are all kinds of other juicy morsels I've learned about the Franklin Group, too:  Here are some examples:

(1) I requested a full copy of the Franklin Center file from North Dakota's Secretary of State's office.  I picked up the records on a Tuesday.  When I left my office Tuesday, to go get the forms, FC's status on the ND Secretary of State's website was "not in good standing"  When I got back home after work the same day I checked the Secretary of State's website again.  This time FC showed up as "Active and In Good Standing.   They had apparently, coincidentally, filed their 2011 non-profit report the exact same day I started snooping around in it.  How does that happen?

(2) Franklin Center has a contract with a fundraising company called "Clearword Communications," a D.C. based fundraising firm. Coincidentally, Clearword does fundraising for FreedomWorks and a bunch of other far right wing, corporate-funded organizations.

(3) The ND Secretary of State forms filed by the Franklin Center on that Tuesday a few weeks ago -- FC's state 2011 non-profit disclosure forms -- show that it has now officially abandoned the Medora taffy shop address. (Click here.) It now uses as its address, exclusively, the UPS Store Post Office Box mail forwarding service.  Sadly, no more taffy and right-wing ideology quick-stops in Medora. 

(4) The form filed with the SOS a few weeks ago is filled out by a James Skyles. On the form, Skyles gives a daytime phone number starting with "847." That's a Chicago, Illinois, area area code. Skyles, on his LinkedIn page, lists his current employment as "Principal at Skyles Law Group, LLC" and past employment as "Director of Operations at Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity." Skyles is a graduate of the "Ave Maria School of Law," the Dominos-Pizza-founder-funded, scandal-plagued (lawsuits brought against the school by several former professors, questions about funding and administration salaries, etc.), private, right-wing Catholic law school that used to be in Ann Arbor, Michigan, but that moved to Naples, Florida. I don't think I've ever bumped into Skyles here in Bismarck.

(5) The Franklin Center was set up by Stverak with the assistance of a gentleman named Eric O'Keefe, the director of the Sam Adams Alliance. O'Keefe was also was a presenter at the Koch brothers' secretive, invitation-only seminar in Palm Springs, California, in January of 2011. Glenn Beck also presented. I'm not sure who that makes look bad: O'Keefe, or Beck.

(6) O'Keefe's wife, Leslie Graves, runs the Lucy Burns Institute, a non-profit that supports transparency in government. An interesting fact: The Sam Adams Alliance (run by O'Keefe) felt it was important to disclose in its IRS Form 990 (click here to read it) that O'Keefe is married to Graves. On its "Schedule O" (2009), it disclosed that "the Sam Adams Alliance entered into a contract with Lucy Burns Institute (LBI) which provided LBI with sponsorship for Ballotpedia and Judgepedia." The disclosure goes on to note that neither O'Keefe nor Graves receive any compensation from Sam Adams or Lucy Burns, respectively. What it does not disclose is that Sam Adams Alliance gave millions of Koch brothers dollars to the Franklin Center in 2009, and then the Franklin Center turned around and gave $43,412.56 to the Lucy Burns Institute in 2009. The slippery ways these people move their money around just amazes me. The Koch brothers' m.o. is to give millions to one organization and then have that organization spread the money around to dozens of other right-wing organizations. That makes it impossible to figure out where their money is really going.  One day you may learn that an organization like Sam Adams Alliance or Franklin Center get their money from 10 or 20 other similar organizations, but when you try to figure out where those donors get their money, you'll see that it comes from 10 or 20 other right-wing organizations.  When you are the multi-billionaire oil company-owning Koch brothers, you can create a massive web of 501(c) organizations and use them to spread around a few hundred million dollars, and nobody will ever figure out what you're funding. Organizations in your web can file "conflict of interest" disclosures when it's convenient, and then launder your money through some other 501(c) organization without anybody ever really noticing. If you're filthy rich, infinitely corrupt, and trying to manipulate public opinion without behing held accountable... it's brilliant.

(7) Some of the documents submitted to the Secretary of State were signed by Stverak in front of a Notary Public named "John Tsarpalas." (Click here to read it.) Tsarpalas, a past president of the Sam Adams Alliance and currently CEO of  "Think Freely Media" yet another mysteriously-funded 501(c)(3) non-profit, used to be the director of the Illinois Republican Party.

It seems to me the goal of some of these non-profits is to create an ever-moving target. Sure, one day the Franklin Center will be exposed as a right-wing money-laundering operation for the billionaire Koch brothers, but then the Franklin Center will disappear and the Koch money will be laundered by "Think Freely Media" or some other right-wing operation run by the former Republican Party executive director for some other state. By the time Think Freely's 990 form becomes public 2 years from now, there'll be some new astro-turf front group -- or a hundred of then -- through which the Koch brothers and their ilk will launder their nearly-untraceable money.  

The thing American billionaire oligarchs like the Koch brothers fear more than anything else is a strong middle class. They have made it their mission to "educate" the middle class to believe two things: (1) one day, you, too, can be a billionaire and these huge tax breaks for the billionaire Koch brothers you are blindly supporting now will benefit you once you, too, hit the lottery, and (2) giving tax breaks to billionaires helps regular people because the billionaires will invest more in small businesses, and inject more money into the economy.  One day you, too, will inherit billions from your idealogue billionaire father and be able to spend $324 million dollars to manipulate public opinion.

What they don't tell you is that the odds of you becoming a billionaire are about the same as your odds of hitting the Power Ball.  The odds of tax breaks for billionaires like the Koch brothers helping regular people like you are even worse.  

The Franklin Center / Sam Adams Alliance / Koch brothers arrangement is an argument for strong state and/or federal disclosure laws for these types of shadowy, politically charged non-profit organizations. Right now an organization like the "Franklin Center" can "set up camp" (and by "camp" I mean "a post office box") in North Dakota, and run a non-profit out of here without even being here, adding to the ever growing list of trouble soiling our states formerly good name.  It is my opinion they are violating North Dakota's laws by being "from here" but not "being here."  But nobody is going to do anything about it. Even if they did, it would be a token of law enforcement, not real law enforcement.

We deserve strong disclosure laws for shadowy non-profit organizations that pretend to be from here, break our laws, and are not.

Comments (35)add comment

What the Heck said:

let's be fair
Our state regularly cracks down on the out of state fly by nighters. College kids trying to sell magazines for their scammer overlords don't stand a chance. Or the construction contractors without licenses. Our AG is all over those situations. Makes big headlines.

Republican led corrupt money laundering and possibly federal tax evasion? A figment of your imagination, Chet. Doesn't happen in ND.
April 26, 2011
Votes: +4

Elmer Fudd said:

Makes you wonder if the ultimate goal of all of this bullshit is to destroy democracy and create a one party rule system. Seems to me that if their motives were genuine there would be nothing wrong with just coming out and stating them publicly. Money and power combined with an agenda = corruption. Doesn't surprise me a bit that this is happening in ND, we are somewhat of a Naïve bunch and tend to trust that people are telling us the truth, probably because the ND mainstream media lacks the guts or intelligence to bring any of this to print. Spoon fed values?.... Makes you wonder

Thanks Chet!
April 26, 2011
Votes: +2

folske said:

almost giving Beck a run for his money....almost
My gosh, I don't know if I'm more angry with myself for actually spending 10 minutes to skim this drivel or for taking another 5 to respond. This "research" is nothing more than 6-degrees-of-separation-from-Kevin-Bacon put to politics. Beck does the same thing on the right; take random unrelated facts and string them together with innuendo, snide remarks and demagoguery.

At least Beck is good at it! He knows his audience. This is just boring, I say again, drivel. "You too can be a billionaire" is not a mindless carrot out there. It's the truth, and this is the ONLY country where it can happen. You lefties are much too eager to hang up the towel and suck on the government teet rather than work to acheive it. And then your petty jealousy takes over when you see someone actually DID achieve it, so you strive to pull them all down and make everyone equal via government confiscation of wealth and hand outs under the guise of "entitlements". The mere word entitlements, when scrutinized, makes me angry. You're "entitled" to the pursuit of life, liberty and the PURSUIT of happiness. PERIOD!

And finally, SHOCKER! You mean to say folks with money are trying to influence elections!!! You don't think there are "bundlers" on the left managing to get money from all the Wall Street fat cats, trial lawyers and Hollywood lefties into the Dem coffers?

Ughhh....again, I can't believe I even took the time to respond.
April 26, 2011
Votes: -3

Chet said:

To Folske
One of the differences between this and what Beck does: This isn't based upon fantasy. I've provided links to supporting documents. You might not like the facts, but that doesn't make them "less facty". You don't think the 990 form I linked to or the Secretary of State filings I've provided are factual? Ask the folks at the Franklin Center and the Sam Adams Alliance. If you need their phone numbers, let me know. I might have them around here somewhere. (see above)
April 26, 2011
Votes: +7

BC said:

You can see the value of all this hidden money by reading folske's comments. These guys know they can influence pea-brains and get them to talk in their labels. That's why they do it. There are a lot of "folske's" out there, and it's not their fault. They can't think for themselves and need these Koch people to imprint their thinking into them.....
April 26, 2011
Votes: +4

folske said:

Did you read my comment? I never disputed your facts, just the convoluted way you (and Beck) string them together, omit contradictory yet relevant information, and imply skullduggery when there's nothing else there. You're engaging in the same folly as Beck, the person you love to hate.
April 26, 2011
Votes: -2

folske said:

smilies/grin.gif typical lib response. no argument on the merits; heck, not even an ATTEMPT to rebut my post. just a personal attack. thanks for the levity! smilies/grin.gif smilies/grin.gif
April 26, 2011
Votes: -3

nimrod said:

As Folske says: Don't bother me with the facts or rational argument. I only believe what I want to believe. Ignorance, in pursuit of political domination, is bliss.
Nimrod sez: We are turning into a nation of sheep.
April 26, 2011
Votes: +3

Chet said:

I'll bite
Speaking of demagoguery and innuendo... Tell me where the "6 degrees of separation" arguments and innuendo are in what I've written. It's impossible for me to even bother to try to defend against a vague argument like "you use innuendo somewhere!!!" when you don't tell me where the innuendo is. I'm telling you there's no innuendo in this blog post. Again, it's "fact based;" something to which you're probably not accustomed. I say the Koch brothers fund the Franklin Center. Not directly, of course. And I explain it. I back that up by saying I have a source who has told me that, and I point to another source (a story on the Atlantic magazine's website) whose information is absolutely consistent with my source's info.

I say they're not funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts. I back that up by calling them and asking them. Have you contacted them and learned something different? You want the name of the people I communicated with at Pew? You want email addresses?

I say Franklin Center is funding these right-wing news blogs all over the country. They admit it. (Go look at their website; it's what THEY say they do.) When the blogger at PlainsDaily showed up to interview a friend of mine, one of the things she told him is "we're funded by the non-partisan, non-profit Franklin Center." They do not keep it a secret. This part isn't even deep-digging journalism. You don't think the "news" blogs are right wing? If so, you obviously haven't bothered to read them.

You don't think Stverak is the former NDGOP executive director? Is that a "half truth" or "innuendo"? No. It's a fact. Ask him. You don't think John Tsarpalas used to be executive director of the Republican Party in Illinois? Maybe you should tell him someone tampered with his LinkedIn page.

You don't think they are refusing to comply the IRS tax code requirement that they disclose their donors to the IRS? Maybe you have a different version of their 990 than the one I published here. Cough it up.

I say they use a mail forwarding service at a post office box at the UPS store in south Bismarck and that they don't have a "physical address" in North Dakota. I say Al Jaeger (and our state law) requires that they provide a "physical address." I prove these things by providing an assortment of documents that prove it. I give you a quotation from Jaeger's state website. You have some other evidence that proves I'm wrong? You think they gave a physical address?!? You think you've got some evidence that it's NOT against the law for them to operate without providing a physical address?!? Bring it.

I claim (and present public-record documented proof) that, until recently, they used a taffy shop in Medora as their physical address. If you think I forged those documents, you should just come right out and accuse me.

I claim they're based in "Old Town" Arlington, VA. I offer up the business card of one of the board members. You think I forged that? You want the name of a couple other locals who were sitting there as he handed out his business cards? You think the'd deny it? Let me know.

See what I'm getting at? You can't just say "Hey, Chet... you're story is full of holes. Prove me wrong!!!" and then expect me to guess what holes you're talking about and "rebut" the "substance" of your substance vacuum. Yours is a typical Fox News viewer's response to hard evidence. We can show you President Obama's birth certificate, but you won't believe your lyin' eyes. You won't believe it because Bill O'Reilly told you not to. You won't believe your eyes because Sean Hannity told you not to. You won't believe your eyes because Rush Limbaugh told you something that conflicts with what you see.

Like you, I cannot believe I'm wasting my time responding to someone who writes such hollow, empty drivel.
April 26, 2011
Votes: +10

BC said:

Chet - don't you get it? Get tuned in man. When you cut taxes government revenue goes up. Mega corporations are all small businesses. If the rich get richer it will trickle down. School teachers in Wisconsin are busting the budget. Unions, don't get me started. There is no climate change. Fracking doesn't pollute. Jesus was a free-market fanatic. Obama wasn't born in the U.S. We can drill our way into solving energy problems. Teenagers aren't horny and don't need sex ed unless it is theocratically based....I am sure I missed some of folske's views, but Chet you should back off the Koch's hidden money scam and start embracing what they stand for, it's all so freedom loving.
April 26, 2011
Votes: +5

folske said:

BC, nimrod..*rolling eyes*
At least Chet has tried to stick with the argument. His loyal "sheep" (nimrods word, not mine) seem unable to argue the point, but rather rely on the age old lib arrogance. "Anyone disagreeing with me is stupid. I am sooooo right, that anyone who doesn't see that must be dumb." It's so predictable, it's laughable. I'll stick to debating Chet, who at least defends his arguments/opinions rather than sticking his tongue out and uttering that old dependable lib phrase: "Neener neener".
April 26, 2011
Votes: -3

folske said:

Chet, the following is fact based???
"The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity," a multi-million dollar right-wing non-profit set up for the sole purpose of facilitating indoctrination of Americans through the creative use of old-fashioned, right-wing misinformation and fake, slanted "news."

There's no fact in that statement!

Would this stand up on any serious journalists blotter as "evidence"?
One real media person told me they thought Plains Daily could be cited as a legitimate news source because they are or the Franklin Center (who funds Plains Daily) is funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts. "The Pew Charitable Trusts do not give out money to partisan hacks," was the implied message conveyed to me.
I don't think so. You have no "facts" here that FC ever said they are funded by Pew. Just indignation that a competitor has a desk in the Capitol pool and, either you don't, or don't think they should!

Kudos here:
I need to throw this out there in the interest of full disclosure, too. One of the non-profit attorneys I spoke to noted that there are non-profits on both ends of the idealogical spectrum that make similar claims of confidentiality for their donors. I trust what he told me, but I looked (not a lot, but some) and found none that lean to the left that refuse to disclose donors to the IRS. This type of conduct -- whether done by left-leaning or right-leaning organizations -- seems like an invitation for everybody to pick and chose which IRS laws they want to follow.

The only bit of non-partisanship in the article is IMMEDIATELY undermined by an admission that you hardly tried to find a left-leaning group that isn't doing the same thing!

"Hey, Chet... you're story is full of holes. Prove me wrong!!!"

Again, you're misunderstanding my point. I don't doubt each of your little tidbits of information is correct in itself, but the Beck-esque way in which your quilting them together doesn't jive.
1) a guy from North Dakota sets up a non-profit....wait for it....wait for it....IN NORTH DAKOTA!!!!!
dunt dunt DAAAAAAAAA!!!!!! Is this really news worthy? I mean, he has to register SOMEWHERE, right?

2) they guy says on his own site that he wants to enlist "watchdogs" all over the country to watch statehouses, and gets some investors (very wealthy conservative (right wing, if you want) investors) and then goes where the politics are...i.e. the East Coast.
dunt dunt DAAAAAAA!!!! Again, smoking gun? not really. Anyone who does business nationally knows a corp, s-corp, llc whatever HAS to be registered SOMEWHERE.

3) hey teacher! teacher! hey teacher!! um....Jason..uh..Ja..Jason..umm...Jason is sposta...um....Jason is sposta have a real address thingy and...and he doesn't. Mr Jaeger..he doesn't!
dunt dunt DAAAAAAAA!!!!! c'mon Chet! the physical address is for legal process servers to find you. ND supports proxy representatives who don't even have to be part of the business! Do you really think Jaegar cares so much about this little infraction? Sure, it's an infraction, but you spend paragraphs on this!

4)OH! yeah, and teacher...um...they...uh..they cant do that cuz they're sposta tell us who gave them money. I know cuz I looked in the splycocedia.
smilies/cheesy.gif Sorry, but there's no credibility here. You try to play lawyer and say what FC is doing is illegal, then admit you have no law training, then IMMEDIATELY start citing more court cases! Meanwhile, the only lawyer you DO talk to says it's not illegal and "everyone is doing that" (my paraphrase).

In MY opinion, this looks like a hit piece on someone you don't like. I don't have any evidence of that, but you are pretty plugged into ND politics and I'm sure have come across Mr. Stverak before. Maybe you didn't or don't like him? So you decide you're going to "expose" a guy who started a non-profit in ND and is out of state trying to take it national with the help of billionaire investors. You're attacking his non-profit status, yet nowhere does it say non-profits must be altruistic (BC, nimrod...look it up smilies/wink.gif ) So the guy had a friend in Medora serving as his registered agent for a time, big deal! Businesses do this all the time. Do you really think all those credit card and bank companies in Maryland are there because it's a wonderful place to live?

Finally, you absolutely ignore the same thing happening on the left. Soros funds MoveOn and you don't cover it at all. MoveOn even has a PAC and no mention here.

I don't know if anyone can tell, but I'm no Beck fan. He's more divisive than any other bloviator out there. When I read this, it made me think of him immediately. I guess you can decide if that's what you wanted or not.
April 26, 2011
Votes: -3

Elmer Fudd said:

You dumb or something? The article is about the Koch Brothers laundering money and trying to influence the political process to their liking. Your spin has almost got me dizzy. Keep your eye on the ball man.
April 26, 2011
Votes: +2

folske said:

another personal attack....anyone here capable of anything else?

Fudd, do you really think this article would've been any different had it been Rove, Norman Braman, The Heritage Foundation, or any other conservative money? No, this was a hit piece on FC, IMO.

Laundering money??? Strong words for what is being done all over the political spectrum, and the nation. Soros gives to MoveOn, the TIDES Foundation, Center for American Progress, all of whom employ, under the guise of non-profit (but hardly non-partisan) information gathering and electorate education, bloggers and activists to promote their causes. It's the same game being played, yet we are to be outraged by a one man ND shop? whatever.

As for all the birther stuff, don't generalize me into that crap. Or the Muslim crap, or Ayers crap, or the Wright crap. I dislike Obama for what he stands for. I want less government in my life, he not only wants more, he wants ME to WANT...nay..NEED more. Government has proven time and again that it cannot solve problems. It can create many though. His "solutions" cannot work on a macro scale, truly implemented. They are classroom thesis projects that need to stay there.

April 26, 2011
Votes: -3

Chet said:

. o O (I can't believe I'm still engaging with this character.)
Before I mess around with addressing your specific items, let me ask this: Your IP address tells me you're joining us from Alexandria, Virginia (or somewhere very nearby). Am I visiting with THE Jason Stverak? Or are you some other Franklin Center or Sam Adams Alliance employee?

Be honest.
April 26, 2011
Votes: +4

nimrod said:

age old conservative arrogance . . . typical radical rightist attack . . .
April 26, 2011
Votes: +4

folske said:

lol, neither
my IP routes through national servers, but that doesn't mean I'm located there. you're not a lawyer, and obviously you're not a techy either! though congrats on being able to navigate whatismyipaddress.com. I'm just a conservative debating your premise that we should be concerned about a guy who happens to have registered his 501c3 in ND.

BTW, the "cant believe I'm wasting time" was my line...find your own smilies/cheesy.gif
April 26, 2011
Votes: -3

BC said:

IP & $$$
So the IP address routes through a bunch of serves like the Koch money routes through a bunch of places so the Koch's can remain hidden. Chet, maybe folske is actually one of the Koch Brothers themselves? It's fuuny how much work the Koch's do to hide their agenda from the public, and fund their Ayn Rand fantasy world.....
April 26, 2011
Votes: +2

random said:

folske=typical right wing liar
----- He says,"You too can be a billionaire" is not a mindless carrot out there. It's the truth, and this is the ONLY country where it can happen.----

The United States has the least upward mobility of any industrialized country in the world. The UK with their aristocrats is second. The rest of the world is not even close.

A child born to a low income family in Canada has a much better chance of climbing the social ladder than a similar child in the U.S. So not only do we lead the world in wealth inequlaity and concentration of wealth, we now lead in social immobility. Contrary to what Folske pulled out of his a@@.
April 26, 2011
Votes: +4

Elmer Fudd said:


Who/what are the Koch brothers doing all of this for? Less government or to create a government that is warm and fuzzy for them and their ilk? I do not dispute that both sides do this type of thing. So was it wrong to shine a light in and see of anything scurried off, back into the darkness? The right loves to do it; Fox news would be out of business if they didn’t. It obviously hit a nerve with you. We got exactly what I suspected the far right response would be. An aggressive talking point spin and a ridiculous attempt at justifying this activity by making playground statements like George Soros did it too.

What is your side’s solution? Less Government? What else? Ok I’ll bite, who, where, when and how much? If you think that Ryan’s plan is the key to our future prosperity you need to provide actual facts if you want me to buy in. Ryan cannot even do it himself. Finally if Government cannot solve problems who should solve them? Should we solve all of this on our own or should we let a Dictator or King Take power and lead us all out of the darkness? Scares the hell out of me when people like you seem to think they have all the answers but all you can do is recite Tea Party talking points and spin the rest.

Enlighten us with your plan...Please
April 26, 2011
Votes: +5

folske said:

FUDD...far right wing...really?
Fudd, I have no idea how you can call me far right wing. It's laughable to say disagreeing with anything written here (and you have to admit, it comes from a decidely leftist POV), makes me "far right" or "Radical". I'm actually pretty centrist. Socially moderate in that I don't think abortion is a federal issue (let them confront God about it when that time comes), I think DOMA is a joke (IMO, government should get out of the marriage business altogether. it's a holy sacrament, not a tax deduction), and Dont Ask Dont Tell was crap (signed into by the Democratic Messiah of the 90's BTW!).

I worked my way up from humble ND beginnings, not poor, but humble. Got a CS degree from NDSU, worked for awhile for various companies, now have my own tech biz and am in that "rich" category. So when people like random say upward mobility is impossible in this society, I can tell you first hand they either arne't trying, don't care to try, or are too dumb to try.

As for my "solution", i assume you mean my deficit solution since you brought up the Ryan plan? Or did you want my campaign finance solution, as that's the pertinent topic here?

I think Ryan's plan starts out decidedly full of red meat for the conservatives. I don't know if he did this to give himself room to come back to the middle and still have a bill he wants, or if he really believes in it. I don't like completely vouchering Medicare/Medicaid. The poor and elderly tend to be less informed and less able to navigate tough procedures/programs, and this would end up being a minefield for them. I think a tiered system would work, whereby children are covered, period. Then poor under the pverty line are covered, period. then as you go up the economic scale, vouchers start to kick in, and as you get to the rich, you hit a floor for vouchers. I don't agree that we should ever tell anyone they are too rich to recieve the vouchers though.

I also think tax hikes HAVE to play a part somewhere. I like getting rid of most deductions (except charitable) and getting the tax rate to something normal, like 28%. THat would bring a ton of money in to the coffers.

I honestly haven't looked at the spending cuts side of things yet. working for the government, i can tell you I KNOW there's waste there, but I haven't seen his cut propposals to comment yet.

so there, I've laid out what i'd do. rather than all the personal attacks and name calling, someone tackle the issues...PLEASE! Gotta run to work out with my family at the Y, but I"ll think about the campaign finance stuff and shoot my thoughts later.

April 26, 2011
Votes: -2

Bob K said:

Thanks for the response, I look forward to your view on campaign finance. I will agree there is waste in any government you pick it is not an isolated incident in the United States. If there is fraud and mismanagement it should be rooted out with consequences established. Simply changing the Medicare system will not fix all of the problems as I'm sure someone will find a way to manipulate the system to their benefit. A smaller government footprint will not accomplish this either.

Even when there is widenspread fraud the right has shown little backbone to do anything about it. Look at the banking meltdown how many responsible for that mess are paying any price for the he'll they put the country through to date. We both know the answer to that question. I'm upset with both sides of the isle because their agendas are preventing them from doing what is right for the country. IMO it is time for both sides to check their egos and agendas at the door and get to work fixing the problems our country has. I do not see that happening anytime in the near future.
April 27, 2011
Votes: +0

Chet said:

LOL... yeah, sure you're not in Northern Virginia.
I'll preface by saying this: In this exchange, I have already gone waaaay past my usual threshold for patience with people who pretend they're interested in engaging in a meaningful political debate. When you finish reading this post, I think you'll get a sense of whether I feel you've given me any reason to continue with this exchange.

Here goes...

(1) Your News Flash: Guy from north dakota sets up a non-profit... dunt dunt daaaaaah... "in North Dakota!!!" See, I wouldn't have put it this way. I think Jason Stverak is from South Dakota, so I never would have suggested what you've suggested. I don't think the blog post says anything about Stverak being from North Dakota. Sure it mentions that he once worked here for a period of time, but it doesn't say he's "from" here. On the "someone in this discussion is making this up" scorecard, there's one strike against you. Even if something I wrote suggested he was from here, I don't have any problem at all with people (whether from ND or not) setting up non-profits in North Dakota. Nothing in this blog post says I have a problem with that. What I say I have a problem with is people setting up partisan non-profits in North Dakota, taking advantage of our state and federal laws that allow groups that follow certain laws to be tax exempt, breaking the law in doing so, whether it's by refusing to comply with tax code requirements, or "physical address" requirements, or anything else.

(2) "Everyone knows a corp.... has to be registered somewhere." Strike two. No place did I suggest that I have a problem with a nonprofit following the law, having a physical address and engaging in nonpartisan stuff. I don't address that in this blog post, at all, one way or the other. But when those corporations register somewhere, don't you think it's also reasonable for everyone to expect that they'll... Dunt dunt daaaahhhh!!!... follow the law? See, again, I don't have a big problem with people who follow the law. I have a problem with people BREAKING the law and claiming tax exempt status while they do it. That's a subtle difference.

(3) "We're just breaking the law a little." I love you guys. I love these "It's just a little law breakin'" types. Sandy Blunt appears to have been that kind of guy. Do you break the law because you don't know what it is, or do you break the law because you know you'll never be held accountable? Is it because you know your friends hold the elected offices that might otherwise enforce the law against you? "I've got Wayne Stenehjem and Al Jaeger in my speed-dial, so I don't have to follow North Dakota's law, Chet!!!" Good for you. It must be so awesome to be you and not have to worry about being held accountable for breaking the law. That's a great lesson to teach your children. I won't count this as a strike because you don't allege anything; we just disagree on whether non-profits should have to follow the law.

(4) Nowhere do I say that "everyone is doing it." Nowhere do I "admit" I have no legal training." Strike three. Not even close. This is stuff you completely make up. My point is that by refusing to comply with the IRS tax code, it kind of makes me wonder why everyone -- including you and me -- shouldn't "pick and choose" which tax code provisions they should comply with. "What's the big deal? The Koch brothers and all the past leaders of the Republican Party don't have to follow the tax laws; why should Folske follow the law?!?" Again, it seems like these people -- by picking and choosing which laws they're going to follow -- are not setting a good example. If you're saying the cases I cited aren't "lawyer worthy" or that they don't say what I say they say, you should say so. Don't just say, "Because you admit you're not a lawyer, you are not allowed to cite court cases." That's both a factually inaccurate argument and a stupid argument.

And you're upset with me for not looking through a sufficient number of IRS Form 990s, apparently. Here's the thing; Do you have any idea how many non-profit organizations are out there?!? Is it hundreds of thousands? Or just tens of thousands? Or is it millions? When I said I spent "little" time looking, I meant "little" in the context of how many non-profits exist. I meant "a little" in relative terms. If I spent two hours looking for a non-profit that made an objection, I might have seen 30 or 40 non-profits' 990s. To me that's a huge number of 990s even to skim. But it's nothing compared to how many there are out there. I wrote I looked at some, but not a lot, 990s because I did not want to make it sound like I had looked through "a lot" of 990s relative to the number of 990s that must be out there. I'm trying to be honest and realistic. Those are two more words you might want to look up.

As you might be able to tell from the above, it feels -- to me -- like you want me to argue against a bunch of points that have nothing to do with what I wrote. That's typical right-wing-fringe debate methodology, and so it doesn't surprise me. I write "A" then you say "You wrote 'B' which is wrong, now defend against my false allegation that you said 'B'!!!" How do you expect me to respond to that? I usually don't (and I won't, anymore, with you).

But you suggest I've got something against Stverak. I think I met the guy one time. I know very little about him, personally. I don't think I could pick him out of a crowd. As a right-wing Fox News addict, you may be surprised to learn that I generally don't "hate" people. I'm not a big "hater." I can get along with pretty much anybody. I consider some of the leaders and past leaders of North Dakota's Republican Party to be friends. Not "best friends" or "close friends," but I get along with them just fine when we socialize. I enjoy their company and I'd like to think they enjoy mine. I even enjoy having fact-based political discussions with them occasionally.

You may think it's "not a big deal" for an organization like FC to not have any physical presence in North Dakota. I get that you don't care that this is a violation of the law. I get that you don't think FC should have to comply with the IRS tax code. You may think state business organization laws and federal tax laws are "just technicalities." That says way more about you than it says about me. These people paid nearly $500,000 -- half a million dollars -- in attorney fees in their first year. You'd think they could follow the most basic, simple laws that apply to them. They have no excuse.

I'll summarize your points, so far:

(1) Chet can't talk about legal stuff because Chet is not a lawyer;
(2) Chet can't talk about tech stuff, because Chet doesn't know anything about the intertubes; and
(3) Folkse is not Jason Stverak.

You've made your points as best you can, I guess.

But NONE of what you've written, and very little of what I've written in response to your nonsense, addresses the point of this blog post.

THE POINT: The Koch brothers have been secretly funding right-wing ideologues who hold themselves out as "real, apolitical, non-partisan journalists." That's what I'm really against. Sure, I'm against them doing it illegally... I'm VERY against that. But even more than that, I'm against them pretending to be apolitical, nonpartisan "journalists." You rattle off the typical Rush Limbaugh-esque "But Chet... What about MoveOn.org?!?" and "What about George Soros?!?" They are not relevant to this discussion. To my knowledge, nobody has ever argued that MoveOn.org or Soros are funding partisans who pretend to be real, neutral, non-partisan, apolitical journalists working in state capitols. If your point is that they fund people and organizations that are "partisan," that might be a "factual" statement, but it is not a "relevant" statement.

See, though I'm not a traditional journalist, I used to have a lot of respect for old-fashioned, legitimate journalism. It was what used to keep government honest. When you have partisan hacks like the bloggers funded by the Franklin Center out there -- out HERE, in our own state capitol -- pretending to be neutral journalists, it contributes to the destruction of traditional, legitimate journalism and it hurts our government's ability to be legitimate. (Though not a part of this discussion, it is -- in my opinion -- also part of the reason why lots of people are abandoning newspapers like the Bismarck Tribune, which pretend to be politically neutral but are not.) If you address that, and if you can find it in yourself to stick to real, actual facts (and not right-wing talking points and fantasy), I'll be happy to continue this discussion.

Otherwise, I'm out.
April 27, 2011
Votes: +3

nimrod said:

Chet, I admire your refutation of Folske's perambulations. But I suspect it will fall on deaf ears. Rational, fact-based argument will only be met with more of the Radical Right's formulaic argument by obfuscation. It will also be met by the organized semantic transformation that is being marketed with a program as slick as the cigarette industry's marketing in the 1960s, i.e., liberal = socialist = enemy of the US = Satan.
April 27, 2011
Votes: +2

folske said:

So, you spend over 800 words again attacking the whole address in ND and tax things. Seriously, this is like speeding on the interstate. If required and fine-able(as in the "teeth" you originally posted about), FC could go buy an abandonded farm near Eckmond (minus the mineral rights of course!) and be legal. Would that really satisfy you?

On the donorship issue, you've had "real" attorneys tell you it's not against the law, that everyone does it, and that no pending court cases address whether someone is truly apolitcal or not (which appears to be the litmus test on what 501c3s should do). What more do you need?

As for tax rules...how can you lump me and "The Koch brothers and all the past leaders of the Republican Party" together? What's your evidence? Do you have any evidence that the Kock brothers had ANY idea how FC was spending their money. Spending, that by your own admission was not technically illegal. It sure was IN YOUR OPINION, but not in the courts opinion, or the lawyer(s) you contacted. I believe the recent list would indicate Dems are the tax cheats: John Kerry and his yacht in RI, Chris Dodd and his Irish cottage writeoff, Tim Geithner and his unreported income, Tom Dashle...Nancy Killefer...the list goes on. I can prove my allegations. Can you prove yours?

I used the work "hate", for which I apologize, but I used it in reference to Beck, not Stverak, FYI.

Your "summary" of my points is laughable and not worthy of response.

Your statement of what you're really against is telling. You ignore that Soros "bought" 100 reporters for NPR for the express purpose of covering statehouses. Do you really think he'd do so "hoping" he'd get left coverage? The appearance of impropriety is massive and I have no idea how anyone could take what they write as non-partisan. This is, BTW, the EXACT thing FC is doing but you seem to find no problem with Soros doing it, just FC.

The Koch brothers have been secretly funding right-wing ideologues who hold themselves out as "real, apolitical, non-partisan journalists."

This quote stands for itself as an obvious admission that you don't really care about anything in your article other than the fact that you don't like journalists posting opposing views. NPR is apparently OK by you, but not the Koch brothers.

You can try to paint me as some Fox News clone all you want. I'll let my posts speak for themselves. It's truly sad that any disagreement with you Chet, means the person is a right wing kook who must be denegrated and vehemently attacked personally.

Look for FC to buy a shack somewhere in Fessenden to fulfill your incredible need to visit the place.

April 27, 2011
Votes: +0

Chet said:

To nimrod
You're undoubtedly right. Next time I feel like pounding my own head against the wall, I'll just do it.

My work is done here.
April 27, 2011
Votes: -1

folske said:

to Bob K
Bob, thanks for the intellegent and civil debate. There certainly is enough blame to go around. Repubs constant push for less regulation and oversight, relying on the capitalist system to punish underperforming companies, coupled with Dems push to expand the federal governments guarantee of mortgages through Freddie and Fannie and their insistence that banks loan to lesser qualified candidates, coupled again with banks and Wall Street greed in manipulating those previous 2 positions caused a perfect storm producing world wide recession. Then the Repubs show that lack of spine you mention by bailing out AIG, JP Morgan and others rather than letting capitalism do what it does! Screw up your company and you're done. That's what would happen to me! Too big to fail....grrrrr.

As for campaign reform...here are my thoughts. We need to get money out of campaigns. Not try to restrict where that money can be spent, rather get it out altogether. I say 1st Amendment be damned and we ban all political ads! OK, a bit tongue in cheek, and certainly populist when it comes to this topic, but that's where all the money is needed...ads. Radio ads, print ads, TV ads, internet campaigns...I think it would be best to have a series of....say 10 debates, and that's the only contact we have with the candidates other than their in person appearances. The "news" orgs like Fox and MSNBC will spin everything else anyway, so if someone wants it, they can get it there.

There'd be no need for Citizens United(CU), or Progressives United or any of this 527 crap if they couldn't buy ads to spread their spin. But to regulate any of that would be to open a pandoras box of 1st Amendment lawsuits, not to mention sweeping powers that would need to be granted the FCC to enforce it.

I think the SCOTUS got it wrong in CU, and should've gotten ALL money other than political donations out of the campaigns. McCain/Feingold tried it but just as Wall Street is 5 years ahead of regulations, so too are the campaign wonks who know how to skirt every reg to get money into campaign coffers and to use it to pay for ads.

That's my idea, though not sure I actually solved anything.
April 27, 2011
Votes: +1

nimrod said:

To Chet
The one good thing about pounding your head against the wall is that it feels so good when you stop. I'm developing into a conspiracy theorist. I'd observe the second step in the right-wing argument formula -- after he accuses the liberals of being biased wing-nuts and make his argument by obfuscation, he comes back with a comment which states a relatively reasonable view on an unrelated issue. The sole purpose of relating this reasonable view is to deceive the reader into thinking that maybe the first comment was not so radical or outlandish. The "reasonable view" comment is hardly a concern of the commentator. It is simply and deceptively intended to enhance the commentator's perceived credibility. For example, my first comment would state "President Obama was not born in the U.S. and therefore is constitutionally unqualified to be President." After being castigated by other commentators, my second comment would state "I think President Obama did a good job with his speech at the program for victims of the Giffords shooting incident."
April 27, 2011
Votes: +3

ND Commentator said:

who the heck still uses emoticons?
or texting acronyms?
is there an age requirement for this site?
April 27, 2011
Votes: +0

Bob K said:


No meat in your sauce....you can dance with the best of them...So if we
need to get money out of campaigns as you state.. do we need to get the
hidden money (Topic of this blog post) out of campaigns and politics
also?. Political hack firms, possibly like yours??? Or one you are
associated with? stay in business not by telling the whole truth about
their agenda but by living for the day they can get a morsel of dirt to
smear the opposition in attempt to make their contributors look better.
Buying media is where the money is needed? Come on Man... you don't
think I'm gonna fall for that, what about buying influence???  You
scoffed at me using the term "laundering money" when in fact that is the
reality of it. Dumping money into a 501c to get the news slant or
policy, the way you want it or need it to further your agenda is one of
the biggest threats I can see in politics. Why should anything political
be associated with a 501c?  Political contributions are income for the
candidate, correct?  Why the guise of a non-profit contribution. I know
the pat answer, it's the law. It shouldn't be that way. Our country
shouldn't be in the shape it is right now either and IMO one of the
biggest causes is bought and paid for politicians furthering the agenda
of their biggest contributors.

To big to fail is a term I hate, however, should there be an
institution, organization, charity or company that is to big to
regulate? There are a lot of people like me that can give a hundred
bucks to a politician that we think will represent us. it is just a spit
in the Atlantic ocean compared to what gets funneled through your
organization??? or the many others like yours  that are helping to push
an agenda to benefit the Koch boys types, that think and probably can
buy anything they want. Dance around it spin it rebuke it any way you
like, however, until we change the current system where the top one
percent of the population benefits the most, things in DC will remain
all screwed up. If it is your company that is involved even in a small
way I would not be to proud of that...
April 27, 2011
Votes: +1

folske said:

my company?
uh...didn't you ask me about my campaign finance ideas? you're railing on money anywhere in media at all. CBS, NBC, ABC, MSNBC, Fox, CNN...none are non-profits. would you have all of them shut down? and do you really still think I'm a Washington insider related to any of these groups Chet wrote about? talk about releasing your inner conspiracy theorist! "my company" is a 1 man tech firm specializing in government security business systems (Purchasing, Payables, etc.). I have nothing to do with any of the "funneling" you're trying to tie me to.

your reference to buying influence wouldn't be an issue if, as I suggested, money wasn't allowed into a campaign other than the candidates coffers. campaign expenditures are actually pretty well documented and scrutinized. it's the soft money from outside organizations, and now flat out corporations thanks to CU that really starts the slimy stuff rolling. but that's just the campaign stuff.

now you're expanding the ALL the media out there. OK, with blogs like this one or PlainsDaily, to outright political sites like Drudge or Huffington, to political groups like Heritage or MoveOn...to vitriol-spewing hacks like Schultz and Savage, .where do you want to draw the line? Who gets to decide who's putting out responsible reporting and who's producing right or left wing crap? The FCC appointees? More governmetn oversight??? No way! The market will decide. If people want it, it'll sell/get read, and continue. Otherwise it'll disappear. Look at Air America.

DC isn't screwed up because of any of these media groups. DC is screwed up because there's no term limits. If people couldn't run anymore, they'd be more interested in getting something done before they left. Look at the gang of six! I'm no Conrad fan, but I really admire a guy who puts his reelection away and says "I'm going to try to fix this".

Bob K, in my opinion, you didn't try to offer any solutions, or even analyze the problem. you just railed on it for a few lines. I threw out my ideas, you attacked them and accuse me of being part of your illusion. How about a solution?
April 27, 2011
Votes: +0

big jake said:

Well Chet, once again you have served the public interest--above and beyond.

You have elicited responses from some really strange folks. They believe that they are ideological purists but in fact they just represent those duped by the very organizations that you exposed.

I suggestion. Look up Lewis Lapham and an essay he wrote in 2004 entitled "The Tentacles of Rage". A very well documented piece that was a call to awaken. Unfortunatley, not many have really comprehended the power of the forces that are determined to undermine our Republic and the high degree of success that they are enjoying.

The elites who have put this into play are using the Goebbles play book and it works as well here as it did in Germany in the 1930's. Sad but true.

I still maintain that if the "people" really understood what is going on here they would do the right thing. Thus far they are still in the dark. Media has helped keep them there.

Please, read the essay and comment. It might be time for saying enough is enough.

Thank again Chet.
May 01, 2011
Votes: +2

Robert said:

Just me
I've enjoyed the exchange between "Chet" & "Nimrod". I must state that I think the Koch brothers came from under a rock [I'm trying to be polite]. My only other comment is that the Freudian slip made by "Nimrod" when he spelled Koch as KOCK made me laugh for the first time since accessing the article. I really don't think it was a typo. Thanks for a great laugh !
August 04, 2011
Votes: +1

dealmein said:

Heres a Wisconsin group dealing with much the same issues...
August 05, 2011
Votes: +0

Paul Davidson said:

Fillable IRS form 990
Great article. Thanks for the info, this is really a helpful post. BTW, if anyone needs to fill out a IRS form 990, I found a blank form in this site PDFfiller. This site also has several related tax forms that you might find useful.
January 09, 2015
Votes: +0

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