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The NRA Is Investigating Grover Norquist's Alleged Ties To Islamists But Not Ted Nugent's Anti-Semitism
Apparently at the National Rifle Association (NRA), being the target of a conspiratorial, religiously-motivated smear is a good way to get yourself investigated and possibly kicked out of the organization. Putting forward conspiratorial, religiously-motivated smears is not.
As the NRA continues to avoid addressing an anti-Semitism controversy that has embroiled organization board member Ted Nugent, a recall campaign against another board member -- conservative activist Grover Norquist -- is moving forward, even though the campaign's basis is a conspiratorial and anti-Muslim smear.
Following a decades-long campaign by anti-Muslim think tank head Frank Gaffney, which in the past year has been amplified by conservative radio host Glenn Beck, ballots to officially recall Norquist from the NRA board will appear in the March editions of the NRA's magazines, according to a report by Right Wing Watch.
For at least 15 years, Norquist, a well-known tax activist who founded Americans for Tax Reform, has been targeted by Gaffney, head of the anti-Muslim think tank Center for Security Policy, with the claim that he is a surreptitious agent of the Muslim Brotherhood. Critics of Gaffney have alleged that his smear campaign is largely motivated by the fact that Norquist is married to a Muslim woman and has Muslim in-laws. One high-profile conservative group investigated Gaffney's claims in 2012 and found them to be meritless.
Norquist has called Gaffney his "stalker" and has accused Gaffney of also spreading rumors that he is gay and a member of "the Jewish-Russian mafia."
Gaffney's smear campaign against Norquist made headlines again in March 2015 after it was repeatedly promoted by Beck on his nationally-syndicated radio show. Beck, a longtime supporter of the NRA, is a frequent keynote speaker at the gun group's annual meeting.
Following Beck's endorsement of Gaffney's conspiracy theory, the NRA, at the request of executive vice president Wayne LaPierre, agreed to open an investigation into Norquist's alleged ties "to Islamist groups that have ill intent towards the United States and its allies." The findings of the investigation have yet to be released to the public.
During the NRA's annual meeting in April 2015, Norquist was reelected to the board, but he also issued a statement saying he had "voluntarily suspended his Board activities pending the outcome of the investigation."
The NRA has handled controversy surrounding Nugent, who posted an anti-Semitic image to his Facebook page and then subsequently made inflammatory posts and statements about the Holocaust, in a much different manner. Nugent's image suggested that laws regulating guns were the result of a Jewish conspiracy and included descriptions of alleged conspirators such as "Jew York city mayor Mikey Bloomberg," and deceased former U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) who "Gave Russian Jew immigrants your tax money."
After declining to comment on Nugent to several media outlets, the NRA released its only statement to date on the controversy: "Individual board members do not speak for the NRA."
The NRA's refusal to seriously address Nugent's anti-Semitic post comes as the controversy has begun to become enmeshed with Sen. Ted Cruz's presidential campaign, which continues to tout Nugent's praise. (Cruz has also lavishly praised Gaffney, calling him "a patriot" who is "clear eyed about radical Islamic terrorism.")
Unlike the controversy surrounding Norquist, the NRA has given no indication that it intends to investigate Nugent.
Will Glenn Beck Now Quit The NRA?
Conservative activist Grover Norquist was reelected to the National Rifle Association's board of directors in spite of a campaign by Glenn Beck and others that baselessly smeared Norquist as a clandestine agent of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Beck, who frequently delivers the keynote speech at the NRA's annual meeting, previously said he would quit the NRA if Norquist was reelected.
During an April 11 member's meeting at the NRA's annual meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, NRA election committee chairman Bill Carter announced that Norquist was one of 25 individuals elected to a three-year term on the NRA's board, terminating in 2018:
After announcing the results, Carter added, "These are your boards ladies and gentleman and I ask that they be acknowledged ... and ladies and gentlemen, they are here for you, each and every one of you."
Conservative activist Grover Norquist falsely claimed that "nobody is keeping anybody out" of the Affordable Care Act and that "the idea that Republicans have not been trying to help is wrong." Norquist's rhetoric ignores Republican efforts to delay implementation of the program, attempts to repeal the law, and activist campaigns discouraging enrollment.
From the August 18 edition of CNN's State of the Union:
In fact, Republicans and conservatives have made multiple attempts to discourage adoption of the program by citizens.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) wrote a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Gooddell in order to dissuade the league from taking part in a public service campaign to educate consumers about the law.
The House Republican Conference suggested members engage in media tours to "to emphasize the need to repeal ObamaCare" during the August recess.
26 states with Republican governors or Republican dominated legislatures have refused to set up insurance exchanges in their states, delaying implementation of the law. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, as of March 2013, "10.8 million uninsured under the new Medicaid expansion limit reside in states where governors oppose the expansion or ar still weighing options."
Outside groups are also working against enrollment, as reported by Reuters:
FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity, a conservative issue group financed by billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch, known for funding conservative causes, are planning separate media and grassroots campaigns aimed at adults in their 20s and 30s - the very people Obama needs to have sign up for healthcare coverage in new online insurance exchanges if his reforms are to succeed.
"We're trying to make it socially acceptable to skip the exchange," said Dean Clancy, vice president for public policy at FreedomWorks, which boasts 6 million supporters. The group is designing a symbolic "Obamacare card" that college students can burn during campus protests.
Furthermore, Reuters also reports that Crossroads GPS, the pressure group backed by Fox News pundit Karl Rove, plans a dishonest campaign "aimed at elderly voters" that will claim Medicare funds are being used to pay for the new law. A Crossroads spokesman told Reuters that they hope "there may be some traction to repeal the worst parts of the law and eventually repeal the law entirely."
Tax Expert: Calls For Revenue Neutral Tax Reform "Incoherent"
Right-wing media outlets are promoting the fallacious premise that any attempts at tax reform must be revenue neutral, an idea that tax policy experts wholly reject.
On July 25, The Hill reported that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) would not be involved in the tax reform process set up by Sens. Max Baucus (D-MT) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT). According to the report, Reid suggested that, while he would not be personally involved in the process, "raising nearly $1 trillion in revenue should be the starting point for any tax reform negotiations."
Responding to Reid's call for additional revenue from tax reform, The Wall Street Journal ran an editorial that suggested true tax reform must be revenue neutral:
Democrats swear they support something they call "tax reform," but until the Obama Presidency that has always meant trading lower rates for fewer loopholes.
The Journal's premise that any attempts at tax reform must inherently be revenue neutral was quickly parroted on Fox News. On the July 26 edition of Fox & Friends, Fox Business host Stuart Varney said Reid has "destroyed tax reform" and claimed "tax reform has always meant lower rates, fewer deductions."
Varney returned to this false "tax reform" narrative on Fox Business' Varney & Co. In an interview with right-wing tax opponent Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, Norquist stated, "as long as Harry Reid is the leader of the Senate there will be no tax reform. He wants a tax increase, instead of tax reform."
Conservative media's notion that tax reform must be revenue neutral is directly contradicted by experts.
Conservative media figures have long insisted that top marginal income tax rates effectively target small businesses. This "zombie lie" has sprung up throughout President Obama's first term as an argument against Democratic proposals to renew the Bush-era rates only for middle- and low-income Americans. Despite continual efforts by experts to debunk this claim, media figures continue to repeat these lies in the 2012 edition of the fight over high-income tax rates.
Fox News hosted Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist to advance a number of misleading and false claims aimed at undermining President Obama's tax plan. In reality, Obama's proposal includes significant spending cuts, raising taxes on the wealthiest households will not hurt the economy, and Americans support raising taxes on high-income earners.
National Rifle Association board member Grover Norquist undermined the NRA's conspiracy theory that President Obama would use his second term to destroy the Second Amendment during a radio appearance on Monday. The NRA has used that claim as the centerpiece of their election efforts.
Citing the ability of Congress and the Supreme Court to check the power of the Executive Branch, Norquist stated, "So if Obama was king would he go after your guns? Probably. He ain't king." Norquist's comments came during the inaugural edition of Media Matters' new radio program, The Agenda:
ARI RABIN-HAVT, HOST: Now according to the [NRA's] CEO Wayne LaPierre, this is has all been part of -- and this is a quote -- "a massive Obama conspiracy" to quote "lull gun owners to sleep" so he can eliminate the Second Amendment in his second term. You know, you're a very reasonable guy. Frankly that statement seems unreasonable, that it's all part of a secret plot. Do you agree with Wayne LaPierre on that? That Barack Obama is trying to lull America to sleep so he can ban guns in his second term? Something I don't think is even legislatively possible at this point?
GROVER NORQUIST: I think in his heart of hearts Obama is not a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and would limit gun rights to the extent that he can. Now the good news for people who care about the Second Amendment is that the House and the Senate have strong support for the Second Amendment. So one of the reasons Obama has been reasonable is that he doesn't have the votes to do something other than be reasonable. And the Supreme Court has also come down on the side of an individual right to be armed. So if Obama was king would he go after your guns? Probably. He ain't king.
Norquist's statement that Obama "ain't king" stands in sharp contrast to the musings of NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre, who has been warning NRA adherents about an Obama plot to end private gun ownership. The theory was first aired out at a political rally in September 2011, when LaPierre suggested that the president's inaction on the gun issue evidenced a "massive Obama conspiracy to deceive voters and hide his true intentions to destroy the Second Amendment in our country." He went on to claim:
We see the president's strategy crystal clear: get re-elected, and with no other re-elections to worry about, get busy dismantling and destroying our firearms freedom. Erase the Second Amendment from the Bill of Rights and exorcise it from the U.S. Constitution. That's their agenda.
The theory has been widely ridiculed since its conception. Jon Stewart characterized it as "so crazy, it's f--king crazy." MSNBC host Rachel Maddow summed up the outlandish nature of the theory nicely in October 2011, stating, "The NRA says the way you can tell Obama is coming for your guns, is that he's not coming for you guns. It's genius! That is the insane paranoid message from the NRA this year." Hardball's Chris Matthews reacted to LaPierre's speech by calling him "another strain of the crazy far right."
Both mainstream and conservative media outlets have responded to the recent spike in gasoline prices by circulating talking points rooted in politics rather than facts. As a whole, these claims reflect the misconception, perpetuated by the news media, that changes in U.S. energy policy are a major driver of oil and gasoline prices.
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Seeking to prove that "government spending does not create jobs," anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist said that fiscal stimulus amounted to moving buckets of water around a lake, an overly simplified analogy that is nothing more than a rhetorical mirage.
Norquist appeared on Meet the Press to justify GOP intransigence against raising taxes on the wealthy in order to increase federal revenue and help reduce deficits. He trotted out the tired canard that the 2009 recovery act failed to bolster the economy and argued:
The idea that if you take a dollar out of the economy and then -- from somebody who earned it, either through debt, or through taxes -- and give it to somebody who's politically connected, that there are more dollars around, that if you stand on one side of the lake and put a bucket into the lake, and walk around to the other side in front of the TV cameras, pour the bucket back into the lake and announce you're stimulating the lake to great depths. We just wasted $800 billion on stimulus spending that added to debt, that killed jobs.
Norquist's analogy is all wet. If we were to conceptualize the economy as a large lake, we would in turn conceive of the four components of the economy - private consumption, investment, government spending, and net exports - as tributaries feeding that lake.
Consider Lake Erie by way of example. Assume that unregulated mortgage bankers partnered with Wall Street and the ratings agencies to bundle worthless assets and use them to dam up the Detroit River. This presents a problem, as the Detroit River is a major Lake Erie tributary. The stimulus metaphorically added water to the Cuyahoga River in order to help mitigate the damage to Lake Erie's water supply. To extend the analogy, geologists estimate that the stimulus act increased the amount of water in Lake Erie last quarter, while the flow pattern from the Detroit River continues its struggle to return.
Norquist's misleading metaphor serves to perpetuate the zombie lie that government spending always crowds out private investment. Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman eviscerated that claim back in 2009:
Under the kind of conditions we're now facing, the main determinant of business investment is the state of the economy, as evidenced by the plunge in investment shown in the figure. This, in turn, means that anything that improves the state of the economy, including fiscal stimulus, leads to more investment, and hence raises the economy's future potential.
That is, under current conditions deficit spending doesn't lead to crowding out -- it leads to crowding in. In fact, you could argue that the worst thing we can do for future generations is NOT to run sufficiently large deficits right now.
The right wing media have claimed that President Obama is deliberately sabotaging the super committee's negotiations to reach a deal to decrease the deficit in an attempt to strengthen his re-election prospects. But Obama has repeatedly urged the super committee to come to a compromise, while the Republicans on the super committee have refused to compromise, instead proposing massive tax giveaways for the richest Americans and even more massive cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and other programs Americans rely on.
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In a July 31 op-ed for The New York Times, Frank Bruni described a recent conversation he had with Grover Norquist, head of the American Taxpayers Union. Bruni reported that Norquist stated: "Democrats are like a teenage boy on a prom date. ... They keep asking. Maybe she'll say yes. 'No! No! No!' But they have to keep asking. It's part of their DNA -- teenage boys and Democrats."
From the Times:
[Norquist] has emerged as the most visible mouthpiece and muse of the lower-taxes, less-government troops that have played a major role in the debt crisis. And he provides a handy window into them.
His assessment of Obama was succinct: "The president of the United States is a left-wing ideologue."
His analysis of the Democratic Party's values and tactics was unambiguous -- and uncomplicated by the deficits racked up under Obama's predecessor.
"Their game plan has always been spend, spend, spend, then come and ask Republicans to be responsible and raise taxes," he said.
"Democrats are like a teenage boy on a prom date," he added, proceeding to act out multiple parts in an imagined conversation, which is one of his favorite things to do. "They keep asking. Maybe she'll say yes. 'No! No! No!' But they have to keep asking. It's part of their DNA -- teenage boys and Democrats."
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