Wyoming Forced to Suspend Tax Collections at Gun Shows

In early July, the Department of Revenue in Wyoming suspended sales tax collections at gun shows because of increasing animosity toward the state's field tax agents that jeopardized their safety. The story in the Casper Star Tribune:

Dan Noble, director of the department's excise tax division, said Friday that an incident at a gun show triggered the decision. He added, however, that resistance from gun show sponsors and participants has been a recurring problem statewide. "I have 10 field reps throughout the state, and every one of them has experienced some animosity," he said. "Folks are nervous anyway because there are guns there. I don't want to put my people at risk."

Guns shows, like craft shows, are required to set up temporary sales tax licenses but do not have to pay the $60 fee for a permanent sales tax license. The department's field tax representatives attend the shows and ask the sponsors to distribute tax forms to the sellers who, in turn, are required to collect and remit sales tax to the Department of Revenue.

Noble said the tax agents have never had a problem with compliance from the craft shows, for example. "We tend to have more trouble at gun shows than any place," Noble said Friday in an interview. "This last incident was something I felt kind of crossed the line and, because of it I have suspended our activity in trying to collect this until we can get a better way of approaching it." He said the "climate" has changed and some of the gun show people are "fairly extreme."

Noble said he didn't want to identify the show where the incident took place because the problem has been statewide. Anthony Bouchard, executive director of the Wyoming Gun Owners' Association, said the only confrontation he knew of was at a gun show in Pine Bluffs. The gun show participant involved was an "in your face" type, he said, adding that he did not believe there was any threat made. "I think they're trying to create a political climate, to make it sound like a bigger thing than it is," he said.

The position of his group, Bouchard said, is that the state shouldn't charge sales tax on gun and ammunition sales because of the Second Amendment right to bear arms. "Everybody's on edge," said John Wise, director of the Pine Bluffs Shooting Association and of the gun show.

Identifying himself as a "tea partier and damned proud of it," Wise said Friday that people are angry at the federal government over health care reform and other actions. Wise said he was sitting at the front desk during the April gun show at Pine Bluffs when a participant got into a confrontation with a state sales tax representative. The tax agent called for backup from the Pine Bluffs Police Department.

Wise said the police officer intervened, the tax agent left and no charges were filed. He said he thought both men had "short fuses." Wise said that individual gun owners who pay $30 to rent a table at a gun show so they can sell a couple of guns should not have to collect sales tax for the state. Bouchard said he will personally work on legislation to exempt gun show sales from the state's sales tax.

Check any of the far-right blogs and you will find regular calls for "patriot uprisings" or comments that in effect call for "patriotic citizens" to get ready for the coming war. On Free Republic, the comments on this story ranged from "our tea-partying Bostonian ancestors would be proud" to "the government...any government...absolutely needs to fear the people."

These comments can perhaps be dismissed the insane rantings of anonymous conservative malcontents but the fact remains that we are witnessing a break down in order coupled with the re-emergence from the shadows of fringe right wing anarchism that rejects the established prerogatives of government in part or even the wholesale denial that any law applies to them. This is more than Grove Norquist's forty year anti-tax crusade though it can be argued that such behaviour is the culmination of decades of anti-government rhetoric by the more 'mainstream' right even if such currents run deep in the American psyche. 

There's more...

Anarchy By Any Other Name

Is there anything more sickening in politics than folks who call their opponents Commies or Nazis? I submit very little.

Even someone as “distinguished” as Newt Gingrich tears into Pelosi and Reid as “socialists.” Excuse me? If you took liberal politics to their extreme, yeah, maybe you’d get socialism, but that’s not what’s happening. The government has taken over ONE private industry, and even that was temporary.

The left isn’t always much better, though. We see less of it now than we did during the Bush years, but conservatives are not fascists or Nazis. And unlike the “socialism” claims, those attacks don’t even make sense. Conservatives claim to be about small government, and if you take small government to its extreme, you don’t get an over-bearing government. You get no government.

Thus, using their own exaggerated “logic,” libertarians aren’t fascists. They’re anarchists. Violent anarchists.

Hyperbole aside, current right-wing populism really does border on anarchy. Historically libertarians claim the government should be for little more than defense, but now we see the Tea Party wanting to abandon even that. Sarah Palin has lost favor with some partiers because she wants to exempt defense from their small-government ideology. And Glenn Beck even said we should get rid of the US military and use only mercenaries. (Does this mean he endorses the criminal murders and theocratic mindset of Blackwater/Xe?)

I agree with Jerome – beating up on the tea party won’t help us win this November. But, focusing on tea party candidates like Rand Paul and Sharron Angle, tying them to Beck and Palin, and portraying the whole GOP that way might just make the election partly a referendum on the right-wing rather than entirely on jobs. (There’s no getting around the fact that it will be mostly jobs. It just doesn’t have to be all jobs.)

But the midterms aside, all I’m really saying is, the next time a tea party friend calls you an evil Socialist, use his logic and call him (or her) a reckless anarchist in return.

"The List" of Journolist Participants is Fake

There is now a list going around in conservative websites purporting to be "The List" of media participants in Journolist. It's fake. How do I know? I'm on The List. And I was never on Journolist.

Don't get me wrong, I would have loved to have been on Journolist. It sounds fun. I'd like being on The List even more. That sounds bad ass. Someone I know was on Nixon's Enemies List - I've always thought that was the single coolest distinction anyone could have. This is as close as I got. As much as I would have loved it, I shouldn't be on The List.

Why do I make this painful admission? Is it because I don't want to be associated with those no good libs secretly controlling the media? Hell no. Would have loved that, too. It's because you should know that people that are on that so-called "confirmed" list were not necessarily on Journolist. As usual, the conservative media seems to have completely made this up. Seen this movie before?

I guess I should consider it a compliment that I was on the made up list. In other words, someone thought if there is going to be a liberal media conspiracy I was probably involved. That's pretty cool. But I have a more important question about this purported scandal.

The conservative critics claim this proves the media is all a liberal conspiracy. And as part of the proof, they show e-mails from Journolist trying to sway the media to cover things with a liberal slant. But if the media is already liberal why do the liberals have to convince them?

Some of the e-mails seem to show people strategizing over how to swing the narrative in the press. Well, if it's a conspiracy, why don't they just call up the New York Times, Washington Post, ABC News, etc. and just get them to run their liberal buddies' ideas as facts? Why do they have to try so hard to figure out a way to influence them through their own articles?

Wouldn't this prove the opposite - that the mainstream media is not liberal? They hardly ever listen to these self-avowed liberal journalists. The people on this mailer seem to be on the outside looking in, trying to figure out how the influence the conversation (presumably the same exact thing conservative journalists and advocates are doing).

In fact, in one of the first stories that The Daily Caller ran, they share e-mails from the list about anger toward George Stephanopoulos for asking about Rev. Wright during the 2008 debates. Well, if they run the media, why didn't the liberals just get George not to ask that question? Why did the so-called liberal media ask such a conservative question in the first place? If it's a conspiracy why won't Stephanopoulos listen to them?

In other words, why won't the liberal media listen to the liberal media?

Now, for the extra irony - one of the other questions Stephanopoulos asked in that same debate was planted by ... Sean Hannity. Stephanopoulos was on Hannity's show when pressed about Obama's connection to Bill Ayers and decided that he would ask it in the debate. So, is there then a conservative media conspiracy?

Of course, the reality is that the media has many forms. There are straight news reporters and there are advocate journalists, like some people on Journolist and almost everyone at Fox News (I had to say "almost" because of Shep Smith, damn him for making things complicated).

Of course, many of the people on Journolist freely admit that they write for liberal publications like The Nation, whereas Fox News claims to do fair and balanced reporting. So, they're both advocates, just one side is lying about it (I'm always amused by this lie; how can anyone say with a straight face that Fox News doesn't have a conservative perspective?).

Finally, let me ask you one more question. If the liberal media is so strong how come all of the liberals in the country don't have as much influence as just Glenn Beck? That's really painful to write, but clearly true.

Here's my proof. Every progressive organization, leader, advocate, journalist, congressmen, etc. have said that Elizabeth Warren should be nominated as the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Yet, they still can't get the job done. It is at best a 50-50 proposition right now. Yet, just the thought that Shirley Sherrod might be on Glenn Beck's show on one night is enough to get her fired.

The mere threat of Beck swings the Obama administration immediately. That's power. That's influence. All of the progressives and liberals in the country put together can barely move the president on Warren. And this is supposed to be a liberal president with a liberal media? What an unbelievable joke.

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Why Does Fox News Have More Power Than Any Progressive in the Country?

As we can all see now, when Fox says jump, the Obama administration asks how high? (Then jumps one inch less and considers it a progressive victory). Is there anyone Obama won't fire or throw under the bus if Fox asks him to? What if they ask Obama to fire himself? Would he do it? Or would he just fire Biden and say he met them halfway?

If the firing of Shirley Sherrod was the first time they had done this, then all of the criticism they have received might be a bit much. But as we have learned from this incident (which the rest of us already knew, with the apparent exception of Fox News and Andrew Breitbart), context matters. We've seen the rest of the tape on the Obama administration and it isn't pretty.

Van Jones, ACORN, Dawn Johnsen, Shirley Sherrod. First sign of trouble, throw someone overboard. When they fired Van Jones, I said they were only encouraging Fox. But that wasn't some genius prediction; it was only the most obvious thing in the world. Do you think the bully won't take your lunch money tomorrow if you give it to him today?

Since this seems so obvious, why can't the supposedly brilliant guys in the Obama administration figure it out? Why can't they see it's such a bad idea to keep giving in to Fox and bowing their heads? It's so bad now, they're bragging about their efficiency in genuflecting. Jim Messina, Deputy Chief of Staff,congratulated everyone the day after Sherrod was fired about the speed and agility with which they serviced Fox News. So, what's the strategy behind what appears to be pathetic cowardice to the rest of us?

The idea is that Fox News is more important than any progressive leader or commentator (or even the majority opinion of progressives throughout the country, as evidenced by polls) because liberals have nowhere to go. So, that's why you can abuse them, ignore them and even treat them with disdain -- and they'll still vote for you. What are they going to do -- vote for Republicans?

That's why Rahm Emanuel can call them "fucking retarded" and derisively dismiss them on almost every issue. They think there's no price to pay. Whereas, if they cross Fox, all of Washington will be talking about it. And they're obsessed with the Washington chatter. And they are under the grossly mistaken impression that the country gives a shit about what Fox says.

In Washington, Fox News is very important and you get judged by how quickly you handle the media maelstroms they create. That's viewed as a barometer of how well you handle "bad news cycles." So, the rest of the Washington press corps judges you by how quickly you drop to your knees to end the "bad news cycle." Congratulations Obama administration, you're now professionals!

But even more importantly, there is this insane belief that Fox News can swing centrists, which are the critical voters who decide elections. There is not a shred of evidence to that. In fact, the evidence shows that there is no audience in the country that is more deeply conservative and politically immovable.

Plus, the average age of Bill O'Reilly's audience is 71 years old. The guy is doing a show out of a senior citizen's center and Obama thinks he rules the world.

The only real damage that Fox can do is if they spread their poison to other news stations. That is why it's so imperative to label them what they are -- a conservative propaganda station (not that there's anything wrong with that). They're just not news. And they couldn't have proved it any better than they did in this case. And what did the Obama administration do with this golden opportunity? They turned it into a massive loss. Who is fucking retarded now?

But the more important miscalculation is that liberals have nowhere to go. They do have somewhere to go -- home. They can sit on their couch on election day, which according to the polling is exactly what they're going to do. When a Bloomberg poll (pdf, Page 7) asked all voters which party they favored, it was a tie. When they asked likely voters, Republicans were up by eight points. Who's fucking retarded now?

It's high time that we stop giving the Obama administration credit for being some sort of genius tacticians. Maybe it was all David Plouffe. But one thing is for sure, they seem to have no idea what they're doing politically and Fox News is handing them their ass on a daily basis. Glenn Beck came on after the Sherrod story became fully known and said that Obama shouldn't have fired her. Don't you get it, you feckless clowns, they're going to criticize you no matter what you do? You cannot appease them. You must isolate and delegitimize them.

I understand the Obama team is playing the old Washington games and think they're very clever at it. But those games don't work anymore. Bad news cycles are not created by genuine mistakes anymore, they're artificially created by Fox News channel. You can't make them go away by giving into them. You're just feeding the beast. And more importantly, you're starving your own side.

It isn't about fighting Fox News to make yourself feel better. It's about ignoring their silly attacks so you can actually bring us the progressive change you promised. Otherwise, we would be retarded to come and vote for you again.

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Glenn Beck continues his attacks on people of faith

Something I’ve noticed about Glenn Beck is that most of his attacks are motivated not by ideology or patriotism, but by revenge and personal petulance. First, it was Van Jones, President Obama’s green jobs czar. Beck began his successful smear campaign against Jones about the same time a group co-founded by Jones called for advertisers to boycott Beck for calling the President racist. Then in March, Beck began his screeds against the Bible’s call for social justice, comparing the Catholic Church and others who call for justice to Nazis and Communists. When evangelical leader Jim Wallis politely disagreed with Beck on his blog and called for a public debate between the two, Beck turned his ire on Wallis.

Beck’s latest target is another liberal faith-based group, Faithful America. They are an ecumenical organization focused on such issues as violence in the public discourse, distortion of Scripture, torture, health care, and climate change. (I have often cited their Faith in Public Life news round-up here at MyDD.) However, Beck's anger seems to come not from his belief that only the right-wing is allowed to think about religion but from his recurring desire for revenge. The group recently launched a radio ad to counter Beck’s distortion of the Bible, quoting Scripture and encouraging “a spirit of love and truth” when disagreeing with one another. They also printed and offered free bumper stickers declaring “Driven by Faith, Not by Fear.” (Mine arrived last week.)

Beck, in typical fashion, was outraged that anyone would suggest the Bible is about love, and tore into Faithful America on his radio show last Friday. As usual, he tried to debunk the group mostly by mocking them, not by being serious. His only substantive critiques were that it partners with other people he dislikes, deletes vulgar comments from its webpage, and doesn’t include the word “Jesus” on its homepage and thus isn’t religious. Because of course, the only proof that someone is religious is their use of the word Jesus – we all know there’s not a single religious Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, or Hindu in the entire world. But seriously, as the name suggests, Faithful America is ecumenical, not Christian. And while Beck is right about their homepage's use of the word “Jesus,” they do in fact have over two dozen mentions of the word “faith” (not even counting their name), as well as seven mentions of “Christian” and numerous links to explicitly Christian organizations (among others).

Faithful America’s response? The same as Wallis’s: they’re asking Beck to participate in an open public debate. They’re not stooping to his level of distortion and dishonesty, but if his reaction to Wallis is any indication, he won’t rise to their level of equality and civil discourse either.

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