Just in time for election season, the Great Big Benghazi Hearings and Airing of Grievances are starting Wednesday, so get ready for yet another round of Fox stories about "stand down" orders, Barack Obama sleeping on the job, and of course Susan Rice covering up the attack by saying that it started as a demonstration against an anti-Muslim video (which it did).

Strangely enough, as David Corn points out over at Mother Jones, the very first session of the hearings won't actually focus on any of those rightwing fixations. Instead, it will actually look into something that may be useful and worth congressional review: What has the State Department done to improve security for American diplomats after Benghazi? Weird! Corn notes that the focus of this first hearing was set by Democrat Adam Schiff of California, who managed to convince the Select Committee chair, Republican Trey Gowdy, that it would be worthwhile to look at how State has implemented the recommendations of an independent review board. So at least one day of the hearings will be about "substance, not conspiracy theories." Of course, that leaves plenty of time for conspiracy nonsense later.

In some ways, these are the hearings that Fox News built, and a new report from Media Matters details just how nutso the network was about pushing the Benghazi story. In the 20 months between the attack on Sept. 11, 2012, and the formation of the House Select Committee on Benghazi in May 2014, Fox ran 1,098 afternoon and prime-time stories on Benghazi in the five shows that the report reviewed (sorry, Fox & Friends -- you said a lot of stupid stuff too, but you weren't counted). That averages out to about 13 Benghazi stories a week. HuffPo has a nice breakdown of the kinds of stories the report looked at, including 244 segments that claimed that Barack Obama didn't initially call Benghazi "terrorism" or a "terrorist act," although as we may recall from that one debate with a rich guy, Obama did call it an "act of terror" the morning after the attack. This does not count, of course, because he did not use the word "terrorism," and Barry H. Bamz is a pawn of the New Word Order.

Other fun numbers: 478 segments about Susan Rice's talking points on the Sunday news shows the weekend after the attack; 281 segments claiming that there was a "cover-up" of the events, with over 100 comparisons of Benghazi to comparatively unimportant scandals like Watergate and Iran-Contra (yeah, but 4 Americans didn't DIE in Watergate, now did they????); 105 reminders that Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign is going to have to answer All The Benghazi Questions; and 174 Benghazi stories in just the month before the 2012 election -- even to the exclusion, on Fox, of coverage of Hurricane Sandy.

After finally deciding to take part in the hearings, which initially looked like they were going to merely be a litany of rightwing talking points, the Democrats on the Select Committee have set up a spiffy website called Benghazi on the Record: Asked and Answered, which pulls together the major talking points about Benghazi and documents how the supposedly "unanswered" questions about Benghazi have already been addressed by the 13 hearings and over 50 briefings already conducted on Benghazi. It's a pretty good research tool and a nice proactive "We've been over this already" to the Republicans who just want answers.

The fun all kicks off tomorrow; we'll probably have C-SPAN on all day. We'll leave it to you, dear Wonkers, to come up with a drinking game.

[Mother Jones / Media Matters via HuffPo / Benghazi on the Record: Asked and Answered]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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Hell of a coincidence we have here! On the very same day that a Russian spy gets arrested for using the NRA as a conduit to the Republican Party -- ahem POLITICAL PARTY 1! -- the United States Treasury announces that it won't be collecting donor information from "social welfare groups." Guess which "GUN RIGHTS ORGANIZATION" is a tax exempt social welfare group that raised $337 million in 2016 and will now be able to hide its donor list from the prying eyes of the American public?

Here's a hint:

That's right, donors to the the NRA and those Kochsuckers at Americans for Prosperity can now dump infinity political dollars into their lobbying and electioneering efforts without having their names disclosed to the Federal Election Commission. Or the IRS. Or anyone who might object to propping up lunatic politicians who want to arm preschoolers.

In the bad old days, i.e. yesterday, "social welfare organizations" had to give the IRS names and addresses of anyone donating over $5,000. But now they get to keep it all secret, as White Jesus and Charles Koch intended. Here's how the Treasury explains the change on its website.

Tax-exempt organizations described by section 501(c), other than section 501(c)(3) organizations, are no longer required to report the names and addresses of their contributors on the Schedule B of their Forms 990 or 990-EZ.

Okay, now 'splain us how awesome this is gonna be, Steven Mnuchin!

Americans shouldn't be required to send the IRS information that it doesn't need to effectively enforce our tax laws, and the IRS simply does not need tax returns with donor names and addresses to do its job in this area. It is important to emphasize that this change will in no way limit transparency. The same information about tax-exempt organizations that was previously available to the public will continue to be available, while private taxpayer information will be better protected.

BOOOOORING! Hey, Mitch McConnell, you're a big old whore -- say the quiet part out loud to the Wall Street Journal.

The IRS's decision is a move in the right direction to end activist regulators' culture of intimidation to silence political speech. [...] More and more states were using these documents to chill political discourse, rather than encourage it.

That'll do it! Can't do anything about the pizza racists running their mouths and ruining the grift. But you can make it harder for customers to work out what corporate owners do with their earnings. Because money is speech, and speech is free, and we all have a First Amendment right to secretly fund organizations that team up with Russia to ratfuck American elections and starve the poor.

Thanks, Justice Kennedy!

Follow your FDF on Twitter!

If you click here to fund us, we promise not to make you read about tax policy tomorrow! PROBABLY.

[ / WSJ]

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Fox News has been LI'L BIT CONFUSED about how to cover Donald Trump's treason meeting with Vladimir Putin. There was a lot of tut-tutting from Fox's daytime journalists (the "real" ones) on Monday, but then it was Double Dipshit Time on Monday night as Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity took over the commentary. Carlson found the real election hackers (brown Mexican people who either move to America and become legal citizens who vote or brown Mexican people who are just born here, as if THAT is allowed!) and declared that Russian meddling is like number 115 on the list of things that threaten America. (The other 114 are the blacks and the Mexicans and the gypsies, because Tucker Carlson is a white supremacist.) Meanwhile, Hannity hosted Donald Trump for some kind of mutual lick-off session where Trump said that Putin had informed him that there was NO COLLUSION. It's good to have a KGB handler who remembers stuff like that!

But even then, there was a hopeful moment! Fox News's Chris Wallace committed an actual act of journalism Monday night when he interviewed Vladimir Putin, going so far as to stick Robert Mueller's indictments in the Russian leader's stupid fucking face and dare him to read them. He even asked Putin why he constantly murders people with poison. GO GET HIM, CHRIS WALLACE!

Usually the next morning's "Fox & Friends" is like Carlson and Hannity's afterbirth, but Tuesday morning was a little bit different! For some reason, Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade and Abby Huntsman were not 100% pleased with Dear Leader's behavior in Helsinki! So they put on their Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski masks and did their best impression of a more dumber version of "Morning Joe," and oh my god it was SO WEIRD. Like, they would be outraged for a second, but then they would immediately compliment him and reassure him that he is a Very Good Boy who won that presidential election fair and square.

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