December 2, 2014
The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014
Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology
The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious
: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain
April 14, 2014
Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time
: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic
: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships
: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin
: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate
: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure
April 11, 2014
Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden
: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does
: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer
: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You
April 9, 2014
Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?
Samuel G. Freedman
: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau
: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau
: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease
April 8, 2014
Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease
Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear
April 4, 2014
A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children
Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet
Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds
Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves
April 2, 2014
Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?
Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities
It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene
Jewish World Review
May 20, 2013/ 11 Sivan, 5773
Crossing sacred lines in Washington
You don't have to be a member of the Tea Party to be outraged over the Internal Revenue Service's special and unwarranted scrutiny of conservative groups. I'm not, and I am.
For four decades liberals have nursed hurts over the Nixon administration's use of the IRS to intimidate if not punish its political opponents. The very first item in Article II of the House Judiciary Committee resolution impeaching Nixon speaks of the "violation of the constitutional rights of citizens" and the improper examination of "confidential information contained in income tax returns."
One thing a second-term president wants to avoid is appearing in the same sentence with the word "Nixon," and so the IRS forays during the Obama years combined with the disclosure that the Justice Department obtained phone records of Associated Press reporters and editors puts the current administration in unusual peril.
Yes, the Nixon comparisons are superficial, and no, history never repeats itself, but yes, last week was a very bad one for President Barack Obama and portends rough weather ahead.
But these twin incursions into well-established rights -- violations of the trust and sense of fair-mindedness that government requires even if politics does not -- underline two principles that should be sacred, whether the president is a Republican or a Democrat, whether the timbre of the times is conservative or liberal:
Never mess with the work of an independent press. Never use the taxing authority of the government for political ends.
No two institutions of American governance are more precious and deserving of caution from officials who -- and here Republicans and Democrats are equally vulnerable to sin -- believe they have reason to deplore the one and abuse the other.
For generations Americans have been served by an independent press, which is one of the political and cultural distinctions of our civic life. And the entire functioning of our government requires that the power to tax--which both Daniel Webster and John Marshall equated in 1819 with the power to destroy -- be deployed with antiseptic fairness.
So there are two scandals here, and all Americans should be concerned about them both. But there is a third scandal unearthed by last week's events, and it comes under the familiar dictum, often attributed to fellow columnist Michael Kinsley, that scandal usually isn't about what's illegal, but what is legal.
Here is what is legal and at the heart of this month's contretemps: It is legal for 501(c)(4) organizations -- conservative groups such as the various permutations of the Tea Party as well as many liberal groups such as PrioritiesUSA -- to have tax exemptions under the claim that they are primarily involved in the promotion of social welfare. The promotion of social welfare is an elusive concept often having little to do with social welfare and often having to do with politics. Its virtue is almost always in the eyes of the beholder, if not the donor.
This is not a new issue in Washington. More than nine months ago, 10 Republican senators, including some regarded by Democrats as among the most open-minded and even-handed of their rivals, contacted Douglas H. Schulman, the IRS commissioner, to express concern that political factors were affecting the agency's activities.
Nine years ago the American Bar Association created a task force to examine this question and found there was "no statutory basis" for the principle "that social welfare does not include political intervention." Indeed, in 1990 -- smack in the middle of a Republican administration -- the director of the IRS Exempt Organizations Technical Division told a conference (and you can imagine what a lively, fun-packed convention this was):
"When it comes to political activities, that is, giving money to a candidate, telling people to vote for a certain candidate, the rule is that it has to be less than primary. If it's 49 percent of their income, that is less than primary."
That's the principle guiding the use of all that principal. But it's not a good one, as it allows all sorts of groups to raise enormous amounts of money and then devote 49 percent of it to political purposes without tax exposure. Some estimates put the ad spending by these tax-exempt groups at more than half a billion dollars during the last election cycle.
Last week an unusual breeze of fairness blew through the capital, often from unlikely sources. Consider these remarks from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada:
"There are these shadowy political groups masquerading as social welfare organizations in order to solicit anonymous donations from we don't know who -- big corporations and also wealthy people. That needs to stop. We do not know exactly how much money was spent in the last election by these groups, and I acknowledge most of the money was spent on the right wing, but there was plenty on the left wing."
Here is the scary thing: USAToday reports that the IRS approved nonprofit status for liberal groups at the same time it was denying that status for conservative groups. Rhetoricians at the University of Pittsburgh and Jesus College, Cambridge, have developed a theory of "keywords," and it doesn't take a Pitt or Cambridge degree to ascertain the political leanings of a group with a name such as Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment, which received tax-exempt status at the time when Tea Party groups employing words such as "patriot" did not.
None of this is good for the Obama administration, which otherwise would have had something big to crow about last week. Revised nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office figures put the federal budget deficit at $642 billion. That marks a $203 billion improvement from earlier forecasts -- and eerily, $203 billion was the size of the 1981 deficit, expressed in today's dollars, that propelled Ronald Reagan into office.
But that wasn't the predominant discussion of the week. Instead, the talk was of how the administration breached some of the most sacred lines in American life. First Amendment purists are right that attacking press prerogatives is an attack on American values. And maybe conservatives are right about taxes, because the type of flat tax they espouse could help take the IRS out of politics and make all of these exemptions meaningless.
if (strpos(, "printer_friendly") === 0)
Comment by clicking here.
David Shribman, a Pulitzer Prize winner in journalism, is executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
05/06/13 The limited power of presidents
04/29/13 Living history on display
04/22/13 Social Security, 21st-century style: Dems call Obama a traitor
04/15/13 49 years, four months, 25 days: Today's America is as far removed from JFK's era as his was from World War I
04/08/13 The Senate as it once was
04/01/13 Connections and coincidence: History is full of mysterious relationships, including clusters of greatness
03/25/13 Where portraits tell the story of America's greatest conflict
03/18/13 A former president's correspondence reveals the power of letters, and the powerlessness of aging
03/11/13 Outrageous spectacle lead to a rational resolution on the budget? A nation can dream, can't it?
02/25/13 The one big thing Democrats and Republicans can actually agree on
02/18/13 Obama is wrong to make young people think college is mainly about making a living
02/11/13 The war inside the GOP
02/04/13 Presidential politics, frozen in place
01/28/13 Speech invokes past for present and future
01/14/13 If Obama's inaugural address is to be remembered at all
01/21/13 Identity crisis in the GOP
01/07/13 History meets firearms
12/31/12 In search of our better angels
12/24/12 Wounded in war, Inouye just kept serving his country
12/10/12 President as change agent
12/10/12 Another overtime election
12/03/12 Defining the Obama presidency: Our re-elected chief executive has the whip hand now, but how will he use
11/19/12 New Hampshire 2016
11/12/12 Obama's second chance
11/05/12 America's first martyr to free speech
10/29/12 Making hay in Iowa
10/15/12 When two men confronted each other from afar as civilization hung in the balance
10/08/12 If you look at the election a certain way, things don't seem so terrible
10/01/12 Debating the debates
09/24/12 Pessimists R Us
08/20/12 Obama remains a puzzle even as he asks the American people for a second chance
08/13/12 With Ryan, Romney upends the conversation
08/06/12 The real Romney remains hidden behind other people's opinions
07/30/12 What summer is for: How August can matter, and how Romney might use it
07/23/12 The Independent son of independent Maine promises to shake up Washington
07/16/12 The Rambler American
07/09/12 The Telstar revolution: Fifty years ago, a 3-foot orb was sent aloft and spawned a new era in communications
07/02/12 It's got only four electoral votes, but Romney and Obama will be fighting for them
06/25/12 A little noted rebellion over a lonely stretch of land helps tell the American story
06/18/12 You're nothing special: Luck is what you make of it . . . and what it makes of you
06/11/12 Anybody can talk authoritatively about the presidential election. Here's how
06/04/12 Candidates love to ally themselves with admired presidents, in sometimes unexpected ways
05/29/12 Americans aren't in a new burst of patriotism but they are in a new burst of appreciation for the military
05/21/12 Inside out: Almost nothing about this year's presidential election conforms to conventional analysis
05/14/12 Lugar grew into an elder statesman, which is why he'll be leaving the Senate
05/07/12 50 years later, MacArthur's farewell to arms continues to inspire
04/30/12 The likability factor: We're going to find out how important it is in these troubled times
04/23/12 Romney's four battles: With the nomination essentially in hand, he must turn to new challenges
04/16/12 For GOPers, expect the frustration to build, not abate
04/09/12 The political battles you cannot see
04/02/12 Romney's roadmap: Doing better in Democratic states may complicate his fall campaign
03/26/12 Romney struggles with same GOP forces his father faced long ago
03/19/12 The writer and the president
03/12/12 Romney could learn from his rivals after Super Tuesday
03/05/12 The GOP race continues, and Republicans continue to grouse about their choices
02/27/12 The turnout threat: when voters vamoose
02/20/12 The Winter's Tale: Republicans are engaged in a 'problem play,' full of psychological, and real, drama
02/13/12 Which Ike to like?
02/08/12 A tale of two elections: Voters today are making their most profound choice since 1912
01/30/12 Whither the GOP establishment?
01/23/12 The Democratic coalition is breaking up
01/09/12 The verdict that wasn't
01/02/12 These are the keys to who will persist
12/19/11 Another Gingrich rebellion
12/12/11 A defining fight for the GOP
12/05/11 A distinct lack of enthusiasm
11/28/11 For GOPers, the winds are beginning to pick up, the horizon is darkening
11/21/11 Today's polarized politics . . . blame FDR and the political scientists
11/11/11The sporting life
11/07/11 Ron Paul, true believer
10/31/11 Why Cain isn't able
10/10/11 GOP starting over
10/03/11 The Forgotten War of 1812
09/26/11 The way we live now
09/19/11 The crisis this time
09/11/11 But what will it mean?
09/05/11 A horse race column: Who might win the GOP nomination and how it might unfold
08/29/11 The vacuum calls
08/22/11 Passion and politics: How Barack Obama and Mitt Romney got crowded into the same dangerous corner
08/15/11 Eleanor's little village
08/08/11 The agony of August
08/01/11 The politics of the impossible: What a country this might be if the political class served the broad interests of the majority
07/25/11 Pennant fever grips 'Burgh
07/18/11 Exemplar of an era
07/11/11 On summer
07/04/11 The soul of the party
06/27/11 What the Secretary said
06/20/11 Romney has big advantages over his rivals, but they will be coming after him
06/06/11 One question each
05/30/11 The 14-week challenge
05/23/11 Delay tactics
05/16/11 Republicans are waiting
05/09/11 Bin Laden is dead. What does it mean?
05/02/11 From nobodies to nominees
04/25/11 The founders left slavery for future generations to settle, and we still haven't fully come to terms with it
04/18/11 From audacious to cautious
04/11/11 Dreaming of space
12/12/10 The GOP takes control
12/06/10 DECEMBER 7
11/29/10 GOP presidential hopefuls already are lining up local supporters in what is now a red state
11/22/10 Burning down the House
11/15/10 Institutions of higher learning are finally beginning to teach important lifeskills
11/04/10 The war has just begun
11/01/10 Echoes of a speech 40 years ago this week still resonate today
10/25/10 50 years ago America chose between two men who were dramatically different --- and eerily similar
© 2011, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Distributed by Universal Uclick, as agent for UFS.