Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 184

On Politics
I laughed at the video of the IRS workers doing the Cuban Shuffle. After all, how many organizations do team building exercises? However, their use of Star Trek and Gilligan’s Island didn’t make me smile.

As Washington continues to pursue the IRS issue, politicians continue to politicize the event while avoiding the tough question: Do political groups fit the definition for 501 (C)(4) tax exemption as an organization organized for profit but operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare? Here are examples, and the regulation is below.

The promotion of social welfare does not include direct or indirect participation or intervention in political campaigns on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office. However, a section 501(c)(4) social welfare organization may engage in some political activities, so long as that is not its primary activity. However, any expenditure it makes for political activities may be subject to tax under section 527(f).

See the IRS-cited examples for yourself.

This week marked the passing of the last WW II veteran to serve in Congress – Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ). It’s obvious that the current generation of Congress could learn much from The Greatest Generation, but fat chance of that happening.

Two interesting reads about dysfunctional government from the AP and Washington Post .

On This Week’s Headlines from The Onion

  • Gap forced to recall pants after man dies eating 37 pairs of corduroys
  • Angelina Jolie stuns on first rollerblading competition since double mastectomy
  • Family’s euphemism for genitals really weird
  • Company hosts fun night for employees to get drunk and complain
  • Vain Galapagos tortoise trying to pass for 90
  • Teen declares, “You’re not my real step-dad!”

Interesting Reads
Obamacare indicators
David Ignatius on Obama and counterterrorism
Americans and financial literacy
The Breadwinning Females from Pew Research
Black/White marijuana arrest gap in charts
Adrenalin: A book review
Comparisons and human cognition

This past week was the 71st anniversary of WW II’s Battle of Midway. Because John Erickson is such a WW II buff, here are two links: Pictures & Maps and the Japanese story.

CNN’s Jeanne Moos reports on a moose statue attracting a moose.


On Potpourri
I am proud to say that I smiled the first time I saw this Cheerios commercial, thus sadly shake my head at the controversy.


Ohio State University President Gordon Gee put himself in the negative spotlight, so he retired. Good riddance – I never cared for him.

For those needing to know: GEICO’s Hump Day commercial with the camel does air on days other than Wednesday.

I hope to announce the next act of Time: The Musical on the next Monday Morning Entertainment post.

There will be a Saturday Morning Cartoon post this weekend.

As a change of pace, here is a peaceful sendoff into your weekend. Have a good weekend! In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On Parties and the Partisans

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge natural to party dissention, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders & miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security & repose in the absolute power of an Individual: and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.” — George Washington, September 19, 1796, Farewell Address

As we watch the current uproar regarding the event of Benghazi, sadly and shamefully, this is the way Washington works. Regardless who occupies the White House, regardless who controls Congress, our elected officials are primarily about spin – spin to protect an ideology, advancing a political point of view, and setting the course for the next election.  With spin favoring manipulating facts, or even worse, lying, truth and integrity are two of the casualties. With many, if not the majority, of Americans aligning themselves with a preferential political party and relying on biased perspectives, who are the real winners and losers?

The recent IRS news is another example. Congress is jumping into the fray with various committee hearings, which are actually prime opportunities for predictable political grandstanding. Besides taking advantage of diversions to avoid critical issues, the committees probably will not address this key question: Do political groups fit the definition for 501-C4 tax exemption as an organization organized for profit but operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare.

The answer: Absolutely, because they act in the welfare of most (if not every) elected official in Washington!

FYI: I wrote the above before reading these two good reads: a column by Ruth Marcus and this commentary from Roll Call.