The following is an excerpt from OpinionJournal’s “Best of the Web” at WSJ written by the editor, James Taranto.
Problem and Solution—II
Other Than That, the Story Was Accurate
“An earlier version of this page hosted an article which stated that Israel had, without warning, opened a number of dams, which had resulted in a part of Gaza being flooded. This was false. In southern Israel, there are no dams of the type which can be opened. We apologise for this error. Al Jazeera depends on objective reporting and strives to correct all errors of fact. We are committed to accountability and transparency. We encourage our audience and others to identify and report our mistakes.”—AlJazeera.com, Feb. 25
Still Suppressing Speech
The IRS scandal continues: “Nearly two years after the IRS was exposed for improperly sidetracking requests for tax exemptions from tea party groups, Politico has learned that at least a half-dozen conservative applicants are still waiting for an answer.”
One of them is Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS, which managed to spend tens of millions last year. But most “are mom-and-pop outfits from New Mexico to New Jersey, run by volunteers out of their own houses and operating at a fraction of Crossroads’ budget”:
The years-long delay has gutted these groups’ membership, choked their ability to raise funds, forced them to reserve pots of money for possible back taxes and driven them into debt to pay legal bills. . . .
IRS’ website says it has closed 95 percent of “priority” groups that had been pulled for extra scrutiny.
The agency said it cannot comment on specific cases, but it deflected blame, in part, to the Justice Department. When an applicant is suing the IRS, Justice also has a say in whether to issue a final ruling during litigation. Almost all the groups in limbo have taken the IRS to court.
The IRS reports that in May 2013, when the scandal broke, the IRS “released a list of 176 political nonprofits it said it had approved already, many of them groups it once labeled ‘inflammatory,’ ‘anti-Obama’ and engaging in ‘propaganda.’ ”
Those that were still on hold were offered “immediate approval if they pledged to spend less than 40 percent of their time and resources on political campaigns”—a lower threshold than the usual 51%. “Several of the groups dismissed that option on principle, calling it unfair because it was a stricter standard than other 501(c)(4)s had to abide by.”
So the IRS admittedly denied tax-exempt status improperly to at least 176 groups, tried to apply extralegal restrictions to others, and is still delaying approval for those groups that have gone to court in an effort to vindicate their rights. It’s been over a year since President Obama himself said, in answer to a question from Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly, that there was “not even a smidgen of corruption.” Maybe it’s time somebody put the question to him again.
(Excerpts above are from the March 2 BOTW archives.) For more “Best of the Web” click here and look for the “Best of the Web Today” link in the middle column below “Today’s Columnists.”