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Mandate Of Heaven

Mandate Of Heaven

By Orville Schell

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Ear to the Ground

GOP Senator’s Hypocrisy on Tornado Aid, Jon Stewart Hates Washington, and More

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Posted on May 21, 2013

Twister Logic: After the deadly and destructive tornado that struck his state Monday, Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe attempted to make the argument that aid for his constituents and a massive Hurricane Sandy relief package he voted against are two “totally different” things. “Everyone was getting in and exploiting the tragedy that took place,” Inhofe explained. “That won’t happen in Oklahoma.” Meantime, Oklahoma’s other Republican senator, Tom Coburn—who, by the way, also voted against Hurricane Sandy aid—says any funds that go to Oklahoma in the wake of the disaster must be deficit neutral. President Obama has already declared a major disaster in the state, paving the way for federal relief. FEMA officials are headed to Oklahoma to survey the damage. (Read more)

Seeds of Discontent: Finally, someone in the Senate is doing something that could potentially rid this country of the awful measure known as the Monsanto Protection Act. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., says he will introduce an amendment to repeal it in the 2013 Farm Bill. The controversial provision gives certain legal protections to companies like Monsanto that produce genetically modified seeds and crops, effectively negating the powers regulators have of keeping biotech companies in check. “The Monsanto Protection Act is an outrageous example of a special interest loophole,” Merkley said in an email statement. “This provision nullifies the actions of a court that is enforcing the law to protect farmers, the environment and public health. That is unacceptable.” (Read more)

IRS=‘Ignored Real Scandal’: According to legal expert Jeffrey Toobin of The New Yorker, the real scandal surrounding the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of tea party groups seeking to operate under section 501(c)(4) of the IRS Code (and therefore be exempt from paying taxes) is that the organizations were actively engaged in politics, despite the fact that such groups are supposed to be devoted to “social welfare” causes. In addition to not paying taxes, there are benefits to being classified as a 510(c)(4), including the fact that designated groups get to keep their donor lists anonymous, unlike ordinary political action committees that must disclose who they get their money from. However, the trade-off is that they’re not supposed to conduct partisan political activities, such as making endorsements. But as Toobin points out: “Particularly leading up to the 2012 elections, many conservative organizations, nominally 501(c)(4)s, were all but explicitly political in their work. For example, Americans for Prosperity, which was funded in part by the Koch brothers, was an instrumental force in helping the Republicans hold the House of Representatives. ... Campaign finance operates by shaky, or even nonexistent, rules, and powerful players game the system with impunity. A handful of I.R.S. employees saw this and tried, in a small way, to impose some small sense of order. For that, they’ll likely be ushered into bureaucratic oblivion.” (Read more)

Southland Slate: As Angelenos head to the polls Tuesday to elect their next mayor, the latest poll shows L.A. City Councilman Eric Garcetti leading City Controller Wendy Greuel by a comfortable five-point margin, 49 percent to 44 percent. The Survey USA poll attributes much of the margin to Garcetti’s strength among male voters, where he has a 14 point lead. Garcetti is also favored by Republican and independent voters, while Greuel has the edge among Democrats. Election results could come as early as Tuesday night. (Read more)

Video of the Day: In the wake of all the scandals that have encircled the nation’s capital these last two weeks, “The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart has had it with everyone in Washington, D.C.—the White House, Congress, the press ... you name it, he’s fed up with them. “Can anyone do their job in that town?” he asked on his program Tuesday night. If you have to even pose that question, the answer’s probably no.

 

—Posted by Tracy Bloom.

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