done for the season

Okay, that’s it. Morel season is over. Done, finished, kaput. Oh, there are probably still some ‘shrooms out there, but I won’t find them because I won’t be looking. At this point, the undergrowth is so thick that searching for morels would be almost like work. Where’s the fun in that?

It was weird Spring — weird in a lot of ways; weird weather, weird things happening in the world — and I didn’t get to hunt nearly as often as I’d have liked. Four times. That was it. Four times between May 1st and May 19th. The video above was shot on the first hunt of the season. Last year I’d been hunting three or four times by May 1st. Two days after the video was shot, it snowed. Snowed. Like I said, weird.

Mostly I went morel hunting with my cousin Scott, who’s like a brother to me. He’s an ideal ‘shroom hunting partner because he doesn’t fret. I’ve been hunting with other folks who are uncomfortable in the woods. They always want to be near you — in sight of you, in shouting distance. They call out to you periodically. Not Scott. He assumes you know what you’re doing. He says stuff like “I’m gonna walk along this hill line, see where it leads. You try another direction, I’ll meet you somewhere in about an hour.” He trusts that in around sixty minutes he’ll find you or you’ll find him. Somewhere in the woods.

This second video was shot ‘somewhere’ in the woods — in the same general vicinity of the first video. In fact, all the videos here were shot in the same general vicinity (we hunted other spots, but we always included this area because we knew we’d find morels there). Here’s the thing about the woods. ‘Somewhere’ looks a lot like ‘everywhere else.’ Once you get far enough into the woods, everything around you looks pretty much the same.

It’s not uncommon for me to be searching for ‘shrooms, then look around to get my bearings, and realize I have no fucking clue where I am. I have to stop and think about the terrain I hiked — or any unusual features I noticed on the way — and figure out how to get back to where I started. Or how to locate the ‘somewhere’ I was supposed to meet Scott. Yes, a compass would help resolve that, but my compass is in a box in Ohio and I never seem to remember to buy a new one. But I’m comfortable enough in the woods to assume I’m not actually lost. I may not know where I am — but that’s not lost. I’ve always managed to find my way back, or to find Scott ‘somewhere’ in the woods. So far.

What I like most about hunting morels (aside from the morels) is this: it’s tranquil. It’s not exactly quiet because there are always birds, and wind in the trees, and the occasional critter moving through the underbrush, and sometimes the chuckling of a brook. But those are peaceful sounds. The tranquility allows your brain to do double duty. On one level your brain is monitoring the search for that particular shape and pattern that indicates morel. The little bastards can be hard to spot, but once spotted are easily identifiable. So there’s always a part of your consciousness that’s scanning the earth, engaged in primary pattern recognition. But another part is placidly turning over other thoughts. Nothing too intense, of course, or it overrides the pattern recognition process.

I often think about writing. Sometimes it’s my own work — mulling over any issues I’m having with a story I’m working on. Sometimes I think about whatever I happen to be reading at the time. Sometimes I think about the work of my students. For example, I’m working with a former student who’s writing a wonderful story that revolves around the murder of a nun, but also delves into a such complex social issues as the sexual abuse of children by clergy, drug trafficking, and corruption in public housing. I’d be searching for morels and thinking of ways to simplify her story without sacrificing its scope and complexity. All those thoughts are periodically interrupted by the brain suddenly alerting you to the possible presence of a morel. It’s like a little alarm — morel alert morel alert, all brain functions report to duty stations.

My fourth — and last — hunt was less than three weeks after the first. As you can see in the video, the undergrowth had grown significantly thicker in those three weeks. The trees still weren’t fully leafed out. By now, they are.

That matters, because what you can’t tell from these videos is how increasingly difficult it becomes to move through the woods as Spring progresses. Early in the season you can pretty much wander at will. You have to wear a thick flannel shirt and jeans because of the thorny bushes, but so long as you carry a stick (and all serious morel hunters have a mushroom stick) you can usually work your way through them without much damage. But as the undergrowth gets thicker and the trees and shrubs and bushes get leafier, it not only makes movement more difficult, but you can’t see nearly as far. It becomes even harder to tell where you are and where you were. And, of course, mushrooms become much harder to spot.

On my last hunt, I spent much of my time bent like a dwarf, duck-walking along narrow deer tracks, struggling with thorns, looking less for morels and more for a small clearing where I could stand up and stretch out the kinks in my back. And even though it was fun and interesting, I’m in no hurry to do it again. That’s why I’m done for the season.

a very small, very welcom clearing

a very small, very welcome clearing

It was a good year for morels. An odd year, given the weather. Where morels grew, they grew in profusion. If people found them at all, they found them in staggering amounts. They collected bags full of morels. Pounds of morels. The shock absorbers on pick-up trucks were distressed under the weight of all the morels.

How many did I find? None. Not one. I found other mushrooms, but no morels.

I’m okay with that. Mostly. I love morels. Hunting them, finding them, cooking them, eating them. But so long as I get to do that first part — hunting them — I’m mostly satisfied. Mostly. But even though my ‘shroom bag remained empty all season, I enjoyed myself. Not just mostly, but always.

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memorial day

Is there anybody more patriotic than Tea Party conservatives? Anybody more supportive of military veterans, more loyal? Is there anybody more true-hearted and flag-waving on this Memorial Day? Let’s ask Bob Dole — war hero, lifelong Republican, former Senate Majority Leader, and one-time presidential candidate.

Yesterday in a television interview on FoxNEWS,  Dole stated the Republican Party has changed so radically in recent years that neither he nor Ronald Reagan would be welcome in it. It’s a comment I’ve heard voiced many times.

Senator Bob Dole

Senator Bob Dole

A bit of history. Dole joined the U.S. Army in 1942 and served with the 10th Mountain Regiment, which saw heavy combat in Italy during WWII. He was awarded the Bronze Star for trying to save the life of one of his wounded men, and was wounded three times himself. The third wound was devastating — machine gun fire killed two other members of his unit, ripped apart his shoulder, shattered his collarbone and right arm, tore into his vertebrae, and damaged his spinal cord. His men assumed it was fatal. It took Dole 39 months to recover to the degree he has; his right arm remains useless — a lump of emaciated flesh that’s 2 1/2 inches shorter than his left. In 2005, Dole wrote this:

It’s been more than sixty years since I first saw that image in the bathroom mirror. In the past sixty years, I’ve glanced at my full body in a mirror less than half a dozen times. Except to shave and comb my hair, I still avoid looking in mirrors. After showering in the morning, the first thing I do is put on a T-shirt.

Remember, this happened when he was just a kid. Dole was only 19 years old when he was wounded.

Lt. Bob Dole

Lt. Bob Dole

This guy has served his country in one capacity or another his entire life. Whether you agree with his politics or not, he deserves a certain amount of respect. But after voicing his opinion today, this was the response from the ‘patriots’ of FreeRepublic.com:

Of all people, Dole should keep his mouth shut when advising anyone on election success. The GOP should make a hard and fast rule. After being a Loser, you should not be heard from again until your obituary.

Establishment Republicans like Dole, who believe that there is no greater virtue than compromising stated principles and betraying their supporters, explain a lot about why the country is in the shape it’s in

How the hell does that fossil end up on Fox News Sunday now?

The GOP leadership has more fossils than the Museum of Natural History.

Another buttwad. The simpsons 1996 haloween episode satire of him was spot on. Another useless RINO.

If only they would go away and let us forget them.

Isn’t he dead yet? Why can’t we be spared the wisdom of the losers? Hey Bob, you lost to the only twice elected president NOT to receive a majority popular vote in either of his victories. Why in the name of God would we want your advice?

Bob “Let’s Make A Deal” Dole blabbering incoherently.

What’s the old saying about giving the opposition the rope with which to hang yourself? Bloody Stump Republicans compromising away the foundation of this nation.

“I’m Bob Dole, and Bob Dole knows how to surrender.”

Tedious old a**holes.

His arm isn’t the only thing that wasn’t working

Bob Dole is now and was always a Useless Idiot, though for the Demoncraps he was always a Useful Idiot.

Your Republican Party, ladies and gentlemen, patriots one and all. Something to think about on this Memorial Day.

neighbors

It might be art, but does that make it O.K.?

That’s the lead-in question raised in a New York Times article about photographer Arne Svenson’s new series Neighbors, which is on display in a Chelsea gallery. Svenson, who is probably best known for his still life photographs, came into possession of a 500mm lens. He didn’t buy it; according to reports, he ‘inherited’ the lens — whether from a friend who died or in some other way, it’s not clear. What is clear is that Svenson somehow ended up with a lens that’s great for wildlife and sports photography, but not particularly useful for still lifes.

So he did what I suspect any photographer would do. He put the lens on his camera and looked out the window. Since Svenson lives in an apartment in TriBeCa, it’s not surprising that when he looked out his window, he saw the apartment building across the street.

neighours #1

Neighours #1

Back in 1964 the social philosopher Abraham Kaplan posited the Law of the Instrument. He wrote: Give a small boy a hammer, and he will find that everything he encounters needs pounding. This concept is sometimes referred to as Maslow’s Hammer, because a couple of years later Abraham Maslow wrote: I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.

If you have a wildlife photographer’s lens, you treat everything you see through it as wildlife. And that’s sort of what Svenson did. He began to photograph his unsuspecting neighbors in the building across the street in much the same way a wildlife photographer would photograph, say, a Pileated Woodpecker. Quietly, surreptitiously, covertly. You don’t want to spook the bird; it’ll fly away. Svenson embraces this analogy.

“I am not unlike the birder, quietly waiting for hours, watching for the flutter of a hand or the movement of a curtain as an indication that there is life within.”

There’s a crucial difference between New Yorkers and woodpeckers, though. Birds don’t go to galleries in Chelsea. Birds never see their photographs hanging in a venue open to the public. Birds have a poor grasp on the concept of privacy. Birds don’t sue.

neighbors #14

Neighbors #14

Not surprisingly, some of the people Svenson photographed have brought suit against him. Martha and Matthew Foster are seeking ‘actual and exemplary damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress and an injunction to stop the dissemination of the photographs’ (emphasis added). Ms Foster and her children appear in two of Svenson’s photographs — Neighbors #6 and Neighbors #12, which are being sold for US$5000 and $7500. Ten copies of each print are apparently being offered. According to the suit,

Plaintiffs were also greatly frightened and angered by defendant’s utter disregard for their privacy and the privacy of their children. Plaintiffs now fear that they must keep their shades drawn at all hours of the day in order to avoid telephoto photography by a neighbor who happens to be a professional photographer.

It needs to be noted that this is a civil suit, not a criminal case; Svenson’s behavior may be ethically questionable, but it doesn’t appear to be illegal. But even though a civil suit has a lower standard of proof than a criminal case (generally ‘a preponderance of evidence’ or ‘clear and convincing evidence’ rather than ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’), I suspect the Fosters will have a difficult time proving Svenson intentionally inflicted emotional distress on them. Their anger and distress are almost certainly real, but that’s not enough for them to win a civil suit.

neighbors #12

Neighbors #12

So it seems Svenson did nothing criminal, and it appears unlikely he’ll be found civilly liable for his behavior. That brings us back to the ethical question raised in the Times: It might be art, but does that make Svenson’s behavior okay?

It’s really a rather silly question. I doubt many people would think using a telephoto lens to shoot surreptitious photographs of unsuspecting neighbors is okay. It’s most certainly not okay. It’s fucking rude, is what it is. Rude and more than a little creepy.

Neighbors #11

Neighbors #11

That said, I’m not convinced that ‘okay’ and ‘not okay’ are metrics that should be applied to art. I don’t think ‘rude’ or ‘creepy’ are useful yardsticks for measuring the acceptability of art. There’s good art and there’s bad art; there’s art that works and art that doesn’t. And those, of course, are entirely subjective measurements.

I’m not suggesting art trumps ethics, or that art is above ethics. Nor am I saying artists should ignore ethics. What I’m saying is that artists shouldn’t choose their subject matter based on whether it’s socially acceptable or not. They should, however, be willing to suffer whatever consequences arise from socially unacceptable art — including the occasional civil suit. In this case, as might be expected, the legal attention has brought Svenson’s work to a much wider audience and will almost certainly help his sales.

Neighbors #17

Neighbors #17

I think this is good art. I think these photographs work. I’m completely taken by the stillness, and the intimacy, and the painterly quality of the light. But at the same time, I think Svenson’s behavior in spying on his neighbors is morally reprehensible. If he’d done it to me, I’d very likely be massively pissed off. I’m glad he did it anyway.

I find myself wondering if the Fosters weren’t the subjects of the photographs and saw them — in a book, on a gallery wall, in a magazine — if they’d have appreciated them as photographs. As art. I wonder if they’d be able to look at Neighbors #6 and Neighbors #12 and, instead of seeing an appalling invasion of their own personal privacy, see them as lovely photographs depicting a happy, close-knit family. Because that’s what I see.

we’re not all assholes

Yesterday I wrote about storm season, and how much I enjoy seeing the awesome and awful power of severe weather. Today, in Oklahoma, there are men, women and children who died from that awful power. You can’t look at the photographs or hear the stories of the survivors and first responders without being heartsick.

The only thing most of us can do for them is open our wallets and give generously (there’s information on how to donate to the Red Cross at the bottom of this post).

(photo by Brett Deering)

(photo by Brett Deering)

People will say this is not a time for politics. They’re right; it’s a time for governance. But the sad fact is, in recent years effective governance has been fettered by narrow-minded politics. And among the most narrow-minded politicians are the two Republican senators from Oklahoma: James Inhofe and Tom Coburn.

Both senators have repeatedly voted to deny increased funding to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which oversees disaster relief. Coburn said the funding of FEMA would be “unconscionable.” Both senators have also voted against funding disaster aid (or voted to reduce requested aid packages) for various natural calamities that have taken place throughout the U.S.

In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, the governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut requested around US$82 billion in short and long term relief. Both Inhofe and Coburn voted to reduce that to $23.8 billion — the absolute minimal cost to clear the debris, repair basic infrastructure, and rebuild destroyed homes and businesses. They opposed any funds to included long-term infrastructure improvements aimed at helping to prevent damage from future storms. Inhofe referred to the aid request as “a slush fund.”

Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe, Republican

Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe, Republican

The reason these two have given for opposing disaster relief is budgetary. They describe themselves as fiscal hawks. They’re ideologically opposed to spending any government funds that would increase the nation’s deficit.

That might be a more convincing argument if it weren’t for the inconvenient fact that it was Republicans — including Inhofe and Coburn — who helped create that deficit, largely by supporting two wars that weren’t paid for. I suspect most Americans would, if given a choice, have preferred to spend that money on disaster relief than on a pointless war of choice.

Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn, Republican

Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn, Republican

I suppose some folks will be impressed by Coburn’s response to the disaster in his home state. On his Facebook page, Coburn says:

My thoughts and prayers are with those in Oklahoma affected by the tragic tornado outbreak.

He insists, however, that any federal disaster relief given to his state must be offset by budgetary cuts in other areas. In other words, some other part of the government will have to suffer in order for the people of Coburn’s state to get the financial aid they’re going to need so desperately in the coming days, weeks, and months.

Inhofe’s official Facebook page also offers thoughts and prayers:

I will continue to pray for the families and individuals who lost a loved one, suffered damage or lost homes and possessions during the storms that tore through Oklahoma and the Midwest yesterday evening. Representatives from FEMA have contacted my office and are ready to respond should Governor Fallin request federal assistance.

You’ll notice he isn’t asking for any federal aid himself. He’ll leave that to others. It should also be noted that people on Facebook aren’t always responding kindly to Inhofe’s and Coburn’s thoughts and prayers.

(photo by Brett Deering)

(photo by Brett Deering)

Disaster assistance used to be a given. When one part of the nation took a hit, Congress automatically authorized the federal government to do what governments are supposed to do: help the people. Everybody in Congress simply put politics aside and did what was necessary to give aid and comfort. It’s just the decent thing to do.

But that’s changed. More and more we’re seeing Republicans taking the Coburn-Inhofe Approach. “I’ve got mine, Jack — you’re on your own.” It’s a selfish, small-minded, mean-spirited approach. But it works. Why? Because we’re not all assholes. Because when a great wind flattens a town in Oklahoma, most of the people of New Jersey, New York and Connecticut will grumble and say “It would serve them right if we fucked them over they fucked us.” But because we’re not all assholes, they’ll grumble and still open their wallets and offer help.

Coburn and Inhofe deserve to be treated like the assholes they are. The people of Oklahoma who voted for those assholes deserve no better treatment. But we’ll help them anyway, and we’ll do it because we’re not all assholes.

You can donate to the Red Cross by calling 1-800-733-2767. You can also donate by going to their website: http://www.redcross.org/ok/oklahoma-city. You can even auto-donate $10 by texting Redcross to 90999.

Donate what you can. Donate because the people of Oklahoma need your help. Donate because they’re not going to get much help from Senators Inhofe and Coburn. Donate because you’re not an asshole.

storm season

After yesterday, I think we can say storm season has arrived. Massive severe weather systems pushed their way through the American heartland yesterday, causing destruction all the way from northern Texas to Minnesota. There were twenty-four confirmed reports of tornados on the ground in five different states (one of them was spotted three or four miles northwest of where I live — though we only experienced high winds, torrential rain, and a few minutes of hail).

It was horrible. It was glorious. It made me miss my brother, Jesse Eugene.

and it's still rainingJesse Eugene and I didn’t have a great deal in common. We were always close and we always enjoyed each other, but I’m not sure we’d have been friends if we weren’t brothers. Still, we spent a lot of time together over the last couple years of his life. Hunting morels in the spring (I haven’t found a single mushroom this year, which would have made him laugh his ass off, the vicious bastard), playing games on the X-Box (he’d have been really curious about the new version being released tomorrow), playing golf (which reminds me, I need to set up a tee time with my remaining brother), and sitting on his porch, cooking and drinking beer (I did most of the cooking; he did most of the drinking — an unfair division of labor).

And storms. We had this in common: we both loved storms.

and then it got worseWhen a storm was approaching, we’d both stop what we were doing and pile into his truck, head out into the countryside, and find a spot where we could watch it.

It’s one of the best things about living in the American Midwest: you can actually watch weather systems develop. You can watch a storm grow and turn mean — or grow, then give in to entropy and dissipate. You can watch rain pissing down like mad a couple of miles away, while you’re standing placidly in sunshine. You can see tornados form — or try to form and fail — or form and just hang there in the sky like wasp tails, without ever touching down. And lawdy, the lightning. Beautiful and terrifying and mesmerizing.

There’s something elementally compelling about watching a storm grow in size and strength. It’s both scary and magnificent. Sometimes you realize the storm hasn’t actually gotten bigger — it’s just gotten closer. That can be unnerving.

a bit of rotationI think what made Jesse Eugene such a good storm-watching companion was that neither of us was interested in the experience as an adventure. Some people like to get close to storms because they enjoy the thrill, the risk. My brother served as a Marine in Vietnam and was a career firefighter; I’ve been a medic in the military, I was a counselor in the Psychiatric/Security Unit of a prison for women, and a private investigator specializing in criminal defense — we’d both experienced very real risks and dangers, and neither of us felt any need to seek out new ones.

For us, watching storms was all about witnessing something primal, something wild and savage and entirely unrestrained. Something completely beyond anything resembling human control, but something that was still organic. Storms follow rules and laws of nature that we didn’t / couldn’t understand, and we were both drawn by the fact that a storm was always capable of doing something totally unexpected. One moment the sky would be grey and scarred with dark clouds, the next it would turn a weird purplish-green, the color of a three-day old bruise, and then half an hour later it would be blue again. Or maybe it would stay dark and rain like it was the End of Days. You just didn’t know.

anvil cloudThat’s Jesse Eugene in the photo above. He’s been dead for almost two years now, and I miss him. Not every day, but I miss him. It’s not necessarily painful — it’s usually just a quiet but sudden sense of the absence of the familiar. Like if you get a new office chair. Or you switch from winter boots to sneakers. It just feels a wee bit off. It’s a reminder that things are different now. But you know that feeling will pass. You get used to it.

But during yesterday’s storm, I missed him a lot. I missed the feral grin he’d get when the storm was getting stupid wild, or getting too close. It was a grin that said If we had a lick of sense, we’d get back in the vehicle right now and haul ass — but isn’t this great? Let’s wait just a tad longer.

Here’s today’s weather forecast:

A few t-storms, some severe; storms can bring downpours, large hail, damaging winds, and a tornado.

I don’t believe in any sort of afterlife. I don’t believe Jesse Eugene is somewhere else, on some other plane of existence, looking down and enjoying the storm with me. But I know if he was still alive, he’d be watching the horizon for a shift in the weather. And grinning in anticipation.

Editorial note: All of the photographs above were shot in a span of fifteen minutes on 21 June, 2011.

here’s some bullshit

IRS bullshit: This morning Marco Rubio, the Great Latino Hope of the GOP, whined on FOXNews that President Obama hasn’t yet asked the Department of Justice to begin an investigation into the so-called IRS scandal. However, since the DOJ announced they’d opened an investigation into the matter on Tuesday, there’s no need for Obama to ask.

Marco Rubio asking the president to request an investigation that's already ongoing

Marco Rubio – willing to make an ass of himself

Obamacare bullshit: Today the U.S. House of Representatives will debate and vote on legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act. It has no more chance of passing today than it did the previous 36 times Republicans demanded a debate and a vote on repealing the law. Let me repeat that. This is the 37th time this has been debated and voted on, and Republicans know it can’t pass. It’s estimated it’ll cost about US$1.75 million taxpayer dollars to hold this pointless debate and vote today. Given that this is the 37th time the issue has been voted on, it’s reasonable to assume these votes have cost taxpayers about sixty-five million dollars.

John Boehner - also willing to make an ass of himself

John Boehner – also willing to make an ass of himself

Related bullshit: The House of Representatives will only meet in session for two days this week. Two days. One of which will be pissed away on the pointless debate and vote on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. , and one of those sessions is today’s debate and vote. Speaker of the House John Boehner doesn’t rule out having still more pointless debates and votes to repeal Obamacare. And you thought Republicans were opposed to government waste.

Darrell Issa - an ass

Darrell Issa – an ass

Benghazi bullshit: Republican Darrell Issa has held 11 Congressional hearings on the Benghazi tragedy. In recent weeks, Issa has criticized the report of the Accountability Review Board that investigated the attack. That review board was led by Thomas Pickering (a former US Ambassador) and Admiral Mike Mullen (a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff). On a recent talk show, Issa stated Pickering had “refused to come before our committee” to testify. After Pickering replied that he’d actually requested to appear at the most recent hearing, Issa’s staff backtracked, claiming the request had come too late to fit Pickering into the schedule.

Now both Pickering and Mullen have written a letter to Issa requesting a public hearing at which they could explain and defend their report. Issa’s response: he’d consider inviting them to testify, but in a closed hearing, out of the public view. Why? Issa says he thinks Pickering and Mullen’s testimony would be too partisan. By which he apparently means their testimony won’t correspond with his conspiracy theories.

There’s a LOT more bullshit, of course. But it’s not yet noon and I’ve already exceeded the daily recommended dosage of bullshit.

barack obama is not richard nixon

On my way to the coffee shop just now I saw a copy of USA Today, the lite newspaper. The headline read:

IRS GAVE LIBERALS A PASS

Which is pretty dramatic. It’s also a lie. As are all those headlines comparing President Obama to President Nixon.

I don’t want to minimize what the Internal Revenue Service did by targeting political groups for extra scrutiny. That was absolutely wrong, no mistake. But comparing this event to what Nixon did?  That’s just plain stupid. Aside from the fact that the IRS is involved, the two cases are utterly different.

President Richard Nixon, crook

President Richard Nixon, crook

Nixon and his staff actually made a list of his political enemies. They weren’t exactly open about the list, but neither was it a huge secret. These guys even wrote memoranda about the list — like this one from John Dean, the White House Counsel, to Lawrence Higby, the Assistant Chief of Staff to President Nixon:

This memorandum addresses the matter of how we can maximize the fact of our incumbency in dealing with persons known to be active in their opposition to our Administration; stated a bit more bluntly—how we can use the available federal machinery to screw our political enemies.

Nixon and his crew were deliberately using the IRS to ‘screw’ people they identified as their political opponents. The investigation of individuals and groups Nixon opposed (or who opposed Nixon) was initiated BY the White House. Now THAT is a scandal.

According to the Inspector General, the current IRS issue was initiated by mid-level bureaucrats within the IRS, and done without the knowledge of the White House. It was a violation of policy and procedure. It’s not a scandal.

So why did these bureaucrats target certain political organizations for extra scrutiny? Because legislation (passed through the efforts of Republicans, by the way) made it possible for individuals to contribute money to certain types of political action committee without their names being disclosed. Donations to PACs whose purpose is political are NOT tax deductible; donations to PACs whose purpose is general social welfare ARE tax deductible.

internal revenue service

And guess what. The IRS is actually obligated BY CONGRESS to do just that. They’re legally required to review every application for tax-exempt status to insure the group requesting the exemption isn’t partisan, political, or designed to generate private gain. The only problem is the bureaucrats chose to use some pretty vague and inappropriate keywords to determine which political groups should be given a closer look. They cast too wide a net.

Obviously, what happened in the IRS is nothing at all like the crimes committed by the Nixon White House — though you wouldn’t know that from the reporting or the ranting of Republicans in Congress. Nor, if you read the headlines of USA TODAY, would you be aware that liberal groups were also unfairly targeted. And in fact, the ONLY targeted group to be denied tax exempt status during the 18 months of the extra scrutiny was Emerge America, a group that helps train Democrat women who are running for political office. None of the conservative or Republican groups were denied tax exempt status. So the headline in USA TODAY is not only incorrect, it’s not only lazy reporting, it’s the exact opposite of the truth. It’s a lie.

So much for that ‘liberal media’ myth.