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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Why the NFL is a Tax Exempt Nonprofit Organization

Once Again, Journalists Didn’t Do Their Research.

Yes, folks. The National Football League legally qualifies as a tax exempt, nonprofit organization. And there’s not a thing wrong with that. People must learn to distinguish between the league and the teams. The teams pay taxes. The league does not.

When some “journalists” learned that the NFL is a nonprofit organization, they incited outrage, driving millions of Americans into a full-fledged hissy fit. “The NFL can’t BE nonprofit. It’s a $9 billion industry,” they raged.

Actually, no. The National Football League is not an industry at all. Professional football is an industry. The NFL is a trade association representing that industry.



Monday, September 23, 2013

How a Federal Government Shutdown Affects You

Here We Go Again.

News reports have been chattering about a possible government shutdown since July. Both Democrats and Republicans have been posturing and saber-rattling and making a lot of noise, but none of them bother to explain what that means for the public.
First, some background. Each federal fiscal, or budget, year begins on October 1 and ends on September 30. Fiscal year 2013 began on October 1, 2012 and ends on September 30, 2013. Fiscal year 2014 will begin on October 1, 2013. Federal law requires Congress and the president to agree on a final budget before each fiscal year begins. They couldn't reach that agreement in 2012, so the United States government has been operating on a series of continuing resolutions since October 1. That means that the government can keep operating and paying its bills temporarily. When there is no funding, federal law requires the government to cease all non-emergency activities. The current resolution ends on Monday, September 30.
While it's possible to operate on continuing resolutions, and without a real budget, indefinitely, it has been unlikely until now. The politicians usually make noise until one side or the other blinks. It appears that the Democrats have finally grown a spine and won’t give in this time.  But I could be wrong. Contrary to what many believe, the Constitution does not give all budgetary power to the House of Representatives or require budget bills to begin in the House. It doesn’t even require that Congress produce an annual budget. The Congressional Budget Act of 1974 does that, but not the Constitution.
Until we have a budget, the Republicans threaten to block new continuing resolutions and shut down the federal government unless the Democrats agree to eliminate all funding for the Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare. President Obama has said that he will veto any bill which does that.
Read More …

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Read the Declaration of Independence

An Act of Treason; Not a Law

The Declaration of Independence was more a process than a moment in history. This act of treason against an empire sparked the Revolutionary War and, eventually, the United States of America. It is not, and has never been, a law, but it is worth reading.

This week, Americans celebrate the Declaration of Independence with picnics, parades, and fireworks. In the movie National Treasure, Nicholas Cage’s character steals the Declaration from the National Archives in order to protect it from the real bad guys. It’s a good movie, but it never really explains what the Declaration is.

Thomas Jefferson and a committee of colleagues drafted the Declaration in Philadelphia throughout the spring and summer of 1776. The Second Continental Congress approved it on July 4, 1776. They declared their independence from British rule and their intent to create a new nation. No one had ever dared to try such a bold move. Delegates from all of the original 13 colonies, except New York, adopted the Declaration on that day. They did not actually sign the final version until August 2, 1776. Congress declared July 4 a national holiday in 1870.
Read More…

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Nonprofit Organizations: Myths and Facts

“Nonprofit” Does Not Mean “No Money”

Recent news reports claimed that the IRS targeted extra scrutiny to conservative groups applying for nonprofit tax exemptions. It was much ado about nothing. But it’s time to clarify nonprofits’ legal status and their social roles in our culture.

The Internal Revenue Service’s regulation of nonprofit organizations was a major topic in the news recently, and that’s quite unusual.  Apparently, an IRS manager instructed some of his staff people to pay particular attention to tax exemption applications from groups with politically-related words in their names, such as “tea party”, “patriot”, and “progressive”, to be sure that they were genuine.  Yes, folks.  It worked both ways.  Republicans in Congress were enraged about the ghastly “Obama scandal”.

Before that, for more than a year, teapartiers and other conservatives had jumped up and down, screeching and wailing about how much they hate that horrible “Kenyan-Nazi-Marxist-socialist-dictator-Muslim-terrorist pal”, Barack Hussein Obama.  They battled for camera time to see who could post the most outrageous insults about the President of the United States of America.  And then, suddenly, they all applied for tax exempt status for their “nonpartisan, non-political, social welfare organizations”.  Uh huh.

“Nonprofit” doesn’t just mean that you’re not making money. An organization is not “nonprofit” just because its managers say so.  Thousands of state and federal regulations control the business of nonprofit corporations. These are just the basics.


Sunday, May 26, 2013

When Does Obstruction Become Treason?

Why Won't Americans Just Read the Constitution?

Recently, Bill Maher and Michael Moore rightly criticized Congressional Republicans for their relentless obstruction of government.  Plenty of liberal bloggers and their followers jumped on the bandwagon.  But they all went too far in calling it treason.

Republicans have tripped over each other to obstruct every budget proposal, jobs bill, issue, policy, effort, nomination, and idea that President Obama has proposed since the day of his first inauguration. In 2010, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said, at a Heritage Foundation event, that denying President Obama a second term was the GOP’S top priority. Since then, Republicans have enlarged their efforts and now even oppose policies that they had previously supported. Republican Senate filibusters are at an all-time high. 

So how’s that working for them?  Most Americans – not just Democrats – are angry.  Public approval of Congress is at an all-time low.  The public overwhelmingly supports many of Obama’s policies.  They support him so much that he was emphatically elected to his second term in November. 

Read More …


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Impeachment: Myths, Facts, & History

More Empty Impeachment Threats from the GOP

Right-wingers trembled with glee when Sen. James Inhofe said that President Obama might be impeached for the events in Benghazi.  Few rank-and-file Americans understand impeachment or the odds of it happening.  It does not mean that the president is fired.

Most members of Congress and the media understand what impeachment means, but our schools work very hard to produce politically ignorant citizens.  Impeachment means charging a public official with an offense.  Impeachment does not mean firing a public official from her/his job.

Only to the House of Representatives can impeach.  The House can impeach hundreds of public officials:  the president, vice president, all federal judges – including Supreme Court justices – cabinet secretaries and other high-ranking officials. If the full House approves impeachment, then the official has been impeached.  But that just begins the process.  The accused still faces trial in the Senate. 


Monday, May 6, 2013

Find Out What Congress Is Doing

Free. Easy.  All Online.

Public interest in Congressional activity surged in recent years. Confusion, misinformation, and outright lies abound. But we can get accurate information without extensive web searches. All official Congressional activity is available on one website.

Have you ever wanted to read the text of a bill for yourself, while Congress debates it? Do you want to know which committees consider nominees for particular cabinet positions? Or the status of the federal budget? It’s much easier to find that information than you might think.

Thomas.gov. It’s easy to remember. And it’s your link to all Congressional activity.

Most Americans have no idea how Congress works, who their representatives are, how laws are made, or what committees do. That’s because our schools do an excellent job of producing politically ignorant citizens. They spend far too much time on historical minutiae instead of teaching our children how their government works. And those clueless children become clueless adults.

Members of Congress introduce thousands of bills every year. Those bills absorb tens of thousands of person-hours in meetings, hearings, briefings, debates, and reports. Only about five percent ever become laws.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Martin Sheen Honored in Pittsburgh for His Activism

Molly Rush and Martin Sheen in Pittsburgh
Sheen Calls Pittsburgh Activist Molly Rush His Inspiration.

In a building dedicated to those who have fought in America’s wars, about 250 people gathered in Pittsburgh on Saturday to honor a man who has dedicated his life to working for international peace and social justice.

Pittsburgh’s Thomas Merton Center honored actor and activist Martin Sheen with its Thomas Merton Award at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum on Saturday, April 13. Thomas Merton was a writer, Trappist monk, and social activist.  The center named for him has been a hub of the city’s peace and justice activity since 1972.

Pennsylvania State Senator Jim Ferlo, another lifelong activist and friend to many in attendance, served as Master of Ceremonies. Guitar soloist Moko, folksinger Anne Feeney, and Mike Stout and the Human Union band provided musical entertainment.  Pittsburgh’s city council proclaimed April 13 as Thomas Merton Center Day in the city.  The city’s Congress member Mike Doyle (D) attended the event and issued his own declaration honoring the Merton Center and Martin Sheen for their work.

Read More …


Sunday, January 6, 2013

The 113th Congress Opens for Business

Just What is a “Congress” Anyway?

Every two years, Congress reboots. Like a bright New Year’s Day, it’s fresh, and clean, and brief. The 113th Congress assembled on Thursday, January 3 – a day for family and tradition, smiles and handshakes. They’ll return to the backstabbing soon enough.

For some reason, many Americans think that “Congress” is only the House of Representatives. It is not. Article I, Section 1 of the United States Constitution says:

All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

That means that Congress makes the national laws and authorizes all federal spending. Yes, that’s right. The president can’t spend a dime without Congressional approval.

The Constitution requires that a new "Congress" convene every two years. In even-numbered years, every one of the 435 House seats and one-third of the 100 Senate seats, called a “class”, are up for election in November. The new Congress opens early in the following January. There are two sessions of each Congress; each lasts one year. The first Congress was elected in 1788 and assembled in 1789. The 112th Congress officially closed at noon on Thursday, January 3, 2013 and the 113th Congress opened moments later. The second session of the 113th will open in January 2014.

WHY don’t Americans know this stuff?

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

How Does the Electoral College Work?

And Why Don’t We Get Rid of It?

Legally, the Electoral College chooses our president, but our votes DO control that result. And until we can remove the marketing geeks from the election process, we do still need the Electoral College.

As usual on election night, news reporters announced each state’s vote totals as the polls closed and kept a running tally of electoral votes. Incumbent President Barack Obama won re-election by 4,602,212 popular votes and earned 332 Electoral College votes. Former Gov. Mitt Romney won 206 electoral votes. Other candidates won 2,227,841 popular and zero electoral votes. A candidate needs 270 electoral votes to win the election. But what’s the point of having the Electoral College?

Our founders were afraid to permit the uninformed and uneducated public to elect the president and vice president, but didn’t want to give that much power to Congress. The Electoral College was their compromise. The constitution allots each state the same number of electors as it has members of Congress – both in the House of Representatives and in the Senate. There are 435 House of Representatives members and 100 senators. The 23rd amendment allots three electors to the District of Columbia, just as though it was a state, so there are 538 total electors.