We're All Nonprofit Now
I have been watching over the years as non-profit foundations enormously have increased their assets and sway over the political and cultural life of America (essentially on our dime) with no real oversight or controls. In many cases these outfits were begun by rich men and women who have died and whose feckless heirs let the institutions fall into the control of those with views directly antithetical to the founders'. In other cases, particularly institutions like universities or those organized around a particular activity -- like providing abortions or supporting cancer research -- they depend largely on private contributions alone or in combination with government grants.
To give you an idea of the immense fortune, un taxed , and outside of any of the normal controls on government or private funds , here is a list of the known assets of the top 100 Foundations.
You can see we are talking about a cache of billions, if not trillions. of dollars out of government reach.
A number of publications wrote this week that Planned Parenthood had annual revenues of $1 billion dollars. The Foundation Center quotes a smaller, but still substantial, figure for its assets with this information taken from Planned Parenthood's IRS filing:
IRS Exemption Status
Organization that normally receives a substantial part of its support from a governmental unit or from the general public
(yr. ended 06/30/2010)
Total Assets: $140,512,119
Total Giving: $25,965,825
Planned Parenthood is in the news this week, because when a far smaller charitable foundation, the Susan G Komen Foundation, which funds breast cancer screening and treatment for women, decided that it would no longer fund Planned Parenthood to the tune of about $600,000 a year, all hell broke loose. The organization's position was well within its rights and made sense, since contrary to many misconceptions, Planned Parenthood rarely provides more than referral information to women seeking mammograms. It does not ordinarily provide these services itself. Contributors to an organization which presents itself as one working on breast cancer issues would be misled should that money be used to underscore Planned Parenthood's primary mission -- abortion. And though it remains a mystery to the media, many millions of Americans are anti-abortion and would not contribute to SGK if they knew that's where their contributions were going. Eventually, however, after Planned Parenthood leaked the shift and the left's forces -- like the editors of the NYT and Barbara Boxer -- went full bore at the audacity of this move, Komen decided to temper its action.
To many, the kerfuffle underscored the arrogance of power on behalf of Planned Parenthood.
The Wall Street Journal's James Taranto summed it up rather well:
The Daily Caller reports that Komen's donations doubled in the two days after the Planned Parenthood assault began, presumably because lots of people wanted to support its apolitical work against breast cancer but did not want to give money to a group that was subsidizing a group that both performs and advocates for abortion.
If that describes you, you might consider following the advice of our friend Susan Carusi: Give to a local breast cancer support group, "which provides counseling and assistance to women diagnosed with breast cancer. At least this way you know exactly what the money is being spent on."
While our sympathies are with Komen in this whole kerfuffle, we must say that the group has displayed an appalling naiveté in its approach to the matter. It's reminiscent of the last big controversy the group was involved in, which we wrote about in 2009. In that instance, Komen hosted a conference in Alexandria, Egypt, for "international advocates." Komen was sandbagged when Israeli doctors who'd been invited to the event received disinvitations from the Egyptian health minister. The Egyptians backpedaled, but by then it was too late for the Israelis to attend.
In breaking ties with Planned Parenthood, Komen made the same mistake: It failed to understand it was dealing with intolerant fanatics. Planned Parenthood's attitude toward abortion opponents is not unlike that of Egyptian officials in the old regime toward Israelis. [snip]
The Times's view exemplifies feminism's gradual transformation into a totalitarian ideology. Totalitarianism politicizes everything, so that neutrality is betrayal - -in this case, neutrality on abortion is portrayed as opposition to "women's health." As we wrote last year, this is also why purportedly pro-choice feminists can hate Sarah Palin and her daughter for choosing not to abort their children.
Komen would have been better off approaching the matter straightforwardly, by announcing that it wished to opt out of the abortion debate and would not support groups that take a position on either side of the issue, including Planned Parenthood. This would not have averted the smear campaign that followed, for Planned Parenthood and its supporters have internalized the notion that abortion is health, and are determined that everyone else internalize it too. But an honest position would have been easier to defend. No one would have been able to dent Komen's integrity.
Mark Steyn weighed in smartly on the issue, too:
In America today, few activities are as profitable as a "nonprofit." Planned Parenthood receives almost half a billion dollars -- or about 50 percent of its revenues -- in taxpayer funding.
A billion dollars seems a lot, even for 322,000 abortions a year. But it enables Planned Parenthood to function as a political heavyweight. Ms Richards' business is an upscale progressives' ideological protection racket, for whom the "poor women's" abortion mill is a mere pretext. The Komen Foundation will not be the last to learn that you can "race for the cure," but you can't hide. Celebrate conformity - or else.
I think it's long overdue that Congress and the IRS exert far more control over all these foundations, more closely monitoring their activities and forcing them to rapidly spend down this mountain of assets on domestic charitable purposes (not political meddling) . My recollection is that the tax exemption for such foundations was created so that private individuals could meet public needs during the depression when government coffers were bare . In recent years, this mash up seems small potatoes compared to some others -- Annenberg funneling scores of millions to terrorist Bill Ayers and Barack Obama, who used it employ their radical friends with the result of even further weakening the Chicago school system; Ford using its tax free dollars to fund the anti-American and anti-Israeli Durban conference; Pew using its funds sub rosa to persuade Congress to pass and the Courts to sustain the odious Campaign Finance Reform Act.
Of course, under this Administration, a move to limit the assets and works of such foundations is unthinkable. They benefit too much from the present scheme to even consider it. And if they did go straight, who would take charge? The Attorney General?
The Attorney General himself this week did a world class shuck and jive act to cover up his handling of Fast & Furious, a bit of nincompoopery which cost hundreds of Mexican lives, the lives of two American agents, and will certainly cause untold damage in both countries for years as drug lords make use of the weaponry Holder placed in their hands.
Former CIA Director Hayden reminded us that Holder's pitiful claims of persecution were made in the face of the Attorney General's own unwarranted treatment of CIA officials:
After the congressional elections of 2006, the CIA was forced to defend edgy (often controversial and sometimes unsuccessful) actions in a tough political environment. President George W. Bush was politically weakened, the Senate and the House were under Democratic control and a presidential election was in the offing.
On the Hill, the questions were aggressive, often partisan and, in my view, sometimes even deeply mean-spirited and unfair to the many intelligence professionals who were putting their lives and careers on the line in a very successful effort to protect America from further attack. The agency dealt with the committees as best a nonpolitical organization could, fully recognizing that, although congressional oversight was a necessary instrument, it could sometimes be a difficult one.
But any personal instinct toward some common "executive branch" empathy for Holder is muted not only by the dubious character of Fast and Furious, but by some of the attorney general's other actions, as well. While out of office, for example, he famously called for a "reckoning" for CIA officers and other officials who authorized and conducted operations that were edgy and risky and intended to deal with difficult circumstances.
Once in office, he launched a "reckoning" of CIA renditions, detentions and interrogations of terrorists by directing the Justice Department to reopen investigations closed years before by career prosecutors. This decision was opposed by then-CIA Director Leon Panetta and seven of his predecessors, and Holder reportedly made the decision without reading detailed memos prepared by those career prosecutors declining to pursue further proceedings.
The CIA officers affected by this may be forgiven some feelings of irony when they now hear the attorney general repudiating some of the charges made against his officers by stating: "Those who serve in the ranks of law enforcement are our nation's heroes and deserve our nation's thanks, not the disrespect that is being heaped on them by those who see political advantage."
Of course, it was also Holder who decided in 2009 to release what had been secret DOJ memos outlining the details and providing the legal justification for the Bush administration's interrogation program. The release was defended by the administration as part of a broad commitment to "transparency."
Holder may have had even more in mind though as, according to a contemporary Newsweek account of the decision, the leadership of the Department of Justice calculated that "if the public knew the details, ... there would be a groundswell of support for an independent probe," and that when the decision to release those memos had been made, the attorney general and his leadership team "celebrated quietly, and waited for the national outrage to begin."
Later that summer, Holder also released a previously classified CIA inspector general report on the interrogation program as the administration seemed to be actively shaping this story to put its predecessor's actions in the worst possible light.
As I said, schadenfreude is a bad thing. But it is sometimes hard to avoid, especially when life seems to come full circle.
Attorney General Eric Holder has made it clear that he thinks he has been subjected to a heavily politicized process over Fast and Furious.
If he has -- and that's still an if -- I suspect that some folks at CIA know exactly how he feels.
Representative Issa and Sen. Grassley filed a full report on their investigation and you might find the extent of government misfeasance eye opening.
Nevertheless Holder's prepared remarks absolved him in his eyes of any wrongdoing. It's like watching Hogan's Heroes Sergeant Schultz ("I hear nothing, I see nothing, I know nothing!") again
Here's a sample of the testimony of a man-like his boss- thin skinned, incompetent, and arrogant-- captured by the Weekly Standard's Mark Hemingway
If you weren't able to watch today's congressional hearings with Attorney General Eric Holder on the Fast and Furious scandal, here's a taste of what it was like. Two American law enforcement agents are dead, and despite bearing a significant measure of responsibility, the Justice Department has been stonewalling for months and several pieces of evidence suggest the DOJ has not told the truth about what it knows. When members of congress voice their frustration with this, Holder is defensive and says he deserves "credit":
Here's a transcript, via the Washington Examiner's Joel Gehrke, who did yeoman's work covering the hearing live:
"I should be held accountable for, certainly, my role -- whatever I did or didn't do in connection to the supervision of Operation Fast and Furious," Holder said during the hearing today. "But, yeah, I'm Attorney General of the United States and I should be held accountable, perhaps even given some credit -- imagine that, given some credit -- for the things that this Department has done under my leadership." Holder cited his role in "revitalizing" the civil rights division as an example of his good leadership, among other things."
Indeed, so arrogant was he before the Committee that he threatened to take action against whistle blowers who cooperated with the Congressional Investigation and has stonewalled them with respect to requests for tens of thousands of documents in his possession.
The corruption in the Department of Justice under Holder is not being reported by the mainstream media, which barely covered the hearings. But online you might learn that Department of Justice Prosecutors took bribes to forestall prosecution of indicted crime suspects ; the Department knows of it and has as of yet refused to prosecute these people or discipline them.
As far as I can tell he's also taken no action against those Justice Department Prosecutors who phonied up a case against former Senator Stevens which eventually-- after he lost his Senate seat and was convicted -- was overturned by a Judge outraged at the prosecution's misconduct. Nor has any disciplinary action been imposed on prosecutors who committed perjury in a Civil Rights case brought under Holder's watch.
Just as we desperately need oversight of the trillions of dollars held by non-profit organizations and of our incompetent Attorney General Eric Holder, we need to keep an eye on Department of Justice prosecutors in general. Andrew McCarthy who during the Libby ordeal defended Patrick Fitzgerald as a fair minded , capable prosecutor, has had an opportunity to examine his work in the Conrad Black case and seems to have seen the light referring to the work of his former colleague -- though not by name -- and those who worked under him as a "prosecutoracracy"
Increasingly, though, "rule of law" is just Big Government's version of "social justice." Heroes and villains are assigned their fates in accordance with the vanguard's transgressive obsessions: income inequality, race, anti-Americanism, etc. The laws, rules and regulations proliferate until no one is invulnerable, reminiscent of Republican Rome's death throes, when the emperor Nero (as Justice Antonin Scalia recounts in A Matter of Interpretation) posted his edicts high up on the pillars, rendering them impossible to read. Defendants are capriciously selected, made an example of, as much for what they represent as for what they've done. If you are a Democratic former National Security Adviser filching classified documents from the national archives or a Black Panther swinging a billy-club outside a polling station, you get our understanding. If you are Big Tobacco or Conrad Black, you'd better get counsel. Quaint notions of culpability are beside the point, because law is not about maintaining order but inculcating "our values." Guilt and innocence are as irrelevant as the mordantly obvious question that rolled off my underwhelmed lips when the tobacco investigation was broached -- How can there be fraud when the commercial activity is legal and everybody's eyes are open to the risks? [snip]
The jury acquitted the defendants on the fraud trumpeted by Breeden and echoed by the Justice Department. Yet the government had an escape hatch: the ever-elastic theory of denying "honest services." Originally concocted to deal with the peculiar circumstance of bribery -- e.g., a judge who takes money to fix a case, depriving the public of his expected probity -- this doctrine was stretched by corporate governance activists to criminalize alleged ethical lapses. Though neither intending nor effecting a fraud, an official can find himself in the soup over loose allegations of self-dealing at the company's apparent expense.
Black was convicted on three counts of this hopelessly vague offense. Tacked on for good measure was a bizarre obstruction of justice charge, involving his removal to his home of thirteen boxes out of a company office from which he'd been evicted. Inspectors and lawyers had had free rein to copy all relevant documents for three years, Black had permission from the acting company president to remove the materials, he was unaware there was any American investigation to obstruct, he was unaware of the contents of the boxes, and he had dutifully surrendered over 100,000 documents as demanded. The jury, however, was doubtless influenced by a prosecutor's repeated false implication that the removal violated a Canadian court order.
The defendants exposed the patent emptiness of the government's case, prevailing on nine of thirteen charges. They illustrated that the whole woebegone exercise was government's heavy-handed attempt to criminalize a private dispute over whether a company should be sold -- at most, the stuff of civil lawsuits, not grand jury indictments. Breeden's half-billion dollar horror story was utter fiction -- slashed by the verdict to no more than an "honest services" breach of $2.9 million -- not enough to pay Breeden & Co. for more than a sliver of the months they'd spent bankrupting the business. Yet, driven by federal sentencing guidelines, these "crimes" computed to a seventy-eight-month prison term.
In the prosecutocracy's cruel piece de resistance, Black was sent a ray of hope. In 2010, the Supreme Court reversed his convictions, sharply limiting the honest services statute to bribery cases. Further, the justices unanimously rebuked the reasoning by which the appeals court -- under the direction of Judge Richard Posner -- had strained to affirm the prosecution. Black was released from jail, but the high court kept him in an aching limbo, sending the case back to Posner to review his own handiwork. Black's sketch of Posner as a grandstanding public intellectual is worth the price of admission. True to form, Posner ignored the defense arguments, let the obstruction conviction stand, and reinstated a single honest service count as if it were a plain vanilla fraud -- the theory the jury implicitly rejected. On the government's best spin, its ruinous, astronomically expensive pursuit of Conrad Black netted one dubious caper worth $600,000 -- about one percent of Breeden's slanderous "kleptocracy" claim.
Though he'd already served over two years -- surpassing the sentence often imposed for actual obstruction of actual fraud -- the district judge refused to release Conrad outright. He is serving seven additional months. That fig leaf of seriousness cannot disguise this shameful episode[/quote]
One bright light this week is that the President and his HHS Secretary Sebelius have tried to assure the political support of the left by promulgating a regulation requiring all employers who provide health insurance to include coverage for abortion, contraception and sterilization and all hospitals to provide these services -- denying any religious exemptions at all. I say it's a bright light because this oversteps religious freedom and has inspired a massive and historic rebellion by the Church against the State:
Word appears to be getting out very slowly because The Anchoress (Elizabeth Scalia) reports Catholic support for Obama remains high.
I think it remains high because the press has hardly covered this monumental development and, once again, people are finding out through other means. Catholics make up 25-27% of American voters. Last time around the "social justice" crowd in the Church membership worked for Obama. Will they dare do it again now that he has foolishly engaged in this anti-religious provocation?
Elizabeth Scalia, notes:
"At the National Catholic Reporter Michael Sean Winters -- furious on behalf of those Catholics who "took some punches" for the sake of President Obama -- declares he cannot, in good conscience, cast another vote Obamaward. He now suggests that the bishops chain themselves to the White House fence in order to bring attention to the direct assault this administration is making against the church's constitutional right to its own conscience -- its right to be what it is."