As important as it is to find out the truth about the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of conservative organizations to enforce tax laws, more emphasis should be placed on the broken political campaign finance system that led to the IRS's unacceptable behavior.
The nation's laws on who and what can contribute campaign money are so porous almost any person, group, or company can spend any amount to influence voters - even if what they say is a lie. Loopholes open the door for foreign interests to get involved, too.
Dark-money groups spent more than $300 million to influence the 2012 elections, much of it through so-called social welfare groups. The IRS got into trouble trying to figure out which groups were more political than social.
Fans of Joseph Heller's Catch-22 can't help but hear an echo of the novel’s plot in the real-life drama playing out over the leak of information about massive U.S. government spying programs.
The admitted whistle-blower, former National Security Agency contract worker Edward Snowden, apparently exposed the NSA's telephone and Internet data-gathering in an attempt to trigger a public debate about the extent to which our privacy has been compromised in the name of national security.
That debate now seems likely to play out in the federal courts. But before Snowden’s revelations, civil libertarians had been turned away because they couldn't prove to the courts' satisfaction that anyone’s communications had been targeted illegally. Why? Because the government won't say whose phone or e-mail messages have been tapped.
Revel casino's new policy allowing smoking areas is not only unhealthy, it's unethical. Staff and visitors alike are entitled to the same protection from deadly secondhand smoke available everywhere else in New Jersey. Studies have shown that a four-hour visit to a smoke-filled casino can trigger elevated levels of tobacco-specific lung carcinogens. So Revel's policy fails to protect thousands of workers and hundreds of thousands of casino patrons.
Secondhand tobacco smoke kills more than 50,000 Americans every year. Prolonged exposure can lead to respiratory problems, as well as serious illnesses like heart disease and cancer. For workers, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found that occupational exposure to secondhand smoke increased workers' risk of lung cancer and other diseases, and recommends that all workers be protected from secondhand smoke.
Nobody should be forced to risk their health - or their life - because they're trying to earn an honest wage. It is clear smoke-free casino policies do not hurt gaming. In 2012, New York's smoke-free Resorts World Racino was the nation's leader in slot revenue, taking in $57.5 million during May alone. Revel should overturn its policy and find an ethical way to dig itself out of this financial hole.
Having President Obama and Gov. Christie make an appearance at the Jersey Shore around Memorial Day was not only appreciated, but also inspiring and strengthening. The symbolism of seeing the nation's leader and the state's governor in an area hard-hit by the Hurricane Sandy radiated a feeling of Jersey Strong.
When Sandy hit the Shore, producing billions in damages, residents worried about the summer season. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, 40 percent of businesses do not reopen after a disaster, and another 25 percent fail within a year. So it's crucial for Jersey visitors to know that the Shore, in fact, is open.
By using their celebrity status, Obama and Christie were able to reassure us that the Shore and businesses were ready for summer. Other than the help provided by generous relief efforts, having these leaders walk the new boardwalks was the best thing for the Shore in its time of need.
Now that Paine's Park has opened to skateboarders, I hope that the vandalism and destruction of the Philadelphia Vietnam Veterans Memorial will diminish. Tens of thousands of dollars has been spent to repair damage suffered as a result of thoughtless skateboarding, BMX biking, and other nefarious acts.
Understandably, skateboarding did not cause all the damage at the memorial nor do all skateboarders engage in this type of trespass. But what a sad irony that skateboarding, a modern metaphor for freedom, should be the cause for any vandalizing of a memorial honoring those who gave their lives for freedom's sake.
The city's war memorials provide an opportunity for thoughtful reflection and learning about the extraordinary sacrifice of others. More of us should give thanks for those who died to protect our freedom - to skate, play, and live our lives to the fullest.
U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R., Minn.) has been excoriated by every group in America with the exception of the tea party, of which I am one proud member.
But Bachmann is an American treasure fulfilling the American dream: successful lawyer, wife, mother of five, foster mother to 23 children, community activist (not organizer), congresswoman, patriot, intellect, and an ardent God-fearing Christian Zionist.
She stood up to the establishment, the media, and Republicans and Democrats alike. Bachmann warned all who would listen of government overreach, out-of-control spending and corruption; backroom deals; budget deficits; insurmountable debt; and abandonment of our friends and allies.
How great to read a story bringing attention to the challenges of accessible health care ("More health coverage, but fewer doctors," June 2).
And while there is a growing shortage of primary care physicians, fortunately there are growing numbers of advance practice nurses who will be able to meet the demands.
These nurses are trained to diagnose simple and common illness, and to manage chronic disease. They are ideally situated to meet primary care needs. They work in collaboration with other health-care providers, including physicians, to insure that patients have the best outcomes.
The proposition that judges, being our official embodiments of impartiality, should not hire their wives and kids would not be considered revolutionary in many places. Alas, Pennsylvania is not one of them. So let us now praise the Pennsylvania Bar Association for recommending that the state's rules of judicial ethics prohibit nepotism for the first time.
The proposed reform is part of an overdue, wholesale strengthening of the state's weak, outmoded Code of Judicial Conduct, which governs the behavior of judges. The new code was recommended by a Bar Association task force and recently approved by the bar.
On the subject of hiring, the current judicial code advises that judges "should exercise their power of appointment only on the basis of merit, avoiding favoritism." That could be interpreted as discouraging the hiring of relatives, but the state's judiciary clearly hasn't read it that way. The new proposed code, in contrast, states unequivocally that judges "shall avoid nepotism and favoritism."
Gov. Corbett's liquor privatization plan doesn't make fiscal sense. I accept that our public education system is underfunded and that $1 billion pledged from privatizaton would provide great relief. However, this plan is irresponsible because it only offers one lump sum - while the State Store system generates millions in revenue annually. It's also estimated that privatization will boost State Police enforcement spending.
That being said, the current State Store system does need to be fixed. By staying open later at night and opening more one-stop shops - such as smaller outlets inside grocery stores - the state can increase revenue as well as convenience. This type of modernization is all that the current system needs to satisfy Pennsylvanians.
What I suspect is that Corbett's plan wasn't made to help Pennsylvania. Rather, it's rooted in an overly conservative agenda that puts corporate needs over those of the more than 5,000 State Store employees who would lose their jobs if privatization goes ahead.
It's several years too late to moan about the "loss of rights" indicated by the perfectly legal request by the Justice Department for Associated Press phone records. We willingly gave up most of our rights when the Patriot Act was passed in 2001.
In exchange for "safety," we gave up most of what we fought for during the last 200 years. Remember that the next time a president pushes through a rights-robbing law. This is not the president who did that.
Nancy W. Rosman, Schwenksville