Hand-picked and farm-fresh–
⇒Linked articles in bold purple
◆ If Exxon-Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson is picked to be Donald Trump’s Secretary of State, lots of Democrats and some Republicans will push back hard, says the Wall Street Journal.
Republican hesitation over Mr. Tillerson marked the first sign of division between congressional GOP and the Trump team over its likely cabinet picks. All of President-elect Donald Trump’s other nominees so far appear likely to be confirmed by the Senate.
Mr. Tillerson, a seasoned deal-maker whose company has a long history of doing business in Russia, is drawing unease from senators on both sides of the aisle. Republicans can likely afford to lose only two GOP votes next year in the new Congress when it meets to consider Mr. Trump’s nominees. –Wall Street Journal
Some reservations, like those of John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), are to be expected. But Marc Rubio (R-FL and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee) also raised a warning sign. “Being a ‘friend of Vladimir,’” he tweeted, “is not an attribute I am hoping for” in the next secretary of state.
But it might be an attribute Trump is looking for, or at least doesn’t care much about. Tillerson is a very experienced deal-maker with extensive international experience, and he has run the biggest company in the world extremely profitably.
◆ Clarice Feldman’s weekly column is always smart and incisive. This week’s is no exception. Her target is large philanthropies, which, she argues, are often engaged in openly political agendas, pay senior officials rich salaries, and operate with little public oversight, despite their tax-exempt status. (American Thinker) She is particularly critical of the Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers, and Pew Charitable Trusts.
She proposes 5 strategies to rein them in:
- Impose greater oversight of their tax-exempt status at both the state and federal levels
- Stop their tax-exempt grants for political lobbying
- Make them pay out endowments more rapidly
- Require them to state their charitable aims more clearly and then stick to those aims
- Demand transparency
Comment: These are characteristically thoughtful ideas. Most seem sensible, and all are worth debating. It’s obvious (to me) that these foundations should not be used for private enrichment and political activity at taxpayer expense. Do that on your own dime. But I have one reservation as we debate these issues. We need to prevent the government from crushing independent elements of civil society, and that includes foundations.
Private foundations, like other elements of civil society, stands between citizens and their government, largely outside the state’s control. The more control government has over these foundations, beyond preventing fraud, the more like they are to squash the organizations’ independence and direct them to support government policy. That is exactly how Lois Lerner and her comrades were using the IRS. They controlled the spigot of tax exemption, giving it to charities whose purposes they approved and denying it to those they disliked.
Any changes, like those proposed by Feldman, need to be sure to cut out the cancer and not the healthy tissue of civil society.
◆ The Anti-Defamation League is one of the most prominent voices in the Jewish community, particularly in the fight against discrimination, not when it affects Jews but also when it affects blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, immigrants, and others. For years, it was ably run by Abe Foxman.
Now, controversy is swirling around his successor, Jonathan Greenblatt, who has deep roots in progressive politics and has steered the ADL in a radically different direction from Foxman.
Writing the NY Post, Alex VanNess, levels serious criticism against Greenblatt’s leadership of the ADL. Under him, VanNess says, the ADL has devised school lesson plans that promote Black Lives Matter “despite BLM’s support for BDS (Boycott, Divest, and Sanction against Israel) and open hostility toward Israel.”
Greenblatt has thrown the ADL into the fight in favor of Obamacare, even though it has no clear relationship to his organization’s missions.
He has supported Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), running to head the Democratic National Committee, as a “man of good character,” despite recordings of Ellison saying Israel and the Jews control US foreign policy.
VanNess says Greenblatt won’t change and the ADL should toss him out.
◆ Is Turkey Still a Democracy, asks the International Business Times, as Pres. Erdogan seeks to expand his powers still further?
Comment: The answer to IBT’s question contains only two letters.
♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
◆ Marcia Sukenik Weiss for the Anti-Defamation League story
◆ Belladonna Rogers for Clarice Feldman’s column