Internal Revenue Service

Most new religions, like most new businesses, die a quick crib death. Scientology, however, is not about to disappear. Scholars put the number of adherents in this country at about 25,000—a far cry from the millions of members its leaders claim, but hardly insignificant for a group that was founded about 50 years ago. Despite all its bad press, the allegations that it terrorizes its critics, its cult-like secrecy and hounding of apostates, and its very weird science-fiction cosmogony, it has become a part of the fabric of communities across the country.

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One of the most remarked-upon aspects of the upcoming Supreme Court challenge to California’s gay-marriage ban is the odd couple leading the charge: Ted Olson and David Boies, the conservative and liberal superlawyers who squared off in 2000 in Bush v. Gore. Much less is known, however, about the old friendship between Olson and their opponent in this case, Charles Cooper, one of the many lawyers who helped Olson on Bush v. Gore. Cooper and Olson are both part of Washington’s tiny tribe of top-flight conservative litigators. Given their similar resumes, it is odd to find them on opposite sides of one of the most politically contentious Supreme Court cases of the 21st century. When Olson and Cooper face off before the court in late March, they’ll not only be debating gay rights, but the nature of conservatism itself.Cooper, known in Washington as “Chuck,” is from Alabama, and he’s best known for his starched French-cuffed shirts and genteel southern formality. His way of speaking, once described by Washington Post columnist Mary McGrory as “Victorian copy book prose,” can come across as impressive or a little unctuous, depending on the listener. If Olson, who also has a flair for oral arguments, is the lawyer who argues before the court this spring, he and Cooper will be evenly matched. 

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Worry less about when a "fiscal cliff" deal comes and more about what it entails.

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Mitt Romney has gotten away with refusing to give up more than two years of tax returns, and much other standard disclosure. Or has he?

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The most dangerous fraction of the One Percenters are those who also own sports teams. They’ve got a finger on our fantasies.

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On Sunday, October 7, pastors around the country will try to bait the federal government into investigating them by preaching explicitly partisan sermons. As part of a conservative movement organizers call “Pulpit Freedom Sunday,” some religious leaders will endorse Mitt Romney from the pulpit. Others may refrain from an endorsement but vigorously criticize President Obama. And some will tell their congregations that a good Christian can only vote for a candidate who opposes gay marriage and abortion.

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Why would anyone put his money in the Cayman Islands if there were, as Romney claims, no tax advantages?

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Mr. 47% Paid Around 14%

Mitt Romney moves heaven and earth to get his effective tax rate up to 14.1 percent.

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The latest journalist to press Mitt Romney on his tax returns is the ultra-resourceful Josh Tyrangiel of Businessweek. Here’s how he cleverly posed the question in a recent interview:  If you’re an investor and you’re looking at a company, and that company says that its great strength is wise management and fiscal know-how, wouldn’t you want to see the previous, say, five years’ worth of its financials?  Alas, no dice. Romney’s response:  I’m not a business.

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Hardly anything could have been more damaging to Mitt Romney’s perpetual quest to relate to the average American than the recent revelations in Vanity Fair that he maintains personal finances in a sophisticated network of institutions across Europe and North America. Among the entities that Romney relies upon is a limited liability corporation in Bermuda and a “blocker” entity in the Cayman Islands.

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