Roundup: Editorial opinions from other papers
Step away from that bison
Those shaggy-haired, shoulder-humped bison roaming Yellowstone National Park have lived in the area since prehistoric times, surviving migration, predators, disease, development.
But can they survive tourists? Despite signs in the park and fliers handed out to visitors warning them about being gored by the horned bison, tourists just can’t seem to stay the officially required 25 yards away. They get out of cars and snap selfies with bison, scurrying back only when the animal takes off after them. (In the good-to-know category, bison are significantly faster sprinters than humans.) Last year, five people were seriously injured by bison at Yellowstone.
Recently, an interaction cost a bison its life. When tourists spotted a newborn bison calf seemingly shivering from cold, they plucked it from the roadside like a helpless hitchhiker, put it in the back of their SUV and took it to a ranger facility “because of their misplaced concern for the animal’s welfare,” said a Park Service official. Human interference can cause a mother to reject a calf, and in this case, park rangers were unsuccessful in getting the bison herd to take the calf back in. Ultimately, it had to be euthanized.
Those people were trying to help. Others like the thrill of recklessness — how close can you get to a dangerous animal and live to upload the selfie? For many of us, it’s that we’re urban creatures starved for interaction with animals more exotic than our cats and dogs.
But wild creatures need to be left alone — if not for our survival then certainly for theirs.
Los Angeles Times, May 21
Impeaching IRS chief won’t solve anything
Pity John Koskinen, who agreed to take one of the worst jobs in America and is now being punished for it.
In 2013, President Barack Obama asked Koskinen to take over at the Internal Revenue Service amid budgetary chaos, deteriorating morale and a simmering scandal. House Republicans, still angry about that scandal — and about the concept of taxation generally — are now trying to impeach him.
Their case is weak, and the ultimate loser in this sorry spectacle won’t be Koskinen.
Start with the scandal. An inspector general report in 2013 found that IRS employees had been improperly scrutinizing conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status. This was wrong, and blame was duly apportioned. The agency’s boss resigned, a top deputy retired, and the director of the offending unit was placed on leave and declared in contempt of Congress. Half a dozen congressional committees vowed to fumigate every pixel of offending detail. One managed to produce an 8,000-page report. The Justice Department investigated (and found no evidence of criminality).
But you have to get up pretty early in the morning to outfox the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah, the committee’s chairman, has made a professional specialty of berating civil servants. He appears to view Koskinen — who, recall, joined the agency after this scandal — as obstructing further investigation.
The specific allegations Chaffetz has adduced hardly add up to high crimes and misdemeanors. At worst, they portray mild bureaucratic ineptitude. And removing Koskinen from office stands no chance in legislative reality.
Actually impeaching Koskinen — a punishment not invoked against an executive-branch appointee since Ulysses S. Grant occupied the White House — probably isn’t the objective anyway. The point is to embarrass the IRS. And congressional Republicans have already done a fine job of that by slashing the agency’s budget while helping to vastly expand its responsibilities, with predictably frustrating results.
Taxpayers, in other words, are the ones who ultimately suffer when Congress ignores more pressing business in favor of needlessly antagonizing the IRS. They’re also the ones footing the bill for 8,000-page reports and shambolic impeachment proceedings.
Bloomberg View, May 25