FDR also used IRS to attack political enemies

Re: "Nothing to joke about," May 14

Gene Healy invokes President Richard Nixon as the iconic precedent in his discussion of the developing Internal Revenue Service scandal involving the targeting of political opponents. Other commentators often do as well.

But they don't go back far enough. In his book "New Deal or Raw Deal," Professor Burton Folsom details the lengths to which President Franklin D. Roosevelt would ruthlessly use the IRS against any political opposition to his New Deal program, whether it came from a Republican or even a Democrat.

Since its conception, the IRS has been a seductive lure to all politicians convinced of their mandate to power.

This latest IRS scandal is not the first of its kind, nor will it be the last. Human nature doesn't change, but we can eliminate opportunities to do ill -- as opponents of the 16th Amendment urged us to do.

Francois Krodel


Israel deserves to be boycotted

Re: "Hawking's boycott will have little effect," From Readers, May 14

Nelson Marans ludicrously characterizes physicist Stephen Hawking's boycott of Israel's Science Conference as anti-Semitic.The boycott is anti-Israeli, yes, following the advice of Palestinian academics, but not because of any anti-Semitism, since the Palestinians are Semites themselves.

Israel is the only modern power still conducting a brutal occupation. Occupation has never succeeded in world history. Every July Fourth we celebrate the end of our own occupation. Why should the Palestinians be any different?

Hawking appreciates the diversity of Israel, with its many human rights and peace activists, and his boycott does not negate that. But Israel is governed by rulers who defy this precept in favor of Arab nations, who are openly hostile toward the Palestinians and who trade vigorously with the U.S. and Israel.

The last great Israeli peace negotiator was Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated in 1993 by a citizen and a devotee of continued oppression of the Palestinian people.

Edward Abramic


Obama proposal would violate First Amendment

Re: "Don't cripple the Internet with frivolous lawsuits," Editorial, May 12

As The Washington Examiner noted, subjecting websites to the Americans with Disabilities Act could violate their free speech rights and force small websites to shut down to avoid massive costs. If the Obama administration succeeds in expanding ADA regulations to cover most websites, trial lawyers will be able to surf the Web and send out extortionate demand letters to countless small businesses.

Activists want the government to require websites to accommodate the mentally disabled, not just the blind and deaf. One consultant urges businesses to use simple language for the intellectually disabled. That would dumb down the Web and violate free speech protections.

Or the administration may just ignore the First Amendment. After all, it recently ordered the University of Montana to restrict "unwelcome" speech that offends only unreasonable, hypersensitive people, disregarding previous court rulings about free speech rights.

Hans Bader

Senior attorney,

Competitive Enterprise Institute