The term "bully pulpit" stems from President Theodore Roosevelt's reference to the White House as a "bully pulpit," meaning a terrific platform from which to persuasively advocate an agenda. Roosevelt often used the word "bully" as an adjective meaning superb/wonderful. The Bully Pulpit features news, reasoned discourse, opinion and some humor.
Saturday, April 30, 2005
Good Rush Quote
"We have just established once and for all that Social Security is a welfare program. Sorry, folks. That's what it is."
-- Rush Limbaugh
Friday, April 29, 2005
Former President Clinton lashed out at the Bush administration's energy policies Friday, criticizing them as "dumb economics" during a wide-ranging speech to a friendly crowd at Brown University.
The Heritage Foundation's Personal Retirement Account Calculator estimates how you would fare under the President's plan to reform Social Security.
In February, President George W. Bush released his plan to reform Social Security with Personal Retirement Accounts (PRAs). In the months since, there has been great discussion and debate over how the Bush plan would affect individuals. Using details of the President’s plan from the White House, along with reasonable assumptions and inferences, analysts at the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis have constructed a model of the Bush plan that shows how workers who choose to open a personal account would fare. Implemented as an online calculator, this model allows any individual to see how the Bush plan would affect him or her, relative to today’s Social Security.
There is an undeniable fury building among Republican voters coast to coast. It has now been almost six months since that euphoric day last year -- November 2nd -- when Republicans stunned Democrats across the board. Not only did President Bush handily beat John Kerry, but the GOP did what few predicted -- it managed to pick up four seats in the Senate. John Thune's victory over Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle in South Dakota was extra sweet.
In defending the Social Security status quo, many liberal commentators take inconsistent positions.
The mainstream media are full of news stories, written with barely concealed glee, suggesting a GOP crackup is near. The accepted story line is that far right Christian conservatives have rocked the political boat too hard, and moderate Republicans and independents are slipping away. Considering the public response to the Congressional action in the Schiavo case, the President’s faltering Social Security reform effort with private accounts, Tom DeLay’s ethics problems, John Bolton’s confirmation problems, and polls showing low approval ratings for President Bush, and low levels of popular support for changing the Senate’s filibuster rules, it might appear that GOP efforts are stalled across the board.
Many people think that Arnold, Rudy Giuliani, Condoleeza Rice, and John McCain are the future of the GOP. Maybe so. In case they are right, I have my change of registration form ready to go.
In an interview with a German newspaper late last year, Arnold Schwarzenegger urged the GOP to adopt more liberal stances, identifying that as the key to a winning political formula. "The Republican party currently covers only the spectrum from the right wing to the middle, and the Democratic party covers the spectrum from the left to the middle," the newspaper quoted him as saying. "I would like the Republican Party to cross this line, move a little further left and place more weight on the center. This would immediately give the party 5% more votes without it losing anything elsewhere."
Ed Chen of the Los Angeles Times and Bill Sammon of the Washington Times both asked the President about the tenor of partisan politics in Washington. "We like to remind you," said Sammon, "that you came to Washington hoping to change the tone."
Democratic leaders have traveled a long way from Harry "Give 'em Hell" Truman to Harry "Shut 'em Down" Reid. Now it's showdown time in Washington, D.C., on judicial filibusters.
Thursday, April 28, 2005
This isn't really all that surprising (or interesting either). George Bush is a politician, nothing more, nothing less. Expecting him to lead the fight would require him to be a leader or a statesman. I sometimes think that if Bush had his way, he would just have campaigned and then let someone else deal with all the nastiness of actually being the President.
Today's edition of the ultraliberal Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette has one of the (unwittingly) funniest editorials ever:Several times, we have posed this question for political experts: Why did West Virginia--long a Roosevelt-and-Kennedy Democratic "blue state"--become a Republican "red state" in the past two presidential elections, despite 2-to-1 Democratic registration?Maybe the reason West Virginia turned red is that its liberal elites, such as the editorialists at the Gazette, are so out of touch that they have to rely on Le Monde to explain the state's politics.
Why did this low-income state vote for the party of the rich--a party openly slashing help for common Americans and giving huge rewards to the wealthy?
We never received an explanation from any of the state's political professors or other societal analysts. But an answer was offered by one of the world's premier journals, Le Monde of Paris.
In a long report titled "What's the matter with West Virginia?" the French newspaper said the Mountain State has been pulled to the right by exaggerated patriotism, love of guns, Bible Belt fundamentalism, resentment of liberal intellectuals, and defense of the coal industry against environmentalism.
If liberals succeed in convincing Republicans on the Foreign Relations Committee to vote against Bolton, they will derail his nomination. It's time to take action.
Democrats are in an incomprehensible rage over the filibuster. DON'T STOP READING! I AM NOT GOING TO DISCUSS THE HISTORY OF THE FILIBUSTER! Republicans have got to learn to stop getting into technicalities with the Democrats. They win in the dark; we win in the light. And it doesn't get much darker than a discussion of the Senate filibuster.
A SECOND-TERM slump has now hit President Bush hard enough that some Republicans wonder aloud when he'll finally fight back.
More than 40 years ago, Ronald Reagan delivered a televised address called "A Time for Choosing" about the ideological choices Americans faced in the 1964 presidential election between Lyndon Johnson and Barry Goldwater. The speech was to form the basis for Reagan's own presidential candidacies in 1976 and 1980.
Republicans and the nation are now faced with another time for choosing in the matter of confirming judges to the federal bench. For at least the last four decades, liberal Democrats have imposed their ideas and values on the nation without the benefit of a debate or public consent. On the most contentious of issues, such as religious expression in public places, abortion and what constitutes a family, a judicial elite has handed down rulings frequently out of sync with the Constitution and the will of much, if not most, of the citizenry.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is in big trouble. At least that is what one might believe from the liberal press accounts of his participation in a Family Research Council-sponsored event last Sunday.
By appearing at the gathering (albeit in a videotaped speech), Frist ostensibly violated the “separation of Church and State.” According to the latest liberal Constitutional interpretations, political office holders are forbidden to address public issues in churches, unless they happen to be Democrats on the campaign trail.
Superintendent Larry Cartner's proposed 2005-06 budget for Stokes County Schools asks for an increase of about 9 percent, bringing the total request to about $9.7 million.
Al Gore's bombast has made him a caricature of himself. Sadly though, this will cause the cowards in the GOP to hunker down even lower instead of ignoring this windbag.
As conscientious followers of politics are doubtless aware, the better sort of American liberal is troubled by the unprecedented vituperation that has stolen into the public discourse. The Clintons refer to it as "The Politics of Personal Destruction" -- well said, Bill and Hillary. They, and concerned citizens like them, recognize that this inflammatory rhetoric comes, in the main, from the right -- or as they put it, "the extreme right."
Al Gore saved this country once already from attacks on the judiciary, and he'll do it again. That's what he told a fervent MoveOn crowd yesterday afternoon at a Capitol Hill hotel ballroom.
I'll give credit where credit is due: unlike on Social Security, Paul Krugman has followed through with his claim that he would back up his assertions about health care in future columns. Yet his recent effort is no more impressive. It is riddled with bogus comparisons, both explicit and implied.
Former Vice President Al Gore on Wednesday blamed Republican "lust for one-party domination" for the GOP campaign to change Senate rules on filibustering judicial nominees, and he assailed religious zealots for driving the effort.
President Bush will hold a prime time press conference on Thursday night, his first in over a year, to offer more details about his plans to overhaul Social Security, the White House announced.
The 8:30 p.m. EDT East Room press conference comes at a time when Bush is facing some of the lowest job approval ratings of his presidency.
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
You just gotta love bureaucratic jargon:"But 4th generation warfare is a new thing, involving non-state actors and the battle for ideas, enemies that are looking block U.S. military advantages and exploit seams in existing systems, and the use of asymmetric means to achieve goals and objectives."What the heck does all that mean? Leave it to the military bureaucracy to produce content-free gibberish in its published works.
I remember a Navy Chief I met once whose Dad had served with Carter in the Navy. I'll never forget what he said: "That guy was a blivet when he was on my Dad's boat. Once a blivet, always a blivet."
I'll save you the trouble of looking up blivet. It's a military term that generally means someone who has an overblown sense of self importance. The literal definition among military men is ten pounds of fecal matter in a five pound bag. I think that speaks for itself.
Feminist groups have come out against a woman's right to control her body. No, it's not April Fool's Day, and the story didn't appear in the satirical paper The Onion.
The Food and Drug Administration held a three-day meeting to discuss lifting the 13-year-old ban on silicone gel breast implants. Groups such as the National Organization for Women and the Feminist Majority Foundation lined up to demand that the FDA keep the ban.
If we developed the practice of removing products from the market because some people are harmed by them, we might starve to death.
Is marching band part of a basic public education, or is it an extra? One of the great advantages of economic thinking as an analytical tool is the use of marginal thinking. Marginal thinking means that we consider incremental changes in policy, funding, or spending, rather than all-or-nothing options. So where does marginal thinking apply in the issue of parent fees vs. public (taxpayer) funding in recent controversies over activities like marching band? It's really a problem of determining, in the absence of private costs linked to consumption of these education services, which classes and activities are basic, and therefore "inside the public funding margin," and which are really "extra," and should be paid for by user fees. Thus the current controversy over who should pay for band uniforms, trips, and competitions in Johnston and other school districts.
The Real Bolton “Scandal”
If the Senate Democrats who are trying to stop John Bolton’s appointment as our UN Ambassador weren’t doing so much damage to our country, their shenanigans would be hilarious.
We have just completed more than three years of non-stop investigations of our Intelligence Community’s failures on 9-11 and on Iraq’s WMD program – including two Presidential commissions and a half-dozen Congressional panels. The conclusion of all these groups is that our country’s intelligence “professionals” have time and again been wrong, behind the curve, and generally incompetent.
And so what do these Senate Democrats accuse John Bolton of having done? They say he pushed too hard to challenge these same “intelligence professionals” and to question their conclusions.
The real scandal is that Bolton is just about the only man in Washington who didn’t believe these so-called “intelligence professionals.” Had other members of the Administration, and of Congress, been as skeptical – our country might well have been the better for it.
Senate Democrats appear to realize that they have painted themselves into a corner. Republicans are calling their bluff on the threat to filibuster appeals court judicial appointments, by threatening to change Senate rules to restore the status quo ante of no filibustering of judicial appointments. The initial Democrat response to the Republicans’ so-called nuclear option counter-move had been to threaten to virtually shut down the Senate with obstructionism on every available pretext.
Can you please retitle this thread? I've lost track of all the "re: re: re: s" and it long ago stopped being about Pope Benedict. How about "Point/Counterpoint: Steve and Behethland discuss life"?
From the Drudge Report:
The red-hot rhetoric over Social Security on liberal talk radio network AIR AMERICA has caught the attention of the Secret Service...
I don't think President Bush really gets Earth Day. He helped pick up garbage at the park, but the "litter stick' he was using was made of baby seal bone and freshly cut Red Wood. .... The U.S. Department of Agriculture came out with their new food pyramid. Have you looked around? Most Americans today are food pyramids -- small at the top, wide at the bottom. .... Electronics experts say that by 2009 people will be able to watch TV programs on their cell phones. So we are now exactly 4 years away from the largest car accident is history. .... I was reading some interesting facts about the new Pope, Pope Benedict XVI. According to "The New York Post', did you know the new Pope has never had a driver's license? Hey, he should come to California, he's an immigrant. We'll give him one for free.
RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: WINNING EMAIL OF THE DAY ON THE LEFT'S FRENZY OVER POPE BENEDICT
I just don't want my children having to work retail or wait tables as a career, that's all.
RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: WINNING EMAIL OF THE DAY ON THE LEFT'S FRENZY OVER POPE BENEDICT
"I'm just speaking from personal experience and the experience of many peers. Today's high school graduates with no work experience aren't going to find a job without a college degree."Speaking from close to forty years of continuous employment, that is simply not true. In fact, a college graduate with no work experience is worse than useless. They expect higher salaries and better benefits right out of the gate. In return, you get nothing."It was intended for an elite few, but has become necessary for everyone in order to even be considered for employment."Once again, that is completely untrue. How many restaurants and retail stores require college degrees? How many construction companies require college degrees? How many trucking firms require college degrees?"A college degree has become the high school degree of 20 years ago."That is solely the fault of the utter and complete failure of public education as an institution. I doubt you want to go there."I've had an extremely hard time finding the type of job I want because I don't have a graduate degree. My husband just completed his MBA last year and has since been promoted twice. I'm sure he would argue that a graduate degree has been beneficial to his career."Do you realize how wide the gulf is between what you said here and the statement that college is a prerequisite for employment? You are talking about desire, I am talking about necessity. A really ugly old British guy once said, "You can't always get what you want..." That is the essence of what I mean about women staying at home with their kids. Couples want one set of things, but what they need is much smaller. Your generation was never taught the difference between wanting and needing."I did not say that only high school goof-offs don't go to college. I said that they SHOULDN'T go to college if they aren't going to take it seriously. They are just taking space from someone more deserving."I don't like taking this to personal example, but it is apropos here, so I will. I was the biggest high school goof-off you ever met. However, I graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor of science degree. You have the education system's outlook on college and higher education. College and the degrees it confers are tools, nothing more. A degree in and of itself is not even worth the very nice vellum on which it is printed. I have hired dozens of people with and without college degrees. I have also turned away dozens with and without degrees. The only thing the degree does for me is let me know that a candidate has been introduced to the discipline and that there is a higher chance that he/she will know something about what I'm asking them in the interview. I would hire someone with a positive work record and no degree long before I would hire someone with no work record (or a questionable work record) and a degree. I am not unusual in that regard.
The sole case, outside of professional and managerial positions, where a post-graduate degree is not actually a hindrance is in the field of higher education. In my opinion, we have plenty of college professors out there, maybe a few too many.
College is great. Everyone who can, should attend. However, it is, and always will be, a luxury.
In the coming weeks, we may witness a vote in the United States Senate that will define the 109th Congress for the ages. This vote will not be about war and peace, the economy or the threat from terrorism. It will focus instead on procedure: whether the Senate should amend its own rules to ensure that nominees to the federal bench can be confirmed by a simple majority vote.
Mother told us, "Haste makes waste." At the General Assembly, as I reported last week, legislators waste a lot of time on silly bills while rushing through important ones. Last week, evidence supporting that observation became even clearer as the Senate sat down to take a good look at the House-passed lottery bill.
Ronald Reagan kept a diary -- handwritten, blue-inked reflections and observations of nearly every day of his eight years in the White House -- and now it will be published, executives of HarperCollins and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Foundation announced yesterday.
RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: WINNING EMAIL OF THE DAY ON THE LEFT'S FRENZY OVER POPE BENEDICT
I'm just speaking from personal experience and the experience of many peers. Today's high school graduates with no work experience aren't going to find a job without a college degree.
My dad didn't have a college degree because he couldn't afford going, and he worked his way up in the R&D department of RJ Reynolds. It isn't like that anymore. It isn't fair, but employers won't even give you a chance without a degree. And I think that the generation before mine has a hard time understanding that.
I attribute this problem to the demise of our high school vocational programs. We NEED auto mechanics, woodworkers, plumbers and craftsmen. Everyone isn't meant to go to college. It was intended for an elite few, but has become necessary for everyone in order to even be considered for employment. Now our university system is over-saturated and a degree means nothing. A college degree has become the high school degree of 20 years ago.
I've had an extremely hard time finding the type of job I want because I don't have a graduate degree. My husband just completed his MBA last year and has since been promoted twice. I'm sure he would argue that a graduate degree has been beneficial to his career.
I did not say that only high school goof-offs don't go to college. I said that they SHOULDN'T go to college if they aren't going to take it seriously. They are just taking space from someone more deserving.
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: WINNING EMAIL OF THE DAY ON THE LEFT'S FRENZY OVER POPE BENEDICT
I see. Only high school goof-offs don't go to college. That is incredibly narrow-minded and elitist. I hate to be the one to break it to you but the vast majority of productive, happy Americans do very well with nothing more than a high school diploma. More than a few Americans are happy, successful, and even wealthy with nothing more than a GED. But don't take my word for it. Here's something from a Bully Pulpit lurker:"I know plenty of people without college educations -- even several in the high-tech IT field -- who are not college educated and do quite fine for themselves and their family. In particular, one of my non-college educated friends works in IT, has a wife and two children, and his wife hasn't been employeed since they had their first child seven(?) years ago. Sure, you can argue that's an isolated anecdotal piece example, but the truth of the matter is that it shows that it is possible for a family of four to live off the income a working father who doesn't have a college education."You said, "If one wants any chance at success in this day and age, one must have a college education. It's almost to the point that a bachelor's degree isn't enough. Most employers are looking for graduate degrees now."
There is not a single true statement in any of that. While it is true that the average lifetime salaries of individuals with undergraduate diplomas is higher than those without, the converse is true among non-professionals with post-graduate degrees. Most companies will avoid hiring post-grads for anything other than executive management because of the higher expectations in salary. I can tell you that a post-graduate degree gets you absolutely nothing in IT. It looks good on a resume, but it isn't worth a dime of extra salary.
RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: WINNING EMAIL OF THE DAY ON THE LEFT'S FRENZY OVER POPE BENEDICT
No. I absolutely do not believe that college is for everyone. If you are a goof-off in high school, you don't deserve to go to college. Leave that space for someone who deserves it.
BUT. You don't know how your child is going to turn out, so you'd better be prepared. If one wants any chance at success in this day and age, one must have a college education. It's almost to the point that a bachelor's degree isn't enough. Most employers are looking for graduate degrees now.
(Exceptions are professional athletes and musicians, but even they may need something to fall back on!)
RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: WINNING EMAIL OF THE DAY ON THE LEFT'S FRENZY OVER POPE BENEDICT
"A college fund is most certainly a necessity unless you are counting on your children receiving full scholarships."Why would you assume that college is a necessity? Not everyone wants or needs to go to college. Some are better off not going to college. Like it or not, a college education is still a luxury.
Opponents of Social Security reform have made much of President Bush's 1978 statement, when he was running for a House seat, that Social Security would "go bust in 10 years unless there are some changes." As it turns out, Bush was right; that's why the Greenspan Commission's reform package was so urgent.
This country's laws are being rewritten by puritans, prigs and busybodies.
While President Reagan enjoyed a reputation as the “Teflon President,” able to prevail against critics determined to besmirch his reputation, one figure handily eclipses him in his ability to avert any criticism by the mainstream media: Colin Powell.
Knowledgeable insiders have long characterized Powell’s meteoric rise from colonel to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as based on exceptional skills at bureaucratic infighting and deft wielding of the press leak stiletto. But the general public sees only the picture of high-minded public servant. In the wake of the disclosure that he is attempting to use his wiles to torpedo the nomination of John Bolton as the US Ambassador to the United Nations, it is high time to break out the kryptonite and honestly appraise the record and actions of Colin Powell.
RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: WINNING EMAIL OF THE DAY ON THE LEFT'S FRENZY OVER POPE BENEDICT
I'm not disagreeing with you on this one. I plan to be a stay-at-home mom until my children are old enough to start school. I believe it is very important to spend as much time as possible with my children, just like my mom did. But what I AM saying is that it isn't a choice for every woman.
A college fund is most certainly a necessity unless you are counting on your children receiving full scholarships. (And by college fund, I mean something as simple as a savings account set aside for education). I know several women in my office who share a car with their husband because they can't afford two and several who scrimp and save to buy groceries for their families, so I am being serious. I'm not talking about driving a Mercedes and living in a 3000 square foot house, here. I'm talking about providing your children with necessities and seeing that they are educated.
Both of my parents worked. They paid their house off within 8 years of building it. They put two children through college without having to take our student loans. We took a family vacation to Myrtle Beach every summer where we stayed in an old beach house with the rest of our extended family. We went to Disney World once and Yellowstone National Park for two weeks when we were in high school. We both drove junker cars in high school and college. We wore hand-me-downs and clothes that my grandma made. We had the same tv for 20 years. We never had cable. Our stereo was one my mom had in college (but it rocked!)
We did without a lot of things, but we were comfortable. My dad was able to retire at 55 and my mom has been able to work part time for the past 10 years, just because she wanted to. Saving and providing security for their family was the number one priority. I seriously doubt they could have lived debt and mortgage free all these years without two incomes. I am very grateful to them for the sacrifices they made.
And I can't think of a more reliable car than a used Toyota!
From the Washington Prowler:
While Sen. Joseph Biden has been one of the most vocal critics of Sen. Bill Frist's plans to employ the so-called "nuclear option" to end Democrats' use of the filibuster to block President Bush's judicial nominees, he is less concerned about Iran going "nuclear," and has perhaps encouraged Iran's pursuit of weapons of mass destruction.
RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: WINNING EMAIL OF THE DAY ON THE LEFT'S FRENZY OVER POPE BENEDICT
"But how many couples do that?"You're missing the point. Just because couples choose to do the wrong thing doesn't make it any better. Categorical imperative is not subject to democracy. The point is, more couples should do that."And how many would never have children if they waited until they could "afford" them?"There's that instant gratification thing again. Define afford. If they can feed and clothe them and provide a modicum of entertainment for them, then that should be sufficient. There is no need for them to all wear designer clothes to school and have the latest electronic gadgetry. I say that the presence of the Mother in the home is more valuable than all of the material gratification afforded by two salaries."When was the last time you checked home prices in Winston Salem? More often than not, two salaries are required."Once again, it is a choice. I know plenty of people who make do with a single salary and have everything they really need, including a Mother at home raising children. We raised three children on a single salary and for many, many years it was not much of one. It means doing without the new big-screen TV. It means doing without cable. It means going camping in the mountains for three days instead of going to Disney World for a week."What do you consider "the whims of instant gratification"? A reliable car to drive? A college fund for your children? Your retirement savings? Groceries?"My, my, we are hyperbolic, aren't we? A reliable car means a used Toyota, not a brand new Jeep Cherokee. A college fund is nice, but since when is that a necessity? Groceries? Be serious. If you can't afford groceries, you shouldn't even be married, let alone having children. As I said, if the single salary is below subsistence, then the decision to have children is a bad choice. As you are always saying: it's not always about the money.
The prevailing wisdom in the mainstream media and Washington politicians is that Republicans are making a mistake by campaigning to end the Democrats' use of the filibuster to deny President Bush's judicial nominees a Senate floor vote. But judging from the frenzied reaction to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's nationwide appeal on Sunday, the Democrats and their allies sound like magpies in a frenzy when they hear the sound of guns in the forest.
RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: WINNING EMAIL OF THE DAY ON THE LEFT'S FRENZY OVER POPE BENEDICT
"The right choice is not to have children until he gets a better job..."Absolutely right! But how many couples do that? And how many would never have children if they waited until they could "afford" them?
When was the last time you checked home prices in Winston Salem? More often than not, two salaries are required. What do you consider "the whims of instant gratification"? A reliable car to drive? A college fund for your children? Your retirement savings? Groceries?
SAVE SOMEONE'S LIFE TODAY!
Laura's breast cancer was picked up during a simple breast examination by her OB/GYN. The tumor was not even visible on a mammogram! You MUST make sure that you, and every woman in your life does a monthly breast self-examination. Learn to do it correctly, slowly, carefully. If you feel ANYTHING that seems strange or unusual, go immediately to your OB/GYN. Make sure that you and/or the women you know go for an annual gynecological appointment for a comprehensive check up. Laura is embarrassed to admit she had not been to her doc in more than three years. Really stupid (her words, not ours). Don't be afraid to ask your friend, girlfriend, sister, mother, or wife if she has done everything to detect breast cancer. We all need someone to remind us, get on us, demand that we take care of ourselves.
Laura Ingraham has breast cancer
You know I hate Drama Kings or Queens, but I am asking for your prayers today and for the forseeable future. On Friday afternoon, I learned that I have joined the ever-growing group of American women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. As so many breast cancer patients will tell you, it all came as a total shock. I am blessed to be surrounded by people who love me--my family, a wonderful fiance (if he thinks he's going to get out of marrying me because of this little blib, he's sadly mistaken!), my friends, and my church. I am absolutely blown away by how helpful and kind everyone has been--including total strangers who have experienced the same rollercoaster of emotions. The sisterhood of breast cancer survivors is inspiring. I am truly blessed. On Tuesday I will have an operation and within a few days will know more about the future. I am hopeful for a bright future and a "normal" life (well, scratch the "normal" part). Anyway, people have gone through much worse, and I know I'll obliterate this. I am thanking you in advance for your prayers. You are my family. And remember, I'll be back sooner than you think.
Monday, April 25, 2005
RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: WINNING EMAIL OF THE DAY ON THE LEFT'S FRENZY OVER POPE BENEDICT
"You know, sometimes it's the woman that has the better-paying job."So then it is a choice: job or family. The issue is not whether women can have jobs. The issue is about good judgment. Having children and then abandoning them to the care of others is not good judgment."And in most households, two salaries are necessary."Define necessary. If the income of the husband is below subsistence, then the right choice is not to have children until he gets a better job. Otherwise, I maintain two salaries are never necessary, only a convenience to satisfy the whims of instant gratification."Grandparents make wonderful babysitters!"They do indeed. They also make lousy surrogate parents.
You know, sometimes it's the woman that has the better-paying job. And in most households, two salaries are necessary.
There are other options besides day-care, too. Grandparents make wonderful babysitters!
In consecutive days last month, Alabama lost two legends from a disappearing movement — Southern Democrats who were powerful in Washington because of their party's majority and powerful back home because of their tendency to buck it.
Look around Congress these days and you'll find few conservative Democrats in the mold of the late Sen. Howell Heflin or Rep. Tom Bevill. Those who remain are almost as likely to represent the Midwest or Great Plains as the once-solid South.
"When it's written, the history of our time won't dwell long on the hardships of the recent past. But history will ask...Did a people forged by courage find courage wanting? Did a generation steeled by hard war and a harsh peace forsake honor at the moment of great climactic struggle for the human spirit? ...[T]he answers are to be found in the heritage left by generations of Americans before us. They stand in silent witness to what the world will soon know and history someday record: that in its third century, the American Nation came of age, affirmed its leadership of free men and women serving selflessly a vision of man with God, government for people, and humanity at peace. ... For the West, for America, the time has come to dare to show to the world that our civilized ideas, our traditions, our values, are not -- like the ideology and war machine of totalitarian societies -- just a facade of strength. It is time for the world to know our intellectual and spiritual values are rooted in the source of all strength, a belief in a Supreme Being, and a law higher than our own."
-- Ronald Reagan
"Don't you think that sounds a little sexist? In today's society, a woman can choose her domain. In the past, it was forced upon her."You're going to have to address that one to God. He's the one who configured women's plumbing and decided they were the ones to bear children. Sexist or not, women who choose to have children and then abandon them to daycare centers bear direct responsibility for the decline of families and the values they represent. I have read many studies and research papers on the subject of whether women working outside the home is really a necessity. Most agree it is not. Most agree it is the fascination with instant gratification that leads couples to believe they must have that new television, car, or townhome.
If women (or couples) choose not to have children, there is nothing wrong with that decision. If women choose the ministry, they certainly have a number of ways to accomplish that. There is simply no requirement that they do it as Catholic priests."And like I said before, the Bible can be interpreted many different ways!"It certainly can. Unfortunately a good many of them stray from the path of interpretation and into the path of obfuscation."It was written ambiguously for a reason."I'm not sure what you mean by that. There is a reason it is ambiguous, but I certainly don't know of any reason it would be purposefully ambiguous. It was not written in a linear fashion like a novel. It is the collected works of several thousand years. The books of the New Testament alone cover less than 75 years of subjective time and those works were written over a period of almost twice that time by as many as two dozen authors.
"The fact that women no longer perform the tasks of child-rearing and homemaking does not make those tasks any less their domain."Don't you think that sounds a little sexist? In today's society, a woman can choose her domain. In the past, it was forced upon her.
Being a full-time parent is an admirable job! But it isn't for every woman. Some women don't want children. Some want careers, and that career could be in the ministry.
And like I said before, the Bible can be interpreted many different ways! It was written ambiguously for a reason.
Why not just use cloth diapers? They're more comfortable, better for the babies' skin, and they don't use anymore water to wash than adult underwear.
It is absolutely critical that we send a message to the U.S. Senate. The presidents' nominees deserve an up or down vote. The nominee to become UN Ambassador John Bolton is now twisting in the wind because of squishy GOP Senator George Voinovich, Bush-critic Chuck Hagel, and others who have waffled. And 20 percent of the President's appellate court nominees are suffering the same fate. Will the GOP start acting like its in the majority or continue to be rolled? Make your voices heard. CALL YOUR SENATORS NOW.
How's that for environmental?
Earth Day (April 22) is traditionally a day for the Left -- a celebration of government's ability to deliver the environmental goods and for threats about the parade of horribles that will descend upon us lest we rededicate ourselves to federal regulators and public land managers. This is unfortunate because it's businessmen -- not bureaucrats or environmental activists -- who deserve most of the credit for the environmental gains over the past century and who represent the best hope for a Greener tomorrow.
The White House and Republican Senate leaders have a little better than two weeks to save John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations after last Tuesday's fiasco in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. All that can be promised is that their efforts on Bolton's behalf will be tougher and better organized than they have been so far. That should not be difficult because they could hardly be worse.
Colin Powell has been the subject of many flatering portraits. Supposedly, "everyone" agrees on what a fine selfless public servant he has been. But now that he is no longer Secretary of State, American diplomacy mirculously keeps notching greater successes than before.
No fair! I almost took this seriously.
During a speech in Flint, Michigan today, President Bush sent shockwaves through the debate about Social Security by admitting that he no longer understands his own proposal for revamping the nation’s retirement program.
Saturday, April 23, 2005
Friday, April 22, 2005
In comparison to the events of the 1970s, gasoline consumers today are experiencing very few of the problems associated with an increased scarcity of petroleum. The Iraqi War has had an impact upon the price and availability of petroleum worldwide, and our own regulations have made it harder for the petroleum industry to respond to "oil shocks," or scarcer oil. But we can be thankful that the world and domestic events affecting the bouncing price of crude oil are showing up in our wallets, and not in the long gas lines and fuel rationing that took place during the 70s. The reason: we didn't make the mistake of imposing price controls on petroleum this time around.
"Society has changed."Societies change, societies come and go, the Word of God does not. Try as you might, you cannot morph scripture into a "living" document. Jesus' message cannot be adapted for the times. It is timeless and not subject to the whims of liberal syntactic parsing. The fact that women no longer perform the tasks of child-rearing and homemaking does not make those tasks any less their domain. It is the fact that women have strayed from those responsibilities that our society faces a crumbling morality and our families face entropy. To suggest that Jesus altered his message for cultural differences is a slippery slope. Nothing could be further from the truth and it represents little more than liberal wishful thinking."I truly believe that if Jesus were here today, he would have men and women (of all race and creed) in his discipleship."Indeed. Exactly as he did when he was here 2,000 years ago.
Something to ponder...
"If you have an evolving Constitution, somebody's going to have to decide, and I think that what has happened is that after 50 or 60 years of an evolving constitution, people have come to realize what is going on: that the people that they are selecting, not just for the Supreme Court, but even for the Court of Appeals, have enormous policy discretion, and I think that is what is going on. Judges have become political entities much more than they ever were."
-- Justice Antonin Scalia
"But just because the Bible doesn't SAY that Jesus ordained women doesn't mean that he did not."Maybe so, but then you liberals would offer that because Jesus didn't directly SAY anything about homosexuality that somehow he didn't disapprove. You can't have it both ways.
Provocation is no excuse for derangement. And there has been plenty of provocation: decades of an imperial judiciary unilaterally legislating radical social change on the flimsiest of constitutional pretexts. But while that may explain, it does not justify the flailing, sometimes delirious attacks on the judiciary mounted by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and others in the wake of the Terri Schiavo case.
Another Lie Of The Day
"This has nothing to do with substantive disagreements...that really is not the case at all," claimed Chris Dodd, on the Bolton hearings.
If John Bolton were a Madeline Albright-type on foreign policy and the United Nations, he would have already been confirmed.
Today marks the 35th anniversary of the founding of "Earth Day" by former Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson. It's also V.I. Lenin's birthday -- which is no coincidence. Nelson modeled his anti-capitalist protests after anti-Vietnam War demonstrations of that era. Today, the so-called "environmental movement" he helped spawn has devolved from a gaggle of unwashed adolescent peaceniks into a slick cadre of leftists, lobbyists and lawyers. The result of this devolution has been an enormous hidden tax on American products and services -- more than a trillion dollars last year -- in the form of runaway environmental regulation.
But just because the Bible doesn't SAY that Jesus ordained women doesn't mean that he did not. After all, the gospels were all written by men. I'm sure that Jesus did and said a lot of things that aren't mentioned in the Bible. (Just a thought!)
Society has changed. Men are no longer the soul bread winner in a household where the wife is needed at home every minute to tend to the children and household chores. It makes sense to me that in Jesus' time, it wouldn't have been acceptable for a women to leave her family and responsibilities to join his ministry. It may have been more of a cultural difference than a gender bias.
I truly believe that if Jesus were here today, he would have men and women (of all race and creed) in his discipleship.
Former secretary of state Colin L. Powell is emerging as a behind-the-scenes player in the battle over John R. Bolton's nomination as ambassador to the United Nations, privately telling at least two key Republican lawmakers that Bolton is a smart but very problematic government official, according to Republican sources.
At some point in the near future, George W. Bush will have to make one of the most important decisions of his presidency. He will have to nominate a new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and at the same time a new Associate Justice.
The drawn-out and rancorous questioning of Alberto Gonzales should disabuse the White House of any hope that Democrats would give him a pass on his first Supreme Court nominee. Not long ago, Sen. Minority Leader Harry Reid warned against any attempt to elevate Justice Clarence Thomas to the position of Chief, branding Thomas's tenure on the Court as an "embarrassment" and his opinions as "poorly written." Although Reid expressed support for his personal friend Scalia as Chief, Schumer quickly clarified that Reid "will not support judicial nominees who are out of the mainstream."
So what should the President do? In three words: GO FOR IT.
Lie Of The Day
"I want everyone to know within the sound of my voice that America is a better place because of Jim Jeffords,", claimed Harry Reid, on the Senate floor.THE TRUTH:
Jim Jeffords was a Republican turncoat, a liberal who hoped that his 2001 switcheroo would make him the toast of the town. He turned out to be just another lame pol whom the Republicans don't trust and the Dems just used.
North Carolina does not yet have a state-run lottery, despite all the hoopla surrounding the 61-59 Giyaw vote for a hastily crafted bill a couple of weeks ago. But there is already evidence supporting one prediction made by longtime foes: it’s bringing out the worst in state officials.
Thursday, April 21, 2005
As a happily practicing Catholic, I feel I must mention something in the whole "women priests" discussion. Catholics are no longer free to debate the point [John Paul II closed the discussion several years back]. It is, in essence, well settled policy. Here is the gist of the argument from a Biblical perspective. Jesus' apostles were 12 men whom he personally selected. He taught and traveled with men and women. The most excellent example of any Christian is Mary [His mother] who, prior to His incarnation declared herself "a handmaid of the Lord" and was addressed by Gabriel as "Full-of-Grace". She completely and utterly trusted in God and KNEW that her Son was indeed God-Incarnate. She NEVER abandoned him. She stood at the foot of His Cross when all but John of his men had abandoned Him in fear. YET...at the institution of the Eucharist [Last Supper] she was NOT present. Catholics see this as not only the First Communion, but also the first Ordination. Mary was not there. Had Christ wanted to "ordain" a woman, she [or any other female follower for that matter] was right there in Jerusalem to be ordained. He didn't do it. And yet, in the early days of the Church [most notably the 10 days between the Ascencion and Pentecost] it was Mary who held together that motley band, awaiting the gift of the Holy Spirit. Women are gifted and necessary in the Church. They are just not called to be priests.
Ohio Republican Sen. George Voinovich rolled like a marble yesterday. After an hour of ranting by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Democrats about the nomination of John Bolton as United Nations ambassador, Voinovich pronounced himself in need of more information about Bolton before he could vote, even though he didn't attend either of the hearings related to the nomination last week and even though the committee has conducted extensive interviews about the (minor) controversies swirling around Bolton. If Voinovich still hasn't gotten a chance to read the transcripts — we know how busy he is — he should check out the committee's website at http://foreign.senate.gov/. Democrats figured if they did enough caterwauling yesterday and threw out enough new dirt on Bolton — including a decade-old charge from a woman who founded the Dallas chapter of "Mothers Against Bush" — maybe a Republican would roll. Voinovich obliged.
From R. Emmett Tyrrell, the founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator, a contributing editor to the New York Sun, and an adjunct scholar at the Hudson Institute:
When a United States senator publicly declaims, as Ohio's Senator George V. Voinovich did this week, that he is suffering pangs of conscience, my question to him is, have you considered that it might be acid reflex? Consult your physician, Senator Voinovich. If your problem really is a problem of conscience, consult your psychiatrist. Conscience among the senator's colleagues on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee appears these days to be an abnormality.
The White House was scrambling Tuesday night after the disastrous Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting held Tuesday afternoon to discuss voting out the U.N. ambassador nomination of John Bolton. Ultimately, Democrats prevailed, having the vote delayed for at least three weeks.
Is the prosecutor a phony or the reporter a moron? In other words, is this a 'Jeffrey Toobin situation' or a 'Dan Rather situation'? We report, you decide.
There were many moving and dramatic moments in Rome two days ago, but this is the one I think I'll remember: the sight of them running.
Did you see them running to St. Peter's Square as the bells began to toll?
They came running in from the offices and streets of Rome, running in their business suits, in jeans with backpacks over their shoulders. The networks kept showing it in their wide shots as they filled time between the ringing of the bells and the balcony scene.
So many came running that by the end, by the time Benedict XVI was announced, St. Peter's and the streets leading to it were as full as they'd been two weeks ago, at the funeral of John Paul II.
Why did they run? Why did this ancient news--"We have a pope"--representing such irrelevant-seeming truths and such an archaic institution--send them running?
Why did they gather? Why did they have to hear?
Just hours after the Centers for Disease Control issued a new study finding that the dangers of being overweight had been overstated in the past, President George W. Bush declared America’s war on obesity over.
North Carolina's population is on pace to swell 40 percent by 2030, bringing the number of residents to 12.2 million, the U.S. Census Bureau said today.
If the prediction comes true, North Carolina will have a population density of 251 people per square mile, about the same as Illinois now. North Carolina will rank seventh among the states in population in 2030, and will have passed Georgia, New Jersey, Michigan and Ohio along the way.
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
I knew you couldn't resist this for long.
You said, "I don't believe God intended to exclude women from the priesthood or ministry. Man came up with that one. Or more specifically, Paul."
You are absolutely correct about that one. Paul's misogyny has been a subject of concern to many people for quite some time. Jesus put no such limits on his believers. In fact, there are a number of people who believe (as I do) that Mary Magdalene was essentially the thirteenth disciple.
However, I think feminists make more of the patriarchal nature of the Catholic church than is warranted. I have personally encountered dozens of nuns who were the sole spiritual leaders of their communities.
Then you said, "The Church is turning away the people who need them the most by putting such strict limitations on being a believer."
Indeed, there is room for some interpretation of the Bible, but not nearly as much as liberals would like. There is no rational interpretation of scripture that allows for homosexuality, abortion, euthanasia, and other humanist abominations. The quote from the gentleman in Charlotte is spot on.
I don't believe God intended to exclude women from the priesthood or ministry. Man came up with that one. Or more specifically, Paul.
The Bible is open to interpretation, and every individual who reads it will come away with a different message. Why would you want to put limits on that? The Church is turning away the people who need them the most by putting such strict limitations on being a believer.
April 15 of every year usually brings news stories about taxes and fiscal discipline, or the lack thereof, in government. On April 15 of this year, however, the most interesting news story of the day went against the grain: the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program’s second annual lottery generated so much interest that it produced two applicants for each available slot. What does that have to do with sound fiscal policy? Consider that Washington’s public schools spend $5,830 more of taxpayers’ money per student, at least, than the private schools that take students with opportunity scholarships.
WINNING EMAIL OF THE DAY ON THE LEFT'S FRENZY OVER POPE BENEDICT
"Bottom line Laura, the most basic difference I see between liberal thought concerning Christian faith, and conservative or traditional Christian faith is very simple. For liberals, it's all about "me" and how can I fashion a faith system to justify my choices. For conservatives, it's an issue of discovering what God has already said I should do and be, and then conforming my behavior and my choices to what He wants to do in and through me."
-- Guy P., in Charlotte, NC
A very scary moment in Washington, D.C. [last week]. Capitol Police tackled and dragged away a desperate man with two suitcases [who] stationed himself in front of the Capitol building, stayed there for an hour, and demanded to get into the White House. You know, I think John Kerry's starting to lose it. .... NBC is claiming success with its new miniseries "Revelations" which they say is based loosely on the Bible. See they have to say "loosely" because no one in Hollywood actually has a Bible. They had to just wing it. .... Howard Dean is out trying to rally the Democrats for 2008. He said that the Democrats have to stop "speaking down to voters." And then John Kerry said, "I can't do that. What's the point of being better than everyone else if you can't talk down to them?" .... We have a new pope! Cardinal Ratzinger of Germany is now the most powerful Catholic in the world. Well, second most powerful if you count Mel Gibson. .... Well now the pope's election is over, at least we won't have to put up with any more of those negative cardinal campaign commercials. Those were awful. All the papal swift boat ads. .... According to a new poll, 7 out of 10 Americans say the tax code is too complicated. Well duh, that's why they call it a code. They don't want you to understand it. That's the whole idea.
What's a president to do? John Bolton — a good man, a distinguished and capable public servant, a knowledgeable and tenacious advocate for President Bush's policies — is being smeared, savaged, and otherwise demeaned in what passes for Senate deliberations on his nomination to become U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
Recently, a very amusing Internet piece entitled “A Message from the Ghost of General Patton” [http://www.usncwo.com/] has been making the rounds. Based on the opening speech delivered by George C. Scott in his seminal performance of Patton in the 1970 movie of the same name, this item depicts what General Patton might have said to today’s American population regarding their increasingly softening and inattentive attitude towards the threat from radical Muslim fundamentalists. Essentially saying that we should wake up and redouble our resolve in the War on Terror, the piece is both highly entertaining and eerily topical.
Pope Benedict XVI instantly became one of the most important figures in the world yesterday. As a non-Catholic, I am in no position to comment on his spiritual role, by far the most important aspect of his job. But his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, has made the papacy a profoundly important institution in the more mundane realms of politics, international relations, morality, and the life of the mind. Everyone is influenced by the Pope these days.
Conservative efforts to restore spending restraint to its rightful place on the Republican agenda are off to an inauspicious start. Just last week, Bush administration proposals to trim expenditures on agricultural subsidies and Medicaid were stymied in large part by GOP congressional resistance.
The introduction of six bills in the N.C. House and Senate dealing with Hispanics has brought to the forefront the debate about how to treat hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants in North Carolina.
The white smoke yesterday signaled that the Vatican thinks what it needs to bring it into modernity is the oldest pope since the 18th century: Joseph Ratzinger, a 78-year-old hidebound archconservative who ran the office that used to be called the Inquisition and who once belonged to Hitler Youth. For American Catholics - especially women and Democratic pro-choice Catholic pols - the cafeteria is officially closed. After all, Cardinal Ratzinger, nicknamed "God's Rottweiler" and "the Enforcer," helped deny Communion rights to John Kerry and other Catholic politicians in the 2004 election.
The only other job this pope would be qualified for is "60 Minutes" anchor.
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
I'm not used to my predictions coming true so quickly or being vetted by none other than The American Standard. I'm not complaining.
If the left if this shrill just hours after the announcement, imagine how they'll be a week from now.
Pessimists have been repeatedly wrong about the prospects for postwar political progress in Iraq. They doubted that the Iraqis would finish writing an interim constitution on time in 2003; they doubted that sovereignty could be transferred to an interim Iraqi government by that constitution’s deadline in 2004; and they doubted that elections could be conducted on the constitution’ ambitious timetable, in January 2005. They were wrong on all counts. And now they bemoan Iraq’s relatively slow progress in forming a transitional government after the January 30th elections.
Groups such as the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) have proposed to “fix” Social Security by raising the $90,000 cap on the amounts of salaries and wages that are subject to the Social Security payroll tax. Even if the 12.4 percent payroll tax rate remains untouched, raising the payroll tax cap would affect millions of small-business owners, slow economic activity, and cost jobs. That is a high price to pay for a proposal that would not even fix Social Security’s finances.
Workers now pay Social Security payroll taxes on the first $90,000 of annual income. This cap on the payroll tax is indexed to the growth of real wages in the economy and changes every year. For example, the payroll tax cap was $87,000 in 2003 and rose to $87,900 in 2004 and $90,000 in 2005. Any income earned over this amount is not subject to the 12.4 percent payroll tax that funds Social Security’s Old-Age and Survivors and Disability Insurance (OASDI) programs.
I noticed this is an AP article, even though it is presented in a Christian publication.
Get ready, the left and their accomplices in the MSM will do everything in their power to marginalize this Pope as an extremist. He has preached against homosexuality, abortion, euthanasia, and all forms of moral relativism. The homily he gave at John Paul II's funeral was a clear indication that he has no intention of changing his views, yet the conclave elected him anyway.
Additionally, he received 115 of 119 votes. Again, the left and their pals in the MSM will be unable to claim that he stole the election or that the conclave bowed to special interests.
I expect to see liberals in a full-fledged snit over this for quite some time to come. It might even be fun to watch.
Repealing the President’s tax cuts to pay for Social Security would reduce economic growth, make Social Security an even worse deal for workers than it is already, and fail to address the growing problem of entitlement spending. Beyond these shortcomings, repealing the tax cuts would not even fix Social Security’s finances.
The war on poverty has become such an imperative that the home of North Carolina’s national-championship basketball team, also incidentally a place of learning, recently retained the services of an expert to run a new center devoted to the subject.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany, the church's leading hard-liner, was elected the new pope Tuesday evening in the first conclave of the new millennium. He chose the name Pope Benedict XVI and called himself "a simple, humble worker."
The deadline for paying your taxes has come and gone again. But don’t think for a moment that you won’t be paying taxes until the next time April 15 rolls around.
Tax Day is dreaded because of the mountains of evidence that taxpayers must provide to the Internal Revenue Service and state governments. But it is a mistake to believe that we pay all of our taxes on April 15. It’s simply the due date for forms that reconcile whether we have paid too much or too little in taxes throughout the year.
Americans pay taxes every single day on nearly every activity in which we participate. Could you live an entire day without paying a single tax?
Teacher union salary schedules reward the mediocre, penalize the talented
The liberal-left is disintegrating before our very eyes. What a revelation!
First, they lose the second presidential election in a row; then control of Congress.
Fume. Moan. Hysteria. Cries of cheating fill the air.
The former N.C. Supreme Court justice who plans to sue the city of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County regarding its $37 million incentives package for Dell Inc. said he will do so within the next three weeks. Former Justice Robert Orr, now executive director of the N.C. Institute for Constitutional Law, a public interest legal group, said the suit will be filed on behalf of either individuals, small businesses or a combination.
Monday, April 18, 2005
Avast, ye scalawags! North Carolina State University is now pirate territory!
By an overwhelming majority, the Raleigh school last week elected a candidate called "The Pirate Captain" student body president, giving the old sea dog 58 percent of the vote.
1976 Campaign Poster
"You and I know and do not believe that life is so dear and peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery. If nothing is worth dying for, when did this begin...? Should Moses have told the children of Israel to live in slavery under the pharaohs? Should Christ have refused the cross? Should the patriots of Concord Bridge have thrown down their guns and refused to fire the shot heard round the world? The martyrs of history were not fools, and our honored dead who gave their lives to stop the advance of the Nazis didn't die in vain!"
-- Ronald Reagan
Bob Novak, writing about Terry Schiavo last month, inadvertently summed up the problem with the administration's Social Security reform strategy when he wrote, "This is not the cold, analytical debate over Social Security." Just so. If you're wondering why there's so little grass-roots support to date for the president's plan, it's because the focus has been on green-eyeshade issues such as solvency, transition costs, unfunded liabilities and rates of return. Actuaries to the barricades!
Seriously, this should be an emotional issue about liberty and opportunity, not solvency dates. The concept of an Ownership Society is brilliant. Unlike the New Deal, the New Frontier or the Great Society, Ownership Society actually means something integral to the essence of America. That essence is a respect for the dignity of the individual, which is axiomatically enhanced when one has more control over one's life. That is what personal accounts provide.
The astonishing pilgrimage of Europeans to Vatican City for the most attended funeral in history obscured a stark fact confronting the conclave that tomorrow begins selecting the next pope: Vatican City is 109 acres of faith in a European sea of unbelief.
Pollster Scott Rasmussen has begun publishing a regular "Hillary Meter." The purpose of this is to track Sen. Hillary Clinton's movement to the political center by determining how much of the American public considers her to be middle-of-the-road. I find this to be a fascinating story, because it says quite a bit about Hillary and her political skills--or lack thereof.
She is leading in the polls for her party's White House nod in 2008. Republican Newt Gingrich ranks her as a formidable presidential candidate. Longtime critics are amassing money and manpower to derail her political career. And all Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton wants to talk about is her re-election bid next year.
The National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee has launched an agressive campaign to get the word out on why we need to pay attention to the courts, blocked nominees, etc.
Big surprise, Mr. Malaise knocks the US of A...
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter on Thursday harshly criticized his own country and other wealthy states for being stingy with foreign aid and said in rich countries "We really don't give a damn."
Bush did indeed support Arlen Specter in the PA primary, as did supposed conservative Rick Santorum. Republicans have dropped back into the mode of the Nixon days: get any Republican elected, no matter how bad he/she might be.
The GOP seems to think there is some kind of magic in their party name. They think that somehow even a rank liberal will be better than a Democrat.
I'll say it again. Political parties have reached their logical conclusion in America: entropy.
Sunday, April 17, 2005
There's a chance that the coming white smoke in Rome will rise for the first black pope in modern times.
Francis Arinze, a cardinal from Nigeria with ties to Winston-Salem, could be that pope. It wouldn't be his race alone that's controversial, although there are too many racists left in the world who still make pigment an issue. More than anything else, the controversy if Arinze is elected pope would be over the fact that he's black and rigidly conservative.
Didn't Pennsylvania have a similar problem with Senator Specter's recent reelection bid? Wasn't that a highly contested primary with a more conservative Republican waging a good fight? But didn't the Bush team support Specter? The pragmatists out there believe that the Republicans should support not the one most conservative, but the one most likely to win in the general election? I have a sense that the Bush team is embracing "the devil that they know."
Saturday, April 16, 2005
National Republican leaders are pressuring Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey to stay out of the Rhode Island Republican primary election against liberal Sen. Lincoln Chafee.
Although Chafee votes against some of President Bush's proposals, he often sticks with the administration on party-line votes and may do so on the confirmation of John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations. The White House feels Chafee is still the best Republican bet in heavily Democratic Rhode Island and does not want him to face a Republican challenge.
Laffey, who is to the right of Chafee, is described by his supporters as confident that he would win the primary against the incumbent senator. Laffey also feels he would have a better chance than Chafee of winning the general election.
Thanks to George W. Bush, the income tax bite felt by Americans will be considerably smaller this April 15 than it would otherwise have been. Due to the tax cuts of 2001, 2002, and 2003, tax rates are lower, families receive a larger per child credit, and even adoptions are more affordable.
If anything’s likely to boost support for the flat tax, it’s the annual nightmare of tax season.
Imagine junking all the paperwork the current system requires and replacing it with two simple postcard-sized forms that tax income only once and at one low rate. Imagine a simple and fair tax system that required all Americans to play by the same rules, regardless of how many lawyers and accountants they had on the payroll. And imagine politicians having no ability to put loopholes in the tax code in exchange for campaign cash.
The April 15 tax deadline provides taxpayers the opportunity to examine how their elected officials will spend their hard-earned tax dollars.
Washington will spend $22,039 per household in 2005 -- the highest inflation-adjusted total since World War II, and $4,000 more than in 2001. The federal government will collect $18,248 per household in taxes. The remaining $3,791 represents the budget deficit per household, which, along with all prior government debt, will be dumped in the laps of our children.
Our tax system needs to be changed. Every year, Americans spend 6.2 billion hours frustrating hours fighting forms and figures, digging for documentation, and checking and rechecking their math to make sure everything is right. That’s because our archaic 60,000 page tax code is mired in special interest loopholes..
Friday, April 15, 2005
Income Redistribution Day 2005
The deadline for filing income taxes may be April 15th, but the average taxpayer will not earn enough cumulative gross income to pay for federal, state and local government spending and regulation until sometime in July. In fact, the cost of spending and regulation now exceeds $24,000 per person per year.
The total combined public and intergovernmental (so-called "trust-fund") debt is approaching $7.8 trillion (see -- http://www.publicdebt.treas.gov/). Not content to rest on their laurels, the FY 2006 House and Senate budgets will rack up an additional $365 billion in debt.
On top of the current '05 budget's bloated social and discretionary spending, there were more than 14,000 clear examples of unrestrained spending (AKA "pork-barrel") projects appropriated at a cost of about $27.3 billion. Case in point: Consider the $80-billion Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief (HR 1268). It includes $103 million for the Emergency Watershed Protection Program; $55 million for wastewater treatment in Desoto County, Mississippi; $25 million for the Fort Peck Fish Hatchery in Montana; and, well, you get the picture.
Fact is, as with previous budgets, Congress has NO Constitutional authority for a large portion of the FY06 budget.
In the late 19th Century, Justice Stephen J. Field noted in an opinion: "If the provisions of the Constitution can be set aside by an Act of Congress, where is the course of usurpation to end? The present assault upon capital is but the beginning. It will be but the stepping-stone to others, larger and more sweeping, till our political contests will become a war of the poor against the rich; a war growing in intensity and bitterness."
Indeed. For most of American history, taxes were levied primarily on consumption, rather than income, and for good reason. In The Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton argued, "It is a signal advantage of taxes on articles of consumption that they contain in their own nature a security against excess."
All that changed in 1913, however, when the central government started taxing income. At that time, federal taxes were equal to 3 percent of GDP and the entire tax code was two pages. Now taxes are in excess of 20 percent of GDP and the tax code is more than 46,000 pages (including 481 separate tax forms). Additionally, taxpayers will spend a cumulative 6.5 billion hours complying with that code, and due to its complexity, more than half of taxpayers will rely on "professional preparation," costing them more than $200 billion.
So where does that leave us today?
Former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Paul Volcker warned recently that, once again, America is "skating on thin ice" because of federal budget deficits (read: unrestrained federal spending) -- and we are headed for another inflationary cycle similar to that of the 1970s.
What is more, there is no sign of restraint.
Regarding tax-code complexity, President George Bush noted in his State of the Union address in January, "Year after year, Americans are burdened by an archaic, incoherent federal tax code. [America] needs a tax code that is pro-growth, easy to understand, and fair to all." Of course the notion of simplifying the tax code is nothing new. In a letter to James Madison in 1784, Thomas Jefferson asked, "Would it not be better to simplify the system of taxation rather than to spread it over such a variety of subjects and pass through so many new hands." Mr. Bush now says tax reform may have to wait a year.
As for tax rates, we are reminded of these supply-sider words from a former president who crusaded for tax reduction: "Lower rates of taxation will stimulate economic activity and so raise the levels of personal and corporate income as to yield within a few years an increased -- not a reduced -- flow of revenues to the federal government. ... The present tax codes ... inhibit the mobility and formation of capital, add complexities and inequities which undermine the morale of the taxpayer, and make tax avoidance rather than market factors a prime consideration in too many economic decisions."
Ronald Reagan? Nope. Try John F. Kennedy.
"Are you entitled to the fruits of your labor or does government have some presumptive right to spend and spend and spend? ... Government is like a baby: An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other." Now that's vintage Ronald Reagan!
(To review the fiscal conservation ratings of Congress members by Americans for Tax Reform link to -- http://FederalistPatriot.US/news/ratings.asp)
Gasoline prices are at record highs again. Many think oil companies are to blame. A Field Poll from May 2004 showed that 77 percent of Californians believed this to be true. But this just shows that people are misinformed about who's causing high gas prices. Investigating a few clues can help find out who's responsible.
In their attempt to strangle President Bush's tax-reform plan before it even reaches the cradle, liberal journalist-strategists have conjured up a strange political weapon: the ghost of Pres. Ronald Reagan. Bush announced after his election victory that he would create a commission to report in the spring of 2005 on how to simplify the tax code; recent reports say he will probably not send a proposal to Congress until 2006 at the earliest. Still, because they sense Bush's eventual plan will be one they detest, left-leaning writers Jonathan Chait and Nicholas Confessore have begun attacking conservative reform plans as contrary to the principles of the Tax Reform Act that Reagan signed into law in October 1986.
Since the President announced his plan earlier this year, that is the question that millions of Americans have been asking. But there has been no easy answer.
Based on extensive demographic data and econometric modeling, the Heritage Foundation's Personal Retirement Account Calculator can instantly estimate how you would fare under the President's reform plan.
Like that plan, the Calculator gives you options: you can retire with a nest egg, to use as you please, or you can opt to take a higher monthly benefit. The Calculator lets you compare your results with today's Social Security.
Use the PRA Calculator and move beyond the rhetoric to see what Social Security reform means for you.
Try the Personal Retirement Account Calculator.
The overwhelming majority of federal income taxes are paid by the very highest income earners. The top 1% of income earners pay about 32% of all income taxes. The top 5% pays 51.4%. The top 10% of high income earners, pay 63.5%. The top 20% of income earners pays 78% of all federal income taxes.
In Britain, as in Europe generally, abortion law has not been made by judges proclaiming glistening, hard-edged rights that cannot be compromised. Rather, abortion law has been made by lawmakers -- imagine that -- seeking to accommodate clashing sensibilities. That is one reason why British law is less extreme than America's essentially unlimited right to abortion on demand.
Thursday, April 14, 2005
Death Tax Discourages Saving
"The House approved legislation to permanently repeal the estate tax as Republicans and Democrats in the Senate intensified work on a compromise that could clear that chamber," according to the Wall Street Journal. "Forty-two Democrats joined 230 Republicans in approving the legislation by a wide margin. The estate tax currently is set to disappear in 2010 but return in 2011."
In "Repeal the Grave Robber Tax," Stephen Moore, a Cato senior fellow, writes that the estate tax, or the death tax, is a "dirty little secret" that mostly affects the middle class: "More often they are ordinary Americans with medium sized estates -- the millionaire next door. I am talking about ranchers, farmers and self-starter business owners. They are the risk-takers in our society who have spent a lifetime pouring sweat equity into their family-owned firms. They become anguished and enraged when they discover that their reward for a life of virtue is a confiscatory death tax that will rob their grave. Every year thousands of heirs are forced to sell the family farm or business to pay estate taxes. It's unjust given that this tax is imposed on dollars already taxed when the income was earned during the deceased's lifetime."
He continues: "The death tax rewards the life of lavish and unproductive consumption it is intended to discourage. This tax says to the elderly: Live high on the hog. Wrap yourself in material comfort. Eat, drink, be merry. You can't take it with you, and you can't leave most of it to your kids. Your goal is to die broke -- the ultimate form of tax avoidance. Meanwhile the frugal men and women who scrimp and save and build a legacy to leave to their children are hit by a tax that allows the IRS to snatch more than half. Through the death tax, we reward vice and punish virtue."
"Two Republicans - John McCain of Arizona and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island - have said they would vote with the Democrats against the rule change."Surprise, surprise.
The last few months have seen a range of news stories regarding the United Nations, the oil-for-food scandal, and the role that the Annan family has played in the decline of the United Nations. Flying under the radar screen has been the extent to which Bill Clinton and his allies have worked their wiles and contacts to burrow in to the leadership of the United Nations.
If anybody is out of control here, if anybody is being extremist it's the Democrats and it's time to say so, and it's time to force their hand. We're not even making them filibuster, for crying out loud! We're just giving in to the threat of a filibuster.
As the mourning of Pope John Paul II gives way to the celebration of his life and times, the scattered members of an endangered species known as the Jimmy Carter Defender grapple with an emotion altogether familiar to their kind: impotent rage. The Carterites are hopping mad at Jimmy's perceived snub because President Bush didn't offer him a seat on Air Force One for the trip to Rome for his funeral.
Yes, what better way to remember the Holy Father's life of selfless humility than to throw a hissy-fit like a starlet turned away by a nightclub bouncer.
With the passing of Pope John Paul II, the world rightly recognizes in a unique way the end of an era, and, like a sober reveler on New Year’s Eve, pauses for a moment amid the sound and fury of the present age, to take stock, evaluate, and come to terms with things that are, should be, or will be. This can be counted as an additional if unintended Papal blessing.
The death of Terri Schiavo, caused by starvation and dehydration, is only the latest manifestation of a trend which has been building for a long time. In 1977, in an address entitled "The Slide to Auschwitz," given to the American Academy of Pediatrics, former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, M.D. stated that he saw "the progression from abortion to infanticide, to euthanasia, to the problems that developed in Nazi Germany..."
Fortunately for me, liberals not only argue like liberals, they also throw like girls.
As millions of Americans scramble to get their tax returns in by April 15, it's becoming exceedingly clear that the million-word tax code isn't working. Putting the question aside of what the government actually needs, what bears asking is: Is this all really necessary?
To most taxpayers the need for a simpler, fairer (and some of us dare say cheaper) tax code seems obvious. But now the issue is getting some serious attention inside Washington. A presidential commission is studying tax reform, and its recommendations are due back by July 31. After Social Security, we are told that this is next on President Bush's reform agenda.