Saturday, July 31, 2010

Jokester Surfaces In Somber Place

An unidentified comic has shown up on the usually serious Wall Street Journal editorials page.

A recent opinion piece in the paper used the words congressman and good conscience in the same paragraph. That's got to have been an intentional joke, right?

A Jury of One's Peers

In the case of the dishonorable Charles Rangel, a jury of one's peers means one made up of his fellow congressional oligarchs   . . . and members of that peerage have made it clear that they want at the most only to slap on the wrist with a reprimand one of their own for conduct that would land any ordinary citizen in prison.

How much clearer can our ruling class make it that when it comes to them, justice means JUST US?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Where I Stand: This Spells It Out

A comprehensive and therefore lengthy American Spectator essay by a Boston University professor clearly sets forth how Americans today are controlled by a self perpetuating clique of smug and sanctimonious individuals who reject our country's traditions and look down on those who adhere to them. 

I strongly recommend that you take the time necessary to read the entire essay -- it can be reached here -- and then forward it to everyone you know who might be receptive to its message.

Notwithstanding this unequivocal recommendation, I have two significant criticisms of the essay.  First, I for a number of reasons question the feasibility of the corrective steps suggested by the author. I think we may be too far down the road toward permanent servitude for anything other than a more radical and violent solution . . . and perhaps even for that. Second, the essay fails to deal with the relentless campaign being waged by our mainstream media to help the ruling class destroy the nation's political, social, and cultural foundations.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Screw the Racism Charges and Those Who Make Them

Having participated in civil rights work in the South many years ago -- before it became popular and while it still entailed some minor difficulties such as being targeted by gun firing and Molotov cocktail hurling crackers -- I in recent decades have been amused by being called a racist. The charge invariably is hurled at me by individuals who've never done or risked anything for equal rights and opportunities for everyone other than chanting mindless slogan and participating in protected protest marches. The charge, to which I've become accustomed, is routinely made because I oppose, and to silence my opposition to affirmative action and any and all other racially based preferences. I oppose those things for the same reason that I opposed white supremacy in the 1950s -- the flip side of every preferential  program is racial or ethnic discrimination against those not in the specially advantaged group.

Now though, the NAACP has crossed an important line by lashing out against the nation's tea parties with the obviously false racism charge. The tea parties are highly popular with, and participated in by a broad spectrum of ordinary Americans of every race, ethnic and religious group, and economic class. By its attack, the NAACP has not only forfeited whatever scant shreds of credibility it had left, but also, and far more significantly, it has transformed the racism charge into one that will be devoid of any meaning in the future. The racist epithet can no longer have any impact as it clearly has become an empty label, designed solely to silence or to demonize and denigrate anyone who expresses or supports a position not favored by the person or entity making the accusation. In addition, racism frequently is charged for a political purpose, any such purpose that may be advanced by fanning racial divisions.

P.S. an Explanatory Note: In the early days of affirmative action I supported those programs and overlooked the lunacy and illogic inherent in endeavoring to correct the evil effects of racial discrimination by resorting to, and perpetuating more racial discrimination, albeit of a different variant. I came to oppose such programs for three reasons, one of which is set forth in the above post. In addition, it became clear to me that racial favoritism -- no matter how well intentioned or scrupulously implemented or attempted -- had adverse impacts on everyone -- the recipients of preferred treatment (most of whom already were well and advantageously situated both socially and economically) and on other members of the supposedly favored group who never received any preferences as well as on those disadvantaged by the programs. Finally, what began as an effort to offset and correct the effects of past discrimination quickly was transformed into a permanent discriminatory entitlement that quickly gave rise to, and came under the control of a very vocal, strident and greedy self-perpetuating and politically poisonous but powerful constituency. The misguided efforts have caused and are continuing to exacerbate serious divisions within, and harm to our society and virtually all of our institutions. 

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Second Amendment's True Raison D'Etre

Thanks are owed to the economist Dr. Walter E. Williams for the following, which sets the record straight about the real rationale for the Second Amendment:

How might our founders have commented about [the] U.S. Supreme Court's decision upholding our rights to keep and bear arms? Justice Samuel Alito, in writing the majority opinion, said, 'Individual self-defense is the central component of the Second Amendment.' 

The founders would have responded "Balderdash!"  

Jefferson said, "What country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance?  Let them take arms." 

George Mason explained, "(T)o disarm the people (is) the best and most effectual way to enslave them." 

Noah Webster elaborated: "Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed . . . . The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States. A military force, at the command of Congress, can execute no laws, but such as the people perceive to be just and constitutional; for they will possess the power, and jealously will instantly inspire the inclination, to resist the execution of a law which appears to them unjust and oppressive."

Contrary to Alito's assertion, the central component of the Second Amendment is to protect ourselves from U.S. Congress, not street thugs.

Let's not ever forget this even for a moment. It is more important now than it ever previously has been.  

On Track for Economy Destroying Tax Train Wreck

In just six months, the largest tax hikes in the history of America will take effect. Here is a summary of three great waves that will hit families and small businesses on January 1, 2011:

First Wave: Expiration of 2001 and 2003 Tax Relief

In 2001 and 2003, the GOP Congress enacted several tax cuts for investors, small business owners, and families.  These all will expire on January 1, 2011:

Personal income tax rates will rise.  The top income tax rate will rise from 35 to 39.6 percent (this is also the rate at which two-thirds of small business profits are taxed).  The lowest rate will rise from 10 to 15 percent.  All the rates in between will also rise.  Itemized deductions and personal exemptions will again phase out, which has the same mathematical effect as higher marginal tax rates.  The full list of marginal rate hikes is below:

- The 10% bracket rises to an expanded 15%
- The 25% bracket rises to 28%
- The 28% bracket rises to 31%
- The 33% bracket rises to 36%
- The 35% bracket rises to 39.6%

Higher taxes on marriage and family.  The “marriage penalty” (narrower tax brackets for married couples) will return from the first dollar of income.  The child tax credit will be cut in half from $1000 to $500 per child.  The standard deduction will no longer be doubled for married couples relative to the single level.  The dependent care and adoption tax credits will be cut.

The return of the Death Tax.  This year, there is no death tax.  For those dying on or after January 1 2011, there is a 55 percent top death tax rate on estates over $1 million.  A person leaving behind two homes and a retirement account could easily pass along a death tax bill to their loved ones.

Higher tax rates on savers and investors.  The capital gains tax will rise from 15 percent this year to 20 percent in 2011.  The dividends tax will rise from 15 percent this year to 39.6 percent in 2011.  These rates will rise another 3.8 percent in 2013.

Second Wave: Obamacare

There are over twenty new or higher taxes in Obamacare.  Several will first go into effect on January 1, 2011.  They include:

The “Medicine Cabinet Tax”  Thanks to Obamacare, Americans will no longer be able to use health savings account (HSA), flexible spending account (FSA), or health reimbursement (HRA) pre-tax dollars to purchase non-prescription, over-the-counter medicines (except insulin).

The “Special Needs Kids Tax”  This provision of Obamacare imposes a cap on flexible spending accounts (FSAs) of $2500 (Currently, there is no federal government limit).  There is one group of FSA owners for whom this new cap will be particularly cruel and onerous: parents of special needs children.  There are thousands of families with special needs children in the United States, and many of them use FSAs to pay for special needs education.  Tuition rates at one leading school that teaches special needs children in Washington, D.C. (National Child Research Center) can easily exceed $14,000 per year.  Under tax rules, FSA dollars can be used to pay for this type of special needs education. 

The HSA Withdrawal Tax Hike.  This provision of Obamacare increases the additional tax on non-medical early withdrawals from an HSA from 10 to 20 percent, disadvantaging them relative to IRAs and other tax-advantaged accounts, which remain at 10 percent.

Third Wave: The Alternative Minimum Tax and Employer Tax Hikes

When Americans prepare to file their tax returns in January of 2011, they’ll be in for a nasty surprise—the AMT won’t be held harmless, and many tax relief provisions will have expired.  The major items include:

The AMT will ensnare over 28 million families, up from 4 million last year.  According to the left-leaning Tax Policy Center, Congress’ failure to index the AMT will lead to an explosion of AMT taxpaying families—rising from 4 million last year to 28.5 million.  These families will have to calculate their tax burdens twice, and pay taxes at the higher level.  The AMT was created in 1969 to ensnare a handful of taxpayers.

Small business expensing will be slashed and 50% expensing will disappear.  Small businesses can normally expense (rather than slowly-deduct, or “depreciate”) equipment purchases up to $250,000.  This will be cut all the way down to $25,000.  Larger businesses can expense half of their purchases of equipment.  In January of 2011, all of it will have to be “depreciated.”

Taxes will be raised on all types of businesses.  There are literally scores of tax hikes on business that will take place.  The biggest is the loss of the “research and experimentation tax credit,” but there are many, many others.  Combining high marginal tax rates with the loss of this tax relief will cost jobs.

Tax Benefits for Education and Teaching Reduced.  The deduction for tuition and fees will not be available.  Tax credits for education will be limited.  Teachers will no longer be able to deduct classroom expenses.  Coverdell Education Savings Accounts will be cut.  Employer-provided educational assistance is curtailed.  The student loan interest deduction will be disallowed for hundreds of thousands of families.

Charitable Contributions from IRAs no longer allowed.  Under current law, a retired person with an IRA can contribute up to $100,000 per year directly to a charity from their IRA.  This contribution also counts toward an annual “required minimum distribution.”  This ability will no longer be there. 

A full detailed list of the expiring federal tax provisions is set forth in a joint congressional committee report that can be accessed, viewed, and downloaded here.

The 'Nice Young Man' to Whom Our Department of Injustice Gave a Pass

Exposing Immigration Lies and Myths

The following reportedly was sent to Tennessee Senator Bill Frist by a retired border patrol agent:  Irrespective of its source or whether it in fact was sent to the senator, it shines the light of truth on many false claims about illegal immigrants:

Dear Senator Frist:

There is a huge amount of propaganda and myths circulating about illegal aliens, particularly illegal Mexican, Salvadorian, Guatemalan and Honduran aliens.

#1. Illegal aliens generally do NOT want US citizenship. Americans are very vain thinking that everybody in the world wants to be a US citizen. Mexicans, and other nationalities want to remain citizens of their home countries while obtaining the benefits offered by the United States such as employment, medical care, instate tuition, government subsidized housing and free education for their offspring. Their main attraction is employment and their loyalty usually remains at home. They want benefits earned and subsidized by middle class Americans. What illegal aliens want are benefits of American residence without paying the price.

#2. There are no jobs that Americans won't do. Illegal aliens are doing jobs that Americans can't take and still support their families. Illegal aliens take low wage jobs, live dozens in a single residence home, share expenses and send money to their home country. There are no jobs that Americans won't do for a decent wage.

#3. Every person who illegally entered this nation left a home. They are NOT homeless and they are NOT Americans. Some left jobs in their home countries. They come to send money to their real home as evidenced by the more than 20 billion dollars sent out of the country each year by illegal aliens. These illegal aliens knowingly and willfully entered this nation in violation of the law and therefore assumed the risk of detection and deportation. Those who brought their alien children assumed the responsibility and risk on behalf of their children.

#4. Illegal aliens are NOT critical to the economy. Illegal aliens constitute less than 5% of the workforce. However, they reduce wages and benefits for lawful US residents.

#5. This is NOT an immigrant nation. There are 280 million native born Americans. While it is true that this nation was settled and founded by immigrants (legal immigrants), it is also true that there is not a nation on this planet that was not settled by immigrants at one time or another.

#6. The United States is welcoming to legal immigrants. Illegal aliens are not immigrants by definition. The US accepts more lawful immigrants every year than the rest of the world combined.

#7. There is no such thing as the "Hispanic vote." Hispanics are white, brown, black and every shade in between. Hispanics are Republicans, Democrats, Anarchists, Communists, Marxists and Independents. The so-called "Hispanic vote" is a myth. Pandering to illegal aliens to get the Hispanic vote is a dead end.

#8. Mexico is NOT a friend of the United States. Since 1848 Mexicans have resented the United States. During World War I, Mexico allowed German Spies to operate freely in Mexico to spy on the US. During World War II, Mexico allowed the Axis powers to spy on the US from Mexico. During the Cold War, Mexico allowed spies hostile to the US to operate freely. The attack on the Twin Towers in 2001 was cheered and applauded all across Mexico. Today, Mexican school children are taught that the US stole California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. If you don't believe it, check out some Mexican textbooks written for their school children.

#9. Although some illegal aliens enter this country for a better life, there are 6 billion people on this planet. At least 1 billion of those live on less than one dollar a day. If wanting a better life is a valid excuse to break the law and sneak into America, then let's allow those one billion to come to America and we'll turn the USA into a Third World nation overnight. Besides, there are 280 million native born Americans who want a better life. I'll bet Bill Gates and Donald Trump want a better life. When will the USA lifeboat be full? Since when is wanting a better life a good reason to trash another nation?

#10. There is a labor shortage in this country. This is a lie. There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of American housewives, senior citizens, students, unemployed and underemployed who would gladly take jobs at a decent wage.

#11. It is racist to want secure borders. What is racist about wanting secure borders and a secure America? What is racist about not wanting people to sneak into America and steal benefits we have set aside for legal aliens, senior citizens, children and other legal residents? What is it about race that entitles people to violate our laws, steal identities, and take the American Dream without paying the price? For about four decades American politicians have refused to secure our borders and look after the welfare of middle class Americans. These politicians have been of both parties. A huge debt to American society has resulted. This debt will be satisfied and the interest will be high. There already have been riots in the streets by illegal aliens and their supporters. There will be more. You, as a politician, have a choice to offend the illegal aliens who have stolen into this country and demanded the rights afforded to US citizens or to offend those of us who are stakeholders in this country. The interest will be steep either way. There will be civil unrest. There will be a reckoning. Do you have the courage to do what is right for America? Or, will you bow to the wants and needs of those who don't even have the right to remain here? There will be a reckoning.

It will come in November of this year, again in 2012 and yet again in 2014. We will not allow America to be stolen by third world agitators and thieves.

Monday, July 12, 2010

From a Community Newspaper

Below is a letter to the editor that never would have been published in the New York Times or the Washington Post. It appeared in a Michigan community newspaper:

Has America become the land of the special interest and the home of the double standard?

Let's see: if we lie to the Congress, it's a felony and if the Congress lies to us it's just politics; if we dislike a black person, we're racist and if a black dislikes whites, it's their 1st Amendment right; the government spends millions to rehabilitate criminals and they do almost nothing for the victims; in public schools you can teach that homosexuality is OK, but you better not use the word God in the process; you can kill an unborn child, but it's wrong to execute a mass murderer; we don't burn books in America, we now rewrite them; we got rid of the communist and socialist threat by renaming them progressives; we are unable to close our border with Mexico but we have no problem protecting the 38th parallel in Korea; if you protest against President Obama's policies you're a terrorist, but if you burned an American flag or George Bush in effigy it was your 1st Amendment right.

You can have pornography on TV or the internet, but you better not put a nativity scene in a public park during Christmas; we have eliminated all criminals in America, they now are called sick people; we can use a human fetus for medical research, but it's wrong to use an animal.

We take money from those who work hard for it and give it to those who don't want to work; we all support the Constitution, but only when it supports our political ideology; we still have our freedom of speech, but only if we are being politically correct; parenting has been replaced with Ritalin and video games; the land of opportunity is now the land of hand outs; the similarity between Hurricane Katrina and the gulf oil spill is that neither president did anything to help.

And how do we handle a major crisis today? The government appoints a committee to determine who's at fault, then threatens them, passes a law, raises our taxes, tell us the problem is solved so they can get back to their reelection campaign.

What has happened to the land of the free and home of the brave?

Socialist's Stealth Appointment

Obama has resorted to a recess appointment to put into office, without the scrutiny that the senate approval process would entail, a health care czar committed to furthering the Obamacare legislation's socialistic purposes.

The tactic is well described in this report, and the legislation's wealth distribution scheme that was hidden as it was making its way through congress is outlined in this one.

Who Benefits From Obama's Drilling Ban Edict Attempts?

The drilling ban that the Obama administration is trying to put into place would adversely impact the U.S. in three ways.

First, it would increase our dependence on foreign oil imports.

Second, it would increase our exposure to more oil spills and environmental degradations.

Third, it would give other countries a leg up, a big advantage over the U.S. in  developing undersea oil deposits.

The whole story is detailed in this report.

At some point one has to seriously ask for whom this administration is working.

Select Bumper Stickers

Pathetic Poser in Power

Oil Spill Timeline from RightChange on Vimeo.
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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Failing the Founders and Deserving of Their Contempt

As he so often does, Walter Williams gets it right again in The Founders' Vision Versus Ours.

Pecking Order's Flow Chart

Sign of Our Time

Real Change

Deplaning From Air Force One

Good New Seuss Book

I do not like this Uncle Sam,
I do not like his health care scam.
I do not like these dirty crooks,
or how they lie and cook the books.
I do not like when Congress steals,
I do not like their secret deals.
I do not like this speaker, Nan,
I do not like this 'YES WE CAN'.
I do not like this spending spree,
I'm smart, I know that nothing's free,
I do not like your smug replies,
when I complain about your lies.
I do not like this kind of hope.
I do not like it. nope, nope, nope!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Four Truly Wonderful Minutes In a Pennsylvania Marketplace

On Saturday, April 24th, more than 30 members of the Opera Company of Philadelphia Chorus and principal cast members from the then upcoming production of La Traviata converged on the Reading Terminal Market Italian Festival.  Wearing street clothes and blending in with the crowd, the artists swung into action after the first orchestral strains of the famed "Brindisi" were piped through the market, giving a rousing, surprise performance for hundreds of delighted onlookers who were there to enjoy the Italian delicacies and the everyday treats that the Reading Terminal Market has to offer.  The four-minute piece won a thunderous ovation that included both laughter and tears

SCOTUS Decision on Second and Fourtheenth Amendments

State and local governments as well as the federal government must respect the rights of American citizens to keep and bear arms, under a decision announced last Monday by the Supreme Court of the United States ("SCOTUS"). The court ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution makes the Second Amendment, like most other provisions of the Bill of Rights, applicable to, and binding on governments at the state and local levels. The decision was no surprise in light of the well documented purposes of the  the Fourteenth Amendment. However, the decision was  a multifaceted one with good, bad and ugly (as well as so-so and scary) aspects. 

The Good:

The ruling means that the rights of all Americans to keep and bear arms may not be infringed . . . except to the extent that the court in the future may find reasonable . . .  but more about that below.

Writing for the majority, Justice Alito did a superb job of detailing the reasons for, and the background and history of the Second Amendment and of the right of all people to defend themselves, of the Fourteenth Amendment, and of gun control legislation and litigation. The decision -- all 214 pages of it (including the dissenting half) -- is well worth reading. It can be found by clicking the McDonald v. Chicago link at the SCOTUS website.

Particularly worth noting is the concurring opinion of Justice Thomas, who would have ruled that the  Second Amendment is applicable to the states and thus all American citizens under the Fourteenth Amendment's Privileges or Immunities Clause.

The rest of the majority justices based their decision on the same amendment's Due Process Clause. The difference is important. There is some hope for the resuscitation of the Privileges or Immunities Clause as its possible applicability was not rejected by the other justices who made up the majority in the McDonald case. Deciding the case under the Due Process clause, they found it unnecessary to deal with the Privileges or Immunities issue.

Plaudits also are due to Justice Scalia for his concurring opinion in which he takes on, and skillfully and successfully eviscerates Justice Stevens' dissenting opinion.

The Bad, Scary, and Ugly:

The decision was a 5 to 4 one, meaning that our right to keep and bear arms and to defend ourselves if, when, where, and as it may be necessary to do so hangs on a a precarious single vote margin. That's scary as I, for one, and I suspect a good many Americans would feel justified in promoting secession or even resorting to active and, if necessary, armed rebellion were we to be stripped of them.

As noted above, Justice Stevens' dissenting opinion is well dealt with by Justice Scalia. But Justice Stevens, even though he dissented, at least dealt or attempted or pretended to deal with the issue as an important constitutional one. Not so Justice Breyer, with whom Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor joined. They simply don't want citizens to have the legal right to own firearms to to engage in any defense of themselves, their family members, friends, neighbors, homes, property, or anything else.

One has to suspect that the position of the dissenters is based at least in part on another reason for the existence of the Second Amendment that received scant mention by the justices who made up the McDonald case majority. By guaranteeing that government would not have a monopoly on the instruments of violence, the amendment ensures that citizens would have the means for overthrowing the government were it ever to become an intolerably tyrannical one. The four dissenters may, with varying degrees of consciousness, recognize that their ideological allies are getting close to a point at which they will deserve such responsive resistance.

The ugliest aspect of the decision was Justice Sotomayor's self exposure as a perjurer. By joining in Justice Breyer's dissenting opinion, which argued for depriving citizens of any right to own firearms or to engage in self defense, she revealed the falsity of her sworn testimony, under oath, in her confirmation hearings that she recognized, and would respect and support such rights.

Contending for the ugliest position is the reactive one of Chicago's generalissimo mayor Daley II described in this news report as immediately spelling out how he and his minions intend to prevent the citizens over whom they rule from exercising the rights that the SCOTUS decision confirmed they should be able to enjoy as American citizens. New York City's mayor and the government of the District of Columbia are doing the same disgraceful thing. 

The Unsettled So-So:

The SCOTUS decision was a limited one. The court, without dealing with the Second Amendment's "shall not be infringed" language, left wiggle room in its decision for some undefined firearms regulations. There is no way to determine the extent to which this opening was solely to defang attacks on its ruling or the extent that it will permit as reasonable Second Amendment infringements in the future.The situation thus is similar to what the court has done in First Amendment cases, in which it consistently has ignored the amendment's "make no law" language to allow restrictions that it favors on religion, speech, assembly, and the press.

Obamanists Think Like Inquisition Torturers

Even the Obama boosting Associated Press finally has found it impossible the avoid noticing that Obamanomics has failed, as evidenced by this report,which it issued this morning. Further evidence of the failure was provided this morning by this report as well as this one.

The failure and the reasons for it are spelled out in this excellent Wall Street Journal analysis.

Nonetheless, as this other Wall Street piece shows, adherence to their radical environmental agenda is leading the Obamanists to resort to backdoor methods to destroy American jobs and send them overseas.

What all this adds up to evidences that the Obamanists, instead of recognizing the truth of Einstein's famous observation about the insanity of continuing to do the same thing and expecting something other than a consistently undesirable result, is insisting on more of the same. That's the same kind of thinking that characterized inquisition torturers -- they always were confident that tightening the rack another ratchet or two would get them what they wanted from their victims.

America, its economy, and its people are the current victims of the blind and stubborn adherence of the administration to discredited economic theories, but our increasingly strident screams to stop and change directions are being ignored or belittled and rejected. Future generations that will be saddled with the bills for the follies of the Obama administration and its supporters will look back at us with anger and wonder how we could have tolerated what is taking place.