"To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it." --Thomas Jefferson
Government & Politics
Taxes, Spending and Class Warfare
The community organizer in the White House hit the campaign trail this week, attempting to make the case that Republicans don't deserve a shot at running Congress again. He's certainly reading the tea leaves, so to speak, which predict a big win for the GOP on Nov. 2.
On Monday, Barack Obama unveiled his latest "stimulus" (except don't use that word!) in the form of $50 billion for infrastructure. The White House plan includes rebuilding 150,000 miles of road and 4,000 miles of rail, as well as the creation of a government-run bank (uh-oh) to finance transportation projects.
What happened to last year's infrastructure stimulus? The Wall Street Journal reports, "All but roughly $100 billion of the original $814 billion (recently reduced from $862 billion by the Congressional Budget Office) has now been spent." So now we need more of the same, because this time it'll work. No, really, he means it this time.
Of course, a White House official admitted, "This is not an ... immediate jobs plan. This is a six-year reauthorization that's front-loaded." We're all for good roads and improving infrastructure, but this appears to be more government spending with little economic growth to show for it.
Moving on, the president proposed making Ronald Reagan's 1981 research and development tax credit permanent, as well as instituting a one-year tax write-off for all business capital purchases. These tax cuts will almost certainly help economic growth, but there's a catch: The latter would be temporary and both would be "paid for" by closing other corporate tax "loopholes" (i.e., raising taxes elsewhere). Oil and gas companies will be targeted specifically. If "loopholes" are the problem, we should get rid of them all and lower the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20-25 percent, which is the average for the developed world. But don't hold your breath waiting for Obama to propose that.
Lest you think the president has found religion on taxes, however, his stump speech on Wednesday included the usual class warfare rhetoric typical of Marxist Democrats. "With all the other budgetary pressures we have," he sneered, "with all the Republicans' talk about wanting to shrink the deficit, they would have us borrow $700 billion over the next 10 years to give a tax cut of about $100,000 each to folks who are already millionaires." He continued to patronize the "wealthy," saying, "This isn't to punish folks who are better off -- God bless them. It's because we can't afford the $700 billion price tag." This, of course, is The Big Lie -- that it's the government's money and the government's decision about what it can "afford."
It's not that he didn't warn us -- on the campaign trail in 2008, Obama said that he wants to "spread the wealth." Spreading the wealth, however, means less wealth for everyone. At least half of all small businesses will be hit by these tax hikes, and given that small businesses create four out of five new jobs, expect unemployment to remain high after the Obama tax increase.
Democrats are truly and with a vengeance living up to their tax-and-spend reputation. Obama might blame Republicans for record deficits (and we won't jump to their defense), but according to Terrence Jeffrey of CNSNews, "In the first 19 months of the Obama administration, the federal debt held by the public increased by $2.5260 trillion, which is more than the cumulative total of the national debt held by the public that was amassed by all U.S. presidents from George Washington through Ronald Reagan." And Obama has the chutzpah to complain that the government can't "afford" a tax cut.
That, in a nutshell, is why voters are angry. Democrats misread their 2006 and 2008 election victories as a mandate for their "progressive" agenda, when in reality it was voters rejecting the corruption and progressive-light agenda of the Republicans. So Democrats simply doubled, tripled and even quadrupled everything Republicans did wrong -- and now they're surprised that voters are furious.
Quote of the Week
Memo to Obama: "The Cuban model doesn't even work for us anymore." --Fidel Castro in an interview with The Atlantic
Better late than never. Unfortunately, it's an admission too late for the millions who suffered under his rule.
The BIG Lie
"I am absolutely committed to fiscal responsibility." --Barack Obama in Parma, Ohio
Ironically, this was right after he declared, "Now, I'll be honest -- I refuse to cut back on those investments that will grow our economy in the future -- investments in areas like education and clean energy and technology. I don't want to cut those things. And that's because economic growth is the single best way to bring down the deficit -- and we need these investments to grow." As do all Democrats, he repeatedly uses the words "invest" and "investments" when referring to government spending.
He also blamed everyone else. "When I walked in," he complained, "wrapped in a nice bow was a $1.3 trillion deficit sitting right there on my doorstep." But rest assured, he said, "[W]e refuse to pass on the debt we inherited to the next generation." We'd laugh if that weren't such a disturbing lie.
We might remind the president that Congress sets the budget, that Democrats have been in charge of Congress since 2007, and that he was part of the Democrat majority responsible for that $1.3 trillion deficit.
News from the Campaign Trail
Despite the tough economic times, political candidates this year are on track to spend record amounts on their campaigns. House and Senate candidates have spent up to $1.2 billion so far for the 2010 midterms, well ahead of the pace set for the last three election cycles. Several factors are involved in this spending binge, including the highly charged political climate, the legal framework left by the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision on corporate donations, and outside donors.
There's a lot at stake in this year's election, as congressional Democrats attempt to prevent a beating of epic proportions -- a beating similar to the one that kicked them out of power in 1994. The anti-incumbent, anti-big-government mood favors Republicans, and they're pulling out all the stops in more than 100 competitive House and Senate races. Republicans are also fighting hard for many of the 37 governorships contested this year. California gubernatorial candidate and former eBay CEO Meg Whitman is leading the charge, already spending $104 million of her own money on the campaign.
The national Democrat Party holds the financial edge over the GOP, and their longtime friends in organized labor continue to pour in big money. AFL-CIO plans to spend $50 million this year, and SEIU has a $44 million budget for political donations.
Republicans are not destitute, however, and much of the GOP support seems to be coming from independent groups. American Crossroads, a political group set up by Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, focuses on large corporate donations and has been backing candidates in several key races. Corporate donors are more frequently putting their money behind anonymous groups and trade associations rather than specific candidates to prevent a backlash from stockholders or customers. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is one such group, and it's on target to spend $75 million this year.
Carp Czar to the Rescue
Just what we've all been waiting for! The White House has chosen a czar to oversee the federal response to Asian carp in the Great Lakes. As Chicago's WGN reports, "President Obama's Council on Environmental Quality announced the selection of John Goss to lead the near $80 million, multi-pronged federal attack against Asian carp." Sen. Dick Durbin put this latest crisis in perspective, saying, "This is a serious challenge, a serious threat. When it comes to the Asian carp threat, we are not in denial. We are not in a go-slow mode. We are in a full attack, full-speed ahead mode. We want to stop this carp from advancing." The problem may be a real one -- it's sometimes hard to tell with these "wolf" criers -- but it certainly illustrates the point that no job is too small for the federal government.
From the 'Non Compos Mentis' File
It appears that Barack Obama's new Oval Office rug has incorrectly captured history. It's adorned with quotes from Lincoln, Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., but the King quote -- "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice" -- has been misattributed. The quote originally comes from Theodore Parker, a 19th century abolitionist and preacher whose grandfather was a Minuteman at the Battle of Lexington. King was an open admirer of Parker and took to quoting him in his speeches. He also made public the source of the words he spoke whenever they were originally Parker's. The White House rug weavers glossed over this detail, though. Regarding the cost, the White House would only say that it was "inline with the amount spent by Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush." By that, no doubt they meant "combined." No word yet on what they plan to do with the rug, if anything. Perhaps Bo could use it as a bed.
Ninth Anniversary of 9/11
Tomorrow we solemnly mark the ninth anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, when 2,996 innocents, mostly American citizens, were murdered by Islamic fascists. In keeping with the presidential proclamation designating Sept. 11, 2010, as Patriot Day, all flags should be flown at half-staff in memory of those who lost their lives that day. We invite you to join us as we offer our prayers for the families of those lost and for our Armed Forces now serving on the front lines of the Long War against Jihadistan that could no longer be ignored after that day. As we move forward and continue to engage our jihadi foes on battlefronts around the globe, let us never forget why we fight.
Warfront With Jihadistan: Burning the Koran
A small Florida church's plans to throw gasoline on the fire of worldwide Islamic extremism tomorrow, the 9th anniversary of 9/11, were suspended Thursday evening. The Dove World Outreach Center of Gainesville, Florida, had planned on burning copies of the Koran at their self-proclaimed "International Burn a Koran Day" event, which gives rise to some hard questions.
Read more here.
From the Leftjudiciary: 'Don't Ask' Ruled Unconstitutional
U.S. District Court Judge Virginia A. Phillips has ruled from on high that the federal law known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," which prohibits open homosexuals from serving in the military, is unconstitutional. She must have been referring to the "living constitution." Bill Clinton signed "Don't Ask" into law in 1993. Phillips, a Clinton appointee, wrote, "Defendants faced the burden at trial of showing the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Act was necessary to significantly further the Government's important interests in military readiness and unit cohesion. Defendants failed to meet that burden." She plans to issue a permanent injunction in two weeks barring the military from enforcing the policy.
The homosexual advocacy group Log Cabin Republicans brought the case. Their lawyer crowed, "This is a major victory in the fight for equality and now it means that military service will be available to all Americans regardless of their sexual orientation." Military service has always been available to homosexuals, provided they keep their proclivities to themselves. But hey, we're sure that Virginia Phillips, in her infinite black-robed wisdom, knows more about what's best for the military than military leaders do. Unfortunately, the effect this ruling will have on the military will not be for the better.
Iran Stockpiling Uranium
The latest International Atomic Energy Agency report on Iran's (non)compliance with its Non-Proliferation Treaty obligations hit the newsstands this week. In what will surprise no one except Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei, the report repeated yet again that "Iran has not provided the necessary cooperation to permit the Agency to confirm that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities." You don't say. The report dutifully notes that Iran continues to stockpile low enriched uranium, continues to deny access to the Khondab Heavy Water Reactor, and has not answered outstanding questions about suspected military dimensions of its program, among other things.
Honestly, the IAEA could save a lot of money on travel and just re-issue the same report every four months. The latest report follows the June 9 passage of UN Security Council Resolution 1929, which tightened existing restrictions while adding a few more around the margins. Resolution 1929 was the sixth UNSCR dealing with Iran's nuclear program, which first came to light nearly eight years ago.
Think about that: eight years. Twice the length of the United States' involvement in World War II. Only one year less than our involvement in Afghanistan. Eight years wasted while the Europeans applied their cherished Soft Power to no effect; while IAEA Director Mohamed ElBaradei pursued a Nobel Prize by shielding Iran from his own agency; while the Russians and Chinese dragged their feet and watered down sanctions; and while Iran has made enormous strides in pursuit of the nuclear weapons everyone knows they want. How much longer?
The Check's Not in the Mail Yet
The Department of Defense is looking to send checks to about 90,000 veterans of the Gulf War and the Global War on Terror that are owed back pay for stop-loss -- an involuntary extension of enlistment. Congress approved back payment of $500.00 per month to those service members kept past their enlistment. It's nice to see Congress spend taxpayer funds for something besides bank and union bailouts for a change.
Many of those veterans may be unaware of the program. If you qualify, or know someone who might, get the scoop at the DoD website. While this back pay comes late for some, there are no strings attached. You will need to fill out some paperwork, though, so keep those DD-214's handy. Oct. 21, 2010 is the deadline to file.
Business & Economy
Hope 'n' Change: Health Care Costs to Rise
One of the primary arguments Democrats made as they crammed health care "reform" down our throats was that their plan would reduce medical costs. Well, whaddaya you know? The claim was a lie. The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released a report this week projecting that ObamaCare will increase costs by an average of 6.3 percent a year. Total health care spending will reach $4.6 trillion by 2019 -- roughly one out of every five U.S. dollars spent. In 2014, after all provisions of the law kick in, spending is projected to rise 9.2 percent, up from 6.6 percent predicted before the law was passed.
To pay for all the new mandates placed on them by ObamaCare, insurance companies nationwide are proposing rate increases of 1 to 9 percent this year. Democrats in turn wasted no time hammering one of their numerous favorite villains by signaling that they would ratchet up pressure on the insurance companies. Rep. Pete "Government Can Do Most Anything" Stark (D-CA) complained, "Insurers are using the consumer protections in health reform as a cover for their own greed." Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius had even sterner words, threatening, "There will be zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increases. ... [W]e will not stand idly by as insurers blame their premium hikes and increased profits on the requirement that they provide consumers with basic protections."
We're not here to defend everything insurance companies do -- we hate dealing with them sometimes, too -- but this is called cause and effect. The law is the cause, higher prices are the effect. And the Obama administration appears ready to act like the Chicago mob to stop it.
Regulatory Commissars: Regulators Hammer Out Details
A brave, new, regulated world? Such seems the singular focus of financial regulators who will be meeting this month in the United States and in Basel, Switzerland, to define new directives for the U.S. and global financial industries. As The Hill reports, "In the United States, regulators are starting to layout how they will oversee 'systemic risk' and firms deemed 'too big to fail.'" Translation: On the heels of the recently passed financial regulatory "reform" bill, the regulatory rampage is just getting started.
For Treasury Secretary Timothy "Tax Cheat" Geithner, chairman of the U.S. council of financial regulators, which is responsible for "overseeing systemic risk," Step One is to "establish an integrated road map" for the new regulations. As if the meetings already held and the rules already devised by regulators at the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) weren't enough, the council meeting will bring these regulators together to create yet more regulations. (In a mathematical anomaly unique to government spending, programs and regulations, one plus one almost always yields more than two.) Indeed, according to Scott Talbott, senior vice president at the Financial Services Roundtable, "[O]nce you have the systemic risk council, the regulations can flow." Gee, we can hardly wait.
More and More, Big Labor Equals Big Government
The public perception of union members long has been that of assembly line workers, truck-drivers, stevedores and railway workers. But that face is changing, and those union members who celebrated the most recent edition of Labor Day are now more likely than not to be government workers. Back in January, the Department of Labor announced that government workers now make up the majority of unionized labor.
We could see this coming as Detroit downsized, manufacturing fled overseas and government grew larger. But this paradigm shift also means something more sinister: Instead of union wages being paid through voluntary purchases, they now are confiscated from your paycheck by Uncle Sam or your local government. Instead of profitability being in everyone's best interest, the new face of Big Labor wants an ever-larger share of profits to be turned over to them, via taxation, for redistribution to their friends and fellow union members. Hence we get the taxpayer-subsidized government takeover of (unionized) General Motors and Chrysler while other (non-union) companies such as Lehman Brothers are allowed to collapse.
Conservatives are accused of voting against their own self-interest, but when union members stand up at a rally and cry "raise my taxes!" we have to wonder what happened to the American spirit that brought us the original Tea Party.
Culture & Policy
Faith and Family: Obama's Religion
Never before have we had a president whose faith is as debated as Barack Obama's. Since he announced his bid for the presidency in 2008, people have been arguing about whether he is Christian or Muslim, and this debate continues into the second year of his presidency.
Most recently, and in response to Fox News Host Glenn Beck's statements that Obama's brand of Christianity is that of "oppressor and victim," the White House felt the need to explain once again. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs described the president as a "committed, mainstream Christian." What that means, of course, is anyone's guess.
Obama's religious beliefs first became an issue when it was revealed during his campaign that he spent 20 years listening to the hate-mongering sermons of Jeremiah Wright. When questioned about this, then-senator Obama maintained that he had never heard Wright's now-infamous anti-America statements, but this doesn't pass the giggle test, given their long and close relationship. After all, Wright married the Obamas and baptized their two daughters. However, enough Americans believed him (or were willing to sweep it under the rug) to elect him president. Yet as Obama continues to proclaim himself a Christian on the one hand while cozying up to Muslims whenever politically convenient, the questions surrounding his real beliefs resurface.
When one throws his politics into the mix, the answer becomes a lot clearer. Jeremiah Wright's angry rants, after all, were light on religion and heavy on black power ideology mixed with "liberation theology" -- a.k.a. Marxism, which replaces God with Government. Given Obama's penchant for socialist measures, one could assume that he's neither a Muslim nor a Christian, but one who puts his faith is government bureaucracy, and, ultimately, in himself. He was treated as a messiah during the campaign, and his presidency has merely been the act of his taking his "rightful" place in history. God help us.
This Week's 'Braying Jackass' Award
"I can't spend all of my time with my birth certificate plastered on my forehead." --Barack Obama
It'd be nice if he'd produce the original just once.
Judicial Benchmarks: Campaign Financing
This week a federal judge in Washington State ruled as unconstitutional a state limit on ballot measure campaign funding, providing a victory for Family PAC, an organization formed by the Family Policy Institute of Washington. Family PAC's mission was to defeat a 2009 state ballot measure expanding domestic partnership rights to same-sex couples. However, a state law prevented the group from receiving contributions over $5,000 during the 21 days before an election. Family PAC sued the state over the limit because they believed it violated their First Amendment rights. U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton agreed and determined that the limit is unconstitutional. He let stand, however, a portion of the law that calls for public disclosure of all donations over $25. So it wasn't a complete loss for the leftists in Washington. They can still drive away potential donors to campaigns by exposing their names to the public.
Delicious Irony: Enviro-School Built on Toxic Soil
Each year hundreds of new schools are built around the nation, with some erected on donated land formerly used as an industrial site. Inherent in this "free" land, though, is the cost of environmental remediation from contamination such as the sludge from abandoned fuel tanks.
One new school in Los Angeles faces just this sort of cleanup, as crews race to excavate more than a dozen underground tanks and replace over 12,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil in two separate areas on school grounds as part of a $4 million operation. While the Los Angeles Unified School District insists the site will be made safe and monitored regularly, environmental groups wail about the possible effects on children from eventual re-contamination of the soil and groundwater.
The irony? This $75 million environmental sciences school is named after both Rachel Carson, author of "Silent Spring" -- a book which by the way led to the deaths of millions in Africa and elsewhere after the mosquito-eradicating pesticide DDT was banned based on the faulty science within -- and former Vice President Al Gore, modern-day environmental hypocrite extraordinaire. The Carson-Gore Academy of Environmental Sciences is still slated to open for around 675 students on Sept. 13, with both Gore and members of the late Carson's family invited to attend the dedication.
A Look at the Village Academic Curriculum
Those worried about what students are learning in college these days can rest assured. The English department at the University of Baltimore is offering a class on that all-important subject -- zombie movies. Teaching the class is Arthur Bloomberg, author of "Zombiemania" and curator of the pop culture museum Geppi. After watching 16 zombie movies and reading comics, students will emerge as undead aficionados. Maybe the class would've been more apropos in the poly-sci department.
Meanwhile, according to the Examiner, "Starting Thursday, San Francisco Unified School District with the help of San Francisco's Human Services Agency and the K to College organization, will distribute back to school 'kits' with $65 worth of grade-appropriate school supplies to thousands of students." All told, 30,000 public school children will get these brand new school supplies courtesy of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, a.k.a., The "Stimulus."
Finally, a middle school football coach in Tennessee was fired for writing a politically incorrect song opposing Barack Obama's policies. The song is called, "When You're Holding a Hammer, Everything Looks Like a Nail." After co-writing the song with a parent, he sent it by to friends on his own time with his personal email. Political songs are just fine, as we have recounted before, so long as they're pro-Obama.
To Keep and Bear Arms
George Grier from Uniondale on Long Island was arrested for pulling the trigger of his AK-47 in a maneuver to protect his home. Grier noticed a group of men approaching his house, and thinking that they were perhaps part of the dreaded MS-13 gang, he ran inside, told his wife to call the police, and grabbed his AK-47. But by the time he reached the doorway, the men were already in his driveway. He asked the men to leave, but they refused and began shouting, while even more men approached. "He starts threatening my family, my life," Grier recounts. "And so I fired four warning shots into the grass."
Police deemed the warning shots unjustifiable and arrested Grier. A technology known as "ShotSpotter" was installed in the area so that once shots are fired, police are automatically notified. Grier cooperated with police and told them that he feared the men who approached his home were MS-13 members. Lt. Andrew Mulraine, who is head of the gang unit in Nassau County and is well aware of this gang, said, "They almost have a military hierarchy within the gang, so they are the most organized gang we encounter on a daily basis." He also says that the gang has 2,000 members in Nassau County alone. Because Grier owned the gun legally and had a clean criminal record, no charges were pressed on account of the weapon. However, because of the way Grier defended his home, he was taken into custody.
His attorney, John Lewis, said, "What he's initially charged with -- a [Class] D felony reckless endangerment -- requires a depraved indifference to human life, creating a risk that someone's going to die. Shooting into a lawn doesn't create a risk of anybody dying." However, the courts will decide whether the shooting was justifiable since the gang appeared to have no weapons when they approached the home.
Oh, the irony. The "Rev." Jesse Jackson was in Detroit recently to attend yet another march -- the "Jobs, Justice, and Peace" march promoting taxpayer-funded green jobs alongside UAW President Bob King. Writing for CNN, the Green One preached, "We need an economy that creates employment that can't be shipped overseas. Homegrown American labor will be installing windmills and solar panels. A green economy is not an abstract concept."
Of course, Jesse doesn't practice what he preaches. While in the Motor City, he rented a gas-guzzling environment-destroying Cadillac Escalade -- which was then stolen and stripped of its wheels. He has to know this wouldn't have happened if he were driving a Prius.