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Technorati is indexing me again! They had to make a code change to fix the problem with my blog getting stuck in their queue. Kudos to Eric M. and the guys at GetSatisfaction.com where they have "community powered support for Technorati".
Well, they're "sorta, kinda" indexing me anyway. It's on a 24 hour tape delay or something. So I never get picked up by Memeorandum because they pull from Technorati and Technorati has stuff I posted yesterday listed as my latest blog entry. And that's old news to Memeorandum.
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Money's tight at the Committee To Re-Elect The President. So Dear Leader wrote a $5,000 dollar check to himself.
President Obama has given $5,000 to his own reelection campaign, an official confirms to POLITICO.
In an email to supporters this morning, Obama said that he had given to his own reelection campaign for the first time as a symbolic gesture.
"On its own, what I gave won't be enough to surmount the unprecedented fundraising we've seen on the other side, both from our opponent's campaign and from the outside groups and special interests supporting him," Obama wrote. "But we have always believed that there's nothing we can't do when we all pitch in. That includes me."
To put Mr. Big Spender's grand gesture in perspective though, he shelled out $7,000 for Moochelle's Olympic jacket, and his Hollywood fatcat friends paid 8 times as much to eat dinner with him at Sarah Jessica Parker's NY townhouse.
That's Barry, putting your money where his mouth is.
I think this graphic from Congressman Allen West sums up Obama's priorities pretty thoroughly, don't you?
Don't forget those 100+ rounds of golf and 17 vacations either. Presidenting is hard work!
Who wouldn't want to pay good money to see four more years of that?
President Obama's Press Secretary Jay Carney is married to ABC News reporter Claire Shipman. Over the weekend a deputy press secretary married another ABC News reporter. How very cozy!
It's also not surprising that Jaffe and Hogan didn't register to have their wedding gifts diverted to the Obama reelection campaign.
I understand George Soros sent a nice fondue pot. It wasn't filled with gold.
It's the clearest sign yet that BlackBerries are headed for extinction. If you want the app that tells you Mitt Romney's choice for VP you'll need an iPhone or Android.
Want to know whether or not presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is naming Governor Christie his vice presidential candidate?
There's an app for that — Mitt VP.
Romney for President launched the free mobile app for iPhone and Android users today and says those who have it will be the first to know whom the former Massachusetts governor picks to run with him.
The app even promises to notify people before the campaign tells the media.
Sigh. More and more I'm seeing developers abandon the BlackBerry. My favorite weather app dropped support last year. RIM continues to lose market share as the release date for their newest smartphones keeps slipping. Now they're saying it'll be out in early 2013. Maybe. Who really knows? And by then, who will still care?
The thing is though, I like my BlackBerry, warts and all. I've used iPhones, I've used Droids, and they frustrate me. Maybe because 90% of what I do on my phone is email and all the gee-whiz cool typing tricks the BlackBerry UI has built-in aren't available elsewhere. And nothing beats that physical keyboard.
Is there a BlackBerry Anonymous 12-step program? 'Cause I'm gonna need one.
In the meantime, will one of you guys with a "supported" phone
download the app and tweet me when the announcement is made? Thanks.
Here's a new twist on the Affordable Housing scam. New upscale apartments are set aside for starving artists. But not just any starving artists, only members of Jersey City's Proletkult, "certified" by the Artist Certification Board, can apply.
Jersey City took possession recently of seven residential units in a Downtown tower that it intends to set aside as affordable housing for artists.
The lofts, located on the second floor of the 68-unit Washington Commons, 311 Washington St., were the focus of a lawsuit filed last year by the developer, Neil Sorrentino.
Sorrentino claims the city promised to pay him the cost of construction for each unit, while the city says it agreed to pay $1 per unit and no more. A federal judge in January dismissed Sorrentino's suit.
I heard the real estate market was tanking, but surely those apartments are worth more than a dollar. Of course then Jersey City couldn't enforce the Marxist credo: From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs. Mr. Sorrentino should probably be grateful the city didn't steal the whole building at that price.
Because there are 500 artists waiting in the wings.
Artists interested in the affordable housing must be certified by the city Artist Certification board that has certified nearly 500 artists citywide. For more information, call (201) 547-5010.
So what makes someone a "certified" artist? Glad you asked! There's a six-point checklist.
1) Commitment to the fine arts as a career
2) Need for a large loft space
3) An arts education
4) Current body of work
5) Exhibition record
6) References from other artists or art professionals
And, just to keep out the riff-raff, "commercial" artists, i.e. people who have clients who pay them for their work, are officially excluded. Verboten! Only artists who create art for art's sake can be certified as eligible for Affordable Housing.
Because working and paying for your apartment is so bourgeois.
Far better that the government should just seize that real estate and give it
to the guys who churn out government-approved art. Is this a great country or
What happens when Obamacare adds millions of new patients to the insurance rolls while doctors fed up with paltry reimbursements and onerous red tape leave the profession in droves?
In the Inland Empire, an economically depressed region in Southern California, President Obama's health care law is expected to extend insurance coverage to more than 300,000 people by 2014. But coverage will not necessarily translate into care: Local health experts doubt there will be enough doctors to meet the area's needs. There are not enough now.
"We have a shortage of every kind of doctor, except for plastic surgeons and dermatologists," said Dr. G. Richard Olds, the dean of the new medical school at the University of California, Riverside, founded in part to address the region's doctor shortage. "We'll have a 5,000-physician shortage in 10 years, no matter what anybody does."
Experts describe a doctor shortage as an "invisible problem." Patients still get care, but the process is often slow and difficult. In Riverside, it has left residents driving long distances to doctors, languishing on waiting lists, overusing emergency rooms and even forgoing care.
Rationing. And longer waits for care from harried doctors who can't afford to devote the time they should to your case. Unless you're willing to pay more.
If you're rich enough to afford a gold plated policy, you will likely have no trouble finding a physician to treat you. Health care for the average American is not going to get better, it is going to get worse. And we have Obamacare to thank for that.
Remember Obama's promise? "If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor."
Here's the missing codicil: Only if your doctor wants to keep you.
Also linked by a new fan from Argentina, El Opinador Compulsivo.
It was Tim Tebow's first official practice as a Jet, and he didn't leave anything on the field.
Tim Tebow was the final Jets player to run off the practice field this morning, shirtless and in the driving rain.
It marked a somewhat dramatic end -- at least for the gathered media looking for storylines -- to the Jets' first training-camp practice open to the public.
Yes ladies, there are more pics at the link. Enjoy.
J-E-T-S, Jets! Jets! Jets!
Guns, they're everywhere, in the movies. Orgies of violence, glorified in Technicolor, with Dolby Surround Sound and 3D special effects stream into our living rooms 24x7 on HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, and Starz. World of Warcraft is the #1 selling video game in the nation. And every weekend theaters across the land show trailer after trailer for the latest shoot 'em up extravaganza before getting down to business with the main attraction, starring automatic weapons, spectacular explosions, and close-ups of maimed bodies oozing blood and gore.
But with nary a cigarette or can of beer in sight because that might send the wrong message to our impressionable youth.
Presumably then, gratuitous violence and swaths of destruction which rival Sherman's march to the sea are the right message. Because Hollywood sure does love their cinematographic firepower. Curiously though, they hate my legally purchased, safely locked away, carefully handled guns. Believing in the Second Amendment makes me some kind of dangerous Right Wing Extremist.
Making movies where guns outnumber people and blood flows like water? That makes them artists.
It also makes them
The Catholic family that owns a Colorado-based company won a court victory in their battle to stop the Obama administration from requiring them to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization and contraception, a mandate they say violates their religious beliefs and First Amendment rights.
Hercules Industries, a Denver-based heating ventilation and air conditioning manufacturer that employs nearly 300 full-time workers, got an injunction in federal court which stops enforcement of the controversial ObamaCare mandate. The company's lawyers said they needed the injunction immediately because if the mandate is enforced, it must begin immediately making changes to its health plan, which renews on Nov. 1.
The case is similar to ones brought by Catholic-based colleges that have refused to provide employee insurance with such coverage, except this time, it is a secular corporation.
In his order, Colorado District Judge John Kane said that the government's arguments "are countered, and indeed outweighed, by the public interest in the free exercise of religion."
And what was the government's argument? Why that "Amish Exemption" that Nadz hangs his hat on!
The Obama administration argued in a 76-page response that the Newlands' challenge "rests largely on the theory" that a for-profit, secular corporation can claim to exercise a religion and avoid laws regulating commercial activity.
"This cannot be," the motion reads, citing the 1982 case of United States v. Lee, in which the court held that self-employed Amish workers could be exempt from Social Security taxes, but did not extend the exemption to Amish employers. "Indeed, the Supreme Supreme Court has recognized that, '[w]hen followers of a particular sect enter into commercial activity as a matter of choice, the limits they accept on their own conduct as a matter of conscience and faith are not to be superimposed on the statutory schemes which are binding on others in that activity.'"
But that's not their only argument. Don't like Obamacare, go out of business.
"Hercules Industries has made no showing of a religious belief which requires that [it] engage in the [HVAC] business," the Justice Department said in a formal filing in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado.
In response to the Justice Department's argument that the Newlands can either give up practicing their religion or give up owning their business, the Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing the family, said in a reply brief: "[T]o the extent the government is arguing that its mandate does not really burden the Newlands because they are free to abandon their jobs, their livelihoods, and their property so that others can take over Hercules and comply, this expulsion from business would be an extreme form of government burden."
Let 'em eat food stamps!
Heck, they didn't build that business anyway. Somebody else made that happen.
Looks like Scalia's gonna have the last word on this one afterall.
As you may have heard by now, the Gay Mafia is pink with rage again because the owners of Chick-Fil-A are devout Christians who believe in Traditional Marriage. Apparently that makes them "anti-gay", and unwelcome in places like Boston and Chicago.
The anti-gay views openly espoused by the president of a fast food chain specializing in chicken sandwiches have run afoul of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and a local alderman, who are determined to block Chick-fil-A from expanding in Chicago.
Um, OK, sure. Does that mean I can get my town to ban Abercrombie & Fitch, seeing as how they're as gay as gay gets? I'm thinking "no", but I'm sure Curt will jump right in and defend the anti-Christian radicals calling for Dan Cathy's head on a pike (wrapped in leather, natch...) while labeling me intolerant and hateful for even suggesting that a store could be gay.
Look, if you don't like what young Jefferson McCain dubbed the homophobolicious goodness of Chick-Fil-A, don't eat at Chick-Fil-A. Burger King makes a decent chicken sandwich and I'm sure they'd be happy to take your money. That's your individual decision.
On the other hand, quite a few folks have decided that Chick-Fil-A is da bomb.
When we got there, the line for the drive-through was backed up — at 8 o'clock on a Wednesday night. We ordered five Chick-fil-A sandwiches, two large orders of waffle fries and two large sweet iced teas. When we got to the window, we paid $21.95. because freedom isn't free.
But freedom is in danger thanks to intolerant bozos who hate Christians. Interestingly, they welcome Muslims, even though it's Muslims who stone gay people to death with alarming regularity. I'm sure there's a reason for that, I just don't know what it is, probably because I'm a bigot or something.
And while we're on the subject, maybe Curt could also explain to me why a gay teen commits suicide every time Kirk Cameron gives a speech in Ocean Grove. A prominent Christian defends traditional marriage, and that seems to drive these confused kids to the depths of despair.
Activists representing bullied teens of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community (LGBT) have asked actor Kirk Cameron to have lunch with them during his visit to Ocean Grove, N.J., where he will be speaking on biblical marriage.
"In a kind, respectful and constructive way, we'd like to talk to you about the pain your words about being LGBT have personally caused me and other LGBT youth," 17-year-old Corey Bernstein, a N.J. resident and co-chair of the Youth Caucus at Garden State Equality, wrote in a letter to Cameron and his manager.
"Mr. Cameron, words casting negative judgments about LGBT people not only perpetuate prejudice in our wider society, but also hurt LGBT youth in particular. Some of your public comments about being LGBT have devastated us LGBT youth."
But lunch will fix everything! Here's a kind, respectful, and
constructive suggestion. They should meet up at Chick-Fil-A.
It's an IT guy's worst nightmare, the last name that doesn't end. Robert DiMarco Salvatore-Maurielllo marries Antoinette Kaplonski LaTorracca-Bogdanowicz.
What name goes on the first born son's birth certificate?
Guiseppe Alfonso Kaplonski-DiMarco LaTorracca-Bogdanowicz-Salvatore-Mauriello doesn't fit. Trust me, I code this stuff every day. You can't make the field big enough, not if you ever want to print it on a standardized form.
Knock this shit off.
The hyphenated name craze was unsustainable from Day 1. It's feminut claptrap wrapped up in political correctness - keep your last name, and his too! - but don't think too hard about the ridicule headed your child's way.
Because feminists need children like a fish needs a bicycle. Aborted babies don't have names, right?
But a funny thing happened on the way to the clinic. Motherhood, it's primordial. And when push comes to shove, no one wants her kid getting beat up on the playground.
But at the last minute, faced with yet again trying to squeeze her own hyphenated names onto a form, Sasha balked.
Instead, their daughter got just one of mom's last names, hyphenated with her dad's, and two middle names.
The end result: Shannon Bayard Cronin Harris-Taylor.
My database drops those middle names; you get an initial. Pick B or C, it doesn't matter to me. Your Social Security Number is your unique identifier anyway.
I don't really care what name you call yourself by;
you're just a number to me. But if you want your name to look pretty on
the forms, keep it under 29 characters. Truncation, it doesn't discriminate.
Ever wonder why Jon Corzine isn't behind bars yet? Or why the Justice Department doesn't seem particularly interested in getting to the bottom of MF Global's missing $1.6 billion dollars?
Breitbart.com found the answer: Eric Holder used to be MF Global's lawyer.
Documents uncovered by the Government Accountability Institute reveal that the now-defunct MF Global was a client of Attorney General Eric Holder and Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer's former law firm, Covington & Burling.
Records also reveal that MF Global's trustee for the Chapter 11 bankruptcy retained as its general bankruptcy counsel Morrison & Foerester--the very law firm from which Associate Attorney General Tony West came to DOJ.
Can you smell the cronyism yet?
The trustee overseeing MF Global's bankruptcy is former FBI Director Louis Freeh. At Holder's Senate confirmation hearing Freeh served as a character witness for Holder and revealed that Holder had previously worked for Freeh. "As general counsel," Freeh said, "I could have engaged any lawyer in America to represent our bank. I chose Eric."
It's good to have friends!
Wouldn't it be great if Mitt Romney started asking questions about Eric Holder's committment to prosecution of financial fraud? Let's see Obama claim Executive Privilege over this fiasco!
Energy-saving compact fluorescent light bulbs popular among environmentalists are harmful to skin, researchers at a New York university have found.
Phosphor coatings on the bulbs wear off, the study from Stony Brook University on Long Island reported in the study published by in the journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology.
The scientists, led by Miriam Rafailovich, collected CFL bulbs from across Long Island to measure the amount of UV the bulbs gave off. They were alarmed at how many of the bulbs' phosphor coatings were lacking, causing them to leak significant levels of UVC and UVA.
"Our study revealed that the response of healthy skin cells to UV emitted from CFL bulbs is consistent with damage from ultraviolet radiation," said Rafailovich. (Read More)
Crappy light and death in every bulb! The econuts always say that humans are a cancer on their precious planet. Now they've engineered a way to give us cancer so we'll die for Gaia. They even arranged it so we pay extra for the privilege.
Not me though. I stocked up on real, honest-to-goodness, incandescent light bulbs. Boxes and boxes of 'em are stacked neatly in my basement. And no, I really don't care what Mother Gaia thinks about that.
Separation of powers? Nah, we don't have that. Chris Christie and the NJ state legislature approved sweeping pension and health benefit reforms. It meant that for the first time all public employees had to contribute toward the cost of their benefit plans.
Superior Court Judge Paul DePascale challenged the state in court, saying the benefit payments were an "unconstitutional" reduction in his state salary.
Because God Forbid a judge should take a cut in pay. Or contribute toward his gold-plated benefits package. At $175,000 per year they need every dime they can squirrel away.
To almost no one's surprise, another judge agreed with him.
And then the State Supreme Court said they'd rule next, bypassing the Appellate Division, since the matter was so pressing.
Yeah, every other state employee ponied up, but judges are special.
And today the Grand Poobahs of the NJ State Supreme Court decreed that yes indeed they are quite special. So special that they are exempt from a law which explicitly requires "all state employees" to make a contribution toward their health and pension benefits.
The court said making judges contribute more for their benefits constitutes a pay cut, and that the state constitution forbids the other branches from reducing judges' salaries to make sure they are not punished for making unpopular decisions.
What if we reduce their benefits? Perhaps to Death Panel HMO and Madoff Retirement Services? Because these elitist hacks need a reality check. A judge challenges the legislature and the governor and, here's a shocker, other judges say he's in the right. Ignore our elected representatives. Ignore our elected governor. One judge washes the back of the others, and they all fall in line.
Unelected judges, decreeing special favors for themselves. That's the America I love. Uh, huh.
The inmates are running the asylum! And the NJ State Supreme Court has beclowned itself yet again.
Fortunately a bipartisan move is afoot to change the State Constitution.
They are seeking a measure that would give them the authority to amend judicial salaries for taking contributions from justices' and certain judges' salaries for employee benefits. The Constitution, written in 1947, prohibits the salaries of Superior Court judges and Supreme Court justices from being "diminished" while they are on the bench.
I'd go one better. Amend the constitution to remove judges from the state pension and health benefit systems altogether. Let the ungrateful assholes buy their medical insurance and retirement plans on the open market just like the majority of us taxpayers are forced to do by Obamacare. We won't reduce their precious salaries by even one dollar; they'll just have to write a big fat check every month or risk financial ruin if they get sick.
These turkeys believe the State Constitution makes them special. How about we show them just how special we think they are.
Why I didn't learn this earlier is unclear.
It's 5 o'clock somewhere.
You know what to do.
Mitt Romney nailed it, the context is worse than the quote.
Well, just read the whole speech. I found the speech even more disconcerting than just that particular line. The context is worse than the quote. The context, He says, you know, you think you've been successful because you're smart, but he says a lot of people are smart. You think you've been successful because you work hard, a lot of people work hard.
This is an ideology which says hey, we're all the same here, we ought to take from all and give to one another and that achievement, individual initiative and risk-taking and success are not to be rewarded as they have in the past.
Reading that, something hit me. Everybody gets a trophy. That's the world Obama lives in. And it's the world our children are being brought up into. No matter what you do, you're still a "winner". There are no losers.
But that's not the world Mitt Romney lives in.
It's a very strange and in some respects foreign to the American experience type of philosophy. We have always been a nation that has celebrated success of various kinds. The kid that gets the honor roll, the individual worker that gets a promotion, the person that gets a better job. And in fact, the person that builds a business.
We were that nation. Once. But our educational system is doing its darndest to transform us away from celebrating achievement. Everybody gets a trophy. It's really the most insidious ideology ever promulgated upon our youth. Why work hard when the outcome is the same? Achievement is for saps! At the end of the day we tell every kid he's a winner anyway. Last place is just as good as first so what's the point in trying?
Under that mindset the notion of "you didn't build that" makes perfect sense. How could you have accomplished more when by definition everyone's outcome must be the same? Obviously you stood on the shoulders of the others, keeping them down in order to build yourself up. You cheated.
It's not Class Envy in the traditional Marxist sense, it's more a belief that if you can do it, everyone ought to be able to do it. People are interchangeable, no one is better than anyone else, because it's the government which guarantees that we all will succeed.
They call it "fairness." It takes a village to build a business. And of course a government to tax and regulate the villagers into submission.
Except, to butcher a phrase, we have met the government and it is us.
By the way, if you have a business and you started it, you did build it. And you deserve credit for that. It was not built for you by government. And by the way, we pay for government. Government doesn't come free. The people who begin enterprises, the people who work in enterprises, they're the ones paying for government.
Demonizing success, that's not the America Mitt Romney believes in.
So his whole philosophy is an upside-down philosophy that does not comport with the American experience. And if we want to get people working again--and that's my priority--if we want to get people working again, we have to celebrate success and achievement and not demonize it and denigrate the people who have worked hard, who are smart, who have made the kinds of investments to build a brighter future.
Celebrate success! Or depend on government. The choice this November is pretty
Frank Recanati "works" seven part-time government jobs. In six different towns. He collects a salary, health benefits, accumulates sick and vacation time, and accrues a state pension from each one. How does he do it?
He calls out sick. A lot.
A town employee who called in sick to his 25-hour-a-week job in West New York a total of 33 times in 2010 and 2011 worked a majority of those days at five other New Jersey towns where he is also employed part-time, public records show.
Frank Recanati, 47, of River Edge, has served as West New York's Plumbing Sub-code Official and Inspector since Aug. 14, 1995.
He also works as the plumbing sub-code official in Guttenberg in Hudson County, and Carlstadt, East Rutherford, Wallington and Hasbrouck Heights in Bergen County. He is also the Construction Official in Carlstadt.
From his 7 public jobs Mr. Recanati earned a total salary of $131,455 last year. He must have slowed down a little, because he collected $147,916 in 2010.
"Only in New Jersey ... I mean who has seven jobs?" Jerry Cantrell, president of NJ Taxpayers Alliance, said when told about Recanati's record over the past couple of years of calling in sick to one job, but working elsewhere.
"That's just ridiculous. This is a clear abuse of the public trust. I think the taxpayers should be appropriately outraged to hear this kind of abuse."
Outraged? I guess. The sad truth is there are hundreds (maybe thousands) of Frank Recanatis all over New Jersey. Double-dipping is a time-honored tradition in a state with 566 distinct municipalities, 603 school districts, 21 counties, and probably more than a million boards, commissions, agencies, councils, departments, authorities, panels, and committees. Duplication of effort is accomplished every day. In triplicate.
Frank Recanati isn't the problem. The system which enables Frank Recanati is the problem. We have too much government. Absent any serious attempt to slash, cut, eradicate, and downsize our bureaucratic behemoth any hand wringing over double dipping is a waste of time.
Also linked by Doug Ross. Thanks!
Len Luciano vowed to look out for the beleaguered taxpayers of Essex County.
"Over the next three years I plan to fulfill my campaign promises of being a fiscal watchdog for the taxpayers of Essex County."
Sure thing Lenny. I guess you were too tired to get your ass off the couch in your mom's basement when Joe DiVincenzo inked another sweetheart deal with George Norcross?
The Essex County freeholder board last week voted 7-0 to stay the course with its broker, Conner Strong & Buckelew. The board, minus freeholders Donald Payne Jr. and Leonard Luciano, approved a three-year $675,000 contract with the Marlton firm.
The contract is for public employee health benefits, and if the State Comptroller's figures are correct, Essex County could have saved more than $10 million dollars by opting for the State's health benefits plan.
Boxer's two-year audit found Essex could have saved $9.5 million if it had opted for the state health plan in 2009-10. Also, under the state plan, the county would not have incurred $750,000 in insurance broker fees during that period.
But buying health benefits from the state doesn't put dime one into George Norcross's pocket.
Conner Strong & Buckelew is headed by George E. Norcross, perhaps the most prominent name in the state's insurance business. Norcross is also a southern New Jersey Democratic power broker who is an ally of Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo.
Insurance brokers have no financial incentive to select the state health plan, Boxer said in the report. They score hefty commissions when they secure private insurance but receive no money if local governments join the state plan.
Uh Lenny? Could you put on your fiscal watchdog hat, even for a minute? Yeah I realize the Mets are playing really good ball, but c'mon dude, you promised. And this deal stinks.
Face it kids, we was had. Lenny is no more a fiscal watchdog than my cat is Schrodinger's long lost assistant. Joe D runs a tight ship, and he'll brook no opposition from a member of his own party. No matter what Diane Lilli might say.
Diane used to be one of the good guys too, holding the spendthrifts' feet to the
fire. But as soon as
she teamed up with the Prius-envying cappuccino-niks at
Baristanet, it was rah-rah Democrats all the way. "Len is so sweet"
she gushed to me one day. Um, OK... But
Joe Chiusolo wouldn't have missed that meeting. Ten million bucks ain't
chump change. But now it's just another payday for Joe D's cronies.
New Jersey's senile senator is at it again. Every time there's a mass shooting you can count on Frank Lautenberg to jump in front of a TV camera with all manner of anti-gun prevarications; talking points tailor made for him by Brady Campaign zealots.
"If reports are correct and a high-capacity gun magazine was used to commit these awful murders, Senator Lautenberg will absolutely renew his effort to limit the availability of this dangerous firearm attachment."
Knee, meet jerk. Which is what I wrote the last time they trotted Frank out, right after Gabby Giffords was shot by a deranged democrat.
I do realize that back in his pre-cambrian youth, single shot muskets had not yet been invented. So these newfangled "high-capacity" clips are probably downright scary to an emfeebled old man who can't really make a distinction between criminals and law-abiding citizens.
Of course, to a knee-jerk liberal there is no distinction — we're all guilty. Only a government-certified bureaucrat knows what's best. The police will protect us, and have no fear because they will never, ever misuse their weapons or abuse their authority.
Remember kids, when seconds count the police are only minutes away.
And as Doug Ross reminds us, you can't ban evil. The cities with the most restrictive gun-control policies have the highest murder rates and by far the most crime.
Every week in Chicago, criminals kill, maim and wound the guilty and innocent alike. Last month, over a single weekend, 8 were shot to death and more than 40 wounded.
New York City is likewise awash in "illegal" guns as criminals have no problem acquiring them; this July has seen a 28% rise in city shootings since last year.
Here's a fun fact. Chicago is more dangerous than Afghanistan.
The streets of Chicago are officially more dangerous than a war zone: Homicide victims in the Windy City outnumber U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan this year.
While 144 Americans have died in Afghanistan in 2012, a whopping 228 Chicago residents have been killed, and the murder rate is up a staggering 35 percent from last year.
So of course the solution to failed gun-control policies is even more restrictive gun-control? Yeah, that makes sense. Well it does to the jackass on Twitter who felt the need to engage me with blood-libel agitprop:
Facts? He don't need no steenkin' facts!
In the book More Guns, Less Crime, economist John Lott conducted the largest statistical analysis of the impact of firearms on safety ever performed in the United States.
He found that the gun control advocates -- who had always predicted that concealed carry permits would result in the streets running red with blood, shootouts in parking lots, and the like -- were completely and utterly wrong. To his great surprise, he found that the more weapons possessed by the law-abiding, the safer society becomes as a whole.
In fact, history has proven that the reverse is true: disarming a population is frequently the precursor to genocide. It occurred in the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany and Cambodia under the Maoist Pol Pot. Millions paid the ultimate price for giving up their firearms -- and their God-given right to protect themselves.
Or as Robert Heinlein once said, "An armed society is a polite society." You might want to write that down Frank.
And... I'm back. Hope Nadz and Rich (and Myron) kept you folks entertained. From the drive-by's I did through the comments it seems like quite a lively discussion or three broke out in my absence.
Cool. And thanks. I knew those guys wouldn't let me down.
Sophie and I spent two weeks playing golf. Mini-golf, to be exact. It's all she wanted to do.
"Hey Sophie, let's go to the beach today."
"Can we play golf first?"
There was one day, I think it was a Tuesday, we played seven rounds of mini-golf. Dad never embraced cocktail hour quite like he did on that day! Which leaves me to wonder. Why isn't there a kid selling beer at these places? He'd make a killing. Trust me.
In between mini-golf we biked, pretty much everywhere. And out of the blue one day Sophie says to me "Dad, this is the car I want you to buy me when I go off to college" as she points to that little green number you see in the picture to the left.
And so it begins...
Yes, we did eventually get to the beach, and it was delightful. I really needed that vacation. Did I miss anything important? I understand that Obama fellow channeled Fauxcahontas? Yeah, my business, the government built that. Sure. Of course it did. Any schmuck with a PHD in puppetry could do what I do, when Obama is at his side!
Next thing you know he'll be telling welfare recipients they don't have to work anymore. The government will do the work for them. Or something. Dig a hole, fill it in again. The guy with the clipboard has your ObamaVoucher, good for one free meal at the Taco Bell of your choice.
Except for the one down the road in West Caldwell. While I was gone it closed. Bummer. Say what you will, mock me if you must, but I like Taco Bell. Word is they're gonna bulldoze it for a parking lot for the new Shop Rite. Progress.
In the comments, @TheBigHenry told me that this upcoming presidential election was all about the negatives. Romney may be log(1), but Mitt's candidacy should still evaluate greater than the "cons" surrounding Obama's.
This started me wondering: how does Obama stack up against some recent presidents in terms of negatives?
|Kennedy||Johnson||Nixon||Ford||Carter||Reagan||HW Bush||Clinton||W Bush||Obama|
Seems to me that Obama is slightly better than average, equaling Reagan and Ford with only two negatives. And before any of you start pounding me in the comments, I admit there are some gray areas here. First of all, I'm sure many of the Reaganistas will argue that their idol being shot was a positive. I don't really think being lynched, nailed to a cross, or bullet ridden is a plus, but I'm willing to grant it so long as you don't try to convince me that Iran-Contra wasn't a scandal. Anyway, if I reluctantly grant being shot isn't a bad thing, then Reagan ties HW Bush as our best president in my personal memory. Wy should be happy about that. Kennedy and W Bush are the worst. And our current President remains in the "doesn't-quite-suck-as-bad" category.
How Romney will fare, should he be elected, is hard to say. I think he's clean and sober. He might keep his junk locked away. I don't think he's particularly ugly, but there might be some sort of scandal lurking in his future, probably financial if I had to guess. He is pitching pretty hard that he'll cure the economy, but we've heard that lie before. My opinion is that endless war, the 2008 financial meltdown, Medicare Part B, and the impossibility of raising revenue will remain a weight on the budget for more than just four more years, regardless of who wins in November. I guess I'd predict two negatives for Romney, tying him with Obama.
PS: While technically (according to the life-begins-a-month-before-conception people) I was alive when Eisenhower was in office, I don't remember him. Thus I did
not include him above.
In this space, my friend @Nadz posted an interesting commentary entitled Tax The Churches. The ongoing discussions have been quite lively, and I've been following them with great interest. Since I also have some views on the subject, I thought I'd add my two cents to the collection plate.
Recently, Daniel Jenky, the bishop of Peoria, Illinois, did not hesitate to play the persecution card in the dispute with the Obama administration over required health insurance coverage of birth control. Evoking the history of "terrible persecution" of the Church, he said: "Hitler and Stalin would not tolerate any competition with the state in education, social services and health care. Barack Obama — with his radical, pro-abortion and extreme secularist agenda — now seems intent on following a similar path." In an effort to clarify the statement, a diocese spokesperson said, "We certainly have not reached the same level of persecution. However, history teaches us to be cautious once we start down the path of limiting religious liberty." (She did not explain just what the bishop regarded as the Church’s current "level of persecution" by the administration.)
Jenky’s remarks are only a bit more extreme than standard rhetoric from bishops and other conservative Catholics, who now routinely talk of an "attack" or "war" on religious liberty. Are things really this bad? Or are we seeing a perhaps politically motivated "tempest in a holy water fount? To get some perspective, let's take a look at the main rational arguments — as opposed to rhetorical appeals — that the bishops and their supporters put forward.
The argument is based on the right of conscience. It agrees that all employees of a Catholic organization have a right in conscience to practice birth control, but that the organization also has a right in conscience not to pay for (or otherwise facilitate) the practice. The nub of the argument is that an organization’s not offering birth control as part of its health insurance does not take away an employee’s right to birth control; it would at most make it a bit more difficult to obtain. By contrast, the administration’s requirement that the organization offer birth control coverage does eliminate, in this case, its right not to support the practice.
This argument makes a valid point, but omits the rights of a third party: the government, which has a right (and duty) to set up rules for the common good of the nation. In some cases, this right takes precedence over the rights of conscience. The government has the right, for example, to force people to serve in wars they think are unjust or pay taxes to support activities like birth control that they think are immoral. Organized religions have, in our system, greater rights to conscientious exemption than individuals, but there is no absolute immunity that keeps a religion’s claim of conscience from being trumped by the government’s right to "provide for the general welfare." Once we take account of the government’s right, we see that this argument does nothing to show that Catholic organizations' rights outweigh the rights of the government in this case.
This argument correctly points out that the government — in the sense of the executive branch — should not be the sole judge of what rights of religious freedom a particular religiously affiliated organization may have. But it is equally wrong to claim, as the argument suggests, that the Church itself should be the ultimate arbiter of its own claims. Nor does it make sense to claim that every effort of the government to restrict religious rights should be rejected on the grounds that it is a step toward the total undermining of religion. One could just as well argue that every restriction on individual liberty is a step toward totalitarianism.
This argument expresses the main case made by Catholic bishops and their supporters against the Obama administration’s birth control mandate. They correctly assert two basic truths: that religious people and institutions have rights to act according to the dictates of conscience, and that there are limits on the government’s right to interfere with those rights. But they ignore the complex question of how to balance the right of government to do its job of promoting the general welfare against the right of religious believers to be true to their consciences. They fail to show that, in this case, the government is wrong. At best, the arguments show that there is a need to ask the courts to resolve these complex questions.
There may be a cogent case against the government’s position. But there is no slam-dunk appeal to outrageous violations of the First Amendment, such as genuine instances of persecution or a war on religion would provide. Rather, there are arguments based on complex (and contestable) legal considerations — for example, interpretations of the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act — turning on the question of what sort of burden of proof the government has to show that its requirement is necessary to achieve its legitimate goal. The bishops may have a viable legal case against the Obama administration. But they have no case for a call to the barricades.
My own state of Pennsylvania passed a law a short time ago which requires people to show government-issued photo IDs to vote. The question is: why?
Before we can answer that question, we need to define exactly what we're talking about. "Voter fraud" is individuals casting ballots knowing they are not elegible to vote, in an attempt to defraud the election system. Note that there are a great many things that tend to get lumped into the term "voter fraud" which are really not the same thing: voting machines sometimes have technical glitches and don't record votes properly; voters and election officials, being human, sometimes make honest mistakes; sometimes outside groups spread disinformation about polling places and hours; incidents of thuggery and intimidation are not unheard of. These are all election administration problems to be sure, but conflating them as "voter fraud" makes it appear that real fraud is much more common than is actually the case.
The number of cases of outright voter fraud in Pennsylvania is vanishingly small. More people in the state are likely to be killed by lightning this year than would be charged with such a crime.
So why did the Legislature go to all the trouble, and the Governor sign the law? Such laws are only potentially worthwhile if they clearly prevent more problems than they create. These photo-ID laws only prevent individuals from impersonating other voters at the polls. If policymakers distinguished real voter fraud from the more common election irregularities which are wrongly labeled as voter fraud, it would become apparent that the limited benefits of laws like photo ID requirements are simply not worth the cost. They are more likely to disenfranchise a relatively large number of elegible voters than to bar access to the ballot box for the rare few. Just today the Brennan Center released a study showing that nearly 500,000 eligible voters in those states without IDs do not have access to a vehicle and live more than 10 miles from the nearest state ID-issuing office. It's often said that it's better for ten guilty people to go free than for one innocent person to go to jail. Shouldn't the same logic apply here?
Of course, in politics, it's often logic be dammed. Royal Masset, the former political director for the Republican Party of Texas, concisely tied all of these strands together in a 2007 Houston Chronicle article concerning a highly controversial battle over photo identification legislation in Texas. Masset connected the inflated furor over voter fraud to photo identification laws and their expected impact on legitimate voters:
We're now in week two of the blackout of Viacom channels on DirecTV. Thank goodness The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are on hiatus; I'm also relieved that one kid is away at camp for the summer and the other is far too old for Nickelodeon and Dora The Explorer. But a few choice words from the DirecTV folks got me thinking about the cable TV racket.
Whoa, stop the presses!
Broadcast TV content distributors like cable companies such as Comcast or Verizon FIOS, and satellite TV outfits like DirectTV and Dish make their money off of selling bundles of dozens to hundreds of channels to their subscribers. (It would be an interesting bit of research to try to figure out where this "in order to get A you also have to buy B" racket started. Off the cuff, the earliest such instance I can remember is when I was six or so and the family went car shopping: in order to get air conditioning, Dad had to "step up" to the next more luxurious (and expensive) model, with a bunch of other accessories he didn't want.) My current sat TV package has 225 channels, but I remember we likewise had to step up to this package in order to get a dozen or so specific cable channels the family really wanted. Throw in the local broadcast channels and some occasional special programming, and the total number we watch most frequently won't come to more than a couple of dozen channels in all. Yet every month I have to pay $50 or so for things like:
- 21 different sports channels
- 17 different news channels
- 25 "family" channels (including 6 different Disney channels)
I could go on and on. And I'd bet that a good share of my monthly $50 goes towards these things "I don't watch or care about".
That's why I am so delighted to see DirecTV taking the principled position that bundling TV content is "unreasonable". Finally, someone in the entertainment industry is going to get out in front of a trend towards decollectivization, where the content owners and distributors decide what and when you can and can't watch. If the other content distributors don't follow their lead, then a-la-carte and on-demand services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu will wind up eating their lunch.
Six times Chris Christie has vetoed public funding for Planned Parenthood. Is that the end? Hardly. Vetoes mean nothing to Bob Menendez and Frank Lautenberg. They earmarked $3.1 million to be delivered to the charnel houses of Abortion, Inc. right here in New Jersey.
The Killing Fields cannot wallow in the blood of innocents without our tax dollars. Democrats insist on it. Cop killers can't be put to death, but inconvenient babies are expendable, and the taxpayer should spare no expense to ensure that women who choose to murder their unborn children can do so with impunity.
I suppose Nadz will say it saves us money. $3.1 million now, or hundreds of millions later for food, education, clothing, shelter, all that stuff that makes having a child so gosh-darned expensive. Heck, if we kill every small child just think of how much money there'll be for Obamacare and all that other Social Justice bullshit.
Maybe somebody could ask the Shakers how that no reproduction thing works
out. You know, before we go and cost-cut ourselves into extinction.
In his 1912 book, Hilaire Belloc makes the case for the natural instability of pure capitalism. He argues attempts to reform capitalism lead to an economy where state regulation has emasculated capitalism, removing its essential freedom. This endpoint he calls "The Servile State". Force of law, as opposed to social custom or natural economic necessity, dictates certain people work for others like slaves. In Belloc's words, "...If we do not restore the Institution of Property we cannot escape restoring the Institution of Slavery; there is no third course."
Capitalism proponents, many of whom congregate in this blog, often argue that "small" insults of the marketplace, even when writ large, are a necessary evil worth tolerating for the greater good deriving from general economic prosperity. Socialism proponents, often caricatured in this blog, argue that no amount of trickle down prosperity can justify the unjust cruelty and exploitation of the marketplace. Our political discourse has polarized along this axis for at least a century. Proponents on either side are sure if they just "got their way" things would be better, but history proves both systems are unstable. In fact, I've previously quoted the words of the great historian Will Durant who concludes that "the concentration of wealth is natural and inevitable, and is periodically alleviated by violent or peaceable partial redistribution. In this view all economic history is the slow heartbeat of the social organism, a vast systole and diastole of concentrating wealth and compulsive redistribution."
That such historic patterns exist is indisputably known. How to use this knowledge to avoid repeating their sad excesses is subject to lively argument here and elsewhere.Belloc, along with the consummate Catholic apologist G.K. Chesterton were proponents of a stabilizing solution called "Distributism". Based upon the traditional principles of Catholic social teaching, Distributism is a third-way economic philosophy in opposition to modern, anti-traditional forces found in both socialism and capitalism. In Distributism property ownership is a fundamental right. The means of production should be spread to as many people as possible. The tools to make a living should not be centralized under the control of the state, nor should they be controlled by a wealthy elite. G.K. Chesterton said it this way: "The problem with capitalism is not too many capitalists, but not enough capitalists". In an ideal distributist world, everybody has the basics to support themselves as a small-scale capitalist, but no monopoly capitalism can emerge. Distributists argue that in such a world a just social order develops, with our spiritual, intellectual, and family life taking proper precedence over economic activity.
Some of the things President Obama says may seem distributist. For example, his "I want an America where everyone gets a fair shot" talking point has a mild distributist feel. But Obama is not a distributist; he's a Whig, as I've previously argued. The distributist view is in direct opposition to the theory of Whig history that interprets the past as an inevitable progression toward better things, particularly centrally, scientifically, bureaucratically organized "better" things. Say, for example, CFL light bulbs. This is not to say there's also some appreciation of liberalism in distributist thinking, at least in the abstract. Distributists are well aware of liberalism's limitations. Chesterton once stated "As much as I ever did, more than I ever did, I believe in Liberalism. But there was a rosy time of innocence when I believed in Liberals." Maybe Chesterton was thinking about his long time "friendly enemy", George Bernard Shaw.
Personally, the theory of Distributism resonates well with my own economic philosophy. Most of my career I've been an independent contractor and entrepreneur. I've built small businesses from the limited "means of production" left available to me. Difficulties I've faced -- those few that weren't caused by my own stupidity or laziness -- typically stem from giant monopoly Captialists cutting off the means of production from little guys like me, or to "well meaning" yet onerous regulations by the state intended to reign in the excesses of those giant monopoly Capitalists. I've been screwed rather equally by the right and the left.
If you want a concrete example, take Internet access. Almost 20 years ago I started an Internet business. Back then, net access was wide open. You didn't need permission to "host" or "resell". Anybody could lease a link to somebody that had net; create a business; make money. It wasn't trivially "easy", but the means of production (computers, software, and net access) were pretty much available to everybody equally. There were some big data centers, and some small ones, but anybody could homestead some Internet acreage, hitch up a mule, and plant as much corn as they pleased. All that separated someone from success was hard work and perseverance. Nowadays, things are becoming quite different. A small number of giant monopoly providers control many aspects of the network. Fears developed that these big monopolies create a non-neutral network. Regulations appear to reign in these excesses and abuses. A consequence of these regulations is that there now is a definition of a "supplier" and a "consumer". Most of us are consumers now. We are protected from the oligopoly of suppliers, but as consumers we are discouraged from becoming a supplier ourselves. The Internet business I created in 1993 could never be created today because of these trends.
Or so we're told. I mean, the Christers hate homosexuals, won't let 'em get hitched and all. And them Catholics, they're anti-woman, keepin' 'em all barefoot and preggers and stuff by denyin' access to Holy Birth Control.
Gator Doug took a minute to contrast Christians vs Muslims, on account of this week's perpetually aggrieved complainer who's whining about folks exercising their God-given First Amendment rights to free speech. Feller wants to "Stop the Hate". Well, OK then. Try this on for size.
This story displays the difference between radical Christians, and radical Muslims. The group demonstrating in front of the mosque are what I might call radical Christians. They, at least in my view, take their religion too far. But, too far for them is carrying "offensive" signs, or maybe burning a Koran. The man who tried to kill them is what I might call a radical Muslim. He, and many other Muslims take their religion too far too. But, instead of carrying "offensive" signs, they KILL people, for simply expressing their opinions. See the difference?
There are other examples, examples the Left refuses to acknowledge. Take how Fundamentalist Christians treat Homosexuality for example. Yes, they say Homosexuals are going to Hell, or that Homosexuality is sinful, and tend to oppose Gay marriage. The Left rails against these Christians. The Left labels them bigots, backwards, hateful, etc. Now, consider how homosexuals are treated under Sharia (Muslim) Law. They are executed! Yes, executed, as in beheaded, hanged, stoned, as in DEAD! See the difference?
How about drinking? Christians discourage drinking to excess, they see it as sinful. But, they pray for those who over indulge. Under Sharia Law, drinking is grounds for lashing, yes, brutal public whippings. Again, can you spot the difference?
Adultery? Christians strongly condemn adultery, with words. Under Sharia Law, adulterers are often executed, maybe they are shot, maybe stoned to death, or maybe they get off "light" by receiving dozens of lashes. And understand that while Christians define adultery as cheating on your spouse, Sharia Law defines it as, well, a woman talking to a man in many instances. Can you spot the difference?
I could go on about the differences between "radical" Christians, and radical Muslims and how they treat gamblers, hint, Christians do not beat gamblers, teens who have sex, hint, Christian nations do not hang 16-year-old girls who have sex from cranes like Iran has been known to do. Christians also do not forbid women from driving, or dressing as they choose, nor do they forbid girls from being educated. Sharia Law, which again, is MUSLIM LAW, does those horrid things. One last time, can you spot the difference?
I understand that many Liberals cannot, or to be more precise will not note the differences. They are too obsessed with their perverse definition of "equality" and moral relativism. They simple refuse to recognize that some cultures are superior to others. They will, however, gladly denounce Christians for opposing Gay marriage. Yet, try to find any Liberal of note denouncing the executions of Gay people, or those even suspected of being Gay in some Muslim nations?
Yes, certainly Liberals will denounce the so-called "war on women" they claim, falsely, I might add, that Republicans are engaged in here in America. Yet, again, try to find the Liberal outrage over how women are treated under Sharia Law. Yes, the Left will gladly denounce the evils of Western Culture, but do they denounce Sharia Law? Cue the crickets chirping.
Golly gee Doug, you sure don't mince no words! Good for you. The powers that be in this here country are too busy pussyfootin' around the Mohammedans to notice what kind of fellers they really are. Take 'em seriously, I say. If they tell ya their a-fixin' to kill your infidel ass, then you sure as shootin' ought to be ready for 'em.
And when they say "stop the hate", tell 'em "You first Omar".
I hadn't realized that Mitt Romney, who wishes to become our next president, is all for what they call judicial extremism. We're all aware that the current Supreme Court, under the leadership of Chief Justice John Roberts, could be the most extremely conservative court ever. So clearly, in Chief Justice Roberts, the candidate had everything he could have wished for. Yet some days after Justice Roberts cast one vote he disapproved of - the vote that saved the Affordable Care Act - Romney declared that Justice Roberts is no longer conservative enough.
"No longer conservative enough" says Mitt about the man who led the court to strike down hard-won clean election laws; made it more difficult for women to sue for equal pay; squashed a number of class action suits, and consistently favored large corporations over the individual citizen.
Now, the polls show that the issue on which President Obama has the clearest lead is the makeup of the Supreme Court. That seems so clear it makes me wonder how smart is Mitt Romney coming out against the Chief Justice? Then again, it could be said that taking this seemingly unpopular position is a measure of how committed Mitt is to his philosophic convictions. Seriously? If there is anything we've learned about this man over the endless months of his candidacy it is that he changes his convictions as often as his shirt. Okay, so we've let him get away with it so far. But, when he is already polling so low on the issue, to change his mind about the man who was for so long his idea of what a Chief Justice should be - I mean, how dumb is that?
Actually, much of Romney's problem is caused by the GOP leadership. On a couple levels, the weird rift between Romney and the rest of the party makes sense. Congressional leaders have different imperatives. They want to trip up Democrats, they want to win majorities, and they're under enormous pressure to build a legislative record that shows bipartisan opposition to key pieces of "Obamacare". From that arguably myopic perspective running with the tax attack makes some sense. But, of course, attacking the mandate as a tax is exactly what movement conservatives have done. It would've made sense to defer to the Romney camp's original view that the mandate is a penalty - not a tax - that the Court should have struck down.
Unfortunately for Romney, the GOP cheerleaders like the Wall Street Journal editorial board aren't in the business of making sense, and they hammered their candidate-presumptive for not getting with the GOP program. Predictably, Mr Romney tucked in his tail and has awkwardly acquiesced. And, predictably, Mr Romney is now getting grief for having claimed he didn't hike taxes in Massachusetts. On the campaign trail, predictably, Obama is sticking it to Mr Romney for spineless flip-floppery.
And when they examine the corpse of the Romney campaign in November, the first question that will be asked is, "Was he pushed or did he fall?"
Once upon a time the government had a vast scrap yard in the middle of a desert.
Congress said, "Someone may steal from it at night."
So they created a night watchman position and hired a person for the job.
Then Congress said, "How does the watchman do his job without instruction?"
So they created a planning department and hired two people, one person to write the instructions, and one person to do time studies.
Then Congress said, "How will we know the night watchman is doing the tasks correctly?"
So they created a Quality Control department and hired two people. One was to do the studies and one was to write the reports.
Then Congress said, "How are these people going to get paid?"
So they created two positions, a time keeper and a payroll officer, then hired two people.
Then Congress said, "Who will be accountable for all of these people?"
So they created an administrative section and hired three people, an Administrative Officer, an Assistant Administrative Officer, and a Legal Secretary.
Then Congress said, "We have had this command in operation for one year and we are $918,000 over budget, we must cut back."
So they laid off the night watchman.
NOW, slowly, let it sink in.
Quietly, we go like sheep to slaughter. Does anybody remember the reason given for the establishment of the Department of Energy during the Carter administration?
Didn't think so!
Bottom line is, we've spent several hundred billion dollars in support of an agency, the reason for which very few people who read this can remember!
It was very simple... and at the time, everybody thought it very appropriate.
The Department of Energy was instituted on 8/4/1977, to lessen our dependence on foreign oil.
Hey, pretty efficient, huh???
And now it's 2012 -- 35 years later -- and the budget for this "necessary" department is at $24.2 billion a year. It has 16,000 federal employees and approximately 100,000 contract employees; and look at the job it has done!
(This is where you slap your forehead and say, "what were they thinking?") 34 years ago 30% of our oil consumption was foreign imports. Today 70% of our oil consumption is foreign imports.
Ah, yes -- good old Federal bureaucracy.
Now, we have turned over the banking system, health care, and the auto industry to the same government?
Hello!! Anybody Home?
Signed...The Night Watchman
It isn't your imagination: Political polarization has risen sharply in recent years. The Pew Research Center confirmed it in a recent poll.
Interestingly, Pew's survey shows no similar rise in polarization along racial gender, or religious lines — only political affiliation. What seems to have happened is not a change in value systems but a sorting of those value systems into more ideologically cohesive political parties. Conservatives have become Republicans; liberals have become Democrats. It's not just self-identified partisans. Poll Watch notes that it's happening to Independents as well: "Independents who say they lean — but are not committed to — either party have grown further apart from each other, particularly in their views on the role and effectiveness of government."
This process — not any decline in "civility" or whatever — explains the passing of the supposed Golden Age of Bipartisanship. Cooperation across party lines used to be more possible because there were regional idiosyncrasies in the U.S., conservative Democrats in the South and liberal Republicans in the Northeast. Those idiosyncrasies are being ironed out and the parties are becoming more internally homogenous. What's more, the process appears to be inexorable and irreversible. Polarization is the new normal.
This is well-understood by political types and even, I think, by the Average Joe and Jane. There's just a lot more fighting now, a lot more heated tempers, petty sniping and point-scoring, hacks on TV yelling at each other. Americans are also sorting geographically, so personal exposure to other points of view is declining. Politics is becoming one of those things that you don't mention in mixed company lest feelings get bruised.
What is much, much less well-understood is that the process of polarization is not symmetrical. The parties have not become equally ideologically homogenous or moved equally far toward their extremes. They do not behave in the same way or share the same attitude toward established social and political norms. Republicans have moved farther right than Democrats have left. More than 70 percent of Republicans in the electorate identify themselves as conservative or very conservative, while only 40 percent of rank-and-file Democrats call themselves liberal or very liberal. It is far easier for congressional Republicans to forge and maintain a united front than it is for Democrats.
In April, longtime scholar of American governance Norman Ornstein, about the farthest thing from a leftie firebrand one can imagine, wrote an op-ed stating flatly, "Republicans are the problem."
The U.S. cannot address its political challenges — and they are many
— until its pundits, public, and politicians understand the shape of
the situation we're in. Asymmetrical polarization is the defining feature of
American political life. As George Will might say, "deal with it." The sides
are drifting farther and farther apart, one far out into the choppy waters of
reactionary lunacy. Those attempting to find a place between them are
increasingly, well, at sea.
Is there anybody that still thinks pennies are a good idea?
A cup of coffee at a nearby WaWa is a buck and fourty-six cents. To avoid walking out with four useless disks of copper, I pay them with a credit card, shafting the WaWa corporation with a transaction fee of several cents and profiting a frequent flier mile. I have a hypothesis that the WaWa corporation is a money laundering operation for the mob, their stores hand out so much unnecessary coinage.
If anybody needs evidence that our government is incapable of cutting useless expenditures, they need look no further than the coin mints. Pennies and nickels cost about twice their face value to make, yet congress has repeatedly sidelined legislation that would reform currency.
Before I go on, I'd like to know how many of your right-wing extremist readers of the WyBlog are with me on this? Are any of you conservatives out there clinging to your guns, religion, and pennies? I'd like to know what possible argument you could have against rounding prices the nearest nickel, at least. Do you all have old houses with screw-plug fuses replaced with pennies? Too cheap to play nickel-ante poker? Fans of Abraham Lincoln? Does drill baby drill extend to dig baby dig for copper and zinc?
If conservatives could say yes to anything, maybe they could assent to eliminating costly pennies. Then again, I expect I'll soon lose any bi-partisan support should I suggest eliminating nickels, dimes, quarters, and paper money as well. Nevertheless I say: get rid of it all. Physical currency is increasingly expensive to manufacture as more and more "high tech" features are needed to discourage counterfeiting. Maybe North Korea prints more US hundred dollar bills than the US Treasury. And who among us hasn't wasted precious minutes of our lives waiting on line behind some old biddy as her palsied hands tediously extract penny after penny from her coin purse.
Please calm down. Before you all freak out and tell me why you love the Benjamins -- why paper money is the salt of the financial earth -- and that I'm a lunatic for suggesting we eliminate it, please give me a chance to explain. To begin with, I am not suggesting we eliminate cash. Cash is fundamental to commerce. In fact, I think the more we all use cash for transactions, the more fault tolerant our economy becomes. Nor am I suggesting a gold standard or auditing the Fed. Please try to pay attention.
What I'm suggesting is that the government stop minting physical currency; the government should promote the use of electronic cash instead. Traditionally minted paper and metal currency needs to go the way of wampum and buffalo hides. The direct benefit will be billions saved in minting costs and lower currency friction. Freed from the difficulties associated with credit cards, affordable "micropayments" in electronic commerce can become possible.
When I say electronic cash, or ecash, I'm not talking about credit cards, debit cards, cell phone payments, EZPass, or any scheme where there is no value intrinsic to the medium of exchange. These things are not ecash. There's no value inside a credit card. A credit card merely stands as thin proof that you might someday pay for the good or service rendered with "real" money. Similarly, debit cards don't have value in themselves, but simply provide a convenient means for accessing value stored elsewhere. None of these systems are anonymous. There is a central authority that knows the identities of all the parties involved in every transaction, and makes sure "real" money is ponied up where necessary. None of these systems provide final payment. They are revocable. Sales are not final; buyers can renege on purchases, possibly months later.
What I mean by ecash is a system like Bitcoin. Operating without any central authority, Bitcoin uses peer-to-peer technology to enables near-instant, irrevocable, near-anonymous cash-like payments to anyone. Value is stored as information and any transactions are audited collectively by the network. There is no "central bank" regulating Bitcoin. There is no corporate overlord or government sovereign to provide a magic fiat to make Bitcoin work. Bitcoin works because it's based on mathematics. But Bitcoin is not an academic future possibility; it exists today. Millions of Bitcoins are in circulation. There are markets established for converting between Bitcoin and major world government currencies.
Ecash has many advantages over physical cash. It can't be counterfeited, and it can be transmitted at the speed of light rather than the speed of a Brink's truck. On the other hand, an ecash system like Bitcoin shares some disadvantages of paper currency. If you are careless, ecash can be lost or stolen. Then again, unlike the paper currency stuffed in your mattress, ecash savings can't burn up in a fire (assuming you have your ecoins saved in the cloud or on offsite backup), and modern cryptographic algorithms that protect your coins are stronger than any vault. From the point of view of government and society, a possible disadvantage shared between ecash and paper currency might be the difficulty in taxing ecash. Law enforcement may have difficulty tracking ecash transactions by criminals. Yet these disadvantages are nothing new. Governments have tolerated these problems with cash for millenia. And remember: physical cash is the preferred medium of exchange for bribes to politicians and government officials.
Although the Bitcoin economy exists today and continues to grow, I'm not necessarily suggesting the US government adopt Bitcoin as a replacement for pennies. I merely point at Bitcoin by way of proof that such a system can work. You could trade Bitcoins for products and services right now, assuming you had any coins. But wait! The WyBlog can set you up with free money. Do you want to try ecash first hand? Well then here you go: the first 10 individuals to post a comment here that includes a Bitcoin
payment address will receive one free bitcoin. You heard that right. Free money from the WyBlog. Last I checked, 1.00 BTC was worth about six bucks. Enough for coffee and a breakfast sandwich at WaWa. Keep the change.
On an otherwise slow news day, here's just the thing to beat the heat we've been experiencing lately on the East Coast: from 11 AM to 7 PM today, you can stop by any 7-Eleven store and get a free 7.11 ounce Slurpee! All flavors are included, and there are quite a few to choose from, including standbys like Cherry Coca Cola and Blue Raspberry, to newer concoctions like Dragon Fruit and something called "KZ3 Battle Fuel" (which I am hoping does not taste like slushy kerosene).
The Slurpee is, like many great innovations, the product of happenstance. The invention of slushy drinks is credited to Omar Knedlik, a Dairy Queen owner with a broken soda fountain. According to legend, Mr. Knedlik was forced for a time to sell bottled sodas out of his freezer, where the sodas became cold and slushy. Customers loved the consistency, and Knedlik developed the machine that became the ICEE machine. 7-Eleven bought special licensing rights from ICEE in the 1960's, and as a result today we have free Slurpees.
In an era of man-made climate change, this humble yet cool and satisfying drink may be all that stands between us and heatstrokes still to come.
Yeah, I know, I'm supposed to be taking a break from blogging. But an article from American Thinker caught my eye on Twitter, and so here I am.
Barry's latest Commissar of Equality is one Chai Feldblum, "perhaps the nation's leading LGBT rights activist". Why is that important? Because she's also an advocate for polygamy.
[A]ll of us are harmed, as members of a society seeking a common good, when society fails to acknowledge the wide array of non-marital intimate social structures that we as humans have ingeniously constructed to negotiate and make sense of the world. ... It is precisely because such an interdependent framework helps sustain an individual's sense of self and stability that the state has a moral responsibility to support such frameworks. But why should the state support just marriage partners - and not other intimate partnerships that equally support the development of the self?
There's that "common good" clause again, making mischief by twisting into knots which end at total selfishness. "Development of self?" Whatever helps you "develop" is A-OK? Why yes, that's precisely what Ms. Feldblum is saying.
To have our government define as 'legitimate families' only those households with couples in conjugal relationships does a tremendous disservice to the many other ways in which people actually construct their families, kinship networks, households, and relationships. For example, who among us seriously will argue that the following kinds of households are less socially, economically, and spiritually worthy?
Oh boy. Here we go. Claptrap on steroids! "Blended families", "single-parent households", and the piéce de resistance ...
Committed, loving households in which there is more than one conjugal partner.
Yee-haw! Gay "marriage", the next best thing to Big Love! Why keep things only between Adam and Steve when adding Linda and Eve takes the conjugal relationship to a whole new level? Throw in a sheep and well, when the house is a rockin' don't come a knockin'. If you get my drift.
The decline of the traditional American family is one of the greatest tragedies to emerge from the sexual revolution. Divorce and remarriage entrenched the idea of disposable partnerships — 'til Death or The Court do us part — and left our children feeling abandoned by the very people who are supposed to guide them into adulthood. "Sacrifice" became a dirty word. Because sustaining your sense of self is now nore important than nurturing the next generation.
And so who has stepped in as surrogate parent and instiller of values? The Nanny State, of course. The very folks who can't be bothered to take care of their own children because they're too busy fulfilling their sense of self will nonetheless gladly opine on how you need to be raising yours.
It's madness. And it's only going to get worse. Because who among us could argue
against the spiritual worthiness of any familial permutation which advances the
sense of self? What's 6000 years of Judeo-Christian tradition when compared to
that! So, do it! Do it in the streets! Do it 'til you're satisfied! Judgment?
That's for squares, man.
According to a report by Roll Call, Speaker of the House (and Ray Bolger understudy) John Boehner recently offered this spirited endorsement of the presumptive Republican nominee for President, when a woman in West Virginia asked Boehner if he could "make me love Mitt Romney":
"Solid guy." You know your party hasn't exactly chosen wisely when the most compelling case its leader can make for its candidate is that he's "solid". Sorry, Republicans, you've cast your lot with a humor-challenged guy whose religion probably weirds you out. But he does have lots of money and a great head of hair.
It would seem that times are hard all over, as NPR reported today:
Doherty says his city has run out of money.
Scranton has had financial troubles for a couple of decades — the town has been losing population since the end of World War II. But the budget problems became more serious in recent months as the mayor and the city council fought over how to balance the budget.
There were thirteen Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy filings in 2011, and six so far this year. Noteworthy among this year's indigents are Stockton, California (which would be the largest such filing to date), and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (our state capital). Other cities have gone bankrupt before, largely due to cost overruns on public works projects, or bad investments. But unlike these, Scranton is one of a new breed of failing cities, swamped by routine costs, pension payments, payroll for city employees, a years-long economic slide, and depressed housing tax receipts. For years these problems have been swept under the rug: no one will raise taxes, fixed costs are rising, urban tax bases are shrinking, and state and federal aid have been cut back sharply.
The much-discussed budget apocalypse on the horizon in Washington can only hurt the situation, as local governments depend heavily on trickle-down funds from the Feds and the States. The right wing says it's those darned greedy municipal unions that have gotten us in these messes; the left wing blames hard-line austerity budgets imposed by the right. I say a curse on both your houses, and fiscal finger-pointing doesn't do anything to solve the immediate problems. I don't have a comprehensive solution to the economic woes of government these days, but I do know that cities can't do without police, fire departments, and teachers. Washington's deficit problems are real and growing fast, but are not immediately threatening. Municipal debt may be smaller, but sometimes immediacy counts more than size.
The Supreme Court's decision last week upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act was only the latest landmark moment in a long debate that goes back to the very founding of our nation. I'm not talking about trivia like the scope of the Commerce Clause, or strict constructionists versus more liberal interpreters of the Constitution. The real debate was and is one between Constitutionalists and Confederates.
Well, perhaps a better term for the latter would be Confederationists, just to avoid unnecessary confusion with those unruly Civil War era states down South. But those who favor state's rights, state nullification, and a generally weak federal government appear to favor a system more like the Articles of Conferation than that of the U.S. Constitution.
George Washington once wrote that the weakness of the Articles, which lacked the Constitution's power to tax and spend for the general welfare, almost cost us the Revolutionary War. The founders addressed this by writing a Constitution that empowered Congress to "legislate in all cases for the general interests of the Union." Since then, American leaders have had the power necessary to solve large national problems, including the Great Depression, legal segregation in the 1960s, or inadequate access to health care in the 2010s. Under the Confederation, programs like Social Security, the Civil Rights Act, or the ACA likely would have never stood a chance. When Congress banned whites-only lunch counters, segregationists claimed the ban exceeded the federal government's authority; likewise, that states could simply ignore decisions like Brown vs. Board of Education. Fortunately, they lost, unanimously, in the Supreme Court (another innovation in the Constitution which was missing from the Articles). Even today, secessionists want to take their marbles and go home because the ACA decision didn't go their way.
The ACA decision was not just a victory for President Obama, but for the
much-extolled wisdom of the Founding Fathers in scrapping the unworkable
Articles of Confederation with the the enduring Constitution.
Some politically motivated quasi-religious gored oxes think they deserve a triple-plus-special deal for their religious beliefs. Even though there are an average of 24 churches per town in the USA, religious icons are everywhere, and religious dogma is inextricably intertwined with our society, these greedy zealots pretend there's some sort of War on Religion being waged. Recently, they've outdone themselves in hyperbolic paranoia, claiming their fragile "religious rights" have been significantly injured by laws like the Affordable Care Act. They want special exceptions to this law to protect their religious rights.
Sorry. I don't think so.
Why their request for a "special deal" should be denied was expressed best by Reagan-appointed Antonin Scalia. This conservative justice authored the majority opinion in the 1990 decision Employment Division v. Smith finding that religious liberty is insufficient grounds for being exempt from generally applicable laws. In Smith, the Court established a standard anyone (even a gored ox) can understand. The standard asks simply whether the governmental action is neutral toward religion and whether the action is generally applicable (whether it applied to all relevant activities without exception). As long as a generally applicable law does not single out religious activities for special restrictions, those that argue such a law limits their religious freedom do not have a constitutional remedy. As part of his opinion, Scalia quoted from Reynolds v. USA, a case from 1878 finding that religious duty was not a suitable defense to a criminal indictment. Wysocki calls me a liberal, but on this point of denying religious exceptions to general laws I agree with conservative and devout Catholic justice Scalia.
What's more, it's absurd to accuse the government of taxing religion. As exceptions to general laws go, how about that double-plus-special exemption for churches granted in the IRS code? Is that exemption not the heavenly Father of all special-interest deals? In case you don't know about this loophole, let me explain. Unlike all other charitable organizations and non-profit corps that come under 510(c)(3) regulations (yes, including Universities like RPI, Wy), a church does not need to petition for tax exempt status, nor does it need to open its books to prove ongoing compliance. Nope: no form 1023, no form 990. Churches simply are trusted as tax exempt entities with no requirement to apply, be audited, or publish reports. Don't believe me: look for yourself. I can't think of a bigger special deal and license to free exercise than an a priori presumption of tax free status. God bless you US taxpayer. Do you think a default, unaudited exemption like that might lead to some abuse? What scandals lurk behind that exemption, I wonder. Can you imagine the IRS simply trusting the rest of us to decide if we owed taxes?
My point is this. Although I'm an atheist myself, I do rather believe in belief. Thus, I have no serious beef with modern, mainstream religion. I know that most churches are run on the up-and-up and they do objective good in the community. The corrupt exceptions are, well, regrettable exceptions. I'm cool with much of it. What I'm not cool with is a vocal minority of political activists leveraging the presumed moral authority of religion to achieve political ends. Good arguments tell me that freely available birth control can lower the generally shared burden of health care costs by a significant margin, so there are no fiscal "damages" to Catholics by making birth control available. Catholics won't be "paying for people to have sex". Nobody is forcing Catholic women to use birth control, although a large fraction of good Catholic women certainly choose to do so.
The total cost to everybody is lower when birth control is available freely through insurance. Why should the rest of us pay more so that these partisan zealots can score political
points and possibly win yet another special exception that even their own legal scholars admit they aren't due?
Did you know that Rachel Maddow was a Rhodes Scholar? Supposedly that makes her opinions invincible. Or something. That's what my liberal neighbors told me yesterday after seeing the Romney bumper sticker on our car. The Matriarch of MSNBC is so smart that nobody on the Right is qualified to debate her. Seriously. And since Ms. Maddow is 110% in the tank for Dear Leader, well only a moron would support Mitt Romney.
They tune in every night, they do, to hear from the Oracle Herself the siren
song which edifies and satiates. Socrates could not have matched her prowess.
Because Socrates asks questions, and no one questions Rachel Maddow.
One must listen, and fail not to memorize the holy talking points.
She's a Rhodes Scholar! Or so I'm told.
But not unprecedented. Remember last summer when I took a little vacation and Nadz pinch-hit here at the blog?
Well, he's baaack! And already pining for the salad days of Jimmy Carter. Sorry, Carter 2.0 was the best case scenario, and that ship has sailed.
Anyway, it's time for another Wy-cation from blogging. And to double your fun, joining Nadz this year will be a second liberal friend, Rich Stelt.
Why, you may ask, do I turn my blog over to liberals?
Three reasons. They're both really good friends. They're both really smart dudes. And (this is key) it's good to hear opposing viewpoints once in a while. It helps us to sharpen our game.
"Stupid people surround themselves with smart people. Smart people surround themselves with smart people who disagree with them."
I'd like to think I'm not stupid. I know you guys aren't.
So keep an open mind. And don't freak out.
What could be a better dessert for an Independence Day celebration than a delicious slice of Jimmy Carter Cake!? Made with 5 parts Justice and only one part Liberty, it's the perfect way to sober up after an orgy of truculent US chauvinism and bad beer. I recommend pairing this delicious cake with a cup of shade grown sustainable java.
Let's be clear about something.
Abortion is not "health care". Two lives go in, only one comes out.
Most of the time we call that murder.
Alas, the Obama administration is determined to ensure that every woman has the unfettered ability to cleanse her womb of wayward cells, at any time, for any reason. Or for no reason. Even if those cells happen to bear a striking resemblance to a living, breathing, bouncing baby. It's her right.
And, to guarantee that the extermination of inconvenient children is truly "free" for the asking, starting in 2014 you'll see a surcharge built in to every American's health insurance premium.
One dollar per month. No exceptions. No exemptions.
The Department of Health and Human Services has finalized the policies governing state health care exchanges under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and with it the rules governing abortion coverage under the new law.
Life News reports that "the concern pro-life organizations had about the ObamaCare legislation funding abortions has been confirmed."
Indeed pro-lifers have long known that the health care law, specifically Section 1303, would require enrollees in the health care exchanges to pay a separate monthly surcharge for abortion coverage.
With the final HHS rules set in stone, the surcharge is a dollar.
Everyone will be forced, at gunpoint by the IRS if necessary, to pay for infanticide. A mortal sin, begat of unconscionable tyranny.
Bart Stupak, may you burn in Hell for all eternity. Twice.
Chris Christie reached across the aisle yesterday with the hand of friendship.
To show you my commitment to compromise, I have today conditionally vetoed a bill that would make New Jersey less competitive and have instead turned it into a law that would give middle class New Jerseyans a tax cut.
And I did it today, not with my own proposal from January, but based upon a compromise plan presented by Senate Democrats. One supported by Steve Sweeney and Jeff Van Drew. One campaigned for by Loretta Weinberg. Imagine that—a tax cut plan endorsed by Sweeney, Van Drew, Weinberg and me?
Let's not let a moment that comes with the frequency of Halley's Comet pass us by. A bipartisan tax cut plan is on all of your desks right now. Let's show our state we can work together and finish the job before we leave for this holiday weekend.
New Jersey Democrats thumbed their noses at him.
"Everyone understands they locked us out of the Senate chamber so no quorum can be recorded and thus, we cannot receive the governor's cv (conditional veto) of the tax bill, right?" Adam Bauer, a spokesman for Senate Republicans, complained in an e-mail message.
How childish can you get?
And even though it was originally their plan, suddenly the Democrats are singing a different tune.
Speaking in Trenton after a special joint session of the legislature called by Gov. Chris Christie, Assembly Democrats said they could not support the governor's proposed tax cut until state revenues met the governor's generous expectations.
Oh, did they mean the state revenue projections which they themselves relied upon to craft the budget Christie just signed? Those "generous expectations?" Because they sure were good enough when the Dems tried to shovel money out the door at Abortion Inc. And they were good enough to lard up the budget bill with hundreds of millions in "Christmas Tree" line items for all the usual liberal suspects.
But tax cuts? Nah, we don't need no stinkin' tax cuts. That's crazy talk! Somewhere there's gotta be a double-dipping public employee unionista who wants a boat check and no Democrat ever said "no" to that.
Priorities. The Democrats talk a good game. Then they fail to
deliver. Every. Single. Time.
I've always believed in a pretty free-wheeling comment policy. I give most folks wide latitude because I enjoy a good debate as much as the next guy.
Unfortunately recent events necessitate a re-iteration of some basic rules of decorum.
Commenting here is a privilege, not a right. You can have all the "free speech" you want … at your own blog. But when you're here, it's my way or the highway.
No trolling. No personal attacks. No flame wars. Keep the discussion on topic. There are plenty of respectable adjectives in the dictionary, try to minimize the vulgarity. And I absolutely will not tolerate repeated flogging of the same tired old dead horse. Make your point, then move on. Pedantry is tedious, and it pisses me off.
In short, don't be a jerk.
I reserve the right to delete any comment. I will always delete comments that discuss deletions. If you have a problem with that, email me. Maybe we can work something out. Then again, maybe we can't.
Sometimes your comments are held for moderation. That's up to Disqus, based on an arcane algorithm of their choosing. I check the moderation queue at least once a day. So be patient. Sometimes your comment is flagged as spam. Again, that's something over which I have no control. I check the spam folder when I remember to, you can always email me to move that process along.
If these simple rules don't work for you, it's really no skin off my nose.
There are approximately 800 quadrillion blogs on the Intertubes. I'm sure
you can find one that suits your fancy. Don't let the door hit you in the
ass on the way out.
He works for CNN.
has a point too.
Folks in NYC are a little upset about Nurse Bloomberg's upcoming ban on Big Gulps. They're organizing petition drives, tweeting their displeasure to #sodaban, and effectively exercising their right to free speech.
Mayor Mike doesn't like that. And he's not above throwing his weight around to shut down any opposition. Buried at the botton of a NY Times story on the anti-soda-ban movement is this:
The beverage association also learned an early lesson about Mr. Bloomberg's overwhelming influence around the city. Last year, the group retained SKD Knickerbocker, an influential consulting firm that produced advertisements for Mr. Bloomberg's mayoral campaigns, to advise it on political strategy in New York.
When a Knickerbocker spokesman, speaking for the beverage industry, denounced the mayor's plan last month, Mr. Bloomberg's camp was taken aback, according to several people with direct knowledge of the situation.
Allies of Mr. Bloomberg conveyed their anger to the firm. The company still represents the beverage association but is no longer working on the soda-ban issue.
Nanny-state thuggery at its finest. Shut up. Or else.
Since it is now proven that Obamacare is a tax, Father Z has a most excellent question:
Isn't it now the case that if the Obama Administration punishes St. Ipsidipsy Catholic Hospital in Black Duck for refusing to provide employees their abortifacient pills, then the Federal Government is taxing the exercise of religion?
Why yes, yes it is. And the Department of Health and Human Services wants it that way. A tax on religion.
I believe Muslims call that the Jizya. Now it's Barack Hussein Obama's fee for being Catholic in America.
Are you outraged yet?
Unfettered religious freedom is a bedrock principle of our Republic. The Pilgrims came to these shores to escape persecution for their beliefs. Many more people of all faiths followed in their footsteps, yearning for liberty. Unique among nations, The United States respects all religions.
At least that's the theory.
Barack Obama has set out to re-engineer the balance between Church and State. Rather than treating them equally, he's positioned the State as arbiter of Church affairs.
You know who the last ruler to do that was? Henry VIII.
Please read Msgr. Desmond's latest letter to our parish. And then join me in praying for our continued religious freedom.
To all parishioners of Saint Aloysius Parish,
To Democrats, Republicans and Independents,
To Liberals, Moderates and Conservatives,
My fellow Catholics,
During my lifetime and yours, we have taken for granted the religious freedom that has enabled America's diverse religions to flourish in relative harmony with each other and with our government. However, recent months have seen an erosion in conscience protection for Catholics as well as those of other faiths.
The question: is religious liberty, is freedom of conscience, being made into a second-class right in the United States? Have the First Amendment guarantees been side-stepped?
Several weeks ago, our Catholic bishops (with the support of a number of Jewish and Protestant congregations) filed twelve lawsuits in federal court on behalf of forty-three Catholic institutions who are challenging a U.S. Department of Health & Human Services mandate. The issue is less about abortion, sterilization and supplying contraception than it is about a direct intrusion by our government into internal Church belief and practice, and the government's threat to fine us heavily if we don't do what it wants. The Church is asking the courts to repress an unprecedented government assault on the ability of religious groups in the United States to practice their faith without being forced to violate deeply held moral convictions.
Seemingly, the goal of the government mandate is to force religious organizations into a political agenda, requiring them to facilitate and fund services that violate Catholic sensibilities, and to do so within our own institutions. These are the hospitals, universities and so many other institutions that are necessary for a good society. They are being attacked! They are the buffers between individual citizens and an all-powerful, intrusive federal government. They have served the Church and all the people of our nation very well for many years.
Our American Founders followed Christ's rule that the domains of God and Caesar be kept separate. In Europe, the Truce of Westphalia (1648) established a principle that the religion of the ruler was the religion of the state. This was an attempt to stop the constant quarrels among different denominations, and it more or less worked. The American Founders added a new dimension to this: freedom of conscience. In the American colonies, the Puritans had a stronghold in New England as did the Anglicans (Episcopalians) in Virginia.
There was significant Catholic dominance in Maryland. The Founders wisely agreed to keep religion out of the central government. The great Jesuit Fr. John Courtney Murray referred to this: "this was not an article of faith but an article of peace".
George Washington said in his Farewell Address: "Let us with caution support the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion". John Adams, #2, said: "Our Constitution was made for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other". The point is that freedom of religion has been accepted as indispensable for the idea of America to succeed. To distort the noble relationship between Church and State is to run the risk of paying a terrible price. That day has come.
Dear Parishioners of all stripes and ilks, please keep yourselves informed.
Pray for our nation and our world. Pray for leaders of Church and State. Pray that God's will be done in all things.
Sincerely in Christ,
Here are 12 things everyone should know about the "Contraceptive Mandate". Read them carefully, and be informed.
Do not trust the media! They carry water for Obama and the Democrats. Do not trust the Magisterium of Nuns; they front for an unholy alliance of radical feminists, abortionists, and politicians who are Catholic in name only. Trust in God, and in His Holy Church.
The Fortnight For Freedom ends on July 4th. Independence Day. Pray for our
religious independence from Barack Obama's despotism.