Saturday, December 28, 2013

Expecting a Different Result

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

The insanity that is the Congress of the United States of America continues.......

Well, after more than 5 years of Continuing Resolutions we finally have a "bipartisan" budget agreement.  Problem is, it's a sellout of promises made earlier to stand on the principle that federal spending needs to be curbed.

It's the usual story.  The Republicans agreed to Democrat demands for increased spending (in this case, an easing of the spending cuts mandated by the sequester) in return for future reductions in spending.  Haven't we seen this movie before?  In order avoid potentially being labeled as "against the poor" by cutting funding for social programs, the Republicans compromised the principles they were elected on.  Future spending decreases never seem to materialize.

Establishment Republicans insist that this deal was necessary and will enhance electoral chances in 2014 and 2016.  It avoids a government shutdown for 2 years, taking a potential talking point away from Democrats.  Since when have Democrats relied on reality when leveling charges against Republicans?  Besides, the budget deal doesn't address the two biggest upcoming financial battles:  the extension of federal unemployment benefits and the debt ceiling.  Does anyone believe for a minute that these issues won't factor into the next two national elections regardless of the ultimate result of the debates?

Barack Obama has said that he will not negotiate with Republicans over the raising of the debt ceiling next year and Nancy Pelosi has already said that the priority of the next Congress should be the extension of unemployment benefits.  So, for all the triumphant declarations by establishment Republicans over the bipartisan budget deal, it's all going to go for naught.  After the first of the year we will be subjected to frequent news reports of the division between Democrats, who want an open-ended promise to continue to fund benefits without conditions, and Republicans, who insist that any future expansion of spending be offset by reductions elsewhere in the budget.  Calls for fiscal responsibility will be met with accusations of callousness towards the needy, and Republicans will (again) be faced with the choice of standing by their stated principles of fiscal responsibility or caving to Progressive Democrat demands in an attempt to avoid pissing off some "essential voting demographic".

The steps of the dance never change, the song remains the same, and We the People always end up paying the piper.

If the Republicans were serious about "re-branding", about re-establishing their relevance, they'd realize that voting contrary to the values and desires of their constituents is counter-productive to their stated goal of regaining political dominance.  No one is going to support any political party if they don't believe they can rely on their commitment to the principles of their constituency.

However, if Republicans keep faith with the people they were elected to represent, they will earn the loyalty of their voters.  Even if it costs them electorally in the short term, adherence to the principle of a smaller, limited government that lives within the means of it's citizens and takes as it's primary duty the preservation of individual rights, NOT the assumption of extra-constitutional powers aimed at controlling and regulating the lives of individuals (for their own good, of course) they will begin to regain the respect and support of constitutional conservatives and maybe even some Democrats (the more responsible ones, anyway).

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013


 _ _ _ _ _ _MAS!

Notice anything missing?  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, they're at it again.  The secular Progressives, determined to eliminate any reference to religion in the public square have resumed their annual event, the "War on Christmas", claiming that any public celebration of the holiday should be curtailed out of "respect" for those who don't hold the same religious beliefs.  They're oddly silent on the subject of respect for those who hold traditional Christian beliefs and their right to celebrate a traditional Christian holiday.

This year, an atheist group, the so-called Freedom From Religion foundation erected a billboard in New York City proclaiming, "Who Needs Christ During Christmas? Nobody!"  Seriously?  Without Christ, you simply have "-mas".  Everyday New Yorker's disagree with the sentiment expressed.
The board of an elementary school on Long Island, NY decided they needed to avoid hurting anyone's feelings who isn't Christian during their annual holiday concert.  To that end, they creatively edited the Christmas Carol, pardon me, Holiday Song selected for the children to sing in the production (it was Silent Night) to omit any and all references to Jesus, Christ our Savior, the virgin birth, & holy infant.  Surprisingly, even on liberal Long Island this didn't go over well.  Apparently, the parents were not aware of the editing of the carol and voiced their displeasure to the school board that they would dare tinker with a traditional holiday theme.  The board defended their decision on the grounds of not wanting to offend any non-Christians in the audience.  I guess it's OK in their view to offend Christians who might not appreciate the elimination of nearly all religious references from what is, after all, a Christian hymn. 
They've promised not to do it again.
And, in Vancouver, Washington two young girls were booted from the property of their local WinCo grocery store for caroling.  The girls' intention was to “give a warm fuzzy feeling to anyone who walked by".  However, a store employee booted them from the property allegedly because their holiday jingles might offend patrons who don't celebrate Christmas, despite the fact that the girls sang both traditional religious and secular songs like Jingle Bell Rock and Silent Night.  When one of the girl's mother contacted the local news outlet, KATU-TV, to report the incident a reporter was sent out to cover the story.
For the follow-up, the reporter accompanied the girls back to the store to see if maybe the whole thing was a simple misunderstanding.  The reporter was given the name and phone number of an attorney for the store.  When contacted, the attorney in the end stated that the girls would likely be allowed to return to the store to resume singing Christmas carols to the customers.
Every year, it seems, there is some individual or group determined to prevent any public celebration of the Christmas holiday.  Well, there will be none of that "Happy Holidays" PC here.  The holidays are Christmas and Hanukkah. (I don't want to hear anything about "Kwanzaa").

We aren't celebrating the equinox (when was the last time anyone sent you a "Happy Equinox" card?).  We are celebrating one of two religious traditions.  The most widespread in the U.S. is, of course, Christmas.  Whether you observe the holiday for it's religious significance or not, the "reason for the season" is the birth of Jesus Christ.

In fact, the tradition of giving gifts is a direct reflection of the story of the three kings (the three wise men) who traveled to see the Christ-child bearing valuable gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  When we exchange gifts, whether we know it or not, it's in remembrance of gifts of the magi.

I've never understood the hostility of the atheistic, secular left to the traditional celebration of Christmas.  What harm is it to them if there's a Menorah, or a Nativity Scene, or a Christmas tree in the town square?  What do these groups gain out of lodging lawsuits against towns for their Christmas displays?  What harm is done them if there is a production of a Christmas play at the local school or (heaven forbid) church?  If an individual parent has objections to the content of the Christmas play, they are free to keep their child at home.

If they don't agree with the religious significance of the holiday, fine.  They are under no obligation to say "Merry Christmas" to anyone.  It would be nice, though, if they could somehow muster up the common courtesy to reply to someone else's Christmas wishes with a simple "Thank you".  They do not have the right to force others in their town or city to not celebrate the holiday as they wish, because they feel somehow offended at being "left out".

They will trot out the canard that the setting up of a Christmas display on "public property" somehow violates "The Separation of Church and State".  Problem is, it doesn't.  There is no such clause in either the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution of the United States of America.  The First Amendment reads, in part: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...". [Emphasis added]  In short, there is no basis in law for allowing one group of people to prohibit others from celebrating Christmas (or any other religious holiday) in any way, even on town, city, municipal, or even state and federal property!

The colonists separated from the rule of England partly  because of the demand of the King that they all celebrate the State's religion ONLY, and only in the manner prescribed.  They wished to be allowed the freedom to worship God as they saw Him and in the manner they deemed appropriate.  With that history behind them, the founders went out of their way to provide for that freedom when they set up the governing documents of the new country.  What they did not intend, was that some future religious observance could be derailed and prohibited over the manufactured outrage and complaints of a handful of malcontents, or in some cases, only one.

There is a very large gap between the town allowing a Christmas display with the baby Jesus and the wise men, or a cross or menorah or any religious symbol relating to the holiday, and the State's Establishment of an Official Religion and imposing it on the people.  No one is going to descend on an atheist or agnostic household and frog march them into the church of their choice to observe Christmas services.

Americans have the Constitutional right to our celebration of Christmas.  Progressives, atheists, and others  who demand that such displays be removed and prohibited from the public spaces have absolutely no right to demand that we conduct our lives to accommodate their personal prejudices.

I would like to take this  moment to wish all of my rational readers and their families the merriest of Christmas's, a Happy Hanukkah, and the most joyous and prosperous New Year!

To the secularists and progressives who seem to be determined to ruin our traditional holiday celebrations and erase any mention of religion (except, perhaps, Islam.  Can't offend them, can we?) from the public lives of Americans I can only say one thing.............................................................................


[Publisher's note: As I can reliably expect similar events to play out in the ensuing years, this post will probably become something of a tradition on this blog.  At least until the Progressives agree to allow others the same "1st Amendment rights" they demand for themselves.]

Saturday, December 14, 2013

A Random Act of Journalism

"A random act of journalism."  That's a line I borrowed from Rush Limbaugh.  It's a term he uses whenever one of the major media outlets reports any news story that doesn't support the official narrative (i.e., conservatives don't like the poor/gay/old/minorities, the rich don't pay their fair share, government has a duty to provide, etc.), much less exposes the lies of the establishment left.

This particular "random act of journalism" comes to us via CNBC and has caused a bit of a stir.  Headline: "The Rich Don't Pay the Most Taxes, They Pay ALL the Taxes".

Really?  How can this be?  Everyone knows that the rich aren't paying their fair share and that it's the lower and middle classes who are getting the short end of the stick.  However, according to the latest CBO (Congressional Budget Office) report that's just not true.  Buried in a chart on page 13 (Table 3) detailing the breakdown of Federal Income Taxes by quintile, the top 40% of taxpayers pay 106% of all federal income taxes, while the bottom 40% pay -9%. 

The top taxpayers actually overpay so that the bottom feeders can take advantage of generous transfer payments like the child tax credit and the EITC, which pay a "refund' to taxpayers that don't even owe taxes.  In fact, when it comes to federal taxes, the top bracket paid 69% of the total last year. The bottom bracket paid 0.4%.  These numbers aren't from  some radical, right-wing think tank.  They're from the 2010 IRS and Census Bureau figures.

Compounding their offense, consider the following information quoted directly from the article on  "For most income groups, average federal tax rates in 2010 were near the lowest rates for the 1979-2010 period.  The exception was households in the top 1 percent, whose average federal tax rate in 2010 was significantly above its low in the mid-1980s.  It does not look to be getting better. The CBO said that since 2010, new taxes have been added which will raise rates for everyone, with the biggest increase hitting the 1-percenters. They could end up with their highest federal tax rate since 1997 this year."

So much for the "rich" not paying their fair share.

Of course, this did not sit well with the rest of the mainstream financial media.  The liberal-leaning Business Insider ran a rebuttal on Yahoo Finance denouncing the CBO's study.  Their story, "No, the Rich Do Not Pay All the Taxes." repeated the claim that "the poor pay taxes, too."  They even go so far as to claim the report on the CBO's study is "completely false".  Really?  Who are they accusing of lying, the government, the CBO, or CNBC?

Taken from the article on Yahoo Finance: ".... people with low incomes who don't pay federal personal income tax do pay lots of those other taxes: payroll tax, state income tax, sales tax, property tax, excise taxes, and more."  Everyone else pays those taxes, too.  And if you aren't paying any net federal income tax, odds are you aren't paying any net state income tax, either, and are, in fact, receiving the individual state's version of the federal transfer payments.  Their argument is completely irrelevant.

Then they go on to make the truly incredible claim that "Workers bear the burden of employer-paid payroll taxes and part of the burden of corporate income taxes."  Seriously?  The definition of "employer-paid payroll taxes" is that the employee isn't paying them.  I can't even imagine how they came up with the idea that employees bear part of the burden of corporate taxes.  The entire article reads as a giant "Not uh!", the kind you'd expect from a couple of little kids.  Kinda pathetic, really.

What was left out of both articles is any mention of the largest form of transfer payments the poor receive.  For example, in my home state of Vermont the median wage is approximately $35,000/yr and the total welfare and low income assistance programs can total up to appx. $34,000 per household!  If we were to extrapolate that out nationally and factor those monies into the equation of who bears the true burden of taxation, we might even find that Mitt Romney's controversial 47% figure wasn't all that far off, after all.

None of these self-professed "low income advocates" want to acknowledge that the source of the funding for all those social-justice programs IS the taxpayer.  They've told the lie of  "Federal funding" so often they've begun to believe that Washington somehow has access to a cornucopia of cash that is capable of funding forever increasing largesse to be handed out at their discretion.

There is some small reason to hope that may be beginning to change.  If a liberal outlet like CNBC can publish a report that goes against the progressive narrative, declines to demagogue the evil rich, and actually dares to report the truth of how much they really pay, it's at least a small light in the darkness.


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Another Bright Spot

Several weeks ago, I related the story of young Mr. Joey Prusak, the manager of a Dairy Queen in Hopkins, Minnesota who repaid the $20 that was stolen from a blind customer.  This week, I have another remarkable young person to tell you about.

Miss Madison Root is only 11 years old, yet she already outshines many a decade (or more) older.  Like many children young people, she has braces on her teeth.  She decided that she wanted to do what she could to help pay for them.  This being the Christmas season, she came up with the idea of harvesting some of the fresh mistletoe grown on her uncle's farm and selling it at the popular Portland Saturday Market.  The Portland, OR event sounds much like a cross between the popular Farmer's Markets & Craft Fairs in my home state of Vermont.  She gathered up her mistletoe and prepared 100 bags for sale.

This is where young Madison ran headlong into government red tape and overbearing officials.  She was told that she couldn't sell her wares without getting the proper government permits and paying a fee.  What made this even more egregious was the existence of a few panhandlers (beggars) just feet away.  When Madison pointed to them and asked the officer why they were allowed to beg without a permit and she was prevented from earning money, she was told that she could beg if she wanted, she just couldn't sell her goods (earn money) without permission from the government.

What kind of a world are we building?  When young people who have the work ethic and morality to want to earn what they need and show the initiative to develop their own business are actively discouraged from doing so, in favor of begging for handouts?

This could have been the end of the story.  Most 11 year olds (hell, even I, myself) would have said "Screw it." at this point and left, saying to myself "Well, I tried.  Sorry Dad.  I wanted to help you pay for my braces, but they won't let me."  But, no.  She persevered.  Obviously, the cost of any permit fees would have eaten up most, if not all, of what she could have expected to earn from the sale of only 100 bags of mistletoe.  But she refused to quit.  And word got out.

Eventually, her situation was brought to the attention of the producers of Glenn Beck's radio show and to, the news site affiliated with the show.  Mr. Beck interviewed young Madison about her situation, later calling her "one of the best interviews 'ever' to be conducted on his radio show."  And, as he also did previously with Joey Prusak, he decided to see what he could do to help encourage this budding entrepreneur. 

What he did and the response from his listeners was nothing less than astounding.  He arranged for Madison's mistletoe to be offered for sale through one of his websites, The Marketplace by The Blaze.  They initially offered, not 100, but 1,000 bags of mistletoe, hoping to sell it by the end of the day.  They sold out within the hour.  Beck then tried to arrange for an additional 1,000 bags.  They sold out again and the limited-time sale for Madison's mistletoe is now over (although, there are still many worthwhile items remaining for sale).

When Mr. Beck asked Madison where she learned to be such a self-starter and an entrepreneur, she said that her entire family always had "some business" going on and her father was an entrepreneur and small businessman.

This is exactly the type of attitude we need to have fostered in our young people today to combat the indoctrination of the attitude that it's impossible to succeed and you need government in order get by.  This little 11 year old girl, by herself, has put the lie to all of the Progressive Liberal propaganda against the idea that you should pursue your dreams and that you can succeed on your own.


UPDATE:   A staggering 3,000 orders were placed within 6 hours of the 11-year-old’s interview on the Glenn Beck Program.