Money Won’t Make This Better

The Washington Free Beacon reported yesterday on the efforts of Secretary of State John Kerry to sweeten the Iran deal for Israel and Saudi Arabia. Frankly, there are some things you just can’t sweeten.

The article reports:

Kerry admits that, despite the deal, Iran will continue to back terrorist groups across the globe and promises to boost military support and funding to Israel and Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia, according to a copy of the letter obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

The letter comes in response to concerns among lawmakers, Israel, and other Gulf region allies that the nuclear accord will boost the Islamic Republic’s support for terrorism, while leaving traditional U.S. allies on the defense.

“Important questions have been raised concerning the need to increase security assistance to our allies and partners in the region and to enhance our efforts to counter Iran’s destabilizing activities in the region,” Kerry writes. “We share the concern expressed by many in Congress regarding Iran’s continued support for terrorist and proxy groups throughout the region, its propping up of the Assad regime in Syria, its efforts to undermine the stability of its regional neighbors, and the threat it poses to Israel.”

The Obama administration, Kerry claims, is under “no illusion that this behavior will change following implementation of the JCPOA,” or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

If the behavior of Iran will not change following the implementation of the JCPOA, then why are we agreeing to the JCPOA? Wouldn’t it be better to refuse to lift any sanctions or give Iran any money until the leaders of Iran change their behavior (and maybe stop shouting “Death to Israel” and “Death to America“)? I admit that I am only a lowly blogger, but that seems rather obvious to me. Why are we going to give Iran access to millions of dollars to buy more and better weapons to kill American soldiers?

The article reports:

One senior Congressional aide who received the letter said that it is a clear attempt by the administration to placate regional fears about the deal.

“Let’s not be fooled about what the letter represents. This desperate move to placate Israel and our Gulf partners is a tacit acknowledgment that Iran will expand its international terror regime thanks to the nuclear agreement,” the source said. “If this is such a good deal, why does the administration feel compelled to immediately offer arms packages as compensation to our regional allies?”

“No amount of conventional weapons can neutralize the threat posed by the mullahs acquiring nuclear weapons,” the source said. “This type of appeasement is a slap in the face to our closets allies and a wink-wink to the dictators in Tehran.”

Obviously there are people in our government who understand the dangers of this agreement. Unfortunately, there are also many people in our government who choose not to listen to them. I believe this agreement will be able to get through the games being played in the Senate and will go into force. I also believe that the day that happens will be a truly sad day for America. We have turned our backs on our friends and chosen to fund our enemies. That is not wisdom.

Time For New Management

Yesterday The Washington Examiner posted a story yesterday that illustrates the poor management of the Veteran’s Administration.

The story reports:

The Department of Veterans Affairs’ Office of Inspector General (OIG) on Wednesday confirmed that more than one-third of the people thought to be seeking eligibility for VA benefits are deceased, and said many of them have been dead for more than four years.

The OIG report confirms the worst fears of members of Congress, whosaid in July that they would investigate unsubstantiated claims that thousands of veterans died before they ever became eligible for VA benefits.

Scott Davis, a VA employee and whistleblower, has dismissed the findings of the OIG. He claims that the independent investigator has no way of knowing how many veterans died seeking care. That may be, but if the number is one veteran, that is one too many.

The article states:

“We can’t say what’s what because of flaws in the enrollment system, and the flaws exist basically because the people responsible for fixing it haven’t,” he (Scott Davis) said.

Davis said the main official responsible for the VA’s Health Eligibility Center, Stephanie Mardon, should be fired for keeping such poor records, which even the OIG said is hurting efforts to get care to veterans. “Overstated pending enrollment records create unnecessary difficulty and confusion in identifying and assisting veterans with the most urgent need for health care enrollment,” it said.

But Davis also said the OIG report gives the VA, and the Obama administration, the tools it needs to start fixing the problem.

In July of 2014, Robert A. McDonald became Secretary of Veterans Affairs. It seems to me that there needs to be a way of mapping whatever progress he is making in fixing the problems the Veterans Administration has had in recent years. If things have not changed by July 2016, it is time to consider either replacing Secretary McDonald or disbanding the Veterans Administration and allowing veterans to seek medical care outside of the Veterans Administration at the same cost.

This Really Does Not Look Good

Yesterday The Daily Caller posted an article stating that the attorney for the Information Technology (IT) specialist who handled Hillary Clinton’s email server has informed the House Select Committee on Benghazi that his client, Bryan Pagliano, will plead the 5th Amendment if he is called to testify before the Committee. The article states that Mr. Pagliano had worked on the 2008 Clinton campaign, moved to the State Department several months after Mrs. Clinton took office, and left the agency in February 2013, when Mrs. Clinton stepped down as Secretary of State.

There are a number of questions about Mrs. Clinton’s emails. The obvious question is whether there was classified information on the server, but in light of all of the information that has come out since we have learned about the server, the real question is who ordered the wiping of the server and when that order was given. If the wiping of the server was done while it was under investigation, that is a crime. It is questionable whether or not the current Justice Department will prosecute the destruction of evidence, but it is a crime.

The other thing that this story illustrates is the problem with rewarding campaign workers with government jobs. In my mind there is a question as to whether Mr. Paliano‘s first loyalty is to America or to Hillary Clinton. Political appointments to government jobs is nothing new, but in light of recent events, I think the practice needs to be reexamined.

Some Statistics To Think About

There have been a number of videos released showing that Planned Parenthood engages in the sale of aborted baby parts. The videos are hard to watch, but there is a bigger story behind abortion. If ‘black lives matter,” which they do, then the people who are chanting that slogan should be doing it in front of a Planned Parenthood clinic.

In April of this year, Freedom Outpost posted a few statistics on abortion in America. Here are some of the numbers:

Approximately 3,000 Americans lost their lives as a result of the destruction of the World Trade Center towers on 9/11.  Every single day, more than 3,000 American babies are killed by abortion.

It has been reported that a staggering 41 percent of all New York City pregnancies end in abortion.

Approximately 78 percent of all abortions in New York City are performed on African-American and Hispanic babies.

According to Pastor Clenard Childress, approximately 52 percent of all African-American pregnancies now end in abortion.

Planned Parenthood specifically targets the poor.  A staggering 72 percent of Planned Parenthood’s “customers” have incomes that are either equal to or beneath 150 percent of the federal poverty level.

The article further reports:

Every single year, both Democrats and Republicans vote to shower Planned Parenthood with hundreds of millions of dollars.

We are told that this must be done because of all the “good” the organization does.

But the truth is that this has been a despicably evil organization from the very beginning.  The founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger, once said the following….

“The most merciful thing that a family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.”

She has also stated:

Birth control must lead ultimately to a cleaner race.”

Is this really what we want to use federal taxpayer dollars to support?

 

Priorities Please

Today’s Wall Street Journal posted an article by Senator John McCain about President Obama’s recent visit to Alaska. During that visit, the President focused his attention on the cataclysmic threat of climate change. (For accurate information on climate change, see wattsupwiththat. It is the world’s most viewed website on climate change)

Senator McCain reports:

Some of my Senate colleagues and I recently returned from the Arctic, and while we saw the challenges of melting polar ice, we also saw a greater and more immediate threat. It is a menace that many assumed was relegated to the past: an aggressive, militarily capable Russian state that is ruled by an anti-American autocrat, hostile to our interests, dismissive of our values, and seeking to challenge the international order that U.S. leaders of both parties have maintained for seven decades.

Vladimir Putin’s neo-imperial ambitions are clear enough in his attempt to dominate Russia’s neighbors, Ukraine most of all. But his ambitions increasingly extend to the Arctic and Europe’s northern flank. That is where I and my colleagues met with leaders and security officials from Norway, Sweden, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.

Is President Obama ignoring this threat or is this part of his promise to ‘be more flexible’ in dealing with Russia in his second term?

On Tuesday, CBN News reported:

The president says the science about climate change gets clearer every day and proves it’s no longer a distant threat.

And he’s right that Alaska’s climate is changing. Summer snow is forecast for this Friday amidst a cooling period. Alaska’s climate has been changing for a long time.

The poster child for climate change in Alaska, the Mendenall glacier, which is melting, was already melting in the 1700s and, according to scientists, had retreated one mile by the 1900s.

Some scientists say Alaska has been warming because of a reversal in the Pacific decadal oscillation, a 60-year cycle that sends warmer air to Alaska.

I am the least scientific person I know, but even I know that there are such things are natural climate cycles. Those cycles are what has enabled The Farmer’s Almanac to be one of the most accurate forecasters of weather on the planet. They have been using the same formula to predict weather that was used before computer forecasting came into vogue. Oddly enough, The Farmer’s Almanac predictions have proved to be more accurate than the computer models scientists have created. The climate is changing. The climate is always changing. The question is how much man is responsible for the changes. There was a long period of global warming during the Middle Ages, but somehow I cannot picture it being caused by the Lord of the Manor running around in his SUV.

Global warming is not the greatest threat America faces as a country. The greatest threat we face as a country is the increasing boldness of people who wish to do us harm that are spurred on by the fact that we have a weak President. That is our greatest threat.

Why Voter Identification Is Important

This is an old story, but it is worth revisiting as the changes to the North Carolina voter id laws are making their way through the courts right now.

In April 2014, PJ Media reported that there was massive voter fraud in North Carolina during the 2012 election. Unfortunately, voter fraud is pretty common in most states. The only real way to stop it is through requiring voter identification. Those who have gained through voter fraud are reluctant to see an identification requirement to vote. There are also some politicians who are currently proposing that we allow noncitizens to vote.

The article at PJ Media reports:

The North Carolina State Board of Elections has found thousands of instances of voter fraud in the state, thanks to a 28-state crosscheck of voter rolls. Initial findings suggest widespread election fraud.

  • 765 voters with an exact match of first and last name, DOB and last four digits of SSN were registered in N.C. and another state and voted in N.C. and the other state in the 2012 general election.
  • 35,750 voters with the same first and last name and DOB were registered in N.C. and another state and voted in both states in the 2012 general election.
  • 155,692 voters with the same first and last name, DOB and last four digits of SSN were registered in N.C. and another state – and the latest date of registration or voter activity did not take place within N.C.

So what is the penalty for committing voter fraud? Double voting is election fraud under state and federal statutes. Punishment for double voting in federal elections can include jail time.

The article also reported:

In addition to the above, the crosscheck found that more than 13,000 deceased voters remain on North Carolina’s rolls, and that 81 of them showed voter activity in their records after death.

There is a quote that goes around Facebook periodically, “Grandma voted Republican until the day that she died. After that she voted Democratic.”

If you say that I am being unfair by accusing the Democrats of voter fraud, can you explain to me why the Democrats are the party that has opposed voter identification laws in states where voter fraud exists?

Add This To Your Current List Of Really Bad Ideas

On Friday, The Boston Globe reported that there was a move to draft Michael Dukakis (former Massachusetts Governor) to run for President in 2016. First of all, Michael Dukakis is 81 years old. I thought the Republicans were the party of old white males.

The article reports:

Max Smith, who describes himself as a Democratic activist from Boston, said this is no joke, that there are political donors from Boston and New Hampshire who want to help fund the effort.

“The [State Department] e-mail revelations are going to rock the Hillary Clinton campaign. We need somebody with stability,” said Smith, who is part of the Draft Dukakis campaign.

But the 1988 Democratic presidential nominee told the Globe that another potential Dukakis versus Bush matchup is not in the cards.

“I am absolutely not a candidate for the presidency,” said Dukakis, who is 81. “Kitty and I are supporting Hillary.”

It sounds like Governor Dukakis is more in line with the mainstream Democratic party than the people who are supporting him. His decision not to run is a very intelligent decision. It’s probably the only political thing he has ever done that I wholeheartedly agree with.

When I first saw this article, I checked the source because I didn’t believe it. I still really can’t imagine what a disaster his candidacy would be. I remember him well as the Governor of Massachusetts.

Campaign Financing

When the Citizens United case was decided by the Supreme Court, a howl went up from Democratic politicians. “Take the money out of politics,” they said. “This will open the floodgates for corporations to buy elections.”

I have posted charts from opensecrets.org before. These charts show that the top spenders (before and after Citizens United) are still the unions. No one is talking about taking away the right of unions to donate to campaigns. Also, keep in mind that the people who pay union dues and provide the money for the donations don’t have a say in where the money is donated. At least the leaders of a corporation that donates to a PAC are accountable to their stockholders. The fact that government employee unions give political donations is also a bit questionable–they donate to the people they are going to negotiate contracts with. Is it possible to do that without a conflict of interest?

Any, here is one of the charts from opensecrets.org:

campaigndonationsSo why am I mentioning this? First of all, I firmly believe that what is good for the goose is good for the gander. If unions are allowed to make campaign donations, corporations should also be allowed to make campaign donations. If you want to eliminate one, take them both away. Otherwise, you are creating an unbalanced situation where the government is suppressing free speech.

The National Review is reporting today that according to the Hillary Clinton emails, Mrs. Clinton was planning to reverse the Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United as soon as possible.

The article reports:

Although President Obama came out swinging against the decision during his State of the Union address a few day later — prompting some Justices to boycott future speeches — Clinton remained largely silent on the issue for years. She didn’t openly declare her opposition to Citizens United until April 2015, after she’d already announced her candidacy. In May, she said she’d use opposition to Citizens United as a litmus test for any Supreme Court nominee.

The Ready for Hillary Super PAC — founded under the new Citizens United rules — raised $15 million for the Clinton campaign before it was disbanded early this summer following her presidential announcement.

Mrs. Clinton’s emails to Sidney Blumenthal show a desire to overturn the Citizens United decision, yet she was willing to take advantage of the law up until the time she ran for President. She disbanded the PAC before any low-information voters would learn about it. Also, there is the question of the money flowing through the Clinton Foundation that might have made the PAC unnecessary. Remember that most of the Clintons travel expenses are paid through the Foundation, and a large part of campaigning is travel. That may or may not be illegal, but it is questionable at best. The hypocrisy is amazing.

 

The Silly Season Is In Full Swing

The Silly Season usually occurs a few months before an election, but because of the importance of this Presidential election, it has begun more than a year early. I will be posting comments on the Silly Season as it progresses, but I have a few comments on the early events.

It is interesting to me that both parties have people out of the party establishment doing very well. The Democratic Party establishment does not love Bernie Sanders, and the Republican Party establishment does not love Donald Trump. Neither man would be willing to follow orders from the party establishment if he actually become President. We could debate whether or not that is a good thing, but we need to understand that the party establishments fear that threat.

So what should we learn from this? This is a temper tantrum by Americans on both sides of the political spectrum. People of all political stripes are tired of having their wishes ignored by the political elites who are currently in control of Washington, D.C. We have phoned, emailed, faxed, held rallies, formed tea parties, formed occupy Wall Street, and all but stood on our heads and spit wooden nickels, and Washington has chosen to ignore us. I think it would be a mistake to elect either Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump, but I think the energy around their campaigns is something that the establishment in Washington needs to take note of.

There is another aspect of this campaign season I find interesting. Below is a chart showing voter participation by age:

As you can see, senior citizens vote. If you are 65, in 2012 you were born in 1947. You were part of the generation the lived through major cultural changes in America. Some of you protested the War in Vietnam; some of you served in the War in Vietnam. Some of you attended Woodstock. Some of you did drugs. Some of you didn’t do drugs. Some of you fought for legal abortion; some of you protested legal abortion. You are a very diverse generation that has had a lot of influence from the time you were born because of your size. This is the generation that will determine our next President. It is a generation of diverse politics, independent thinkers, and stubborn mules. It is a generation that has never been afraid to fight the ‘establishment.’ It will be interesting to see what they do next.

Note The Change In The Pictures

The picture below was posted by a friend on Facebook. He noted the lack of American flags at the recent rally. I would also like to mention that The New York Times chose to use the picture on its front page that did not include former President George W. Bush and his wife Laura. The U.K Telegraph posted an article showing how President Bush and his wife were cropped from the right side of the photo.

civilrightsmarch

When American flags are absent from a civil rights rally, we have forgotten who we are. When a former President is cropped from the picture, someone is making an effort to politicize freedom.

The Truth On Climate Change Is Slowly Coming Out

Global warming is the latest gimmick by some establishment politicians (on both sides of the aisle) to gain more control over the way Americans live. Somehow all of the suggested solutions will cripple healthy economies, limit personal freedom in America, and give money to dictators in banana republics. The major polluters–China and India–remain unaffected by any suggested solutions. Those of us who are skeptical have been called everything from morons to the modern day flat earth society. Again I would like to mention that the best scientific website on climate is wattsupwiththat. Meanwhile, some of the scientists forced to skew their results to promote the idea of global warming are beginning to speak out.

A website called JoNova has posted an article about the skewing of science to support the political theory of global warming.

The article states:

David Dilley, NOAA Meteorologist, tells how for 15 years work on man-made climate change was pushed while work on natural cycles was actively suppressed. Grants connecting climate change to a man-made crisis were advertised, while the word went around to heads of departments that even mentioning natural cycles would threaten the flow of government funds. Speeches about natural cycles were mysteriously canceled at the last minute with bizarre excuses.

But jobs are on the line, so only retired workers can really speak, and no one can name names.

We can corroborate David Dilley’s remarks. Indeed, he is probably just one of many skeptics hidden in the ranks of NOAA.  Way back in 2007, David Evans got an email from a different insider within NOAA, around the time he started talking publicly about the missing hotspot. The insider said, remarkably: “As a Meteorologist working for [snip, name of division] it has been clear to me, as well as every single other scientist I know at NOAA, that man can not be the primary cause of global warming and that the predictions of “gloom and doom” due to rising temperatures is ridiculous”.

…Dilley was invited to speak about natural cycles (at the University of Maine), but just before the event mysterious “staff shortages” meant his speech was canceled. Oddly, a different speech suddenly appeared in it’s place.

Considering the cost of college tuition these days, shouldn’t students be allowed to hear both sides of an argument?

A Short Story With A Big Impact

Yesterday CNN posted a very short article that may have a big impact on the politics of the Middle East.

The article reports:

In what could be the largest natural gas discovery in history, Italian energy company Eni says it has unearthed a “supergiant” gas field in the Mediterranean Sea covering about 40 square miles.

The gas field could hold a potential of 30 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Eni says that’s the energy equivalent of about 5.5 billion barrels of oil. The company won’t know the field’s true size until it begins to develop it.

Eni already has a presence in Egypt and expects to be able to develop the field quickly. It is possible that the field could satisfy the natural gas needs of Egypt for decades to come.

So why is this important? As the wealth from this discovery flows into Egypt, we can expect the Muslim Brotherhood to become more active in the country. Egypt has been one of the few countries in the Middle East to deal with the Muslim Brotherhood successfully. This is somewhat ironic since the Muslim Brotherhood began in Egypt. Egypt has been dealing with the Muslim Brotherhood since 1928. The Brotherhood was responsible for the assassination of Anwar Sadat and played a role in the ousting of Hosni Mubarak. At various times in its history, Egypt has jailed and executed members of the Muslim Brotherhood. Since the Muslim Brotherhood government that was set up after Hosni Mubarak was ousted, Egypt has been moving toward peace with Israel and alliances with western countries. This discovery should mean that Egypt will continue to move in that direction.

What Do You Do When The Money Runs Out?

One of my favorite bumper stickers ever says, “The lottery–a tax on people who are bad at math.” We all know that the odds of winning a major lottery prize are pretty much stacked against anyone who buys a ticket. However, the assumption generally is that if you win, you will be able to collect and enjoy your winnings. Unfortunately, lately that is not the case in Illinois.

Yesterday Time Magazine posted an article stating:

Big-time Illinois Lottery winners aren’t getting the largesse. They’re getting left out.

Without a state budget agreement two months into the new fiscal year, there’s no authority for the state comptroller to cut checks over $25,000. That means smaller winnings can be paid out, but not the larger lottery wins.

Can you imagine owning a state government more than $25,000 and telling them to wait? I can’t.

A Few Comments On The Tenth Anniversary Of Hurricane Katrina

My daughter and son-in-law were living in New Orleans ten years ago. At that time they had a two-year old daughter and a six-month old daughter. They evacuated the city (with their two cats) the day before the storm and headed to my sister’s house a few hundred miles north of New Orleans. No one could have predicted what happened next. They returned to their home a few days before Thanksgiving.

There are a few things I would like to say about the storm and the aftermath. For a few months they lived in Kansas City where a local church adopted a number of families from New Orleans and helped them deal with their losses. My daughter and her family suffered very little actual loss, but we found out later what the impact of the experience on the young children was. Two years after the storm as they were preparing to move to another city, their older daughter asked, “When we move this time, can I take my bed and my toys with me?”

There were many people after the storm who came forward and helped those who had lost things. There were formal organizations like the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and Operation Blessing, and there were groups of people who simply saw a problem and did what they could to solve it.

One of my favorite Hurricane Katrina stories was how the city dealt with the abandoned swimming pools in the city that were becoming breeding grounds for disease-carrying mosquitoes.

In July 2006, National Geographic reported:

To battle the bugs, Sackett (Steve Sackett, an entomologist with the New Orleans Mosquito and Termite Control Board (NOMTCB). ) has turned to a natural predator—the western mosquito fish (Gambusia affinis).

The fish can eat up to a hundred mosquito larvae a day. And unlike commercial pesticides, the prolific breeders can replenish themselves.

No pesticides, no chemicals–just fish!

Another inspiring story to come out of this tragedy is that of the Sugarcane Academy. This is a story worth reading about.

Americans are special. We are capable of coming together after a tragic event, and we are capable of coming up with innovative solutions to problems. We need to develop those talents.

Free Speech Does Not Mean The Same Thing To Everyone

One of my favorite lines from “The Princess Bride” is “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” I think the time has come to understand that when you hear government leaders talk about the concept of free speech, not everyone who is using the term means the same thing..

In June I posted an article about how Muslims view free speech. I pointed out that Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has been working with the United Nations since 2005 to subtly change the definition of free speech. According to the OIC, all laws, including free speech laws, should be subject to Sharia Law. The law being supported in the United Nations by the OIC includes the statement “but not to criminalize speech unless there is an incitement to imminent violence.” This moves the focus away from what was actually said to any reaction to what was said. This means that any rent-a-mob can be called up claiming to be incited to violence by any statement. Therefore whatever was said was not covered by the concept of free speech.

Yesterday Townhall posted an article about a move in Canada to pass Bill 59, a bill that would grant the Quebec Human Rights Commission (QHRC) the authority to investigate so-called “hate speech”, even without a complaint being filed.

The article reports:

The Head of the QHRC, Jacques Frémont has already openly said that he plans to use such powers, “to sue those critical of certain ideas, ‘people who would write against … the Islamic religion … on a website or on a Facebook page’” according to Canada’s National Post.

The legality of the QHRC asserting jurisdiction over the entire Canadian Internet-using public is under debate, but the growing consensus in Canada appears to be that this bill is a step backwards.

In 2013, the Canadian parliament moved to end scrutiny of Internet speech by its Human Right Commissions when it abolished the infamous Section 13, of Canada’s Human Rights Act. The elimination of that odious and censorious clause followed a successful campaign given voice by Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant after the two were targeted for writings and publications which reportedly “offending” Muslims.

But like a zombie rising from the grave, the idea of censoring “blasphemous” speech, continues to come back, no matter how dead it may have appeared.

The OIC is behind the move to censor speech in Canada. It is important to remember that the goal of the Muslim Brotherhood is to institute Sharia Law worldwide–to put Muslims and non-Muslims under Sharia Law. When governments begin to made free speech laws that are compliant with Sharia Law (as an anti-blasphemy law would be), they are bringing their citizens under one aspect of Sharia Law. This is truly the nose of the camel under the tent.

How The Tax Code Impacts Senior Citizens

After everything we hear about income inequality and tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, it is rather amazing that no one has pointed out the higher rate of taxes paid by senior citizens. This is particularly amazing because senior citizens vote in large numbers. There is an organization called AMAC (Association for Mature American Citizens) which is basically AARP for conservatives that has looked at the tax code in relation to senior citizens and posted an article. At this point I need to mention that I am a member of both AMAC and the AARP. One of those memberships is free to me, one I pay for.

The article reports:

The top 1% of income earners nationally (millionaires & billionaires) pay on average a federal tax rate of 22% yearly. Compare that with the rate paid by most seniors receiving Social Security benefits and currently earning over $32,000.00 each year who are forced to pay a tax rate of up to 28%. At the $42,000.00 yearly income level (hardly considered wealthy,) 85% of Social Security Benefits become taxable up to a 28% rate. Seriously, a higher tax rate (28%) for a $42,000 yearly income compared to a 22% average rate for million dollar wage earners? “This “age penalty” is blatantly unfair, confiscatory, and betrays those who are self-reliant, did the right thing, and saved for their future retirement.

The arbitrary mandatory minimum distribution (forced withdrawal up to 4% of all savings, IRA’s and annuities) every year after the age of 70.5 is clearly and simply unfair age discrimination on the part of the IRS and Congress. Forcing seniors to withdraw up to 4% of their savings each year (also taxed at a higher rate and increasing their total income) is punitive and creates a “double jeopardy” tax penalty not faced by younger tax payers.

Another, even more egregious, travesty cooked into the IRS tax code allows the federal government to pilfer the financial assets of seniors upon the death of their spouse. The surviving spouse must deal, not only, with the emotional loss but also must surrender most or all of the Social Security benefits of their deceased husband or wife. To add further injury, standard deduction and personal exemptions ($10,300) of their spouse are also lost, resulting in a higher income tax rate on less income.

The result of all of this is that seniors are financing a disproportionate amount of federal spending. The current presidential campaign provides seniors with the opportunity to demand that those seeking the office explain how they will remedy this government sanctioned “senior abuse.” It’s time to lift the heavy hand of government, reform this unfair depletion of senior American’s assets, allow them to reap the benefits of their retirement planning, give seniors a fair shake, and revitalize the American dream.

It might also be relevant to mention that the majority of senior citizens’ income (with the exception of IRA’s) has already been taxed at least once. Stock dividends, for instance, have been taxed at least once before people receive them (through corporate taxes). Also, just for the record, I am not in favor of raising taxes on the wealthy–they already pay more than their fair share. (In 2013, CNBC reported “the top 40 percent of wage earners in America pay 106 percent of the taxes. The bottom 40 percent…pay negative 9 percent.”)  I am, however, in favor of raising taxes on lower income people so that they begin to take an interest in changing the tax code. The American tax code is a tribute to special interests–it is time to change that.

The AMAC article was written by State Representative Charles “Doc” Anderson, a veterinarian,  who has represented  District 56 (Waco and McLennan County) in the Texas House of Representatives since 2005.

Who Gets Green Energy Money

Yesterday Steven Hayward posted a story at Power Line about a Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley study showing who gets the tax credits associated with green energy. The results of the study are not surprising, but provide another example of excessive government spending helping people who really don’t need help.

The article reports:

Since 2006, U.S. households have received more than $18 billion in federal income tax credits for weatherizing their homes, installing solar panels, buying hybrid and electric vehicles, and other “clean energy” investments. We use tax return data to examine the socioeconomic characteristics of program recipients. We find that these tax expenditures have gone predominantly to higher-income Americans. The bottom three income quintiles have received about 10% of all credits, while the top quintile has received about 60%. The most extreme is the program aimed at electric vehicles, where we find that the top income quintile has received about 90% of all credits. By comparing to previous work on the distributional consequences of pricing greenhouse gas emissions, we conclude that tax credits are likely to be much less attractive on distributional grounds than market mechanisms to reduce GHGs.

Logically this is not surprising. Lower income people are not likely to pay the extra money for an electric car (or have a charging station). Lower income people are less likely to own their own home. People on welfare have no incentive to reduce their energy bills–welfare is paying for them. On the other side of the equation, most upper income people are in the habit of taking advantage of any ‘free’ money offered to them. Many upper income people have financial advisers who are paid to follow government tax programs and rebate programs. Upper income people may also have the money on hand to do the capital improvements required to get the tax credits, lower income people may not. Generally speaking I favor tax credits, lower taxes, etc., but I resent the fact that the tax code is used to control behavior–that is why it is so long. It really is time to build a tax code with two or three deductions that everyone can understand and that results in everyone paying some taxes. We all need skin in the game so that when our legislators start giving money away to people who do not need it, everyone will complain,.

Political Correctness Meets Mental Illness

Political correctness has become acceptable in recent years. Television shows that we watched as children or young adults would not be allowed on the air today. I loved the show “WKRP,” but I doubt that show would be allowed on the air today because of the stereotypes of women, blacks, disc jockeys, newscasters, etc. However, it was a very entertaining show because of the way the characters were drawn. It was not meant to offend any one group of people–it simply laughed at who we all are.

So what happens when a person who is mentally ill decides to take political correctness to its limit?

The New York Post posted a story today about the recent killing of a newswoman and a news cameraman in Virginia. The story is a clear illustration of political correctness run amok. The story also illustrates what happens when a disturbed person decides to be offended by something that is not meant to be offensive or that most of us would not consider offensive.

The article reports:

The words are a part of everyday conversation — “swinging” by an address and going out in the “field.”

But in the twisted mind of Virginia gunman Vester Lee Flanagan II, they were pure racism — and saying them became a death sentence for Alison Parker.

The 24-year-old white reporter, who was murdered on live TV along with her cameraman, used the phrases as an intern at ­WDBJ TV in Roanoke in 2012, according to an internal complaint filed by Flanagan, who was black.

“One was something about ‘swinging’ by some place; the other was out in the ‘field,’ ” said the Jan. 21 report by assistant news director Greg Baldwin, which refers to Parker as Alison Bailey (her middle name).

The article goes on to explain that Flanagan interpreted out in the ‘field’ as a reference to cotton fields. In his twisted mind, that was a racist statement.

The article further reports:

“This guy was a nightmare,” Fair (Trevor Fair, a 33-year-old cameraman at WDBJ for six years) said. “Management’s worst nightmare.”

Flanagan assumed everything was a jab at his race, even when a manager brought in watermelon for all employees.

“Of course, he thought that was racist. He was like, ‘You’re doing that because of me.’ No, the general manager brought in watermelon for the entire news team. He’s like, ‘Nope, this is out for me. You guys are calling me out because I’m black.’ ”

Flanagan even declared that ­7-Eleven was racist because it sold watermelon-flavored Slurpees.

“It’s not a coincidence, they’re racist,” he allegedly told Fair. 

How do you deal with a person who is constantly offended by the world around him? Do you refer him for mental testing? Do you put him on some sort of watch list? It seems to me that Flanagan was going to explode at some time. It is a shame that explosion could not have been prevented (without infringing on his civil rights).

Do We Want To Purposely Bring Terrorists Into America?

Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial yesterday about President Obama’s efforts to close the terrorist prison at Guantanamo. The article reports that ‘the Justice Department is quietly renovating a maximum-security prison in Illinois.’ The Justice Department is also examining other American prisons as sites for terrorist prisoners.

There are a number of problems with moving terrorists to America. First of all, do we really believe that their allies won’t attempt to get these people out of American jails by kidnapping Americans, threatening attacks on Americans, etc.? Moving Guantanamo prisoners to America will put American civilians at risk. The advantage of Guantanamo (among other things) is that even if you manage to escape, you really don’t have any place to go that would get you anywhere. Also, if you managed to get away from the Navy base, you had to speak Spanish. In America, all you have to do is get to Dearborn and blend in. The other problem with bringing terrorist prisoners to America is the fact that those of the liberal persuasion will immediately call for trials in civilian courts. If you read the history of World War II, you realize that civilian trials are not appropriate for prisoners of war–the rules of evidence in a civil trial are different than the rules of evidence in a Military Tribunal. In a civilian trial, lawyers would be required to share classified information with lawyers who most likely would have terrorist connections. Also, since when is a terrorist entitled to a civil trial? How much civility did he show his victims?

The prison at Guantanamo is not a perfect solution, but terrorism does not have a perfect solution. If you read The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright or Catastrophic Failure by Stephen Coughlin, you discover the roots and goals of terrorism. The basic goal of Al. Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood is to set up a worldwide caliphate under Sharia Law. The Koran, as the current Muslim leaders have interpreted it, condones any action that will move toward that goal–including murder, lying, and terrorism. Unless we want the prisoners at Guantanamo to continue killing American civilians and American soldiers, we need to leave them where they are.

One final question: Does anyone else see the irony of a President who is very comfortable killing terrorists with drone strikes and no trial at all protesting the treatment of terrorist prisoners at Guantanamo?

This Really Isn’t Much Of A Defense

The Daily Caller posted a story today reporting that Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, who fired the bullet that killed Kate Steinle in San Francisco on July 1, has stated that he did not intend to kill Ms. Steinle. My question is simple, “Why was he firing a gun on the San Francisco Pier in the first place?”  As you know if you read this blog regularly, I fully support gun rights, but I don’t support people being stupid with guns. I support things like gun safety courses in high schools, and people being taught to respect guns and the damage they can do. Mr. Lopez-Sanchez belongs in jail for many reasons, one of which is firing a gun in a public place.

The article reports:

According to the Associated Press, Gonzalez (Matt Gonzalez, who is representing Mr. Lopez-Sanchez) said in court that Lopez-Sanchez “mishandled” the gun.

But a San Francisco police ballistics expert said that the gun was in good condition and would not have been prone to an accidental firing.

Pulling the trigger, however that trigger was pulled, was the only way for that gun to discharge,” the expert said. “This gun could not just be sitting on a table and all of a sudden, due to some malfunction, go off.”

Aside from the fact that this is a very serious matter in which a woman was killed, I put that excuse on about the same level as “the dog ate my homework.”

 

The Path To National Prosperity

 

Investor’s Business Daily posted an article today citing the results of a recent National Bureau of Economic Research study by MIT economist Daron Acemoglu and University of Chicago economist James A. Robinson.

The study reports:

It’s long been a truism that democracy brings benefits and flexibility to an economy that help boost growth. But some theoretical work “suggests that not all the mechanisms unleashed by moving political institutions from autocratic to democratic are positive for economic growth.” The economists built a model that controlled for possible unexpected influences — such as recessions and negative economic shocks, which often take place before a nation turns democratic. It’s tricky.

After doing the necessary number fiddling, what they found was pretty remarkable: “Our central estimates suggest that a country that switches from autocracy to democracy achieves about 20% higher GDP per capita over roughly 30 years.” That’s a huge difference.

The article mentions that after the fall of the Berlin wall, there was a movement around the world toward democracy. Unfortunately, some of the countries that attempted to become democracies have slipped back to their totalitarian ways. Russia, Venezuela, China and Argentina have all encountered major financial crisis since moving away from democracy. The statistics indicate that one of the most basic solutions to those financial problems would be a move toward democracy. The other kingpin of national prosperity is private property rights (rightwinggranny). That is an area where Americans need to be paying attention to what their government is doing. Less private property rights means less prosperity for the citizens of a country. Freedom breeds prosperity. We need to make sure we guard our freedoms.

 

 

Who’s Who In The Middle East

CBN News posted a story today that provides a little bit of background about the continuing conflict in the Middle East. It seems rather ironic that ISIS and Iran, (Shia vs. Sunni) Islam agree on “death to America” and “death to Israel,” but are fighting each other to the death. So what is going on?

The article explains:

“The Sunni and the Shia now are very much at loggerheads,” he (Matthew Levitt, with the Washington Institute) explained. “And while they may share hatred of Israel, they may share hatred of the West — certainly, suspicion of the West, this sectarianism is the dominant issue right now.”

The main battleground right now for this intra-Islam conflict is Syria.

On the Sunni side, there are ISIS, al Qaeda, and other terrorist groups. These groups, who’ve also been known to battle each other, have been supported to various degrees by Sunni governments in the region, such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

On the Shia side are Iran and its proxy, Hezbollah, both of whom are propping up the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.

This Sunni-Shia conflict is also raging in Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen.

Mr. Levitt explained that Sunni Muslims make up about 85 percent of the world’s Muslim population, while Shia make up about 15 percent.

Although the Islamic governments in the Middle East all tend to be repressive, not all of these governments support terrorism. One of the interesting consequences of the ongoing conflict between Sunni and Shia and of Iran’s continuing push to obtain nuclear weapons is the alliance that is growing between Israel and Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. Egypt has dealt with the Muslim Brotherhood, and Jordan and Saudi Arabia are in the sights of the Brotherhood. The plan the Brotherhood voiced a few years ago was to take down the dictatorships in the Middle East, then take down the governments ruled by royal families. That was to be the basis of the new caliphate which both the Sunni and Shia Muslims would like to establish. The debate is not about establishing the caliphate–the debate is over who will control it once it is established. All things considered, ISIS is no more brutal than the government of Iran–they are simply more pubic about it. It won’t matter whether the Sunnis or the Shia control the caliphate–the caliphate will be brutal.

Trying To Turn Turkey Into An Islamic State

This article is based on a Wall Street Journal Article and a Wall Street Journal Editorial from today’s Wall Street Journal.

If you have been reading this website for a while, you are familiar with what has been going on in Turkey recently and how it relates to the end of the Ottoman Empire. So please forgive me for repeating myself, but this is relevant to today’s events.

On 29 October 1923, the Republic of Turkey was proclaimed. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, a Turkish Army officer, was the first President of Turkey. His goal was to set up a secular state rather than an Islamic state. The Ottoman Empire, which Turkey had been part of, was an Islamic Caliphate. Ataturk was looking toward the future and felt that it was in Turkey’s best interests to become a secular state aligned with the West. Ataturk banned the growing of beards by men and the wearing of headscarves by women. He banned the call to prayer by muezzins, abolished the Turkish script and replaced it with the Latin alphabet. In response to the secularization of Turkey, Hassan al Banna founded the Ikhwan al-Muslimin, the Muslim Brotherhood, in Egypt with the goal of forming a new Islamic caliphate.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been in office since 2014. From 2003 to 2014 he was the Prime Minister of Turkey. During his time as Prime Minister and during his time as President, he has attempted to move the country back to an Islamic state. He has purged military leaders that opposed him, and moved his diplomatic ties away from Israel and toward the Arab countries in the region. In June, the election in Turkey undermined his control of the nation and the direction in which he was going. The Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost its majority in parliament.

The article in the Wall Street Journal states:

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the snap election on Monday but didn’t set a date.

On Tuesday, Mr. Erdogan tasked his handpicked successor Ahmet Davutoglu with heading an interim administration. Mr. Davutoglu heads the biggest bloc in parliament, the Justice and Development Party or AKP. He will run the government through the vote and until the next national assembly is seated.

In the last election in June, voters delivered Turkey’s first hung parliament since 2002. Following two months of fruitless coalition talks, Mr. Davutoglu failed to form a government.

Mr. Erdogan then broke with political custom and refused to offer the main opposition party the chance to cobble together its own coalition.

The Wall Street Journal editorial states:

Now Mr. Erdogan seems to hope that an electoral do-over will flip enough marginal seats back to the AKP to restore the party’s simple majority. Politicians in parliamentary democracies often resort to such a tactic, sometimes to good effect. But Mr. Erdogan’s bad faith since his June defeat suggests this is another attempted power grab. The same goes for his efforts to demonize, falsely, the HDP as the political arm of militant Kurdish separatists who have been staging terror attacks inside the country.

All of this is happening as Ankara finally seems to have gotten serious about the Islamic State menace. In the meantime, Turkey’s economy is faltering and peace talks with Kurdish separatists have collapsed. Turkey could use a leader capable of taking his electoral lumps and working within the parliamentary system. Too bad Mr. Erdogan is mainly interested in boosting his own power.

Turkey never really reached its goal of a totally secular state. A friend of mine who worked with a Christian church in Turkey a few years ago told me that it would have been unwise to put a sign in front of the church designating it as a Christian church. Theoretically there was freedom of religion, but it was also suggested that Christians keep their heads down.

We have to find our allies where we can in the Middle East, but we need to remember that the only Middle Eastern country that truly practices freedom of religion is Israel. Israel is the only ally that we can actually count on in that region of the world.

Project Veritas Strikes Again

The video below was posted on YouTube today. It is an undercover video done by Project Veritas.

There are a couple of things to note here. The video opens with a campaign worker telling the journalist from Project Veritas that they are no longer allowed in Hillary Clinton’s Iowa offices. Okay. I suppose that is their right–it is private property. But the question immediately comes to mind, “What are they trying to hide?” The video then goes on to explain that the focus of the campaign cannot be voter registration because they only want to register voters who support Hillary. That makes sense, but it is illegal. The video explains why–Iowa election law 39A.2 (1)(b)(5), states that “A person commits the crime of election misconduct in the first degree if the person willfully … deprives, defrauds, or attempts to deprive of defraud the citizens of this state of a fair and impartially conducted election process.

There is some great irony in this entire situation. States that have passed voter identification laws to combat voter fraud have been accused by Democrats of suppressing voter turnout and disenfranchising voters. Here we have a concrete example of Democratic campaign workers failing to register voters because they do not support the correct candidate. The video shows one clear example of this–the Bernie Saunders supporter was given a flyer–no one offered to register her to vote.

I am not sure how common this sort of biased voter registration is, but the fact that the people who are complaining about voter suppression are doing it is hilarious.

Welcome to the silly season. Get out the popcorn.