This Story Hit Home For Me

Today’s Washington Post posted an article by Katherine Ellison, the mother of a child (now a teenager) who was diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity (ADHD) disorder in 2004.  Mrs. Ellison took an aggressive approach to dealing with the disorder, and the article details her dealings with both her son’s behavior and the teachers who were faced with having him in their classrooms.  I would like to say up front that this article was significant to me as a mother who has raised an ADHD child, who is married to an ADHD husband, whose father-in-law was probably ADHD, and who has a grandson who is ADHD.  I have seen the disorder up close and personal.  I would also like to add that based on my observations, ADHD acts very differently in girls than it does in boys.

Mrs. Ellison points out:

“…the U.S. pharmaceutical industry, which by one measure sells more than $5 billion worth of ADHD medications each year – and which only in the United States and New Zealand may market directly to the public – but a growing league of all-but-unregulated, usually costly and sometimes wildly imaginative alternatives, including herbal supplements, complicated exercise regimes to stimulate specific brain regions, magnetic mattresses, personal coaches and therapy “assisted” by dolphins.”

The article also pointed out:

“At the same time, I discovered that some of the most effective interventions are also the simplest and cheapest. Such as educating myself enough to know how much of my son’s behavior is truly within his control. And getting in the habit, with my husband, of finding something to praise about him every day (“Way to breathe!” we began, although we soon found more substantial causes for celebration).

“Regular physical exercise, I found, can also be hugely helpful – and this strategy is backed by a significant amount of research. Russell Barkley, a leading ADHD researcher, cites studies showing that rigorous exercise can increase the brain’s capacity for willpower and emotional self-control, arguably the most important skills lacking in many of the clinically distracted. So too, he says, can maintaining adequate levels of glucose, which has led me to stop pestering my wiry, active son about his many trips to the refrigerator.”

I am not a doctor, but I can confirm a good part of what she is saying.  In the case of my daughter and grandson, sports was a wonderful thing.  It seems as if you have to wear these children out a bit physically before they can settle down and study.  The other thing I have learned in the case of my husband is that coffee (caffeine) seems to settle his brain down to the point where he can concentrate.  I have also learned in the case of my daughter that the hayfever medicine that was supposed to make her sleepy had the opposite effect.  Also, like my husband, coffee slows her down so that she can function more easily.

I  have no idea what the solution to ADHD is.  I commend the author of the article for her willingness to challenge some of the conventional wisdom and find her own solutions.  I know that as someone watching the fourth generation of ADHD, that may actually be the only answer.  Bless you, Mrs. Ellison.  I wish you continued success is dealing with the problem.

Just one further note.  So far all the family members with ADHD have been very bright and very successful.  I wish that for you also.


Protecting The Integrity Of The Voting Process

Unfortunately, I have no answers to the problem cited in this story.  I am, however, very concerned with what has been going on in American elections in the past few cycles–false registrations, illegal voters, etc. 

Hot Air reported Saturday on two new voting machines found in Buffalo, New York.  In a different incident, the article reports:

“This story is hardly the only report of problems. Ed Morrissey previously reported on broad problems with the Tim Bishop race in Long Island where a hand recount produced a startlingly different total than the optical scan machines recorded. In other precincts we saw reports of delays in getting counts out and candidates suddenly doing surprisingly well in areas where they had been consistently polling weakly.”

This is disturbing.  We have seen similar incidents on Massachusetts where when a recount for a state office was done, eighteen votes simply disappeared.  I hope that sometime in the very near future we can create a more reliable vote audit trail.

Michael Yon Comments On Afghanistan

There is so much reported about the war in Afghanistan that it is sometimes hard to know who to believe.  As anyone who reads this blog regularly knows, the source I trust is Michael Yon.  He is a former Green Beret who has been embedded with the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan since December 2004.  Incidently, at his website he currently has some beautiful pictures of the Himalaya near Mount Everest where he has been climbing recently. 

He posted a link on Facebook today:

“I put weight in this report because I know the reporter, Mike Gudgell, from Iraq. We spent much time talking there starting in 2007 and have stayed in touch quite often. We met again earlier this year in Afghanistan and talked all morning. Mike Gudgell is very smart and no nonsense. (He married no nonsense, too: His wife climbed Mt. Everest.) Mike seems to sense some change, as have I.

“Have said it a thousand times, but will say it again. I put particular weight on General Petraeus’s assessment. “P4″ is far too smart and long-thinking to BS about the situation. He knows that someday this war will end, and all that will be left for him will be his track record. I watch him closely. He’s going to give his honest assessment.”

The article he is referring to is found at abc news.  The article was written on November 9 of this year.


Blaming Facebook

Yesterday Fox News posted an article detailing how two different churches handled the issue of their congregations using Facebook. 

The article reports that Rev. Cedric Miller of Living Word Christian Fellowship Church in Neptune, N.J.,ordered about 50 married officials at his church to delete their accounts with social networking sites or resign from their positions. Miller said some 20 couples had run into marital troubles because their spouses connected with or re-ignited a relationship with an ex-flame.

In contrast, the article reports:

“Danielle Hartland, communications director of Grace Church in Erie, Pa., says Facebook itself is not the problem, because it’s morally neutral. “The thing is, Facebook is neither evil or good; it just exists,” she says. “What you do with it determines what it becomes.””

The article details the stands that a number of churches have taken on the use of Facebook and notes that some churches are using the site to increase communication among their members.  Please follow the link to the article, it is an interesting report.

On a personal note, I am on Facebook, as are many members of my church.  Sometimes it is an easy way to convey last minute changes in events or plans and sometimes it is an easy way to encourage someone if you don’t have the time for a visit or a phone call.  Because many of the young people are also on Facebook and are friends with many of the adults in the church and the leadership of the church, it is a good way to keep up with the interests of the younger members of the church.  I personally think the good uses of Facebook outweigh the bad.

Uncertainty Is As Toxic To Business Planning As Bad Policies

Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal‘s Washington Wire Blog reported on the game of chicken currently being played in Congress and with the White House on extending the current tax rates (I did not call them the Bush Tax Cuts because they are not tax cuts for anyone–they are simply an extension of the current tax rates).

According to the article, this is the basic battle:

“House and Senate Democrats kicked things off Thursday by declaring that they’ll bring legislation to the floor of the lame-duck session to extend the current tax rates for families earning less than $250,000 a year, but not for wealthier taxpayers.

“House Republican Leader and Speaker-in-Waiting John Boehner, in this week’s least surprising development, said Republicans will oppose any bill that fails to extend all the Bush tax cuts.”

Speaker-in-Waiting Boehner has stated, “The last thing our economy needs right now is a massive tax hike on families and small businesses — and that’s what the House Democratic leaders’ plan would mean.  We will oppose their job-killing tax hike and do everything we can to stop it.”  I hope he sticks to his guns, because he is right.  To split the extension of the tax rates according to income will allow Congress to lower that income ceiling in the future and will create a lot of problems for small business owners who file their business taxes as individual returns.

The Democrats are suggesting all sorts of policies including a deal that would extend all middle-class tax cuts, retain lower rates on dividends and capital gains, raise the threshold on the top rates from $250,000 to $1 million, and cut the corporate tax rate in half and suspend the payroll tax, both for employers and employees, for the first six months of 2011.

Why don’t they just extend the current tax rates and let people and businesses plan for the coming year?

An Interesting Idea On Airport Security

There seems to be a lot of unhappiness right now about the recent measures added to the airport screening process in America.  The New York Post recently posted an op-ed column on the subject by Michael Totten, an independent foreigh correspondent who does a lot of traveling in the Middle East.

Mr. Totten points out that in Israel, a country that is under constant threat of terrorism, there is profiling–but it is not racial.  As an author who travels through the Middle East regularly to both Israel and Arab countries, Mr. Totten is routinely questioned closely when he flies out of an Israeli airport because of the various stamps on his passport. 

Mr. Totten points out:

“The system has  its advantages, though, aside from the fact that no one looks or reaches into anyone’s pants. Israelis don’t use security theater to make passengers feel like they’re safe.  They use real security measures to ensure that travelers actually are safe.  Even when suicide bombers exploded themselves almost daily in Israeli cities, not a single one managed to get through that airport.”

There are a few problems with trying to import this method to the United States–we are a much bigger country with many more airports.  To put the Israeli program in place would require much more intensive training of TSA agents (similar to the training of border patrol agents or customs officials).  I am reminded of  the fact that the Millennium Bomber was caught because a United States customs inspector, Diana Dean, decided to have a secondary Customs search of Ahmed Ressam’s car performed, based on the way that Ressam was acting–not due to any racial profiling or increased searches due to terrorist threats.

On a recent cross country flight, as we sat in the waiting area after going through security, a drug or explosive-sniffing dog moved around the waiting area.  It would be interesting to know how effective that is and if it could be more widely used.  As I waited to catch a ferry in southern New Jersey a number of years ago, there were police dogs roaming the parking lot.  I believe they were bomb-sniffing dogs, but I am not sure. 

It does seem that there are alternatives to the current security measures being used at our airports.  We need a system that works, that realistically profiles and does not waste the time or invade the privacy of young children, little old ladies (as a little old lady, I like my privacy!), and other non-threatening groups..

The Black Farmers’ Settlement

Today the website reported that the Senate approved a measure to fund $1.2 billion in payments to black farmers for years of discrimination by federal agriculture officials, moving the historic legislation a step forward.  I am posting this article because I have a lot of questions about this legislation.  The Library of Congress website ( is down for maintenance, so I am left to my own resources.

According to the article:

“”This has been a very, very long process,” said John Boyd, president of the National Black Farmers Association. “But we made a huge step for justice tonight … It’s bigger than the black farmers. It’s a big step in the right direction for race relations.”

“The measure must now go to the House, where Democratic leaders have vowed to take it up before the new Congress begins next year. The $4.6 billion measure includes money to pay American Indians as part of a class-action lawsuit.”

Right off the top, I would like to say that it is horrible that the government discriminated against anyone.  That is just wrong and hopefully does not happen anymore.  But I am not sure that throwing $4.6 billion dollars into a pot to make up for past discrimination is the answer.

The American taxpayers who are paying this money are not the ones who discriminated.  If government officials discriminated, they should be the ones held responsible.  My next concern is whether or not the $4.6 billion dollars will go to the people who were discriminated against.  Will it go to the people harmed by discrimination or to some already wealthy lawyers?  What are the percentages?  Lawyers are entitled to make money, but theoretically, they should not profit by someone else’s misfortune–the majority of the money should go to the people wronged.

As I stated earlier, I have more questions about this than answers.

Numbers That Don’t Add Up For The Teachers’ Union

Today’s Washington Examiner reports that the annual salary of American Federation of Teachers (AFT) president Rhonda “Randi” Weingarten was $428,284 in salary and benefits during fiscal year 2010.  Normally, there would be no reason to be concerned what anyone’s annual salary or benefits are, but when you look at some of the statements Ms. Weingarten is making, it changes the picture.

According to the article, Ms. Weingarten’s comment on the report by the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform was:

“While we’re grateful the commission’s chairmen understood the need to hold education investment sacrosanct count on a vigorous fight fight from us over proposed cuts to Social Security and Medicare that would hurt an already-ailing middle class. Shared sacrifice means holding millionaires responsible for their fair share of taxes and ending truly wasteful spending, not sawing off essential lifelines for the middle class, who desperately are trying to keep their heads above water in these precarious economic times. We can help solve the financial future of Social Security and Medicare by investing in putting our people back to work, so they can pay into these programs.  Nothing is more important to the future solvency of the country.”

The article further reports:

“When The Examiner called the AFT to ask whether Weingarten was planning on taking a paycut to demonstrate her belief in shared sacrifice, the spokesman said no.  “No, absolutely not.  She works 24/7 on behalf of union members and the people we serve.  Making sure that people get a great education in public schools in America.  She works to the bottom of her soul.  You can’t put a price tag on that.””

I guess my real first question is, “Where is the $428,284 coming from–union dues?”  The thing to remember here is that we are not dealing with the head of a company that is manufacturing a product or actually providing a service to the public.  This lady is being paid a very large sum of money to make sure teachers (who are generally public employees) receive generous salaries and benefits.  In some states, those generous salaries and benefits are causing major financial difficulties for the states.  I don’t ever want to see the government dictating salaries or benefits for employers or employees, but in this case, the numbers do seem rather high.

Congress Is Going To Be Interesting For At Least The Next Month Or So

Yesterday The Hill‘s Blog Briefing Room reported that the Republicans in Congress are planning to force a vote on defunding National Public Radio (NPR) in response to the firing of Juan Williams last month. 

According to the article:

“House GOP Whip Eric Cantor (Va.) and Rep. Doug Lamborn (Colo.) said that cutting funds to the publicly subsidized news organization was the winner of the conference’s weekly “YouCut” contest, in which the public votes online on spending items they want eliminated.”

I have mixed emotions about this.  I totally disagree with the funding of NPR on principle.  I think the network is perfectly capable of funding itself through good marketing techniques–Big Bird, Elmo, Bob the Builder, etc. ought to be able to raise a significant amount of revenue.  I think the firing of Juan Williams was wrong, but I think that is between NPR and Juan Williams.  In firing Juan Williams, NPR revealed that it is not a well-balanced source of information, but again, to me, that is between NPR and Juan Williams.

The article points out:

“Under the “YouCut” program, the GOP has promised to force votes on spending cuts chosen by online voters each week that the House is in session. Each week, a series of proposed spending cuts is posted online and the House GOP takes up the cut chosen by the most voters.

“The NPR defunding defeated the termination of “Exchanges with Historic Whaling and Trading Partners Program” and the Presidential Election Fund.

“Nearly every one of the items proposed in the Democratic-controlled House has failed to pass. Republicans take control of the House next year.”

I suspect that most of these cuts will continue to be voted down during the next month or so, but it will be interesting to see what happens when the Republicans take control of the House of Representatives in January.  Remember, the House of Representatives holds the purse strings–they control the spending, and the voters made it rather clear in this last election how they felt about continuing the current spending habits.

More News From The Lame Duck

Hot Air reported yesterday that Harry Reid is planning to bring the DREAM Act to the floor of the Senate for a standalone vote during the lame-duck session.  This is a very interesting move.  The DREAM Act is the legilation that will give legal residency to immigrants who arrived in the United States before age 16 and resided here for at least five years, graduated from high school and completed two years of college or military service. They would be subject to background checks, could not have a criminal record, and even if successful would still not be eligible for benefits like Pell grant scholarships.  There is no current age limit on these immigrants–they could presently be in their fifties and still meet the requirements. 

Allahpundit at Hot Air comments:

“What I can’t figure out is whether Reid is moving on this knowing that vulnerable centrists like McCaskill and Tester who are up in 2012 will be inclined to filibuster, or whether he actually thinks he has the votes either via reluctant Blue Dog types signing on or moderate Republicans breaking with the GOP. I assume it’s the former and that he’s only pushing this in the lame duck session so that he can tell amnesty shills he gave it his very best shot when it fails. But if he can keep his caucus together, he only needs one Republican to push it through. Gulp.

“They’re also pressing ahead with DADT (Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell) in the lame duck. And to think, I thought December would be a slow news month.”

I’m really not quite sure why the Democrats are bringing these things up in the lame-duck session.  It may be that they believe that this is their last best chance to get extreme legislation through.  It will be interesting to see how the more conservative Democrats who have just been voted out of office react to these bills.  After January, there will be very few (if any) conservative Democrats in the House of Representatives.  The conservative Democrats who were voted into office on the promise that they would maintain their conservative positions were overpowered by Nancy Pelosi, voted to pass liberal bills, and have been voted out of office.  The Democrats remaining in the House of Representatives are a much more liberal-leaning group than during the past four years.

here Are No Links In This Article–It Is Simply A Rant

There will be an article in the future on the trial of Ahmed Ghailani that contains links to articles that state facts–this is simply a rant.

Ahmed Ghailani was found guilty of conspiracy to blow up government buildings in the al-Qaida attacks on two U.S. embassies in 1998, but he was acquitted on more than 280 other charges. Because some of the evidence that would have been permissible in a military tribunal was not allowed in a civilian trail, the testimony of the man that sold Ahmed Ghailani the dynamite to blow up the embassies was not allowed.  That is the reason Ahmed Ghailani was convicted only on the conspiracy charge and not the 224 murder charges and other charges.

The logic in this conviction is also amazing.  He is convicted on conspiring to blow up a building, but not convicted in the deaths of the people killed when he blew up the building.  That makes my head hurt.  Even life in prison is too kind to this man.  During World War II there would have been no question of a military tribunal and a death sentence.

We need to remember that Ahmed Ghailani is not an American citizen.  He is not entitled to the civil rights of American citizens.  He is a man who is responsible for the deaths of Americans and other innocent people working in a embassy.  He is a foreign terrorist.  Why in the world are we treating him with kid gloves? 

My heart goes out to the families of the people who were killed in the embassy bombings.  Hopefully they will see some sort of justice and closure on these events in the future.

Eating ‘Green’ Is Not What It Appears To Be posted an article by John Stossel about some of the myths involved in eating ‘free-range’ beef. 

The article reports:

“Don’t believe me? Dr. Jude Capper, an assistant professor of dairy sciences at Washington State University, has studied the data (

“Capper said: “There’s a perception out there that grass-fed animals are frolicking in the sunshine, kicking their heels up full of joy and pleasure. What we actually found was from the land-use basis, from the energy, from water and, particularly, based on the carbon footprints, grass-fed is far worse than corn-fed.”

“How can that be?

“”Simply because they have a far lower efficiency, far lower productivity. The animals take 23 months to grow. (Corn-fed cattle need only 15.) That’s eight extra months of feed, of water, land use, obviously, and also an awful lot of waste. If we have a grass-fed animal, compared to a corn-fed animal, that’s like adding almost one car to the road for every single animal. That’s a huge increase in carbon footprints.””

The article further states:

“But what about those hormones the cows are given? Surely that cannot be good for us.

“”What we have to remember is every food we eat — whether it’s tofu, whether it’s beef, whether it’s apples — they all contain hormones. There’s nothing, apart from salts, that doesn’t have some kind of hormone in them.”

“So the next time you reach for that package of beef in the grocery store tagged with all the latest grass-fed, free-range lingo, remember: Not only does it often cost twice as much, but there’s no evidence it’s better for the environment or better for you.”

The bottom line here is simple–if eating free-range beef or chicken makes you feel better, then go to it, just don’t think you are really doing anything significant for the environment or yourself.  Free-range may (or may not) be kinder to the animals (I suspect that depends on the farm), but it really doesn’t make a positive difference in the long run!

Another Plan To Raise Your Taxes

Today’s Wall Street Journal is reporting that a deficit-reduction plan put together by a panel of Democrats, Republicans, economists and other experts is expected to be introduced today.  The plan is co-authored by Democratic budget veteran Alice Rivlin and former Sen. Pete Domenici (R., N.M.),

According to the article:

“The most recent report, put together by a group called the Bipartisan Policy Center, will call for a one-year payroll-tax holiday in 2011 that it says will create between 2.5 million and 7 million jobs.

“The plan would lower income and corporate tax rates and offset them with a 6.5% national sales or “consumption” tax as well as an excise tax on sugar drinks like soda.”

The national sales tax is essentially a vat (value added tax) tax, something very common in Europe. 

According to the article, the plan also includes:

• Changing the formula for social-security taxes so that they are levied against 90% of all wages, compared with the current system, which caps the tax at a certain income level.

• Major cuts in discretionary spending. Both singled out a government policy that allows military retirees to collect full benefits after 20 years.

• Cuts to farm subsidies and either eliminating or limiting certain politically popular tax breaks, such as the mortgage-interest tax deduction.

There are some problems with this.  To single out military retirees retirement is just ridiculous.  The people who serve in our military do not live the same sort of life as the rest of us–they are forced to move their families every two to four years, they deal with long periods of being separated from their spouses, their salaries are not comparable to the civilian world, and they put their lives on the line on a regular basis.  If you would like to cut someone’s retirement benefits, try federal workers and government officials (including the House and Senate).

This is not a workable long-term proposal.  It is a bunch of gimmicks that hopefully will help with unemployment, but only termporarily, and will not do anything about baseline budgeting or the true causes of our budget deficit.

Baseline budgeting is explained as follows at the Citizens Against Government Waste website:

“Baseline budgeting tilts the budget process in favor of increased spending and taxes. For example, if an agency’s budget is projected to grow by $100 million, but only grows by $75 million, according to baseline budgeting, that agency sustained a $25 million cut. That is analogous to a person who expects to gain 100 pounds only gaining 75 pounds, and taking credit for losing 25 pounds. The federal government is the only place this absurd logic is employed.”

We will never solve the deficit problem unless we are willing to acknowledge the root of the problem.

The Food Safety Modernization Act

The lame-duck session of Congress is already up to mischief.  The St. Petersburg Examiner reports today that the Senate is scheduled to consider the FDA Food Safety Modernization 

The article describes the bill as follows:

“This is a poorly written bill that expands the authority and jurisdiction of the: Department of Health and Human Services, Food & Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control, EPA, and Homeland Security.  It will make food more expensive, and make life more difficult for small farmers, food processors, and distributors.”

Under the bill food facilities will be required to “identify and evaluate known or reasonably foreseeable hazards that may be associated with the facility.”  The problem here is the word ‘foreseeable.’  Farmers and businessmen are not psychic–who determines whether or not a problem was foreseeable?

According to

“It will create 17,000 new bureaucrats, who’s job is going to be to harass small farmers.  It will create huge regulatory burdens for small family farms and even for those who want to grown their own food.  This will choke out small farms.  For those who like to buy their own healthy food, forget it.  It will no longer be available.”

This is another government power grab that needs to be stopped in its tracks or repealed when the Republicans take over the House of Representatives in January.  My home garden where I grow tomatoes should not be subject to government regulation!

Government Is Not The Solution To Our Problems, Government Is The Problem

The Wheeling Intelligencer and News-Register  reported today that after the government declared that inflation was low enough not to increase social security benefits for senior citizens, the President is suggesting a 1.4 percent pay raise for 2.1 million federal workers. 

The article points out some basic facts about the government’s payroll:

  • Civil servants on the federal payroll earned an average of $123,049, including benefits, in 2009, according to USA Today. That same year, average compensation for workers in the private sector, including benefits, was $61,051, reports the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
  • The average federal salary has increased 33 percent faster than inflation during the past decade.
  • During the past five years, the number of federal employees paid $150,000 or more a year has increased by more than 1,000 percent.
  • The $150,000-plus category of employees makes up 3.9 percent of the federal workforce. In 2005, it was 0.4 percent.

The article reminds us that it has been suggested that Congress should freeze the pay of federal employees, following the example of many private companies.  That would be a good start in reducing the deficit.

Because This Was Successful, There Will Be Much More To Follow

CNS News is reporting today that the British government has agreed to pay millions of pounds (dollars) in settlements to a group of former Guantanamo Bay detainees who were suing the government for alleged complicity in their torture overseas.

The article reports:

“Britain’s ITV News reported that at least 7 ex-detainees would receive payments, and claimed one man would be paid more than one million pounds (US$1.6 million). It did not cite its sources.”

There is so much wrong with this I don’t know where to start.  First of all, the British are putting $1.6 million in the hands of terrorists.  I questions the wisdom of that.  Second of all, it is common knowledge that terrorists who have been captured are taught to claim mistreatment.  Possibly they were mistreated, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are terrorists.  Is it wise to give terrorists $1.6 million in order to avoid some potentially nasty publicity?  What impact does this have on the future safety of the British?  Of the world? 

It is sad to see the courts uphold the rights of the people who want to destroy them.  It makes no sense.  It is another example of how those involved in terrorism with the goal of forming a worldwide caliphate are using our governments against us to further their goals.

The Math Just Doesn’t Add Up

Yesterday the Daily Caller posted an article about President Obama’s not wanting to extend the ‘Bush tax cuts’ for the rich because it would cost too much.  The President argues that with the deficit as high as it is right now, we can’t afford those tax cuts.  First of all, we are not talking about tax cuts for anyone–we are talking about keeping the tax rates where they are at the present time. 

The article points out:

“Obama’s argument that extending all of the tax relief would cost too much is too disingenuous to let stand.  Of the $3.6 trillion, 10-year tax hike at issue (Obama’s figures), the president proposes to prevent tax hikes representing 83 percent of the total, while saying that the other 17 percent is too expensive to forgo.  If one or the other were too expensive, it would be the 83 percent in the middle-class tax relief provisions, not the 17 percent representing the balance.”

I hope the Republicans stand strong on extending all of the tax rates as they are.  Remember what happened when George Bush compromised with the Democrats and raised taxes on luxury items in late 1990?  As luxury items stopped selling, the people making them lost their jobs.  That caused a ripple in the economy that led to a minor recession.  Tax policies do have an impact on the economy.  The Laffer Curve shows that cutting taxes generates more government revenue; cutting taxes also encourages more economic growth.  Hopefully, the ‘Bush tax cuts’ for everyone will be extended for everyone at least for a few years.

The Influence Of The Tea Party

The members of Congress elected because of their support of Tea Party ideas has not even been sworn in yet, but they are having an impact.  The Los Angeles Times is reporting today that Senator Mitch McConnell announced Monday he would support a proposal put forward by conservative Republicans to ban so-called earmark spending in the new Congress.  Until today, Senator McConnell had been opposed to the ban on earmarks, saying that it would not save a significant amount of money.  Technically that may be true, but when you look at the earmarks added into the healthcare bill in order to pass it, earmarks become very expensive and have a tremendous impact. 

The article reports:

“McConnell’s announcement came after a meeting this morning with 12 of the 13 new GOP senators in his office. His fellow Republican leaders hailed the turnaround.

“”An earmark moratorium shows that elected officials are serious about restoring trust between the American people and those elected to represent them. This is a strong first step — though only a first step — towards making the tough choices required to get our country back on track,” Ohio Rep. John Boehner, likely to be the next speaker of the House, said in a statement.

“”Now that Republicans are taking real action to end wasteful spending, I hope President Obama follows through with his rhetoric and promises to veto any bill with Democrat earmarks,” DeMint said.”

Hopefully this is the beginning of turning off the money spigot in Washington and the dawn of a new era for the American taxpayer.

Does The Law Treat Everyone Equally ?

Most of us don’t have our financial information reported in the New York Times, so I guess the circumstances on the events I am about to chronicle would not apply, but I do have questions as to how much of the following you or I would be allowed to get away with without seeing the inside of a jail cell.

According to Right American Word Press in October 2009:

“…The New York Times reported on September 5, 2008, that, “Representative Charles B. Rangel has earned more than $75,000 in rental income from a villa he has owned in the Dominican Republic since 1988, but never reported it on his federal or state tax returns, according to a lawyer for the congressman and documents from the resort.”;

“Whereas in an article in the September 5, 2008 edition of The New York Times, his attorney confirmed that Representative Rangel’s annual congressional Financial Disclosure statements failed to disclose the rental income from his resort villa;

“Whereas The New York Times reported on September 6, 2008 that, “Representative Charles B. Rangel paid no interest for more than a decade on a mortgage extended to him to buy a villa at a beachfront resort in the Dominican Republic, according to Mr. Rangel’s lawyer and records from the resort. The loan, which was extended to Mr. Rangel in 1988, was originally to be paid back over seven years at a rate of 10.5 percent. But within two years, interest on the loan was waived for Mr. Rangel.”;”

I understand that there are many other charges against Congressman Rangel, but it seems to me that the IRS generally takes the concept of unreported income rather seriously.  The New York Times report is more than a year old.

Today, according to The Hill, after Charlie Rangel walked out of his ethics trial, the House eithics panel decided to continue the trial.  According to The Hill:

“Chisam (Blake Chisam, the staff director and chief counsel for the full ethics committee)  moved forward with the case after the adjudicatory committee rejected a request by Rangel to delay the trial because he lacked counsel. Rangel’s team of attorneys told him they could no longer represent him in late October, and Rangel said he could not afford to hire a replacement right away after incurring almost $2 million in legal fees during the past two years.

“Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, offered a motion to continue the trial after Rangel opened his remarks by pleading for a delay and complaining about the unfairness of proceeding with the trial while he lacks counsel.”

Charlie Rangel may be a dedicated public servant, but it is time for him to leave the stage.  I don’t know if he thought tax evasion, using rent-controlled apartments as offices, etc. were acceptable behavior or not, but I do know that many Americans are now awake and planning to hold their elected officials to some sort of ethical standard.  The days of a free lunch for the political class are rapidly coming to an end.

If Obamacare Is Really Workable, Why All The Waivers ?

Michelle Malkin reported yesterday that HHS Secretay Kathleen Sebelius has approved 111 Obamacare waivers for businesses, unions, and other providers of health insurance providers.  The article lists some of the aspects of the waivers:

“Aetna, based in Hartford, Connecticut, was part of a first round of waivers in September for 209,423 beneficiaries in plans that don’t comply with the new requirement. Oak Brook, Illinois- based McDonald’s Corp., the world’s largest restaurant chain, Jack in the Box Inc., based in San Diego, and the United Federation of Teachers also were among the waiver recipients.

“About 200,000 people were included in the new round of exemptions, bringing the total to almost 1.2 million people, HHS said on its website. Also on the list for exemptions are Manor Care Inc., a nursing-home company owned by Washington-based private equity firm Carlyle Group, and Universal Forest Products Inc., a lumber company based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Spokesmen for Manor and Universal Forest didn’t immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

“…Dish Network, the Englewood, Colorado-based No. 2 U.S. satellite-television provider, will be given a waiver for 3,597 employees, and Orlando, Florida-based Darden Restaurants, owner of the Olive Garden and Red Lobster chains, will get a waiver for 34,000 workers, according to the HHS list. Darden spokesman Rich Jeffers didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Dish Network spokesman Marc Lumpkin declined to comment.

“The waivers, which last for a year and can then be renewed, let workers keep coverage until new options are available in four years under the law, said Jessica Santillo, a spokeswoman for the agency.”

If you look at this carefully, you realize how many people would actually lose their healthcare insurance had the waivers not been issued.  The questions then becomes, “Shouldn’t we take another look at this program in light of the fact that it is doing exactly the opposite of what was promised?”

Meanwhile, Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), vowed Friday to introduce legislation killing a part of the new healthcare reform law that imposes new tax-filing requirements on small businesses.  He wants to end the requirement that businesses report any purchases of over $600 to the IRS.  He points out that this will impose undue paperwork burdens on companies amid an economic downturn when they can least afford it.

I have a better idea.  Let’s repeal the entire law and start over with tort reform, portability across state lines, and tax credits for individuals buying their own health insurance.

We Need To Stop Government Overreach

Yesterday the Daily Caller posted an article about the Paycheck Fairness Act, which the Senate will be debating in the lame-duck session next week.  The aim of the bill is to promote ‘gender equality’ in the workplace. 

According to the article, opposition to the bill is based on the fact that:

“…(the bill) would try to ensure pay equity by restricting employers salary decisions, making it easier to file suit against employers believed to be engaged in sex-bases pay discrimination and requiring businesses to desclose detailed salary information to the government.”

The article points out that the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act already provide protection against gender-based wage discrimination.

The article further points out that the Business Roundtable and The Business Council sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget Peter Orszag in June citing the Paycheck Fairness Act as legislation that would hurt economic growth and stifle job creation.  According to the article:

“[Paycheck Fairness] would open companies to potentially crippling employment litigation without adding significant benefit to workers, since current law already addresses the discrimination issue,” the letter read.

“In spite of the concerns coming from the business community, women’s groups, labor organizations, and even the president insist that the Paycheck Fairness Act is essential to ensure that women are treated fairly in the workplace.”

If we truly want to see job growth in America, we need to get the government out of businesses.  The Equal Pay Act already addresses this problem, and the fear of lawsuits will hinder any business from hiring.  Business works more efficiently when owners do not have to spend a large portion of their time filling out forms for the government.  We would be better off making sure we enforce the laws already on the books instead of constantly trying to create more laws.



Status Of The START Treaty

According to The Hill‘s Blog Briefing Room yesterday:

“President Obama assured Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Sunday that the lame-duck session will be used to ratify the START nuclear-arms treaty.

“According to the White House pool report, Obama gave his commitment to his Russian counterpart as the two met, both lauding their friendship and relationship built up over the past two years.

“”I reiterated my commitment to getting the START treaty done during the lame-duck session,” Obama said at a photo op, calling passage of the treaty a “top priority” of his administration.”

There are a few obvious questions to ask about this commitment.  Why push the treaty through in a lame-duck session when the newly-elected Congress will be seated in six weeks?  Why was the treaty not considered before the election?  What is in the treaty that makes the President want to push it through in a lame-duck session?

The answers to these questions may be found in a article about the problems with the START treaty.  The article at Heritage lists twelve flaws in the treaty.

Flaw #1: New START fails to speak to the issue of protecting and defending the U.S. and its allies against strategic attack.

Flaw #2: New START imposes restrictions on U.S. missile defense options.

Flaw #3: The atrophying U.S. nuclear arsenal and weapons enterprise make reductions in the U.S. strategic nuclear arsenal even more dangerous.

Flaw #4: New START counts conventional “prompt global strike” weapons against the numerical limits imposed on nuclear arms.

Flaw #5: The Obama Administration has made New START an essential part of a broader agenda that pursues the goals of nuclear nonprolifera­tion and nuclear disarmament concurrently.

Flaw #6: New START’s limits are uninformed by a targeting policy that is governed by the protect and defend strategy.

Flaw #7: New START leaves in place a large Russian advantage in nonstrategic (tactical) nuclear weapons.

Flaw #8: New START does not appear to limit rail-mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

Flaw #9: The BCC’s mandate is overly broad.

Flaw #10: The New START limitations are unclear on whether they would permit the U.S. to counter future threats from a combination of states.

Flaw #11: New START is not adequately verifiable.

Flaw #12: The Obama Administration believes that Russian cheating under New START is only a marginal concern.

This is one of those articles I occasionally post that includes a lot of things I don’t really understand.  Having read through the Heritage Foundation’s objections to the START Treaty, I am relatively sure that it would not be a good treaty for the United States.  I think the benchmark for any treaty should be (in the words of Ronald Reagan), “Trust, but verify.”  We have no reason to believe that the world is a safe place for any nation.  To sign a treaty that essentially steps away from our commitment to self-defense is not smart.  Hopefully Congress will not approve this treaty.

This Is Not The Action Of A “Religion Of Peace”

Today’s Washington Examiner reported on the sentencing of Asia Bibi, a 45-year-old Pakistani woman, to death for being a Christian.  Under Pakistan’s Islamic sharia law, professing Christianity is blasphemy against Islam and is punishable by death. 

The article states:

“That’s the unsolvable problem posed by the political, religious and cultural relativism at the heart of the PC mindset – It it logically impossible to simultaneously insist that all views, faiths, and cultures are equally valid and deserving of respect while tolerating one that insists – on pain of death – that it along must be followed by all others.”

In simple terms, if all religions are the same, how is it ok for one religion to kill people for not endorsing it?  The death sentence for Asia Bibi is one reason that Islam must never be allowed to infiltrate the courts of the United States.  It is a reason why Oklahoma was very wise to ban the use of Sharia Law in its state courts.  We need more states to do the same.


What Has Happened To The Justice Department

Yesterday Front Page Magazine posted an article about a Justice Department investigation into Chris Christie, current governor of New Jersey.  According to Front Page Magazine:

“This month, the Justice Department’s inspector general released a report purporting to show that Christie, who has built up a reputation as a spending-slashing fiscal conservative by taking on New Jersey’s bloated public sector, routinely overcharged the government for hotel stays while in his former job as a U.S. Attorney. Christie exceeded the government’s set rate for travel expenses on 14 of 15 trips, according to the report; on nine of those trips, his “lodging costs exceeded the government rate by more than $100 per night.” These costs, which went over the government rate by between $19 and $242 a night, ultimately totaled $2,176.”

These are not new charges–they were brought up and dealt with during Christie’s campaign for governor.  According to the article:

“…Christie parried the charges by pointing out, reasonably enough, that with just a few rooms offered at the government rate at every hotel, staying within the set government rate was not always possibility. Nevertheless, he explained that he tried to stay at a cheaper hotel whenever that was an option. Whatever view one takes of that particular controversy – and New Jersey’s voters registered their opinion clearly when they voted Christie into office – there is nothing revelatory in the Justice Department’s audit.”

The Justice Department has become political and unjust under President Obama.  They have refused to investigate the New Black Panthers voting intimidation scandal, they have sued a state for attempting to control immigration, and they are going after those who they believe are political enemies.  It really is time for the new Republican House of Representatives to begin their investigations.