I don’t know which I’m more tired of hearing: Barack Obama gloating that one of the richest men in America supports his tax-the-rich efforts, or Warren Buffett whining that his secretary pays a higher tax rate than he does. Let me state for the record that both men are playing fast and loose with the truth, and they both know it.
It is true that Buffett pays a relatively low rate in taxes on most of his income. That’s because it’s not his salary that matters, but what he receives in dividends from his investments. Such dividends are currently taxed at 15 percent a year. If he pays his secretary a decent wage, which I’m sure he does, her tax rate is surely much higher.
But what Warren doesn’t include in his calculations are the taxes that have already been paid on those dividends before he receives them. You see, corporations must pay Uncle Sam 35 percent of all the profits they make before they can send any of those profits to the owners of the company — that is, the shareholders.
As Americans become more frightened by the disastrous direction our government is taking, and more frustrated that elected representatives are not listening to them, the demand is growing for drastic action. In recent months the action most heard in state houses across the nation is a rising call for a new Constitutional Convention (Con Con).
Supporters somehow think a Con Con is the solution to saving our Republic. They want to amend the Constitution to force a balance budget. They want to shore up ambiguous language to make the meaning clear. They want to assure there is no doubt what America is and should be. For most pushing such an agenda, their intentions are honest.
Two employees at the notorious Philadelphia “House of Horrors” clinic operated by late-term abortionist Kermit Gosnell have pleaded guilty to murder in the deaths of a baby born at the clinic and a woman who had come for an abortion. As reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer, 34-year-old Adrienne Moton admitted that she killed a baby who had been born alive at the abortion facility, while Sherry West, 52, pleaded guilty to administering a lethal dose of painkillers and anesthesia to a 41-year-old woman who had come for an abortion.
The guilty pleas leave seven additional individuals to be tried in a case that has stunned even abortion supporters because of the evidence of the murders of both live-born babies and adults at Gosnell’s Women’s Medical Society. “Gosnell, 70, could face the death penalty if convicted,” reported the Boston Herald. “He is accused of cutting the spinal cords of seven babies born alive at his clinic.” He also faces a third-degree murder charge in the death of Karnamaya Mongar, the immigrant woman who died as a result of the drugs he directed West to administer.
Despite the Obama administration’s best efforts to place stricter gun controls on American citizens, support for the Second Amendment is currently at a record high. A recent Gallup poll shows a mere 26 percent of the respondents believe the federal government should ban handguns. Seventy-three percent of those polled are opposed to a government ban on handguns. Another Gallup poll reveals that the percentage of American gun owners has increased as well.
The Second Amendment poll shows a marked increase from the first time the question was asked in 1959, when 60 percent of the respondents favored banning handguns. Those figures changed dramatically by 1975, however, when the majority of Americans began to show opposition for such a measure.
This most current poll shows that support for gun-control measures is at a historic low. Gallup’s website reports:
For the first time, Gallup finds greater opposition to than support for a ban on semiautomatic guns or assault rifles, 53% to 43%. In the initial asking of this question in 1996, the numbers were nearly reversed, with 57% for and 42% against an assault rifle ban. Congress passed such a ban in 1994, but the law expired when Congress did not act to renew it in 2004. Around the time the law expired, Americans were about evenly divided in their views.
During recent political rallies, President Obama ambitiously claimed that he has delivered 60 percent of his 2008 campaign promises, but the watchdog organization Politfact.com reveals that the President’s assertion is far from accurate. Speaking at two fundraisers earlier this week, Obama recounted a list of "accomplishments" which he has resolved during his first term in the White House, as he rattled off a catalog of completed initiatives, including financial regulation, healthcare reform, and pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq.
Those achievements comprise 60 percent of what he strove to achieve, Obama averred, adding, "I’m pretty confident we can get the next 40 percent done in the next five years." Obama acknowledged that "the economy is still hurting," while he emphasized how crucial it is that Republicans support his $447-billion jobs plan, which currently lingers in congressional limbo.
During the first of two fundraisers on Tuesday, the President conceded that the 2012 election will be more challenging than in 2008, as he offered this thought to a group of donors: "This election will not be as sexy as the first one." He added, "Back then, I was — it was still fresh and new, and I didn’t have any gray hair and everybody loved the ‘Hope’ posters and all that. But this time it’s — We’ve got to grind it out a little bit. We’ve got to grind it out."
Democrats in the Senate Super Committee released its list of proposals to reduce the deficit, and it unsurprisingly includes over one trillion dollars in new taxes. ABC reports, “Democrats have proposed a framework for the Super Committee that multiple aides confirm is around $3 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade through a cocktail of cuts to entitlements, including Medicare, and as much as $1.3 trillion in new tax revenues.” The Super Committee is faced with the task of finding a minimum of $1.3 trillion in savings before November 23, when a round of automatic spending cuts will take effect.
Millions no doubt have read or heard the Hans Christian Andersen tale of how some alleged weavers of long ago convinced their emperor that the new clothes they were selling him were made of such fine and rare material that only the stupid and incompetent could fail to see the exquisite threads. The emperor, not wishing to be exposed as either stupid or incompetent, bought the story and the invisible “clothes.” He wore nothing else as he went though the streets in a grand parade, hearing nothing but praise from his subjects on the excellence of his royal attire. Until one simple, unschooled child broke the spell by crying out the simple, unadorned truth: The emperor was wearing no clothes at all.
We are left to imagine what might have followed. Was the politically incorrect brat beheaded for that unseemly outbreak of candor? Placed in a dungeon? Enrolled in one of the emperor’s schools to be reeducated, with a mind more attuned to the political “realities”? And what of the conniving “weavers”? Were they suitably punished for deceiving the emperor and his subjects with false “intelligence” on the nature of the fabric that went into the making of the magnificent new clothes? Or did they receive the emperor’s Medal of Freedom and go off to write books and appear as experts at symposiums on royal apparel?
An after-school Christian kids' club is suing the school district of Owassa, Oklahoma, a suburb of Tulsa, for preventing the club’s organizers from promoting events at one of the district’s schools. According to the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), the conservative legal advocacy group that is representing the club, the district took away the Kids for Christ club’s right to distribute fliers, make announcements, put up posters, and other activities at Northeast Elementary School, arguing that the club, which meets outside of class time, is religious. Meanwhile, the district continues to allow such groups as the Boy Scouts and the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), along with businesses such as a local burrito restaurant, to promote their activities.
“A Christian organization should not be targeted for discrimination when it is simply seeking to publicize its voluntary meetings just like other community groups do,” said ADF attorney Matt Sharp. “The district would have people believe that the Constitution requires a religious organization to be singled out in this manner when, in reality, the Constitution strictly prohibits this type of discrimination. The courts have repeatedly upheld this.”
The federal lawsuit is challenging the district’s policy on approved campus communications, which states: “No literature will be distributed that contains primarily religious, objectionable, or political overtones which may be beneficial to any particular group or business at the expense of others.”
The Internet is very much like television in that it takes time away from other pursuits and provides entertainment and information, but in no way can it compare with the warm, personal experience of reading a good book. This is not the only reason why the Internet will never replace books, for books provide the in-depth knowledge of a subject that sitting in front of a computer screen cannot provide. We can download text from an Internet source, but the aesthetic quality of sheets of downloaded text leaves much to be desired. A well-designed book enhances the reading experience through the visual and tactile senses.
The book is still the most compact and inexpensive means of conveying a dense amount of knowledge in a convenient package. The easy portability of the book is what makes it the most user-friendly format for knowledge ever devised. Kindle, of course, is also quite portable, but you can’t make notes on the book you are reading. Kindle is a portable library, very convenient when traveling, but not the fuzzy book you can curl up with on a cold winter night.
Some readers of this column may very well remember the late ‘70s-early '80s sitcom, Mork and Mindy. Mork, played by Robin Williams, was an alien from the planet “Ork” who had been deployed to Earth in order to discover more about the ways of its inhabitants. At the end of each week’s episode, audiences would watch as Mork relayed his findings to “Orson,” his superior. Now, imagine if a Mork-like being were to visit our planet for the sake of acquiring knowledge regarding America’s politics. What would he discover?
Well, within minutes of his spacecraft landing he would determine that those beings who call themselves “Americans” have something bordering on an obsession with what they call “liberty.” At virtually every turn, it is impossible to go for long without hearing the language of “liberty” and “freedom” spring from their lips.
Being the inquisitive sort that he is, it is only natural that this alien should want to probe more deeply into the character of this “liberty.” So he does. Our sociologist from another planet, so as to keep himself from becoming conspicuous, would first try to discern its meaning by listening carefully to the inflection and intonations of the voices of those speaking of liberty. In doing so, he would become hopeful that he would before long get to the bottom of it all, for what he would detect is that talk of liberty is almost invariably accompanied by excitement and enthusiasm — as sure a sign as any that this “liberty” is something to which these Americans attach no small measure of importance. Liberty, that is, isn’t just a good, as far as the Americans are concerned; it is quite possibly the greatest of all goods.