An atheist group has turned its attention to the federal tax code, but not because of its astronomical size and scope. Instead, the Freedom from Religion Foundation is concerned with what it alleges to be an unconstitutional exemption for Christian ministers. The Freedom from Religion Foundation, which typically launches battles to ensure the oft-used maxim of “separation of church and state,” has joined three of its officers in filing a lawsuit against Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman. A portion of the lawsuit reads: Section 107 has the effect of fostering governmental entanglement with religion, precisely in order to limit the tax break provided by §107 to religious clergy; the IRS must make complex, intrusive and subjective inquiries into religious matters when applying §107 in order to limit its preferential scope to ministers of the gospel.
If the American Physical Society's numbers on global warming are accurate, the earth's temperature has been "amazingly stable" and "human health and happiness have improved" during a century and a half of minor climate change, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Ivar Giaever said in a message to the APS, explaining why he is resigning from the society. Giaever cited a 2007 statement by the organization calling the evidence of global warming "incontrovertible." "Global warming is occurring," the APS said at that time. "If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth's physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now." Giaever sent word of his resignation in an email to AP official Kate Kirby, International Business Times reported. In it, the 82-year-old native of Norway took sharp issue with what he appears to regard as dogmatism by the organization on the subject of climate change.
“Pass this bill now,” President Obama is repeatedly demanding, regarding his new American Jobs Act. There’s nothing new in the legislation, just more government spending, more transfers of money from “the rich” to Obama’s political allies, more spending for infrastructure enhancement so we all won’t allegedly be buried by collapsing schools and bridges. And the “rush” tactics are the same. As with ObamaCare, there’s a proclaimed “crisis,” followed by demands to pass legislation “now,” even if no one’s adequately analyzed the bill, even if no one’s read it, even if the legislation will only make things worse, and even if we’re already flat broke. And as with earlier stimulus packages, roads are a particular priority in the American Jobs Act, so much so that you’d think we were all riding around in mud ruts.
Many in the media and in politics have gone ballistic over the fact that Texas Governor Rick Perry called Social Security "a Ponzi scheme." Although many act shocked, shocked, as if Rick Perry had said something unthinkable, Governor Perry is not even among the first thousand people to call Social Security a Ponzi scheme. Not only conservatives, but even some liberals, have been calling Social Security a Ponzi scheme for decades. Moreover, neither the media nor the politicians who are carrying on over the use of the words "Ponzi scheme" show the slightest interest in any hard facts that would tell us whether Social Security is or is not a Ponzi scheme. It is a "gotcha" moment, and that is apparently what some people live for. What makes this nonsense become fraud is the insinuation that calling Social Security a Ponzi scheme means advocating that people who are depending on Social Security be abandoned and left with nothing to live on in their retirement years. That is the big scare — and the big lie.
Although rarely looked at as such by the typical person, labor is an economic transaction. It’s a simple trade — one where the worker willingly gives to his employer, in exchange for monetary and benefit compensation, the use of his physical and mental services. As with any free market economic activity, either party can prevent ongoing transactions, whether such termination is based on dissatisfaction with what the exchange garners or on the influence of supply and demand in the micro- and macro-markets. Basically, the act of employment is really no different from making a purchase at the local grocery store. Unions, though, don’t see it that way. Whereas non-unionized employment sees equal strength and value between worker and the company, unionized plants are different. There, the workers are granted dominance in the transaction and the standard rules of fair and equal trade are thrown out the window. Through its perverse leftist outlook, organized labor views any given job as a right rather than a privilege.
Like many of my fellow Americans, I have been forced to economize and become more of a bargain hunter than I was in the happy days of go-go prosperity. Having been brought up in the great Depression, I still pick up pennies, and I have always loved a bargain, but now more than ever. So now when I receive three colorful supermarket circulars in the mail each week, I examine them closely to see where the bargains are. We have one supermarket chain in this area of Massachusetts that has the best overall prices. Yes, even some of their prices have gone up, but they’ve been able to maintain low prices for some essential items. For example, milk. They sell a half-gallon for $1.59, while other markets charge over $2.00. I expect their price will go up one of these days, but so far so good. Staples has been offering low prices on a number of utilitarian and back-to-school items. For example, the other day I picked up a packet of four scouring pads for one dollar.
A couple from West Palm Beach, Florida, has just been awarded $4.5 million in a “wrongful birth” suit against a doctor and an ultrasound technician. The couple charged that the medical professionals were negligent because had they known they were to give birth to a severely disabled child, born without arms and with only one leg, they would have aborted the baby. Ana Mejia and Rodolfo Santana sued Dr. Marie Morel and her ultrasound technician for a staggering $9 million, estimated to cover the child’s expenses for the next 70 years. Mejia and Santana alleged that the doctor should have been able to see the baby’s disabilities during the ultrasounds. The jury, consisting of four men and two women, agreed that the doctor and ultrasound technician failed to properly read the sonograms. They determined that the doctor was 85 percent negligent and the technician was 15 percent negligent.
Observers might think that the largest, most expensive embassy ever built — the $750 million, heavily fortified U.S. embassy in Baghdad — would be more than sufficient to sustain the diplomatic corps that will remain in Iraq after U.S. troops are withdrawn. In fact, however, that 1.5-square-mile walled complex is, according to the Huffington Post’s Dan Froomkin, “turning out to be too small for the swelling retinue of gunmen, gardeners and other workers the State Department considers necessary to provide security and ‘life support’ for the sizable group of diplomats, military advisers and other executive branch officials who will be taking shelter there once the troops withdraw from the country.” The last remaining troops are scheduled to leave Iraq by December 31, though the Obama administration has been working hard to ensure that some residual force remains — anywhere from 3,000 to 10,000 troops. But while the official military presence is declining, the number of embassy personnel is set to double to 16,000, about half of whom will be security forces. The State Department will have 5,000 security contractors comprising a private army under the command of the Secretary of State.
The results of an annual survey of U.S. troops shows the already-dismal approval rates for President Obama’s performance dropped to just 25 percent among the military respondents. Support for his strategy in Afghanistan plummeted further, and less than one fourth of those surveyed said they approved of American intervention in Libya. There was one bright spot, however. When asked about plans to withdraw all American soldiers from Iraq by the end of the year, 70 percent of respondents either approved or “strongly” approved. Only 43 percent said “yes” when asked whether the U.S. should have invaded in the first place. And about 4 in 10 approved of Obama’s handling of the war in Iraq — about the same amount of support as in last year’s survey.
It’s time to originate a new joke: “What do you call 10,000 statists at the bottom of the sea? A good start.” What prompts me to quip about this watery solution is the latest bit of lunacy from the Tolerance and Diversity Nazis: Wisconsin education officials have ordered Berlin High School near Milwaukee to change its nickname from the “Indians.” The problem, found the Department of Public Instruction (DPI), is that the name is race-based. The first reaction should be, “So what?” But more on that in a moment. The Chicago Tribune reports that this move was instigated by a complaint from a Berlin HS alumnus. That’s right, one complaint. Talk about the squeaky (and one-screw-loose) wheel getting the grease.