At 5:30 p.m. on a Wednesday in June, Thomas James Ball of Holden, Massachusetts, drenched himself with gasoline and struck a match. He burned to death at the door of the courthouse in Keene, New Hampshire. “I saw a man standing on fire,” one eyewitness told WMUR-Channel 9. “He walked around a little bit, walked on to the grass, collapsed on all fours and literally sat there and burned.” “Several men said their attempts to help Ball proved ineffective,” WMUR continued, “partly because it appeared he did not want to be helped. ‘He just looked like he was just chilling there, doing yoga or something. It was weird. We were all stunned,’ said witness Sean Desio.” By air-time that evening, “Investigators [had] not released any possible motive” for this very public, agonizing, and dramatic suicide. But Ball himself solved the mystery the next day, when his last words — all 15 carefully investigated, cogently argued pages of them — reached Keene’s Sentinel.
Now that the U.S. military, under the auspices of NATO, has “liberated” Libya, that country is on a path to become the third such nation to establish Sharia as the principal basis for all future constitutional legislation. With the pen of power placed in their hands by the armed forces of the United States, the members of the Libyan Transitional National Council (TNC) has released a draft of a proposed new constitution that enumerates Islamic Sharia law as its foundation. Sharia, which means “path” in Arabic, is the sacred law of Islam. The precepts of Sharia have two sources: the Koran and the writings of Mohammed. Sharia is the code that is responsible for the stoning of adulteresses; the caning of rape victims; and the restrictions on dress, rights of inheritance, and marital status of women.
Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, an Iowa native, won the Republicans' Ames, Iowa Straw Poll on August 13. That fact was reported by most of the national media. However, in an incredible display of conformity bias, virtually all of the major media blacked out the fact that Rep. Ron Paul of Texas came in a close second, in a virtual tie with Bachmann, with less than one percentage point difference between them. On many of the major media news shows and Sunday talk programs, the network "analysts" and guest "experts" mentioned every GOP presidential candidate (and some who are not candidates: Palin, Trump, Christie) — every candidate, that is, except Ron Paul, who had just accomplished a huge underdog victory. The glaring hypocrisy of the "lamestream media" commentators in pretending to be objectively reporting on the event while blatantly censoring Ron Paul out of existence was too much for liberal comedian/commentator Jon Stewart of Comedy Central's The Daily Show.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon believes that there is a global environmental crisis that requires looting the Western economies to the tune of trillions of dollars in coming years. But such financial plundering apparently will not be standing in the way of a quite substantial pay increase for United Nations employees. At a time when the West is reeling from a global recession, and individuals, corporations, and even profligate governments are realizing that a measure of financial reality is no longer optional, the recent UN diktat that $76 trillion would be needed over the next two generations to be redistributed as Third World environmental welfare sounded like a bad joke. Now, the decision to enact a significant pay raise for UN bureaucrats is further proof of Ban’s poor sense of comedic timing.
For as frequently as I have defended Ron Paul against his detractors, it may surprise some readers to discover that while I consider myself to be something of a libertarian, philosophically speaking, I am poles apart from the libertarianism of which Paul is such an impassioned supporter. In contemporary politics, and, indeed, contemporary life, it is not at all uncommon to hear partisans speak of the “philosophical” differences between themselves and their opponents. Few people, though, really understand what philosophy is. This is no criticism; even those of us who make our living as philosophers have not infrequently found ourselves divided as to the character of our craft.
While GOP presidential hopefuls surround President Obama in election polls, the Democratic Party is scrambling to revamp its fundraising efforts. Through July, the three national Republican party groups — the Republican National Committee (RNC), the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), and the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) — have raised a combined $105 million this year, a whopping 19 percent less than the combined $129 million pocketed by the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC). President Obama’s poll matchups against GOP presidential candidates have aroused concern from the Democratic Party, as the President’s approval numbers continue to wane — hovering around an all-time low of 40 percent. In the latest Gallup poll, "Mitt Romney leads Obama by two percentage points, 48% to 46%, Rick Perry and Obama are tied at 47%, and Obama edges out Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann by two and four points, respectively." Gallup’s generic presidential poll shows Obama ahead of a generic "Republican presidential candidate," 45 percent to 39 percent.
Those top Wall Street workers who supported President Obama in 2008 have now redirected their loyalty to GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney, according to a Fox News report. The reported shift in support from Wall Street workers may prove to be a nice financial boost for Romney’s campaign, and represents a significant divide between President Obama and businesses in America. The Blaze reports: "Romney has established himself as the “Wall Street favorite” for the Republicans, and [Fox Business Network’s Charlie] Gasparino said Romney’s moderate reputation and experience working on Wall Street have helped seal his position. Tea Party candidates for president don’t have much of a chance getting significant backing from the banks."
Pretend you’re at church for Morning Worship, or attending a crowded lecture, or watching Hollywood’s latest with a few hundred other fans. Suddenly, a SWAT team breaks down the door, submachine guns at the ready. Amid screams, their commander shouts, “Listen up! We’re gonna kill 10% of you — but the mayor was very clear that we gotta be fair about it. So, how ya wanna do this? Should we draw names out of a hat? Go through and shoot every tenth person? Maybe we oughta just work our way down from oldest and sickest until we get to 10%. Or ya want us to take volunteers first? I’m open to suggestions.” Yep, this is insane. Ditto if the mayor merely commanded the SWATters to rape rather than murder 10% of the audience. There is no “fair” way to commit such heinous crimes. Why then do we insist there’s a “fair” way to steal — or, in the State’s euphemism, to tax? Whatever we call it, taking money from people against their will violates both the Eighth Commandment and the Golden Rule.
I am surprised by how many famous people who have achieved great success in their chosen careers have also revealed that they are dyslexic and can’t read functionally. Among them are actors Tom Cruise, Henry Winkler, and Cher; millionaires Nelson, Laurence, and David Rockefeller; Charles Schwab, Richard Branson, and others. In the case of the Rockefeller brothers, they all attended the experimental Lincoln School, endowed by their father, where they were taught to read by the whole-word method, which caused their dyslexia. And probably the others acquired their dyslexia in public and private schools much in the same way. But what is even more disconcerting is that none of these famous people have been, or were, cured of their dyslexia.
In his report to a Senate subcommittee Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe spelled out clearly why the U.S. Postal Service can’t make any money: too many cooks in the kitchen. Hamstrung and limited by rules and “stakeholders” with differing and often competing agendas, what’s remarkable is that the postal service isn’t deeper in the hole. Heaven knows, he’s trying. Through agreements finally reached with the letter carrier unions, he has been able, over the past two years, to eliminate 12,000 carrier routes and to consolidate others, saving 20 million man hours in labor costs. He has been able to whittle away at the massive employee base, cutting about 200,000 from his payrolls over the past 10 years. He has set up thousands of Automated Postal Centers (APCs), each of which generates more revenue than 19,000 of the 31,000 current fully staffed post offices. He has come up with incentive programs for high volume users, and wants to offer shipping of lightweight parcels through regular mail. He continues with massive customer surveys to determine customer preferences on Saturday deliveries, Priority Mail deliveries, potential rate increases, and satisfaction ratings. His challenges, however, are daunting.