While the federal government continues to drown in a sea of debt, several states are reporting surpluses, thanks to policies Washington would do well to emulate.
Nowhere has the economic turnaround been more immediate than in Virginia. When Governor Bob McDonnell took office in January 2010, he was faced with a $2.2 billion shortfall bequeathed to him by outgoing Democratic governor (and now Senate candidate) Tim Kaine. In less than two years, McDonnell has delivered two budget surpluses without raising taxes or causing harm to the "most vulnerable." Instead, he has judiciously cut spending.
As defined by Collins English Dictionary, a bigot is "a person who is intolerant of any ideas other than his or her own, especially on religion, politics, or race."
In contemporary culture, those who claim to tolerate everything are intolerant of ideas that come from perspectives other than their own, especially when those ideas are rooted in conservative politics or evangelical faith.
BELFAST, Northern Ireland -- Some of those caught looting stores last week in Britain were asked why they did it. Four teenagers explained to Sky News that they viewed it as "a shopping spree." One teen blamed the government: "They say (they) are going to help us but I don't see any of it. There has to be more opportunities and jobs. Help us at least and then maybe everyone will settle down."
This is the triumph of the entitlement mentality and the welfare state. Conservative MP Eric Pickles wasn't buying it: "I think that is them trying to justify being thieves, robbers and burglars."
My father was a product of the Great Depression and World War II. Like so many others of his generation, he, like his parents before him, knew how to "do without."
When he told us, "we can't afford it," that did not mean our family was deprived of material things we deserved, instead it marked a boundary not to be crossed because on the other side, waiting to greet us, were the twin demons of bad credit and financial ruin. "Always pay the bank," was my father's sound advice. And so I have, which is why my credit score remains high.
According to the website Politico, Vice President Joe Biden agreed "with a line of argument made by Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) at a two-hour, closed-door Democratic Caucus meeting" that congressional tea party members "acted like terrorists" in the way they stood against attempts to raise taxes and force spending reductions as part of the debt-ceiling deal.
Biden denied making the comparison. Given the heated rhetoric behind and in front of the scenes, the use of such a phrase, particularly in light of Biden's known salty language, has credibility.
"Glee" is not just an American TV show, it is also the emotion many people feel and express toward the trouble Rupert Murdoch's News Corp is having, since they consider Murdoch's properties a blight on their formerly pristine media landscape.
There are two strains running through the phone-hacking scandal that monopolizes much of the media attention in the UK. One is the attitude of the mainstream media types who are frustrated by the success of Murdoch properties, most notably Fox News Channel in America (to which I contribute). They see Murdoch's troubles with the now shuttered News of the World tabloid as an opportunity to destroy the Murdoch empire, which they have been unable to do by competing with it.
PLYMOUTH NOTCH, Vt. -- If your disgust over America's crushing debt and the irresponsible leaders who refuse to reduce unnecessary spending has reached the fed-up point, there is an easy solution beyond whatever compromise might be reached in the current standoff between President Obama and congressional Republicans. Vote Republican in 2012.
But don't vote for just any Republican, rather vote for conservatives who believe the foundational principles of America still work and can rescue us from default, placing the country back on a track that leads to prosperity and greater liberty.
"Nothing succeeds like success" -- Alexandre Dumas, 1802-1870
If new millionaires or billionaires were created every time President Obama and his fellow liberals disparage "millionaires and billionaires," there would be far more of them than there are today. And that would be a good thing because it would mean more people are succeeding.
At first he didn't want to do any national media, preferring to focus on Florida issues. He didn't make his maiden speech on the Senate floor until June 14, five months after being sworn-in.
Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) so gifted at age 40, combines passion for his conservative ideas with a humility that could easily spill over into arrogance, if he didn't have a strong sense of self. On the morning of our first meeting, I arrive early. He arrives before his staff and goes around turning on lights with no sense that such action is below his pay grade. In a town full of hubris and self-absorption, Rubio appears not to have yet caught the disease. Perhaps he will turn out to be the Hispanic version of Jimmy Stewart's movie character, "Mr. Smith."
That doesn't mean Rubio can't attack President Obama, but when he does, it is the president's policies he goes after, not the man.
Intellectually, I understand the Supreme Court's 7-2 decision that the First Amendment protects the most violent of video games. Experientially, I don't.
It's fine for the majority to say parents have ultimate control over what their children see, but how many members of the Supreme Court have experienced "real" life? Chief Justice John Roberts spoke at the Fourth Circuit Judicial Conference last Saturday and said, "I don't think any of us have a Facebook page or a tweet -- whatever that is. But technology is making inroads." It certainly is.
Something astonishing happened in New Jersey last week. A majority Democratic legislature and a Republican governor agreed on a measure that will cut benefits for the state's 750,000 employees and retirees.
Like Wisconsin and other states that are being forced to deal with large budget deficits caused mostly by sweetheart deals struck in more prosperous times between politicians who need votes and labor unions who deliver them, New Jersey couldn't afford to go on like this.
Is there a profit-making business -- other than TV networks and The New York Times -- that so disrespects its audience it works overtime to offend them?
What other business metaphorically flips the bird to those who don't subscribe to their social, cultural and political worldview? That is precisely what big media does to a large number of potential viewers and subscribers.
In the aftermath of the exposure and resignation of Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) from Congress, his colleagues, some journalists, ethicists and pundits are trying to sort out what it means. Has a new standard been created in Washington? How can Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) remain in office under an ethical cloud about money and Weiner be forced to resign because he had fantasy sex? It wasn't even "real" sex, like Bill Clinton had. Clinton also lied about sex and was impeached for lying (but not for the sex because as actress Janeane Garofalo told Bill Maher recently, "everyone lies about sex"). Some wondered then if standards had fallen for occupants of the Oval Office, or whether the behavior of Clinton and some Republicans mirror a national moral decline?
I bet you didn't know that federal law enforcement officers representing the Department of Education (DOE) can break down your front door if you are suspected of violating the law.
I was not aware of this until I heard what happened to Kenneth Wright of Stockton, Calif. On June 7, at 6 a.m., Wright was awakened by a knock on his door. According to his account, he came downstairs in his boxer shorts, but before he could reach the door, federal police officers stormed in. They were looking for his estranged wife, who was not in the house. Wright has no criminal record.
If the big media in 2008 had dedicated the resources they are now squandering on Sarah Palin's emails from when she was governor of Alaska and probed Barack Obama's background and associations, she might now be vice president of the United States and Obama might still be a junior Illinois senator.
Regardless of what you think of Palin, the vultures attacking her 24,000 pages of emails may represent the most flagrant example of bias since, well, since their attacks on any other Republican. "It could be fun," said Ken Schwenke of the Los Angeles Times about the email probe.
BELFAST, Northern Ireland -- The extinct political slogan "As Maine goes, so goes the nation," may be supplanted by what is happening in the United Kingdom. There is a form of functional political illiteracy here that does not bode well for the United States should it follow Britain's very bad example, particularly on matters involving immigration and health care.
For several years, the British media have been full of horror stories about failures in the National Health Service (NHS). "Thousands of Elderly at Risk in Care Crisis" screamed the front-page headline in the Times of London last week. This is nothing new, because a headline in The Daily Telegraph nearly two years ago warned, "Cruel and Neglectful Care of One Million NHS Patients Exposed." Is anyone listening?
The upheaval in Yemen and the possibility that al-Qaida might take over, turning that country into a stronger terrorist base than it already is, should give pause to American and European policy in the Arab world.
At its recently concluded G-8 meeting of industrial economies in Deauville, France, Western governments pledged $40 billion to "newly democratic" nations in North Africa and the Middle East. One might as well throw money at Chicago and hope for electoral reform so the dead are no longer allowed to vote on Election Day.
DUBLIN, Ireland -- Observing the start of Lord and Lady Obama's (aka president and Michelle) grand European tour and the fawning press coverage, one might conclude they were imbued with royal blood.
The normally reserved and thoughtful columnist for the London Times, William Rees-Mogg, gushed about the president's speech before members of Parliament, comparing him to Winston Churchill. Obama is to Winston Churchill as Lady Gaga is to Ella Fitzgerald. Both are singers, but that's where the comparison ends.
Perhaps you've heard of him, perhaps not. Louis Zamperini has had fame, lost it and seen it restored more than once. That happens when you are 94 years old and must be re-introduced to succeeding generations.
Zamperini was a juvenile delinquent, then an Olympic distance runner who competed in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany (he met Adolf Hitler and his chief propagandist, Joseph Goebbels), then an Army Air Corps enlistee.
With friends like President Obama, who needs enemies? If you're Israel, you already have quite enough of those.
On May 14, 2011, the State of Israel observed the 63rd anniversary of its independence. But if the proposals made by President Obama in his State Department speech are implemented, that observance could be its last.
One of Dictionary.com's definitions of blackmail is "to extort money from (a person) by use of threats." Substitute "taxpayers" for "person" and you have what the White House and congressional Democrats are doing with the debt ceiling.
In case you weren't paying attention (and too few are) the United States officially reached the debt ceiling on Monday. Treasury Secretary Tim ("I forgot to pay my taxes") Geithner informed Congress of difficult decisions he was forced to make to keep the country solvent, which is a joke. How can a country be considered solvent when just the interest on the debt amounts to more than the entire gross national product of many countries?
Politicians and political activists frequently declare the end of the world will occur if their candidate isn't elected, or if the debt ceiling isn't raised. Some conservative Christians think the end is on the way because of behavior and practices they judge immoral. Somehow the country, not to mention the planet, survives and when "doomsday" passes, the prognosticators live to predict Armageddon on another day.
Now comes radio preacher Harold Camping, the nearly-90-year-old owner of a network of stations he calls "Family Radio." Camping once belonged to a traditional church. He then decided all churches are corrupt and people should leave whatever congregation they're in and listen only to him because only his interpretation of Scripture is true. I believe that is one characteristic of a cult.
Robert Woodson would probably wince if you called him a "community organizer." That's because for the last 30 years as president of the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, he has not spent time organizing the poor around ineffective government programs and other addictions he has been helping them become self-sufficient.
"You can't learn anything by studying failure," he says. "If you want to learn anything, you must study the successful."
Here's a safe prediction: The "bipartisan" group of congressmen led by Vice President Joe Biden will fail to solve the $14 trillion debt crisis.
Here's another prediction: The Heritage Foundation (www.heritage.org/) has developed a formula, made possible by a grant from The Peterson Foundation (www.pgpf.org/), that could balance the budget in 10 years, reduce the debt to 30 percent of gross domestic product within 25 years, cut the size of the federal government in half by 2036, reform the tax code, restructure Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, while protecting the most vulnerable, and not increasing taxes if -- and it is a very big if -- politicians prefer the solution to continued bickering.
First quarter profits for American oil companies are jaw dropping. Exxon earned nearly $11 billion, up 69 percent from a year ago. Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Europe's largest oil company, announced it made $8.78 billion in the first quarter, a 60 percent increase over last year. Much of it, but not all, is due to higher gas prices, over which the companies have very little control due to our heavy reliance on foreign oil.
Some in Congress -- mostly Democrats, but a few Republicans -- are calling for an end to tax breaks enjoyed by the oil companies and in some cases, higher taxes on their profits. But the Obama administration is contributing to higher energy prices, which inflate the companies' bottom line.
Count me among the abstainers. I won't be watching over-the-top media coverage of Friday's wedding between Prince William and the "commoner" Kate Middleton.
After the "wedding of the century" of William's mother and father in 1981 and the ensuing drama that led to their divorce in 1996 and, eventually, her death on Aug. 31, 1997, the wedding of their son is unlikely to match the earlier nuptials in pomp or circumstance.
The RINO (reverend in name only) Terry Jones is like his fellow RINO, Fred Phelps, but in political drag.
Jones, the "pastor" (PINO?) of the tiny and inconsequential Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., was jailed last week in Dearborn, Mich., "following a jury trial that found he was likely to create a 'breach of the peace' for plans to protest outside the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn," according to the Detroit News. Jones and his associate Wayne Sapp were taken into custody after they refused to post a $1 "peace bond." A judge then barred Jones and Sapp from entering the property of the Islamic Center -- the largest mosque in the U.S. -- for three years. The two posted bond and were released, but they promised to return on Friday.
In bridge, a trump card is held in reserve for winning a trick. In politics, Donald Trump is anything but reserved and appears to think he might trick enough voters to win the next presidential election.
There's plenty to draw on when critiquing a possible Trump candidacy. His multiple marriages (three) and affairs provide fodder for the media and contrast poorly with President Obama's "family values" image as husband of one wife and father of young daughters, whom he clearly loves.