It's enough to make all tree-hugging, EPA-loving, spotted owl seekers weep.
In August, armed federal agents raided the offices and factories of the legendary Gibson Guitar Corp. in Nashville and Memphis. It was the second time the feds had ransacked the renowned Tennessee guitar-maker since President Barack Obama took office. And what were they going after? Dirty laundering monies? Gun smugglers? Cocaine cargo that could make cartels quiver?
The death of one of the great innovators of our time, or any time -- Steve Jobs -- brings a question asked by Pete Seeger in another context. To paraphrase: Where have all the (creative) people gone; long time passing. Jobs and fellow computer innovator Bill Gates represent if not a vanishing breed, then at least one that might be classified, were it an exotic animal, as endangered.
In a country that used to encourage, promote, honor and reward innovation, why does there now seem to be far fewer innovators? In our past, they propelled us to higher standards of living and made life more enjoyable and comfortable. If you missed them while studying sex education in school, try Googling "inventors and innovators" and see what pops up.
William F. Buckley, Jr., founding father of the modern conservative movement, famously asserted his doctrine of voting for the most conservative candidate who is electable.
Let me presume to add an analytic codicil: The GOP and the conservative movement have tended to support the most conservative policies only when they are understood to be conservative and are plausibly supportable by the conservative half of the electorate.
Politicians who are principled enough to point out the fraud of Social Security, referring to it as a lie and Ponzi scheme, are under siege. Acknowledgment of Social Security's problems is not the same as calling for the abandonment of its recipients. Instead, it's a call to take actions now, while there's time to avert a disaster. Let's look at it.
The term was derived from the scheme created during the 1920s by Charles Ponzi, a poor but enterprising Italian immigrant. Here's how it works. You persuade some people to give you their money to invest. After a while, you pay them a nice return, but the return doesn't come from investments. What you pay them with comes from the money of other people whom you've persuaded to "invest" in your scheme. The scheme works so long as you can persuade greater and greater numbers of people to "invest" so that you can pay off earlier "investors." After a while, Ponzi couldn't find enough new investors, and his scheme collapsed. He was convicted of fraud and sent to prison.
I am not the first to note the vast differences between the Wall Street protesters and the tea partiers. To name three: The tea partiers have jobs, showers and a point.
No one knows what the Wall Street protesters want -- as is typical of mobs. They say they want Obama re-elected, but claim to hate "Wall Street." You know, the same Wall Street that gave its largest campaign donation in history to Obama, who, in turn, bailed out the banks and made Goldman Sachs the fourth branch of government.
This would be like opposing fattening, processed foods, but cheering Michael Moore -- which the protesters also did this week.
It's clear that Obama's re-election strategy is to demonize conservatives and his Republican opponents as extremists, "small," intolerant and morally deficient. That's a safer course, I suppose, than running on his miserable record.
Playing to his gay and lesbian audience, Obama took out his broad brush and smeared all the GOP presidential candidates in a speech at the Human Rights Campaign's annual dinner, saying the Republican contenders are "small" for "being silent when an American soldier is booed."
The Washington Post's stoning of Texas GOP Gov. Rick Perry is journalistic malpractice. Instead of calling the newspaper to task, other national media outlets have joined in. And now, the Post is doubling down on slander.
The Post dispatched reporters to the remote hunting grounds of a Perry-linked ranch — "associated" with Perry through "his father, partners or his signature on a lease" — because it once had a rock on it somewhere that had the word "Niggerhead" painted on it. The term is an embarrassing vestige of past racism not just in Texas but on geographical landmarks across the country.
The White House's buzz words for the propaganda campaign to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans and corporations are "pay their fair share." But is President Barack Obama's pitch reflecting honest economic inequity or more dishonest spin from his bag of duck-'n'-weave political manipulations?
This year alone, nearly every member and minion of this administration (including the mainstream media) has regurgitated "pay their fair share" like cows chewing cud. They have done so to prompt Americans to feel that the wealthy are getting a free ride regarding taxation while lower- and middle-class folks pay their societal ticket.
Listening to some establishment Republicans grousing about the field of GOP presidential candidates should serve as a warning. Republicans, if they are not careful, are in danger of catching the same virus that infected Democrats in 2008.
That would be a messiah complex, the belief that one man (or woman) can deliver us from our collective economic, social and foreign policy "sins" and bring redemption to a nation from the consequences of too many wrong-headed choices.
"As much as I thought I was a freedom fighter trying to bring freedom and save lives," Chai Ling, a former student leader in the Tiananmen Square democracy protests of 1989, testified at a recent Capitol Hill hearing, "I did not realize how much I was turned into the same sinful being" as the Chinese leaders enforcing the country's one-child policy.
The jarring admission came before a House hearing marking the 31st anniversary of China's one-child policy. It was meant, also, to inspire legislative action on the China Democracy Promotion Act of 2011, which would allow the president of the United States to deny visas to officials involved in human-rights abuses.
Back in the 1970s, there was a lot of discussion about the way TV executives were grabbing ratings with female jiggle. “T&A,” it was called. The jiggle continues, but now it’s coming from somewhere else. So far, the hot new trend of the 2011 TV season is...dangling male genitalia. That’s full-frontal male nudity...hidden behind graphic effects.
CBS was thrilled the September 19 premiere of its reboot of the sleazy “Two and a Half Men” drew gonzo ratings. After all the Charlie Sheen drama, how could his TV character’s funeral not attract a crowd? But that wasn’t enough for Chuck Lorre & Co. They had to debut actor Ashton Kutcher in the nude. First, Kutcher pulled the pixilated-nudie stunt Monday afternoon on the season debut of the Ellen DeGeneres show. Then they repeated it on CBS Monday night – twice. The opening gag of the season is that Kutcher’s character has a stunning endowment.
The Obama administration's crony green subsidy scandal is erupting like a solar flare in Washington. But do you know what your kids are learning in their environmental education classes about this red-hot taxpayer eco-scam? Chances are: not much.
Instead, the U.S. Department of Energy and the Democratic apparatchiks at the National Education Association are disseminating solar power propaganda masquerading as math and science curricula.
Liberals, whose entire political strategy is the smoke and mirrors of showbiz, have concluded that Rick Perry put in a poor performance at last week's Republican debate and has got to step up his debating technique to get back in the game.
Actually, it wasn't Perry's "performance" that was a problem. It was his "answers."
Poor President Obama. His leftist backers have momentarily fallen out of love with him for not destroying the country fast enough. Obama must ask himself, "What would Hugo Chavez do?"
Obama decided to embark on a personal rehabilitation tour. He first stopped by the annual awards dinner of the Congressional Black Caucus and told blacks to "stop complainin'. Stop grumblin'. Stop cryin'." Don't they realize that it's the Republicans' fault that black unemployment is nearly double the national average, at 16.7 percent? "So many people in (Washington) are fighting us every step of the way."
There isn't much about dysfunctional government that shocks me anymore, but this story did.
According to a report by the Office of Personnel Management and reported in Ed O'Keefe's "The Federal Eye" column in the Washington Post, our government has been sending checks to dead people. "In the last five years," O'Keefe writes, "the Office of Personnel Management has made more than $601 million in payments to dead federal retirees, according to the agency's inspector general. Total annual payouts range between $100 million and $150 million."
What's the common thread between Europe's financial mess, particularly among the PIIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain), and the financial mess in the U.S.? That question could be more easily answered if we asked instead: What's necessary to cure the financial mess in Europe and the U.S.?
If European governments and the U.S. Congress ceased the practice of giving people what they have not earned, budgets would be more than balanced.
For government to guarantee a person a right to goods and services he has not earned, it must diminish someone else's right to what he has earned, simply because governments have no resources of their very own.
"I'd like you to convert Chicago," Father Robert Barron remembers his boss, Francis Cardinal George, archbishop of the Windy City, telling him about six years ago.
The result of that charge will be airing on many PBS stations, starting this week.
Barron, a Chicago priest and professor, has created a remarkable book and TV series called "Catholicism" -- which, in reintroducing a 2,000-year-old tradition, manages to be both elaborate and humble. It's self-conscious as a work of evangelization (complete with available study guides and a prayer card for those who care for such things), yet welcoming to a wide potential audience.
In one of the least needed reassurances in modern political history, President Obama's top political man David Plouffe, "told Democrats late last week that the White House would not suffer from overconfidence. 'What I don't want to suggest is that we're sitting around and thinking everything is great,' he said."
With the White House's own economists predicting 9 percent or worse unemployment on Election Day, the president at about 39 percent job approval, college grads unable to find jobs, a quarter of American homes under water, no credible White House policy or strategy for changing things — and with most non-institutionalized Americans convinced we are in a recession that is going to get much worse — it is surpassing odd that Plouffe was worried that his fellow Democrats might think the president and his men believed everything to be hunky-dory.
It is clear from the way President Barack Obama has been talking about the federal budget recently, and about taxation since he came to office, that all the money that Americans earn belongs to the federal government. The key words in this conversation are "tax expenditures." Obama has lost a lot in tax expenditures, and he wants more of those tax expenditures back. He can spend that money, he believes, more wisely than the citizenry — that is to say, you and me.
He has wiggled and wobbled on the nation's finances over the years. First, he spent money that he did not have. Then he threatened to raise taxes on the rich to pay for it. Then again he spent money that he did not have. Now, he is getting very serious about the budget, which means that the budget deficit is so large you do not even want to think about it. So he is back to taxing the rich again, which eventually means you and me.
The cultural and media snobs are trying to explain Texas to those who don't know the difference between a steer and a bull. If you fall into this category, a steer has been castrated -- a bull has not. I'll leave any analogy to East and West Coast elites for you to sort out.
People who are from Texas, or have lived there, are devoted to it and I never truly understood why until I lived there ... twice. Texans speak of their state with an affection one doesn't often hear from Oregonians or Michiganians. No matter what city they are from, Texans almost always add "Texas" when they introduce themselves, apparently to avoid confusion, as though there were another Nacogdoches or Cut and Shoot anywhere else in the world.
For decades, liberals tried persuading Americans to abolish the death penalty, using their usual argument: hysterical sobbing.
Only when the media began lying about innocent people being executed did support for the death penalty begin to waver, falling from 80 percent to about 60 percent in a little more than a decade. (Silver lining: That's still more Americans than believe in man-made global warming.)
Fifty-nine percent of Americans now believe that an innocent man has been executed in the last five years. There is more credible evidence that space aliens have walked among us than that an innocent person has been executed in this country in the past 60 years, much less the past five years.
During the recent GOP presidential debate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry said that Social Security is a "monstrous lie" and a "Ponzi scheme." More and more people are coming to see that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, but is it a lie, as well? Let's look at it.
Here's what the 1936 government pamphlet on Social Security said: "After the first 3 years — that is to say, beginning in 1940 — you will pay, and your employer will pay, 1.5 cents for each dollar you earn, up to $3,000 a year. ... Beginning in 1943, you will pay 2 cents, and so will your employer, for every dollar you earn for the next 3 years. ... And finally, beginning in 1949, twelve years from now, you and your employer will each pay 3 cents on each dollar you earn, up to $3,000 a year." Here's Congress' lying promise: "That is the most you will ever pay."
If you thought the half-billion-dollar, stimulus-funded Solyndra solar company bust was a taxpayer nightmare, just wait. If you thought the botched Fast and Furious border gun-smuggling surveillance operation was a national security nightmare, hold on. Right on the heels of those two blood-boilers comes yet another alleged pay-for-play racket from the most ethical administration ever.
Welcome to LightSquared. It's a toxic mix of venture socialism (to borrow GOP Sen. Jim DeMint's apt phrase), campaign finance influence-peddling and perilous corner-cutting all rolled into one.
As predictable and repetitive as Obama's economic speeches are, his capacity for audacity shows ever increasing signs of creativity. Do you suppose he has any ability to feel shame for what he's doing to this country and embarrassment for blaming everyone but himself?
His latest deficit plan involves further punishing millionaires and billionaires (which means all those making $200,000 or more), continuing to spend like there's no tomorrow (which there won't be if he continues doing it), phony unspecified reductions in waste, more stonewalling on real entitlement reform, and demonizing anyone who dares to get in his way. You'll be outraged if you look at the mammoth new administrative bureaucracy he wants to create in his latest stimulus monstrosity.
Smart meters are being installed stealthily by water, gas and electric utility companies on houses and buildings across the country. Despite that, the majority of the public still doesn't know about their potential health risks.
From the moment smart meters began to be installed, a rash of serious health complaints in each community has followed — to date, largely going unheeded by officials. These aren't hysteria or hype, but bona fide national health concerns about what is being emitted from smart meters and their cumulative effects on "electrosmog" in our homes. In short, electrosmog is pollution through electromagnetic energy. It is being produced by this vast post-Edison world, in which electromagnetic fields and flows have inundated the space around us.
The world -- or at least the large part of it that hates Israel and wishes it would go away -- moves a step nearer that goal this week when the United Nations votes on whether to recognize a Palestinian state. The vote violates the Declaration of Principles signed by the PLO in 1993, which committed the terrorist group and precursor to the Palestinian Authority to direct negotiations with Israel over a future state. This violation is further evidence the Palestinian side cannot be trusted to live up to signed agreements and promises. Jerusalem Post columnist Caroline Glick rightly calls the prospective UN vote "diplomatic aggression."
As part of his warmed-over jobs plan, President Obama is repackaging "Buy American" stimulus subsidies to help hard-hit homegrown businesses. At the same time, however, Congress is pushing to expand a fraud-riddled investor program that puts U.S. citizenship for sale to the highest foreign business bidders.
Seventy years old, Bob Turner was retired with 13 grandchildren, sitting comfortably in the Breezy Point section of Queens, N.Y. to enjoy life and be generous to his church and family. But now he's one of 435 legislators trying to get something constructive done in a town that often seems poised for something very different.
He spoke at his congressional campaign's victory party in Howard Beach early in the morning on Sept. 14, armed with a message that was as humble and confident as the messenger delivering it. He has been elected to the seat vacated by the now-infamous Anthony Weiner, a seat that may very well be redistricted out of existence next year. Which is actually just fine with him.
In the Republican presidential candidates debate Monday night in Tampa, CNN's Wolf Blitzer posed a hypothetical question. Normally, a hypothetical question should not be answered, but in this case it revealed something about the questioner and sparked a controversial, but necessary answer from Rep. Ron Paul.
For those watching the two Monday Night Football games, the question was: "A healthy 30-year-old young man has a good job, makes a good living, but decides, you know what? I'm not going to spend $200 or $300 a month for health insurance because I'm healthy, I don't need it. But something terrible happens, all of a sudden he needs it. Who's going to pay if he goes into a coma, for example? Who pays for that?"
Liberals are on their high horses about a single audience member at CNN's Republican debate whom they believe wanted a hypothetical man without health insurance in a hypothetical coma to die -- hypothetically.
(Democrats want people in comas to die only when they are not hypothetical but real, like Terri Schiavo.)