Twenty-nine years after her death, novelist Ayn Rand is coming to a theater near you. After many failed attempts, her 1957 novel "Atlas Shrugged" has been made into a film.
In an age when overspending, overreaching, higher-taxing and overregulating government increasingly strangles the private sector, robbing us of our liberties and transforming the country into the model of a socialist state, Rand's story reminds us how far ahead of her time she was and just how dangerous a time we live in now.
Last week was the culmination of a process begun years ago. A bill was introduced to Congress that could end American dependence on foreign oil. What is called the New Alternative Transportation to Give Americans Solutions Act — more simply put, the NAT GAS Act — was introduced to Congress on April 6. It has bipartisan support. It ought to pass and pass promptly. It could be called the Boone Pickens bill.
The process began with the Pickens Plan for global energy security in 2008. Authored by legendary oilman T. Boone Pickens, who put some $80 million of his own money into promoting it, it called for the development of all sources of energy, even wind and solar. Boone recognized that as long as America is dependent on foreign oil, America has a national security problem. We import 70 percent of our oil, an amount that can only go up unless something is done. The oil comes from unfriendly countries in the worst scenarios, unstable countries in slightly better scenarios. Canada is the best scenario but cannot provide all the oil we need.
It's time for a 21st-century retirement age. __If 40 is the new 20 and 50 is the new 30, why shouldn't 70 be the new 65? The last time Washington politicians tinkered ever so gingerly with the government-sanctioned retirement age, Ronald Reagan was in office and Generation X-ers were all in diapers. Since then, American life expectancy has increased by half a decade and continues to rise — while the "traditional" retirement age (established eight decades ago) has only recently begun phasing up to 67 and the official "early" retirement age (established four decades ago) remains stuck at 62.
There is simply no good reason 21st-century workers should operate under obsolete 1930s-era expectations and 1970s rules. We're living longer, working longer and, in general, holding down jobs that are far less physically taxing than those of previous generations.
The great American engine of democracy is beginning to build up a head of steam, and it remains the finest device created by man to organize collective human action.
Two months ago, the conventional wisdom held that Washington would do nothing of consequence to start dealing with our fiscal crisis. Certainly, that was the political baseline for the president's Feb. 14 budget proposal for 2012, which, while roundly condemned as a call to inaction, was seen as politically "shrewd."
I've often said that I wish there were some humane way to get rid of the rich. If you asked why, I'd answer that getting rid of the rich would save us from distraction by leftist hustlers promoting the politics of envy. Not having the rich to fret over might enable us to better focus our energies on what's in the best interest of the 99.99 percent of the rest of us. Let's look at some facts about the rich laid out by Bill Whittle citing statistics on his RealClearPolitics video "Eat the Rich."
This year, Congress will spend $3.7 trillion dollars. That turns out to be about $10 billion per day. Can we prey upon the rich to cough up the money? According to IRS statistics, roughly 2 percent of U.S. households have an income of $250,000 and above. By the way, $250,000 per year hardly qualifies one as being rich. It's not even yacht and Learjet money. All told, households earning $250,000 and above account for 25 percent, or $1.97 trillion, of the nearly $8 trillion of total household income. If Congress imposed a 100 percent tax, taking all earnings above $250,000 per year, it would yield the princely sum of $1.4 trillion. That would keep the government running for 141 days, but there's a problem because there are 224 more days left in the year.
The ominous threat of a government shutdown dominated the news last week. The media weren’t wrong to cover it as a dramatic debate, but all of the hype and horror looked a little bizarre by the weekend – like wide-eyed, screaming hurricane warnings on the Weather Channel followed by a sunny calm.
When the deal was struck, the TV pundits quickly moved on to how there were sharper, harsher battles ahead over much larger chunks of federal spending. That’s true. But in hindsight, the entire shutdown fight looks by comparison like a war over who was splitting the pizza delivery bill....tip. The $38 billion in spending cuts is a bit of an achievement when Obama didn’t want to cut anything – but it’s still the drop in the proverbial $3.7 trillion bucket.
Instead of fighting over who’s the “winner” in this small skirmish, let’s just focus on a few obnoxious shutdown spins.
The Republicans did not win this budget fight, but the cuts they were able to extract illustrate, ironically, that Democrats are finally on the defensive. Scorekeeping aside, we must build on this non-victory because it was also a Democratic retreat.
Last week, I argued that the GOP should not cave on the budget negotiations for many reasons, including that today is not 1995-96. Things are so much different now, especially because of the existential threat to the republic that the exploding national debt represents.
This week, the picture is finally complete. First, the Obama White House decided to leap headfirst into the gun control debate. Then came the response from Congress, which is far more interested in investigating the "Fast and Furious" scandal, in which federal agents allowed thousands of guns to be "walked" into Mexico and furnished to drug cartels. And now the final piece: President Barack Obama has filed his papers to run for re-election.
That in a nutshell is all gun owners need to know about the 2012 presidential election. After two years of avoiding the gun control debate (and violating his own campaign promises to push for additional restrictions), Obama finally is showing his true colors on this important issue. Let's not forget that this is the same candidate who once espoused a total ban on handguns and more recently supported a nationwide ban on right-to-carry laws. And if he couldn't get that done, he said he would support increasing the taxes on guns and ammunition by 500 percent. Now he is trying to be measured about his gun control objectives, using vague and gauzy rhetoric that his handlers hope will be difficult to hang around his neck.
"He feels things like a normal guy from Queens. Not like a politician."
That's Maggie Gallagher, stalwart defender of traditional marriage, on The Donald.
When asked about gay marriage, real-estate tycoon and longtime media celebrity Donald Trump sorta shrugs, sorta hesitates, because it's not something he wants to campaign on or particularly talk about. But he says he's against it, and has said so a few times now.
As the network TV barons peruse through a menu of pilots for new fall shows, some just jump out of the pile. Some Tinseltown pundits have already pegged it as “likely” that NBC will pick up a show for fall called “The Playboy Club.” Just like it sounds, the show is based in Hugh Hefner’s original Playboy Club in Chicago in swinging 1963. If that doesn’t sound porn-friendly enough, the pilot’s producers at 20th Century Fox TV required all actors on the show to sign a nudity clause – virtually unheard of in broadcast television.
"Nudity” in this contract is defined as well, nudity. But that’s not what grabs attention. This is: “Nudity as defined above and/or simulated sex acts may be required in connection with player's services in the pilot and/or series," the clause reads, according to Variety. Actors may now be required to be naked on NBC.
Despite this new low, Variety was told there was no nudity in the pilot, and producers didn’t plan any such thing for NBC. But apparently, the broadcast version would provide temptation for the titillated to buy the DVD for the “extras.” (And if there will be no nudity, why a nudity clause?)
Air traffic controllers have been catching a lot of grief for sleeping on the job lately. But do you know what Transportation Security Administration officials have been doing — or rather, not doing — lately? A federal watchdog revealed this week that TSA's counterterrorism specialists failed to detect 16 separate jihad operatives who moved through target airports "on at least 23 different occasions." The name of the TSA monitoring program paying for all this flying-blind failure, I kid you not:
Under the "Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques" plan, TSA's designated behavior detection officers are supposed to closely watch travelers who pose potential security risks and who exhibit any number of appearances or activities "indicative of stress, fear, or deception." But long-entrenched, bipartisan American political correctness hampers the kind of effective, efficient national security profiling that Israeli airline security officials practice so well.
My brother, Rush, said on his program Thursday that Donald Trump, in taking the fight directly to President Obama, has provided a winning blueprint for defeating him in 2012.
Rush was referring to the way in which Trump — think what you will about him and his politics — has boldly challenged President Obama on a number of issues, including the notorious birth certificate fracas, obviously unconcerned about fallout from the liberal media.
I see that President Barack Obama has filed as a candidate for re-election in 2012. I previously suggested that he get to work early on his presidential library and forgo the race, but he is insistent. Well, I tried.
Though some in the media are covering for him, his announcement is the earliest of any modern president's. It continues a trend that began in 1972. That was when then-Sen. George McGovern captured the Democratic presidential nomination, though he lost in the autumn of that year in a squeaker. Richard Nixon stole the election, 47,169,911 to 29,170,383. Tricky Dick got 60.7 percent of the vote, the largest in history except for Lyndon Johnson's 61.1 percent. Watergate changed history.
HOUSTON -- On the day of the NCAA men's basketball final, the Supreme Court handed down a decision that is likely to produce champions for generations to come.
By a 5-4 vote, the majority upheld an Arizona tax-credit program that, writes David Savage of the L.A. Times, gives taxpayers a "dollar-for-dollar tax credit, up to $500 per person or $1,000 for a couple, for those who donate to organizations that in turn pay tuition for students attending private and parochial schools." The minority contends this violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The majority opinion, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, maintains that since such donations are with pre-tax dollars, the government never has the money, and thus, "there is no such connection between dissenting taxpayer and alleged establishment."
The terms affirmative action, equal representation, preferential treatment and quotas just don't sell well. The intellectual elite and their media, government and corporate enthusiasts have come up with diversity, a seemingly benign term that's a cover for racially discriminatory policy. They call for college campuses, corporate offices and government agencies to "look like America."
Part of looking like America means if blacks are 13 percent of the population, they should be 13 percent of college students and professors, corporate managers and government employees. Behind this vision of justice is the silly notion that but for the fact of discrimination, we'd be distributed equally by race across incomes, education, occupations and other outcomes. There is absolutely no evidence that statistical proportionality is the norm anywhere on Earth; however, much of our thinking, laws and public policy is based upon proportionality being the norm. Let's look at some racial differences whilst thinking about their causes and possible remedies.
The news leaked out Monday that Katie Couric is stepping down from her failed experiment as the anchor of the “CBS Evening News.” People inside the news business greeted the news as shocking. But what’s shocking is that Couric didn’t get the boot years ago. CBS’s ratings cratered while she earned $15 million annually.
Couric was once projected as the Great White Female Hope after Dan Rather’s involuntary retirement in 2005. His numbers in his last week had dropped to a last place 8.1 million nightly audience. But what did Couric deliver?
Since the very first days of this president's administration, the drug-fueled cartel violence in Mexico has provided a stalking horse for the gun control agenda. Early on, both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Attorney General Eric Holder cited Mexican violence as a reason to renew the Bill Clinton gun ban of 1994. After those trial balloons were shot down, the ball was passed to Mexican President Felipe Calderon, who repeatedly has blamed American gun rights for Mexican violence. And more recently, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives cited cartel mayhem as justification for an attempt to mandate the reporting of all multiple long gun sales in border states. This regulation would force dealers to report all purchases of more than one long gun if the guns are magazine-fed and larger than .22 caliber — effectively creating a registry.
But now, shocking revelations that grow bigger every day completely undercut the argument for additional restrictions. In fact, they illuminate bureaucratic arrogance, recklessness and hypocrisy of the highest order in the hallways of the Obama administration — including the spreading stench of a massive cover-up.
Do you believe Rep. Paul Ryan when he says we only have a few years left to get our fiscal house in order, or we're going to face European-type austerity? How about the co-chairmen of the bipartisan deficit commission, Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, who have essentially issued the same warning?
Have you taken a hard look at President Obama's 10-year budget with a view to whether it would marginally address the crisis? Are you aware of the gargantuan deficits it projects — averaging some $1 trillion per year — and that this is before considering the Congressional Budget Office's scoring that revealed that its projected cumulative deficits were understated by a staggering $2.3 trillion?
During the 2008 presidential campaign when candidate Barack Obama told "Joe the Plumber" that he wanted to "spread the wealth around," it sounded to a lot of conservatives like socialism: "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need," in the words of Karl Marx.
There is a kind of wealth spreading, however, that ought to meet the political litmus test of conservative Republicans, liberal Democrats and radical Independents. At a time of high unemployment, too many layoffs and too few new jobs in the private sector (230,000 jobs were created last month, according to the Labor Department, but unemployment continues to officially hover at just under 9 percent and Gallup calculates it, without seasonal adjustment, at 10.0 percent), it is disheartening to see so many CEOs having recovered enough from their personal recession to pay themselves salaries and benefits that would have shamed the super-rich in America's Gilded Age.