“No Man’s life liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session”.

- attributed to NY State Judge Gideon Tucker

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A New Obama Bumper Sticker You Can Believe In!

Last night, while driving on an errand, I saw an Obama bumper sticker on a car in front of me.

But it wasn't that stupid rainbow thing from the campaign.

No, this was different. And somehow not overtly positive.

Then I drew within reading range of the smaller letters, and here is what I saw

One Big Ass Mistake for America

Isn't it just the truth?

Maybe I will finally put one of Wonderboy's bumper stickers on my car.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Barney Frank: Congressional Royalty

Here's the video clip of Barney Frank summarily dismissing a voter's questions regarding his support for Wonderboy's socialization of health care.

Technically, it was apparently not a 'town hall' meeting. And the woman apparently led with a clear hatred of the president.

But what's clear is Barney Frank's sense of superiority and invulnerability as a sitting House member. He castigated and insulted the woman quite freely.

This is how elected representatives are supposed to behave? He seems to share quite a bit of attitude with Diane Feinstein and Arlen Specter.

The former had police arrest old people who camped out in her office to protest her support of Wonderboy's health care bill, while the latter lost control of himself when questioned by a voter.

It seems the new Democratic response to honest, impassioned voter expressions of frustration are to demonize them as hate-mongering, bombastic, and 'going too far.'

Even Wonderboy has resorted to this tactic in an attempt to declare that some voter feedback, especially when not what he wants to hear, is no longer democratic free speech, but hate speech and undemocratic.

Funny how free speech is coming under fire when it disagrees with the Democrats in power, isn't it?

And scary, too.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Charles Murray On The Evils of Tax Withholding

Charles Murray wrote a wonderful editorial in last Thursday's Wall Street Journal, entitled "Tax Withholding Is Bad for Democracy."

Murray provides a lot of interesting and compelling statistics. Among them,

"Turn to the bottom three-quarters of the families who filed income tax returns in 2007—not just low-income families, but everybody with family incomes below $66,500. That 75% of families paid just 13% of all personal income taxes. Scott Hodge of the Tax Foundation has recast these numbers in terms of a single, stunning statistic: The top 1% of American households pay more in federal taxes than the bottom 95% combined.

My point is not that the rich are being bled dry. The taxes paid by families in the top 1% amounted to 22% of their adjusted gross income, not a confiscatory rate. The issue is that it is inherently problematic to have a democracy in which a third of filers pay no personal income tax at all (another datum from the IRS), and the entire bottom half of filers, meaning those with adjusted gross incomes below $33,000, have an average tax rate of just 3%.

This deforms the behavior of everyone—the voters who think they aren't paying for Congress's latest bright idea, the politicians who know that promising new programs will always be a winning political strategy with the majority of taxpayers who don't think they have to pay for them, and the wealthy who know that the only way to get politicians to refrain from that strategy is to buy them off."

Murray is correct, of course. It's not so much the tax rate on higher-earnings, as it is the existence of a large number (i.e., those that cause the so-called "tipping point" to be reached) of voters who don't think more government costs them anything.

Murray offers two simple ideas by way of solving this mess,

"For once, we face a problem with a solution that costs nothing. Most families who pay little or no personal income taxes are paying Social Security and Medicare taxes. All we need to do is make an accounting change, no longer pretending that payroll taxes are sequestered in trust funds.

Fold payroll taxes into the personal tax code, adjusting the rules so that everyone still pays the same total, but the tax bill shows up on the 1040. Doing so will tell everyone the truth: Their payroll taxes are being used to pay whatever bills the federal government brings upon itself, among which are the costs of Social Security and Medicare.

The finishing touch is to make sure that people understand how much they are paying, which is presently obscured by withholding at the workplace. End withholding, and require everybody to do what millions of Americans already do: write checks for estimated taxes four times a year."

Murray does something that I've seen nobody else do. He observes, and states, the truth- that Social Security is a shell game, in which taxes buy government IOUs, so that the net result is that the "program" doesn't really have any sequestered assets of its own. It's really just another tax program, the payments from which go into the general Treasury fund, though indirectly, through the purchase of that department's instruments.

Second, Murray touches on a point that only my late father, to my personal knowledge, understood. As a youth, I listened to him lecture my brother and I on how FDR had stripped from every citizen their right to not pay taxes. Further, he turned reality upside down by slowly, over decades, teaching people to want a big refund, rather than owe the government money. Since it's your money, overpaying all year is wrong and foolish. But Roosevelt conned Americans into thinking they are fortunate to get their own money back after April 15th.

Murray is spot on when he insists that only by making every taxpayer write four quarterly checks for their taxes, including FICA, will we ever bring home the true, large scale of governmental cost to each voter and taxpayer.

Clearly, this Congress and administration won't even consider these ideas. Maybe a new Republican President and Congress will.

Let's hope so, because I believe time is running out for America to recover its fiscal rectitude.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Louisiana Democrat William Jefferson Found Guilty

With all the excitement over Wonderboy's stimulus spending, healthcare and associated big government plans, Louisiana's 'ice box' Willy Jefferson's conviction seems to have slipped from the front pages of the nation's newspapers and other media.

As this webpage noted on August 5,

"Former Democratic Congressman William Jefferson was found guilty of 11 of 16 corruption charges today by a federal jury.

The jury of eight women and four men returned a guilty verdict following five days of deliberation.

In the 16-count indictment, Jefferson was charged with soliciting bribes and other crimes for a series of schemes in which he helped American businesses broker deals in West African in exchange for payments or financial considerations to companies controlled by members of his family, including his brother Mose, his wife, Andrea, their five daughters and a son-in-law.

Jefferson, 62, who represented the New Orleans-based 2nd Congressional District for nine terms, will now face sentencing by Judge T.S. Ellis III, who earlier meted out stiff sentences for lesser figures in the case. According to the U.S. attorney's office, Jefferson faced 235 years in prison if convicted on all counts, and will still face substantial prison time."

Nice to know justice triumphed. Too bad the same bullhorn that the nation's liberal-leaning media used to announce various Republican scandals hasn't informed voters about Jefferson's conviction.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Wonderboy's Healthcare Plan Begins To Fade

The verdict on Wonderboy's attempt to win over voters with his ambitious town hall meeting campaign.

He's failed.

The many video clips of his carefully staged meetings have convinced many of the obvious liberal plants in the front rows of his events. Then there are the softball questions and borderline-abusive use of children asking leading questions about signs saying 'mean things.'

True, over the weekend, the First Rookie's HHS secretary floated a trial balloon of a healthcare bill with no government option. But no less a respected conservative than former House Majority Leader Dick Armey warned that the public option is not off the table at all. Not by a long shot.

If anything, he cautioned, this is a feint by Wonderboy to get people relaxed and pacified, while his Congressional minions ram through the complex bill without any Republican votes.

It's been eye-opening for me to see a voter lift the entire, wrist-bending bill in his hand and demand from his Senator to know why the healthcare 'solution' must be so complicated, long and incomprehensible.

I think we are at the point that, if such a bill does pass, it will mark the imminent end of Democratic majorities in either Congressional chamber, more likely the House, first.

Of course, after that will probably come Wonderboy himself. He's really lost his cover on this, judging by the many, angry town hall meetings held by various Congressional Democrats.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid added fuel to the fire when he castigated those voters objecting to Wonderboy's plans as 'evil.'

Good job, Harry. Word has it your own approval rating is below 50%. Maybe you won't be getting another term, either. You can join Tom Daschle in that free limousine of Leo Hindry's.

This long, hot recessionary summer has galvanized opposition to the junior Senator-cum-naive president's omnibus health sector takeover, and it doesn't look like things will calm down any time soon.

Sure, hardcore liberals and Democrats will fawn over the damn thing. And Republicans continue their principled, expected opposition.

But the key is and will be how the independents who put Wonderboy and his party in power in Congress swing between those two positions. I'm betting they'll be for change on the scale Congress is trying to cram down the country's throat.

Then, perhaps, the media will actually report on the many sensible, free-market alternatives advanced by Congressional Republicans.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Salem's Shameful Treatment Of Its Victims

I had the occasion to visit Salem, Massachusetts, site of the historic witch trials, this weekend.

Though in the town to view an exhibition of Dutch sea painters and paintings, my friend and I spent some time poking around the town, too.

Salem's claim to fame, of course, is the witch trials. Back in the 1600s, some people consumed spoiled grain and, due to resulting hallucinations, began the process which ended with several dozen people being named witches.

Many were put to death, by hanging, pressing, or torturous drowning. None, of course, were real witches.

That's the first ironic thing about the town.

You cannot swing a dead cat without hitting a witch's shop offering fortune telling. Rather odd, actually, for a town which pointedly did not have any witches in its past.

Many wrongly-accused people believed to be witches, but no real witches.

The other curious thing about Salem is what is celebrated and promoted by the town.

The old part of town is down near the water, as you'd expect. There are a few old houses from the period, a village green, and various sites depicting the witch trials for which the town is known.

Those accused of witchcraft, convicted, and hung, met their end on Gallows Hill.

Gallows Hill would, one naturally thinks, be a well-cared for, celebrated place. After all, it's where quite a few convicted witches died at the hand of the state, in error.

No such luck.

My friend and I, on the morning of our departure from the town, decided to take a quick look at the park. It proved to be nearly impossible to find. Our map simply pointed in a general direction out of town to find the site.

Driving toward it, we were given misleading directions by one local shop worker. When we finally met a local resident who offered to point out the hill on her way by, it occurred to us that the hill was quite far from old Salem.

To reach it, the townspeople of the witch era had to leave town, cross a river, climb a fairly steep escarpment and, then, after that, a still higher hill. I'd guess Gallows Hill is a good 3-4 miles from the harbor.

When we arrived at Gallows Hill, we were greeted by a strange site. A children's park.

No plaques. No ceremonial structures or National Park buildings. No self-guided trail. No reconstructed gallows tree or marker on the spot where so many poor, wrongly-accused and -convicted souls met their end.

No, just a skateboard and baseball park. And a few narrow, paved trails leading up to a dilapidated pavilion with once-ornate Greek columns by a now-graffiti-covered municipal-looking building.

It's really quite a sad, telling treatment of what is arguably the only important site in Salem.

Salem is about wrongly-accused witches and municipal rule and hysteria gone fatally wrong. The crushing power of the town of Salem and the Massachusetts Bay Colony stamping out the lives of people, based upon hysterical, hallucinated evidence of some teenagers.

If anything is important, it would be the site where most of those people were executed. Not the commercialized harborside, or the tricked-up shops on Essex Street purporting to vend all manner of witchcraft supplies.

But when you find Gallows Hill Park- if you can find it- all you see is a playground, a large water tower decorated with a painted witch on a broom, and a lonely, overgrown, forlorn hillock.

Nothing marks the place of execution of so many citizens of Salem wrongly put to death by the town and state.

No list of their names. No record of the town's grotesque errors. No attempt to describe, recall or recreate the senseless acts of wrongful state execution.

Salem likes to spotlight its quaint green, pretty, modern museum, and old buildings. And a modern harborside development.

But hidden away, forgotten and purposely neglected, is the site that really put Salem on the map.

Gallows Hill, on Witch Hill Road.

It's a mute, solemn testament to both the immense power of the state to careen out of control and wrongly take lives, then cover that up and make it difficult to discover, no doubt abetted by a town deeply ashamed of the real source of its fame.

Sadly, even in America, the state has grown even more powerful, while becoming better at hiding the truths of its wrongdoing even more cleverly than it was 400 years ago.