by Ernest Istook
Note: The Iowa Caucuses will occur only ten days after Christmas. So, with apologies to "The Night Before Christmas" by Clement Moore":
'Twas ten days before Iowa as they sought the White House.
Every pollster was stirring, even polling each mouse;
The airwaves were filled with the candidates’ flairs,
In hopes nomination soon would be theirs.
The voters were nestled all snug in their beds,
While politics-free visions danced in their heads.
Iowa was due first, New Hampshire on tap
But for now they just wanted a Christmas Eve nap,
When there on the TV arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
The Internet was humming; talk radio was brash.
Mainstream media was spewing its usual trash.
I ignored for the moment the new-fallen snow
Since campaign advertising was a flashier show.
Then what to my tired eyes and ears did appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight candidates sincere.
All chasing the driver, so mired in the muck
I knew in a moment they were hounding the lame duck.
More eager than buzzards the candidates they came,
Pursued by reporters who called them by name:
"Now, Clinton! Now, Thompson! Now, Obama and Huckabee!On, Giuliani! On, Edwards! On McCain! And on Romney!”
To the top of the polls, then the bottom they’d fall!
Now bash away! Bash away! Bash away all!
Dumb questions were asked at a hurricane pace,
To be met with one-liners, and attacks face-to-face.
So up to the house-top the wild mob they flew,
With the sleigh full of promises, and whispering campaigns, too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The comebacks and charges, till I’d had quite enough.
As I reached out my hand to turn off the sound,
Down the chimney the whole circus came with a bound.
They were all dressed in mud, from each head to each foot,
Reputations were tarnished with ashes and soot;
Old slogans and charges each flung in attacks
And they looked like some peddlers or maybe some hacks.
Their eyes—oh, how beady! Yet their dimples how merry!
Their cheeks were like roses; their smiles, they were scary.
They smelled like new plastic; they were made up with flair.
And one of them boasted four-hundred-dollar hair.
The stump of a lead one watched fall from his grip,
Another wore a halo, which started to slip.
One looked like a lawyer, as played on the telly.
One shook when she laughed, and denied she was smelly.
Two were movie star handsome, like they came off a shelf.
One was white-haired and somber, a non-jolly old elf.
The other kept saying he’d bring change to all
And each claimed that we should just ignore Ron Paul.
They spoke endless words, and they spun in their work:
Promised to fill every stocking; denied being a jerk.
Many voters decided that they’d just hold their nose
As to who’d get the nod. Then up the chimney all rose.
They sprang to private jets, ignoring Al Gore’s epistle.
They flew off to New Hampshire, showing toughness and gristle.
But I heard them exclaim, ere they flew out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all please vote right!"
--Ernest Istook is a former U.S. Congressman from Oklahoma, now a Distinguished Fellow at The Heritage Foundation and a radio talk show host.
by Ernest Istook
This was published in The Washington Times on Aug. 6, 2007.
by Ernest Istook
Some of the politicians who propose withdrawing our troops from Iraq have an ulterior motive. They want to stop spending money on the military so they can start spending it on social programs.
If they succeed, an army of social workers may prove the only force in the world capable of beating America's military. Funding that "army" is a revival of the "peace dividend" doctrine that brought us a hollowed-out military during the Clinton administration.
Sen. Barack Obama, Illinois Democrat, has claimed first dibs on the money to create a new $6-billion-a-year program against urban poverty "funded by savings from ending the Iraq war." Fellow presidential candidate John Edwards certainly will want a chunk, considering that his central theme is a mega-billion-dollar expansion of the "War on Poverty."
Congress is already on a spending spree. During the first six months of the new majority, the House and the Senate approved almost $200 billion in new spending, mostly to be financed with tax increases, with a little left over to lower the deficit. But raising taxes carries political risks, so tapping a "peace dividend" is an alternative justification for higher spending. It's a tempting target, because the five-year cost of our operations in Iraq and Afghanistan is officially calculated at $758 billion.
Bill Clinton pushed this argument when running for president, telling a 1991 Georgetown University audience, "With the dwindling Soviet threat, we can cut defense spending by over a third by 1997.... The American people have earned this peace dividend... and they are entitled to have the dividend reinvested in their future."
Today's lengthy troop deployments are one legacy of those cuts. Dropping the Army from 18 divisions to 10 forced each remaining soldier to spend more time overseas and less at home. It would be worse if Congress hadn't insisted on increased defense spending in the late Clinton years, followed by a further buildup under President George W. Bush.
But our military's needs won't end even if we reduce our activity in Iraq. Before the harsh desert environment took its toll on equipment and weapons, our inventory was aging. That's part of the reason the Heritage Foundation and many others urge a permanent defense budget commitment of 4 percent of gross domestic product (up from today's 3.9 percent).
This "4 Percent for Freedom" goal would conflict, obviously, with the social spending buildup leading Democrats want to finance partly by abandoning the mission in Iraq. It also would clash with the need to reduce federal deficits and balance the budget. But we can't allow our security needs to take second place.
The era of big government never ended. Rumors of its death have been greatly exaggerated. Republicans didn't end big government while they ran Congress, and the new Democrat majority certainly won't.
This year alone Congress has ramped up spending. It has tacked $40 billion on to Mr. Bush's appropriations proposal, passed five-year plans to spend an extra $23 billion for homeland security, spent $9 billion more on water resources, another $7 billion on transportation security, and a farm bill adding $17 billion.
A pending expansion of government-paid health care ("for the kids") will cost at least $71 billion over 10 years, enlarging the SCHIP "children's health" plans to provide government-paid health care for households making more than $80,000 per year — 4 times the poverty level. The costs of the Senate-passed energy bill still haven't been calculated — but expect it to push gasoline prices to $3.79 a gallon by next year, according to a Heritage Foundation report.
Tapping into a "peace dividend" will be an attractive political excuse to pay for these and more big-government plans — telling voters it's no pain, only gain. Our national defense could suffer from it.
Mr. Bush's opposition is almost the only political barrier. His political capital is low, but Congress' is even lower. Liberal use of a veto is the only way to combat this liberal big spending.
Ernest Istook is a distinguished fellow at the Heritage Foundation (heritage.org). He served 14 years as a U.S. Congressman from Oklahoma.
Why deport if they depart!?
Now that the Immigration Amnesty Bill has been defeated, state laws to halt jobs and public benefits for illegals are being noticed by those here illegally--and many are giving up and going home!
This underscores the point that many of us have made--that enforcement of the law doesn't mean we must round up and deport all 12- to 20-million people who are here illegally. Many will depart voluntarily.
Watch this video of a news report from Georgia, where their tough state law has kicked in. Let's look for similar news from Colorado, which enacted its crackdown even before Georgia. In other states, like Oklahoma, the law is brand-new and so it's tougher to evaluate the results.
Every state should enact such laws. Of course, beware the ACLU and others, who are planning lawsuits trying to abolish them.
If you have a legal matter to discuss with Ernest, you can reach him at (405) 659-6500, or via email to email@example.com.Ernest Istook has over 30 years of legal experience, and is licensed to practice in the State of Oklahoma, the U.S. Supreme Court, and federal courts.
It is a great moral failing for a free society to misunderstand the extent of Communism's atrocities. While the horrors of Nazism are well known, who knows that the Soviet Union murdered 20 million people? Who knows that China's dictators have slaughtered an estimated 60 million? Who knows that the Communist holocaust has exacted a death toll surpassing that of all of the wars of the 20th century combined?
George W. Bush is facing another bad week, with no light at the end of the tunnel.
President Bush isn't giving up on his support for the immigration bill that was scuttled in the Senate this week. He plans a lunch next week with Republicans in the U.S. Senate, trying to persuade them to revive the bill and pass it.
It's unlikely he'll win over any of the opposing Senators, but Bush's tenacity guarantees that his support for the unpopular amnesty will remain in next week's headlines--and that's not good for the White House in the eyes of the American people. Nor is the fact that Sen. Ted Kennedy says about the bill, "We're coming back."
Also next week, the U.S. House is expected to begin passing appropriations bills that significantly exceed the President's budget. Although he's pledged a veto of such bills, it's possible that veto-proof margins will support the bills, which include funding for veterans' health care.
Meantime, more Republicans continue to pile on George W. Bush. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told the American Enterprise Institute on Friday that Republicans will lose in 2008 if their candidate is seen as someone who will continue the Bush Presidency.
As Associated Press reports about Gingrich:
He has roundly criticized the Bush administration in recent interviews, describing the White House as dysfunctional and saying the president has driven the party into collapse. While he refrained from direct criticism Friday, he
cited failures in Iraq, border security and the response to Hurricane Katrina as
signs of a broken government.
His comments come just days after a Republican presidential debate in
which GOP candidates criticized Bush over his handling of the Iraq war, his
diplomatic style and his approach to immigration.
- Senate leader Harry Reid announced that the Kennedy-Bush-McCain immigration bill was being pulled from the Senate floor (although it could return at some future date, just like Godzilla).
- The judge in the Paris Hilton case ordered her back to court Friday morning to see about re-jailing her, and possibly holding in contempt the L.A. Sheriff who released her early despite the judge's original orders.
After all, if illegal immigrants won't get amnesty, then why should Paris Hilton?!!,They say that good news often comes in three's, so what could be next?
All the candidates had their spin doctors ready to proclaim their man the winner of Tuesday night's debate in New Hampshire. But regardless of who won, the loser was clearly President George W. Bush.
Support of Bush from his own party faithful continues to unravel, as outlined recently by former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan.
The Associated Press picked up on how freely the GOP candidates distanced themselves from the President. Iraq and immigration were the central themes, with the Iraqi criticism centering on what happened after the fall of Saddam Hussein rather than on the decision to invade. The AP also labelled it "startling criticism".
FOX News announced "Republican White House Hopefuls Distance Themselves From Bush".
National Public Radio proclaimed that Bush was "the biggest issue of the night." The Washington Times writes that Bush "took a bruising".
It was noted in the Arab world, where one article concluded that the GOP contenders all felt "their best chance comes by distancing themselves from him [Bush]."
Debate sponsor CNN reported, "Republican presidential candidates directed as much of their firepower at President Bush as they did at each other." (The others also freely criticized Sen. John McCain for being a principal supporter of the pending immigration "reform" bill, which Giulani labelled "a typical Washington mess.")
Congressman Tom Tancredo even told the audience that since Bush had disinvited him from the White House, that if elected he would reciprocate by telling Bush "not to darken the doorstep" of the White House.
Bush-bashing was expected and frequent at the Democratic candidates' debate, but when it happened at the Republican debate, that was news. The Dixie Chicks must have loved it.
Canadian writer Lawrence Solomon began six months ago to check the credentials of every scientist who publicly spoke out against Al Gore's alarmism.
Somewhere along the way, I stopped believing that a scientific consensus exists on climate change. Certainly there is no consensus at the very top echelons of scientists -- the ranks from which I have been drawing my subjects -- and certainly there is no consensus among astrophysicists and other solar scientists, several of whom I have profiled. If anything, the majority view among these subsets of the scientific community may run in the opposite direction.What about the claims of Al Gore and the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that 2,000-2,500 top scientists support their position? The UN group won't even release their names! Says Solomon:
I asked the IPCC for their names, to gauge their views. "The 2,500 or so scientists you are referring to are reviewers from countries all over the world," the IPCC Secretariat responded. "The list with their names and contacts will be attached to future IPCC publications, which will hopefully be on-line in the second half of 2007." . . . Far from endorsing the IPCC reports, some reviewers, offended at what they considered a sham review process, have demanded that the IPCC remove their names from the list of reviewers. One even threatened legal action when the IPCC refused.You can read Solomon's latest full article here.
And for a great analysis of the truth behind the hype, check out this article at The Heritage Foundation's www.insider.org, "Global Warming: A Guide to the Hype."
Former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan has a devastating critique of President George W. Bush. Beyond abandoning the conservative cause, she accuses Bush of creating a wrecking ball White House that is destroying the governing conservative coalition of the Republican Party.
Her comments are an absolute "must read".
The last straw, she writes, is the Bush accusation that it's unpatriotic to oppose his immigration plan:
"The president has taken to suggesting that opponents of his immigration bill are unpatriotic--they "don't want to do what's right for America." His ally Sen. Lindsey Graham has said, "We're gonna tell the bigots to shut up." On Fox last weekend he vowed to "push back." Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff suggested opponents would prefer illegal immigrants be killed; Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez said those who oppose the bill want "mass deportation." Former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson said those who oppose the bill are "anti-immigrant" and suggested they suffer from "rage" and "national chauvinism.""
"Now conservatives and Republicans are going to have to win back their party. They are going to have to break from those who have already broken from them. This will require courage, serious thinking and an ability to do what psychologists used to call letting go. This will be painful, but it's time. It's more than time.""
Connect the dots between Noonan's column and the new Washington Times report that donations to the Republican National Committee from its small-donor core base are dropping by 40% this year--and its whole telemarketing staff has been let go (after suffering scorched ears from hearing angry comments about immigration whenever they dialed for dollars).
This may be the start of a dam bursting, with a wholesale abandonment of the Bush White House by many of its supporters and apologists.
All over the news today is the "unofficial" confirmation--Former Senator Fred Thompson will jump into the Presidential race on the Republican side. July 4th is the possible date for becoming "official"--but that's just a tactic to assure continuing media attention.
To conservatives who have been asking, "Is there anybody else?", Thompson has had the advantage of being viewed from a distance. Don't most of us look better at a distance than up-close? One media outlet, Congressional Quarterly, has already posted a summary of Thompson's U.S. Senate voting record. Another has posted his history as a lobbyist. Now that he's evidently made a decision, there'll be a rush to examine his record and history.
Meantime, another conservative icon, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, will be watching Thompson's campaign rollout, looking for useful lessons in case Gingrich joins the fray, possibly in September.
Pundits love this, because it provides a multitude of new angles for making news by voicing their speculations (which many prefer to actual hard news), such as:
- Will this help Giulani by further splitting the conservative vote? Or hurt him by countering one celebrity with another?
- Surely it can't help McCain by putting one of his good buddies up against him!
- Romney has banked on conservatives who cannot stand Giulani or McCain flocking to him, but now those voters have another option. On the other hand, Romney looks more like a Hollywood star than the real-thing Thompson!
- Will social conservatives truly rally around him? After all, Dr. James Dobson already questioned Thompson's faith!
And get this--A former girlfriend of the former Senator, country singer Lorrie Morgan, has already announced her support for Thompson. (No, I'm not making this up!)
Be prepared for lots of spin talk about Thompson's being in the mold of Ronald Reagan or Arnold Schwarzenegger, thanks to his TV and movie work. But which is it? Reagan or the Governator? Those two have very different politics!
The only sure thing is that the Thompson move creates a new job opening: Who wants to play the D.A. now on NBC's "Law and Order"? Maybe one of the many who have recently departed the U.S. Justice Department?
Thanks to bloggers, the immigration "compromise" proposal is available online in a version upon which you can post your comments. It disastrous consequences have conservatives up in arms.
The power of the blogosphere over the weekend has collectively dissected the draft bill--a task the "mainstream media" couldn't do in two weeks!
The Heritage Foundation has also posted the full text of the draft bill online.
As Mark Steyn writes:
"Great news! Being illegal is now perfectly legal! Just for being one of the circa 12 million people who shouldn't be here, you can now be here indefinitely! If you were living and working in America illegally before Jan. 1, 2007, you're now entitled to one of the new Z-1 "probationary" visas. And your parents and spouses are entitled to one of the new Z-2 visas, and your children to the new Z-3 visas."That's the travesty of the "non-amnesty" Z visas! As Brian Darling of The Heritage Foundation writes about the "GOP Sellout":
"These "Z Visa" holders can stay in the "Z" status indefinitely, which means they never have to pursue "a pathway to citizenship." They also would be able to get Social Security numbers and benefit from some welfare programs. Shockingly, there is no cap on the numbers of amnesty recipients in the draft language. "Denying that this bill is amnesty is the worst distortion of the English language since ebonics and Bill Clinton's inability to understand what "is" is!
Interestingly, most public wrath is falling upon Republican sponsors, even though they are outnumbered by Democrat supporters. That's because many outraged Americans at least had higher expectations that Republicans would resist rather than cave-in.
Many Democrats in Congress, are holding back because--incredibly--they think the bill isn't liberal enough!
Even if this bill never becomes law, it could be the final nail in the coffin for GOP prospects of reclaiming Congress in 2008.
Ironically, a stronger Democrat majority and a Democrat President would almost certainly guarantee that an even worse version would then be enacted. But so long as the GOP's high-profile leaders in Congress fail to show fighting spirit on this issue (including taking the White House directly to task), much of the Republican base feels they must choose between rebellion and disillusioned apathy--and too many will choose apathy.
The American people's faith in Washington will now plummet from its already low level. Regardless of how the "imigration compromise" may be revised, or whether it passes the Congress, the announcement of the amnesty deal clinches the argument that political leaders "just don't get it."
Some businesses may like the proposed deal, but few everyday Americans will. Any plan that creates a "Z Visa" or anything else that lets millions of illegals stay is amnesty. Period.
As bad as the announcement was, it can get worse. Democrat leaders are already harping that it needs to be liberalized more.
Key components of the immigration plan, as described by Senator Ted Kennedy:
- All illegal immigrants who arrived before Jan. 1, 2007, could stay and work after paying a $1,500 fee, passing a criminal background check, and showing a strong work record.
- They would also have to pay a fine of $5,000.
- After eight years, they could apply for a green card.
- A new visa category would be created for parents of U.S. citizens, allowing them to visit for up to 100 days per year.
- A temporary-worker program would allow 400,000 immigrant workers to enter on two-year visas, after which they would have to return home for a year before reapplying. The visas could be renewed up to three times.
- A new point system would add factors for green-card eligibility to lessen the "chain migration" of family members.
- The Border Patrol and interior enforcement would be expanded, and a new security perimeter would be created. Such border enforcement provisions would have to be implemented before immigrant-rights measures take effect.
Is Democratic majority doing what they condemned Republicans for?
Politico reports that "Democrats are wielding a heavy hand on the House Rules Committee, committing many of the procedural sins for which they condemned Republicans during their 12 years in power. "So far this year, Democrats have frequently prevented Republicans from offering amendments, limited debate in the committee and, just last week, maneuvered around chamber rules to protect a $23 million project for Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.).
"On Wednesday, Democrats suggested changing the House rules to limit the minority's right to offer motions to recommit bills back to committee -- violating a protection that has been in place since 1822."
UPDATE: Roll Call has a detailed look at what happened, why, how Republicans delayed the plan by going nuclear, and what might occur next.
Drudge Reports a new liberal effort to muzzle dissent has prompted Republicans on the floor of the U.S. House to launch parliamentary delaying tactics in protest.
Since 1822, a cherished right of any minority party has been the ability to offer a "Motion to Recommit" before a bill can be presented for final passage in the House. Both parties have used it as a tool to propose amendments that totally change a bill, often in ways that are very embarrassing to the majority party.
Reports say Speaker Pelosi plans to end that minority right or to restrict severely the content of any Motion to Recommit. Crying foul, Republicans are using parliamentary tactics to slow things to a crawl on the floor of the House. They also are reminding the world that Democrats (including Pelosi), claimed the GOP had abused them as a minority, but vowed they would be "different" by protecting minority rights.
Being in the majority isn't enough for liberals. Rather than just defeating the opposition they want to silence them, too:
xThey muzzle pro-life speakers at the Democratic National Convention
xThey limit free speech with suppressive campaign finance laws
xThey stifle criticism of their global warming claims
xThey want to shut up the voices of talk radio
xAnd now they want to muffle every idea in Congress except their own.
NYC Mayor Considers Spending $1-Billion of Own Money!
He says he's not "planning" to run for President, but evidently he's preparing just the same.
With a personal wealth estimated at $5.5-billion, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is rounding up those who pieced-together Ross Perot's third-party run for President, reports the Washington Times, outlining how behind-the scenes arrangements are underway so all will be ready if Bloomberg decides to go for it--with plans to use $1-billion of his own money.
That means major advantages for Bloomberg:
=No time spent raising money,
=So he can wait months before declaring.
=He can brag he's not beholden to any donors or special interests (a major appeal to disenchanted voters).
=His wealth lets him massively outspend all of the other candidates combined, and
=Without having to compete for a party nomination.
The wealthiest of the other candidates, Mitt Romney, may have personal wealth of around $250-million--less than 5% of Bloomberg's $5.5-billion+ fortune. Depending on when he starts, a $1-billion Bloomberg commitment would let him spend $2-to-3-million each day between now and November 2008.
Bloomberg's well-paid advisers obviously are stressing how the other GOP contenders haven't caught fire. But Bloomberg isn't the hero that conservative voters are looking for: he's very much a social liberal, regardless of what he might promise on fiscal issues. Because he would bypass the primaries by running as an independent/third-party, he will disregard the GOP's social conservatives, threatening to split the GOP base.
What a New York City soap opera! Hillary vs. Rudy vs. Bloomberg!?
aThe company website behind his wealth: www.bloomberg.com
The trickle of veto threats by the White House is becoming a steady stream, even as the GOP's willingness to uphold such vetoes becomes more uncertain.
Friday's letter from OMB Director Rob Portman is a shot-across-the-bow to Congressional big spenders. The letter warns that if appropriations bills exceed Bush's budget (which is tens of billions lower than Congress' proposed budget), then the spending bills will be vetoed.
Even as Democrats predictably scoffed at the veto threat, there was a silence from Republican leaders about whether they would uphold vetoes based on the amount of spending. So far, his party has hung with Bush to keep troop-pullout deadlines out of bills, but 80 Republicans just last week voted to spend $7-billion extra for "emergency" assistance to agriculture, despite an explicit veto threat on that bill. Their desertions helped the bill to pass by a veto-proof margin.
When you couple this with last week's contentious White House visit by moderate Republicans, it's clear that everyone's resolve is being tested. One of the clear messages from voters in the 2006 election was that Congress needs more spending discipline. Even if most GOP Senators and Congressmen agree with Bush, it doesn't take very many Republican Members deserting on spending discipline to reinforce the disillusionment of the GOP base. That would be a major barrier to GOP efforts to recapture Congress.
Pro-Life Letter Is Latest Challenge To Congress
This week's new pro-active and pro-life letter from President Bush is the latest of several accumulating veto challenges he is laying down to the Congress. It's a marked contrast from the first six years of his Presidency, when he vetoed only one bill (an expansion of federal funding for using human embryos in stem-cell research).
Most veto threats are in response to a specific bill, but the new letter is different. Even before any abortion-related measures are considered, Bush pre-empted them by stating he will veto any effort to expand taxpayer funding of abortions or to undo protection of human embryos.
In the first four months of the new Congress, Bush has vetoed one bill, pledged to veto four others, and issued this week's pro-life letter promising to veto any inconsistent bill. The veto was of the Iraq funding bill (with troop withdrawal deadlines). The other veto promises:
r A re-veto of a second Iraq bill that would only fund America's troops for a few months
r To veto so-called "hate crimes" legislation that recently passed the House and is seen as an effort to silence ministers and others who criticize homosexuality
r To veto a House-passed bill that would give an official seat in Congress to the District of Columbia
r To veto a House-passed bill if it maintains language that would grant collective bargaining rights to the 170,000 employees of the Homeland Security Department
Talk on Capitol Hill is that the White House is developing a strategy to promise additional vetoes, mostly related to spending. The goal is to highlight the budget discipline differences between the Democrats in Congress and the Administration and the Republicans in Congress. Meantime, the Democrat majority hopes to maneuver Bush and Republicans into opposing spending measures which are popular with many voters.
ADD TWO MORE: Since this post, the Bush Administration has issued additional veto warnings--announcing that he would veto a "pure withdrawal" proposal being voted on today (with no money for American troops) and that he would veto a separate proposal to provide several billion extra dollars to America's farmers--who as a group are enjoying record levels of revenue.
The push to expand gambling in America via the Internet continues!
Working to help you lose money from home in your spare time, British vendors have hired lobbyists to generate a "grassroots" campaign to pass Congressman Barney Franks' bill. Their promotional website is in its start-up phase.
Nevada Congresswoman Shelley Berkley has just introduced a bill promoting a National Science Foundation "study" that she hopes will decide that last year's Congress erred when it acted to ban Internet-based gambling (by making it illegal to collect the payments). Berkley filed HR 2140 and she's attracted 60 co-sponsors.
As part of their effort, the group claims it has developed Internet software that will pinpoint the age and location of bettors--to prevent betting by minors, they say, and also claims "technology to detect compulsive gambling and money laundering."
Not only do they want to help Americans lose money from home in their spare time, but also to help Big Brother watch you as it happens!
Here's hard evidence of what the people at TIME magazine want you to think, and how they're trying to shape your thinking to conform to theirs.
How can they publish a list of the "100 most influential people in the world" and leave off the President of the United States?
The President of Venezuela made their list, as did Osama bin Laden and even Fidel Castro's brother, Raul (though not Fidel). Rosie O'Donnell is there with Leonardo diCaprio, and of course Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi. Al Gore is an automatic--and they've promoted him from 'politician' to 'thinker'.
But no President of the United States! Like him or hate him, you cannot deny the influence wielded by President George W. Bush--unless you have an agenda of trying to persuade people to shun, ignore and marginalize him. Only the most radical of leftists have such an agenda--and of course TIME magazine.
TIME's is not a list of who IS the most influential, but rather a list of who they want you to follow. It forecasts who TIME will quote with approval, just to bring you around to their East Coast elite view of the world. So the only real surprise is that they also left off Barbra Streisand!
Click here to view TIME's list, which they divided into categories rather than numbering 1 to 100:
In his speech Monday, the Majority Leader described the several steps that this new strategy for Iraq would entail. Its first step, he said, is to "transition the U.S. mission away from policing a civil war" . . .
What does this actually mean? To begin with, it means that our troops will not be allowed to protect the Iraqi people from the insurgents and militias who are trying to terrorize and kill them. Instead of restoring basic security, which General Petraeus has argued should be the central focus of any counterinsurgency campaign, it means our soldiers would instead be ordered, by force of this proposed law, not to stop the sectarian violence happening all around them—no matter how vicious or horrific it becomes.
In short, it means telling our troops to deliberately and consciously turn their backs on ethnic cleansing, to turn their backs on the slaughter of innocent civilians. . . .This makes no moral sense at all. It also makes no strategic or military sense either.
Al Qaeda's own leaders have repeatedly said that one of the ways they intend to achieve victory in Iraq is to provoke civil war. They are trying to kill as many people as possible today, precisely in the hope of igniting sectarian violence, because they know that this is their best way to collapse Iraq's political center, overthrow Iraq's elected government, radicalize its population, and create a failed state in the heart of the Middle East that they can use as a base. . . .
The suggestion that we can draw a bright legislative line between stopping terrorists in Iraq and stopping civil war in Iraq flies in the face of this reality. . . .
In sum, you can't have it both ways. You can't withdraw combat troops from Iraq and still fight Al Qaeda there. . . . So I ask advocates of withdrawal: on what evidence, on what data, have you concluded that pulling U.S. troops out will weaken the insurgency, when every single experience we have had since 2003 suggests that this legislation will strengthen it? . . .
In his remarks earlier this week, the Majority Leader observed that there is "a large and growing population of millions—who sit precariously on the fence. They will either condemn or contribute to terrorism in the years ahead. We must convince them of the goodness of America and Americans. We must win them over."
On this, I completely agree with my friend from Nevada. My question to him, however, and to the supporters of this legislation, is this: how does the strategy you propose in this bill possibly help win over this population of millions in Iraq, who sit precariously on the fence?
What message, I ask, does this legislation announce to those people in Iraq? How will they respond when we tell them that we will no longer make any effort to protect them against insurgents and death squads? How will they respond when we declare that we will be withdrawing our forces—regardless of whether they make progress in the next six months towards political reconciliation? . . .Do my friends really believe that this is the way to convince Iraqis, and the world, of the goodness of America and Americans? Does anyone in this chamber really believe that, by announcing a date certain for withdrawal, we will empower Iraqi moderates, or enable Iraq's reconstruction, or open more schools for their children, or more hospitals for their families, or freedom for everyone?
Mr. President, with all due respect, this is fantasy.
. . . and Then Thank Barney Frank
Thanks to the modern miracle of Internet gambling, you don't have to plan ahead for a trip to a casino far-far away! Just imagine the gambling convenience:
- No need to plan ahead!
- No pre-set spending limits!
- No distraction from family members wanting to share your vacation time!
- Temptation is always as close as your keyboard.
The plan is reported in The Hill, which reports that it will be sold as a supposed way to make billions each year for the government. It's the same argument presented by those who want to legalize marijuana, whose mantra is "legalize it and tax it".
Frank claims it would provide tens of billions of dollars, which would not be used to reduce the federal deficit, but instead would be spent on expensive tax, healthcare, or other domestic legislation Democrats want to move this year.
The leader of the anti-Internet gambling group, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), says “We’re going to fight it.”
The proposed legislation could benefit the offshore gambling sites that saw their U.S. customer base disappear when Congress stepped in last year.
High-profile Democrats James Carville, Stanley Greenberg, and Bob Shrum periodically report on the state of the Democratic Party, under the group banner of the Democracy Corps.
Their latest analysis reports that the new Democratic majority in Congress is making no headway in the eyes of the public, except for their condemnations of the war in Iraq and of embattled Attorney-General Alberto Gonzales. Overwhelmingly, they say, Americans believe the country is moving in the wrong direction, even with the Democratic majority in Congress.
Here's an excerpt from that report:
"For months now, we have chronicled the strikingly static political environment in the country as revealed in dozens of public polls released over the last four months. After the historic Democratic victory in November, ratings of Democrats surged while President Bush and Republicans continued to fall, moving Democrats to an even stronger position than they enjoyed in November. Since then – despite the new Congress, continuing violence and sectarian strife in Iraq, and major developments on a range of domestic and international issues – the key political indicators have barely moved:
- "The number of Americans who believe the country is moving in the right direction has been at or just below 30 percent since January, and earlier gains in consumer confidence have been erased by higher gas prices in the last few weeks. Across three polls released so far in April, we see a monthly average of 28 percent right direction, 67 percent wrong track – the highest wrong track number since May 2006.
- "President Bush’s anemic job approval numbers have been remarkably consistent across all polls for the past four months. Neither approval nor disapproval of Bush’s performance has moved more than a point from where they stood in January.
- "Continuing low marks for the Congress – 34 percent approval in two different polls this month – are mixed with optimism for the new Democratic Congress and strong preferences for congressional Democrats over President Bush on a range of issues, particularly Iraq.
- "Building on their 8-point victory in last November’s election, Democrats have maintained double digit margins in the generic congressional contest in almost every poll measuring the race this year."
The Democracy Corps' findings are good news for Republicans who are fighting against the Democrats' spend-big-and-let-taxes-go-up agenda, but bad news because the Iraqi situation remains so volatile and cannot be managed as normal legislative issues are.
It's called the Majority Accountability Project. It launched on the Internet on April 23rd.
Founded by two Capitol Hill veterans, MAP seeks to be a major on-line clearinghouse of information on the House Majority, conducting its own investigative stories and making them available to the public, on-line community and the mainstream media.
Its goal is to apply the same standard to Democrats' conduct as that party has applied to Republicans. The challenge is whether the "mainstream media" will be as attentive as they were to every allegation against the GOP.
“Last year, dozens of organizations, blogs and internet-based groups were engaged in comprehensive research on the Republican House majority - poring over legislation, travel vouchers, FEC statements, and financial disclosures - disseminating that information and, quite often, driving a great deal of the mainstream media coverage,” said Michael Brady, MAP President and co-founder. “We think this majority needs that same level of scrutiny.”
MAP will compile and maintain comprehensive records on members of the Majority, such as house votes, campaign financing, district activities, policy positions and public statements.
“MAP will begin to fill a huge void in internet strategy and activism,” said Mike Giuliani, MAP co-founder and its Secretary-Treasurer. “While the Democrats boast of a large number of blogs and on-line organizations already in existence, conservatives do not have an on-line news organization to match that impact. This Majority and its candidates made a lot of pledges and promises, and the public has a right to know whether they are being kept.”
MAP hopes that its work will be picked up and repeated by other media.
Its first two stories focus on following the money trail involving Democrats. One story posted on its brand-new website describes how a lobbyist with a questionable past has now become the go-to-guy raising millions for freshman Democrats in the House of Representatives.
Another story describes how Democrat House leaders and Members have donated tens of thousands to pay legal fees for Christine Jennings. She's the Florida Democrat who lost a tight race for a House seat last fall, and then filed an official election challenge asking the House to seat her and un-seat Republican Vern Buchanan. The story questions how Democrats who are paying her legal fees can claim to be impartial when they vote to uphold or deny her election challenge.
Prior to founding MAP, Brady served as Director of Strategic Communications for the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), has been a political analyst for TV and was a longtime aide to U.S. Representative Tom Reynolds. Giuliani most recently served as Chief of Staff to former U.S. Representative Sue Kelly and formerly worked for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
President Bush has re-affirmed his support for Attorney-General Alberto Gonzales, despite the unrelenting bipartisan pounding of Gonzales by Congress.
Gonzales remains a major distraction and embarrassment for the President, weakening the White House's ability to focus on Iraq, the federal budget, Medicare and Social Security insolvency, and a host of other issues.
The headlines won't stop; the pounding won't go away; the distraction will continue. The President cannot be happy, but he's sticking by Gonzales.
Simply put: Because as bad as things are, any other course would make them worse. A firing or resignation would require the President to nominate a new Attorney General. Senate Democrats then would seize that as a fresh opportunity to:
- Revisit the controversies over Gonzales (asking the nominee endless questions about whether they endorse or disavow each action by Gonzales)
- Grill the nominee about each and every hot-button issue in the justice system (homeland security intelligence-gathering; the rights of detainees at Guantanamo Bay; "profiling" of terrorism suspects; enforcement of the death penalty; etc)
- Quiz the nominee about supposed flaws in their background and whether his/her views are politically-correct or not.
It would be a major media circus that would be dragged out for months. Meantime, the hearings over Gonzales and the dismissals of eight U.S. attorneys would continue. His departure would not end those hearings or those headlines.
Had there actually been a violation of law by Gonzales, the equation would be different. Then a change in that position would be necessary. But it's not because this is a political controversy rather than a legal breach.
The current one-ring circus would expand into a two-ring circus if Gonzales were to go. As bad as the current distraction is for the White House, replacing the Attorney-General would only make it worse.
aAn expanded version of this has been posted by FOX News on its website. CLICK HERE.
New York City Mayor Bloomberg--himself a billionaire--proposes a new $8-a-day tax for the privilege of driving into Manhattan (unless you stay north of 86th Street--up toward Harlem).
For trucks, it's even worse--$21 a day.
The mayor calls it a "congestion fee". In fact, it's a tax and a penalty for using a motor vehicle. And the purpose is not to help pay for the roads and bridges used by drivers. Instead, hundreds of millions of dollars would be transferred annually to benefit the users of mass transit which is already heavily-subsidized by drivers and the general taxpayer. Overall, the plan would support about a $50-billion expansion of NYC's huge mass transit.
Their hope is that the media's efforts to stampede fear of global warming has changed the political environment. This audacious plan is being touted in the name of protecting the environment, hoping to disguise its true nature as a major new tax.
Mayor Bloomberg's Earth Day-timed announcement featured a video introduction by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the West Coast's Rockefeller Republican. That raises obvious questions of whether the Governator is ready to test similar ideas in California. British Prime Minister Tony Blair also made a video cameo appearance, saying “This would mark out New York as a global leader in halting climate change."
Because the NYC plan requires an intricate Big Brother-monitoring system to track every vehicle's movements, just building the high-tech infrastructure is estimated to cost an initial $225-million, and the federal government is already being suggested as the source for that money. The Bush Administration's Transportation Secretary, Mary E. Peters, didn't throw cold water on the notion with her response, "This plan is the kind of bold thinking leaders across the country need to embrace if we hope to win the battle against traffic congestion."
Fortunately, that one sentence was the entirety of the Secretary's statement, leaving plenty of wiggle room as the politics of this plan mature.
Rising fuel prices already provide free-market disincentives for drivers, but if they switch to mass transit there's fewer drivers left to subsidize that transit--thus the $8-per-day fee to make up the difference and keep the subsidies growing.
We're hearing angry outcries already from those who will be hurt by this fee. But imagine the even-larger outcry if the Mayor had proposed funding the mass transit expansion by raising the fares for using the subway or buses! This "farebox recovery rate" in New York City covers about half that system's annual operating costs--and none of the capital expenses--leading to an annual deficit in the billion-dollar neighborhood. Even so, those riders pay a larger percentage of the operating costs than in any other transit system in America. Still, the users of mass transit wouldn't be the ones paying for this $50-billion capital expansion.
Traffic congestion is a serious problem. The U.S. Transportation Department has suggested various approaches, including what is called "value pricing", whereby users of toll roads would pay higher rates during peak periods.
However, true value pricing typically would use the extra fees to improve roads and bridges to handle the traffic. Bloomberg's proposal instead would take the money paid by autos and trucks and send it to further subsidize mass-transit.
Usually overlooked in transportation debates is the fact that automobile users already pay a heavy government burden for daring to favor the freedom and flexibility that automobiles provide. One-sixth of the federal fuel taxes paid by drivers is diverted to mass transit already.
The almost-all Democratic NYC Congressional delegation can be expected to push for federal funding to implement this plan, with significant pushback to be hoped for both from Republicans and from Democrats in other parts of the country.
In the movie, people wanted out, not in!
aRead Mayor Bloomberg's plan here.
aAmtrak and mass transit are heavily-subsized; aviation has a much-smaller subsidy; and drivers get a "negative subsidy" as fuel taxes are siphoned off to mass transit. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics publishes the numbers here. On average, transit receives over $5-billion per year in net federal subsidies, while highway users paid about $8-billion more than is plowed back into roads. On a passenger-mile basis, passenger rail (Amtrak) is the most heavily subsidized mode, followed by mass transit, and (distantly) by aviation. But users of autos and trucks pay extra rather than being subsized.
They usually arrive several grades behind when they first enter this school. They're 98 per cent black. 89 per cent come from poverty. Their campus is in the heart of Oklahoma City's most-downtrodden area.
Yet they just blew away other Oklahoma students in their annual performance tests.
They're at the KIPP Academy, a charter middle school that's been fighting off a public school system whose bureaucracy and teachers' union wish it would go away. KIPP means "Knowledge Is Power Program". There are only 52 schools nationwide in the KIPP program. Their goal isn't just to lift up underprivileged kids to get a high school diploma. They're preparing them and pushing them toward college.
The KIPP College Preparatory School in northeast Oklahoma City scored a 2006 Academic Performance Index of 1,393 out of a possible 1,500. The number measures Oklahoma Core Curriculum Test scores, passage rates, student attendance and dropout rates. The average API score for all Oklahoma students is 1,180. The average score in Oklahoma City Public Schools is 1,006.
The only middle school in the state that scored higher (slightly) was one in an upper-middle-class area of Oklahoma City. The results impressed Principal Tracy McDaniel (photo at left), who was under pressure. This was his first eighth-grade class and he needed to prove they could perform well, just as his young students had been doing.
What's their secret? They expect more, require more and get more from the students, the parents, the teachers and everyone else.
KIPP doesn't rely on teachers with magically-unique personalities or Hollywood-movie rapport with students. It relies on discipline and effort. KIPP's school day is longer than in the public schools--7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., plus Saturday classes twice a month. The staff enforce discipline and require parents to back them up. Parents--like students--have to agree in writing to obey the rules of the school.
Principal McDaniel says, "KIPP is a school where you have to work hard. Nothing is easy . . . you have to be dedicated to everything you're doing."
Perhaps the most significant accomplishment was that all of the school's eighth-graders passed both the writing and the math tests. Every single student. By comparison, statewide just 72 percent of eighth-graders passed the math test. In the other Oklahoma City public schools, only 59 percent passed.
"We don't quit until they get into college,” McDaniel said. "Take excuses away from these people who say these kids can't learn,” he said.
aRead the April 21st Oklahoma City news account of the great performance by this charter school
aRead a Washington Post account from last fall about how this KIPP school overcame public school bureaucracy (and my own minor role in helping them).
aContact this school and congratulate them.
aRead the bio and more comments of principal Tracy McDaniel.
- "[Radio host Don] Imus and the verbal violence that was directed at young women . . . that's a form of violence"
- Outsourcing: "the violence of men and women who . . . suddenly have the rug pulled out from under them because their job has moved to another country.
- Obama then cites bad schools and bad neighborhoods as forms of violence, as well as
- “the violence of children whose voices are not heard in communities that are ignored,"
Obama’s speech with its litany of what he considers as violence is available online in an mp3 audio file.
Is murder to him a mere sub-issue of his political ideology? Human life is just another pawn on the political chessboard?
It’s another example of how those on the Left will give their political causes the moral equivalence of respect for human life, even as they undercut that respect with their promotion of abortion.
aI highly recommend these excellent commentaries about how America and our media are responding to the Virginia Tech killings:
The Who’s Who of America’s Left are assembling a manifesto to the Democrats they worked so hard to elect. The message is simple: Add mega-billions more to federal spending on social programs.
As reported by The Hill newspaper in Washington, the Left is showing a united front via an ultimatum-style letter they’re preparing to send to the Congress.
In last year’s elections, this same coalition condemned Republicans over the amount of federal spending—never mentioning that their own goal is to spend MORE rather than less. Now they’re pulling the classic political bait-and-switch on voters by urging enormous increases in social programs.
This coalition-in-chief calls itself the Emergency Campaign for America’s Priorities (ECAP). At its union-hosted website, ECAP describes itself as “a nationwide campaign of national and grassroots organizations committed to reversing the Administration’s policy of drastic cuts to programs that primarily benefit the poor and middle class in order to finance tax cuts that benefit the wealthy and special interests.”
Just a look at ECAP’s membership proves who is pulling the strings of the Democrat Party: labor unions, MoveOn.org, pro-abortion Planned Parenthood, the Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the Sierra Club, National Council of Churches, Ralph Nader’s groups such as USPIRG, and social welfare groups like the Children’s Defense Fund.
It’s no coincidence that members of the coalition are also major recipients of federal funds. Collectively, they spent many tens of millions of dollars to elect Democrats in 2006. Now they want a multi-billion-dollar return on that investment.
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)
Alliance for Retired Americans (ARA)
American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)
American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)
American Academy of HIV Medicine
The Arc and UCP Disability Policy Collaboration
Campaign for America's Future (CAF)
Center for Community Change
Children's Defense Fund
Coalition on Human Needs
Communications Workers of American (CWA)
Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities
Direct Action Welfare Group (DAWG)
Fair Taxes For All Coalition
Food Research and Action Center (FRAC)
Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR)
Mennonite Central Committee, Washington Office
MoveOn.org Political Action
National Council of Churches
National Council of Jewish Women
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
National Head Start Association
The National Women's Law Center (NWLC)
People For the American Way (PFAW)
Planned Parenthood Federation of America
Rural Americans for a Secure Future (RASF)
Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
United for a Fair Economy
United States Student Association (USSA)
Voices for Working Families
Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW)
Welfare Rights Organizing Coalition
Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA)
That adage should be remembered in the Presidential race.
Here's the burn rates for the GOP candidates:
and for the Democrats:
This is not good news for the GOP! Obviously, Democratic donors don't need as many invitations and pushes as Republican donors do right now!
(Number-crunching is taken from www.politicalmoneyline.com and www.dailykos.com.)
Today brought the Pro-Life community its biggest victory since Roe v. Wade in 1973, as the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Congress’ prohibition of “partial-birth abortions”.
It took years of focus and detailed legal work by pro-lifers to win this 5-4 decision, especially after a 4-5 loss in 2000 regarding a similar partial-birth abortion law.
Because it only restricts the very worst type of abortion (starting to deliver a probably-viable baby, then killing it just before it exits the mother), this decision directly restricts only 2,000 or so of the million-plus annual abortions in America. But now the abortion debate has renewed significance, because elected officials (and not unelected federal judges) once again have a constitutional role in deciding abortion policy.
The impact will be huge in the Presidential race. Voters will insist that each candidate must be clear in proclaiming what they believe the law should be, rather than passing the buck and claiming they cannot influence the law, so their position doesn’t matter.
Now it DOES matter, and it matters very much.
All the Democrat contenders for President couldn’t rush fast enough to condemn today’s decision. Their positions are all alike, and all pro-abortion.
Republican contenders were almost as fast to react, except they praised the ruling. But there’s nuanced differences among the Republicans on abortion policy. For example, Rudy Giulani recently re-affirmed his support for using taxpayer money for abortions. Now each difference among the GOP contenders will be magnified because there is a very real chance that their Supreme Court appointees could swing the pendulum even further away from Roe v. Wade, or even reverse it.
Get set to hear Planned Parenthood claim that elected officials have more important issues to pursue than abortion restrictions. Yes, over 3,000 U.S. soldiers have lost their lives in Iraq. But that still pales compared to over 1-million American abortions each year.