Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Judging from the comments and emails I have gotten, I think most of the readers of this blog fall into the 59 percentile. h'tip to HOT AIR. Background on DREAM Act here.

A Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey
found that only 22% of voters support the proposal introduced
by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL). The Dream Act would have given legal status to
children of illegal aliens who complete two years of college or military
service. That low level of support is very similar to support for the
“comprehensive” reform measure that failed in June.

Fifty-nine percent (59%) of all
voters oppose the Dream Act concept
. Republicans oppose it by a 5-to-1
margin and unaffiliateds are opposed by a 3-to-1 margin. Democrats are a bit
more evenly divided—49% opposed and 31% in favor—but Nancy Pelosi’s party
certainly doesn’t provide a base of support for the Dream Act.

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Author, Alabama native, to be honored at White House.

The White House on Monday announced the recipients of the 2007 Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest US civilian honor, including a Cuban dissident, Liberia's president, and a beloved US author, Harper Lee. The ceremony will take place on November 5th at the White House. I wonder if Ms. Lee will show up. She has recently forgone her reclusive ways of the past to actually appear in public and accept awards from the University of Alabama. Lee is of course,the Pulitzer-Prize winning author of "To Kill A Mockingbird." See my thoughts about Ms. Lee and her work from this earlier post.

The other five winners include the 1992 Nobel economics prize winner Gary Becker; Human Genome Project leader Francis Collins; US civil rights leader Benjamin Hooks; former House Foreign Affairs committee chairman Henry Hyde; and groundbreaking television executive of C-SPAN, Brian Lamb.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom, established in 1963, is awarded for an honoree's "especially meritorious contribution" to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, or for their accomplishments in the areas of culture or "other significant public or private endeavors."

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SCHIP Fun. "You know, for kids."
(bonus points if anyone can tell what Coen Bros. movie that line came from) Hat tip to HOT AIR.

This SCHIP never ends. Ridiculously apparent item of the day= a children's health bill dependent on an increase in tobacco use. Only our Congress. More people smoking = more people needing medical care. What could go wrong? The Heritage Foundation has a list of problems associated with making this bill dependent on smokers. The most obvious is that the Surgeon's General have been trying to get people to quit smoking since 1960. The others are;

  • tobacco tax disproportionately burdens low-income Americans, lacks long-term stability, and ultimately results in significant shifting of health care costs onto others.
  • With the number of smokers already declining, a tobacco tax would further reduce the number of smokers, thereby eroding the funding source.
  • To produce the revenues that Congress needs to fund SCHIP expansion through such a tax would require 22.4 million new smokers by 2017.

Check out the Heritage charts, they are really cool.

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Maxim magazine releases list of the "World's Unsexiest Women"
Here are the Top Five;
  1. Sarah Jessica Parker
  2. Amy Whinehouse
  3. Sandra Oh
  4. Madonna
  5. Britney Spears -Contributing to Brit’s “unsexiness,” the magazine cites her two kids, two ex-husbands, a slight weight gain and “losing the ability to perform.”

I don't know how many are on the entire list but the critiques of the women are brutal. Maxim is known for risque layouts and usually aims for listing the World's Sexiest Women; publishing this list seems cruel and unusual.

Monday, October 29, 2007

English the official language of Alabama? No, not really, says court.

A sharply divided (5-4) state Supreme Court on Friday ruled that although Alabama's Constitution makes English the state's official language, it does not restrict offering driver's license tests in other languages. Amendment 509 requires that English be the official language of Alabama overwhelmingly passed through referendum in 1990.
Riley's attorney argued to the Supreme Court that by giving the test in a
person's native language, it would help them more easily assimilate into a
community and gain access to education and jobs.
This is the dumbest argument I have ever heard. It is true only if the communities, education, and jobs were also given in a person's native language. But they are not. This is America, these things they are given in English. This requirement works to the detriment of immigrants by not making them assimilate into our country. In my humble opinion we are doing a disservice by not asking that immigrants learn English. English must be learned in order to be successful in America and the world. English is the global language of business and we are not doing anybody any favors by making their lives easier in the beginning. Another problem is that this ruling creates a slippery slope for all signage and literature in the state. What's next? A suit to change all traffic signs into the metric system and the Spanish language?
In a concurring opinion, Smith wrote that although Amendment 509 guarantees English as Alabama's official language, "it does not expressly require that all government business be conducted in English." What the hell good is it? How toothless is our constitution when words like "official" don't mean anything. Webster's defines "official' as prescribed or recognized as authorized i.e.an official language.
In his dissent, Bolin said driver's license tests are possibly the most common experience where the state and its citizens interact.
"If state officials truly are to maintain English as 'the official language' of this state, can it seriously be questioned but that the state should communicate with its citizens in English, at least where there is no compelling reason for it not to do so?" he said. Amen, brother.


More leaks coming from House Judiciary Committee than White House?

The committee had set up a form on the committee's website for people to blow the whistle privately about abuses in the Department of Justice. Although the panel said it would not accept anonymous tips, it assured those who came forward that their identity would be held in the "strictest confidence."
But in an email sent out today, the committee inadvertently sent the email addresses of all the would-be whistle blowers to everyone who had written in to the tipline. The committee email was sent to tipsters and whistle blowers who had used the website.

The mistake happened when the email addresses were put in the "To" field instead of the "Bcc" field. The Committee has been a leaky faucet of sorts concerning supposedly confidential information and the A-USA investigations. I don't think her testimony is seen as valueable for either Democrats or Republicans. Neithe side can figure what to make of it. I sure can't.

The chairman of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee has written a letter to
Alabama lawyer Jill Simpson, apologizing for the way a 143-page transcript
of her interview last month with committee staff was released to the
public.Simpson said Friday that she had an agreement with committee
officials that she would be notified before the statement was released. In the
statement, Simpson told attorneys for Democrats and Republicans on the committee about her claims that Republicans had political motivation for the investigation
and prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman.

The transcript was released to some Alabama reporters by the committee's Republican counsel.
But in a statement Friday, ranking Republican member Lamar Smith, R-Texas, said Time magazine had already obtained a copy of the transcript before the release to Alabama reporters. "Any accusation of a 'leak' of the transcript after it was in the public domain and in the hands of Time is disingenuous and without merit," Smith said in the statement.

Jill Simpson of Rainsville also told congressional staff that she spoke at different times over several months with Siegelman, his supporters and Gov. Bob Riley's political opponents before deciding to write the May 21 affidavit used to promote a U.S. House Judiciary Committee hearing on the prosecution of Siegelman and his co-defendant, former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy. Both are now serving prison terms.


Saturday, October 27, 2007

Hollywood vs. the War

Just backing up what I touched on in the last post. Michelle Malkin has written here and here on the contrast between Hollywood today and now. Even athletes like Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams left behind relatively cushy jobs to join the service. Chef Julia Child worked for the OSS (the Navy turned her down because she was too tall at 6'2). Here's a complete list. Notice all the athletes, writers, and actors.

Hollywood celebrities of the past didn't just play soldiers in front of the
cameras. They volunteered to put their lives on the line for America. Clark
Gable joined the Army Air Corps at 41, became a B-17 air gunner, and earned the
Air Medal and Distinguished Flying Cross. Jimmy Stewart led B-24 bombing raids
over Germany. They both appeared in pro-America documentaries, produced by the military-operated First Motion Picture Unit, when not in combat. Director Frank
Capra made films for the U.S. government, including the seven-part Why We Fight
(1942-44). Big-band leader Glenn Miller led the U.S. Army Air Force band in
Europe and died for his country when his plane went down in the English Channel.

WSJ Interview with "Lone Survivor" Marcus Luttrell.
On Monday Lt. Michael Murphy was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor
I have no military background so I wouldn't try to understand what military life is like or what they go through on a day-to-day basis. I always felt I could understand what Eric Bana's character says at the end of Black Hawk Down. After making it back to the stadium, he is telling Josh Hartnett's character why he does it. His friends say he must like killing people or that he is 'some kinda war junkie." Bana says," I just smile because they won't understand, it's about the guy next to you."The same can be said for family, close friends, and even not so close friends when they need your help. From the outside looking in, you cannot understand and from the inside looking out, you can't explain it.

"All I wanted to do was stop talking" about what happened in Afghanistan, Mr. Luttrell says, "and now I'm neck-deep in it." Another frustration is the inadequacy of words to convey the experience. "I can sit here and tell you that I got into a gunfight," Mr. Luttrell says, "but you can't put it into words. Your heartbeat doesn't raise, the hair on the back of your neck doesn't stand up when
I tell you that. When you're out there--the stuff we get into--people get sick.
You get so scared, you urinate on yourself. That's fear."

In the months following the mountain fight, queries from family and friends about the gun battle and debriefings following inaccurate news reports (such as one announcing his death) on the incident became such a distraction, Mr. Luttrell says, that it was difficult to concentrate on his SEAL duties.

"Normally I wouldn't talk about any of our operations. This one wouldn't leave me alone," he says. "It kept banging on my door and I had to do something about it." The solution, he thought, would be to set the facts down in print so that they would be on the public record. Then maybe he could move on.

If you look around and see all the movies Hollywood has created (because they are fiction) lately and they are mostly despicable, garbage picking at worst stories out there: Redacted, Rendition, Lions for Lambs and the one Tommy Lee Jones was in. America knows this and they don't care and they don't go see these movies. Stories like Mr. Luttrell's and Mike Murphy's are more in line with America's sense of respect and view of the Armed Forces. We may not all agree on everything but we'll be damned if we pay to let some voyeur in a director's chair bring down our fighting men. When will Hollywood ever learn.
Hollywood, he says, has no idea what war is like. That's why he's wary of negotiations currently under way to film "Lone Survivor." If it happens, he says with the trace of a grimace, he'll probably "go out there and help," otherwise it might turn into "a love story" or a special-effects extravaganza with "people spinning from wires, which it wasn't. It was about death and people dying."
It should be noted that Mr. Luttrell is giving away his income from "Lone Survivor," reportedly putting it in a trust to aid military charities and the families of the dead soldiers, although now he says simply: "I'm in control of it so it goes to the right places."

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Week in Review

His opponents do not question Judge Southwick’s qualifications to sit on the federal appeals court. Indeed, they cannot. Judge Southwick served on the Mississippi Court of Appeals from that court’s very inception in January 1995 through December 2006. Prior to serving as Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Division, from 1989 to 1993, he was in a general civil private practice for 12 years. He’s taught law as an adjunct professor at Mississippi College School of Law since 1998. He’s also served his country in Iraq, fulfilling his National Guard duty as Deputy Staff Judge Advocate from August 2004 to July 2005, and then as Staff Judge Advocate until January 2006. Even the American Bar Association, which often treats conservative judicial nominees unfairly, unanimously gave Judge Southwick the institution’s highest possible rating.

Cloture vote 62 yeas. Final vote 59 yeas. The Ds from red states who voted no (and also voted no on cloture):
Up in 2008:Landrieu (D-LA)Baucus (D-MT)Rockfeller (D-WV)
Not up in 08:Casey (D-PA)Nelson (D-FL)Reid (D-NV)Webb (D-VA)Tester (D-MT)Salazar (D-CO) (but voted yes on cloture).

  • Rangel releases "the mother of all tax increases." Via Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Jim McCrery: This is the largest individual income tax increase in history. The bill will add a 4% surtax on Americans earning more than $150,000 a year ($200,000 for couples). That is on top of the scheduled expiration of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. So, under Democrats’ plan, over the next few years, the individual income top tax rate in the United States will rise from 35% to 44%. See below for more commentary on the proposal:
  1. Raisign taxes is an accomplishment?- Rep. Patrick McHenry
  2. Larry Kudlow
  3. WSJ Editorial

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

The S-CHIP hits the fan part II? or III?
background here.

via Michelle Malkin.
The House passed a revised children’s health proposal Thursday,265-142, but not by the two-thirds margin that supporters will need if President Bush vetoes the measure as promised. The vote is still 7 shy of overcoming a Bush veto. 14 GOPers were unavailable to vote, a majority of those were in Southern California tending to their districts. GOP leadership questioned the timing of the vote with so many our of town. The rumors are that supporters of the bill had bough air time and ads aimed at GOPers who were in shaky districts and the vote had to take place today for those ads to be effective.


Earmarks or Providing Health Insurance to Children?
That is the question asked by Senator Tom Coburn when he proposed an amendment on Tuesday that would have barred the use of funds for earmarks within the Labor-HHS appropriation until all children under the age of 18 were covered by health insurance. Guess how the vote went. The Senators voted overwhelmingly (68-26) not to give all children health insurance to children but to make sure all their pet projects were still in place.Here is the roll. Most of those who voted against the motion to table or support Coburn's amendment were Republicans save Clare McCaskill and Russ Feingold. The statement of purpose of Coburn's bill amendment states, "To require Congress to provide health care for all children in the U.S. before funding special interest pork projects."
This is a tiny little amendment that says a lot about the priorities of members of the U.S. Senate. I honestly think that the Senate has forgotten that the money they spend on Hippie Museums and other pet projects has to come from somewhere, or more accurately someone.
Senator Jeff Sessions voted in favor of Coburn's amendment but Alabama's' other senator I am ashamed to say voted to table (or against) the amendment living up to his reputation as Citizens Against Government Waste's Porker of the Month. Since October 1, the senator has issued 16 press releases, of which 11 related to earmarks. Ironically, his first press release of the month was to announce the introduction of a constitutional amendment to balance the budget. Talk about covering your bases. I feel like writing my Senator and asking him to name a building or maybe even a tree after me.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The South Rises

An excellent article by Ed Lasky from The American Thinker telling me what I already knew about the South. A few excerpts:
  • The top 10 states in terms of generosity per capita are all Southern states. New Hampshire, Massachusetts (Kennedy -land), New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Connecticut are at the bottom of the barrel.

On the South's propensity towards religion;

  • Evangelicals who attend religious services weekly, when compared with average Americans, are less likely to cohabit as young adults (1% versus 10% of other young adults), to bear a child outside of wedlock (12% versus 33% of other moms), and to divorce (7% versus 9%) and are likelier to be happier. Frequent churchgoers have an average 9 percent higher income than those who do not attend church, are less likely to be on welfare, and live longer.


Creativity and Growth;

  • FedEx (Memphis) was a revolutionary company that has transformed transportation and business logistics in America. Wal-Mart (Bentonville,AR) has been a pioneer in bringing low prices to the American consumer and has immeasurably benefited the lifestyles of Americans, especially lower income people; Tyson Foods, Sanderson Farms, Smithfield Foods, Cal-Maine Foods (the number one egg producer in the nation); innumerable soybean farmers are protein factories that have fed America and are feeding the world (and helping our balance of payments). America's largest bank, Bank of America, is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina

DREAM Act Defeated 52-44
3/5 vote required to invoke cloture.Hot Air has the roll. Pleased to say that Alabama Senators Sessions and Shelby voted Nay. Thanks to Michelle for the update and reader Greg for the photo shop.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Farm Bill

The Senate and the House are expected to soon finish haggling on final details of the five-year, $286 billion farm bill, with the measure possibly reaching President Bush's desk by the end of this week. I urge a swift veto for these reasons;

As the Environmental Working Group’s priceless Farm Subsidy Database reveals, philanthropist Mark Rockefeller received $228,350 in conservation subsidies between 2001 and 2005 for his Idaho farm. His brother, banking legend David Rockefeller, scored $29,615, thanks to his Hudson Valley farm. Edgar Bronfman Sr., former CEO of the now-swallowed Seagram spirits company, distilled $17,455 in taxpayer-funded farm subsidies between 2003 and 2005.The country's 4th largest recipient, The Arkansas’s Department of Corrections locked up $1,966,597 in government greenbacks between 2003 and 2005.

The Rockefellers and Bronfman are just three of the 562 New Yorkers EWG identified as urban farmers who Washington supported between 2003 and 2005. These New Yorkers included: Nevitt Nugent Jenkins: $1,647 Brock Seawell: $2,939 Leonard “Lipstick Mogul” Lauder: $3,015 Grant Thornbrough: $29,523 Norman Champ III: $127,114.

  • Its fiscally irresponsible to force taxpayers to pay these estates to grow ( or in some cases, not to grow) crops.

Heritage Foundation fiscal affairs analyst Brian Riedl calculates that these boondoggles cost a typical American family $322 in taxes annually. Farm programs often hike crop prices, artificially boosting grocery bills.

  • The Farm Bill produces a gross violation of basic free-market principles.

The USDA began subsidizing farmers during the Great Depression. It was a move to save half the country's livelihood and entire food source. Nowadays, farmers, which make up a substantially smaller portion of our economy, choose what to grow based on what is subsidized, not what will fetch the highest price at market. The 2007 version, like its predecessors, retains a complex system through which corn, wheat, soybean, rice and cotton growers concentrated in a handful of Southern and Midwestern states receive billions through price guarantees and direct subsidies. Pelosi says that because subsidies will now be extended to some new fruits and vegetables, this is an improvement. No sale. Government subsidies have no place in an industry that racks up billions in profits.

I imagine the proliferation of subsidies has a lot to do with politics. The Iowa primary can make or break a Presidential candidate. The support of Iowans is largely tied to a candidate's support for corn subsidies. Nobody would make it out of Iowa alive if they attempted to discontinue corn subsidies to farmers. The political solution is thus more complicated than the policy solution. Last I heard, the ethanol business was doing pretty good and it shouldn't take a government subsidy to grow and sell it for profit. (See ethanol fuel in Brazil) If a producer can't make a profit then the farmer will choose to grow another product or find efficient and innovative ways to cut production costs and thus make a profit off his time/work/creativity. If an agricultural product can't make it on its own without subsidies then it should not be grown.

The DREAM Act lives on (hat tip to Dinton)

Yes,we thought it was dead when Dingy Harry pulled it from a DoD authorization bill.
Last night,
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) filed to invoke cloture on a motion to use Senate Rule XIV to bring S. 2205, Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin’s (D-Ill.) new stand-alone DREAM Act amnesty bill, to the Senate floor without ever having been debated in committee. The cloture vote, for which 60 YES votes are necessary to prevent a filibuster on the measure, is set for Wednesday, October 24.

The DREAM Act grants instant amnesty to any alien who can demonstrate that he/she:

  • has maintained continuous presence in the United States for five years and was not yet 16 years old upon initial entry, but is no older than 30 years of age;
  • is of "good moral character" and is not inadmissible or deportable on certain criminal grounds or on the basis of being a risk to national security; and
  • has been admitted to an institution of higher education, has attained a high school diploma, or has obtained a GED in the United States.

Wait,there is more under this bill, once an alien files an application for amnesty,

  • the Federal government would be prohibited from deporting him.
  • Federal officers would be prohibited from either using information from the application to deport the alien or sharing that information with another federal agency, under threat of up to $10,000 fine.
  • Consequently, an alien's admission that he has violated Federal immigration law could not be used against him – even if he never had any chance of qualifying for the DREAM Act amnesty in the first place.
  • The DREAM Act also would make illegal aliens eligible for Federal student loans and Federal work-study programs – another benefit that law-abiding foreign students cannot receive – all at taxpayer expense.

Please tell me how the government has any way of verifying that someone met the first requirement. DHS let a man with drug-resistant TB cross the border 76 times before taking 6 weeks to notify its own border security. What makes you think that DHS can verify whether or not someone had not reached the age of 16 before entering our country. What exactly is the definition of "good moral character"? What I consider good moral character is not illegally entering a country in the first place but Senators Reid and Durbin will let the government decide for us. Government is never the answer. Basically, all illegal aliens have to do to meet these requirements is walk into an office and signing a form saying they meet the requirements.

MICHELLE MALKIN brought up another ramification regarding fairness if this bill is signed into law.

"An illegal alien who applies for this nightmare of an amnesty would be
allowed to count his years under “conditional” green card status toward the five
years needed for citizenship. On top of that, the illegal alien could claim
retroactive benefits” and start the clock running the day that the DREAM Act is enacted. In combination, these two provisions would put illegal aliens on a high-speed track to U.S. citizenship, moving from illegal alien to U.S. citizen in as little as five years. Lawfully-present aliens, meanwhile, would have to continue to follow a slower path to citizenship."

Alabama Senators Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions are on the record opposing this bill

UPDATE: Send a FAX to your representative and ask them to oppose the DREAM Act Amnesty

Monday, October 22, 2007

A Convenient Lie? (H'tip to Hot Air)

John Stossel takes on Al Gore in this 20/20 segment.In order to shoe how PC I can be here's a link to a WPost article which describes a "Day After Tomorrow "scenario caused by global warming: "Greenland's moving glaciers pick up speed, likely bringing in this century the first three feet of a possible 23-foot rise of the seas that would ultimately inundate New York City and South Florida and drive millions of people from low-lying areas of Asia." Well at least that will cure our drought.

Jindal wins

U.S. Rep. Bobby Jindal easily defeated 11 opponents and became the state's first nonwhite governor since Reconstruction, decades after his parents moved to the state from India to pursue the American dream.
Jindal, a 36-year-old Republican, will be the nation's youngest governor. He had 53 percent with 625,036 votes with about 92 percent of the vote tallied. It was more than enough to win Saturday's election outright and avoid a Nov. 17 runoff.

Jindal, who takes office in January, pledged to fight corruption and rid the state of those "feeding at the public trough," revisiting a campaign theme. "They can either go quietly or they can go loudly, but either way, they will go," he said, adding that he would call the Legislature into special session to address ethics reform. Political analysts said Jindal built up support as a sort of "buyer's remorse" from people who voted for Blanco last time and had second thoughts about that decision. Blanco was widely criticized for the state's response to Hurricane Katrina and she announced months ago that she would not seek re-election.

GOP focuses sights on Sen. Mary Landrieu in2008--Currently, usage of the Internet is tax free. Last night, Republicans offered S. 2128, the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act, on the floor of the U.S. Senate. The bill would permanently extend the current ban on taxingthe Internet.Mary Objects: After Republicans asked the Senate to consider the bill, Mary Landrieu stepped up to voice objection, the second time she has objected to a permanent ban.

Debate Highlights

If you missed it, here is a good live blog, video clips, and commentary.

All of the candidates looked sharper, their digs at each other were a bit harsher. They are still fighting over who is the most conservative. At one point, the debate turned into a "Who can Bash HRC the hardest." Bad decision FOX, no wonder she won't come on your network for a debate. If you missed it here is what you need to know to survive at the water cooler;
McCain on the Hippie museum I brought up here "Hillary tried to get a million dollars for the Woodstock museum. I understand it was a major cultural and pharmaceutical event. I couldn't attend. I was tied up at the time." thanks to RedState and Jim Geraghty.
In allusion to President Bush's "I looked into Putin's soul" statement, about which he said, "I looked into Putin's eyes and saw three letters: K...G...B."
Best lines of his campaign so far.

The Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility

Anytime I see universities teaching "ethics" or social responsibility it makes me think twice. It think about the Democrats running the "most ethical congress ever" and Lynne Stewart sitting on an ethics board at a symposium at Hofstra Law. Stewart defended Abdel Rahman or "the blind sheik" who was convicted of planning multiple terrorist attacks in New York City in 1996 . Stewart was disbarred and convicted of conspiring to defraud the United States government, conspiring to provide and conceal material support to terrorists, providing and concealing that support, and making false statements yet Hofstra had this former radical and conduit for terrorists as a lecturer at an ethics seminar.

So anyway I was gloating over my alma mater's victory over Tennessee this weekend when I noticed this announcement for the final round of the Moral Forum. The issue at hand is whether Congress should pass the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act. (which I blogged about here ) Their website states that the DREAM act would provide a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who entered the country before they turned 16 and have lived in the United States for at least five years. The students would be granted a six-year provisional legal status during which they must attend college (for two years) or serve in the military for at least two years before being eligible for citizenship.

I become even more skeptical of my alma mater's when I read the purpose of Moral Forum :"Moral Forum seeks to help students distinguish between making reasoned judgments about the moral legitimacy of views as opposed to being intolerant and disrespectful toward individuals or cultural groups." So according to this statement if you are against the rewarding illegal aliens for wrong behavior then you are being intolerant or disrespectful towards individuals or cultural groups. I don't like this line of reasoning and I will be following up on it.

Friday, October 19, 2007

It has been a good week for conservatives.

  1. The President's veto of the expansion of the SCHIP program was upheld.
  2. Porkbusters Jon Kyl and Tom Coburn successfully defunded a $1 million dollar earmark for the Bethel Performing Arts Center or the Woodstock Museum in New York. The sponsors of the earmark were Sen(s). Clinton and Schumer whom received $29k from the proposed recipients of the earmark. The $1 mil was transferred it to the Maternal and Child Health block grant program.
  3. Harry Reid eats crow on the Senate floor over the success of the E-Bay auction of his "smear letter" to Rush Limbaugh. Bottom line, The Marine Corps- Law Enforcement Foundation receives just over $4 million dollars in charitable donations.

Why is Moonshine Illegal ?
(H/tip to Slate)
You buy the ingredients and put in the time and effort to create something of value out of a sugar mash but yet in the eyes of the government you have broken the law. In the business world creating something out of nothing is called entrepreneurship. I even learned how to make it in my high school chemistry class. This whole brouhaha comes down to one thing: money. It seems the government's main beef with bootleggin' is that it deprives the government of an opportunity to dip their hands in your pockets or to tax you.

Uncle Sam takes an excise tax of $2.14 for each 750-milliliter bottle of 80-proof spirits, compared with 21 cents for a bottle of wine (of 14 percent alcohol or less) and 5 cents for a can of beer.

Government prosecutors point out that moonshine poses serious health risks, including heavy-metal toxicity. So, how dangerous is it? There's no inspection of the manufacturing process, so quality—and
levels of contamination—vary.

In 2001,Representative Stupak
introduced a bill To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow distilled spirits to be produced in dwelling houses, other connected structures, and certain other premises. It received one vote and thus, never made it out of Committee.

Fall Friday Funny
This is from Peggy Noonan's column today, "Sex and the Presidency." The whole column is great as always but this line concerning Hillary Clinton hits the nail on the head; She is the smile on the Halloween pumpkin that knows the harvest is coming. She's even putting a light inside.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

House votes to sustain SCHIP veto.

First off, I am proud that all 5 Republicans from the Alabama delegation voted to uphold the veto. Only the Democrats, Artur Davis and Bud Cramer voted to override. Republicans stood firm against moving American in the direction of socialized medicine today, voting 273-156 to sustain President Bush’s veto of the $35-billion expansion of SCHIP. Michelle Malkin has an excellent recap of today’s events and Ed Morrissey of Captain’s Quarters blogged about the debate from start to finish. Today at 3 p.m. Republicans will unveil their alternative.

I expect the Republican alternative to be the first step towards a compromise. Apparently there was no discussion of a compromise between party leaders the first time. Then we will see how much the Democratic leadership wants to back down. They outright lost this round. Any new bill or compromise is another win for Republicans including President Bush and thus a loss for excessive spending, middle-class entitlements, and liberal policies. I choose to ignore the fact that President Bush is a few years and many spending bills too late to the ideas of fiscal restraint, limited government, and the veto pen. At this moment I am just glad he finally came around.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Newest Medal of Honor recipient
Newest Medal of Honor recipient

(Click photo to see video)

Lt. Michael Murphy, leader of Seal Team 10. For background on why he is being awarded the Medal of Honor see my earlier post on his fellow SEAL teammates and "lone survivor", Marcus Luttrell . NBC and Brian Williams really did a good job with this story. They even show some purported Taliban footage of the battle and snippets of an interview with his parents. This guy's story will be on the big screen one day.

2 Things that are certain in life: Death and Taxes.

For the most part, we only have control over the tax part. As Congressional Democrats work on an overhaul of the tax system, one thing seems to be clear. There will not be any discussion or debate about repealing the Death Tax. Forget that those hit have already paid an income tax,property tax and of course sales tax. In 2011 the Death Tax takes over 50 percent of any inheritance over $1 million. Think about all the family farms in the Mid-West and the West. They basically have to give the government half of what they own. 50% is an awful lot to take from farmers who aren't exactly growing money to begin with.
In 2001, Congress voted to fully and permanently repeal the death tax in 2010. Due to arcane Senate budget rules, the death tax returns in 2011 in full force. With one stroke past
Midnight, the death tax rate will climb from 0% to 55%. Estates worth more than $1 million—not much when homes, small businesses, and family farms are totaled—will face this tax.

The death tax "hasn't been part of the discussions," the aide said of the closely guarded "mother" of all tax reform bills being written by committee Chairman Rep. Charles B. Rangel, New York Democrat. Those two words in bold don't exactly give me that peaceful, easy, feeling.

Mrs. Pelosi said after House Democrats last week rejected a Republican bid to eliminate the death tax. "Whatever we take up on our taxation [policy] will be about simplification. It will be about fairness. It will be about strengthening the middle class."

Minority Leader John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican. "We believe it is fundamentally un-American to tax our citizens upon their death, while Democrats appear to believe this form of double taxation is a fundamental right of the federal government."

Mrs. Pelosi wants to talk about fairness. Take a look at this graph showing the average income tax rates from 1990-2005. A few observations

  • Tax rates on those with high incomes are far greater than for other Americans (that you already knew).. Folks at the top pay about 25% of their income in federal income taxes, which compares to less than 5% for half of the population at the bottom end.

  • For the top two groups, the tax rate in 2005 was about the same as 1990. Essentially, the Bush tax cuts just reversed out the Clinton tax increases on these folks.

  • The Bush tax cuts substantially reduced tax rates for people in every income group. Indeed, those at the bottom had the largest relative reductions in their tax rates.

  • Let’s compare average tax rates in 2000 to 2005. For the top group, the rate fell from 27.45% to 23.13%, a reduction of 16%. Now consider the middle-income “top 26-50%” group, for example. Their tax rate fell from 9.28% to 6.93%, a reduction of 25%.

  • Those at the bottom have paid little, and now they pay even less, due to legislation under both Clinton and Bush. Indeed, these data do not include the tens of billions of dollars sent to lower-income families as a result of the earned income tax credit, and thus it overstates taxes paid by the bottom group.
I’m for lower taxes for everyone, but I wish people would look at the actual data first before carping about the rich supposedly being specially favored by recent tax cuts.

The SCHIP hits the fan tomorrow.

Michelle Malkin agrees with me and draws a line in the sand for House Republicans.

On Thursday, the House of Representatives will vote on a measure to override President Bush’s veto of a massive government-subsidized health-insurance entitlement expansion plan. I agree with the Democrats on one thing: This is indeed a “defining moment.”

Defining moment indeed: Who represents the truly needy? Who represents responsible taxpayers? Who represents future generations, who would be forced to send their hard-earned money to fund this hugetastic middle-class entitlement explosion? The GOP is already responsible for passing the obscene Medicare prescription-drug-entitlement expansion — the largest in the program’s history and the true costs of which were suppressed until after it became law.If Republicans don’t have the guts to torpedo the Democrats’ SCHIP Trojan Horse permanently, they deserve to lose their seats.
I agree, if we cannot stop this massive expansion, how will we ever stop HillaryCare 2.0?

Americans for Prosperity have an easy-to-use system to send e-mails to your House representative, urging them to uphold the President's veto of the $35 billion dollar expansion of SCHIP. Just click on the "Hello my Name is BIG GOVERNMENT" sticker off the homepage or follow this link.

The email is already written but you can edit it all you want. All you have to do is fill in a few blanks and your zip code and your representative will hear from you. If you are like me and don't know how to best get your opinion to your representative, this is the easiest, most passive way to let your opinion be known.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

SCHIP Vindication, thy name is this poll from USA Today.

  • 52% agree with Bush that most benefits should go to children in families earning less than 200% of the federal poverty level — about $41,000 for a family of four. Only 40% say benefits should go to families earning up to $62,000, as the bill written by Democrats and some Republicans would allow.

  • 52% of respondents say they have more confidence in Democrats to deal with the issue, compared with 32% for Bush.

  • 55% are very or somewhat concerned that the program would create an incentive for families to drop private insurance. Bush and Republican opponents have called that a step toward government-run health care.

Taken together, the results show that while Bush may be losing the political battle with Democrats, he may be doing better on policy. Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., said other polls have shown a much bigger edge for Democrats. "This debate is set up," he said. "It's set up about 10 million children or not." That's interesting Mr. Emanuel because I thought the debate was over providing health insurance to underprivileged kids, not middle-class kids, nor adults or illegal aliens. I will say it again, "We all want underprivileged kids to have health insurance and we think our plan does that more effectively than the Democrats." Of course you will have overwhelming support from the public if its "about the children." The nine-word poll-tested frame up soundbite may win the political battle but the best policy will win the war.

UPDATE: The vote to attempt to overturn the President's veto of the re authorization of SCHIP is scheduled for Thursday. Here is a refresher course: If the Congress overrides the veto by a two-thirds majority in each house (66 and 287), it becomes law without the President's signature. Otherwise, the bill fails to become law unless it is presented to the President again and he chooses to sign it. Two things to remember;

  1. The children's health insurance bill originally cleared on a vote of 265-159. If all House members vote Thursday, an override will need 290 to prevail, an increase of 25 votes.

  2. The 51 Republicans who voted against the bill last month averaged nearly 64% of the vote in their recent election. Many had vote totals in the 70% range, making them all but invulnerable from attack.

"I believe the Democrats fully believe they can exploit this" for political gain, said Rep. Mike Castle, a Delaware Republican who voted for the measure that Bush vetoed. An AP analysis suggests that individual Republicans who side with Bush might have relatively little to fear politically as election season nears. If you haven't yet contact your Congressman or Senator and urge him or her to hold their vote on this important bill.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

My published op-ed concerning SCHIP in the Birmingham News.

I did the best I could to keep my letter under the Editor's mandate of 200 words. Mine was ~230. There were 5 letters today about the President's veto of SCHIP, 3 for,2 against plus an article on the front page of the Commentary section entitled, "Kids' health insurance is a necessity." Once again, no one wants kids to go without health insurance. We just think there is a better, more effective way to do it. Click here to read my problems with SCHIP.

The News titled my letter,"A middle-class entitlement." See if you can tell the difference between my original letter, which is below, and what was published in the paper. Mistake? Accident? Typo? Attempt to soften my position? The paper says they will edit for brevity,spelling, and grammar. I doubt that was the case but I do know the Bham News is a regional paper owned by the New York Times.???

-- I write in support of President Bush’s veto of the reauthorization (H.R.976) of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). I believe the rhetoric in Sunday’s paper is misleading, unfair and I will state some facts in order to clear up any confusion about the President’s decision.
-- Initially, President Bush proposed increasing SCHIP funding by 20 %( $5 billion) and Senate Republicans proposed a 33% increase ($8 billion). Despite these increases, supporters of the veto have been branded as “unChristian, unsympathetic and kid-haters.” The “tax and spend” Democrats then passed a bill with a $35 billion expansion that includes illegal immigrants, adults, and families making up to 82k a year. Every dollar spent on immigrants and middle class adults is a dollar taken away from the poor kids SCHIP was designed to help.
--The GOP version of the bill returned to its original mandate, which is to provide insurance for underprivileged children. The Democrats bill would have taxed the poor and put future state revenues in jeopardy in order to pay for a middle class entitlement. I agree with the President that we should collect fewer taxes and provide insurance to those who really need it the most. Should a childless couple making $50k in Alabama pay higher taxes to provide insurance for a New York State couple making $82k when the Alabama couple is having trouble affording insurance themselves? I think not.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

William Guarnere and Edward "Babe" Heffron do not consider themselves heroes.

Guarnere, 84, and Heffron, 84, are among the surviving members of the fabled Easy Company memorialized in the HBO miniseries "Band of Brothers." To them, the real heroes are the men whose bodies stayed buried in that foreign soil and the mothers who sent their sons off to war, praying for a safe return.
It is so their sacrifices are not forgotten that Guarnere and Heffron have written "Brothers in Battle: Best of Friends," recently published by the Berkley Publishing Group.

"Sitting there in the plane, you wonder why you're up there," says Heffron. "You
could be home, but then when you land there, and you go through these villages
and you look at those people's faces ... now you know why we're here."

Sound familiar. I will bet a lot of our men and women in the ME would say the same. These men are the last of the "Greatest Generation." They made it through D-Day, the Battle of the Bulge, the mistakes of Operation Market Garden, and finally up to Hitler's vacation home, The Eagle's Nest.Both men constantly wonder how it was that they survived the war and went on to such long prosperous lives, and they say they are left with a sense of war's random luck and of the responsibility to remember the men who were not so lucky. "They ain't never going to forgive you if you don't," says Heffron, pointing toward the sky.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Hold your wallets, here comes Hurricane Rangel.

Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, Democrat Charles B. Rangel is poised to introduce the “mother” of all tax reforms, the biggest and most expensive tax code overhaul since 1986. But what they don’t know is how the New York Democrat plans to pay the more than $1 trillion price tag. By "reform", he means raising taxes. There are several ideas in the article above but I will save you the trouble and tell you that most of them involve raising taxes, particularly on the rich. The Robin Hood "reform " package. The Democrat default position.

A modest proposal is that Rangel proposes a hike on capital gains which is currently at 15%, the highest in 50 years. The 1986 Tax Reform ( which can be read about in this behind the scenes book,"Showdown at Gucci Gulch") moved the cap gains rate to 28% and it has been progressively lowered during the Clinton and Bush years. Most likely they will patch the AMT and hopefully phase it out. After all it has been around since 1969. Maybe they will phase out Rangel too. I have to give him credit for two things. 1-longevity, even Castro gets a point on this one. 2- he is always on Sean Hannity's show battling' it out with Sean.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Representative Tim Walberg (MI-7) in National Review on SCHIP

The Democratic legislation takes a program originally meant for children of low-income families and expands it to cover some families earning up to $83,000 and illegal immigrants, while moving millions of children from private health insurance to government programs.

In 2006, 118,501 children and 101,919 adults in Michigan received health care from the S-CHIP program. Incredibly, this means that 46 percent of Michigan’s funding allotment intended to give poor children health insurance actually went to cover adults.

The Wall Street Journal further described this problem in its August 9 editorial: “The bill goes so far as to offer increasing ‘bonus payments’ to states as they enroll more people in their SCHIP programs. To grease the way, the bill re-labels children’ as anyone under 25, and ‘low income’ as up to… $82,600 for a family of four.”

My unpublished letter to Bham News on SCHIP (letters must be under 200 words)
I write in response to the editorials concerning President Bush's veto of the reauthorization (H.R. 976) of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) on Sunday's opinion page. In doing so, I will restate the old adage, "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts." I believe the rhetoric in Sunday's paper is misleading and unfair, and I will state some facts in order to clear up any confusion about the President's decision to veto H.R. 976.

It is nonsense to believe that President Bush does not care about children. Anybody who believes that well-trodden line is either ignorant or naive at best. The fact is that President Bush's budget proposed a 20%,or $5 million expansion in SCHIP. Senate Republicans proposed a 33% or an $8 million expansion. The "tax and spend" Democrats initially proposed a $50 million expansion. The Democrats and a few Republicans passed a $35 billion expansion that includes illegal immigrants,adults, children already covered by private insurance, and families making up to $83k a year Keep in mind that these prices are expansions and not the price to continue funding the program. Despite these increases, supporters of the veto have been branded, "unChristian, unsympathetic, and kid-haters." While the debate continued, President Bush quietly signed a bill to continue funding SCHIP until a compromise is reached.

The President's and my disagreement with the bill has more to do with the content of the bill than whether or not to provide health insurance to underprivileged children. The original mandate for SCHIP is to provide insurance to poor children, hence the "C" in the name. Lately states have been adding adults and 25 year old children to the SCHIP program. The administration can take the blame for this because they approved the adult waivers. The administration recently changed their policy to make states demonstrate they have covered 95% of underprivileged children in the state before they approve the addition of any adults to the program.

The administration is attempting to return SCHIP to its original purpose. The bill the President vetoed does not do that. It raises taxes on the poor to provide an entitlement to the middle class(some who already have health insurance) and relaxes the identification procedures so that it is easier for illegal aliens to receive funds. Should we collect more taxes to subsidize the middle class or fewer taxes and subsidize only those who really need help. Think about it this way- should a childless Alabama couple making 50k a year pay higher taxes to provide health insurance for a New York couple making $82k of income when the Alabama couple is having trouble affording health insurance themselves? Fewer taxes and no.

Another negative consequence from this bill is a phenomenon known as "crowd out." When the government provides health insurance, it encourages middle class families to to drop their private insurance and get on the government dole. When this happens, SCHIP is not providing insurance to more uninsured children but merely replacing the underprivileged with those who can afford insurance. So you see, this bill would not have necessarily covered more low-income kids.

The Democrats plan to pay for this expansion by raising tobacco taxes (big surprise, Democrats raising taxes). The proposed increase is a 61 cent per pack federal tax on cigarettes. A tax on tobacco to fund the excess spending is unfair to smokers, regressive, and will hit low-income people disproportionately harder than others. Since 2000, the average state tobacco tax has more than doubled from 42 cents to 92 cents per pack. A tobacco tax will not produce the revenues needed to fund such a large expansion in SCHIP. An increase in tobacco taxes also has the potential to reduce state and federal revenues. New Jersey made the news recently for being the first state to see revenue decline after a tobacco tax increase. Maine's tobacco tax revenue has come in an average of $800k lower than expected per month since January. A 61 cent per pack increase is expected to shrink state revenues by approximately $750k.

H.R. 976 is a step in the direction of a government run health care system. Government health care means fewer choices, less efficiency, and higher taxes for the consumer. By less efficient I mean similar to the Canadian or U.K. single-payer systems. In the U.K., most patients who have small strokes or TIAs are referred by their doctors to specialist clinics. Many wait several weeks before being treated. A study published recently found that if these patients were treated within 24 hours their risk of having a second more serious stroke in the next 3 months is cut by 80%. A friend of mine recently broke her ankle pretty bad and was taken to the ER in Canada. She said the nurses and doctors were nice but she never got to see an orthopedic doctor face-to-face. He just looked at her X-rays and told the ER doctor what to do. Did this save time? Yes. Is this better for the patient? Probably not. Luckily my friend was flown back home and was in an American O.R. within 24 hours. If you would like to pay higher taxes and give Washington DC and Montgomery control of your health care, go ahead. Just don't complain when you wait weeks to see a doctor and months for a procedure. Once health care is free, watch how expensive it becomes.