These maniacs seemingly are trying to outdo the Islamists. So far we’ve seen them blowing children up, and now these global warming maniacs are depicting children being hanged? How sick is this?
Even though politicians in Washington went home without a vote on tax increases, is it possible that your taxes have already gone up this year? The answer is yes for 23 million Americans. And it could cost an average of $3,900 per taxpayer this year alone. How is this the case? The Alternative Minimum Tax. As of December 31, 2009 many middle-class taxpayers no longer paid AMT. However, if Congress fails to act on tax increases before the end of this year, 23 million American households that did not have to pay the AMT last year will have to pay it on the income they have been earning since January 1 of this year.
Hope and change! The inability to make the hard decisions is defining our recovery as a nation. In that sense, nothing has really changed at all.
It should be front-page news in every newspaper in the country: Seattle cartoonist Molly Norris has given up her job, her home, and even her identity because of death threats for Islamic supremacists. That Islamic jihadists can force an American citizen into hiding for exercising her freedom of speech is bad enough; that her cause has aroused only indifference from the media and the nation’s leading officials is even worse.
Norris was a popular cartoonist for the Seattle Weekly. Her life changed forever a few months ago when she announced “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” on Facebook. It was a lark, but with a serious point about violent threats and intimidation: if Islamic supremacists were threatening to murder European cartoonists Kurt Westergaard and Lars Vilks because of their cartoons of Muhammad, and anyone else who dared to draw him, then if everyone drew him, the thugs couldn’t possibly kill us all, could they?
And now Norris herself has become a living illustration of how right her point was in the first place, and yet the political and media elites are not standing with her. “On the insistence of top security specialists at the FBI,” the Seattle Weekly explained, “she is, as they put it, ‘going ghost’: moving, changing her name, and essentially wiping away her identity. She will no longer be publishing cartoons in our paper or in City Arts magazine, where she has been a regular contributor. She is, in effect, being put into a witness-protection program–except, as she notes, without the government picking up the tab.”
Read more here.
President Obama said something the other day that stunned me. This is a real accomplishment, given my already dim view of the man.
In reference to Martin Feldstein’s proposal that all tax rates be maintained at their current lower levels, the President said,
If we were going to spend $700 billion, it seems it would be wiser having that $700 billion going to folks who would spend that money right away.
I thought I understood this tax debate – whether to leave tax rates as they are or to raise them. But when I heard the President’s words something was off, specifically his first use of the word “spend.” The President basically said that not to increase taxes on small businesses and individuals making over $250,000 is equivalent to spending money on those businesses and individuals.
This is an extreme concept and one that is best understood by analyzing it personally. Everyone understands that when I “spend” money on a charity or at the grocery, the implication is that I am using my money to make a contribution or to buy chips and beer.
The President clearly believes differently, that my paycheck does not begin its life as mine, from which taxes are taken. Rather, he believes that my paycheck begins life as his, from which residual amounts are beneficently granted to me for living expenses. He clearly believes that the yet untaxed portion of my paycheck is still his, to be “spent” on me at his discretion.
This is revolutionary. This is Marx and Chavez, and it is a stunningly honest admission of President Obama’s worldview.
When I entered the race for Wicomico County Council, District 2, I did so because I believed that government at all levels, including ours, spends too much and takes too much, regardless of protests to the contrary. I also believe that the philosophy, ideology, expectations and assumptions we have about government needed to be challenged if we are to give our children the same or better opportunities for the American Dream we have had. As I have been meeting voters I am often asked for specifics on what I would do, where I would cut, and how I would maintain acceptable levels of government services while putting more money back in the taxpayer’s pocket. I present to you the “Wicomico Plan” for reducing taxes, encouraging efficiency in government expenditures and making our county economically competitive and fiscally sound.
The first step is to reduce the burden of taxes and regulations on our businesses and individuals. We have one of the highest income tax rates in the state, that needs to come down. We need to remove taxes on inventory and machinery for businesses and any regulations not related to public safety so they are free to concentrate on business and in so doing, create jobs. This drop in revenue will be offset by cuts in the budget, specifically salaries and benefits. Managers and department heads that make more than fifty thousand dollars would receive a ten percent cut and those making over seventy thousand would receive a twenty percent cut, elected offices excluded. Real average incomes in this county have been dropping and it is time government employees shared in this pain, especially considering they make, on average, twenty to fifty percent more than their private sector counterparts. Benefits should also be brought in line with the private sector (i.e. the rest of us) and all pensions should be converted into 401Ks or self directed IRAs (like the rest of us).
Step two is to introduce incentives for efficiency and savings in government expenditures. This is the most important part of the plan and will give those managers and directors an opportunity to make up any lost income. Currently, government departments at any level are given a certain amount of money to spend every year and they know that if that money is not spent, they may not get as much next year. The incentive is to spend it all whether it is needed or not. My proposal is this. Any money a department does not spend during the fiscal year will be placed into two funds. Half the savings will be put into the rainy day fund. The other half will be given to the employees of that department as bonuses, spread equally among all members of the department. For example, if the public works department saves one million dollars, half a million would go into the rainy day fund and the other half would be spread among all the people who work there. If there were fifty employees, each employee, from the guy who cuts the grass to the director, would get a ten thousand dollar bonus. This encourages the department to work efficiently, save money (our money), blow the whistle on thieves, consider privatization of some functions, eliminate unnecessary employees and other forms of waste. Fees would be frozen so no department could raise them to pad their numbers.
Step three comes at the end of the fiscal year. After each department has a full accounting of monies saved, their budgets will be reduced by the amount put into the rainy day fund and the process will start over for the next fiscal year. Once the savings have been realized, the overall budget can be adjusted and both property and income taxes lowered accordingly. After three or four years of this process we will have a county that is operating much more efficiently and costs the taxpayers, you and I, a lot less. It is time to bring new, innovative ideas to government, challenge an unacceptable status quo and make elections about more than tired slogans and platitudes and make them about ideas and policy.
Candidate for Wicomico County Council, District 2
Higher income taxes generate more government revenue and lead to more economic growth, right? Wrong. In fact, that is entirely opposite and Arthur Laffer in the Wall Street Journal has done the research.
In the past decade, the nine states with the highest personal income tax rates have seen gross state product increase by 59.8%, personal income grow by 51%, and population increase by 6.1%. The nine states with no personal income tax have seen gross state product increase by 86.3%, personal income grow by 64.1%, and population increase by 15.5% …
Each and every state that introduced an income tax saw its share of total U.S. output decline. Some of the states, like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio, have become fiscal basket cases. As the nearby chart shows, even West Virginia, which was poor to begin with, got relatively poorer after adopting a state income tax …
Over the past decade, the nine states with the highest tax rates have experienced tax revenue growth of 74%–a full 22% less than the states with no income tax.
Come on, folks. The data is clear … it’s non-refutable. If you want to punish the rich for their success and hard work, an income tax will achieve exactly that: punish people. Punishment is meant to alter your behavior, to “teach” you that your actions were unacceptable. Is that the message we want to send to the producers? I didn’t think so.
There is today in our country a growing threat to our legal system, to the rights of all of us, to the quality of life of children, and to common sense. This threat has been fanned by prosecutors, nurtured by the media, and ignored by those who usually speak out against such dangers.
In its most narrow sense this threat can be defined as the particular approach to sexual deviance embodied in ever-more-draconian laws against all behaviors labeled “sex offenses” — including those committed by minors — and in the sex offender registries of every state and the Federal government.1 In this approach to sex offenses, slander, hysteria and demonization often replace reason, solid research and proportionality.
But more broadly, the danger consists of an all-out assault on fairness, on the reputations of some of our most caring people, on necessary social relationships and on our critical ability to confront the deepening social paranoia of 21st century America.
In 1999, a group of us in Boston — prominent political activists, civil libertarians, and workers in the mental health and legal systems, as well as teachers and others who work with children — tried to draw public attention to this threat with a “Call to Safeguard our Children and Our Liberties.” Eight years have passed and the crisis we addressed then has gotten far worse. The demonization of those accused of illegal sexual activity — both the innocent and the guilty — and the criminalization or stigmatization of more and more forms of sexual expression has reached new heights. All sense of fairness and due process are often tossed to the winds. The worst thing a person has ever done in their lives becomes the only thing they have ever done. Many who always despised “pedophiles” have been swept up by the hysteria and are stunned to suddenly find themselves or their children labeled sex offenders. The lives of many thousands of people have been unfairly ruined. And we have created a despised under-class labeled “sex offenders”. All of these developments are justified under the high-sounding rhetoric of “protecting our children from sexual predators” despite the fact that a great many registered sex offenders have never committed sexual offenses against minors.
In the process, the American legal system has moved from identifying specific crimes which cause real harm toward naming whole classes of “bad persons” to shame and isolate them for life. A similar change in the American legal approach has taken place since 9/11, with regard to those accused of “terrorism.” In these cases, many rights of the accused have vanished. Fortunately, though, there has been public criticism about the suspension of due-process, habeas corpus and other rights for accused “terrorists”.
But there has been no public outcry by those claiming concern for human rights when rights are suspended for accused sex offenders, especially those accused of any offense against a minor. Indeed, even the definition of “who is a child” is being radically changed. Though ages vary from state to state — between 14 and 18 — federal law now replaces these in many cases, creating a national age of 18, below which a person is deemed a “child” with regard to sex.
Certainly many caring people are providing important support to children who have been sexually violated and want to protect other children from such harm. But is the welfare of children really the driving dynamic behind current public perceptions and policies? And how are these policies actually impacting the lives of young people? What if the overwhelming focus on dangers posed by some sex offenders diverts our attention from other prevalent dangers to children, some of which would be simple to alleviate (e.g., crushing, humiliating poverty) and others much more complex (e.g., family violence). At the same time, many youngsters are now prosecuted and/or subjected to public shaming for behaviors that young people (including most of today’s adults when they were young) have engaged in for millennia without public stigma.
The “clergy abuse scandal” and the almost daily sensationalist coverage of allegations of sex abuse in the media, has led to due-process simply vanishing where sex is alleged. Instead of leading to a deeper understanding of sexuality and sexual violation, the framing of the priests’ crisis has dramatically increased ignorance and demonization, lumping together the innocent and the guilty, those guilty of minor infractions with those who caused serious harm, and those accused of one violation in an entire career of supporting young people with those who caused harm on a regular basis.
Meanwhile children across the land learn that adults who like them are suspect. And more and more men who pose no danger at all to kids stay away from them, refuse them rides and shun innocent interactions that involve physical contact to avoid any possible misinterpretation of genuine affection or concern. Children, men and our society are the losers.
As soon as someone is accused of sexual behavior with a minor, their name is splashed all over TV and the newspapers, destroying their careers and good name, and their accuser is publicly labeled a victim. All of this happens whether the accusation is true or not. And the destroyed lives of the falsely accused pile up by the day. Statutes of limitations have been virtually abolished for these cases. DA’s, judges and juries indict or convict on the mere allegation of sexual violation without any consideration that supporting evidence is lacking. “Repressed memories”, unsupported or even contradicted by physical evidence, sometimes become the basis for conviction.
Many convicted of sex offenses receive very long sentences in the first place — often unrelated to the seriousness of their crime and sometimes even longer than those guilty of manslaughter.Until overruled by the Supreme Court, six states had attempted to institute the death penalty for sex offenses involving children when murder or even physical violence was not alleged.
If they do get out of prison, once they have completed their sentence, those designated “sex offenders” are mandated by federal law to register with the police. This requirement covers those accused of even the slightest sexual impropriety with a person under 18 for which they may have been given a suspended sentence. They must provide their names, addresses and other personal information which is then made public on the internet and in other ways. It is common that they are hounded, driven out of their jobs and homes and humiliated for decades. They are almost without the protection of Constitutional rights. They have no way to re-integrate into society. Their families and friends are almost as “shamed” and ostracized as they are. Such public humiliation and isolation has led to suicides. Several registered persons have been murdered by those who found their addresses, in two cases randomly.
Sex offenders are often very limited regarding travel and where they can live and they are often prohibited from being in many public spaces. A new wave of local legislation is sweeping over the land making it illegal for registered persons who have served their sentences to live virtually anywhere at all. In Miami, they can only live under a bridge.
The numbers required to register grow exponentially — including juveniles and many whose offenses were committed decades ago when they were considered rather minor transgressions. Together with their spouses, children and parents, registered sex offenders constitute a population larger than most large U.S. cities. There are over 500,000 registered sex offenders in the United States,several hundred thousand being sought for registration, several hundred thousand in prison, plus family members of sex offenders numbering about 2,000,000.
And the insanity spreads, instituting a new war on children and on young people and their sexuality. The public registries in the US include children as young as eleven years old, a four-year-old has been charged with sexual harassment, and first graders have been prosecuted for sodomy as a result of innocent, mutual play with peers. Juveniles whose feelings or actions are considered deviant have been subjected to the same aversive therapies once used to “cure” gay men, as well as public humiliation – their names, addresses and photos provided the public on the internet and in other media. Though in other areas, the privacy of juveniles is considered paramount, in the case of “sex offenders” it is completely abandoned.
In twenty states, life-time civil commitment is now mandated for some categories of sex offenders who have completed their prison sentences.Though this status is supposed to be reserved only for truly violent predators, existing law now defines any offense against a minor, including those without any violence, as a violent act. By 2006, nearly 3,000 sex offenders were held under such statutes, and the number has undoubtedly increased. Though such persons are supposed to be in treatment for verifiable mental illnesses, and may be released to supervised parole, very few have ever been released, and many go virtually untreated.
Some of us who signed the original “Call to Protect our Children and Our Liberties” feel we must try again to stimulate a more objective discussion of the issues. We hope to get others to join us – especially people who work with children and who support justice and common sense. We want to get more people to raise the cry against this ravaging of the social fabric by a destructive and wrong-headed crusade.
We affirm the need to protect children — and all people of all ages — from sexual harm and the terror of violent rape and to deal seriously with those acts which cause such harm. We will emphasize the civil and human costs of current policies which deprive people of their rights and humiliate them and which undermine supportive relationships between adults and young people.
The present crusade is spreading fear and loathing across our society. Our society does not need more fear and loathing. It needs trust and dignity and redemption. At present there is no telling how far this self-destructive approach to social problems related to sexuality can go — unless people capable of courage, compassion and common sense stand up to stop it and turn our country’s attention to real solutions to our problems.
The tea-party movement is turning more professional.
Around the country, tea-party groups are building increasingly sophisticated political organizations and overcoming early bickering to push legislative platforms, elect their own delegates, shake up statehouses and even form alliances with the Republican Party establishment they profess to dislike.
Nowhere is this evolution more vivid than in Virginia, where a federation of more than 30 groups scattered across the state now has the ear of the Republican governor, top state legislators and the state’s congressional delegation.
The Federation of Virginia Tea Party Patriots helped push legislation through the Virginia Statehouse earlier this year to blunt the impact of the new federal health-care law. It is now allying with like-minded lawmakers to champion an ambitious roster of bills.
In a show of strength, the group will host a two-day policy convention starting Friday in Richmond that looks set to be the largest state tea-party gathering of its kind to date.
Similar coordinating efforts are underway in states such as Michigan, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Virginia, Texas and Ohio.
For much of the past year, the meteoric rise of the tea-party movement has struck many as a threat to the Republican establishment. But in state after state, tea-party groups are putting the fireworks aside to form at least temporary alliances with the GOP as they strengthen their own organizations. Many of these groups are already looking beyond the November midterm elections and plotting strategies for legislative sessions and local elections next year.
“What we are witnessing is a very authentic grass-roots movement,” said Ned Ryun, president of Virginia-based American Majority, a group that trains conservative activists and candidates. “But without a lasting fabric, these groups will have trouble keeping the passion alive into the future.” Ryan’s group has opened activist-training
offices in Texas, Minnesota, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Arkansas.