Paul Smith Jr has a new home for his blog: www.gazizza.net. Click to go there now!
Friday, March 11, 2005
www.delawareonline.com | The News Journal | LOCAL | GOP legislators call for tax rebate
Florida Lawmaker Seeks Toilet Paper Tax
While having a few beers with my favorite radio talk show host
last night, we favorably discussed the prudence of the state's required "rainy day fund," but that any excess money in the fund at the end of the fiscal year shuld be returned to the taxpayers, who obviously had overpaid their taxes. It shouldn't require a special act of the Legislature to do this each time, it should be standard practice.
"I think we should look at cutting taxes," Bonini said. "But this doesn't cut into the tax base in case we need that money. This is more like the 'one-time' revenues we use to pay for pet projects, and I think the people of Delaware deserve some one-time money of their own."
Senator Bonini's exactly right. The legislators can always find reason to spend the money. Why can't we be given the same opportunity with what is, after all, our money?
If it were to pass, the extra two pennies would start being charged in October. Lawson said it could generate $50 million a year.
It would also need approval from Gov. Jeb Bush. He said that if toilet paper is taxed, people might use less of it.
'That's not necessarily a good thing,' noted the governor.
Link via Drudge
Thursday, March 10, 2005
Spanish Muslims issue fatwa against Al-Qaeda's Osama Bin Laden Messenger | Yahoo! Finance-
A story about him today:
Calvin Coolidge's younger son, also named Calvin, flashed the family wit when he was working as a laborer in the Hatfield, Massachusetts tobacco fields. Calvin mentioned who he was, to which one of the boys said, "Gee, if the president was my father, I wouldn't be working here." Calvin replaced, "You would, if you father were my father."
Quote from Coolidge: An American Enigma
by Robert Sobel.
JIMMY AKIN.ORG: Abortion Vs. Other Issues
Spain's Islamic Commission, which groups the nation's Muslim community, said it was issuing a fatwa against Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
This is obviously great news. I'd feel better if this were happening more often.
Cat Shoots Owner
Good argument for why abortion must trump other political issues, and some interesting discussion on why conservative economic views are not forbidden under Catholic social teaching. (And how liberals assume the worst about conservative motives when it comes to helping the poor.)
Jay Nordlinger's Impromptus on National Review Online
I've always said the bastards were evil.
Link via Drudge
Bankruptcy Reform Bill
Why do people talk this way? The only answer I can think of is that, if life in Iraq were genuinely better, the Left and other Bush opponents would feel doubly ashamed for having fought Bush so hard on it. They need — they psychologically and emotionally need — the new Iraq to be only a slight improvement on Saddam's, at best.
It's pathetic, really — but that doesn't lessen the outrage.
You are sick of hearing me say what I will, alas, say again: There are some people who would rather homosexuals be stoned to death than that they be liberated by George W. Bush and the "Right."
Our liberals were crabby about the eastern Europeans' freedom, and the collapse of the Soviet Union — that might credit the despised Gipper. And they're crabby about the possibilities of freedom for Middle Easterners. This does not say something very nice about human beings.
Much analysis has been done concerning the Supreme Court's recent death-penalty decision — that lawless disgrace — and I can add little. But I would like to say this: Doesn't 18 seem to you blatantly random? I mean, why not 19? Why not 18 and a half? Why not 20? Why not 17? Should not these things be judged case by case?...
Finally, a letter, this one touching on a theme we've been playing in Impromptus for, oh, a couple of years:
I was in a chat room discussing politics/flirting with a girl. Well, she made some quip about how we pay to rebuild Iraq, but the terrorists don't pay to rebuild the WTC — and this is Bush's fault. So I said, "Well, they're terrorists, they blow up buildings, we kill them, and then we help whoever's left rebuild. Sure it costs more money, but it's why we're the good guys and they're the bad guys."
Her response: "You must be a Republican."
Man, that says a lot.
Does it ever!
I essentially support this reform because I've never really understood the purposes of bankruptcy protection anyway. Isn't it largely a way to help people not pay back their debts?
Mind you, I'm no fan of the credit card industry. When I worked at one of the banks, I had a discussion with some of my coworkers about the morality of the bank's practices. (One of the coworkers refused to have a credit card.) Credit cards, if used properly, can amount to a no-interest loan until the bill is due. (Which is how I use them. That satellite radio I just bought? I've been using it for a few weeks and haven't actually paid for it yet thanks to the good folks at American Express.) Where you get into trouble is when you use it to purchase items you can't afford or don't make the full payment each month. But credit cards themselves are not immoral.
Some of the practices of the credit card companies may be immoral, but just because something is immoral doesn't necessarily make it something that should be illegal. Or make it something that should exempt people from having to fulfill their obligations under agreements they freely entered into.
(This started as a response to the link above, but it got a little long for the comments box on the site.)
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
[P]eople are not created for the benefit of industry, but industry is created for the benefit of people.
There is no virtue in compulsory government charity, and there is no virtue in advocating it. A politician who portrays himself as “caring” and “sensitive” because he wants to expand the government's charitable programs is merely saying that he's willing to try to do good with other people's money. Well, who isn't? And a voter who takes pride in supporting such programs is telling us that he'll do good with his own money—if a gun is held to his head. — P.J. O'Rourke
OpinionJournal - The Real World
"The world wishes to be deceived." --Sebastian Franck
"I long to accomplish a great and noble task; but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble." --Helen Keller
"Perhaps the most obvious political effect of controlled news is the advantage it gives powerful people in getting their issues on the political agenda and defining those issues in ways likely to influence their resolution." --W. Lance Bennett
"While people in various countries in the Middle East are beginning to stir as they see democracy start to take root in Iraq, our own political system is moving steadily in the opposite direction, toward rule by unelected judicial ayatollahs, acting like the ayatollahs in Iran." --Thomas Sowell
"Doesn't anyone wonder why the NAACP does not have events celebrating the first black woman secretary of state? Why does an organization whose mission is to advance the lot of blacks not celebrate Clarence Thomas, our black Supreme Court justice?" --Star Parker
"My name is Walter Moore and I'm running for mayor, and you know what? I don't speak Spanish and I don't intend to learn." --Los Angeles GOP mayoral candidate Walter Moore [I know nothing else about him, but just that quote could probably win him my vote]
"With hindsight, the fellow travelers were let off far too easily when the Iron Curtain fell like a discarded burka. Little more than a decade later, they barely hesitated a moment before jumping in on the wrong side of history yet again -- and this time without the excuse that the ideological virtues of Communism had merely gone awry in practice." --Mark Steyn
"By the way, when's the next Not In Our Name rally? How about this Saturday? Millions of Nionists can flood into Trafalgar Square to proclaim to folks in Iraq and Lebanon and Egypt and Jordan and Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian Authority that all the changes under way in the region are most certainly Not In Their Name." --Mark Steyn
"As long as greed, stupidity and cowardice remain a part of the human condition, there will be a constituency for Democrats." --Jack Kelly
"Jackie Robinson was honored in the U.S. Capitol Wednesday. What a ceremony. It doubled the number of statues in the rotunda because when it was mentioned that he was a lifelong Republican and Richard Nixon supporter, the Democrats turned to stone." --Argus Hamilton
Jay Leno.... According to the "American Journal of Nutrition," the mother's genes are what drives obesity in children. How about the mothers that drive their children to McDonald's? .... Martha Stewart is getting out of prison this week. Boy, time really flies when you're not the one doing it. .... Microsoft chairman Bill Gates was given an honorary knighthood by Queen Elizabeth today. I believe he's now known as The Duke of Nerds. .... Rapper Nelly has been nominated for two Country Music TV Awards. Nelly collaborated with Tim McGraw on a song. That's an interesting combination, isn't it? Country and rap? What would you call that? Crap, I guess. .... Eighty-seven-year-old West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd is in trouble after he compared Senate Republicans to the Nazis. He would have compared them to the Ku Klux Klan but he used to be a member.
The Onion | Bush Announces Iraq Exit Strategy: 'We'll Go Through Iran'
I picked up the phone in New York and spoke with Dr. Que, a 63-year-old doctor who has by now spent almost half his life fighting for liberty in Vietnam. Given that Vietnam's secret police almost certainly eavesdrop on any contact he has with the wider world, I was prepared for a discreet and carefully phrased conversation, meant to minimize his risk. Dr. Que was not. He got straight to the point: "What I want is liberty for my people." The question now, he said, "is how to make regime change in Vietnam." For democratization of his country, he added, "support from the rest of the world is important." Specifically, he wants Hanoi's decaying communist party to "put forward a timetable for free and fair elections."
"I'm pleased to announce that the Department of Defense and I have formulated a plan for a speedy withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq," Bush announced Monday morning. "We'll just go through Iran."
According to White House officials, coalition air units will leave forward air bases in Iraq and transport munitions to undisclosed locations in Iran. After 72 to 96 hours of aerial-bomb retreats, armored-cavalry units will retreat across the Zagros mountains in tanks, armored personnel carriers, and strike helicopters. The balance of the 120,000 troops will exit into the oil-rich borderlands around the Shatt-al-Arab region within 30 days.
"The plan also includes a minor stopover for refueling and provisional replenishment in Syria," Casey said. "But I don't expect we'll need more than 50,000 additional troops for that stretch of the Iraq pullout."
Absolutely brilliant, plus a worthy idea in its own right.
Link via The Corner
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
CNN.com - Scan indicates King Tut not murdered - Mar 8, 2005
www.delawareonline.com | The News Journal | LOCAL | Gambling can bring problems
Of course he wasn't. I can't believe CNN just figured this out. The Weekly World News
told us years told us years ago that her died in a plane crash.
What Is Lent For? Try Penance
I can't really get too excited about bringing more gambling to Delaware. I do worry about the social cost gambling can present. If there were a way to minimize those risks, I might be more in favor of it.
Having said that, I do think it's a better choice than the way the state currently pushes gambling on people through the lottery. Those odds are even worse than those given by the casinos.
Freedom's Labors - Lane Kirkland worked for more than his union.
Our Catholic ancestors did not think that God “needed” our Lenten sacrifices for His sake. The world wasn’t waiting for modern theologians to make that point. They understood that the self-denial was for our sake, for our character formation; that it prepares us for the battle to save our souls, to live on God’s terms, not the world’s.
He also references one of my favorite quotes:
Tradition may be defined as an extension of the franchise. Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death. Democracy tells us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our groom; tradition asks us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our father.
(NOTE: Democracy of the dead is not meant in the way Democrats seem to take; dead people may not "enter" the voting booth.)
Thomas Sowell: High noon for judges
He may not be much remembered today, but Lane Kirkland, president of the AFL-CIO from 1979 to 1995, was a great man, and not only as a labor leader. He was an architect of America's victory in the Cold War and a person of considerable intellect whose sense of history--and of American interests--was often well ahead of the curve.
Policy makers now urge us, post 9/11, to reduce our dependence on Saudi oil; Kirkland was making that case 30 years ago when he was second-in-command to George Meany at the AFL-CIO. President Bush has placed democracy at the center of our foreign policy; Kirkland was advancing the argument 25 years ago. The Kurds are a key to our hopes for the future of Iraq; Kirkland was supporting their claims in the 1970s. When American liberals sought an accommodation with what they thought was a rising Soviet Union in the 1980s, Kirkland chided them for appeasing our nemesis. And when Reaganites didn't know what to make of the emerging Solidarity movement in Poland, Kirkland championed its cause. It was Solidarity's strength that showed--to those willing to see--that the Soviet colossus had feet of clay.
But there was more to Kirkland's sense of mission than numbers. He believed that labor, at its best, represented an ethic of brotherhood and solidarity that had something to teach the rest of society. He often criticized American corporations for doing business with our enemies. He argued that free societies were best for trade unionists. Thus he pushed the Reagan administration into supporting democratic reform for Central America, and he resisted the unionists who backed the proto-communist Sandinistas in Nicaragua. Given the choice, Kirkland insisted, "people will always choose freedom."
Something Old, Nothing New : Peanuts' Peak
It is painfully ironic that we should be promoting the spread of democracy abroad when democracy is shrinking at home. Over the years, the outcomes of our elections have meant less and less, as judges have taken more and more decisions out of the hands of elected officials.
One way to stop the continuing erosion of the American people's right to govern themselves would be to appoint judges who follow the great Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes' doctrine that his job was to see that the game is played by the rules, "whether I like them or not."
Interesting examination of the ups and down of Peanuts over the years. I'm not enough of an expert to know the exact chronology of events, but there is definitely a marked drop in quality around the late 70s.
Link via Dawn Eden
Another good analysis is here
. Linked to from both blogs entries mentioned above.
In his Autobiogaphy Coolidge wrote that he enjoyed studying the Senate, and soon found that it had "but one fixed rule, subject to exceptions of course, which was to the effect that the Senate would do anything it wanted to whenever it wanted to."
Which brings an interesting perspective on the argument that to filibustering of judges is a time-honored and sacrosant "right" of the Senate.
Quote from Coolidge: An American Enigma
by Robert Sobel.
Monday, March 07, 2005
Liturgical Norms Have Key Role
In a free republic a great government is the product of a great people. They will look to themselves rather than government for success. The destiny, the greatness of America lies around the hearthstone. If thrift and industry are taught there, and the example of self-sacrifice oft appears, if honor abide there, and high ideals, if there the building of fortune be subordinate to the building of character, America will live in security, rejoicing in an abundant prosperity and good government at home and in peace, respect, and confidence abroad. If these virtues be absent there is no power that can supply these blessings. Look well then to the hearthstone, there all hope for America lies.
The Byrd Option
The faithful are entitled to participate in a celebration of the liturgy that is valid.
If only more priests would give us our entitlement.
Robert Byrd didn't mind using the "nuclear option" to get appointments through when he was in charge...
"Let the pulpit resound with the doctrine and sentiments of religious liberty. Let us hear of the dignity of man's nature, and the noble rank he holds among the works of God. ... Let it be known that...liberties are not the grants of princes and parliaments." --John Adams
"Calvin Coolidge, one of our most underrated Presidents, put it well: 'Our country,' he said, 'was conceived in the theory of local self-government. It has been dedicated by long practice to that wise and beneficient policy. It is the foundation principle of our system of liberty.' When Cal Coolidge was President, taxes -- Federal, State, and local -- were taking a dime out of every dollar earned, and two-thirds of that dime went to State and local government. By 1980 taxes were up to 35 cents of every dollar, and three-fifths of that came to Washington. ... First, we must continue working to return power to levels of government closer to the people. We believe that when it comes to running county government, county officials will always do better from the county seat than bureaucrats could ever do from Washington." --Ronald Reagan [Reagan about Coolidge, does it get better than that?]
I saw my first televised game yesterday and even though the Phillies lost, it was still great. It's like seeing someone you love after a long time apart. Oh, baseball, how I missed you!
(Yeah, I've got a real problem here....)
Sunday, March 06, 2005
Wrong on All Counts (washingtonpost.com)
In 1992, before delivering the Supreme Court's ruling in an abortion case, Justice Anthony Kennedy stood with a journalist observing rival groups of demonstrators and mused: "Sometimes you don't know if you're Caesar about to cross the Rubicon or Captain Queeg cutting your own tow line." Or perhaps you are a would-be legislator, a dilettante sociologist and a free-lance moralist, disguised as a judge.
While discussing America's "evolving standards of decency," Kennedy announces: "It is proper that we acknowledge the overwhelming weight of international opinion against the juvenile death penalty." Why is that proper when construing the U.S. Constitution? He is remarkably unclear about that. He says two international conventions forbid executions of persons who committed their crimes as juveniles. That, he thinks, somehow illuminates the meaning of the Eighth Amendment.
Kennedy evidently considers it unimportant that the United States attached to one of the conventions language reserving the right "to impose capital punishment . . . for crimes committed by persons below eighteen years of age." The United States never ratified the other convention Kennedy cites. Kennedy the roving moralist sniffily disapproves of that nonratification as evidence that America is committing the cardinal sin of being out of step with "the world community."
Kennedy occupies the seat that 52 Senate Democrats prevented Robert Bork from filling in 1987. That episode accelerated the descent into the scorched-earth partisanship that was raging in the Senate Judiciary Committee at the very moment Tuesday morning that Kennedy was presenting the court majority's policy preference as a constitutional imperative. The committee's Democrats were browbeating another appellate court nominee, foreshadowing another filibuster.
The Democrats' standard complaint is that nominees are out of the jurisprudential "mainstream." If Kennedy represents the mainstream, it is time to change the shape of the river. His opinion is an intellectual train wreck, but useful as a timely warning about what happens when judicial offices are filled with injudicious people.
A Word of Encouragement - The Effects of Reconciliation
Today a quote about Coolidge:
Bruce Barton...places a long piece dealing with Coolidge in the March issue of Women's Home Companion, entitled "The Silent Man on Beacon Hill,"... Barton concluded "The greatest leaders we have had have been spiritual leaders. In Washington, in Lincoln and [Teddy] Roosevelt, in every man who has stirred America, there has been always an appeal that reached down beneath the material to something large, and unselfish, and eternal in man. And Calvin Coolidge also is a leader of that sort."
Quote from Coolidge: An American Engima
, by Robert Sobel
The Effects of Reconciliation
But the father said to his servants, 'Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; and bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry; for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.' And they began to make merry.
What does reconciliation do? This image from the parable of the Prodigal Son pretty much sums it up. We're found, welcomed home, made beautiful, made able to walk, fed with grace, raised from death to life, and all Heaven has a big party. The sacrament of Reconciliation is just plain cool.