Just another reason to love America

This story came over the e-mail transom just now, and I have not vetted it for accuracy, though you should feel free to Google it to your heart’s content.

If it isn’t true, it should be.
___

Shooting in Butte, Montana

Shotgun preteen vs. illegal alien Home Invaders Butte, Montana November 5,
2006

Two illegal aliens, Ralphel Resindez, 23, and Enrico Garza, 26, probably
believed they would easily overpower home-alone 11 year old Patricia
Harrington after her father had left their two-story home.

It seems the two crooks never learned two things: they were in Montana and
Patricia had been a clay shooting champion since she was nine.

Patricia was in her upstairs room when the two men broke through the front
door of the house. She quick ly ran to her father’s room and grabbed his 12
gauge Mossberg 500 shotgun.

Resindez was the first to get up to the second floor only to be the first to
catch a near point blank blast of buckshot from the 11-year-old’s knee
crouch aim. He suffered fatal wounds to his abdomen and genitals.

When Garza ran to the foot of the stairs, he took a blast to the left
shoulder and staggered out into the street where he bled to death before
medical help could arrive.

It was found out later that Resindez was armed with a stolen 45 caliber
handgun he took from another home invasion robbery. That victim,
50-year-old David Burien, was not so lucky. He died from stab wounds to the
chest.
___

Note that I would support the same result if the home invaders were American citizens.

It’s all going according to plan

The Wall Street Journal has an op-ed that talks about how Fred Thompson is the candidate with the best ideas, but that he isn’t getting the word out.

Fred’s Folly

He’s proposed revitalizing America’s armed forces by increasing the core defense budget, building up a million-member ground force, and instituting sweeping missile defense. He went where no other GOP candidate has yet gone with a detailed plan to shore up Social Security, by changing the benefits formula and offering voluntary “add on” accounts for younger workers. He would re-energize school vouchers. His border security blueprint certainly matches Mitt Romney’s or Rudy Giuliani’s in its, ahem, creativity and thoroughness.

This week’s tax proposal was decidedly fresh, going beyond the run-of-the-mill candidate promise to extend the Bush tax cuts, and calling for the end of the death tax and the AMT, a cut in the corporate tax rate and even a voluntary flat tax. According to a campaign source, in upcoming weeks Mr. Thompson will unveil plans to reduce federal spending by limiting nondefense growth to inflation, earmark reform, and a one-year freeze on the hiring of non-essential civilian workers and contractors.

There’s plenty here to get conservative voters and bloggers and pundits engaged in some healthy, even lively, debate. That is, if they’d heard any of this. Most haven’t, and for that Mr. Thompson has mostly himself to blame.

It would indeed be sad if the best candidate with the best ideas where to fail based upon waiting too long and being too “lazy.” I’ve been frustrated with the lackluster campaign myself.

On the other hand, with less time and less money, the only shot Thompson ever had was to wait out the other candidates, get them to run negative ads against the others, and have him chosen as the guy with the fewest negatives. This is already happening with Mitt and Rudy (neither of whom are electable in any case).

Huckabee is making a run at Iowa, and NH may be up for grabs if he pulls off a win there. This will be a wild year for Republicans in any case, and predictions are generally dangerous.

Read the article linked above. Thompson has the best ideas in a party that was founded on ideas. That ought to count for something.

Two stories relating to negotiations with Iran

Obama is catching flak for saying he’d “talk” to Iran, but I have to say that I’m in agreement with him on this one. I hope that the rhetorical headlong rush to war with Iran is merely sabre rattling in preparation for front or backchannel negotiations. (fomenting a popular overthrow wouldn’t hurt either)

Regardless, talks with Iran are better than war with Iran, IMO.

A Doable Deal with Iran

So long as the world’s concerns persist, Iran has plenty to lose. It is diplomatically isolated, and economically under severe stress from the sanctions already in place, and those still capable of being applied. And while its leaders publicly dismiss the idea, they know that they cannot entirely ignore the possibility of a preventive military strike
by Israel or the US in the next twelve months.

Objectively, such military action may be a wholly disproportionate and inappropriate response to the evidence that now exists about Iran’s capability, and certainly its intent, but the history of war is a history of miscalculation.

I came away from a series of meetings with high Iranian officials, including its chief nuclear negotiator, with the strong sense that all these dynamics are well understood, and that there is a doable deal to be done by Iran with the wider international community, provided that both sides moderate their rhetoric, focus more on strategy than meeting-by-meeting tactics, and concentrate on addressing the real issues at stake.

Iran’s reformers to U.S.: Let’s talk

Mr. Khatami – the reformist cleric who was twice elected in landslide victories – and Ms. Ebadi – a human rights lawyer who just launched a National Peace Council – are suggesting that hard-liners in the US and Iran should no longer dictate the terms of division. One Iranian analyst says: It’s time to call the bluff on both sides – and talk.

“The solution is for both sides to resort to logic, refrain from provocative rhetoric, and put the emphasis on negotiations,” Khatami told the Monitor.

“We have no choice but to overcome misunderstandings that mostly stem from the meddling of the US [in the Middle East] and its wrong policies in Iran,” said Khatami. “We can find common interests in the region and the world. And we can also avoid actions that would be damaging to both sides.”

If Bush pulls off a decent and verifyable agreement that takes Iran’s support of terror and military nuclear threat off the table, he will end his presidency back above the 50% approval mark with ease. If he has the guts to go to Iran to negotiate it, he could generate a “Tear down this wall” moment reminiscent of Reagan.

Sadly, his family probably too close the Saudi/Wahhabi/Sunni axis to see the wisdom in this. War with Iran will only damage the US further, while empowering the Saudis more than ever.

Ode to Henry Hyde

For all you know, your ability to read this may be due to the fact that the Federal Government has been prohibited from funding abortions. You may have been one of the victims, had tax dollars been been available to grind you up and suck you into a sink.

For my part, I know that 1000s, if not millions of Americans are alive today because of the Legislative Amendement that bears Hyde’s Name.

Thank you, Henry Hyde.

Rest in Peace.

To destroy ‘culture,’ subsidize it

There is a hilariously ironic article in Time Magizine that laments the ‘decline’ in French ‘culture.’ How droll. One wonders if it will occur to the writer of the article, or the Frenchman wringing his hands over their decline, that the decline might have started when the government there started “subsidizing” cultural production.

We aren’t talking about 501(c)3 (American Style) subsidies. Euroweenies don’t have the incredibly dynamic “not-for-profit” industry that we have here in the US. They believe in “not-for-profit” economies that tax away wealth and then redistribute it out of nonsensical organizations like “Cultural Ministries.”

In Search of Lost Time

All of these mighty oaks being felled in France’s cultural forest make barely a sound in the wider world. Once admired for the dominating excellence of its writers, artists and musicians, France today is a wilting power in the global cultural marketplace. That is an especially sensitive issue right now, as a forceful new President, Nicolas Sarkozy, sets out to restore French standing in the world. When it comes to culture, he will have his work cut out for him.

Quality, of course, is in the eye of the beholder — as is the very meaning of culture. The term originally referred to the growing of things, as in agriculture. Eventually it came to embrace the cultivation of art, music, poetry and other “high-culture” pursuits of a high-minded élite. In modern times, anthropologists and sociologists have broadened the term to embrace the “low-culture” enthusiasms of the masses, as well as caste systems, burial customs and other behavior.

The French like to have it all ways. Their government spends 1.5% of GDP supporting a wide array of cultural and recreational activities (vs. only 0.7% for Germany, 0.5% for the U.K. and 0.3% for the U.S.). The Culture Ministry, with its 11,200 employees, lavishes money on such “high-culture” mainstays as museums, opera houses and theater festivals. But the ministry also appointed a Minister for Rock ‘n’ Roll in the 1980s to help France compete against the Anglo-Saxons (unsuccessfully). Likewise, parliament in 2005 voted to designate foie gras as a protection-worthy part of the nation’s cultural heritage.

Typical of the idiot media (here and in France) the writer uses the absurd 0.3% figure above while ignoring the billions raised by non-profits across the USA. We subsidize culture here in the US, we just don’t use a “ministry” to do it. Our way, of course, is vastly superior. At least they get the next part right…

Another problem may be the subsidies, which critics say ensure mediocrity. In his widely discussed 2006 book On Culture in America, former French cultural attaché Frédéric Martel marvels at how the U.S. can produce so much “high” culture of lofty quality with hardly any government support. He concludes that subsidy policies like France’s discourage private participants — and money — from entering the cultural space. Martel observes: “If the Culture Ministry is nowhere to be found, cultural life is everywhere.”

But the government may well try to foster private participation by tinkering with the tax system. “In the U.S. you can donate a painting to a museum and take a full deduction,” says art expert Boïcos. “Here it’s limited. Here the government makes the important decisions. But if the private sector got more involved and cultural institutions got more autonomy, France could undergo a major artistic revival.” [ya think?] Sarkozy’s appointment of Christine Albanel as Culture Minister looks like a vote for individual initiative: as director of Versailles, she has cultivated private donations and partnerships with businesses. The Louvre has gone one step further by effectively licensing its name to offshoots in Atlanta and Abu Dhabi.

I love this article. As they say in France, “vive le difference.”

Try as I might to let my readers make the necessary connections in this article and apply them to America’s corrupt education system all on their own…

I can’t. But you get the point. Our obscene subsidization of a vast education bureaucracy is destroying our once wide lead in education, just as France’s stupid “subsidization” of “culture” has destroyed their “cultural lead.”

Sorry to bludgeon all of you, but polls indicate that bludgeoning is in order.

More Fred Thompson news

Though I would have loved it if Fred came racing on the scene to run up the polls and run the table, the fact is that he isn’t running that type of campaign. The true test will be the first few primaries and whether or not Mitt and Rudy do what is best for the country and destroy each other’s chances.

Regardless, this may be the type of year where the voters, angry with both parties and all levels of government, provide the pundits with a few political surprises. One can hope anyway.

Thompson takes on D.C. expectations

Fred Thompson’s presidential campaign has been unorthodox since Day One, and his decision to grab the “third rail” of American politics with both hands is a clear indication that he really is a different kind of candidate.

Since agreeing to run after a mild draft effort by conservatives looking to fill the void in the race for a candidate who shared their views and values, Thompson has pursued what can only be considered a nontraditional path.

He has eschewed the traditional 24/7 campaign run by his competitors and expected by the Washington, D.C.-based mainstream news media, which has labeled him poorly prepared, lazy and lackluster.

Yet he runs second in national polls of GOP voters and leads in parts of the South.

Now, the former Tennessee senator-turned-actor is making reform of Social Security and Medicare — the kind of issues presidential candidates typically avoid like the plague — major campaign topics as he seeks the Republican nomination.

Although some might consider that courageous, the conventional wisdom, at least inside the Beltway, is that this is akin to committing political suicide. It will put a big, bright target on his back.

Some of his own congressional supporters are distancing themselves from his ideas.

Any politician who fights reforms in Social Security and Medicare is lying to their constituents and to the people.

More…

Flat Tax Fred

Fred Thompson’s Presidential campaign has been struggling, in part because of a sense that he lacks passion and an agenda. But late last week he unveiled a tax reform that is more ambitious than anything we’ve seen so far from the rest of the GOP field.

Mr. Thompson wants to abolish the death tax and the Alternative Minimum Tax and cut the corporate income tax rate to 27% from 35%. But his really big idea is a voluntary flat tax that would give every American the option of ditching the current code in favor of filing a simple tax return with two tax rates of 10% and 25%.

Information and Misinformation on the Illinois Constitutional Convention

The Illinois Channel recently aired a panel discussion on the upcoming Illinois Constitutional Convention vote in 2008. Let me start by saying that if you are an Illinois Citizen wondering why this fine state has been turned into a bankrupt Banana Republic, you need look no farther than our Constitution.

If you want to ‘fix’ Illinois, you need to fix (frankly, “scrap”) the State Constitution. Though maybe not the intent of the writers in 1970, it is the cause of our problems.

I say that because the more you learn about it, the more you see that the entire process of politics in Illinois has been to surreptitiously steal power from the citizen and turn it over to the political class. This political class, in turn, has used the provisions written into the 1970 Constitution to insulate themselves from oversight and competition.

I could comment extensively on this panel discussion, but I’ll let you watch and think things through on your own.

The only comment I will make is that Nancy Kasak, former State Rep, made what is perhaps the most moronic argument against a Convention that any person can make. I intend to mercilessly ridicule anyone stupid enough to make such a absurdly narrow and idiotic argument. This insipid argument goes as follows…

“The 1970 convention cost $31 million dollars, and a new convention would easily cost over $80 million.”

With state businesses and taxpayers being reamed by a rapacious political class, the idea that spending a few tens of millions of dollars to give the state back to the citizens is “too costly” is an argument that only a moron would make.

The only other comment I can make on the video is that I find it fascinating that although I disagree with the ideology of John Fritchey and Pat Quinn, they are dead on about “trusting the people.” My conservative friend expose their biggest weakness when they cower in fear over the actions of citizens they say they want to empower.

There are one or two good reasons to fear the outcome of a Constitutional Convention. Any of those arguments are addressed by the fact that any change must be approved by the people of Illinois in a ratification vote. Given that fact, I feel comfortable in boldly stating that there is no intellectually sound reason to vote “No” on a Constitutional Convention next year.

For Illinois citizens, it is the most important vote you will make in the next 20 years – bar none!!!

Watch the Video Here.

Growing Anger on Illinois Property Taxes

Last Monday night, I attended a “townhall” meeting put on by a great group of citizens called “The Citizens Action Project” The event was attended by State Reps Sandy Cole and Ed Sullivan, as well as Senator Michael Bond.

They billed the meeting as a primer on how to successfully appeal your property tax assessment. (Which I just attempted regarding a Lake County Property.) What came out of the meeting (attended by about 250 citizens on a Monday Night Football evening) was the dawning enlightenment that the entire property tax process is stacked against the taxpayer.

Whether one looks at the obviously unconstitutional process of arbitrarily differing processes used by Township Assessors (just why does Illinois need Townships?) or at the perverse incentives built into the process that force the increases in your taxes, the fact is that the Illinois property taxes system is a playground full of games that make sport of the Illinois Taxpayer.

I will post the audio of my show on this topic soon, as well as the You Tube video of the meeting, as soon as possible. In the meantime, information about property tax appeals can be found here, here, and here.

Have fun reading all the info, but at the end of the day, please realize that property taxes WILL NOT GO DOWN until you citizens create a constituency for STRICT SPENDING LIMITS on EVERY Illinois Government Entity. (and yes, a Constitutional Convention is your only hope for that, given that every legislator is in the pocket of the “The Spending Lobby.”)

If you aren’t willing to work for that goal, quit whining about property taxes and just bend over.

Another Post on “Income Mobility”

Last week, I blogged on an “income mobility” report by the Pew Charitalbe Trusts. This week, Robert Samuelson writes an exellent piece on some of the data that the media didn’t report very well.

The (Impossible) American Dream

Press reports duly echoed the theme. “Middle-Class Dream Eludes African-American Families,” headlined The Washington Post. The message: The already small black middle class is in eclipse. The reality is different:
Since the 1960s, the black middle class has steadily expanded.

Although blacks’ economic status lags that of whites, the advances are still sizable. In 1972, only 6.2 percent of black households had incomes exceeding $75,000 in inflation-adjusted “2006 dollars”; in 2006, 16.8 percent did. Over the same years, the share of non-Hispanic white households with incomes above $75,000 went from 18.4 percent to 33.8 percent. Yet, in 1972, the ratio of whites to blacks in this income bracket was three to one; now it’s two to one.

Reconciling these apparently contradictory conclusions is easy. In the late 1960s, the black middle class was tiny. The group cited by Pew represented only about 8 percent of black children. Whatever happened to them has been overwhelmed by the gains of other black families. (A further drag on black gains is lower marriage rates, which often deprive families of a second earner. But that’s not the fault of the economy.)

Contrary to media coverage, the findings in three recent Pew studies qualify mostly as good news:

– When compared with their parents in the late 1960s, families today have a median income that’s 29 percent higher at $71,900 (and this understates gains in living standards, because families are about 25 percent smaller and the income figures exclude fringe benefits and non-cash government benefits).

– About two-thirds of today’s adults have incomes higher than their parents did — a result that is roughly similar for both blacks and whites (the children of the middle-income group of blacks were not typical).

– Almost 60 percent of the children born of the poorest families moved up the income distribution (23 percent into the second poorest fifth and 6 percent into the richest fifth).

Indeed, the high degree of intergenerational economic mobility is Pew’s most interesting finding. What happens at the bottom of the income scale also happens at the top. About 60 percent of children born of the richest fifth of parents do not themselves end up among the richest fifth; about 23 percent drop into the next to highest group and 9 percent fall to the bottom. Parents influence their children’s destiny but do not determine it.

Indeed. The number of rich kids entering “slacker nation” is pretty high, as any trip to Starbucks will indicate anecdotally.

Who says man can’t fly?

OK, this video is pretty cool.