Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Punch Up, George. Not Down.

by Nick Paleologos
January 28, 2015

Last week I read an op-ed piece by George Will in which he decries “The Entitlement State.” Mitt Romney’s famous 47% aren’t just a problem for Mr. Will, they are a full blown catastrophe. And yes, we should definitely put an end to the entitlement state. But not the one he’s talking about. The other one. That gaggle of ungrateful, unpatriotic plutocrats to whom George Will has apparently pledged his allegiance. 

You know who I mean:

·      The 1 percent who are “entitled” to pay lower tax rates than everybody else while still complaining that taxes are too high.

·      The 1 percent who are “entitled” to pay pennies into social security for every dollar you pay and still slam your retirement benefits as unsustainable.

·      The 1 percent who are “entitled” to keep 95% of the wealth created by a nation of workers whose income has barely budged in thirty years, and then blame those same workers for not being able to afford health care, college tuitions, or anything else.

·      The 1 percent who are “entitled” to secretly spend billions buying public officials to do their bidding--even when it contravenes public opinion--and still complain that the government they own won’t get off their backs.

We’ve got an entitlement state alright. But for some reason George Will can’t see it. Which is amazing when you think that his favorite baseball team is the Chicago Cubs--the Windy City’s working class also-rans who haven’t won a World Series in nearly a century, and who play on a field that was built entirely with private funds the year Woodrow Wilson was elected president.

When it comes to our National Pastime, I would have expected Mr. Will to be parked in an overpriced box seat, sporting Yankee pinstripes and sipping cocktails in the billion dollar ballpark that the Steinbrenners’ Evil Empire built—with taxpayers picking up half the tab, of course.

And why did the richest team, with the highest payroll, and the most World Series rings, get taxpayers to pay for half the cost of Yankee Stadium--when most of us can’t afford a hot dog there, let alone a bleacher seat?

Because the New York Yankees are “entitled” to taxpayer support. You see, in George Will’s world, the more successful you are, the less you should have to pay. Taxes are for working stiffs, not millionaires.

The workaday players on George Will’s beloved Cubbies enjoy a minimum salary and free agency for one simple reason. They formed a union. But in the real world, George Will opposes both a minimum wage and unions.

In baseball, earned run average is calculated the same way for both the highest and the lowest paid pitchers. You don't get to have a low ERA just because you have a high salary. Everybody plays by the same rules.

In the real world, most of us probably wouldn't mind kicking 35% of our hard earned income into Uncle Sam’s coffers if it weren’t for the fact that the wealthiest Americans only have to pay 14% of theirs. 

Mr. Will has two degrees from Princeton. He’s a very smart man. Occasionally I even agree with him. And when I don’t, I always appreciate his civility. I just wish that he would put the power of his pen, and the weight of his considerable intellect to the task of righting the country's real wrongs.

Punch up, George. Not down.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Ted Cruz Sings The Blues

Senator "Sincerity" responds to the
President's State of the Union Address

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Middle Class Economics? Fix This.

From the end of WWII until 1980, productivity and EVERYBODY's wages rose at about the same rate.

Great prosperity.

Shared by all. 

That's called fairness.

Over the past 35 years, the country is much more prosperous. 

The rich are much, much, richer. 

But everybody else's paychecks haven't moved in the slightest.

The verdict is in on Reaganomics.

It failed.

The people it hurt the most? 

Reagan Democrats. 

The American Middle Class. 

Time to bring back the Fair Deal.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Zakaria: The word "blasphemy" appears nowhere in the Koran

Blasphemy and the law of fanatics
Opinion Writer: January 8, 2015

As they went on their rampage, the men who killed 12 people in Paris this week yelled that they had “avenged the prophet.” They followed in the path of other terrorists who have bombed newspaper offices, stabbed a filmmaker and killed writers and translators, all to mete out what they believe is the proper Koranic punishment for blasphemy. But in fact, the Koran prescribes no punishment for blasphemy. Like so many of the most fanatical and violent aspects of Islamic terrorism today, the idea that Islam requires that insults against the prophet Muhammad be met with violence is a creation of politicians and clerics to serve a political agenda.
One holy book is deeply concerned with blasphemy: the Bible. In the Old Testament, blasphemy and blasphemers are condemned and prescribed harsh punishment. The best-known passage on this is Leviticus 24:16 : “Anyone who blasphemes the name of the Lord is to be put to death. The entire assembly must stone them. Whether foreigner or native-born, when they blaspheme the Name they are to be put to death.”
By contrast, the word blasphemy appears nowhere in the Koran. (Nor, incidentally, does the Koran anywhere forbid creating images of Muhammad, though there are commentaries and traditions — “hadith” — that do, to guard against idol worship.) Islamic scholar Maulana Wahiduddin Khan has pointed out that “there are more than 200 verses in the Koran, which reveal that the contemporaries of the prophets repeatedly perpetrated the same act, which is now called ‘blasphemy or abuse of the Prophet’ ... but nowhere does the Koran prescribe the punishment of lashes, or death, or any other physical punishment.” On several occasions, Muhammad treated people who ridiculed him and his teachings with understanding and kindness. “In Islam,” Khan says, “blasphemy is a subject of intellectual discussion rather than a subject of physical punishment.”
Somebody forgot to tell the terrorists. But the gruesome and bloody belief the jihadis have adopted is all too common in the Muslim world, even among so-called moderate Muslims — that blasphemy and apostasy are grievous crimes against Islam and should be punished fiercely. Many Muslim-majority countries have laws against blasphemy and apostasy — and in some places, they are enforced.
Pakistan is now the poster child for the anti-blasphemy campaign gone wild. In March, at least 14 people were on death row in that country, and 19 were serving life sentences, according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. The owner of the country’s largest media group has been sentenced to 26 years in prison because one of his channels broadcast a devotional song about Muhammad’s daughter while reenacting a wedding. (Really.) And Pakistan is not alone. Bangladesh, Malaysia, Egypt, Turkey and Sudan have all used blasphemy laws to jail and harass people. In moderate Indonesia, 120 people have been detained for this reason since 2003. Saudi Arabia forbids the practice of any religion other than its own Wahhabi version of Islam.
The Pakistani case is instructive, because its extreme version of anti-blasphemy law is relatively recent and a product of politics. Mohammed Zia ul-Haq, Pakistan’s president during the late 1970s and 1980s, wanted to marginalize the democratic and liberal opposition, and he embraced Islamic fundamentalists, no matter how extreme. He passed a series of laws Islamizing Pakistan, including a law that recommended the death penalty or life imprisonment for insulting Muhammad in any way.
When governments try to curry favor with fanatics, eventually the fanatics take the law into their own hands. In Pakistan, jihadis have killed dozens of people whom they accuse of blasphemy, including a brave politician, Salmaan Taseer, who dared to call the blasphemy law a “black law.”
We should fight terrorism. But we should also fight the source of the problem. It’s not enough for Muslim leaders to condemn people who kill those they consider as blasphemers if their own governments endorse the idea of punishing blasphemy at the very same time. The U.S. religious freedom commission and the U.N. Human Rights Committee have both declared that blasphemy laws violate universal human rights because they violate freedom of speech and expression. They are correct.
In Muslim-majority countries, no one dares to dial back these laws. In Western countries, no one confronts allies on these issues. But blasphemy is not a purely domestic matter, of concern only to those who worry about countries’ internal affairs. It now sits on the bloody crossroad between radical Islamists and Western societies. It cannot be avoided anymore. Western politicians, Muslim leaders and intellectuals everywhere should point out that blasphemy is something that does not exist in the Koran and should not exist in the modern world.

Crystal Ball Busters


“If this president is re-elected, you’re gonna see chronic high unemployment continue for another four years—or longer.”
---Mitt Romney on “Meet The Press” September 2012

“Gas prices will be up at around $6.60 per gallon.”
--Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) March 2012 on Senate Floor

“The country’s economy is going to collapse if Obama is re-elected.”
--Rush Limbaugh on “The Rush Limbaugh Show” September 2012


"Continuing a trend of solid job gains, the U.S. economy added 252,000 jobs in December, and the unemployment rate fell to 5.6%. The job gains were stronger than analysts had expected, and the unemployment rate is now 0.2% lower than in the previous month. Overall, 2014 marked the strongest year of job gains since 1999, adding 2.95 million new jobs total and an average monthly gain of 246,000."