I too think America is heading for a monarchy. (Hint: no, not really.)
Obama's America, where a private insurance company can't charge you more for being a smoker (because loving to inhale a mixture of tobacco and chemicals directly into your lungs is a pre-existing condition, obviously), but where the government can add a nearly dollar per pack to cigarette taxes to fund pre-K education.
Among President Obama’s half trillion dollars in tax hikes is a 94 cent tax on cigarettes expected to raise $78 billion over ten years. The president wants to spend it on early education.
Meanwhile, healthcare exchanges created by Obamacare are starting to classify cigarette smoking as a pre-existing condition, prohibiting insurance companies for charging more to customers who take a higher risk by smoking.
As Kevin Williamson notes at National Review, we should expect more of this as ObamaCare ramps up in the near future:
John Judis argues at the New Republic that Democrats should prioritize economic recovery ahead of gun control:
[T]urning around the country’s economy is more important to the country’s economic and political future. That goes for gun control’s prospects, too. If the Democrats want to pass tough gun control measures—or address even more far-reaching issues like climate change—they need to win back the House, and they can’t do that with a faltering economy. But I’d also suggest that on the substance of the matter, turning around the economy is as important to ending gun violence as passing the kind of compromise gun control legislation that the Senate might pass, which would leave one important kind of “straw purchases” of guns—and a key source for guns used in crimes—out of its purview.
This is appalling: 4 people shot by toddlers who got access to guns … in just the past week!
In a particularly tragic chapter in our nation’s struggle with such violence, at least four people — including two children — were seriously injured or killed since last weekend in accidental shootings where toddlers obtained loaded weapons:
A gunman recently shot and killed a police officer for the crime of guarding polio-eradication workers who were attempting to help young children by giving them a vaccine. My money's on the Taliban:
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but the Pakistani Taliban have repeatedly targeted health workers on anti-polio drives, accusing them of being spies. The violence has seriously hindered the immunization campaign in Pakistan, which is one of three countries in the world where polio remains endemic.
The resistance to polio vaccination by Taliban militants stiffened after the raid in May 2011 on Osama bin Laden’s compound in northern Pakistan, as revelations surfaced that the C.I.A. had used a Pakistani doctor, Shakil Afridi, to run a vaccination campaign to help in efforts to locate Bin Laden.
Since then, Taliban insurgents have increased their attacks on the vaccination work and issued religious edicts that accuse the United States of using it to gather intelligence. Hard-line religious extremists also claim that the vaccinations aim to sterilize Muslims.
Kirsten Powers has a scathing column at USA Today on the media's lack of interest in the trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, an abortion doctor charged with the murder of eight. I'll be keeping track of the trial of this twisted man. It's ugly, but necessary:
Massof, who, like other witnesses, has himself pleaded guilty to serious crimes, testified "It would rain fetuses. Fetuses and blood all over the place." Here is the headline the Associated Press put on a story about his testimony that he saw 100 babies born and then snipped: "Staffer describes chaos at PA abortion clinic."
"Chaos" isn't really the story here. Butchering babies that were already born and were older than the state's 24-week limit for abortions is the story. There is a reason the late Democratic senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan called this procedure infanticide.
Dave Weigel on the push to legalize SSM in his home state:
The current state house has a 26-15 Democratic majority; the current state senate is split 13-8 for the Democrats. Gov. Jack Markell has supported gay marriage for years. And I already mentioned Joe Biden.
Well, the gay marriage push starts today. This afternoon, most of the state's leadership -- governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, state senate president, speaker of the house -- will gather in Wilmington to announce legislation that would legalize gay marriage. All they need to do is alter Delaware's statute on marriage, which prohibits unions between "people of the same gender."
I'll be keeping a watch on this. Do readers know of any other states with similar efforts?
The Wall Street Journal reports some intriguing dino-news:
A rare cache of fossil dinosaur embryos discovered in China reveals that these extinct behemoths grew faster in the egg than any animal known, an international research team reported in Nature on Wednesday.
The researchers believe the 195-million-year-old remains belong to a long-necked, plant-eating dinosaur called Lufengosaurus, which grew to as long as 30 feet. This dinosaur family, once common in China, eventually evolved into the largest creatures to ever walk the Earth.
"These things were growing faster than anything we've ever seen—faster than any living mammal or bird today or any known dinosaur," said paleontologist Robert Reisz at the University of Toronto at Mississauga in Ontario, who led the team of experts in China, Taiwan, Australia and Germany that analyzed the specimens.
All hail John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, whose manueverings since the disastrous November elections have brought us to this key point: revealing to all of America that Democrats have their own insane, inflexible, and ideologically indefensible caucus.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images
That group, of course, is the "Don't Ever Touch Entitlements in Any Way" Caucus, chaired by the venerable Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. As reported by the Boston Globe:
“In short, ‘chained CPI’ is just a fancy way to say ‘cut benefits for seniors, the permanently disabled, and orphans,’” Warren fired off in an e-mail to supporters. She related the experience of her brother, David Herring, a military veteran and former small business owner who lives on monthly Social Security checks of $1,100. “Our Social Security system is critical to protecting middle-class families,’’ she wrote, “and we cannot allow it to be dismantled inch by inch.”
The story goes:
At the end of her life, a famous Parisian courtesan of the 19th century was asked: "You have seen so many changes: monarchy, republic, empire, republic again. Of all the regimes under which you have lived, what was the best?"
"Ah, that is easy to answer. The best was the Second Republic!"
"The Second Republic? But it was so short and unstable and there was so much hunger and suffering!"
An exhibit at Berlin’s Jewish Museum entitled, “The Whole Truth … Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Jews …” has an installation that has been controversial to say the least. This particular part of the exhibit, commonly referred to as ‘Jew in a Box,’ features a Jewish man or woman sitting in an open glass box. Visitors can ask questions and the person in the box will answer based upon their experience.
From the Jewish Museum of Berlin’s press release on the installation:
The section devoted to the question "Are there still Jews in Germany?" presents a highly unusual "exhibit." At set times, a Jewish guest will take his or her seat in a real showcase and, if desired, respond to questions and comments from the visitors. With this idea, the organizers are taking up the gauntlet that critics of Jewish museums have thrown down at the feet of the museums’ founders. The substance of this criticism: Jewish museums could unethically use Jews as "exhibition objects" and subject them to voyeuristic curiosity. Others believe that the Jews in Germany, who have played a prominent role over the past few decades and are seen by many as a symbol of the millions murdered in the Holocaust, are already treated as specimens under glass.
Many have found the ‘Jew in a box’ portion of the exhibit rather insulting.
Charles Moran, who helped raise funds for Kevin James in the Los Angeles mayor race, with a guest post on the upcoming vote that amounts to a referendum on LA's future:
David McNew/Getty Images
Only a few weeks remain until the runoff election for mayor of Los Angeles. Two candidates will face each other on May 21: former LA City Council President Eric Garcetti and LA City Controller Wendy Greuel. Garcetti has promised to reform municipal worker pension plans. He's taken heat, but refused to back down. Greuel, on the other hand, has retreated from her promise to bring public employee unions back to the bargaining table, seemingly ‘doubling down’ on public sector union support.
Wendy Greuel's strategy has gained her $2 million in support from one of the city's most powerful unions, which represents workers at the Department of Water and Power. But at what cost to the city?
If the GOP is going to be the party that calls for responsible spending while ferociously working to prevent any actual cuts to entitlement programs, it's a party that will die.
Now, Chained CPI and limiting Medicare spending are a nice start. They don't really solve our problem, which is an aging nation that will have more retirees per worker than the historical norm, but that was a problem we should have attacked forty years ago. Instead, we've got this:
Well Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) — who also happens to be chairman of the House GOP’s re-election committee — just showed how it’s done, saying Obama’s budget “lays out a shocking attack on seniors.”
Do you ever come across a word or phrase that so perfectly sums up a concept, you can't believe you haven't known it forever?
I had such a moment yesterday, when the following tweet popped up in my timeline:
Regrettably, the author is Brooks Bayne, a notorious internet low-life hitherto best known for tweeting "LOL" about the murder of 6 million Jews.
President Obama finally released his proposed budget today. Here's what's in it, and how people are reacting.
The main points, as summarized from Forbes:
- Increased revenues resulting from the chained CPI [cost of living adjustment].
- Instituting the “Buffet Rule”
- Cutting direct payments to farmers
- Limiting the tax deferral benefits of contributing to a retirement account.
- A new federal tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products to be used to fund the expansion of pre-kindergarten education programs.
- Limiting itemized deductions for high-income households to 28 percent after charitable contributions.
- Change carried interest tax rates into ordinary income tax rates.
- Close additional tax loopholes.
Derek Thompson of The Atlantic: