Monday, April 23, 2012
Charity and Politics
Americans are being asked to decide many things this election year, but perhaps the most important is how the United States should take care of its poorest citizens. President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party in general believe that income redistribution is the way to go. Since Obama has been in office, entitlement spending has risen 41 percent to about $1 trillion a year. There are currently an astounding 126 separate anti-poverty programs in place.
Mitt Romney and the Republicans reject the concept of "income inequality" and say that a rising economy should lift all households. The GOP wants the free marketplace to provide income opportunity, not a giant federal nanny state. With the nation more than $16 trillion in debt, the Republicans have economics on their side. Emotion is another matter.
Americans are a generous people. The group Giving USA says that last year we donated almost $300 billion to charity. That largesse was voluntary. When the government decides to take our money forcefully through taxation, things get dicey.
And so it is instructive to examine the charitable contributions of the politicians who are driving fiscal policy. In 2011, President and Mrs. Obama's adjusted gross income was $789,674. The first couple donated about 22 percent of that to charity. Very generous.
But Vice President Joe Biden is another story. He and his wife donated just 1.46 percent of their $379,035 income to charity. Paltry? You bet. And not unusual. Since Biden took office in 2009, he has made close to $1.1 million. His charitable donations: $16,710. Advice to kids: Don't go trick-or-treating at the Biden house.
During his time in office, President and Mrs. Clinton gave generously to charity despite big-time legal bills. So did George and Laura Bush. But Dick and Lynne Cheney topped all of them, giving a whopping 77 percent of their income to charity in 2005: a total of $6,800,000.
The all-time miser seems to be Al Gore. As vice president in 1997, Gore donated exactly $353 to charity from an income of close to $200,000. Plus, Gore has all that family trust fund money. Hey, Al, come on, man. That's just embarrassing.
A recent Google study shows that conservative Americans give twice as much to charity as liberals do. Some researchers believe that's because more conservatives than liberals go to church, and therefore, they are tithing. Romney gives a lot of money to the Mormon Church, so there may be something to that. By the way, Romney's campaign estimates that in 2011, the governor and his wife gave about 19 percent of their $21 million income to charity.
The bible says, "To whom much is given, much is expected." Obama has paraphrased that while urging higher taxation on the rich. But there is a huge difference between taking money away from folks under threat of imprisonment and charitable largesse. My tax dollars don't count toward my moral obligation, because I must render to Caesar. But otherwise, as Gore well knows, I am free to do as much or as little as I want.
"Progressives" Using Jesse Jackson Shakedown Tactics to destroy a conservative co-operative
The left’s latest target du jour is ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization for state legislators. It promotes limited government, free markets and federalism. ALEC provides model legislation for legislators to copy for their states. More than 2000 Republican and Democrat legislators are members. Almost one thousand of ALEC’s bills are introduced every year and 20% become law. ALEC has been around for 40 years, but operated under the radar until conservatives started making record gains in state legislatures.
Funded by left wing billionaire George Soros, the left started an intimidation campaign against ALEC nine months ago, launching an “ALEC Exposed” website that lists 800 bills the organization has promoted. Obama’s former controversial green czar Van Jones, who co-founded the race-baiting organization Color of Change, is spearheading the shakedowns. Other progressive organizations involved include George Soros’s Common Cause, People for the American Way and Progress Now. The Occupy movement has made ALEC one of its top targets. Last fall, the left organized disruptive protests in Scottsdale, Arizona outside of ALEC’s annual meeting.
Color of Change recently began a shakedown campaign against corporations that are members of ALEC, meeting face to face with them to intimidate them. Color of Change used race-baiting to convince Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, PepsiCo, Mars, Intuit and Kraft to withdraw their membership over ALEC’s support for “stand your ground” gun legislation. Blue Cross Blue Shield will not be renewing its membership. The Gates Foundation said it will cease contributing to ALEC. Color of Change’s next targets are Walmart, State Farm, AT&T and Johnson & Johnson. The left is also targeting state legislators, inundating them with threatening emails demanding they resign their membership.
The “stand your ground” law allows someone to attack a perceived assailant if they believe they are in imminent danger. 24 states have adopted it. Florida’s version of that legislation initially provided protection from prosecution for George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin shooting case. Even though the case has not yet been adjudicated in a court of law, and the evidence appears to exonerate Zimmerman, the left is exploiting the Trayvon Martin shooting case with race-baiting to drum up negative publicity against ALEC and other associated organizations on the right like the NRA. Color of Change has Martin’s photo featured prominently at the top of its website.
How is “stand your ground” legislation, also known as “shoot first” legislation, racist? Democrat Governor Jennifer Granholm of Michigan and former Democrat Governor Janet Napolitano of Arizona both signed “stand your ground” legislation.
ALEC responded and clarified that it had not drafted Florida’s legislation, but merely copied it for its model legislation. If the left can convince enough corporations to withdraw their memberships, it could cripple ALEC. Over 98% of ALEC’s budget comes from corporations, not membership dues. ALEC has over 300 corporate members.
The left is also attacking ALEC’s support of voter ID legislation, claiming that these laws are racist. Liberal New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote, “ALEC has played a key role in promoting bills that make it hard for the poor and ethnic minorities to vote.” The left chooses to ignore that the opposite is true. Earlier this month, a young white male, directed by video journalist James O’Keefe, asked for and was offered Attorney General Eric Holder’s ballot at a polling place without showing any identification. Even the liberal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week that voter identification requirements are constitutional. Other ALEC-supported legislation which the left is attacking include school vouchers, border security, unions, private prisons and stopping Agenda 21.
The left demands that the Koch Brothers, conservative financial backers who support ALEC, resign from the organization. The Koch Brothers refuse to leave, saying that the left intends “not only to intimidate, but to silence supporters of free-market principles.” ALEC calls it a "campaign launched by a coalition of extreme liberal activists committed to silencing anyone who disagrees with their agenda."
The left is attempting to force the Koch Brothers to resign through a boycott of their products. Of course, those on the right will start their own “buycott” and urge Americans to go out of their way to buy their products; paper towels, napkins, plates and cups by Brawny, Dixie, Sparkle, Mardi Gras, Vanity Fair and Zee, and toilet paper by Angel Soft, Quilted Northern and Soft’n’Gentle.
ALEC finally retreated this week under pressure, and shut down its public safety and elections task forces in charge of gun and voting rights legislation. ALEC announced it would no longer be involved in socially conservative legislation, but would be sticking to economic issues. This is unfair because many of these corporations are members of ALEC for other kinds of legislative assistance. Now they will no longer receive help with legislation in their interests.
This is nothing less than legalized extortion. The left is using threats and the race card to stamp out conservative activism. Instead of fighting it out fairly in the battlefield of ideas, the left is blackmailing corporations into making irrational decisions they do not want to make, which are detrimental to their interests. Corporations are being threatened that they will be boycotted and branded as racist if they do not withdraw from ALEC. This is a repeat of the tactics Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton have successfully used in the past to coerce corporations into contributing money to radical left wing causes and hiring their cronies.
It is no coincidence that this is occurring during Obama’s reelection year. It is part of an overall strategy by the left to stir up the race card in order to gin up support for Obama’s reelection. The left knows they cannot win fairly, so they are resorting to false accusations of racism to force a victory. They have taken one isolated shooting incident that most likely did not involve racism, and turned it into the reason why a perfectly harmless nonprofit organization must be destroyed, and why Obama should win reelection.
When is a distraction not a distraction?
An easy riddle, as it turns out
It's going to be bait and switch for as far as the eye can see.
That's how it looks now that the smoke has cleared after the recent "Mommy War" skirmish over Democratic operative Hilary Rosen's comment that mother of five Ann Romney had "never worked a day in her life."
There's no need to re-litigate all of that again. If Rosen apologized any more she'd have to sever a digit Yakuza-style. And the White House couldn't distance itself more if they dispatched the Secret Service to burn down Rosen's house and salt the earth for good measure. Fortunately, the Secret Service is too busy with other things.
And besides, the whole episode was a "distraction." That was the quasi-official line almost the moment Rosen's comments caught fire. It was a "manufactured controversy." NBC's Chuck Todd, easily one of the best political analysts in the mainstream media, responded to the spat by proclaiming: "Welcome to the world of the shiny metal object. A person no one agrees with has ignited a manufactured controversy."
Way over on the left, the editor of The Nation, Katrina vanden Heuvel, said on ABC's "This Week": "I think this whole debate has been a distraction. The issues we should be talking about are equal pay, combating rising health-care costs for families, and sick payday leave for women. And these are issues that the Republicans oppose."
In fairness, Todd and vanden Heuvel are right, at least about the spat being manufactured. The Romney campaign smartly pounced on Rosen's comments as a way to turn the tables on the Obama campaign, which had been banging the war drums on the entirely phony "Republican war on women" ever since the entirely manufactured Sandra Fluke controversy.
Fluke, recall, was the Joan of Arc of free birth control who wasn't invited to testify at a congressional hearing about the Obama administration's effort to force religious institutions to pay for medical services that violate their religious teachings. A 30-year-old activist who picked Georgetown because she wanted to fight Catholic policies from the inside, Fluke was a ringer, and the Democrats wanted to use her to distract from their deeply unpopular plan to bulldoze religious liberty.
When Rush Limbaugh went overboard mocking Fluke's arguments to the point where he suggested she was a "slut," the Democrats leapt into action. So did the mainstream press. Fluke became a national martyr, treated with kid gloves by nearly every outlet. The same Katrina vanden Heuvel who mocked the "distraction" of Hilary Rosen anointed Fluke a "profile in courage" who "speaks for millions of women who won't allow Rush Limbaugh to silence their voice with his vile viciousness."
The Democratic Party raised millions off Fluke from the ginned-up controversy. Limbaugh was denounced in Congress. Allegedly pro-free speech left-wing celebrities started demanding the FCC permanently censor Limbaugh by revoking his broadcast license. After all, Limbaugh had tried to "silence people that are speaking out for women," in the words of Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.).
Funny how all of the "distraction" and "manufactured controversy" talk starts when Republicans are benefiting from a distraction.
Now, you might complain that Limbaugh is a much bigger deal than Hilary Rosen -- and that's true. Limbaugh is vastly more influential and important than Rosen. But he's also not a professional Republican like Rosen is for Democrats (if you actually listened to Limbaugh's show you'd know that). She's visited the White House some 35 times and is a business partner with Anita Dunn, the former White House communications director.
Regardless, the point is that the controversy over Limbaugh's comments (for which he rightly apologized) was wholly and completely a distraction from the relevant issues. Heck, his Fluke comments were a distraction from the distraction from the relevant issues.
And let me say a word in defense of distractions. Elections are about what voters want them to be about. Rosen's comments, for instance, may have been hyped by the Romney campaign, but the hype wouldn't have mattered if the comments didn't resonate with the public.
My complaint isn't about distractions, it's about the press's tendency to treat controversies that help Republicans as "distractions" and ones that hurt Republicans as Very Serious Issues.
And the pattern continues. This week, the Romney campaign is rightly distancing itself from some idiotic comments by rocker Ted Nugent. On cue, Andrea Mitchell -- who seems to cover Republicans like they're from some foreign land, oddly fitting for NBC's "chief foreign affairs correspondent" -- is happily distracted by the story. When Bill Maher, HBO's criminally unfunny and obtuse jester (and million-dollar Obama super-PAC donor) says something idiotic, it's a meaningless distraction.
It's nothing new, of course. (Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers were preemptively deemed "distractions" by the media.) But it is annoying.
The war in Afghanistan is remote from most Americans -- as it is for most Australians, who also have troops there. As it happens, however, it is a little closer to home for me than it is for most people. For what interest that may have, I mention it in the most recent entry on my personal blog.
Russia to NATO: Stay in Afghanistan: "Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov urged NATO to keep its forces in Afghanistan beyond President Barack Obama's 2014 deadline for withdrawing from the decade-old war. 'As long as Afghanistan is not able to ensure by itself the security in the country, the artificial timelines of withdrawal are not correct and they should not be set,' Mr. Lavrov said during a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council in Brussels today. That appeal comes, ironically, just days after Lavrov's boss, President-elect Vladimir Putin, called NATO a 'relic of the cold war,' and suggested it be disbanded."
Obama to renominate Republican to nuclear panel (because she's a woman): "President Barack Obama will renominate Republican Kristine Svinicki to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, defying opposition from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a White House official told Reuters on Thursday. Republicans want Svinicki, whose term as a commissioner expires in June, to stay on the panel and believe the process is being held up because she, along with three other commission members, accused the current NRC chairman, a Democrat, of bullying women."
There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.
Chris has surpassed himself in his tendency to speak the unspeakable this time by asking if Norway killer Breivik is a homosexual. It turns out that there is surprisingly good evidence that Breivik IS homosexual. It might be noted that Pim Fortuyn, the leading Dutch anti-immigrant activist (until he was shot by a Leftist), was also homosexual.
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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)
Posted by JR at 12:38 AM