Truth In The Guardian. We Are Indeed In The End Times

Give Peace A Chance? No Way.

It is the Palestinian leadership’s rejection of the Barak-Clinton peace proposals of July-December 2000, the launching of the intifada, and the demand ever since that Israel accept the “right of return” that has persuaded me that the Palestinians, at least in this generation, do not intend peace: they do not want, merely, an end to the occupation – that is what was offered back in July-December 2000, and they rejected the deal. They want all of Palestine and as few Jews in it as possible. The right of return is the wedge with which to prise open the Jewish state. Demography – the far higher Arab birth rate – will, over time, do the rest, if Iranian or Iraqi nuclear weapons don’t do the trick first.

DeFazio pitches Social Security changes at meeting

By Les Gehrett Albany Democrat-Herald

U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio shared his plan to stabilize the nation’s Social Security system at a town hall meeting in Albany that drew more than 60 people Tuesday night. He started the meeting by reassuring seniors that the system is not broke and will continue honoring its current obligations. “We’ve been talking about the looming problem of Social Security for a number of years. Social Security’s current finances are sound,” DeFazio said. But he said the system will run into serious problems in about 37 years. Projections show that by that time the system will have used up all its reserves and will be on a “pay-as-you-go” basis.

Because of an aging population, the amount of benefits due then will outstrip the amount of money coming in by approximately 25 to 30 percent.

Problem #1: The system is already “pay-as-you-go” Money comes in and is immediately sent out to current recipients. The remainder is put into a”trust fund” where it is exchanged for Treasury notes that are used to pay down the national debt. There is nothing in the “trust fund” except I.O.U.’s from the Treasury backed by the government’s taxing power.

DeFazio said proposals to privatize part of Social Security — by allowing people to invest a portion of their Social Security dollars — will only make the situation worse because it will draw money away from paying current obligations and will hasten the day when all the reserves are gone.

So, the system is sound but could be driven into problems by people wanting to invest their own money.

He proposes to solve the problem by eliminating the cap on earnings subject to the payroll tax. Currently, income above $84,900 is not taxed for Social Security.

Oh, another “tax the guy behind the tree” plan. Will these higher tax payers also be entitled to higher pensions?

DeFazio would make the first $4,000 in income exempt from social security, but would make all remaining wages subject to the tax, no matter how high the income. This change would bring in a vast amount of new revenue to the Social Security system and make it solvent until at least 2076.

At which time he would be safely out of office and it would be someone else’s problem

DeFazio would use the new income to increase some Social Security benefits. He would also support allowing the Social Security system’s trustees to invest some of the money in order to increase returns and further extend the solvency of the system.

Oh, Good. Social Security Trustees get to invest our tax money in their friend’s businesses. This couldn’t possibly be used to steer money into some politicians’ pet projects could it?

Albany City Councilor Dick Olsen applauded DeFazio’s plan and asked how much support it had in Congress. “I wish I could tell you there was a groundswell of support,” DeFazio said, but he acknowledged that not many of his fellow representatives had signed off on the idea.

It only has support among DeFazio’s “progressive” caucus because it is the same plan they have been trying to sell for the past twenty years.

State Rep. Jeff Kropf, R-Halsey, said he appreciated DeFazio’s efforts to be creative and flexible in thinking about the problem. But he strongly disagreed with the idea of eliminating the income limit on payroll taxes. “My concern is that a person of upper income whose entire income was taxed, would never begin to receive this money back. That creates class warfare and inequity in taxing,” Kropf said.

That’s interesting, DeFazio is a U.S. Rep., Mr. Olsen is an Albany City Councilor, but Jeff Kropf is not only a State Rep. he is an R-Halsey. Nope, no Democrats here.

Kropf said he was interested in pursuing privatization ideas and noted that such a system was working fairly well in Chile and could be done better here. DeFazio questions the wisdom of private retirement accounts because they would increase the administrative costs of the system, and because individual investments could go wrong and leave the retiree in a bad financial position.

Actually DeFazio questions the wisdom of any private system. He believes that the important questions should be left to bureaucrats.

I’ll Tell You What, Kofi. You Donate Your Salary.

AIDS Fund Falls Short of Goal and U.S. Is Given Some Blame

Nine months after Secretary General Kofi Annan called on wealthy nations to contribute at least $7 billion a year to a global fund to fight AIDS, donations have fallen far short of that goal. Advocates and some lawmakers blame the White House, saying its pledge of $200 million this year sets a poor example for other countries.

First We have an editorial in the Oregonian extolling the virtues of Enron whistleblower Sherron Watkins

A big round of applause for Sherron Watkins. The Enron vice president has done her coworkers and the country a commendable public service.

She tried to help save her employer.

It nearly cost her her job.

Then We have the treatment of another whistleblower,Linda Tripp by the SF Chronicle and USA Today.

LINDA TRIPP, whose betrayal of Monica Lewinsky set up President Clinton for the Republican-driven House impeachment, thinks the country owes her a living for being a palace tattletale.

February 12, 2002

Don’t confirm Pickering: Appeals court nominee carries too much baggage
A Register-Guard Editorial

Charles Pickering, a federal trial judge in Mississippi and now President Bush’s nominee for the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, has become something of a political lightning rod.

This, of course, is the intent of the Democrats. Any nominee submitted that will not pass muster with the far-left wing of the party will be vigorously opposed.

Civil rights and pro-choice advocates strongly oppose his nomination. Some Democrats are raising questions about a possible violation of the judicial canon of ethics because of a phone call Pickering made to one party in a 1994 trial over a cross-burning incident.

If the editor had taken the time to get the details of what transpired, this might not have been such a big deal. The Reno Justice Department had cut a deal with the other two defendants which allowed them to avoid long sentences even though at least one of them was the clear ringleader. Judge Pickering called the Justice Dept to ask why his requests for information were not being answered.

Conservatives and, most particularly, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss.,(obligatory bogey-man alert) strongly support the nominee as a principled, courageous judge.

On the civil rights front, Pickering’s opponents have reached back to 1959,
when Pickering was a law student and wrote a three-page note for the school’s
law review, pointing out flaws in Mississippi’s anti-miscegenation law
prohibiting marriages between blacks and whites. The note said that the law was
vulnerable unless the state legislature made changes. The suggested changes
were made.

Flash! Editor to U of O Law School: Law students will no longer be allowed to criticize laws they disagree with.

Questions have also been raised (good way to get a slam in without attributing it to anyone.) about an alleged connection in the 1960s to the notorious Mississippi Sovereignty Commission, which sought to maintain segregation in the state. Pickering has said he had no contact with the commission, but a document disclosed in 1998 showed that, as a state senator, he asked a commission official to inform him of labor unrest in his home county.

It is of no importance that the labor union in question was controlled by members of the Ku Klux Klan and were intimidating black employees.

And, finally, Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., raised the ethics issue relating to the phone call.

Though exactly whether a millionaire trial-lawyer has any standing to talk about ethics is not clear.

Pickering’s supporters told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Pickering was not and had never been a racist and that it was unfair to reach back 40 years to find fault. Others (we won’t talk about them. It would weaken our argument). said the judge had helped, not hindered, the recruitment of black Mississippians to run for public office. And Pickering himself testified at the committee’s confirmation hearing that he didn’t consider his phone call to the U.S. Justice Department to complain about a mandatory five-year sentence for the cross-burner to be a violation of judicial ethics.

The Pickering nomination is seen as a precursor to later Bush nominees to the federal bench. With Democrats in control of the Senate and willing to use any pretext to smear his nominees, the president would do well – for himself and for the country – to choose middle-of-the-road (not an overt Socialist) nominees and not conservative ideologues (liberal ideologues are O.K.). Lott’s support for Pickering will certainly help the nominee on the political front, but what’s at stake here is the judiciary, not hometown buddies and political cronies (Unless they’re OUR hometown buddies and loyal Democratic party cronies.)

Charles Pickering’s background suggests a mixed view on race, an inability to bow to the tenents of political correctness, a strong opposition to women’s right to choose an abortion even post-term abortion in Andrea Yate’s case , a possible fib about his connection to the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission (That’s right! The Sovereignty Commission was comprised of good Democrats and it is never, never allowable to oppose Democrats.) and a relaxed view of judicial ethics (I like that. Ethical millionaire trial lawyer politician. Are you guys really writing for South Park?). None of that adds up to a good reason to put him on the appeals court that covers Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. If anything, it adds up to a reason to reject his nomination. The Senate should do just that.

The interesting thing is, that there have been some very good rebuttals to this editorial published before it was written. (Supposing, of course, that it was actually written by the newspaper editors and not spoon-fed to them.)

James Charles Evers, the brother of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers, wrote a in depth rebuttal to all these charges in the Wall Street Journal. Of course, reading that would entail reading publications that are not on the party approved reading list. It would also require giving credence to a black man who has clearly left the confines of the Democratic plantation. My already low opinion of the Register-Guard has not been helped by this editorial.