Because you can't spell-check a banner:
Ironically, the final round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee is tonight.
It was a Perry Mason moment updated for the Internet age.Don't bother heading over to Dr. Flea Blog - it's been wiped cleaner than a surgery room floor.
As Ivy League-educated pediatrician Robert P. Lindeman sat on the stand in Suffolk Superior Court this month, defending himself in a malpractice suit involving the death of a 12-year-old patient, the opposing counsel startled him with a question.
Who was Lindeman Flea?
Flea, jurors in the case didn't know, was the screen name for a blogger who had written often and at length about a trial remarkably similar to the one that was going on in the courtroom that day.
In his blog, Flea had ridiculed the plaintiff's case and the plaintiff's lawyer. He had revealed the defense strategy. He had accused members of the jury of dozing.With the jury looking on in puzzlement, Lindeman admitted that he was, in fact, Flea.
The next morning, on May 15, he agreed to pay what members of Boston's tight-knit legal community describe as a substantial settlement -- case closed.
Modern accounting requires that corporations, state governments and local governments count expenses immediately when a transaction occurs, even if the payment will be made later.It's the new math! According to the federal government, if you lend yourself money you've doubled your assets because you have 1.) the cash and 2.) the I.O.U. to yourself. And if you wonder why I agitate over this issue so much, here's why:
The federal government does not follow the rule, so promises for Social Security and Medicare don't show up when the government reports its financial condition.
Bottom line: Taxpayers are now on the hook for a record $59.1 trillion in liabilities, a 2.3% increase from 2006. That amount is equal to $516,348 for every U.S. household. By comparison, U.S. households owe an average of $112,043 for mortgages, car loans, credit cards and all other debt combined.
This hidden debt is the amount taxpayers would have to pay immediately to cover government's financial obligations. Like a mortgage, it will cost more to repay the debt over time. Every U.S. household would have to pay about $31,000 a year to do so in 75 years.How can we possibly continue with this accounting fiction?
The White House and the Congressional Budget Office oppose the change, arguing that the programs are not true liabilities because the government can cancel or cut them.Ha ha ha!!!! Oh, heavens.
But no, she's not, not an attention whore, and it's never been all about her. Which is why she uses the personal pronouns "I" and "me" no less than 59 times in her little blog post. Her one 'moment of clarity' seems to exhibit itself in her choice of title for this regurgitation.Once the media backed away from Sheehan's cuddle sessions with Hugo Chavez and her lengthening list of Leftist causes, there was no use in carrying on. Seek professional help, Cindy, you're free now.
My dedication to this sacred duty is total and wholehearted.Arlington Cemetery - Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
In the responsibility bestowed on me never will I falter.
And with dignity and perseverance my standard will remain perfection.
Through the years of diligence and praise and the discomfort of the elements,
I will walk my tour in humble reverence to the best of my ability.
It is he who commands the respect I protect.
His bravery that made us so proud.
Surrounded by well meaning crowds by day alone in the thoughtful peace of night,
this soldier will in honored glory rest under my eternal vigilance.
In 1983, a presidential commission recommended that Social Security benefits be taxed. The recommendation became law in 1984. At the time, few retirees were affected because benefits were only to be taxed when other sources of income were quite high. With the initial income level set at $25,000 for a single return and $32,000 for a joint return, it was expected that only 1 percent of beneficiaries would pay anything .When taxes are geared to capture "only the rich" (think alternative minimum tax), eventually the dragnet hits everybody.
But there was a catch. The income levels weren't indexed to inflation. As inflation and economic growth increased the level of benefits for future retirees, more retirees would pay the tax.
Just last week, State Police Lieutenant James A. Jones noticed a man trying to pull his dress shirt over his head, then continuing a wardrobe change, all while driving on Route 24. "I was about to turn on my blue lights when he stands up," Jones said. "He's taking off his pants."On my long commute, I thought I'd seen it all.
This important matter -- far more important than the promises -- is to fix Social Security. Here's a program absolutely vital in the lives of tens of millions, a program that is explicitly the responsibility of these congressional malingerers and a program that is in such a bad way financially that there won't be enough revenues to finance all the benefits just a decade out.Jay Ambrose writes that the Democratic Congress has done "nothing" which is unfair because they've passed 26 laws since the election dealing with very important matters.
Do nothing about it, and along with Medicare it will eventually swallow the budget whole. Wait to act until the crisis is at hand, and the options will all be ghastly tricks on a trusting public.
The fruits of Carter's spinelessness, says scholar Steven Hayward, have been bitter. The fall of Iran, he observes, "set in motion the advance of radical Islam and the rise of terrorism that culminated in Sept. 11." By doing nothing to prevent the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Carter invited an evil from which grew the jihadist violence that is such a menace today."Nothing?" What about boycotting the Moscow Olympics? That show'd em!
American liberals need to face these truths: The demand for self-government was and remains strong in Iraq despite all our mistakes and the violent efforts of al Qaeda, Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias to disrupt it. Al Qaeda in particular has targeted for abduction and murder those who are essential to a functioning democracy: school teachers, aid workers, private contractors working to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure, police officers and anyone who cooperates with the Iraqi government. Much of Iraq's middle class has fled the country in fear.Suddenly Joe Lieberman isn't so lonely anymore.
With these facts on the scales, what does your conscience tell you to do? If the answer is nothing, that it is not our responsibility or that this is all about oil, then no wonder today we Democrats are not trusted with the reins of power. American lawmakers who are watching public opinion tell them to move away from Iraq as quickly as possible should remember this: Concessions will not work with either al Qaeda or other foreign fighters who will not rest until they have killed or driven into exile the last remaining Iraqi who favors democracy.
"Worst in history," as the great statesman from Georgia has to know, has been the title for which he has himself been actively contending since 1976. I once had quite an argument with the late Sen. Eugene McCarthy, who maintained adamantly that it had been right for him to vote for Ronald Reagan in 1980 for no other reason. "Mr. Carter," he said, "quite simply abdicated the whole responsibility of the presidency while in office. He left the nation at the mercy of its enemies at home and abroad. He was the worst president we ever had."Eugene McCarthy said that? And here Hitchens details how Carter's foreign policy action was worse than his inaction:
It was he who had created the conditions for the Gulf crisis in the first place - initially by fawning on the shah of Iran and then, when that option collapsed, by encouraging Saddam Hussein to invade Iran and by "tilting" American policy to his side. If I had done such a thing, I would take very good care to be modest when discussions of Middle Eastern crises came up. But here's the thing about self-righteous, born-again demagogues: Nothing they ever do, or did, can be attributed to anything but the very highest motives.Anything else?
It was because, whether in Afghanistan, Iran, or Iraq - still the source of so many of our woes - the Carter administration could not tell a friend from an enemy. His combination of naivete and cynicism - from open-mouthed shock at Leonid Brezhnev's occupation of Afghanistan to underhanded support for Saddam in his unsleeping campaign of megalomania - had terrible consequences that are with us still. It's hardly an exaggeration to say that every administration since has had to deal with the chaotic legacy of Carter's mind-boggling cowardice and incompetence.Damn. In retrospect, it was hardly a surprise that the Iranian hostages were released after 444 days in captivity. After all, a new President was coming in - a cowboy - and the Ayatollah had no way of knowing how America's new leadership would respond to this lingering international embarrassment. With Carter, there was no need for such concern.
In a separate statement, Iran's intelligence ministry alleged that the 67-year-old grandmother, director of the Middle East program at the Smithsonian's Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, was involved in activities trying to foment a soft revolution.Presumably with comfy throw pillows and home-baked chocolate chip cookies.
The growing divide between the rich and poor in America is more generation gap than class conflict, according to a USA TODAY analysis of federal government data. The rich are getting richer, but what's received little attention is who these rich people are. Overwhelmingly, they're older folks.And yet we dare not touch a federal program formed in 1935, two months after Babe Ruth retired from baseball.
Nearly all additional wealth created in the USA since 1989 has gone to people 55 and older, according to Federal Reserve data. Wealth has doubled since 1989 in households headed by older Americans.
Not so for younger Americans. Households headed by people in their 20s, 30s and 40s have barely kept up with inflation or have fallen behind since 1989. People 35 to 50 actually have lost wealth since 1989 after adjusting for inflation, Fed data show.
The implications are far-reaching and can turn conventional wisdom on its head. Social Security and Medicare increasingly are functioning as a transfer of money from less affluent young people to much wealthier older people.Translation: the economic disparity will only widen as more government resources are poured into Medicare and Social Security. The discretionary portion of the federal budget currently stands at 38% of all outlays. Every year that goes by without entitlement reform means that mandatory spending will force down all that spending we call the "government." Soon all that will be left is interest on the federal debt, Social Security, Medicare, and some Homeland Security walkie-talkies.
Because the older generation hasn't set aside enough money to cover promised government benefits, young people will have to make up the difference or older people will face benefit cuts. The financial shortfalls of Social Security and Medicare over the next 75 years are so large - $340,000 per household - that they dwarf the wealth of every age group. This hidden debt will make it a challenge for young people to accumulate as much wealth late in life as their parents have.
America's Social Security system is on exceptionally shaky footing. Don't just take my word for it. Based on data from the Social Security Administration, it will:And why not hold a minimum-wage job, Grandpa? Social Security was started in part because the elderly couldn't perform the physical labor (e.g. farming, mining) of Depression-era jobs. Now everything is computers and telephones.
- Begin paying out more than it takes in as revenues in 2017.
- Exhaust its "trust fund" in 2041.
- Require $4.7 trillion in extra revenue to pay estimated benefits for the next 75 years.
Sound like a program that will meet the retirement needs of anyone from Generation X or beyond? Didn't think so. Even if further tax hikes, economic growth, or benefit changes keep the system somewhat solvent, the fact is that it was never much of a retirement plan to begin with. Based on the most recently available data, the average Social Security benefit received by a retiree's family is $1,097.95 per month -- $13,175.40 per year. That's less than a full-time, minimum-wage job in some states.
During the Cold War, two things came to be known and generally recognized in the Middle East concerning the two rival superpowers. If you did anything to annoy the Russians, punishment would be swift and dire. If you said or did anything against the Americans, not only would there be no punishment; there might even be some possibility of reward, as the usual anxious procession of diplomats and politicians, journalists and scholars and miscellaneous others came with their usual pleading inquiries: "What have we done to offend you? What can we do to put it right?"IIRC, one of Osama Bin Laden's propaganda tapes alleged that the Americans wouldn't fight back because we didn't have the stomach to commit ground troops and he cited high-altitude bombing of Bosnia as proof. The reaction to 9/11 was a miscalculation:
A few examples may suffice. During the troubles in Lebanon in the 1970s and '80s, there were many attacks on American installations and individuals--notably the attack on the Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, followed by a prompt withdrawal, and a whole series of kidnappings of Americans, both official and private, as well as of Europeans. There was only one attack on Soviet citizens, when one diplomat was killed and several others kidnapped. The Soviet response through their local agents was swift, and directed against the family of the leader of the kidnappers. The kidnapped Russians were promptly released, and after that there were no attacks on Soviet citizens or installations throughout the period of the Lebanese troubles.
Stage One of the jihad was to drive the infidels from the lands of Islam; Stage Two--to bring the war into the enemy camp, and the attacks of 9/11 were clearly intended to be the opening salvo of this stage. The response to 9/11, so completely out of accord with previous American practice, came as a shock, and it is noteworthy that there has been no successful attack on American soil since then. The U.S. actions in Afghanistan and in Iraq indicated that there had been a major change in the U.S., and that some revision of their assessment, and of the policies based on that assessment, was necessary.If the war in Iraq is intolerable to some (nobody really complains about Afghanistan) then we need to ask whether we're willing to accept periodic terrorist attacks on civilian and military targets (e.g. USS Cole). The conflict remains either way.
More recent developments, and notably the public discourse inside the U.S., are persuading increasing numbers of Islamist radicals that their first assessment was correct after all, and that they need only to press a little harder to achieve final victory. It is not yet clear whether they are right or wrong in this view. If they are right, the consequences--both for Islam and for America--will be deep, wide and lasting.
Slow progress toward an acceptable modus vivendi may still be possible as long as the U.S. doesn't insist on artificial timetables to resolve complex and emotional issues. What incentive do Iraqi politicians have to make compromises if they think that American troops are heading out the door? If that's the case, Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds would be well advised to avoid making any concessions that would strengthen their mortal enemies. Thus all the talk in Washington about troop withdrawals has the opposite effect from what is intended. Instead of spurring Iraqi politicians to compromise, it leads them to be more obdurate.Well, I have a take-home exam to do this week, so excuse me if blogging is light. Please, scattered readers and wayward Google searchers, check out some of the blogs to the left to fill your content needs.
It's still possible to stave off catastrophic defeat in Iraq. But the only way to do it is to give Gen. Petraeus and his troops more time--at least another year--to try to change the dynamics on the ground. The surge strategy may be a long shot but every alternative is even worse.
Over the next 25 years, NASI [National Academy of Social Insurance] says, the amount of pre-retirement income replaced by Social Security is expected to fall for a number of reasons:Youngsters, pay heed:
More retirees will have to pay income tax on their Social Security benefits. In 1983, lawmakers decided retirees whose total income was at least $25,000 (or $32,000 for those filing jointly) would have to pay income tax on a portion of their benefits. Those income levels are not adjusted for inflation.
Also, while Social Security payments are adjusted for cost of living every year, Medicare premiums, which are paid out of your Social Security check, have been rising faster than inflation.
Finally for those born in 1960 and beyond, the retirement age is 67 - the age when new retirees would be eligible for full Social Security benefits. So if a worker has to retire earlier and start collecting benefits - as many do - that will reduce his monthly paycheck.
For those in their 20's, 30's and 40's, you can bank on this: whatever changes are decided, you'll either end up paying more for the benefits promised or you'll receive less of them, or, possibly, both.What a great program! Thank heaven they made it mandatory otherwise people might have the temerity to save their own money.
The father of one of the six men charged with plotting to massacre soldiers at Fort Dix says the business that he's nurtured near the base for years is all but ruined since his son's arrest.Cry me a river, Muslim.
Muslim Tatar, who has owned Super Mario's Pizza for five years, said his lunchtime crowd from nearby McGuire Air Force Base and Fort Dix has largely disappeared, replaced by empty tables and nasty words from passing motorists.
"Now I am a target," Tatar, 52, said, adding that his business is "99 percent dead."
"The more you fail, the more money they throw at you," he said. "We're filthy rich; I don't want any more of your money. Send me quality teachers."Found via Betsy who has much more on the state of education reform.
African countries sparked outrage yesterday after they nominated President Robert Mugabe's regime for the leadership of a United Nations body charged with protecting the environment and promoting development.Well, if you hate modern technology, you'll love the Zimbabwe model:
Zimbabwe, which is enduring economic collapse and environmental degradation, could become chairman of the UN's Commission on Sustainable Development when a formal vote of its 53 members takes place today.
Zimbabwe's economy is collapsing, with inflation of 2,200 per cent - the highest in the world. Households can expect just four hours of electricity a day. This has encouraged deforestation, with large areas being stripped of wood for light and heating. Mr Nhema, 48, benefited from Mr Mugabe's wholesale seizure of white-owned land. The minister, who was educated at Strathclyde University, was handed Nyamanda farm near Karoi, a once thriving enterprise producing tobacco and maize. Most of its 2,500 acres are now lying idle.That makes it easier to sustain.
Sometimes politicians get things upside down. They ignore problems that are plainly staring them in the face, while they focus on dangers that are at best speculative.Politicians love to be green because it's an accessible, feel-good religion to so many Americans that doesn't require any real sacrifice. But Social Security reform requires sacrifice now and later, therefore it's best to leave the problem to future legislatures:
Consider two long-range issues that are not pressing matters this year but pose, or are said to pose, threats a generation or two away. One of them you don't hear much about: Social Security. The other you hear about all the time: global warming. Yet this gets things upside down. We have an unusually precise knowledge of the problems that Social Security will cause in the future. But we don't know with anything like precision what a continuation of the current mild increase in temperatures will mean.
The politicians resist fixing Social Security because the short-term costs are well understood by voters and the long-term benefits, while clear to actuaries, are invisible to voters because no one is decrying them with religious intensity. The politicians sprint to address global warming because the short-term costs are unknown to voters and the long-term benefits, while unclear in the extreme to those who rely on science, are portrayed in apocalyptic terms by the prophet Al Gore. Democracy isn't perfect.That's just pouring salt in the wound, Barone, by mentioning Al Gore and the defects of democracy. Ouch.
According to my calendar, just four months from now we will be marking the sixth anniversary of the biggest terrorist attack in history and the worst attack of any kind on American soil.Our "ally" Pakistan has been useless in the search for Bin Laden, but we dare not upset the only Muslim nation with a nuclear bomb.
The mastermind of and inspiration for that attack is Osama bin Laden.
Yet, he still has not been captured or killed.
If there is one man in this world I do not want to see die of natural causes, it is bin Laden. And I think most Americans would agree with that.
Cars and trucks are getting more fuel-efficient, and that's good news for drivers. But it's a headache for state highway officials, who depend on gasoline taxes to build and maintain roads.George Will has written about how the federal and state governments are so dependent on cigarette tax revenues that the fabric of government would unravel if people suddenly stopped smoking. This is the legacy of a continuous mad-grab for taxes and the unexpected consequences when people change their behavior (unfortunately?) for the better.
The Federal Highway Administration estimates that by 2009 the tax receipts that make up most of the federal highway trust fund will be $21 billion shy of what's needed just to maintain existing roads, much less build new roads or add capacity. Trying to compensate for highway-budget shortfalls, a handful of states are exploring other, potentially more lucrative ways to raise highway money.
In the heady opening weeks of the 110th Congress, the Democrats' domestic agenda appeared to be flying through the Capitol: Homeland security upgrades, a higher minimum wage and student loan interest rate cuts all passed with overwhelming bipartisan support.Nevertheless, thank heaven they caught Alberto Gonzales mis-stating why he fired eight district attorneys. Remember back when the Attorney General wouldn't survive the week? Good times...good times.
But now that initial progress has foundered as Washington policymakers have been consumed with the debate over the Iraq war. Not a single priority on the Democrats' agenda has been enacted, and some in the party are growing nervous that the "do nothing" tag they slapped on Republicans last year could come back to haunt them.
The number of children below 15 in the nation came to 17.38 million as of April 1 for the 26th straight year of decline, accounting for a record-low 13.6% of the population, according to an internal affairs ministry population estimate released Friday.Here's a BBC story from two years ago:
The decline in Japan's birth rate is so severe they have invented a word for it - 'shoshika', meaning a society without children.Ironically, one of the things that may save America's bacon when it comes to entitlement spending is a large influx of immigrants who are leaving Europe and Asia to escape oppressive tax rates.
Unless women here start having more babies, the population in Japan is expected to shrink more than 20% by the middle of this century. Nearly half would be elderly, placing impossible burdens on the health and pension systems.
Iranian president Dinner Jacket just isn't happy unless he can outlaw something every day. Today, it's "Western-style haircuts" whatever that means.
Maybe it was a slip of the tongue. But, when Nancy Pelosi confessed last year that she felt "sad" about President Bush's claims that Al Qaeda operates in Iraq, she seemed to be disputing what every American soldier in Iraq, every Al Qaeda operative, and anyone who reads a newspaper already knew to be true.Hat tip and more background from Gateway Pundit.
The leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq has reportedly been killed in a firefight today.What a coincidence! Rev up those conspiracy machines, kidz.
Abu Ayyub al-Masri died in an "internal battle" between militants near a bridge in northern Baghdad, the Iraqi interior ministry said.
If true, the death would represent a huge blow for the Islamic fundamentalist organisation. The United States had regarded al-Masri as the number one threat to the stability of Iraq, and placed a $5 million bounty on his head.