Reagan Honored In New Year’s Parade

Reagan honored in New Year's paradeFor the first time in its 122-year history, the annual Rose Parade will include a presidential-themed float.

According to media reports, former President Ronald Reagan will be honored in the 2011 Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif. The float, which is 55 feet long and 26 feet high, commemorates the centennial of Regan's birth — he would have been 100 years old on Feb. 6, 2011.

CNN recently reported that the float boasts 11 photos that represent iconic moments in Reagan's life, a statue of the former film star and a sculpture of a bald eagle. In addition, the display will include 65,000 red roses. The 122nd edition of the New Year's Day parade follows the theme "Building Dreams, Friendships and Memories."

Reagan, who is considered by many conservatives to be one of the greatest presidents in United States history, has even garnered a great deal of attention from the current commander-in-chief. USA Today recently reported that President Barack Obama is reading The Role of a Lifetime, Lou Cannon's account of Reagan's presidency. Like Obama, Reagan inherited a bad economy and signed controversial legislation during his presidency.

Obama’s Minimum Wage Goals Under Fire

Obama's minimum wage goals under fireSeven states are set to raise their minimum wage on Jan. 1, which could give President Barack Obama the momentum he needs to increase the Federal minimum.

Obama has pledged to raise the Federal minimum wage from its current $7.25 level to $9.50 per hour by the end of 2011. Although the President has focused on other campaign goals, such as healthcare reform, financial regulation and stimulus packages, some experts believe that the wage increases on the state level will give Obama fuel to hit his target of $9.50 per hour.

However, a potential minimum wage increase has received harsh criticism from some finance specialists. Tad DeHaven, a budget analyst at the libertarian Cato Institute, told FOX News that the move would slow hiring and hurt investment by making states with lower wages more appealing to prospective businesses.

"The existence of the minimum wage is already inhibitive. Increasing it would just add insult to injury," DeHaven told the media outlet.

According to The Denver Post, some business leaders in Colorado are concerned about the upcoming wage increase — from $7.25 to $7.36 per hour. Pete Meersman, the president of the Colorado Restaurant Association, told the news provider that the change may cause employers to be more reluctant to hire, or they may decide to shift the cost to consumers. 

Resolutions, The Census, Madoff Victims And App Snooping

*How to keep your new year’s resolution. Forget willpower, the experts say. It doesn’t work. (How many of us have learned that lesson how many times?) Instead, try punishments and rewards. Give yourself an extra treat when you achieve a goal for a certain length of time. And a punishment, such as missing a favorite TV show, when you have one of those inevitable lapses. Plan all of this in advance. And most important of all, keep trying until you make that new behavior a habit.

*The Census confirms a free-market bias. The numbers are in and guess who’s getting more Congressmen? Not New York, it lost two. Not California; for the first time since 1920, it didn’t gain a new House seat. The low-tax, free-market states did the best, with Texas gaining four new seats, Florida two, and other mostly red states (Arizona, Georgia and South Carolina) gaining one. Are the tax-and-tax, spend-and-spend boys listening?

*Madoff trustee wins back a bunch of money. Did you see the settlement Irving Picard wrested from Barbara Picower, whose deceased husband had made a bundle by referring clients to Bernie Madoff? Widow Picower agreed to pay the Madoff victims $7.2 billion. Guess I shouldn’t begrudge the five thousand bucks an hour Picard gets paid (along with millions more for his law firm). Hard as it is to believe, he may be worth it. At least the Madoff victims probably say so.

*”Your Apps Are Watching You.” That’s the scary headline in a Dec. 18 article in The Wall Street Journal. Few devices know more about you than your smart phone, the investigators found. And they don’t keep it secret. “They are sharing this personal data widely and regularly,” the story says. If you value your privacy, check it out. You may decide to restrict your phone to making or receiving calls. What a novel idea!

–Chip Wood

Study Shows That Prayer Can Help Relieve Emotional Pain

Study shows that prayer can help relieve emotional painMillions of Americans who experience difficult emotions, such as sadness, fear and anger, often try to find a prescription medication or a doctor's diagnosis to alleviate their pain.

However, a sociologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that people who frequently pray find comfort from their emotional troubles. In his study, Shane Sharp interviewed dozens of victims of violent relationships who represented a wide range of the United States' population in educational, racial and geographic backgrounds.

Sharp discovered that individuals who were sad or angry benefited from prayer, in which they spoke to a source who they believed to be God. The study, which appears in the journal Social Psychology Quarterly, concluded that prayer helped many of the victims cope with their feelings in a positive manner.

"If they vented their anger to that abusive partner, the result was likely to be more violence," said Sharp. "But they could be angry at God while praying without fear of reprisal."

Sharp also found that praying served as a helpful distraction for many people. By folding their hands and concentrating on what to say to God, they were able to take a reprieve from their anxiety. He said that prayer is similar to an intimate conversation with a close friend or parent. 

Our Man Of The Year

As we reported yesterday, President Barack Obama is the 2010 “Most Admired Man In America,” according to a Gallup poll.

He was followed, in order, by former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, former African President Nelson Mandela and Microsoft founder Bill Gates. Interesting choices all, and they demonstrate one of two things. Either there is a dearth of people to admire or the masses are clueless about who these people really are.

Obama is a Marxist and former member of an American socialist party (a fact conveniently overlooked by the mainstream media) and a union tool who was not properly vetted, was ill-prepared and probably ineligible to hold the office of the President. Bush is a faux conservative One Worlder who bloated our government with social spending, stole our freedoms with the USA PATRIOT Act and other tyrannical legislation and embarked on a campaign of expanding empire America. Clinton is a serial adulterer, accused rapist, convicted perjurer and tool of the Bilderbergers. Nelson Mandela is a former terrorist — of course one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter (see Bill Ayers) — and long-time socialist whose claim to fame is he spent 27 years in prison and was subsequently given god-like status by Leftists and the mainstream media upon his release. Bill Gates is a One Worlder, Bilderberger and promoter of mass vaccination — something those brainwashed by Big Pharma propaganda and the mainstream media think is a good thing — who believes the world’s population should be reduced (of course, no Gates would ever turn up on a list of those to be reduced, just Smiths, Joneses, Taylors and some third world names we can’t spell or pronounce).

Reading about the poll got me to thinking: If Gallup polled me — which they didn’t, nor have they ever — who would I name? It took a while, but I decided on newly-elected Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky.

All he did was defeat the Republican establishment in the Kentucky Senate primary and then the whole political establishment in the November election. And he did so with a cool aplomb while being savagely attacked on spurious charges of racism and kookery, never raising his voice or looking the least bit defensive. Despite the rantings of mainstream Republicans like Michael Steele and Mitch McConnell and raving Leftists like Mara Liasson, Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann, Rand remained a statesman, responding to invective with rational, coherent arguments.

Here’s hoping Rand’s dad Ron Paul makes a run at the Presidency in 2012. If he’s unsuccessful, Rand will be primed and ready by 2016.

Will the New Congress Have the Guts to Do It?

Here we are on the final day of 2010. It’s a time of reflection, as we look back on the past 12 months and look ahead to the next 12. In fact, the month of January is named for the Roman god Janus who, thanks to two faces, was able to look forward and backward simultaneously.
                  
Looking back, I would have to say that the most pleasant surprise of 2010 was the astounding success of Tea Party candidates in the November elections. I’m still amazed that what began as a handful of rallies and occasionally uncivil “meet the candidate” meetings grew into a gigantic uprising against bloated, big-spending government.

Even as millions of newly aroused voters headed to the polls, the mainstream media continued to demonstrate how out-of-the-mainstream they really are, by dismissing the Tea Party as an insignificant bunch of racist malcontents.

But ignoring them didn’t work. And smearing them only caused their numbers to grow. By the evening of Nov. 3, the truth could no longer be denied — something new had happened in America. And a lot of the old guard, who had practiced “pork as usual” on Capitol Hill for many decades, found themselves swept out of office.
How sweet it was!

Ah, but while campaigning can be tough — the smears, the innuendos, the microscopic investigation of everything a candidate has ever said or done are enough to dissuade most mortals from ever running for office — actually doing what you promised can be even harder.

The 112th Congress will be sworn into office next week. Each and every Senator and Representative will take a solemn oath to “preserve and protect” the Constitution of the United States of America. Very soon thereafter we’ll see how many of them actually meant it.

Two key issues will come up almost at once. The first will be a new budget bill. As I’ve discussed in previous columns, nearly a dozen different appropriation bills were introduced in the last Congress. Not a single one of them passed.

So the Democrats in charge tried to pull off quite a stunt in the closing days of the recent and unlamented lame duck session. Senate Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and the White House agreed to combine everything they wanted into one gigantic 1,924 page legislative package. There was something in it for everyone. One columnist called it “one oozing ball of pork and bad policy, going beyond even the obscene budget of 2000.”

It was all of that and more. One of the bill’s sponsors was Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), who has proven many times that he is a wily and sly strategist. This time was no exception. As a “favor” to his Republican friends on the other side of the aisle, Inouye and his staff dug out every earmark request they could find that a Republican had ever requested. No matter if they had long since abandoned such pork; they decided to cram it all into the new bill.

Word is that by the time they got done there were more than 6,000 earmarks in the new legislation. No one knows the exact number, because by the time the Frankenstein’s monster came up for a vote, no one had had a chance to read it. Which was just how Reid and his cohorts wanted it.

Two of the toughest conservatives in the Senate — Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Jim DeMint of South Carolina — came up with a great stalling tactic, however. They proposed that before a vote could be taken on the measure, the entire thing — all 1,924 pages of it — had to be read out loud to the assembled Senators.

When he finally realized he didn’t have the votes to squash debate and ram the measure through, Sir Harry finally threw in the towel. Instead of Reid’s nearly 2,000 page monstrosity, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell introduced a one-page resolution that would maintain spending levels for all departments at then-current levels for the next 60 days. There would be no new increases (such as the billion bucks the Dems wanted so they could start funding ObamaCare). But no cuts, either — something almost every Republican had promised the folks back home.

Facing the inevitable, Reid allowed a vote on the measure. A majority quickly said “aye,” then headed home for the holidays. The House approved the measure later that day on a 193-165 vote. (Yes, I know that only adds up to 358 votes. What can I tell you? Seems that 77 of your representatives pleaded they had a plane to catch and left early.)

So the 111th Congress is now history. And a pretty sad one it is. The latest Gallup poll, taken in the final days of the lame-duck session, showed that the approval rating of Congress hit an all-time low of 13 percent. Is there any profession anywhere in more disrepute?

What happens next? We’re about to find out, folks. Look for the fireworks to start soon after the new Congress takes their seats next week.

Among the many issues they’ll have to address fairly soon is raising the debt ceiling once again. Even without any new spending, total U.S. public debt continues to grow by more than $100 billion a month. This means it will approach the mandated limit of $14.3 trillion sometime in March. If Congress does not agree to raise the ceiling, the Treasury will not be able to continue issuing new debt.

I can already hear the near-hysteria in the popular press about what refusing to raise the debt ceiling would mean. After all, we have to keep the government operating, don’t we? We can’t have an “emergency” shut down of vital government services, can we?

One congressman you know is going to stand fast is Dr. Ron Paul of Texas. A few days ago, he issued this blunt warning:

“If the new Congress gives in to establishment pressure and media alarmism about shutting down the government by voting to increase the debt ceiling once again, you will know that the status quo has prevailed. You will know that Congress, despite the rhetoric of the midterm elections, is doing business as usual. You will know that the simple notion of balancing the budget by limiting federal spending to federal revenue remains a shallow and laughable campaign platitude.”

As you can see, the lines in the sand are already being drawn. I’ll be reporting on many of the battles in future columns. But for now, let me ask you something: In the coming contests, which side will your congressman be on? If you don’t know the answer — or even who he or she is — you’re not part of the solution. You’re part of the problem.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Tougher Immigration Proposals On Deck As Republicans Gain Power In 2011

Tougher immigration proposals on deck as Republicans gain power in 2011Lawmakers in several states have plans to propose immigration laws that are similar to Arizona's stringent policies.

Republican gains in the midterm elections have paved the way for many conservative legislators to draft bills that match or go further than the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act (Arizona Senate Bill 1070), which makes it a misdemeanor crime for an immigrant to be in the Grand Canyon State without carrying the required proof-of-citizenship documents. It also allows law enforcement officials to take action against individuals who shelter, hire or transport illegal immigrants.

According to Bloomberg, Oklahoma State Representative Randy Terrill (R-Moore) is preparing a bill that would allow authorities to seize and keep the vehicle of anyone found to be harboring a passenger who is an illegal alien. Lawmakers in Missouri and Mississippi are crafting bills that would enact a "probable cause" provision, which is similar to the measure found in SB1070 that allows authorities to ask individuals who they suspect to be in the country illegally for proper documentation.

On a national level, a new Republican-led House of Representatives will likely lead to tougher immigration proposals in Congress. According to the Los Angeles Times, Representative Peter King (R-N.Y.), who will serve as the next chair of the Homeland Security Committee, plans to propose legislation that will reverse what he calls an "obvious lack of urgency" by President Barack Obama to secure the nation's borders. 

Obama Praises Eagles For Hiring Ex-Con Vick

Obama praises Eagles for hiring ex-con VickPresident Barack Obama has praised NFL team owner Jeffrey Lurie for employing Michael Vick, who served an 18-month prison sentence for his involvement in a dog-fighting ring before returning to play for the Philadelphia Eagles.

According to Sports Illustrated, the President commended Lurie during a recent phone conversation, saying that "it's never a level playing field for prisoners when they get out of jail." Obama told Lurie that Vick's success on a national stage shows that criminals who serve their debt to society should receive a second chance.

On Dec. 27, the Obama administration confirmed the conversation between the President and Lurie. Bill Burton, a White House spokesman, said that Obama condemns the crimes that Vick was convicted of, but he believes that individuals who have paid for their crimes should have another opportunity to contribute to society.

Burton also told media outlets that the primary reason for Obama's phone call was to discuss alternative-energy sources used at the team's stadium. Ezra Klein of The Washington Post has criticized the administration for spinning the initial context of the call in an effort to quell any public backlash regarding Obama's comments about Vick.

"For the White House to now say that the call was really about energy efficiency in stadium design both makes Obama look a bit Carteresque — does he really have time to be worrying about the energy efficiency of football stadiums? — and blunts whatever impact the call itself could have had," Klein wrote. "That was a call either worth making or not worth making, but it definitely wasn't worth making if the President wasn't willing to stand behind it." 

Political Connections With Other Countries

The United States now has hundreds of military bases and tens of thousands of troops stationed around the globe. U.S. State Department cables released by WikiLeaks reveal that U.S. diplomats pressure foreign governments to do the bidding of U.S. corporatocracy, and threaten retaliation if they don’t comply.

This is a far cry from the type of foreign policy our Founders envisioned.

In a 1775 letter to Patrick Henry, George Washington wrote: "My ardent desire is, and my aim has been… to comply strictly with all our engagements foreign and domestic; but to keep the United States free from political connections with every other country. To see that they may be independent of all, and under the influence of none. In a word, I want an American character, that the powers of Europe may be convinced we act for ourselves and not for others; this, in my judgment, is the only way to be respected abroad and happy at home."

Instead, the U.S. is a servant of its global corporatist masters and is neither respected abroad nor happy at home.

We need a leader willing to step up and begin to disengage us from foreign entanglements.