Reading is Fundamental
Ted Kennedy says he needs more time to review Judge Terrence Boyle’s district court rulings before allowing him his due up-or-down vote.
More time? Judge Boyle is about to celebrate his 4 year anniversary as a blocked Bush nominee. Senator Kennedy completed an entire Harvard education in less time than he's already had to review Judge Boyle's rulings.
If Kennedy can’t bring himself to form a timely opinion on Boyle, maybe he ought to at least cough up an anniversary present. Fruit and flowers are the traditional gifts for the 4th. But what’s the appropriate fruit-and-flower arrangement to say "Sorry for stonewalling your confirmation"?
In the meantime, I have a gift idea for the Senator.
The recent emergence of copycat Minuteman franchises in the American Southwest would be enough to make Tyler Durden proud. Then again, the fight clubs were more on the supply side of terrorism than these civilian defenders, so hopefully Tyler would also see the irony.
Having been invited to Washington this week by the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus, Jim Gilchrist and his Minutemen may have finally succeeded in lending critical mass to the as yet inexplicably and woefully under-adressed threat of America's unsecured borders. Collective national and legislative consciousness finally seems to be developing some focus on the issue. Moreover, in the latest pirouette in her long sashay toward center, Senator Clinton has become an increasingly vocal member of a growing chorus of Senators looking to the north as well.
The 21st century minutemen are no strangers to denigration and protest, but love 'em or hate 'em, it goes to show that appreciable success and old-fashioned fevered controversy mingle for a powerful combination. The group's pivotal role in the border security problem may have already sparked an overdue movement that it was beginning to appear might only be catalyzed by catastrophe.
As to Governor Schwarzenegger's unfortunate recent phraseology (calling for "closing" the California-Mexico border, later attributed to a lingual mix-up), even as a native English speaker, I could certainly see using the word "close" in a casual and unscripted manner, in reference to sealing up procedural and physical gaps. Still, word choice can be crucial, particularly when under public scrutiny and in treatment of critical and contentious issues. So when a vocab gaffe belies your message, it's important to clarify. It seems to me that Arnold's done just that, and with a healthy dose of contrition.
Yet I still find myself wondering if there's an over-under on how many days until the first high-ranking Democrat calls for his resignation. I'd give it until Monday.
Justice Has *Best Week Ever*
Coinciding with the first National Crime Victims' Rights Week under Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' watch, the U.S. Marshals Service completed an unprecedented roundup of 10,343 individuals classified by the USMS as violent fugitives with outstanding felony warrants. Operation FALCON (Federal And Local Cops Organized Nationally) purged the streets of individuals facing charges of murder, kidnapping, sex crimes, crimes against children, drug trafficking, gang activity, and more.
The petty irrelevance of decrying this record-breaking, All-American justice-a-thon as a mere PR stunt hasn't impeded the prevalence of such bunkum in certain circles. Undoubtedly, this was a publicity-conscious undertaking. But it's hard to begrudge our law enforcement agencies a PR benefit gained not via celebrity spokesmen or adopted highways, but rather by simply discharging their duties exceptionally well. Whatever the impetus, 10,000 suspected violent felons off the streets is a development hard not to hurrah.
I for one eagerly await for the inevitable 10-disc "Cops: Operation FALCON" DVD set.
No Taxation Without Respiration
Ben Franklin’s two certainties took a step toward disenmeshing yesterday, as the House voted 272-162 to permanently repeal the federal death tax (officially H.R. 8, sponsored by Missouri Republican Kenny Hulshof) after voting down Rep. Earl Pomeroy’s (D-ND) substitute bill that proposed raising the exemption threshold.
Enjoying a 62% Yea vote in the House, the Senate will need to deliver a similar bi-partisan supermajority to fend off threat of a filibuster. Past efforts have thrice failed to get through the upper house, but this will be the first such attempt since the recent expansion of the GOP majority.
William Beach at Heritage offers a nice treatment on the economic lunacy of the decades-old system, which would revert to filching up to 60% of estates over $1 million in 2011 if not repealed:
The death tax hinders economic activity in the following ways:
1. Discourages savings and investment;
2. Undermines job creation and wage growth;
3. Prevents economy from achieving investment potential;
4. Contradicts central promise of American life: wealth creation.
Indeed, any component of the tax system that prizes the voracious harvesting of wealth over encouraging its growth will suffer similarly fatal flaws. Would you rather have 50% of a pie that grows at 5% annually or, say, 25% of a pie that grows at 4%? The former might help you cover a budget shortfall this year, but the out years prove the case for the latter.
But a less numerical, more fundamental flaw of the existing system is the entrenched presumption that death is a rightfully taxable event - that an individual’s wealth, already duly burdened by income taxes and capital gains taxes, owes an additional toll simply because its proprietor underwent the indulgence of blinking out of mortal existence.
Perhaps part of the difficulty of this argument owes to the fact that the dearly departed aggrieved parties in question don't make a habit of testifying before Congress or responding to phone polls. Then again, given the overwhelming tendency of deceased individuals to vote Democrat, this could become an important wedge issue in the next election among the post-mortem demographic.