Opposition research

How political campaigns are waged these days:

Rick Santorum’s surprising momentum at a critical stage in the presidential race has forced the Obama campaign to reassess its reelection strategy, which for months has revolved around the likelihood that Mitt Romney would end up as the president’s Republican rival.

Obama’s Chicago-based reelection team has begun digging into Santorum’s background, diverting opposition researchers who thus far had been focused on Romney. They also blasted an e-mail to supporters in Pennsylvania, asking them to submit their most damning recollections of Santorum, a former senator from the state.

via Obama campaign turns attention to Santorum – The Washington Post.

Instead of arguments about policies and positions, much of our political discourse today consists of revelations of embarrassing things that opposing candidates once said or did.  To what extent is that valid and to what extent is it just the ad hominem fallacy?

In the meantime, if you know anything bad about Rick Santorum, tell the Obama campaign team.

Taxmageddon

What awaits us, no matter who wins the elections:

On Dec. 31, the George W. Bush-era tax cuts are scheduled to expire, raising rates on investment income, estates and gifts, and earnings at all levels. Overnight, the marriage penalty for joint filers will spring back to life, the value of the child credit will drop from $1,000 to $500, and the rate everyone pays on the first $8,700 of wages will jump from 10 percent to 15 percent.

The Social Security payroll tax will pop back up to 6.2 percent from 4.2 percent under the deal approved Friday by Congress. And new Medicare taxes enacted as part of President Obama’s health-care initiative will for the first time strike high-income households.

The potential shock to the nation’s pocketbook is so enormous, congressional aides have dubbed it “Taxmageddon.” Some economists say it could push the fragile U.S. economy back into recession, particularly if automatic cuts to federal agencies, also set for January, are permitted to take effect. . . .

The tax shock is set to occur after the Nov. 6 election but before the new Congress — and potentially a new president — take office two months later. While the outcome of the contest is likely to color the tax debate, Obama will either be freshly reelected or on his way out and, therefore, free to play hardball with Congress.

White House officials say Obama will not sign another full extension of the Bush tax cuts, as he did in December 2010. Obama is demanding a partial extension that would preserve the cuts for middle-class taxpayers but permit rates to rise on household income over $250,000.

via ‘Taxmageddon’ looms at end of payroll tax holiday – The Washington Post.

This will be decided by the lame duck Congress and the potentially lame duck President (unless he is re-elected, which I still think is likely).  Doing nothing or being deadlocked means the tax cuts will all expire.

Do-it-yourself repair shop

In Vancouver, British Columbia, there is a motorcycle repair shop that lets you use their tools and someone shows you how to fix your bike yourself.  Here is a video about the business, which is called Motomethod:

The Motomethod Story from Zenga Bros on Vimeo.

The video shows the two owners enthusiastic about their vocation, including their zeal to love and serve their customers.

Would you say the do-it-yourself impulse is an example of vocation (cultivating your talents)  or the repudiation of vocation (not letting yourself be served by someone else)?

Can you think of other businesses built on this model?

HT:  Rich Shipe

Happy Presidents’ Day

Today is Presidents’ Day, which began as an amalgamation of George Washington’s birthday and Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, but now is nobody’s birthday but just honors our chief executives.  So let’s take a pause from the current presidential campaign to discuss the institution itself.

Is it wise to have the same person be head of state and the  head of the executive branch?

Most democracies today have a Prime Minister as chief executive, who is the head of the party that has the majority in the legislature.  Is that better than our elected Presidents?  If not, why are Prime Ministers more common in modern governments?

Do our presidents have too much power or not enough?

What does it mean to be “presidential”?

Who do you think was our greatest president? The top five?

 

Forcing a company to give away a product for free

Charles Krauthammer points out yet another problem with President Obama’s contraceptive mandate compromise:

The president of the United States has just ordered private companies to give away for free a service that his own health and human services secretary has repeatedly called a major financial burden.

On what authority? Where does it say that the president can unilaterally order a private company to provide an allegedly free-standing service at no cost to certain select beneficiaries? . . . .

To solve his own political problem, the president presumes to order a private company to enter into a contract for the provision of certain services — all of which must be without charge. And yet, this breathtaking arrogation of power is simply the logical extension of Washington’s takeover of the private system of medical care — a system Obama farcically pretends to be maintaining.

Under Obamacare, the state treats private insurers the way it does government-regulated monopolies and utilities. It determines everything of importance. Insurers, by definition, set premiums according to risk. Not anymore. The risk ratios (for age, gender, smoking, etc.) are decreed by Washington. This is nationalization in all but name. The insurer is turned into a middleman, subject to state control — and presidential whim. . . .

This constitutional trifecta — the state invading the autonomy of religious institutions, private companies and the individual citizen — should not surprise. It is what happens when the state takes over one-sixth of the economy.

via Charles Krauthammer: Overreach — Obamacare vs. the Constitution – The Washington Post.

Packing heat in the pulpit

Another unusual law from my home sweet Oklahoma:

The state house is considering a bill to allow pastors in their churches to protect themselves like citizens do in their homes, vehicles and businesses.

A state house committee approved the legislation Tuesday that would make it legal to use deadly defensive force if there’s a fear of imminent death or bodily harm.

The representative who wrote the bill sited several cases of violence inside Oklahoma Churches in the last decade.

The bill now goes to the house floor for a vote.

via OK House Considers Bill Allowing Pastors To Use Guns In Church – NewsOn6.com – Tulsa, OK – News, Weather, Video and Sports – KOTV.com |.

So does that mean that pastors aren’t currently allowed to use firearms from the pulpit?  Or is this one of Oklahoma’s “making a statement” laws?  (Update:  Apparently the latter.)

Back in the Middle Ages, the clergy were forbidden to shed blood, so they would not use swords or lances.  So instead some of them, including the Popes leading their armies, would use maces to bash their enemy’s heads in.

Military chaplains, I believe, do not carry weapons.

What do you think of the prospect of pistol-packing pastors?  A little too law-oriented?  A temptation to deal with annoying parishioners in a non-pastoral way?  Prudential protection?

HT:  Ned


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