Is abortion the most important issue for you in this election? This ad was put out by the family research council.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
See DC v. Hellerby Ted Nugent
As I swab down one of my hundreds of privately owned, individually possessed firearms again this fine morning, I snicker and shake my head in disbelief that there are four "justices" on the "supreme" court that do not believe Americans have individual rights. Sure, I am somewhat pleased that we now have a SCOTUS confirmation of the self-evident truth and God given individual right to keep and bear arms, but the 5-4 ruling is another painful example, like Guantanamo and the decree against the death penalty for child rapist decisions that indicate a divisive culture war raging on, and four supreme justices frighteningly disconnected from the heart and soul of America.
Certain that God gave each of us the individual gift of life, and so very relieved that our founding fathers were prudent enough to write these self-evident truths down on paper for future reference, everybody I know needs no confirmation whatsoever that self defense, individual self defense is not only a God given right, but a moral imperative in the hearts and souls of good people everywhere.
Just as we wouldn't need confirmation that our choice of religion is indeed an individual right, or that we could possibly need a government permit to express our individual thoughts in speech, good Americans will continue to fight for the return of our sacred 2nd Amendment rights where someday soon we will not need a government issued license to keep and bear arms. After all, from the supreme court of common sense on the not so mean streets of America, everybody I know understands clearly that "keep" means one thing and one thing only: "It's mine and you can't have it". We know without question that "bear" can only mean, "Yes, I have it right here in my hands or within instant grasp", nothing more and nothing less. And dare I explain “shall not be infringed?" I hope not.
That these self-evident truths have been bastardized to the point of "gun free zones" is nothing less than heart breaking in America today. Everybody knows that it is in these anti-American, anti-Constitutional "gun free zones" where innocent people are forced into unarmed helplessness and where the highest body count of innocents are stacked up by evil perpetrators celebrating the condition of helpless sheep to slaughter. Since the insane gun ban, Washington, D.C. has been a violent criminal's dream environment where they are assured no resistance. That is a bizarre, immoral condition and a direct result of the cult of feel good liberals who could care less about dead good people as they wring their hands worrying about the rights of the most evil amongst us. For shame.
I am responsible for my personal defense and the defense of my family. Our Founding Fathers clearly believed this as well. Evidence shows that 9-1-1 is a last-ditch call for a clean up crew to sift through the aftermath of criminal activity. I can’t imagine allowing myself to be unarmed, helpless and reliant upon the heroes of law enforcement, who, though always do the best that they can do, cannot and will not be there when we need them. They represent damage control all too often, when quality control is in the hands of responsible individuals. The same Supreme Court determined long ago that cops have no lawful obligation to protect us from anything. Self defense is our job.
Thank God the Supreme Court got it right by striking down the D.C. gun ban, legalizing personal protection in the nation’s capitol and now across America, thereby guaranteeing our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, rights bestowed to us by God, the supreme authority.
D.C. has been a cesspool of crime for years. This ruling confirms the rights of good people the ability to defend themselves against bad people. Who could possibly find fault with that supreme dose of common sense?
Banning guns hasn't worked to deter crime or make communities safer, in fact just the opposite. All gun bans have ever accomplished is the creation of guaranteed victims. This has been supremely sad, wrong-headed and dangerous. Most of us cannot imagine the thought process by which bureaucrats and courts could force laws on good people rendering us disarmed and helpless, then turn around and send us the bill for their armed security. Obama, what say you?
Various thugs, punks, crack heads and other devils who have victimized innocents at will are on a long overdue notice with this ruling. Good ultimately conquers evil as it should be.
With Independence Day right around the corner, the Supreme Court has affirmed that indeed Americans are independent and have the right to the most basic of rights -- the right to defend themselves against tyranny whatever ugly form it may take. Now the good people of America must fight harder and relentlessly to regain all of our lost Second Amendment rights in each state and city where unarmed helplessness continues, Mayor Daley.
Rock legend Ted Nugent is noted for his conservative political views and his vocal pro-hunting and Second Amendment activism. He also maintains the Official Ted Nugent Fan Site at www.TedNugent.com.
at 1:40 PM
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
Just a few months ago, the consensus view was that Barack Obama would need to choose a hard-core national-security type as his vice presidential running mate to compensate for his lack of foreign policy experience and that John McCain would need a running mate who was young and sprightly to compensate for his age. Come August, though, I predict both men will be looking for a financial wizard as their running mates to help them steer America out of what could become a serious economic tailspin.
I do not believe nation-building in Iraq is going to be the issue come November — whether things get better there or worse. If they get better, we’ll ignore Iraq more; if they get worse, the next president will be under pressure to get out quicker. I think nation-building in America is going to be the issue.
It’s the state of America now that is the most gripping source of anxiety for Americans, not Al Qaeda or Iraq. Anyone who thinks they are going to win this election playing the Iraq or the terrorism card — one way or another — is, in my view, seriously deluded. Things have changed.
Up to now, the economic crisis we’ve been in has been largely a credit crisis in the capital markets, while consumer spending has kept reasonably steady, as have manufacturing and exports. But with banks still reluctant to lend even to healthy businesses, fuel and food prices soaring and home prices declining, this is starting to affect consumers, shrinking their wallets and crimping spending. Unemployment is already creeping up and manufacturing creeping down.
The straws in the wind are hard to ignore: If you visit any car dealership in America today you will see row after row of unsold S.U.V.’s. And if you own a gas guzzler already, good luck. On Thursday, The Palm Beach Post ran an article on your S.U.V. options: “Continue to spend upward of $100 for a fill-up. Sell or trade in the vehicle for a fraction of the original cost. Or hold out and park the truck in the driveway for occasional use in hopes the market will turn around.” Just be glad you don’t own a bus. Montgomery County, Md., where I live, just announced that more children were going to have to walk to school next year to save money on bus fuel.
On top of it all, our bank crisis is not over. Two weeks ago, Goldman Sachs analysts said that U.S. banks may need another $65 billion to cover more write-downs of bad mortgage-related instruments and potential new losses if consumer loans start to buckle. Since President Bush came to office, our national savings have gone from 6 percent of gross domestic product to 1 percent, and consumer debt has climbed from $8 trillion to $14 trillion.
My fellow Americans: We are a country in debt and in decline — not terminal, not irreversible, but in decline. Our political system seems incapable of producing long-range answers to big problems or big opportunities. We are the ones who need a better-functioning democracy — more than the Iraqis and Afghans. We are the ones in need of nation-building. It is our political system that is not working.
I continue to be appalled at the gap between what is clearly going to be the next great global industry — renewable energy and clean power — and the inability of Congress and the administration to put in place the bold policies we need to ensure that America leads that industry.
“America and its political leaders, after two decades of failing to come together to solve big problems, seem to have lost faith in their ability to do so,” Wall Street Journal columnist Gerald Seib noted last week. “A political system that expects failure doesn’t try very hard to produce anything else.”
We used to try harder and do better. After Sputnik, we came together as a nation and responded with a technology, infrastructure and education surge, notes Robert Hormats, vice chairman of Goldman Sachs International. After the 1973 oil crisis, we came together and made dramatic improvements in energy efficiency. After Social Security became imperiled in the early 1980s, we came together and fixed it for that moment. “But today,” added Hormats, “the political system seems incapable of producing a critical mass to support any kind of serious long-term reform.”
If the old saying — that “as General Motors goes, so goes America” — is true, then folks, we’re in a lot of trouble. General Motors’s stock-market value now stands at just $6.47 billion, compared with Toyota’s $162.6 billion. On top of it, G.M. shares sank to a 34-year low last week.
That’s us. We’re at a 34-year low. And digging out of this hole is what the next election has to be about and is going to be about — even if it is interrupted by a terrorist attack or an outbreak of war or peace in Iraq. We need nation-building at home, and we cannot wait another year to get started. Vote for the candidate who you think will do that best. Nothing else matters.
at 1:17 PM
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Friday, June 20, 2008
Monday, June 16, 2008
You want to be happy. I'm going to make this assumption, and I think I'm in pretty smart company to do so. Socrates once asked his students, "Do not all men desire happiness?" A student answered him, "There is no one who does not."
If Socrates was right, isn't it reasonable to assume that a decent nation will, at minimum, create the conditions in which its citizens can best pursue happiness? In the Declaration of Independence, the Founders didn't treat happiness as some fuzzy concept; they believed that people wanted happiness and had the right to pursue it. Along with life and liberty, happiness was the connection between the Creator and our nation's destiny, and the ability of its citizens to pursue and achieve happiness was a measure of the effectiveness and morality of the state.
According to hundreds of reliable surveys of thousands of people across the land, happy people increase our prosperity and strengthen our communities.
But today's leaders and policymakers seem to have forgotten this. To hear politicians talk about gross domestic product, health-care reform, and Social Security, you'd think that this nation's Founding Fathers held as self-evident that we are endowed by our Creator with the ability to purchase new, high-quality consumer durables each and every year, or to enjoy healthy economic growth with low inflation and full employment. The Founders didn't talk about these matters, not because they're unimportant, but because they believed happiness went deeper.
As a professor of business and government policy, I've long been interested in the pursuit of happiness as a national concept. According to hundreds of reliable surveys of thousands of people across the land, happy people increase our prosperity and strengthen our communities. They make better citizens--and better citizens are vital to making our nation healthy and strong. Happiness, in other words, is important for America. So when I chanced upon data a couple of years ago saying that certain Americans were living in a manner that facilitated happiness--while others were not--I jumped on it.
I wanted to be able to articulate which personal lifestyles and public policies would make us the happiest nation possible. I also wanted to know which of my own values, learned during my childhood in Seattle and practiced during my career as a university professor, were the most conducive to happiness. I had always thought that marching to the beat of my own drummer and making up my own values as I went along were the right things to do, and that traditional values, to put it bluntly, were for suckers.
Turns out that I was in for some surprises.
First, just what is happiness? Most researchers agree that it involves an assessment of the good and bad in our lives. It's the emotional balance sheet we keep that allows us to say honestly whether we're living a happy life, in spite of bad things now and then.
You might suspect that Americans are getting happier all the time. After all, many (though clearly not all) are getting richer, and this should make them better able and equipped to follow their dreams. On the other hand, there's a lot of talk about the good old days, when kids could play outside without any worry about being kidnapped. And there's a great deal of stress in this country right now, due to financial concerns, negative workplace environments, and chronic health problems, among other pressing issues.
But average happiness levels in America have stayed largely constant for many years. In 1972, 30 percent of the population said they were very happy with their lives, according to the National Opinion Research Center's General Social Survey. In 1982, 31 percent said so, and in 2006, 31 percent said so as well. The percentage saying they were not too happy was similarly constant, generally hovering around 13 percent.
The factors that add up to a happy life for most people are not what we typically hear about. Things like winning the lottery, getting liposuction, and earning a master's degree don't make people happy over the long haul. Rather, the key to happiness, and the difference between happy and unhappy Americans, is a life that reflects values and practices like faith, hard work, marriage, charity, and freedom.
Happiness Predictor 1: Faith
Roughly 85 percent of Americans identify with a religion, and about a third of Americans attend a house of worship every week or more. These statistics have changed relatively little over the decades. By international standards, America's level of religious practice is exceptionally high. In Holland, for example, just 9 percent of the population attends church on a regular basis; in France, it's 7 percent; in Latvia, 3 percent.
In general, religious Americans (those who attend a place of worship almost every week or more) are happier than those who rarely or never attend. In 2004 the General Social Survey found that 43 percent of religious folks said they were very happy with their lives, compared with 23 percent of secularists. Religious people were a third more likely than secularists to say they're optimistic about the future. And secularists were nearly twice as likely as religious people to say "I'm inclined to feel I'm a failure."
The connection between faith and happiness holds regardless of one's religion. All nonpartisan surveys on the subject have found that Christians (Protestants, Catholics, Mormons, and others) and Jews, as well as members of many other religious traditions, are far more likely than secularists to say they're happy. It also doesn't matter if we measure religious practice in ways other than attendance at worship services. In 2004, 36 percent of people who prayed every day said they were very happy, versus 21 percent of people who never prayed.
Of course, not every religious person is happy; neither is every secularist unhappy. Nonetheless, it's clear that faith is a common value among happy Americans.
Happiness Predictor 2: Work
If you hit the lottery today, would you quit your job? If you're like most Americans, you probably wouldn't. When more than 1,000 people across the country were asked in 2002, "If you were to get enough money to live comfortably for the rest of your life, would you stop working?" fewer than a third of the respondents answered yes.
Contrary to widely held opinion, most Americans like or even love their work. In 2002 an amazing 89 percent of workers said they were very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with their jobs. This isn't true just for those with high-paying, highly skilled jobs but for all workers across the board. And the percentage is almost exactly the same among those with and without college degrees and among those working for private companies, nonprofit organizations, and the government.
For most Americans, job satisfaction is nearly equivalent to life satisfaction. Among those people who say they are very happy in their lives, 95 percent are also satisfied with their jobs. Furthermore, job satisfaction would seem to be causing overall happiness, not the other way around.
The bottom line here: If we want to be happy, we need to work. And that's advice worth sharing with our kids as well.
Happiness Predictor 3: Marriage & Family
Matrimony has taken a lot of hits since the 1960s. It's been said to hold many people, especially women, back from their full potential to be happy. Don't believe it.
In 2004, 42 percent of married Americans said they were very happy. Just 23 percent of never-married people said this. The happiness numbers were even lower for other groups: Only 20 percent of those who were widowed, 17 percent of those who were divorced, and 11 percent of those who were separated but not divorced said they were happy. Overall, married people were six times more likely to say that they were very happy than to report that they were not too happy. And generally speaking, married women say they're happy more often than married men.
Marriage isn't just associated with happiness--it brings happiness, at least for a lot of us. One 2003 study that followed 24,000 people for more than a decade documented a significant increase in happiness after people married. For some, the happiness increase wore off in a few years, and they ended up back at their premarriage happiness levels. But for others, it lasted as long as a lifetime.
What about having kids? While children, on their own, don't appear to raise the happiness level (they actually tend to slightly lower the happiness of a marriage), studies suggest that children are almost always part of an overall lifestyle of happiness, which is likely to include such things as marriage and religion. Consider this: While 50 percent of married people of faith who have children consider themselves to be very happy, only 17 percent of nonreligious, unmarried people without kids feel the same way.
Happiness Predictor 4: Charity
We've all heard that money doesn't buy happiness, and that's certainly true. But there is one way to get it: Give money away.
The evidence is clear that gifts to charitable organizations and other worthy causes bring substantial life satisfaction to the givers. If you want $50 in authentic happiness today, just donate it to a favorite charity.
People who give money to charity are 43 percent more likely than nongivers to say they're very happy. Volunteers are 42 percent more likely to be very happy than nonvolunteers. It doesn't matter whether the gifts of money go to churches or symphony orchestras; religious giving and secular giving leave people equally happy, and far happier than people who don't give. Even donating blood, an especially personal kind of giving, improves our attitude.
In essence, the more people give, the happier they get.
Happiness Predictor 5: Freedom
The Founders listed liberty right up there with the pursuit of happiness as an objective that merited a struggle for our national independence. In fact, freedom and happiness are intimately related: People who consider themselves free are a lot happier than those who don't. In 2000 the General Social Survey revealed that people who personally feel "completely free" or "very free" were twice as likely as those who don't to say they're very happy about their lives.
Not all types of freedom are the same in terms of happiness, however. Researchers have shown that economic freedom brings happiness, as does political and religious freedom. On the other hand, moral freedom--a lack of constraints on behavior--does not. People who feel they have unlimited moral choices in their lives when it comes to matters of sex or drugs, for example, tend to be unhappier than those who do not feel they have so many choices in life.
Americans appear to understand this quite well. When pollsters asked voters in the 2004 Presidential election what the most important issue facing America was, the issue voters chose above all others was "moral values." This beat out the economy, terrorism, the Iraq war, education, and health care as people's primary concern. Pundits and politicians would certainly like us to think otherwise, and critics scoffed at the conclusion, interpreting it as evidence that ordinary Americans were out of touch. But moral values are critical to Americans. This suggests that, as a people, we do best by protecting our political and economic freedoms and guarding against a culture that sanctions licentiousness.
Lessons for America
The data tell us that what matters most for happiness is not having a lot of things but having healthy values. Without these values, our jobs and our economy will bring us soulless toil and joyless riches. Our education will teach us nothing. There will be no reason to fight--or to make peace, for that matter--to protect our way of life. Our health-care system will keep us healthier, but what's the point of good health without a happy life to enjoy?
The facts can help remind us of what we should be paying attention to, as individuals and as families, if we want to be happy. There's also an important message here for public policy and politics. We must hold our leaders accountable for the facts on happiness and refuse to take it lightly when politicians abridge the values of faith, work, family, charity, and freedom. Candidates running for office should be grilled about happiness in debates and by the press, and their answers should determine our votes.
Our happiness is simply too important to us--and to America--to do anything less.
Arthur C. Brooks is a visiting scholar at AEI. He is the author of Gross National Happiness (Basic Books, 2008).
at 5:31 PM
Sunday, June 1, 2008
I read this article on the way to the AP Reading in Daytona Beach. The electric car idea is very interesting. Any thoughts on this? Could a candidate get elected in this country by telling the American people, what Friedman calls, the truth?
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
Imagine for a minute, just a minute, that someone running for president was able to actually tell the truth, the real truth, to the American people about what would be the best — I mean really the best — energy policy for the long-term economic health and security of our country. I realize this is a fantasy, but play along with me for a minute. What would this mythical, totally imaginary, truth-telling candidate say?
For starters, he or she would explain that there is no short-term fix for gasoline prices. Prices are what they are as a result of rising global oil demand from India, China and a rapidly growing Middle East on top of our own increasing consumption, a shortage of “sweet” crude that is used for the diesel fuel that Europe is highly dependent upon and our own neglect of effective energy policy for 30 years.
Cynical ideas, like the McCain-Clinton summertime gas-tax holiday, would only make the problem worse, and reckless initiatives like the Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep offer to subsidize gasoline for three years for people who buy its gas guzzlers are the moral equivalent of tobacco companies offering discounted cigarettes to teenagers.
I can’t say it better than my friend Tim Shriver, the chairman of Special Olympics, did in a Memorial Day essay in The Washington Post: “So Dodge wants to sell you a car you don’t really want to buy, that is not fuel-efficient, will further damage our environment, and will further subsidize oil states, some of which are on the other side of the wars we’re currently fighting. ... The planet be damned, the troops be forgotten, the economy be ignored: buy a Dodge.”
No, our mythical candidate would say the long-term answer is to go exactly the other way: guarantee people a high price of gasoline — forever.
This candidate would note that $4-a-gallon gasoline is really starting to impact driving behavior and buying behavior in way that $3-a-gallon gas did not. The first time we got such a strong price signal, after the 1973 oil shock, we responded as a country by demanding and producing more fuel-efficient cars. But as soon as oil prices started falling in the late 1980s and early 1990s, we let Detroit get us readdicted to gas guzzlers, and the price steadily crept back up to where it is today.
We must not make that mistake again. Therefore, what our mythical candidate would be proposing, argues the energy economist Philip Verleger Jr., is a “price floor” for gasoline: $4 a gallon for regular unleaded, which is still half the going rate in Europe today. Washington would declare that it would never let the price fall below that level. If it does, it would increase the federal gasoline tax on a monthly basis to make up the difference between the pump price and the market price.
To ease the burden on the less well-off, “anyone earning under $80,000 a year would be compensated with a reduction in the payroll taxes,” said Verleger. Or, he suggested, the government could use the gasoline tax to buy back gas guzzlers from the public and “crush them.”
But the message going forward to every car buyer and carmaker would be this: The price of gasoline is never going back down. Therefore, if you buy a big gas guzzler today, you are locking yourself into perpetually high gasoline bills. You are buying a pig that will eat you out of house and home. At the same time, if you, a manufacturer, continue building fleets of nonhybrid gas guzzlers, you are condemning yourself, your employees and shareholders to oblivion.
What a cruel thing for a candidate to say? I disagree. Every decade we look back and say: “If only we had done the right thing then, we would be in a different position today.”
But no politician dared to do so. When gasoline was $2 a gallon, the government never would have imposed a $2 tax. Now that it is $4 a gallon, the government should at least keep it there, since it is really having the right effect.
I was visiting my local Toyota dealer in Bethesda, Md., last week to trade in one hybrid car for another. There is now a two-month wait to buy a Prius, which gets close to 50 miles per gallon. The dealer told me I was lucky. My hybrid was going up in value every day, so I didn’t have to worry about waiting a while for my new car. But if it were not a hybrid, he said, he would deduct each day $200 from the trade-in price for every $1-a-barrel increase in the OPEC price of crude oil. When I saw the rows and rows of unsold S.U.V.’s parked in his lot, I understood why.
We need to make a structural shift in our energy economy. Ultimately, we need to move our entire fleet to plug-in electric cars. The only way to get from here to there is to start now with a price signal that will force the change.
Barack Obama had the courage to tell voters that the McCain-Clinton summer gas-giveaway plan was a fraud. Wouldn’t it be amazing if he took the next step and put the right plan before the American people? Wouldn’t that just be amazing?
at 8:35 PM