It’s been nine years since I woke up one Tuesday morning and turned on the radio as I got ready for the morning on the west coast. The news I heard was not the normal silly morning news stories. Instead, I listened to horror after horror as the newscasters explained over and over that the South Tower had fallen, and the North Tower was still burning. I was still trying to grasp what was going on when they announced that the North Tower had just collapsed. Do you remember where you were when you first heard about the attack nine years ago?

If you want to review what happened, in 2009 I posted a timeline of actions that occurred that Tuesday morning.

Sept. 11th, 2001 at 8:46 am
Sept. 11th, 2001 at 9:03 am
Sept. 11th, 2001 at 9:37 am
Sept. 11th, 2001 at 9:59 am
Sept. 11th, 2001 at 10:03 am
Sept. 11th, 2001 at 10:28 am
Sept. 11th, 2001 at 10:50 am
Sept. 11th, 2001

And to finish setting the tone for today, the following video was released a year ago by Andrew Klavan:

Back in the late ’80s, Leona Helmsley was brought to trial and convicted of multiple tax violations. During the trial a former housekeeper, Elizabeth Baum, testified that she heard Helmsley say, “We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes.” Helmsley denied having said that, but she will own that quote for as long as she is remembered.

And I remembered that quote when I read a distressing news report out of the Los Angeles Times this morning:

But we do know that as of the end of 2009, 41 people inside Obama’s very own White House owe the government they’re allegedly running a total of $831,055 in back taxes. That would cover a lot of special chocolate desserts in the White House Mess.

In the House of Representatives, 421 people owe a total of $6,524,892. In the Senate, 217 owe $2,774,836. In the IRS’ parent department, Treasury, 1,204 owe $7,670,814. At the Labor Department, where Secretary Hilda Solis’ husband had some back-tax problems before her confirmation, 463 owe $7,481,463. Eighty-one workers for the Federal Reserve System’s board of governors owe $1,076,733.

Over at the Justice Department, which is so busy enforcing other laws and suing Arizona, 1,971 employees still owe $14,350,152 in overdue taxes.

Then, we come to the Department of Homeland Security, which is run by Janet Napolitano, the former governor of Arizona who preferred to call terrorist acts “man-caused disasters.” Homeland Security is keeping all of us safe by ensuring that a Dutch tourist is aboard every inbound international flight to thwart any would-be bomber with explosives in his underpants.

Within that department, there reside 4,856 people who owe the tax agency a whopping total of $37,012,174.

And why should they worry about paying their taxes when the department in charge of gathering taxes is led by Secretary of the Treasury Timothy “Oh, you mean this $42,000 in unpaid taxes” Geithner?

As one of the little people who pays his taxes on time and in full, I object to having thousands of tax scofflaws in government. They are not our betters; they work for you and me, and they should obey the same laws we do. Anyone who can’t should be fired immediately and see what it’s like to work in the real world.

Here’s a bit of pleasant news to kick off the week. As reported by Matthew Archbold:

Two abortionists in Maryland (Dr. Steven Brigham and Dr. Nicola Riley) were ordered to stop practicing abortions in Maryland after a woman was severely injured.

Subsequently, police raided the clinic searching for medical records and to their horror they discovered dozens of unborn babies stored in a freezer.

After being shocked and disgusted my mind raced back to an incident a few months ago.

This would be a strange and horrible story if it had never happened before but just a few months ago another abortionist, this one in Philadelphia, was discovered to be keeping aborted babies in jars.

The news story has been picked up and linked by many blogs, and it’s been posted on the Drudge Report, making the original story hard to reach as the server is struggling to handle the load of visitors. At this writing, 10 hours after the story was posted, there are 127 comments and 48 retweets. It seems to have hit a nerve.

I don’t understand the fuss. For decades feminists have been telling us that abortion is a morally neutral choice. They have claimed that what is being aborted isn’t really a baby, just a mass of unnecessary tissue. They have referred to it as a fetus, a lump of cells, even a parasite. So this is just the equivalent of the doctors keeping a few cell samples, right?

Nope. This is a moment of moral clarity. The common reaction by the people shows that we instinctively understand that we are not dealing with just a mass of tissue, but an unborn baby, stripped of its chance to live.

Close to a month ago, Ace at Ace of Spades HQ posted a long but excellent article about the so-called neutral story lines that the mainstream media regularly uses to bash Republicans while still giving the appearance of being neutral. Here’s a snippet of Ace’s full article, for people who can’t be bothered to read the whole thing:

Mickey Kaus often notes the media likes Neutral Story Lines, as they’re easy to write, but are supposedly nonpartisan, as they usually criticize some procedural defect in both parties.

What makes the “Neutral Story Line” not neutral at all is that the media seems most interested, each cycle, in the “Neutral Story Line” that hurts the Republicans more….

And this is how media bias works 75% of the time. Most of the time, the media is selecting between several possible “rules,” many of which are arguably correct, but which are contradicted by nearly opposite rules, which are also arguably correct. The media never decides which rule is correct in the most cases; instead, they choose whichever “rule” benefits the Democrats this cycle.

Are we too interested in personal scandals which don’t really have much to do with a party’s governing philosophy? The answer is “No” if you mean Mark Foley or Mark Sanford; the answer is “Yes” if you mean Eric Massa or John Edwards.

Is it out of line for a former vice president to toughly criticize a new president of a different party? Well, if you’re Al Gore criticizing Bush, you’re just being patriotic and expressing the frustrations of millions of Americans. If you’re Dick Cheney criticizing Obama, you’re deliberately weakening a new president and endangering national security.

Have you noticed that when Republicans are in power, there are lots of news stories about the homeless? But these stories dry up when a Democrat is president. It’s certainly not because homelessness ceases to be a problem; if anything, based on the increasing number of panhandlers I’ve seen recently, it seems to be getting worse. It’s just not deemed newsworthy when a liberal is in charge. Such stories might make the liberal look bad, and we just can’t have that.

Back in 2006, I got a mass mailing from my then-Congressman. In part of his letter, he was bemoaning the increasing price of gas as it was nearing $3 a gallon. Today, I bought some gas for my lawnmower, and I paid $3.059 a gallon. (Interestingly enough, gas prices are one of the few remaining usages of the mill, valued at 1/10th of a cent.) Do you remember the nightly news stories in 2006 about the rising price of gas? Do you remember newspaper articles about hypermiling and avoiding auto use, the vilification of the oil industry, and calls for a “windfall tax” to take away their evil profits? I sure do. But here we are under a Democrat leader, and the news stories about astronomically high gas prices have vanished.

My wife has suggested that Republicans should always be in power, for one simple reason: they keep the media doing its job. When Republicans hold the reins of government, the media carefully scrutinizes everything they do. But when Democrats are in power, the media seems to relax, then becomes lazy and fails to fulfill its Fourth Estate responsibilities. It’s almost as though the reporters’ drive has vanished away, just like those “neutral” news stories.

Here’s the news out of a high school in New Hampshire:

On March 11, [Kyle] Dubois attached an electrical clamp to one nipple while another student attached another clamp to the other. A third student plugged in the cord.

Dubois was critically injured.

The shock was sufficient to stop his heart, but I would expect that with electricity going through his chest. So what is the American thing to do in this situation? Why, you sue everyone, don’t you know?

A New Hampshire high school student shocked so severely in shop class that his heart stopped beating is suing his teacher, the school district and the city of Dover.

Kyle Dubois and his parents claim teacher Thomas Kelley did not warn Dubois and other students of the dangers of the electrical demonstration cords in their electrical trades class.

The New Hampshire Union Leader says Dubois’ suit contends he suffered permanent brain damage.

Based on his action, I’d say there’s good evidence that his brain damage is a pre-existing condition. After all, what exactly did he expect to have happen, some mild tickle? If he’s made it all the way to high school without realizing that electricity is dangerous, then he has a case of the stupids. Did he get that way because he wasn’t taught, or because he just didn’t listen?

In any case, he should spend some time learning the principle of “what happens next.”

This news report out of Missouri caught my eye:

When it comes to politics, there may be as many opinions as cars cruising down U.S. 65. So, naturally, there are different reactions to a billboard south of Ozark that says “Voted Obama? Embarrassed yet?”

“I know the president didn’t win down here, but there were a lot of people down here that voted for him, and I think I can speak for them and say we are not embarrassed yet,” Matthew Patterson, executive director of the Greene County Democratic Central Committee, said in a telephone interview on Sunday. [So this local Democrat believes Obama only won the Presidency in places where he received a majority vote? No wonder so many Democrats thought Gore won in 2000. --TPK]

“My partner and I felt lots of frustration here lately, and we liked that sign and we thought that was a reasonable question to ask,” Steve Critchfield said in a telephone interview on Monday.

Critchfield and his business partner from Commercial One Brokers, a real estate firm in Branson, saw a similar sign online, bought it, and brought it to the Ozarks.

“I’ve certainly voted for people I’m embarrassed to say I’ve voted for,” he said. “We’re not naïve enough to think that we wouldn’t get someone to be upset. I’m just surprised how upset people are.”

Critchfield says he’s received death threats due to the sign; people accuse him of hate speech and racism. He insists the billboard was for something more American in the name of discourse, conversation, and old-fashioned debate.

“If everybody thinks [President Obama's] done a great job and they’re very happy,” he said, “then I guess they’d be buying billboards saying ‘I’m proud to have voted for him.’ That’s what makes America great, isn’t it?”

Did you catch both the good and bad examples of free speech being exercised in the article? Obviously Steve Critchfield is exercising his right to free speech by buying the billboard, and people who are issuing death threats and accusing him of racism and hate speech are also exercising theirs. But those people are using their freedom of speech in a way designed to shut Critchfield up and deny him his freedom, a typical liberal response to the speech that liberals dislike.

But Critchfield nails the essence of free speech in the final two paragraphs of the news story: if people disagree with his opinion, the best way to express that would be to purchase a billboard of their own to support President Obama. That would be a dialog of ideas, and people could weigh the merits of each. And a dialog is much better than one side demanding that the other side shut up.

You may think that we are moving into Autumn, and while that is true here in the United States, we are also moving into election season. Most of the primaries are over, so the political hopefuls will be busy bombarding everyone with their pleas for our votes.

Some people running for office are going to say things to which other people will take exception. People may even say that their comments are lies, and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear some people call for certain advertisements to be banned and silenced. I have a problem with banning political speech. If you object to what someone has said, the proper response is to speak up for yourself, not to call for the other person to be silenced.

And speaking of silencing other people, as I walked to work this morning I just happened to notice that there were five political signs lying on the ground. I don’t remember any strong winds blowing over the weekend. Strangely enough, only signs for Republican candidates had been uprooted. Discriminating wind? Or an example of people trying to silence the free speech of people with whom they disagree?

Any time the topic of silencing free speech arises, I think Andrew Klavan of Pajamas Media seems to sum it up best:

President Obama has headed off on another vacation, this time to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. Of course, all presidents take time off from the rigors of office, and that’s a good thing. The U.S. would be poorly served by any president who is so beaten down by the pressures of office that he couldn’t properly do his job. Being president is a very tough job, and getting away from its demands is a nice break, even if it is for a short time.

I remember reading about the vacations President George W. Bush went on, and people pointed to his many vacations as a sign of a bad president. According to the article, he spent 487 days at Camp David, and 490 days at his Crawford ranch in Texas. And so that means he was completely cut off from his office, right? Pfft. A president isn’t ever really away from his job, not even when on vacation. In the middle of a transoceanic flight on Air Force One, the president is in constant communication with the rest of government. Camp David is just as connected as Air Force One and so was Pres. Bush’s ranch. During his time away from the White House, Pres. Bush was still getting his daily briefings of current events and threats, and Pres. Obama is undoubtedly doing the same on his vacations.

Both Camp David and Pres. Bush’s ranch in Texas were excellent places for some a little presidential R-and-R. Both have been set up to support a president and his needs without completely disrupting the people around. But when a president or his family goes someplace else, the visit is a huge disruption to the locals. You can see a clear demonstration of this disruption during Mrs. Obama’s vacation in Spain. As her group went around, security had to clear out buildings, check for suspicious people, and cordon off beaches just for the First Lady’s use. I certainly understand the need for security, and to a lesser extent privacy, but the end result still remains: a visiting president and family is a major disruption. Just ask the people stuck for hours in bumper-to-bumper L.A. traffic because Pres. Obama made a short visit there.

Frankly, I’m glad Pres. Obama is taking his vacations, even if it means causing a ruckus around the States. Each vacation means he is able to blow off some of the pressure of office, and hopefully that means we will have a better president.

But I’m not holding my breath.

Time magazine reported an interesting survey of Americans:

Nearly one-third of the country thinks adherents of Islam should be barred from running for President — a slightly higher percentage than the 24% who mistakenly believe the current occupant of the Oval Office is himself a Muslim.

So one in four surveyed believe that President Obama is a Muslim, and their belief is labeled by Time as being mistaken. But based on Islamic teachings, President Obama is a Muslim because his father was himself a Muslim. And because Islam defines someone born to a Muslim father as a Muslim, I have titled this article, “Our Muslim President.” He has certainly demonstrated that he has sympathies towards Islam and Muslims, and I’m sure that is due to his upbringing. No, I don’t consider him a Muslim. President Obama has stated clearly that he is a Christian, and I will accept his word on that.

But If you listen to any of his speeches, they are loaded with his view of himself and filled with “I,” “me,” and similar language more than I recall any other politician doing. So based on his actions and words, I see that President Obama believes in Barack Hussein Obama above and beyond any personal belief in Christianity or Islam he may have.

Let’s face it — President Obama is our Narcissist in Chief.

The following story caught my eye:

40 billionaires pledge to give away half of wealth

A little over a year after Bill Gates and Warren Buffett began hatching a plan over dinner to persuade America’s wealthiest people to give most of their fortunes to charity, more than three-dozen individuals and families have agreed to take part, campaign organizers announced Wednesday.

In addition to Buffett and Gates — America’s two wealthiest individuals, with a combined net worth of $90 billion, according to Forbes — 38 other billionaires have signed The Giving Pledge. They include New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, entertainment executive Barry Diller, Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison, energy tycoon T. Boone Pickens, media mogul Ted Turner, David Rockefeller, film director George Lucas and investor Ronald Perelman.

Combined, the 40 billionaires will donate $115 billion to their favorite charities. Their billions will touch and bless the lives of so many people, and it will all be made possible because of their industry. A poor farmer in Bangladesh may make the same pledge, but his meager money will not have the same scope as the wealth of a billionaire. Having large amounts of money grants a person the ability to greatly bless people’s lives. And the billionaires’ pledge is very laudable.

Now let’s imagine the government has decided that at a certain point, the billionaires have made enough money. Congress could easily write a law taxing at 50% the existing wealth of all billionaires. Do you think President Obama would sign such a bill into law? Hell yes, he would! And let’s also imagine that Congress is spending these incoming billions in exactly the same way that the billionaires would have done themselves.

Are the actions of Congress laudable? Absolutely not.

See, in the first case, the billionaires are voluntarily choosing to give up their own money. In the second case, Congress is stealing the billionaires’ money. It doesn’t matter that the money is going to the exact same charities; the act of Congress remains one of theft, not of voluntary giving. True, it’s theft via law and the armed force of government, but it’s still theft. While Congress’ action would be legal, there is nothing either praiseworthy or moral about forcefully taking one person’s money to give to another.

When you get down to it, it’s the billionaires’ money to do with as they see fit, not the government’s. Every time I hear a liberal talking about taxing the rich, I realize that liberal has forgotten that it’s just not his money.