After seeing the Democrat-led Senate go through the silly over-night stunt to push a cut-and-run bill through, I have a rather simple question for everyone out there: is there anyone not convinced at this point that Democrats comprise the party of white flags, surrender, and running away?

And there’s a follow-up question: when has running away from people who hate and want to kill you ever made things better?

Once again top Democrats are giving the finger to our troops. Today Senate Majority leader Harry Reid and House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi aided and abetted our enemies by flatly telling President Bush that the troop surge has failed.

“As many had forseen, the escalation has failed to produce the intended results,” the two leaders wrote.

“The increase in US forces has had little impact in curbing the violence or fostering political reconciliation.

“It has not enhanced Americas national security. The unsettling reality is that instances of violence against Iraqis remain high and attacks on US forces have increased.

“In fact, the last two months of the war were the deadliest to date for US troops.”

Yep, that there surge sure has failed. Of course, the full complement of troops have yet to fully surge into the field, but these Dems are telling us it has already failed. Violence is up, so the U.S. troops suck. Just listen to the Dems.

And people are listening to the Democrats. Al-Qaeda is listening, and the murderous thugs killing our soldiers and Iraqi civilians are listening. The message they are hearing is “Hold on, terrorists! And keep killing Americans. Just a few more deaths, and we’ll wave the white flag and run.”

It’s no surprise that Senator Reid is ready to wave the white flag and claim the surge has failed. He waved the white flag and gave up in April when he said, “this war is lost.” Way to show backbone, Senator Reid!

With friends like the Democrats, the troops don’t need enemies.

The Washington Post is reporting about how the Democrats are eyeing more ways to take money from the rich. But taking from the rich is OK because it benefits the poor and middle-class, don’t you know?

House Democrats looking to spare millions of middle-class families from the expensive bite of the alternative minimum tax are considering adding a surcharge of 4 percent or more to the tax bills of the nation’s wealthiest households.

Under one version of the proposal, about 1 million families would be hit with a 4.3 percent surtax on income over $500,000, which would raise enough money to permit Congress to abolish the alternative minimum tax for millions of households earning less than $250,000 a year, according to Democratic aides and others familiar with the plan.

Rep. Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.), chairman of the House subcommittee with primary responsibility for the AMT, said that option would also lower AMT bills for families making $250,000 to $500,000. And it would pay for reductions under the regular income tax for married couples, children and the working poor.

Notice the spin on the article? Taxing the rich an extra 4%+ would pay for tax reductions for others. The government can’t reduce some people’s taxes without socking it to someone else because the government certainly can’t do without. It needs every penny, and then some. Government looks at tax revenues as its right. If House Democrats really wanted to “spare millions of middle-class families from the expensive bite of the alternative minimum tax”, they could do so by a simple law getting rid of it.

And just what is the alternate minimum tax? The article explains how it came into being: government arrogance.

The alternative minimum tax is a parallel tax structure created in 1969 to nab 155 super-rich tax filers who had been able to wipe out their tax bills using loopholes and deductions. Under AMT rules, taxpayers must calculate their taxes twice — once using normal deductions and tax rates and once using special AMT deductions and rates — and pay the higher figure.

Congress wrote those tax laws, with all their loopholes and deductions. And when some very rich people were playing by the very rules Congress had written and were paying little or no taxes, Congress reacted by closing the loopholes and deductions. Hah! Just kidding. No, Congress decided to sock it to them by coming up with the AMT. If you succeed in winning at their game, they do a Lucy Van Pelt and pull the football away. You will pay taxes, even if it means Congress has to write laws that apply only to the richest 155 people in America. But history shows that when you target the rich, you end up causing major collateral damage. The 16th Amendment and the income tax were trumpeted as a tax on the rich, and not much of a tax anyway. No need to worry, America, Congress was only going to tax the rich people. In 1917, people making more than $3,000 were taxed 1% of their income, and earning more than $500,000 got you taxed at 7%. That’s equivalent to $50,000 and $8,000,000 in today’s money. But just as the income tax expanded to hit more than just “the rich,” so did the AMT.

Because the AMT was not indexed for inflation, its reach has expanded annually, delivering a significant tax increase this spring to an estimated 4 million households. The AMT would have spread even more rapidly after President Bush’s tax cuts reduced taxpayers’ normal bills, but Congress enacted yearly “patches” to restrain its growth. The most recent patch expired in December, and unless Congress acts, the tax is projected to strike more than 23 million households next spring, many of them earning as little as $50,000 a year.

The problem comes from using class envy to tax the rich. As the phrase goes, “He who robs Peter to pay Paul will always have the support of Paul.” Congress has been successful with the income tax in general and the AMT in specific in targeting the rich Peters, but the problem is that Congress keeps expanding the ring of targets. Pauls who once happily smirked as Congress vacuumed Peter’s wallet are now finding that they have turned into Peters themselves. And now they hear the D.C. vacuums moving towards their own wallets. The AMT started out affecting only the very rich, but now making as little as $50,000 can classify you as “rich” in the eyes of the AMT.

And what is Congress doing about this? Well, predictably, they want to talk about it first:

In the House, some Democrats argue that more time is needed to explain the issue to the public. The vast majority of households have yet to pay the AMT and may not fully appreciate the value of eliminating the tax, while the wealthy are sure to feel the bite of a new surtax.

“I don’t think there’s enough of an understanding right now that you’ve got this tidal tax wave about to hit everybody,” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), a Ways and Means Committee member who is also chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “From a political perspective, we need to lay the groundwork.”

Congress needs to talk about the AMT because Americans are too dumb to “fully appreciate the value of eliminating the tax” unless Congress lays the groundwork first. I hope they use really small words to keep it simple for us dunderheads and short enough to fit into their sound bites between commercials. Heaven knows we don’t want to miss this episode of “House.”

So how do you like the idea of an extra surcharge of 4% on single people making more than $100,000 or families making $200,000? Isn’t it time that the rich pay their fair share? I guess it depends on your definition of “fair.” Back in 2001, “fair” meant that the richest 5% of Americans paid 53.3% of all the income taxes. Yeah, that sounds fair. And it sounds familiar, too.

Congress could spend months talking with Americans, or they could just get rid of the AMT. It all boils down to whether Congress believes your money belongs to you, or to them.

Ask not for whom the tax man comes, he comes for thee.

Well, both the House and the Senate have voted for defeat in Iraq, calling for our troops to leave October 1st. Make no mistake, if we pull out because of some arbitrary time limit, we will have lost in Iraq. Then the thousands of lives lost there really would have been lost in vain. President Bush has promised to veto the bill when it reaches his desk, and I believe that would make it the second veto of his Presidency. I am dismayed at how much the Democratic party leadership is mirroring the desires of Islamic fundamentalist terrorists. Here is a quick breakdown of what these three groups want:

What do these groups want?
Republicans Democrats Terrorists
U.S. to win in Iraq U.S. to lose in Iraq U.S. to lose in Iraq
Troops to stay Troops to leave Troops to leave
Fight terrorism Negotiate with terrorism Islam to take over U.S.

There is a common phrase that says, “American politics end at the water’s edge.” We can argue and debate our issues and goals within the U.S., but when we go overseas, we ought to be united. But this doesn’t hold true for the Democrats. Speaker Pelosi wanders overseas and actively undermines our sitting President. And now we see that the Democrats are ready to surrender Iraq to the very terrorists who explode IEDs in public markets. Way to stand on your principles, Dems!

I have a dream of an alternate reality in which Democrats support our war on terror. I imagine the Democratic party leadership standing next to President Bush and telling the world in word and deed that all America stands firmly behind our President and our soldiers fighting terrorists around the world. In this imaginary world, I see the terrorists realizing that they cannot succeed against a united America, they lose their morale, and they disband and go away. But in the world in which we live, every time a Democrat demands we leave Iraq or claims we have already lost, the terrorists’ morale improves and the morale of our own soldiers sinks. I would define that as aiding and abetting our enemies, wouldn’t you?

As Rush Limbaugh says, the Democrats own defeat.

Do you have patience? Can you do without for a while to ensure you get something much nicer later? After our previous move, we realized that we needed a kitchen table. We could have purchased a folding table and chairs for cheap, but my wife and I decided to save up our money each month and hold out for a nice table. After almost a year of saving, I wrote out a large check for a very nice hardwood table and six chairs. We could have had a table much sooner if we had been willing to settle for something cheaper in cost and quality, but we were patient.

When trying to teach the concept of delayed gratification to young kids, I offer them a choice: eat two cookies now, or get a big box of cookies in a few months. For some, the cookies in my hand are much easier to understand than the promise of many more at some distant time. But others, especially older children, are beginning to understand the benefits of patience. Adults demonstrate an understanding of delayed gratification with savings accounts, retirement funds and 401k accounts; you see it every time you hear someone say, “I gotta go to work. We need the money.”

How much are you willing to wait for something? I guess the answer depends on what you’re waiting for and how much you want it. I’m willing to wait a few minutes for my food at some fast-food place, but I wouldn’t wait half an hour. Yet I have no problem with waiting half an hour for my dinner at a nice restaurant. Usually, the bigger the payoff, the more I’m willing to wait. That seems to be common sense. But I have to wonder what sense House Democrats have when they narrowly pass a spending bill that would pull our troops out of Iraq by next year. By broadcasting their unwillingness to wait, they have let the militants in Iraq (and Iran) know that all they have to do is exercise a little more patience, and the U.S. troops will leave — in essence, handing over the reins of a newly-free country to terrorists and thugs.

For now, I give a hearty “thank you” to Speaker Pelosi and the other 217 craven members of the House for letting these murderous thugs know that all they need is a little patience.

If you ever get in a debate argument with a liberal about WMDs at the level of “Bush Lied, people died,” there is a simple question to ask them:

If the U.S. military were to find deadly WMDs in Iraq with a note attached saying “To America with love” and signed by Saddam Hussein, would you support the war in Iraq to remove him?

If you get an answer of NO like I have, stop the conversation right there. There is absolutely no reason to discuss Iraqi WMDs when the presence of WMDs doesn’t matter to the liberal.

If the answer is YES, then you have two options: point out the WMDs that have been found in Iraq, or point out how the entire world, including the Democratic party leaders, were worried about WMDs in the hands of Saddam Hussein. Here is a video put together by the GOP about Democrats and using their own words against them. I bring this up because people are quick to forget what others say unless they are reminded.

Thanks to Instapundit for linking to the video in the first place.

We have an early crop of Presidential hopefuls springing up, but none all that exciting. Since Vice President Cheney has already said he won’t run, there will be no clear leaders for either the Democrat or Republican presidential candidates this year as we normally would with an incumbent President or Vice President running for the office.

What makes a good President? Well, the Constitution explains that the President is the chief executive of the country, so the President had better have good executive skills. There is no way any one person could juggle all the responsibilities of a modern American President, so a successful President ought to be able to delegate responsibilities to competent staff. But regardless of how few or many people there are to help with duties, the President is the chief executive who has to make the really tough decisions.

So what is the best way to prepare to be an American President? For the rest of this article I’ll look at the last 19 Presidents — the ones who have served from 1900 to the present — and take my calculations from their numbers. Of these 19 men, six were Vice Presidents first (G. Bush, Ford, Nixon, Johnson, Truman, Coolidge). So is being a Vice President the best way to train for the job of President? I guess that would depend on the President. Some Presidents have included their V.P.s in the day-to-day workings of the Presidency, and others seem to have tolerated the office of V.P. as a necessary evil. John Nance Garner, twice Vice President under FDR, is reported to have said that the job of Vice President was “not worth a bucket of warm piss,” although the newspapers substituted the word “spit” to protect the tender eyes of their readers.

Of the six former Vice Presidents, four gained the office of President via death or resignation (Ford, Johnson, Truman, Coolidge), while two were elected President after having completed two terms as Vice President first (G. Bush, Nixon). Going solely by these numbers, you’re twice as likely to become President because of death or resignation than you are by showing how much you have learned in the Vice President slot.

What about being a Senator before running for President? Judging by the number of Senators who have announced their candidacy or who are expected to do so, you’d think the Senate would be the best place from which to launch a Presidential run, but recent history doesn’t back that theory. Only five of the last 19 Presidents had served in the Senate first (Nixon, Johnson, Kennedy, Truman, Harding), but of these five, only two left their Senatorial positions to become President (Kennedy, Harding). The other three served as Vice Presidents first. Ignoring the long odds, a Senator is a legislator and not an executive, so serving as a Senator doesn’t necessarily train one to be a good Chief Executive. This fact alone could explain the relatively few modern Presidents who were formerly Senators, and it also explains why I’ve not been excited about any Senator who runs for President.

Since the office of President is an executive position, it makes sense that people elect proven executives to that office. This could explain why so many state governors have been elected President (G. W. Bush, Clinton, Reagan, Carter, F.D.R., Coolidge, Wilson, T. Roosevelt, McKinley). That makes nine the last time I counted them — nearly 50% of our Presidents since 1900. And whether the state is large or small, the office of Governor is an executive position. With all else being equal, I would prefer a candidate with proven executive experience over a legislator any day (but when do we ever have two candidates that are close to equal in belief and position?).

And now to prove how badly I cannot predict elections from 18 months out, I will now give my predictions for 2008. This prediction assumes (and it’s a big assumption) that there are no major upsets such as a shooting war breaking out with Iran or anyone else, another major terrorist attack on the U.S., or new revelations about the candidates popping up between now and Election Day 2008. Looking at the current crop of Democrat candidates for President, I have to give the nomination to Senator Clinton. Of the current crop of hopefuls, she has the greatest capability to raise money for her campaign, and she has the best name recognition. On the other hand, I think her biggest obstacle to being elected is her name recognition.

Of the current Republican candidates, I think it will be either Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney or former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Both candidates have more executive experience than the Republican Senators who aspire to be President.

I can’t predict who would win if it came down to a race between Senator Clinton and Mitt Romney. She would have to overcome the large group of people who actively dislike, if not outright despise her. He would have to overcome the “I can’t vote for a Mormon!” hang-up some people have, although the argument sounds so 1960s to me. But I have to believe there are fewer people with a Mormon hang-up than there are with a Hillary hang-up.

I know I’d be much happier with another Republican in office, so maybe that’s coloring my prediction.

Senator Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) said the following about the prospect of confirming John Bolton as U.N. ambassador permanently:

The American people have spoken out against the president’s agenda on a number of fronts, and presumably one of those is on foreign policy. And at this late stage in my term, I’m not going to endorse something the American people have spoke out against.

Sen. Chafee just lost his Senate seat to a Democrat challenger, so I could see his reluctance to confirm Bolton as sour grapes at losing. But while that is a possible motivation, I am more convinced that Sen. Chafee is just being Sen. Chafee. He failed to support Bolton earlier, “citing concerns at one point about Bolton’s tie to a government investigation into faulty prewar intelligence on Iraq.” The Fox News report continues to say that Sen. Chafee promised to block Bolton’s nomination “until the administration answered questions about its policy in the Middle East, which in effect delayed any vote until after the elections.” With Republicans like him, who needs Democrats?

While I don’t relish the thought (or reality) of a Democrat-controlled Senate, the knowledge that a RINO (Republican In Name Only) like Sen. Chafee has lost his Senate seat makes me feel better. Voters in Rhode Island have a better chance of electing a real Republican the next time around. Hopefully they will do so in 2012.

But did you notice how quick Sen. Chafee was to to bow to the Democrats’ “mandate” and use that as the excuse not to confirm Bolton? I find it interesting that he was so very quick to accept their mandate, but the press and the Democrats claim President Bush and the Republicans didn’t have a mandate despite being elected the previous three times in 2000, 2002, and 2004. Sen. Chafee has talked about leaving the Republicans before, and he’s not ruled it out even now. He should go ahead and make the official change to the Democrats, just to reflect what his real party affiliation has been for years.

Personally, I’m having a hard time deciding whether Sen. Chafee is more of a giant douche or a turd sandwich.

I heard a snippet tonight of Glenn Beck‘s reaction to Democrats taking over Congress, and I think he has raised a very interesting point. People are saying that the switch in power was all because of the fighting in Iraq, and the Democrats are talking about cutting and running from there. Not that you’ll hear many say exactly that. They’ll talk about strategic redeployment or focusing our actions elsewhere, but it all amounts to their wanting to yank the military out of Iraq. But since they are announcing their desire to pull out, there is one question that the Democrats are not asking themselves:

What will be the reaction of the terrorists when they hear the Democrats want to pull out of Iraq?

Do you think they will throw up their hands in despair and give up fighting? Or will this news stiffen their resolve to hang on just a little bit longer? I’ll let you think that over.

Bill Whittle of EjectEjectEject posted a very mature response to the Democrat victories this election year. Here are a few paragraphs of his post to whet your appetite before you go read the whole thing.

Remember one thing before you go. The most important election we are ever likely to see in our lives was not this evening’s election. Bush’s re-election in 2004 was the one we HAD to have, and we got it. Be grateful for that, acknowledge that this loss is no one’s fault but our own, congratulate the Democrats on their impressive wins and start figuring out how we can make sure this never EVER happens again. =)

I wish to tell my friends to be cheerful and especially to be of good will. Disappointments come and go, but moments of courage and integrity in dark hours will be there when the stars grow cold. We have lost the election, so let us maintain our determination, our dignity and our sense of humor, and let us take this moment to reflect upon how our actions have fallen short of our ideals. And then, finally, let’s act like the Americans we are, roll up our sleeves and start rebuilding. We who have survived Civil War, the Nazis and the Communists can probably manage to find a way to preserve the Republic in the face of Speaker Pelosi.

America is not only much, much stronger than you imagine; it is stronger than you CAN imagine.

If you are still feeling depressed, check out some of his longer essays. I would recommend Power as a great place to start off, but all his essays are well worth reading. Just don’t get scared at their length. These are not McNuggets of information, but a multi-course meal. As he suggests, get a cup of your favorite beverage and take some time to appreciate them. Before you look at the scroll bar and despair, realize that much of the page’s length comes from extended reader comments.

And others are optimistic. Brian Maloney has declared a no-sulking zone on his site, and he lists reasons why he is not crying in his beer over the election. Bryan Preston is looking at some silver linings from this election. Judging by the responses, some people share his optimism, while others are crying over the loss.

I’m optimistic, but that’s my normal nature. When I talked about the election with my wife, she mentioned that if we lived through eight years of President Clinton, we can certainly make it through these next two years. One thing is for certain — conservative talk show hosts will have plenty of grist for the mill, at least until the Dems resurrect the Fairness Doctrine.