A Jealous god, Government Is

Astonishing. President Obama’s budget contains a provision that will actually discourage charitable giving.

The Washington Times reports:

Roberton Williams, senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center, said it’s impossible to calculate the exact effects of all the tax changes, but said the overall result is clear – less philanthropic giving.

“This will lead people to give less to charities if they behave the way they’ve behaved in the past,” he said. “We’ve already seen a drop in giving as a result of the economic collapse. On top of that, this will just reduce the amount of giving.”

Why would the guy who has spent the last year challenging us all to be noble and less selfish actually discourage people with money from giving it away? Because when you view government as god-like — the rightful bestower of all benevolence and good — you view private charities and ministries as competitors. Messianic government is a jealous god.

Think I’m exaggerating?

Asked about that, Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag said Mr. Obama took care of that by giving charities government money to make up part of the difference. “Contained in the recovery act, there’s $100 million to support nonprofits and charities as we get through this period of economic difficulty,” he said.

Do yo get it? The message is: “We don’t want individuals giving directly to charities. We’ll confiscate more money from the most productive citizens and then we’ll dole the money out to the charities we favor.”

Never forget,for the left, it’s always about power and control. Always.

(Let me say for about the 5th time–if you want to understand what’s being done to us, read this)

(See also — Larry Kudlow: Obama Declares War on Investors, Entrepreneurs, Businesses, and More)

Retro Ad Saturday

Hmmmm. What to talk about?


Ahh, “cut for unlimited freedom in action.” Apparently these are tighty whities for libertarians. You’ve got to love the bonus of “no bunchiness.” Throw in the “self-adjusting” crotch and you’ve got quite a package. Speaking of which, I’m a little startled by the call out arrow:


Ask for Dittos. They’ll make you arch an eyebrow as a hologram of a hula girl manifests when you play tennis in your underwear.


By the way, as a rule I try to avoid the phrase “fluid movement” when I write headlines for underwear products.

Evergreen Movies

Mrs. Blather and I caught the beginning of the 1983 movie, Local Hero, the other night and couldn’t resist watching it yet one more time. I saw it in a near empty theater during it’s original release and have seen it more times than I can possibly count in the 26 years hence. And it still worked for me.


Dang, I love this movie. I love the story. The script. The characters. The performances. Mark Knopfler’s heart-achingly sweet score. (here’s a clip of him performing the theme live). And every lovely, understated frame.

It’s so wonderful I can’t even manage to be bothered by it’s subtle (by today’s screechy-preachy Hollywood standards) anti-oil, anti-military subtext.

This got me thinking about other movies I seem to never tire of watching. There are a handful I’ve seen, literally, scores of times and will still stop for every time I encounter them on a channel surf. Here are few. They’re an eclectic group:

Young Frankenstein — Mel Brooks should have found a way to force Gene Wilder to collaborate with him in every film. With Wilder, Brooks is brilliant (see also: Blazing Saddles). Without him, Brooks is ham-handed, cornball, and groan-inducing (see Spaceballs and Robin Hood: Men in Tights . . . on second thought, don’t.).


The Outlaw Josey Wales — Clint Eastwood directed himself in this western that manages to be faithful, fresh and funny all at the same time.  I’ve always loved this bit of dialogue between Josey Wales (Eastwood) and Lone Watie (Chief Dan George):

Josey Wales: You don’t want to ride with me. When I get to likin’ someone, they ain’t around long.
Lone Watie: I’ve noticed that when you get to dislikin‘ someone they ain’t around for long neither.

His “words of iron” speech at the end, which results in Wales “cutting covenant” with the Comanche chief is one of the great movie speeches of all time.


Independence Day — Sure, this re-invention of War of the Worlds is campy, flag-wavy and jingoistic. What’s your point? Back in 1996, Billl Pullman’s ex-fighter pilot President was the perfect respite from draft-evading Bill Clinton’s soft, squishy first term.


While You Were Sleeping — A chick flick? Ummm, I prefer to think of it as a “romantic comedy.” Bill Pullman, again? Yep. Great script. Quirky characters. Count me in. This is one movie my wife and daughters adore and that I am always happy to join them in watching. And at the end of it, I always think, “I wish I’d written that.”  Who did write it? A guy named Frederic LeBow who’s only other film credit seems to be as an actor in a film titled Chopper Chicks in Zombie Town.


So how about you, faithful readers who never leave a comment here?  What movies have you watched 30 times and never tire of? I’d love to hear from you.

Thomas Sowell Says We Need a Miracle

The trajectory of our course leads to a fate that would fully justify despair. The only saving grace is that even the trajectory of a bullet can be changed by the wind.

We have been saved by miraculous good fortune before in our history. The overwhelming military and naval expedition that Britain sent to New York to annihilate George Washington’s army was totally immobilized by a vast impenetrable fog that allowed the Americans to escape. That is how they ended up in Valley Forge.

In the World War II naval battle of Midway, if things had not happened just the way they did, at just the time they did, the American naval force would not only have lost, but could have been wiped out by the far larger Japanese fleet.

Over the years, we have had our share of miraculous deliverances. But that our fate today depends on yet another miracle is what can turn pessimism to despair.

Read “A Fatal Trajectory.”

Some Random Tuesday Links

  • The Obama Administration plans to send almost $1 billion to Hamas (indirectly).
  • Foreign Policy Magazine: “Mexico’s hillbilly drug smugglers have morphed into a raging insurgency. Violence claimed more lives there last year alone than all the Americans killed in the war in Iraq. And there’s no end in sight.”
  • Confidence in the Democrats’ compentence in fighting terrorists is dropping almost as fast as confidence in their ability to run the economy.
  • 13 Unexpected Consequences of the Financial Crisis”  Number 5: “Bad times are boon times for evangelical churches. Economist David Beckworth of Texas State University has crunched U.S. church attendance numbers and found that congregation growth at evangelical churches jumped 50 percent during each recession between 1968 and 2004.”

Retro Ad Saturday (on Sunday)

I just realized I failed to post an ad from the vintage archives yesterday so will make amends here on the Lord’s Day (and by “Lord” I mean Mrs. Blather who has designated this as the day each week I shall do stuff she wants done.)

There was a brief but wonderful time in our nation in which everyone was utterly convinced nuclear power was going to change everything about our lives–and they meant that in the good way. That era probably began on January 17, 1955 when the U.S.S. Nautilus–the world’s first atomic-powered submarine–was launched. “Underway on nuclear power” was the first message radioed back from the vessel. The event captured the imagination of the entire country.

From that day forward, every product that wanted to be viewed as modern and scientific tried to find some way to work an “atomic” angle into their pitch. This extended, apparently, to stuff you’re supposed to rub on your little kid’s chest:


“From the laboratories of atomic medicine . . .” These are words designed to confer instant credibility. And they did. Why? Because “scientists” were involved!


I’m not too sure about the sentence structure of this caption. There seems to be a participle dangling around in the wrong clause somewhere. But I am pretty sure that the atomic scientists at Vicks didn’t use a particle accelerator to fire an atom into a pointy-limbed test subject and watch it ricochet around.


Again, writing sensical sentences seems to be a challenge here, but we get the drift. Slather the stuff all over your kid’s upper body, particularly “the area of lungs and heart.” Why? Because of “cold tension” which is a problem with which I’m not familiar.

Like most people around my age, I have memories of being greased up with this stuff when I had a cold–usually in conjunction with a “humidifier” in the room.

[Note: In recent years, Vicks Vaporub has proven to be highly efficacious in treating a very different malady. Toenail fungus. That’s right. For many people, Vicks appears to be more effective than prescription medications that cost hundreds of dollars per month. My Dad tried it. Worked like a charm!]

Manly Abe


Here at the bicentenniel of Abraham Lincoln’s birth, there’s been quite a bit written, spoken and broadcast about the extraordinary man over the last couple of weeks. Of course, some of it has been overshadowed by the fact the we now have Lincoln II in the White House.

I was stoked to see that my new issue of The Claremont Review of Books had a large section devoted to essays about our greatest president. One of the shorter ones is a great little piece by Christopher Flannery about a little-known period of Lincoln’s life in which his character and leadership qualities first became evident.

Here’s an excerpt of how, as a single, 22-year-old newcomer to New Salem, Illinois, Lincoln quickly gained the respect of the locals:

In coming weeks and months—Lincoln now “a sort of Clerk in a store,” as he put it—New Salemites saw more of his storytelling as well as his affability, surprising gentleness, hard work, an unequalled determination and capacity to learn, honesty that immediately became legendary, and prodigious physical strength. This last led Lincoln’s impulsive employer to wager that Lincoln was not only the smartest fellow around but could outwrestle the toughest man in the county—Jack Armstrong, leader of the Clary Grove boys. That wild bunch lived a few miles outside town and were, despite their roguish gallantry, “a terror to the entire region,” as Lincoln’s future law partner William Herndon reports. In his warm description,

“They were friendly and good-natured; they could trench a pond, dig a bog, build a house; they could pray and fight, make a village or create a state. They would do almost anything for sport or fun, love or necessity. Though rude and rough…there never was under the sun a more generous parcel of rowdies.”

The Clary Grove boys put their money on Armstrong to prove himself “a better man than Lincoln.” Accounts of the epic match vary. Herndon records that it ended when Lincoln, angered by foul play, suspended decorum and “fairly lifted the great bully by the throat and shook him like a rag.” However it ended, all accounts agree on the result: Lincoln increased his good standing in the opinion of “all New Salem,” and “secured the respectful admiration and friendship,” above all, of the Clary Grove champion, Jack Armstrong. (Many years later, Lincoln would, for no fee, skillfully and successfully defend Armstrong’s son against a charge of murder.) The Clary Grove boys were devoted friends and supporters of Lincoln ever after.

There’s an unapologetic manliness that saturates this whole story — one that most big city-raised metrosexuals must find utterly alien.

Do read the whole thing, along with Claremont’s other Lincoln pieces.

"Irony sensors . . . overloading . . . hypocrisy detectors . . . melting . . . down . . .

In today’s Wall Street Journal, Will McGurn points us to three paragraph’s from President Obama’s “Audacity” book that are quite astonishing in light of how he and his party have governed in their first few weeks in office. McGurn wrote:

In a passage from his 2006 book, “The Audacity of Hope,” he sounds like a Republican complaining about the stimulus. “Genuine bipartisanship,” he wrote, “assumes an honest process of give-and-take, and that the quality of the compromise is measured by how well it serves some agreed-upon goal, whether better schools or lower deficits. This in turn assumes that the majority will be constrained — by an exacting press corps and ultimately an informed electorate — to negotiate in good faith.

“If these conditions do not hold — if nobody outside Washington is really paying attention to the substance of the bill, if the true costs . . . are buried in phony accounting and understated by a trillion dollars or so — the majority party can begin every negotiation by asking for 100% of what it wants, go on to concede 10%, and then accuse any member of the minority party who fails to support this ‘compromise’ of being ‘obstructionist.’

“For the minority party in such circumstances, ‘bipartisanship’ comes to mean getting chronically steamrolled, although individual senators may enjoy certain political rewards by consistently going along with the majority and hence gaining a reputation for being ‘moderate’ or ‘centrist.'”

Of course, these views were formed and expressed prior to the Democrats taking control of both houses of Congress in 2006. Some questions:

Is President Obama aware that he and his allies just committed every sin he decried above? If so, is he at all embarassed by this fact? And how to we reconcile these lofty sentiments with, “I won?”

My Reading List

I usually have two or three books going simultaneously. Here are some recent acquisitions. I’m either reading these or have added them to the pile of books I plan to start when I acquire that proverbial Round Tuit: