The Heritage Foundation

Happy Tax Day!

Today is (federal) Tax Day. (Virginia income taxes are not due until May 1, although many prepare and pay both on this day.) Americans are working longer than ever to earn the money it takes to pay their share of local, state and federal taxes. Taxes now cost families more per year than the cost of their food, clothing and shelter combined!  If that doesn't overjoy you, than this might: It's where all your hard earned money is spent. Hint: Most of it went to pay for government "benefits." Draining away families' ability to take care of themselves at some point becomes a moral question when their government wastes the money taxed away from them, and then, like a junkie, goes into debt funding its addiction, only to hit up families for more taxes just to keep a step ahead of the collection enforcer.

Amy Payne of The Heritage Foundation explains the budget breakdown today at The Foundry Blog:

In 2013, the major entitlement programs — Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other health care — consumed 49 percent of all federal spending. These programs, and interest on the debt, are on track to consume an even greater share of spending in future years, while the portion of federal spending dedicated to other national priorities will decline.

Major entitlements (Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security) gobbled up 49 percent, while more federal benefits took another 20 percent. These additional "income security" benefits include federal employee retirement and disability, unemployment benefits, and welfare programs such as food and housing assistance. Obamacare spending didn’t really kick in until 2014, so that will show up in next year’s breakdown.

Meanwhile . . .

National defense has been cut, while the major entitlements picked up an even larger percentage.

This chart from Heritage illustrates it plainly:

Where Does All the Money Go?

It's not that we oppose taxes. We oppose more than what is needed to pay for core government responsibilities and functions. We oppose going into debt and not only choking off economic prosperity now, but hanging that debt on future generations that won't have a say on the policies that assuredly will leave them with a country well past its world preeminence (if that hasn't happened already).

Along the way, currently, not only has the government become an addict, its policies have created dependency on countless families, tearing apart our social fabric and sense of community. What else to expect when one junkie pushes junk on the unsuspecting? Sobering, huh? Happy Tax Day!

Celebrate Valentine's Day The Planned Parenthood Way (Hint: It's Not With Flowers And Chocolates)

Remember this? It was Planned Parenthood's disgusting way of "celebrating" Christmas a few years ago — with a sale of gift certificates. That's right. Celebrate the birth of the Lord by giving your pregnant friend an abortion gift certificate. Now, it wants you to celebrate Valentine's Day the Planned Parenthood Way, which no doubt involves plenty of taxpayer purchased birth control. Then, of course, if it doesn't work (and how many government programs do?), Planned Parenthood has your back (or your uterus, as the case may be) covered with "safe and legal abortions." Ericka Anderson of Victory Girls blog gave us the heads up by citing our reports on the findings of the 2012 Virginia abortion center inspection findings.

The "invitation" to celebrate Valentine's Day with Planned Parenthood came in the vine below via Twitter from Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood's president, with the hashtag #WhatWomenNeed. She clouds her shamelessness with calls for healthcare such as mammograms and other screenings, which is fine, except that those procedures barely register on Planned Parenthood's activities.

As Anderson writes:

In case you didn’t know, Planned Parenthood doesn’t have a great track record. While they try to downplay their abortion service, it’s actually a huge part of their business. In fact, last year alone — according to their own annual report, they performed 333,964 abortions. Oh and did I mention they received 45 percent of their revenues from taxpayer-funded government sources during the 2011–2012 fiscal year?

Sarah Torre, a policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation, said, "Planned Parenthood regularly opposes commonsense laws that would protect women and children from abortion’s harms. They have been accused of neglecting the health and safety of patients and resisting efforts to improve safety standards. ... Women want and deserve more."

She then cites Casey Mattox of Alliance Defending Freedom who quotes our reports about the abortion center inspections. If you need a reminder of how gruesome these facilities are, read here.

Equating Valentine's Day — contrived as it may be — with abortion on demand is nothing less than nasty and revolting. I don't think any poll of women, no matter how slanted, would find more than a spec of women who crave (or equate) "reproductive services" with Valentine's Day. It shows how much Planned Parenthood thinks of the women it claims to represent. No chocolate or flowers for you, dear!

Maybe it's not as bad as pushing abortion gift certificates for Christmas, but Planned Parenthood has lowered the bar so much, it makes the nasty, nauseating, vile and vulgar pale in comparison to the ghastly and macabre — and does it with a smile on its face. It certainly isn't #WhatWomenWant.

Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards: Abortions make the perfect Valentine's Day gift.

Oh, Christmas Tree! Oh, Taxed Christmas Tree!

As if there isn't enough apprehension about the economy these days, as if the popular culture hasn't already transformed the Christmas season from one of Christian joy to one of commercial anxiety, Congress may yet Scrooge over one of the most endearing activities of the season, the one purchase people genuinely look forward to: the buying of a Christmas tree. Yes, Virginia, there is a tax clause in the new farm bill. An agreement between House and Senate negotiators ironing out differences between the respective chambers' versions of a new farm bill includes a per-tree tax on Christmas tree growers. The growers then will pass it on to Christmas tree retailers who will, in turn, pass it on to consumers. Trickle down government at its convoluted best.

Good grief, Charlie Brown, you blockhead. You owe Congress a Christmas tree tax!

You may remember that President Barack Obama attempted this a few years ago, but the country's Bob Cratchits rose up and the idea was as warmly received as egg nog past its sell-by date. Now, however, a Christmas tree tax may be a stocking stuffer from House Republicans to Senate Democrats in order to reach a deal in an attempt to pass a farm bill that Republicans say must trim food stamp spending.

Amy Payne explains at The Heritage Foundation's The Foundry blog:

Congress might as well throw in a jingle bell tax, too. That’s how farm-related a lot of the “farm” bill is. The "farm" policies Congress is considering include:

» 80 percent food stamps: The House bill would make modest changes to this welfare program, but the Senate would do virtually nothing to rein in the massive growth in food stamp spending.

» Ultra-high-speed broadband access for rural areas.

» Policies that actually drive up food prices for Americans.

» Giving money to farmers for doing absolutely nothing.

Congress may agree to consider a new farm bill any time now. As it is, taxpayers could be looking at a trillion-dollar, subsidy-filled disaster — complete with a Christmas tree tax. Humbug.

If House Republicans think they're going to get real welfare reform from Senate Democrats in a "farm bill" for a mere Christmas tree tax, they probably really do believe in (spoiler alert for the children) Santa Claus. Sorry, Virginia.

Oh, (taxed) Christmas Tree! Sing the word "taxed" at the appropriate time during this video. Why not? According to the singer, there are many versions of this song. Congress may have inspired a new one.

Watch The Values Voter Summit Webcast

Every October — for the last 13 years — FRC Action has hosted the Values Voter Summit. It is one of the premier gatherings, if not the most important, of annual, must-attend events for conservative voters and policy makers alike. Not only do thousands of informed, Christian conservative activists attend, headline makers from Capitol Hill and other walks of life address attendees amongst great gobs of media as well. To suffice, it's a must-do on the political calendar, and its sponsors include The Heritage Foundation, AFA Action, American Values, Liberty University/Liberty Council and Family Research Council. But if you could not attend, fear not. The summit is archived online.  It is free and includes remarks by conservative movement leaders and luminaries, including our Gala speaker, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas. If you missed him in Richmond, see him online. Senator Cruz was greeted very warmly at the summit, just as he was here, and also protested by left-wingers (see GOPUSA.com), just as he was here, proving at once that the Left is unrelenting and that Senator Cruz poses a threat to it. Other prominent speakers include U.S. Senators Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah, Dr. Ben Carson, and radio talkers Glenn Beck and Mark Levin.

Just click the image below, then click on the speakers you want to see. It's that simple. Choose from among the speaker archives and sit back in the comfort of your home and hear and learn what some of the most influential thinkers and policy makers have to say about the state of our nation, our future, and what Christian conservatives can do to shape both.

Click to watch the VVS webcast live Friday and Saturday

Attend the Values Voter Summit — virtually — to hear an all-star lineup of conservative leaders speak.

 

 

How The West Really Lost God: A New Theory Of Secularization

There are many fine lectures and roundtable events presented by conservative think tanks, policy groups and grassroots organizations around the country. Not all make it on C-SPAN and it's not logistically possible to get to even a small percentage of them. Reading about them takes time and often through the biased lens of the Mainstream Media. However, with the Internet, greater audiences are gaining access to these first-class events. While the sponsoring organizations often  stream these events online and archive the video for later viewing, unless the public knows about them, it's a rare occurrence the public will drive into them on the Information Superhighway. But . . . we know about them through the many e-mail updates we receive from our allied, friends, affiliates and partner organizations. Starting today, we will share these excellent learning opportunities with regularity.

Part of our job as a public policy advocate is to educate the public. It doesn't have to always come from us. There are numerous quality sources and resources available. There always have been. The Internet and social media makes it more easily available. But it shouldn't stop with us. An educated public makes it easier to get the public policies we desire into effect. The more we can educate, the more likely we can accomplish our shared goals of restoring our foundational principles of traditional family values and limited constitutional government. So, please share what we post, whether it's from us or other sources, on your social media sites, via e-mail or on your own blogs and web sites.

Today, we share a presentation from earlier this week from The Heritage Foundation, featuring leading cultural critic Mary Eberstadt. In How the West Really Lost God, she delivers a powerful new theory about the decline of religion in the Western world.

Here's a synopsis, from Heritage.

The conventional wisdom is that the West first experienced religious decline, followed by the decline of the family. Eberstadt, however, marshals an array of research, from historical data on family decline in pre-Revolutionary France to contemporary popular culture both in the United States and Europe, showing that the reverse has also been true — the undermining of the family has further undermined Christianity itself.

Eberstadt posits that family decline and religious decline have gone hand in hand in the Western world in a way that has not been understood before. They are — in summarizing her book's thesis — "the double helix of society, each dependent on the strength of the other for successful reproduction." She, then, reflects on the ramifications of the mutual demise of family and faith in the West — the enormous social, economic, civic, and other costs attendant on both declines.

How the West Really Lost God is both an account of how secularization happens and a sweeping brief about why everyone should care about the two institutions — faith and family — that have undergirded Western civilization as we know it and the real nature of the relationship between these two pillars of history.

Mary Eberstadt: How the West really did lose God.

Cut, Cap And Balance; Or, How Come Crazy Spending Is Never Called "Draconian"?

Earlier tonight I saw U.S. Representative Janice Schakowsky (D-Ill.), one of the biggest and most far-reaching leftists in Congress, on CNN's Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer. (She's so far to the left that she doesn't think ObamaCare went far enough and supports the government-run single-payer system — click here to see her gleefully expound on the end of private insurance.) Mr. Blitzer asked Representative Schakowsky about the proposal known as "Cut, Cap and Balance" (see Tom McClusky at FRCAction's The Cloakroom Blog) to solve the impending debt ceiling crisis. Cut, Cap and Balance is the plan put forth by a coalition of members of Congress and conservative, free market and limited government think tanks and action groups that would cut federal spending, cap those levels, and pass to the states for ratification a constitutional amendment to balance the federal budget. (Click here to see an archived webcast on "Cut, Cap and Balance" featuring U.S. Senator Jim DeMint, R-S.C., among other leading limited government proponents.) Ms. Schakowsky's predictable response perfectly illustrated the vacuousness and illegitimacy of The Left. First, she called it a joke (probably knowing her solution can't be called a joke, because it's more like a horror movie). But the real laugh came when she said "Cut, Cap and Balance" would force "Draconian cuts."

That got me thinking . . . how come the term "Draconian spending" or "Draconian increases" is never used? Or is a $1.5 trillion increase in one year not scary? How bad off were we two years ago when the annual federal budget was "only" $2.25 trillion? Where was the suffering then that The Left says we'll have tomorrow if we adopt "Cut, Cap and Balance"? Could it get worse than 9.2 percent unemployment? These Draconian spending increases don't even take into account the unimaginable sums ObamaCare will cost in future years (see ObamaCare Lies). The amount of printing, borrowing and spending in Washington, D.C., is literally crazy, because no one in a proper frame of mind would put their future or their children's and grandchildren's future at such risk.

Tomorrow, the House of Representatives will vote on the "Cut, Cap and Balance" package (see Andrew Stiles at NRO's The Corner Blog). It will pass. But what of its future in the Senate? Will it even get a vote? Or will it vote for what Representative Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) calls, "Cut, Run and Hide," also known as Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell's pass-the-buck plan (see Alexander Bolton at TheHill.com)?

Family Research Council Action President Tony Perkins offers his thoughts here and encourages people to contact their senators to vote for the former and to defeat the latter (click here to contact Senators Jim Webb and Mark Warner):

Unfortunately, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) offered last week a plan to surrender. It would allow the President to lift the debt ceiling and only allow Congress a vote to stop it if it could garner a super majority. No cuts, no reforms, the McConnell plan is supposedly aimed at laying the political blame on the President. But when Senator Harry Reid immediately calls McConnell's plan "serious," one should question its wisdom.

With President Obama cynically leading from behind on this grave issue (read Senator DeMint's statement issued earlier this evening and that issued by House Speaker John Boehner), which has the potential to send the nation into a Greece-like morass, further debilitating our ability to lead the world and relegating America to also-ran status, it is time to take sound, firm and lasting action. "Cut, Cap and Balance" is the way to do it (see Brian Darling at The Heritage Foundation's The Foundry Blog). The Left may caricature it while making the nonchalant spending of trillions seem normal. But we all know the definition of doing the same failed thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

"Cut, Cap and Balance" is gaining momentum: 178 organizations and more than 190,000 citizens have signed the pledge.

It's "Gay" Marriage, Stupid!

The normal political diatribe for years, from politicians and pundits alike, has been that the focus of nearly every candidate and elected official is and ought to be the economy. No need to be "distracted" by or waste time on those pesky social issues. Usually, that line is thrown in the face of values voters who actually care about the culture. Seldom is it used against those whose "values" are different than ours. Remember another famous line, "It's the economy, stupid"? With New York's legislature and Governor Andrew Cuomo recently passing and signing same-sex marriage into law (see Chuck Donovan at Heritage's The Foundry Blog), the claim by any liberal politician or pundit — or anyone else for that matter — that the focus is, and must be, on economic issues amounts to nothing more than blatant hypocrisy. After all, during an economic meltdown in a state bleeding jobs, in a state on the verge of economic bankruptcy, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Governor Cuomo and the entire legislature were "distracted" for days debating homosexual marriage. (Not to mention Congress and the Obama administration last December, during a lame duck session, ramming through repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy as unemployment continued to skyrocket.)

Simply put, the next time someone tells you that social issues are a distraction from what's really important, they must be forced to answer the question, "What about New York?"

In Virginia, as we approach this November's crucial elections, that question isn't just for us, it's for the candidates as well. After all, as liberals across Virginia celebrate New York's attempt at redefining one of God's most basic institutions, candidates for the House of Delegates and the Virginia Senate must be asked, "What about New York?"

Politicians, policy makers and pundits, academics and activists simply can’t have it both ways. If social issues such as homosexual marriage are a distraction from the important economic issues, then every candidate in Virginia — regardless of political party — must reject what has happened in New York. If taking weeks to debate the definition of marriage is a waste of time then every candidate in Virginia must be absolutely critical of their colleagues in New York.

Is the same-sex marriage debate a distraction from what’s important? Yes? Go ahead, and say so. Oh, and if it's not, feel free to run on that in Southside and central Virginia.

Virginians made it clear where they stand on the issue of same-sex marriage in 2006. While the ink on our state constitutional amendment is barely dry, we at The Family Foundation have attempted to focus on other issues in recent years, issues like strengthening traditional marriage — the best economic safety net there is — to ensure Virginia’s future economic strength. But with what happened in New York, we have little choice but to once again ask every candidate for office in Virginia, "What about New York?"

So, maybe the question isn't so much about the economy as it is about New York. We look forward to their responses.

The Meaning Of Good Friday: The Victim Wins The Day

When I was a boy I asked a question to my parents doubtless raised millions of times by the innocent young to their elders: "If Jesus was crucified, why do they call it Good Friday?" Good question. In this era of growing cultural commercialism swallowing the meaning of holy days into secular holidays and religious feasts into commercial festivals (witness Christmas, though perhaps last year saw the slightest of pullbacks) Holy Week has maintained its meaning for the most part. Solemnity still reigns.

One of the best sermons I ever heard was a few years back at Christmas. While many expect a bright and cheery talk, the pastor starkly reminded the parishioners that "the wood of the manger is the wood of the Cross." Christ humbly assumed a human nature and later died for our redemption. It wasn't pretty — Roman executions were perhaps the most brutal in history — and we all share in the fault because Jesus died to redeem all sin. While today we commemorate a horrible event, we see the good in it which leads to the hope of the Resurrection on Sunday. Though victim, Christ wins the day. That is the "good."

Here are some reflections on the meaning of Good Friday. First, an excerpt from a reflection by Pope John Paul II, from April 13, 2001, at the end of The Good Friday Way of the Cross at the Colosseum in Rome:

“Christ became obedient unto death, even death on a cross” (cf. Phil 2:8):

We have just concluded the Via Crucis which, every year, sees us gathered on the evening of Good Friday in this place, filled with intense Christian memories. We have followed the steps of the Innocent One, unjustly condemned, keeping our eyes on his adorable face: a face offended by human malice but full of the light of love and forgiveness.

Truly distressing are the dramatic events involving Jesus of Nazareth! In order to restore fullness of life to man, the Son of God humbled himself in the most abject way. But from his Death, freely chosen, life springs forth. Scripture says: oblatus est quia ipse voluit — he gave himself up because he so wished. His is an extraordinary testimony of love, fruit of an obedience without compare, carried to the point of the total giving of himself. ...

How can we take our eyes away from Jesus as he dies on the Cross? His battered face disturbs us. The Prophet says: “He had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised” (Is 53:2-3).

On that face are concentrated the dark shadows of every suffering, every injustice, every violence inflicted on human beings throughout the course of history. But now, before the Cross, our everyday sorrows, and even death itself, appear clothed in the majesty of Christ abandoned and dying.

The face of the bleeding and crucified Messiah, reveals that, for the sake of love, God has allowed himself to become involved in the tormented chronicles of mankind. Ours is no longer a solitary suffering, because he has paid the price for us with his blood, shed to the last drop. He has entered into our suffering and broken through the barrier of our distraught tears.

In his death, all human life acquires meaning and value, as does death itself. From the Cross, Christ appeals to the personal freedom of men and women in every period of history and calls each one to follow him on the path of complete abandonment into the hands of God. He even makes us rediscover the mysterious fruitfulness of pain.

For a look at the importance of faith in the modern world and its impact on culture and even policy, Jennifer Marshall at The Heritage Foundation's The Foundry poses these germane thoughts in today's Morning Bell column. For those interested in the historical aspect of Good Friday, Linda Gradstein of AOL News reports that Simcha Jacobovici, the host of Naked Archeology on the History Channel, believes he's found two of the nails used in Jesus' crucifixion. Speaking of the History Channel, it repeats on Saturday at 3:00 p.m. the Ray Dowling's acclaimed documentary The Real Face of Jesus?, which you can read more about here and here.

Who can forget The Passion of The Christ and the most realistic portrayal ever of a Roman execution? Jesus absorbed our sin manifest in physical suffering, so great is His love. That's why today is "good."

Incredible, Yet Predictable: Prop 8 Decision Dissected By Ed Meese

Here's a peek inside U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker's ruling that declared unconstitutional California's Prop 8 (Marriage Amendment) by former U.S. Attorney General Ed Meese (now at The Heritage Foundation). Unfortunately, as incredible (in the literal sense of the word) as Judge Walker's decision was, it was predictable given that it was agenda driven and not based on the law, precedent, legal standards of evidence or any hint of sound reasoning.  So egregious, in fact, that the most liberal appeals court in the land, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, earlier this week issued a stay of his ruling to at least January. On Tuesday, Mr. Meese wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post that concisely dissects the many incorrect paths Judge Walker took to his conclusion (read here). More precisely, he shreds them. Here is an example:  

Regardless of whether one agrees with the result, structurally sound opinions always confront binding legal precedent. Walker's is a clear exception because the U.S. Supreme Court has spoken on whether a state's refusal to authorize same-sex marriage violates the equal protection and due process clauses of the 14th Amendment. In 1972, Baker v. Nelson, a case over whether Minnesota violated the Constitution by issuing marriage licenses only to opposite-sex couples, was unanimously thrown out on the merits, for lack of a substantial federal question. 

That is, to say, the feds have no say in states role in regulating marriage. In addition, the judge ignored factual evidence submitted by Prop 8 attorneys, while — again, incredibly — making up his own evidence. Writes Mr. Meese:

Despite voluminous evidence and common sense pointing to the contrary, the judge also declared that opposite sexes were never part of the "historical core of the institution of marriage"; "evidence shows conclusively that moral and religious views form the only basis for a belief that same-sex couples are different than opposite-sex couples"; traditional marriage is an "artifact"; and, also without reference to the monumental evidence to the contrary, that it is beyond "any doubt that parents' genders are irrelevant to children's developmental outcomes."

These assertions appear in the opinion's "findings of fact" section, yet they are not facts. These "findings" derive from arbitrary and capricious non-analysis and are forcefully contradicted by evidence in the court record. No appellate court should allow the ruling to stand.

Judge Walker than implies that opponents of same-sex marriage are bigots — a big, bold, italics, underlined highlight to what is an agenda-policy statement, rather than a legal ruling. As Mr. Meese points out, that means:

President Obama, Vice President Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the majority of members of Congress and the 7 million Californians who voted for Proposition 8 are all bigots who have "no rational reason" to oppose gay marriage.

Mr. Meese's op-ed is a good read on the law that lay people can understand and which we commend to you. It also sounds like a firm outline on which the decision's appeal should be made.

Sign The Petition: Defense Of Marriage Act Needs An Appropriate Defense By The Obama Justice Department

Even as the fallout from the Prop 8 ruling is still getting sorted, another legal proceeding dealing with a major marriage protection law is ongoing. But barely. Whereas the defenders of California's Marriage Amendment filed a prompt appeal and yesterday won a stay on San Francisco Federal District Judge Vaughn Walker's deplorable decision at least until the end of the year (San Francisco Chronicle), the Obama Justice Department's weak and meek defense of the federal Defense of Marriage Act appears to have "thrown the match" and it says it is not certain whether it will appeal a recent Massachusetts Federal District Court's decision that ruled DOMA unconstitutional. As Chuck Donovan writes at The Heritage Foundation's The Foundry blog:

Echoing some of the most notorious boxing matches in the history of the ring, the Obama-Kagan Justice Department engaged in what even one supporter of same-sex marriage, the distinguished constitutional law scholar Richard Epstein, labeled "almost like collusive litigation," where the adversaries in a case are secretly on the same side.

The collusion boils down to this: attorneys in the Obama Justice Department, who have sworn that they will "well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office" in which they serve, abandoned not one but all four of the bases for DOMA asserted by Congress. "Congress" in this instance was no small minority cobbled together at the last instant for legislation it scarcely debated, but a bipartisan majority that encompassed 85 percent of both houses of Congress, joined by a Democratic president (Bill Clinton) who had access to comprehensive reports that amplified the many grounds for DOMA.

The Justice Department’s concessions were crucial to the outcome in the case. As Judge Joseph Tauro noted, he felt bound to address the detailed justifications Congress provided for DOMA only briefly, because, "For the purposes of this litigation, the government has disavowed Congress’s stated justifications for the statute[.]"

As Family Research Council President Tony Perkins (see FRC Blog) wrote yesterday: 

The Defense of Marriage Act merely defines marriage — for federal purposes — as being between one man and one woman, and protects states from having to change their state definitions. Not surprisingly, a liberal court in Massachusetts — after a weak defense from the Obama Justice Department — ruled DOMA unconstitutional. Amazingly, the federal government appears to be dragging its feet as they contemplate whether or not to EVEN APPEAL the decision! If the Department of Justice does not appeal, it is unlikely outside defenders of marriage will even be allowed to defend marriage in court.

The Department of Justice is supposed to vigorously defend statutes passed by Congress, not to roll over to appease President Obama's political base.

So, FRC Action has started a nationwide petition to hold the Justice Department accountable and to do its job — appeal and aggressively defend the law of the land. Please take time to sign the petition (click here to sign) and send a clear message to the Obama administration. He has said he believes marriage is between one man and one woman (ABCNews.com). It's time he proves it with a vigorous defense of federal law he is sworn to uphold.

Recession? What Recession? The Good Times Are Rolling In The Insulated, Inside-The-Beltway Nation's Capital

No wonder the liberal politicians who control the House, Senate and presidency think the economy is flying: Their immediate surroundings are, in fact, humming. There is no recession in Washington, D.C., and when you stay insulated inside the beltway, and all you see is fat cats living it up from from $3.5 trillion in government spending, no wonder President Obama and Vice President Biden call this the :summer of recovery." Andrew Little, a Richmond investment banker with John B. Levy & Co. recently wrote in a Richmond Times-Dispatch column that the real estate market, which burst and led to the recession and remains in the tank around the country, is booming in Washington.

As one lender put it, "the closer you are to the printing press, the better chance you'll have of getting some business."

Another lender unfortunately described just how exclusive the area is that is attracting capital: "We are focused on Washington, D.C., but only inside the Beltway."

A recent sale of the Evening Star Building at 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington fetched a mind-boggling $790 a square foot, and there is talk that other buildings currently on the market will surpass $900 a square foot.

These numbers indicate a strong desire for investors to put their money into real estate again. But if "frenzied" describes Washington and four other markets, "frail" is more apt for virtually everywhere else.

He adds that interest rates in D.C. are lower than most markets (thus the "printing press" comment). He then notes a Memphis, Tenn., apartment building that sold for a minuscule $2.1 million after costs, or less than $2,500 per unit, even though the average price per unit nationally last year was $72,306. The lender eventually lost $37.3 million on the project. Since this doesn't qualify for pocket change in Washington, we doubt few in the leadership are raising a red flag of concern. But why should they? Not only is real estate booming in D.C., so, too, are salaries (see CNSNews.com).

According to a CBS News report yesterday:

Federal salaries have grown 33 percent faster than inflation. Their pay and benefits averaged $123,049 in 2009, up 36.9 percent since 2000. Private workers averaged $61,051, up just 8.8 percent during the same time.

Even when factoring out education and experience (federal workers have more of each), The Heritage Foundation's James Sherk found that federal employees get paid 22 percent more per hour on average than private-sector workers. The facts get worse. Conn Carroll of Heritage's The Foundry blog cites the Wall Street Journal's findings that personal incomes fell nationally last year except in markets with heavy concentrations of federal employees, as well as a USA Today report that federal salaries average double private sector wages.

Not only that, but Heritage research shows that while private sector jobs have decreased by 6.8 percent since December 2007, federal government jobs have grown 10 percent. Government work at all levels have added 64,000 new jobs in that period while the private sector has lost 7.8 million jobs. I could go on. For example, President Obama is pushing for a 1.4 percent raise for 2 million federal workers who also qualify for seniority raises, not to mention his most recent bailout, this one for the teachers union and rising pay and benefits for local and state employees.

So, the more people suffer, the less Washington liberals know what to do. They seem to care even less. From what they see, all is good.

While You're Contacting Webb And Warner, Mention The "DISCLOSE Act" As Well

While contacting Senators Mark Warner and Jim Webb over the Elena Kagan confirmation, bug them about the "DISCLOSE Act" as well. The DISCLOSE Act is one of the most anti-free speech pieces of legislation ever crafted and the Senate is close to bringing it up for a vote. The House already passed it. But don't take our word for it. The legislation's authors know its restrictions are unconstitutional because it blatantly put in a clause that prevents courts from hearing claims against it until after the November mid-term elections (see FRC.com)! The bill puts restrictions on what organizations can do and say during campaigns and, worse, must make public its top donors, making them subject to harassment by opponents, such as was done in California to people who donated to that state's pro-marriage amendment campaign in 2008.

One of its many provisions would curb what people or companies with contracts with the federal government can say or do in support of a candidate or issue in an election. That caused the National Association of Manufacturers, one of a long line of opponents, including National Right to Work, National Right to LifeFamily Research Council, FreedomWorks,  the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and dozens more, to oppose the bill. More of its constitutional infringements are described here, by Hans von Spakovsky, at The Heritage Foundation's The Foundry Blog.

But wait. I was taught by a favorite (liberal) college professor never to generalize, so I won't. Not all organizations are constrained by this bill. You see, the Congressional liberals who wrote it neatly exempted labor unions and other liberal leaning groups, such as the AARP (See Fox News Channel's Speaker's Lobby Blog). Incredibly, in what many conservatives call a sell-out, the NRA also backs the bill after it bolted a coalition to receive its own carve out. The NRA's support was seen by many the reason it escaped the House. More inside D.C. special interest deal making. Wasn't that going to change with the liberals in charge?

Congresional liberals are running scared. Their agenda is massively unpopular with the public, they are behind in public opinion polls and are on the verge of squandering huge majorities in both chambers of Congress. A recent Supreme Court ruling opened up the gates for more free speech and loosened the strings (see the Chamber's explanation) on what activities businesses and other organizations can engage in during campaigns, further equalizing the advantages liberals have in the mainstream media, unions and the education establishment, to name a few. The DISCLOSE Act is a last chance, desperation play with the clock running out to preserve its grip on power.

Since the vote is imminent, phoning Senators Webb and Warner may be the most efficient method of voicing your displeasure with the DISCLOSE Act. They an be reahed at the U.S. Senate switchboard at 202-224-3121. Please let them know you wish them to oppose S. 3628, the DISCLOSE Act.

Britain's Health Care, Model For ObamaCare, Not So "NICE" (Neither Is His New Health Care Czar)

For those in denial about the real consequences of Obamacare — specifically, that it will cause rationing and, therefore, early deaths — it's time to face up to the truth. But don't take our word for it, take the word of people who support Obamacare. Conn Carroll writing yesterday at The Heritage Foundation's The Foundry Blog introduces us to Linda O'Boyle. Ms. Boyle was a British citizen (see where this is going?) diagnosed with bowel cancer. Her doctor told her she could boost her chances of survival by adding the drug cetuximab to her regimen. But . . .

But the rationing body for Britain’s National Health Service, the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), had previously ruled that the drug was not cost-effective and therefore would not be paid for by the government. So O’Boyle liquidated her savings and paid for the drug herself. But this is not allowed under NHS rules. When government bureaucrats found out that O’Boyle had purchased the drug with her own money, she was denied NHS treatment and died within months.

Love the irony of a government agency with the acronym "NICE" that lets people die. Carroll continues:

Defenders of Britain’s health care rationing system may try to claim that this tragic death is an outlier in an otherwise acceptable government run health care system. They are wrong. It is the point of the system. As socialized medicine and infanticide advocate Peter Singer has argued in The New York Times, the NICE bureaucrats must ration care or else free government health care would bankrupt the British economy. “NICE had set a general limit of £30,000, or about $49,000, on the cost of extending life for a year,” Singer writes. Following this logic, Singer supported NICE’s decision not to allow British citizens the kidney cancer fighting drug Sutent. As a result of this, and many other rationing decisions, Britain has one of the lowest cancer survival rates in the Western world. While 60.3% of men and 61.7% of women in Sweden survive a cancer diagnosis, in Britain the figure ranges between 40.2% to 48.1% for men and 48% to 54.1% for women. And NICE’s rationing has not just hit cancer patients. Doctors have warned that patients with terminal illnesses are being made to die prematurely under the NHS rationing scheme. And according to the Patients Association, one million NHS patients have been the victims of appalling care in hospitals across Britain.

All of Carroll's research is documented in the links provided, many from British media reports and investigations. One would think these statistics and horror stories would give the Obama administration some pause, and maybe even scale back some of the new law. Instead, it has done the in-your-face-opposite: It bypassed the Senate confirmation process this week and installed Donald Berwick to run the new health care system. Does his name sound familiar? It should. He's the one who told a British audience that they do health care right while the evil U.S. is in the medical stone age, and that health care must include "redistribution of wealth." He's a proud socialist who favors rationing. In 2009, Berwick told Biotechnology Healthcare:

NICE is extremely effective and a conscientious and valuable knowledge-building system. … The decision is not whether or not we will ration care — the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open.

While recess appointments are not extraordinary, there are not usual, and are used when the Senate is out of session for months, not days, and after the nominee has at least testified at a confirmation hearing. However, Senate Democrats haven't even scheduled a hearing and Berwick hasn't even returned answers to the nominal written questions submitted to all nominees. No matter how one looks at it, there's nothing nice about the new law, who's now running it, and the way the Obama administration is conducting itself.