From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Johann Opitz)
Germans taxed by 'Tax Song'
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is portrayed as a thief who steals from a Red Cross collecting tin and throws the country's Basic Law down the lavatory in a video accompanying a song which has become a big hit even before its release on Monday. Schroeder - as money-grabbing Spitting Image-style latex puppet - gets his come-uppance when he is felled by a large safe at the end of the video promoting the "Steuersong", or "Tax Song", which makes fun of the chancellor for going back on promises not to raise taxes.
Pelosi leader of 'Progressive Caucus'
Dems' likely top House official part of powerful, socialist-linked bloc
Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the likely new minority leader in the House of Representatives, serves on the executive committee of the socialist-leaning Progressive Caucus, a bloc of about 60 votes or nearly 30 percent of the minority vote in the lower chamber. Until 1999, the website of the Progressive Caucus was hosted by the Democratic Socialists of America. Following an expose of the link between the two organizations in WorldNetDaily, the Progressive Caucus established its own website under the auspices of Congress. Another officer of the Progressive Caucus, and one of its guiding lights, is avowed socialist Rep. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent. The Democratic Socialists of America's chief organizing goal is to work within the Democratic Party and remove the stigma attached to "socialism" in the eyes of most Americans. ... Prior to the cleanup of its website in 1999, the DSA included a song list featuring "The Internationale," the worldwide anthem of communism !
and socialism. Another song on the site was "Red Revolution" sung to the tune of "Red Robin." ... Another song removed after WorldNetDaily's expose was "Are You Sleeping, Bourgeoisie?" ... In the last three years, the Progressive Caucus has been careful to moderate its image for mainstream consumption. ... The latest issue of the liberal New Republic bemoans Pelosi's ascendancy to top leadership in her party because of her extreme left positions, calling the Democrat's position "dangerous." ...
Daschle: Democrats Can Block Alaska Oil Drilling
Restoring property rights
Now that the Republicans have full control of the presidency and both houses of Congress for the first time in 60 years, we will find out whether the party practices what it preaches. One of the principles to which Republicans have paid lip service over the last 25 years is property rights. But is that commitment real? One man eager to find out is a very wealthy businessman in California who has used his wealth to support mostly Democrats over the years. His name is Angelo Tsakopoulos. His reward for all that political involvement - millions of dollars worth - has been to be told by his government that he can't farm his land the way he wants, he can't run his ranches the way he wants and he can't develop his properties the way he wants. The latest example is a Ninth Circuit Court ruling prohibiting him from "deep plowing" former pastureland into farmland suitable for vineyards and orchards. Why? Because plowing equals pollution, says the government. ... Tsakopoulos, unlike!
most farmers and ranchers in his predicament, has the money to take this case to the U.S. Supreme Court - and is doing so. But, interestingly, President Bush's Justice Department has filed briefs opposing Supreme Court review. Justice claimed it was correct to find that plowing equals pollution. ...
Why only two parties is no fun
... In The Tyranny of the Two-Party System, Lisa Jane Disch, a political science professor at the University of Minnesota, examines the reality of two-party hegemony. More than that, she lays bare the mental framework that she believes sanctions such a system. As Disch tells it, the two-party system dominates through more than just the legal barriers that require third parties to expend enormous amounts of money and effort, under restrictive and complicated conditions, just to get to the starting line of political competition. She argues that the system also works as a monolithic ideological construct that makes it difficult even to imagine a vibrant, multi-party political marketplace. Disch makes an interesting and meaningful distinction between the reality of a system that has two dominant parties and a "two-party system." The first is quite possibly a necessary result of America's single-member-district, first-past-the-post electoral format, which effectively rules out!
the coalition governments common to parliamentary systems. Yet Disch argues that the "two-party system" is something else altogether. It's a rhetorical construct that rules the discipline of political science and has become a veritable civic religion. She writes that the two-party system is a "system of meaning" that "associates third party candidates with lost causes, political extremism, and authoritarian populism while promoting established party candidates as the responsible and effective choice." Being third in a two-party system relegates you to the margins. ... Disch is not a disinterested academic studying America's two-party system. She has a cause to defend: ballot fusion. This is the once-prevalent practice in which two different parties nominate the same candidate for an office, giving voters the chance to select a single candidate under two different party affiliations. Now illegal in most states, fusion offers a way around one of the most compelling arguments ag!
ainst casting minor party votes: that such a vote is wasted, since your candidate has no chance of winning. (The "wasting your vote" argument implicitly assumes that if your vote can't actually sway the election, it isn't worth casting. But barring the complete miracle of an election actually being decided by one vote, you are always wasting your vote if actually turning the outcome of the election is all that matters.) Disch argues that hitching their wagon to more prominent candidates would allow minor parties to build up steam and gain legal ballot access (which is typically tied to votes cast for a party in the previous election). It would also show candidates exactly how much of their support comes from people of certain beliefs that might be a minority view within the larger party coalition. Imagine Greens having a chance to vote for Al Gore as Greens -- and its possible effect on that party's future. ...
CA: Retiree bonus not an option
Most state agencies say they won't offer the 'golden handshake' deal, which means $285 million in expected savings won't show up
Most state departments will not offer workers a sweetened retirement to exit early, leaving the state with little to show from a program that budget writers this summer claimed would save $285 million. Almost all of the state's 25 biggest departments and boards, representing close to 90 percent of the state work force, told The Bee they won't offer the so-called "golden handshake." Many said the proposal simply didn't add up, considering the additional money they would have to pay to enhance retirement benefits. Even the Department of Finance, which is running the program, won't participate. The Governor's Office won't either.
Medical marijuana and the feds
If the federal government were right that medical marijuana has no medicinal value, why have so many doctors risked their practices by recommending its use for patients with cancer or AIDS?
War on drugs vs. war of terrorism
We knew terrorists would slaughter innocent people by the thousand, but who could have imagined the full depths of their depravity? We found out last week when John Ashcroft announced that people sympathetic to al Qaeda have been trying to finance their operations not through bake sales or bingo nights, but by selling illegal drugs. Now, the attorney general said, "the war on terrorism has been joined with the war on illegal drug use." What Ashcroft fails to notice is that the war on illegal drug use doesn't advance the war on terrorism. Just the opposite: It affords a continuing windfall to our enemies. In that respect, al Qaeda can be grateful to Ashcroft for preserving what he called the "deadly nexus between terrorism and drug trafficking."
Does Europe know best?
When it comes to family policy, many Americans have an acute case of Europe-envy. In European countries, paid maternal leaves, universal government-provided child care, and state subsidies for all children, not just poor children, are the rule. Efforts to bring these allegedly pro-family benefits to U.S. shores are intensifying: California recently passed a paid maternal leave, and GOP rising star Arnold Schwarzenegger stumped for universal before- and after-school programs. The future for advocates of Euro-style family welfare benefits looks particularly bright. At a conference on maternal feminism last week ... a panel of distinguished women scholars and activists ... disagreed about criticizing contemporary feminists for being insufficiently maternal, but glowed with mutual warmth at the idea of passing Euro-style family policies. American moms (we were told) are about to rise up and demand that the government resolve our work/family dilemmas with subsidized leaves, sub!
sidized day care, subsidized childbearing. Maybe so. But will it be good for women and families? I could not help noticing that the social conditions that allow mothers to make contributions outside the labor market to family, neighborhoods, schools and communities (such as stable marriages and pro-family tax policies) formed little part of this particular motherhood agenda. Consumed with Euro-envy, these impressive women seemed mostly to feel that the difficult task of developing policies that support all mothers and children have been long-solved across the Atlantic. OK, professors, here is my question: If Europe is so good at resolving work/family dilemmas, why is the European family disappearing? As the current issue of The American Enterprise points out, "Birth rates in Europe have been catastrophically low for two decades. Europe is thus getting old and starting to shrink." In just 30 years, half of all Germans will be over age 50, and as editor Karl Zinmeister so delica!
tely puts it: "Every single employed individual will have his own elderly person 65 or older to provide for through the public pension system." The territories currently occupied by people formerly known as Europeans will, if current trends continue, be replaced by the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of formerly non-Europeans. In just 20 years, according to writer Mark Steyn, the majority of Dutch children will be Muslims. Meanwhile, paying for Euro-style benefits leaves families groaning under punitive tax burdens and stagnating economies: Since 1970, America has created 57 million new jobs, while the entire EU has created just 5 million. Forty percent of unemployed Europeans have been out of work for more than a year, compared to just 6 percent in the United States. ...
CalNRA.org: California Voters Have Spoken
As if California couldn't turn further left, it did so on November 5. The election results are a sign that Californians as a whole are probably the most uninformed voters in the U.S. ... Hold on to your wallets, jobs, guns and homes, because all are going to be more difficult to keep in 2003. ... The only stupid people in this state are the millions who voted for Gray Davis and the Democrats again. As for the 2004 elections, will Californians have learned they're lesson? Probably not. Most are educated in this state so being stupid comes naturally. It requires years of repeated smacks to the forehead before it sinks in and finally reverses decades of programmed socialism. The will of the stupid people have spoken. Let our problems be laid at their doorstep, for they have chosen the path we are to embark on. It's not going to be pretty.
DE: Wilmington gets more surveillance cameras
city program among nation's toughest
The addition of more than a dozen cameras to those already recording people on downtown Wilmington's streets and sidewalks has helped make the city's camera surveillance among the most intensive on the East Coast, experts say. A private, nonprofit group called Downtown Visions, which works with area businesses to prevent crime there, has installed a total of 25 cameras throughout the 69-square-block area. Eleven of the cameras were activated in April 2001 and the others were turned on about a month ago, Martin P. Hageman, the group's executive director, said Friday. The second batch of cameras gives the group the ability to view 65 of the 69 blocks, said Dean Vietri, the group's safety director. Downtown Visions also communicates with private businesses that have more than 100 cameras, which gives the group blanket surveillance coverage.
UK: Blair pledge to wage new crime war
PM admits public feel unsafe as criminals walk free
Tony Blair has launched a withering attack on the failure of Britain's institutions to deal with the public's fear of crime, admitting that offenders often escape punishment or receive sentences that do 'not fit the crime'. In a frank admission in today's Observer that people do not feel safe, the Prime Minister reveals details of a sweeping overhaul of the criminal justice system and backs scrapping the double jeopardy rule for murder and other serious offences, thereby allowing a person to be tried a second time. He also says hearsay evidence should be used more regularly, that on-the-spot fines will cover a new range of offences and that he will tackle 'vested interests' within the courts and legal system to tackle people's fear of crime. 'The truth is people don't feel more secure,' he said. 'They know the system is not working as it should.'
[When gun control fails, as it always will, infringement of other rights quickly follows.]