Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Soapbox: Tax hikes displease, Reid makes shocking remarks & NASA has a crazy-sounding idea

If we want government to do less, we need to do more
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If we want government to do less,
we need to do more.

Then and Now: History for Today
January 9
1956 - Pauline Phillips’ "Dear Abby" column first appeared in newspapers. According to Phillips, she came up with the pen name, Abigail Van Buren, by combining the name of a Biblical figure, Abigail in the 1 Samuel, with the last name of former U.S. President Martin Van Buren. A similar column, Ask Ann Landers, was written from 1955 to 2002 by Pauline's twin sister Eppie Lederer. The "Dear Abby" column is carried on today by Pauline’s daughter, Jeanne Phillips, who now owns the legal rights to her mother’s pen name.

1984 - “WHERE’S THE BEEF?” Clara Peller was first seen by TV viewers in the famous and successful commercial campaign for the Wendy’s fast-food chain. Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas spent $8 million on the ads that promoted hamburger sales, plus T-shirts, baseball caps, records, greeting cards and countless other promotional items bearing the picture of the elderly spokeswoman. The ad campaign ended in 1985 after Peller performed in a commercial for Prego pasta sauce, saying that she "finally found" the beef. In 2011, Wendy's revived the phrase for its new ad campaign, finally answering its own question with "Here's the beef."

2007 - Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone to the public at the Macworld 2007 convention at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. The two initial models, a 4 GB model priced at $499 and an 8 GB model at $ 599, went on sale in the United States on June 29, 2007. In its opening weekend, the original iPhone sold over 500,000 units. In September 2012, Apple sold over 5 million iPhone 5's in that model’s debut weekend.

Mercury One Moment

On behalf of all of us at Mercury One, thank you for making 2012 a fantastic year! We look forward to what your dedicated efforts in 2013 will do to restore the American values of service, faith, entrepreneurship and love. To see more about what you have done to make 2012 an inspiring year of loving service, check out our Pinterest page.

Your Soapbox
Oh, Goodie: $264 Billion Tax for 2013 Could Spark New Recession. In case you were thinking about getting excited by the prospects of landing that spiffy new job you’ve had your eye on, you might want to give those hopes a healthy dose of reality. Apparently, a “growing chorus” of economists have been warning about the clear possibility that 2013 tax hikes could prove devastating for the nation’s fragile economy. Why? Well, with the expiration of the Bush tax rates, the end of the “payroll tax holiday” and several new Obamacare taxes slated to go into effect this year, economic growth could stall as workers keep less take-home pay and, ultimately, make the kind of budget cuts congress refuses to make. In other words, it seems like Congress thinks that recessions mean they need more revenue and you need less. Figures.
Here’s a Good Place to Start Budget Cuts: Planned Parenthood Received $542.4 Million From Government from 2011 to 2012. Doesn’t it seem a little weird that the United States government, which faces a potentially catastrophic budget crisis in the near future as more and more baby boomers retire and claim Social Security and Medicare benefits, sent over a half a billion dollars to an organization that essentially discourages people from having children? Shouldn’t policymakers be encouraging people to have more children so they can increase the number of taxpayers who will need to support aging retirees? Apparently not, because the abortion-providing Planned Parenthood received a whopping $542.4 million in government grants and reimbursements over the past two years. In case you’re curious, that’s worth nearly half – 45 percent – of the controversial organization’s annual revenues. According to the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, Planned Parenthood performed nearly 334,000 abortions in that time period. Perhaps it’s time, in this era of tight budgets and sluggish economic growth, for lawmakers to finally consider slashing funding for this pricey, controversial group.

Egypt’s President Asks Obama to Release the Blind Sheikh. That Arab Spring really seems to be working out extremely well, doesn’t it? Protesters in Iran were crushed, Syria and Libya have spun seemingly out of control, but if you want encouragement, look no further than Egypt. That’s right, the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated Egypt is such a force of moderation and peace in the Mideast that its President, Mohammed Morsi, is asking President Obama to release the Blind Sheikh. Yes, that’s the same Blind Sheikh – Omar Abdel-Rahman – who was the spiritual advisor to the 1993 World Trade Center bombers and is serving a life sentence for his hole in the attack. Back in September, the Justice Department insisted that “Suggestions that the US government is planning to transfer or release the blind sheik to Egypt are totally false and absolutely baseless.” The National Security Council also said there were “no discussions” about transferring Abdel-Rahman. This begs the question: If there were no discussions happening, why is President Morsi publicly asking for his release?
Al Jazeera Buys Out Current TV, Most Awkward Staff Meeting Ever Ensues. Conservatives have all had a pretty good laugh over the fact that Al Gore, the supposed patron saint of the modern liberal environmental movement, sold out Current TV to a network that is based in oil-rich Qatar. Apparently, Current’s environmentally-concerned staffers aren’t exactly pleased about the move either. On Monday morning, Current staffers had to attend an all-hands meeting in which they got to know their new bosses. Gore was conspicuously absent, a fact which left already-bitter employees with a bad taste in their mouths, with one staffer saying, “Of course Al didn’t show up. He has no credibility.” Others were decidedly less diplomatic in their expressions of dismay. “We all know that Al Gore is nothing but a [liar],” said one. Another pointed out the irony that the liberal Gore sold the network just in time to avoid 2013’s higher tax rates: “We do stories on the tax code, and he sells the network before the tax code kicked in?” And so much for being “green,” said another: “Al was always lecturing us about green. He kept his word about green all right – as in cold, hard cash!” Perhaps he just wasn’t entirely thrilled about the prospect of paying his “fair share” in taxes this year.
Dershowitz: Maybe Lots of Americans Don’t Like the Hagel Appointment, But Iran Likely Does. With the start of Obama’s second term just days away, the President has finally announced his picks for some key cabinet replacements. Among them is former Senator Chuck Hagel, whom the President has tapped to head the Department of Defense. Chief among the hurdles Hagel faces in his nomination fight is the fact that he doesn’t exactly hold favorable views of America’s closest Mideast ally, Israel. Alan Dershowitz thinks the appointment is dangerous. “I think it makes it more likely that Iran will persist in its efforts to develop nuclear weapons,” he said. “This will send a message to the Iranian Mullahs of softness, to nominate a man who is opposed to sanctions and who is opposed to the military option.” He went on to say that he thinks the Iranians are “celebrating” this appointment, since it allegedly increases their chances of successfully isolating Israel. Unless quite a few Democrats vote against their party, Hagel’s nomination will easily clear the Senate.
Smooth Move, Orlando: Florida Couple Says City Has Threatened to Remove Their Vegetable Garden. If there was ever a whole lot of doubt as to whether governments these days are particularly inclined to encourage their citizens to be self-reliant, this story probably removes some of those doubts. An Orlando couple is, yet again, faced with the prospect of having their well-manicured vegetable garden removed by the city if they don’t uproot it by tomorrow. In response, Jason and Jennifer Helveston have launched a protest, dubbed “Plant a Seed, Change the Law,” and they say the city has violated their constitutional right to peacefully use their own property to grow their own food. The Helvestons are even asking others to join them in their protest by planting their own “Patriot Gardens” to protest the city’s actions. Even if there is some kind of brilliant argument in favor of the city’s actions, we can’t help but wonder: do city officials have nothing better to do than fine people for planting gardens?
Ironically, We Have Communism to Thank for the Demise of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez. Most decent people wouldn’t wish death on anyone, but socialist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has apparently wished death on himself. Sources close to Chavez, who is dying of cancer in Havana, Cuba, say the radical President might have survived had he not insisted on being so, well, socialist. In nearby Sao Paolo, Brazil is the Sirio-Libanese Hospital which, modeled after U.S. oncology centers, has had remarkable success at fighting cancer. Chavez had an opportunity to have his cancer treated there, but after his demands to take over the 400-bed hospital were refused, Chavez decided instead to be treated in the far-inferior Cuba in order to make a “political” statement about communism. Ironically, it appears the only statement he’ll be making is that state-run medical care is definitely the way not to go. One wonders if anyone in Washington is paying attention.
In Italy, the Cult of Fascist WWII Dictator Mussolini is Alive and Well. It would probably be quite a shock for any modern observer to travel to Germany only to discover that the locals there were still infatuated with their World War II Fuhrer, with trinkets bearing his likeness selling like hotcakes. That certainly isn’t happening in Germany, but head south to Italy and a similar phenomenon is taking place as scores of Italians unashamedly buy merchandise aimed at glorifying their World War II dictator, Benito Mussolini. Even more amazing, as der Spiegel reports, “Many still consider the fascist dictator to have been an honorable man,” despite the fact that it was Mussolini that inspired many of Adolf Hitler’s radical Fascist ideas. Perhaps in Europe, your worst deeds can be swept under the rug if only you make the trains run on time.


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Something to Ponder

"Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn't matter to me. . . . Going to bed at night saying we've done something wonderful -- that's what matters to me." - Steve Jobs

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