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Scott Ott

Scott Ott co-hosts a news, commentary and humor show called Trifecta on PJTV. He created and hosted the 20-part series on the Constitution titled Freedom's Charter. His satire site, ScrappleFace, spawned three books and praise from Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Mark Levin and many others.
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Apple’s iRonic Authenticity

Saturday, September 21st, 2013 - by Scott Ott

Apple has managed to sell authenticity to a generation suckled on snarkasm.

Though its iDevices get used to trade billions of sarcastic cracks per day, Apple’s product announcements and commercials offer something rarely seen in this cynical age — genuine passion, untrammeled enthusiasm for one’s work, authentic intensity about the meaning of it all.

Perhaps at some level, that’s what draws us to Apple. They — or at least their executives — seem to truly love what they do, find fulfillment in the accomplishment. They continually unveil new layers of the richness of human experience in engineering, art, music, literature, and they love it without reserve or shame. They gush.

It’s become a trope that our entire work existence is just something we do to get money so that (some day) we can do what we really want to do. But Jony Ive (Apple’s Senior VP of Design) waxes eloquent about a phone/computer that is “beautifully, unapologetically plastic,” and he does it with an expression on his countenance that approaches the rapture of a lover finally pouring out his feelings to the woman of his dreams.

No winking. No eye-rolling. No LOL. He means it. He DOES think the iPhone 5c is “an experience” and he means to make that experience transformative for you.

Wait, that’s not quite right.

Jony Ive means to make the experience transformative for its own sake. You get the sense that the job he does from day to day is so deeply personal and rewarding that he would do it for free, just so he could have the experience of doing it, and then of enjoying the fruit of his labors.

This is counter-cultural, and yet it is not altogether new on the human scene. While most Apple execs would not likely describe it this way, there is something of the old “protestant work ethic” in all of this.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” (Colossians 3:23) This is not the ethic of the grasper, of the relentlessly driven, nor of the empty heart and the numbed soul trying to feel alive.

The idea is that you have been gifted, and placed by God to do the work you now do, and to do it — not for money or fame — but with a passion that sees your work as a dance before the Creator, who delights in you and rejoices over you with singing. Your work, no matter how menial in the world’s eyes is a “vocation” (from the Latin vox, that means voice) — a calling, from the voice of your maker.

And when you see it this way, the shield of cynicism that you use to guard your heart from feelings of inadequacy, drops to the ground, and you fully engage in life, and work, and relationship…perhaps for the first time, authentically without irony.

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It’s the ‘Independence,’ Stupid

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013 - by Scott Ott

“All men are created equal.” It’s a self-evident truth. But it’s not the point of “the Declaration.”

The point is revolution.

We no longer depend on tyrants. We’re breaking it off. We are free. We shall govern ourselves.

Thomas Jefferson cobbled together a series of non-debatable axioms, mostly borrowed from other writers, as a preamble to the litany of complaint, which, in turn, justified the action.

The matter at hand is the action. It’s not what they said, it’s what they did. The preamble comprises the set up, not the punchline.

The average colonial American, upon hearing of “unalienable rights,” or “just powers” derived from “the consent of the governed” & etc. would have merely nodded along: “Of course, of course, everyone knows this.”

And yet, in our time, many seem to think “the Declaration” was penned to proclaim eternal verities about the human condition — a poetic tribute to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” — as if it were a collection of fine words about high-minded ideals.

No! It was a rebellion against bad governance, against political arrogance, against oppressive laws, against restriction, constraint, and imposition without representation.

We call it “the Declaration,” but that’s not the object. It’s the “Independence,” stupid.

The members of the Second Continental Congress did not expect to forfeit their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor for stating the obvious about the “laws of nature and of nature’s God.” Their necks ripened for the noose because they altered, abolished, and threw off the yoke of their government.

They counted all as loss to obtain freedom; to be absolved of allegiance to their government, to dissolve all political connections between themselves and the state which they had always referred to as their own.

“The Declaration” offers exhaustive reasons for committing open treason, nonetheless, treason it was.

Independence Day then is not a celebration of government, but a regular reminder — albeit a fun one — of the necessity to reject corrupt, abusive government.

Happy Independence!

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Obama’s Tesla Sports Car Still Sends America’s Children to Bed Hungry and Stupid

Saturday, May 25th, 2013 - by Scott Ott

Elon Musk’s electric sports car venture has now enhanced its street cred by doing something rare — paying back $465 million in government loan money…early.

But as the Wall Street Journal reveals, that’s not the end of the taxpayer-funded gravy train for Tesla. Apparently, each car is built with about $45,000 of taxpayer subsidy, when you tally the federal, state and local incentives.

Of course, it’s not polite to ask, as the Journal does: “…why billionaires in California couldn’t have financed the business themselves. Why should middle-class taxpayers whose incomes are falling still pay to subsidize the purchase of cars that only the affluent can afford…?”

Riding high in the public eye at the moment, Tesla would make no profit if not for its sales of emission credits to the automakers who build the petrol-burning cars and trucks ordinary folks can afford. So, the car made by billionaires and purchased by millionaires is actually driving up the cost of transportation for us thousandaires through emission credits, not to mention spreading our “wealth” around to the rich through the tax code.

And all of this at the behest of the President whose lips drip vitriol as he spits out the imprecation “millionaires and billionaires,” and makes it clear to the proles that the rich are the reason that children go to bed hungry and stupid in America.

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[Video] Cruz Beats Reid with ‘Bully’ Pulpit

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013 - by Scott Ott

The U.S. Senate is a genteel institution where colleagues address each other as gentlemen and ‘my good friend.’ So, when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) called his ‘friend’ from Texas a ‘schoolyard bully‘, Sen. Cruz responded with cutting civility. (Click the pic to play the vid.)
YouTube Preview Image

Reid was right, in a way. Cruz has changed the rules, and refused to allow his elders to hide behind a mask of arcane protocol. He’s calling them out — drawing a line in the sand over spending, debt and taxes, and insisting that this august body come out from behind the veil of feigned dignity to conduct its business in the cleansing light of day.

Refreshing, isn’t it?

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Doesn’t Obama Care about Blacks, Latinos?

Monday, April 29th, 2013 - by Scott Ott

At the risk of a copyright lawsuit from Glenn Reynolds: They told me if I voted for John McCain, the wealth gap would grow and blacks and Hispanics would be hardest hit. They were right.

Hispanic families lost 44 percent of their wealth between 2007 and 2010, the Urban Institute estimates, and black families lost 31 percent. White families, by comparison, lost 11 percent of their wealth

Oddly enough, the name Barack Obama does not appear in the New York Times story chronicling the disproportionate impact of the recession on minorities. In fairness, neither does it mention Bush. (Perhaps he’s enjoying a presidential library ribbon-cutting honeymoon.)

It also seems that the push to loosen mortgage lending standards — so folks in racial minority groups could become homeowners — may have backfired.

Many young Hispanic families, for instance, bought homes as the housing bubble was inflating and reaching its peak, leaving them saddled with heavy debt burdens as house prices plunged in places like suburban Phoenix and inland California.

Black families also were hit disproportionately by the housing collapse, because heading into the recession housing constituted a higher proportion of their wealth than for white families, leaving them more exposed when the market crashed.

In unrelated news, black voter turnout surpassed white turnout in 2012 for the first time, apparently providing the margin of victory in the president’s reelection.

Now, if we can just find a presidential candidate whose policy agenda benefits the African-American community as much as their voting patterns benefit him.

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Did Obama Just Renounce ObamaCare?

Saturday, April 27th, 2013 - by Scott Ott

Maybe he’s coming around. President Obama Friday emphatically declared:

“…no politician should get to decide what’s best for you. The only person who should get to make decisions about your health is you.”

This would bring great hope to the millions already feeling the presence of politicians in that little room where the patient sits on paper, arrayed in a backless gown.

But context is everything. The president made that remark before an adoring crowd at a Planned Parenthood event, as he assured them the federal funding flow to the nation’s leading abortion retailer would never dry up.

Apparently, this politician won’t make decisions about your health, so long as the treatment for your condition might involve an abortion.

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ObamaCare May Be Repealed on Capitol Hill

Thursday, April 25th, 2013 - by Scott Ott

More Americans may soon avoid the specter and expense of ObamaCare if House and Senate leaders can make a deal to exempt…themselves and their own staffers.

Apparently, there’s fear on the hill of a massive “brain drain,” not from the normal periodic Congressional zombie attack, but from the financial burden imposed on low wage Congressional staffers by the president’s signature (and perhaps singular) policy achievement. In addition, we’ve already learned of the imminent loss of Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), one of the engineers of ObamaCare who, last week, called its implementation a “huge train wreck.”

A Capitol Hill ObamaCare exemption is, of course, good news which you should greet with the same rejoicing you would experience on the deck of the Titanic as you watched the final lifeboat lowered. Aren’t you just glad that somebody escaped?

Although you and I may still face the dangers of the new law, perhaps we can vicariously enjoy being snatched from peril knowing that our Congressional representatives and employees are safe from its clutches.

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Toomey Does Gun Bill Call with PA-GOP

Monday, April 15th, 2013 - by Scott Ott

Around noon, I got off a half-hour conference call with Senator Pat Toomey about his amendment to the Schumer gun control bill. (I’m a Pennsylvania Republican State Committee person, and that’s who was on the call.)

I’ll summarize what Toomey said, and the questions he answered. (I took notes, but I don’t type fast enough to get everything verbatim. Where I use quotation marks, I believe I captured it accurately.) At the end, I’ll weigh in with my latest thinking on this measure.

Sen. Toomey started by reminding us of his long commitment to the 2nd Amendment, personal gun ownership and his ‘A’ rating from the NRA.

About the Toomey-Manchin amendment, he said, “the way the story broke gave an opportunity for a great deal of inaccurate and completely wrong information to get out.”

Toomey said he got involved with this measure because “there are some people very hostile to the 2nd amendment trying to advance an agenda.” He believes the legislation reinforces the rights of law-abiding citizens, and “a reasonable measure to make it more difficult for criminals and mentally-insane individuals who are dangerous is sensible.” Later he called it, “just a common sense way to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them in the first place.”

“It is my strongly-held view,” Toomey said, “that expanding the background checks does not undermine or infringe anyone’s 2nd Amendment rights,” noting that he supported background checks as a Congressman in 1999.

He outlined the Toomey-Manchin amendment, which includes incentives for states to provide information they already have to the NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System) because it currently has inconsistent and incomplete data. He said that the 2007 Virginia Tech shooter had a history that would have prevented him purchasing handguns, but that data was not in the national database. He acknowledged that the shooter might have found another way to get a gun if he had been denied at the gun store counter, but that it would have prevented his purchase “on that day.”

Toomey noted that his legislation would include gun shows and internet sales under the background-check requirement, including for long-guns. However, he pointed out that the measure, for the first time, provides for a penalty (fine and up to 15 years) for any government employee who uses that data to create a gun registry.

The Pennsylvanian highlighted the parts of the bill which the NRA and others like: allowing interstate travel with guns without being “subject to harassment” by law enforcement, accelerated background checks for the tiny percentage of persons whose names don’t process in minutes, ability to use a conceal-carry permit as your de facto background check, and some changes that make it easier for members of our military to buy guns, and to appeal a veteran’s unexpected appearance on the ‘no-buy’ list (my term, not his).

Sen. Toomey then fielded the following questions from Republican state committee persons.
Question: “I agree with the position you’ve taken…what can we do locally to help?”
Toomey: Write letters to the editor, call talk radio.

Question: What would this do to stop criminals from getting guns?
Toomey: “There is no panacea…it does make it a little more difficult. Today a convicted burglar or rapist can walk into a gun show and buy a rifle without anyone asking if he’s entitled to do so. By requiring that, it makes it a little harder…For people troubled by really serious and profound mental disorders, denying them the opportunity to buy a weapon could make it more difficult.”

Question: New York has broadened the definition of ‘mentally ill’ to include minor conditions, how does this measure avoid the risk of that happening nationwide?
Toomey: “We don’t create any new system or any new criteria.” We leave it to the states “to decide who is incompetent to own a weapon.” But we do require the states to develop a system for challenging the mentally-ill designation.

Question: Where does the NRA stand on your bill right now?
Toomey: I have had a number of conversations with the NRA. I have an ‘A’ rating. NRA really helped us to craft the language in the bill that expands 2nd amendment rights. But they’re opposed to any background checks whatsoever, so they’re not supporting it.

Question: What about gun transfers between relatives?
Toomey: Those are not subject to background checks under this.

Question: Where can I get a copy of the amendment? (The caller then said he had already found it online.)

Toomey invited folks to call his office with other questions.

At the end of the call, Joyce Haas, vice chair of the state committee, said PA-GOP would soon send out “talking points.”

MY THOUGHTS: Pat Toomey has been an island of sanity and integrity in a political cesspool for years, so when I first heard about this bill, it surprised me. [Full disclosure: Pat Toomey was the first person to endorse me when I first ran for County Executive in 2009, and he spoke at a major donor event for my successful 2011 run for County Commissioner.]

The Manchin-Toomey story was leaked out in a clumsy manner, and early support from Senators Susan Collins and John McCain didn’t do much to encourage those of us who are jealous for our natural right to self-defense as enshrined in the 2nd Amendment. After reading the bill, the summary, and listening to the conference call — as well as reading a lot of reaction to it in the social media and obsolete media (MSM) — I’m still somewhat confused. It does contain some things I like — interstate transfer rights, using conceal-carry card as background check.

I’m not convinced that the background check expansion is any worse than what we have now, but neither do I think that it addresses the problem which the president and the Democrats in the Senate say they want to fix. While it somewhat benignly says, “If we’re going to have an NICS it might as well be accurate,” it also perpetuates the fiction that the background check is an effective preventative against gun crime.

Practically speaking, Toomey-Manchin might be a Trojan horse, sneaking some pro-gun riders into Schumer’s pure gun-control bill. But what Democrat would be fooled by that? And how will any of this get past the Republican-controlled House?

Some of my local Republican friends have decided that Toomey is just another Arlen Specter, or that he’s been snookered, or that he is doing this for purely electoral purposes, hoping to win ‘moderates’ in his next race.

All of that would contradict what I know of a highly-intelligent, common sense legislator with a career in which he has won elections (and lost elections) by standing strong for his beliefs.

Frankly, I still don’t know what to think about this maneuver, but I do think that Pat Toomey believes he’s doing the right thing.

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Should McDonald’s Pay $15/hour?

Friday, April 5th, 2013 - by Scott Ott

As low-wage food service workers demand a doubling of their pay, an uncurious journalist never wonders how people who earn $7.25 per hour were able to organize a “nationwide” strike replete with crisply-printed protest signs. For that matter, the dullard scribe doesn’t indicate whether “nationwide” connotes thousands of people in hundreds of locations or a dozen folks on two street corners.

Bad journalism is defined most often by what it lacks, rather than what it states. Incompetence, or conscious manipulation, are found in the question unasked, the fact unmentioned, the absence of context. The passive reader will never notice.

Reporting work of this caliber deserves less than $7.25 per hour, but it does provide an opportunity to explain, once again, how the world works.

Here are a few basic facts of life that each child should take to heart…and by “child” I mean journalist.

1) Your pay is not based on how much money you need to enjoy the lifestyle you desire.
2) Your pay is determined by the skill needed to do the work, and the difficulty of replacing you.
3) If your employer were to jack up your pay beyond those parameters she would have to jack up her prices, which would chase away customers, thereby reducing her need for you. (She alternately could reduce her profits, but that would scare off investors who provide the juice for growth. Stagnation is death.)
4) If you ever get paid what you’re worth, you will soon be fired. Your employer must pay you less than your value in order to make a profit on your labor.
5) Low-skill jobs give you work experience and a chance to impress people with your attitude while you develop additional skills that merit higher pay. (Note to MickeyD’s worker, that lady to whom you’re handing a milkshake may be a millionaire looking for a bright, enthusiastic new employee.)
6) Your attitude, and ability to cheerfully work with people are the most important skills to develop, and tuition is free at that “college.”
7) Your ability to communicate ideas and to engender enthusiasm, combined with expertise in some realm, will take you far. Expertise without communication and people skills generally produces bitter drudges who never figure out why their skills go unrecognized.
8) Ubiquitous internet means that any skill you wish to develop, and any knowledge you want to acquire is at your fingertips…again, tuition free. (You can even google ‘ubiquitous’.)
9) You live in the greatest opportunity playground in the history of the world, with unlimited free access to all of the tools it takes to make a happy, productive, meaningful life. Only your attitude can restrain you from receiving the benefits of this extraordinary moment, in this God-blessed land.

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Obama Tax Policy Prophesied 89 Years Ago

Sunday, March 31st, 2013 - by Scott Ott

Read this paragraph, and tell me who it calls to mind:

“I have never viewed taxation as a means of rewarding one class of taxpayers or punishing another. If such a point of view ever controls our public policy, the traditions of freedom, justice and equality of opportunity, which are the distinguishing characteristics of our American civilization, will have disappeared and in their place we shall have class legislation with all its attendant evils. The man who seeks to perpetuate prejudice and class hatred is doing America an ill service. In attempting to promote or to defeat legislation by arraying one class of taxpayers against another, he shows a complete misconception of those principles of equality on which the country was founded.”

Though that could have been written yesterday, it actually comes from a little book written in 1924 under the name of Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon, for the purpose of promoting President Coolidge’s plan to reduce tax rates, including top marginal rates on the wealthy.

Mellon goes on…

Any man of energy and initiative in this country can get what he wants out of life. But when that initiative is crippled by legislation or by a tax system which denies him the right to receive a reasonable share of his earnings, then he will no longer exert himself and the country will be deprived of the energy on which its continued greatness depends.

Amity Shlaes mentions the Mellon book on page 276 of her excellent biography, Coolidge.

Perhaps the leaders of the Republican Party in Congress should put down the RNC 2012 political autopsy report, pick up Shlaes’ Coolidge, and download Mellon’s Taxation.

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Executed Convict Missing, Authorities Urge Calm

Friday, March 29th, 2013 - by Scott Ott

Breaking news from the capital city suggests that the nation’s most notorious convict has somehow “escaped” — after his death sentence was carried out.

While authorities claim it’s merely a case of fanatic followers stealing the corpse of the condemned, our correspondents in the suburbs and villages bring word of multiple eyewitness encounters with the treasonous extremist in the hours and days since he was beaten, bled, and suffocated to death in a way the government reserves for the worst sorts of criminals.

If true, the government’s attempt to squelch a rebel movement has been turned on its head, and given new life by the very act of putting its leader to death.

There’s no dispute that the convicted felon was executed just before the weekend, since the act was witnessed by crowds of ordinary people, and many law enforcement officers and community leaders.

However, early Sunday authorities met privately with a security detail, which had been tasked with protecting the gravesite, to mull what to say publicly about the missing body. The official word — stolen corpse — rang hollow to those who knew that the grave had been guarded by heavily-armed soldiers whose own lives were in jeopardy if their mission failed.

While public officials refused comment, some local folks recalled that the condemned man, a freelance teacher who many credit with acts of physical healing that defy medical explanation, previously told his students he would be executed, buried and then “rise.” At the time, his remarks seemed mysterious and eccentric.

The “clearly impossible” news gathers credibility as regional social networks hum with stories of sightings, and even physical contact with a man who looks and speaks exactly like the deceased.

Officials are confident that the spurious accounts will fade once the body is located. They urge citizens to remain calm, and not to be taken in by scam artists who say that the dead man is alive, or that, as some claim, he can confer immortality on others.

More news as it happens

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New Spy Boss Swearing-In Lacks More Than Bill of Rights

Saturday, March 9th, 2013 - by Scott Ott

John Brennan takes oath on "dead letter"New CIA Director John Brennan thought he was taking the oath of office with his hand on the U.S. Constitution. He’s wrong. Not only did the document he used represent only a portion of the Constitution — lacking the amendments which are integral to it — but he swore his oath on a draft of a document that Framer James Madison specifically called “a dead letter.”

This goes beyond the bad optics of having the nation’s top spy sworn in on a Constitution stripped of the bill of rights — lacking the 5th amendment, for example, which sparked Sen. Rand Paul’s 13-hour filibuster this week.

As viewers of my ‘Freedom’s Charter‘ series on the making of the Constitution know, along with many other Americans, a “draft” of the Constitution from the Federal Convention of 1787 was nothing but a proposal. I don’t care if it had George Washington’s marginal notes on it. It’s not the Constitution.

As Madison knew, the Federal Convention had nothing but recommendatory power. It was the state-by-state ratification, carried out by conventions of the people (not legislatures), that gave the Constitution its power.

Brennan reportedly wanted to use the prop to demonstrate that the United States is a nation of laws not of men. He actually did the exact opposite. That draft of the Constitution is not law, it’s a suggestion by a group of 39 men.

In addition, the Constitution in 2013 includes 27 amendments, inseparable from the charter as “the supreme law of the land.”

So, we now have a CIA Director who has sworn his oath on a proposal that lacked due-process protections, that permitted slavery and allowed no women (nor 18-year-olds) to vote, allowed imposition of poll taxes, contained no term limits for the presidency, excluded the District of Columbia from the electoral college, and holds no limits on when and how Congress can raise its own pay. And the list goes on.

Hey, John, how about a do-over, and this time, use the Bible as an attestation that there’s a law-giver who’s smarter than all of us, from whom we derive our notions of right and wrong, and to whom we all ultimately answer. But if that gives you the willies, then at least use an actual copy of the U.S. Constitution.

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Mordor-City Madhouse: Detroiters Blow Off Taxman

Friday, February 22nd, 2013 - by Scott Ott

Gloom hangs on Detroit like a pair of sopping wet, beltless trousers on a street thug.

The Detroit News reveals that more than half of city residents ignore the property tax bill, and those who do pay it feel like suckers.

Of course, conservatives may rail that this is the byproduct of decades of ‘progressive’ governance. Not so fast. We may be seeing the development of a conservative Utopia.

You see, the city and most its residents have reached an agreeement. For its part, the city refrains from providing basic safety and infrastructure maintenance, while the residents do their part by investing their erstwhile tax dollars in food, clothing and recreational items (instead of taxes), all of which stimulates the economy.

So, if you want smaller government and lower taxes, the secret is to rapidly grow the size of government until it collapses.

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Pelosi: Pay Cut for Congress Beneath Their Dignity

Friday, February 15th, 2013 - by Scott Ott

If Democrats in Congress fail to prevent across-the-board spending cuts (AKA ‘the sequester’) their own $174,000 salary gets trimmed too, and Rep. Nancy Pelosi is offended by the notion.

“I don’t think we should do it; I think we should respect the work we do,” Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol. “I think it’s necessary for us to have the dignity of the job that we have rewarded.”

I’m confident we can work out a compromise so that Mrs. Pelosi and colleagues aren’t summarily stripped of their dignity. In fact, as representatives of the people, members of Congress ought to share in the blessings of the economic conditions they have fostered.

So, here are two suggestions:
1) Peg Congressional pay changes to changes in the median household income — down about 8.24% since 2007 — putting their pay at about $159,663. Of course, if they really wanted to identify with the people, we could set their pay AT the median household level, a cut of roughly $110,000. Members who serve inner-city districts could have their’s set to local rates.

2) If the first option also seems below their dignity, they could be rewarded according to their abilities, by putting them on straight commission, so their income increases with every dime they cut from the federal debt. It’s a ground-floor opportunity, and the sky’s the limit (actually, at $16.5 trillion in debt, the limit stretches above the sky).

In any case, I’m sure all Americans share Pelosi’s alarm at this clear and present threat to her dignity, and will proffer even better suggestions for preserving it inviolate.

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Piers Morgan Tweet Sparks Papal Confession

Monday, February 11th, 2013 - by Scott Ott

[From the ScrappleFace Global Religion Bureau]

Pope Benedict XVI shocked the world, and the Roman Catholic church, today when he “updated” his original justification for his early retirement, now admitting he’s quitting to spend more time slalom skiing, windsurfing and satisfying his passion for a variety of extreme sports.

The Vatican had initially indicated that the octogenarian pontiff was stepping down due to the physical infirmities of old age, but the Holy See was forced to admit the full story when Piers Morgan, the CNN talkshow host, tweeted skeptically

As a Catholic, I’m not buying this. Popes don’t just quit because they’re tired. What’s going on here??

The 85-year-old Benedict skips town after just eight years on the job, saying he needs more time for recreation, and to get back into shape. He’s the first pope since 1415 to resign, when Pope Tonyhawk CCCLX put down the mitre to pick up the skateboard.

A Vatican spokeman said the disappointment at the Holy See is palpable, since many were looking forward to the eventual pageantry of a papal funeral, which is how the faithful typically celebrate a pope’s retirement party.

Meanwhile, Piers Morgan said he’s asked his bishop for a special dispensation to get the first interview with an ex-Pope in 597 years. A Vatican spokesman couldn’t say if it would happen, but recommended that Morgan get ready to shoot a sit-down with the erstwhile Pontiff at the studio where NASA filmed the moon landing.

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ObamaCare Forcing non-Physicians to Play Doctor?

Monday, February 11th, 2013 - by Scott Ott

File this under unintended-but-foreseen consequences.

The massive influx of newly-insured folks in California, and the battery of mandated free services under ObamaCare meets the finite supply of physicians. And quality-of-care takes a back seat to the “fierce urgency of now” in the California legislature.

From the L.A. Times

They are working on proposals that would allow physician assistants to treat more patients and nurse practitioners to set up independent practices. Pharmacists and optometrists could act as primary care providers, diagnosing and managing some chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and high-blood pressure.

Of course, defenders of the status quobama will argue that it’s about time these other medical professionals got more respect, and that we busted the doctor’s godlike aura. But the Golden State isn’t considering these measures to hike the status of the underappreciated, but to deal with the impending tsunami of new office visits.

Supply meets artificially-enhanced demand, and they spawn longer lines, and lower quality of care.

BTW, do California lawmakers think there’s a glut of physicians’ assistants, nurse practitioners, etc., or that the existing pool of them have been sitting on their stethoscopes wishing they had something to do?

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A Picture: Woman at Military Cemetery

Saturday, February 9th, 2013 - by Scott Ott

Until she sobbed, we didn’t see her, even though just a few paces separated us.

We stood staring at the stone that marks the tandem grave of my Nan and Pop, he a veteran of World War II, she a veteran of raising four ‘adopted’ boys — my brothers and me. We stood amidst many acres of such stones in the fields where a grateful nation provides a measure of lasting dignity for the men and women who suffered innumerable indignities in the defense of liberty.

As I clasped my daughter’s hand and murmured ‘Has it really been seven years since Nan died?’ grief overflowed with the stifled sob behind us.

We turned to see a grey, hooded form kneeling, bent, clutching a cold stone marker, trembling. We could not see her face, nor the name on the stone that she wrapped in a desperate embrace. The ground was wet with snowmelt, and she knelt on something black. She had brought it with her for that purpose.

She had come to kneel, and to weep and to grieve and to pour out the bitterness from her longing heart.

She came to mourn.

My instinct was to go to her, and offer some words of comfort, but something restrained me. As if a voice said, “She came to mourn. She needs to mourn. Let her mourn.”

I took the picture because I never want to forget.

I share it with you for the same reason.

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Super Bowl Outage Caused by Light Trigger

Friday, February 8th, 2013 - by Scott Ott

Boom-boom, out go the lights. That’s the old Pat Travers Band track that looped through my mind for 34 minutes on Super Bowl night.

Well, it turns out (Heh. I see what you did there.) that a device meant to prevent such outages actually caused it.

So says the power company. But the firm that made the relay says the trip setting on the device was too low. Pilot error.

Of course, I’m genetically incapable of seeing ordinary events as, well, ordinary. I perpetually parablize, and metaphorinate. (The latter terms from my coinucopious personal lexicon.)

The framers of the Constitution put in place safety devices designed to trip in a crisis, but their decendents tend to doubt their efficacy. So, they set the trigger light. Instead of allowing free-markets to work, we intervene. Whether it’s the federal bailouts or the fiscal cliff, there are mechanisms which would function properly if allowed to do so, but politicians tweak the settings.

And we’re left in the dark.

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Has the Ax Already Fallen on Government Programs?

Friday, February 8th, 2013 - by Scott Ott

Our buddies over at ThinkProgress, alarmed at the looming sequester, say the federal government has already whacked funding for key safety-net programs that affect women, babies, grannies, airline passengers, and people who eat food.

However, when you read the piece, recall the words of our friend Fred Bastiat — one of your fave 19th-century French economists. Fred said there are things which are seen and things which are not seen. In the unseen realm (or at least the unforeseen realm), dwelleth the consequences of government policies which manipulate the economy.

We also can’t see Robert Frost’s ‘Road Not Taken‘. In other words, we don’t know what might have happened had the government not intervened.

Constrained as we are in this Polaroid of time — unable to see the future, or for that matter the possible futures — we simply gawk at that which IS and declare it ‘good’. Any threat to the status quo, by definition, is bad.

Of course, in the article I linked, another not-seen thing is context, as the author cherry-picks his facts, and implies that the absent facts would support his thesis.

It’s ironic that advocates of free markets and of individual liberty are called ‘conservative’, since for decades now, those desperately trying to conserve the status quo have been the advocates of state-controlled markets and of the subordination of the individual to the collective.

YOUR MISSION: Read the ThinkProgress piece, identify the ‘things which are not seen’, and post your findings in the comments here.

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American Citizens Fair Game Under Obama Doctrine

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013 - by Scott Ott

A Defense Department white paper, likely leaked by a Senator on the Intelligence Committee, advocates killing U.S. citizens abroad who are working with terrorist groups…no news there. But it also loosens up the definition of what justifies a drone-launched hellfire hit to the point where Americans will have to trust that the president killed him because some men just need killin’.

Call it the Obama Drone Doctrine, the white paper — which is not classified and does not carry the weight of law — actually expands on previous statements made by White House Counterterrorism Director John Brennan, and Attorney General Eric Holder. Brennan is Obama’s nominee for CIA director, facing Senate confirmation hearings this week.

It’s not an illegal assassination, according to the 16-page white paper, even if the uncharged, unconvicted U.S. citizen doesn’t seem to be planning any specific, imminent attack on U.S. interests. The president can order a citizen killed even if he thinks it might be too risky to capture him.

Even the chattering Left acknowledges that this would have been a huge controversy if it had come up during the Bush administration.

But I’m tired of saying and hearing: “Can you imagine what they would have said if Bush did this?” The Bush v. Obama comparisons get us nowhere.

Let’s examine this on its own merits. Bush is not the benchmark for appropriate exercise of presidential power, the Constitution is.

The real question: “Can you imagine if a president of the United States did this?”

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Obama Gun Pic Discharges Doubts About Skeet-Shooting Swag

Saturday, February 2nd, 2013 - by Scott Ott

Finally, the White House has proffered incontrovertible proof that President Obama is fully supportive of your Constitutional right to keep and bear arms, to defend yourself against skeet.

There now, that’s settled. Now, let’s talk about the federal budget, shall we?

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Does Liberty Work at Work, Even for Government Bureaucrats?

Thursday, January 31st, 2013 - by Scott Ott

If you really believe in individual liberty, and you’re politically active, do you believe that the people who work for government deserve the kind of liberty to which you aspire?

If you’re an advocate of free markets, does that really mean individual freedom in the marketplace, or merely that companies should be able to trade freely, but the employees of those companies are treated like untrustworthy children whose every move must be monitored, regulated and, if aberrant, punished?

Check out this presentation purportedly from the folks at Netflix that endeavors to create a culture of liberty, where adults are treated as such, there’s no vacation policy, and your value to the organization is based on the market price of replacing you if you leave.

It made me think, and my mind drifted to public-sector organizations. Sometimes conservatives, libertarians and Republicans can sound so hostile toward government bureacrats that I wonder how they envision the government actually functioning if their vaunted principles were to suddenly become policy.

Do we want freedom for the voter, citizen and taxpayer, but serfdom and penury for government employees? I suspect it’s something most of us have not contemplated fully.

Riffle through the Netflix slides, and then tell me what you think.

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Chicago Girl, Shot Dead, Adds to Grisly Toll in Obama’s Town

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013 - by Scott Ott

Last year, shooting deaths in the city with some of the most restrictive gun laws in the land topped 500. Since 2001, more than 5,000 have been felled by gunfire in this slaughterhouse-by-the-lake they call the Windy City. That’s more than twice as many as American troop deaths in Afghanistan.

Now, a 15-year-old girl — an honors student/athlete and musician — seeking shelter from the rain in a playground near an upscale neighborhood is shot in the back.

The president has a habit of rushing to disaster scenes when it suits his political agenda. I’m not asking him to attend the funeral and make a speech. I’m asking him to take his next vacation in his own Chicago mansion, in the town where his former chief of staff presides as Mayor.

It’s not AR-15s (illegal since 1992) or big magazines that are killing kids in Obama’s old backyard. And it’s been illegal to purchase or register a handgun there since 1982.

So, what is it really, Mr. President?

Why don’t you go home, give the Secret Service the night off, and take Bo out for a walk…so you can feel the fear that Chicago school kids know as their birthright. Michelle can stay home and listen to the anxious minutes tick away until you come back through the door safely. While she’s waiting, she can learn more about Shirley Chambers who just lost her fourth child to armed thugs in Chicago.

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Boehner: I Should Have Done the Obvious

Saturday, January 26th, 2013 - by Scott Ott

Mea Culpa, says Rep. Boehner, I should not have caved to President Obama, according to reports leaked to The Hill from those who saw the House Speaker’s no-press-allowed speech on Tuesday.

The day after Obama’s second historically historic election, Boehner passed his only bargaining chip across the table to his opponent, who then promptly jammed it up Boehner’s left nostril, jacking taxes and doing nothing about spending or the debt.

Boehner reportedly told a GOP club “hindsight is 20/20.” But in this case foresight was better than 20/20, if only he had listened to the roar of the people outside of the beltway.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me every day for four years, shame on the electorate in the state of Ohio, and the GOP caucus in the House who put this gullible man across the table from Foxy Loxy.

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Government-Approved Islam Books Coming to Library Near You

Thursday, January 24th, 2013 - by Scott Ott

Our local library here in Lower Macungie Township (Pa.) is among the many nationwide that will get 25 books about Islam thanks to an $800 million grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

And not a moment too soon. Without the government-approved books on Islam, Macungie might remain woefully bereft of crucial cultural knowledge, like hundreds of other clodhopper communities across this provincial land.

The grant appears to be funded mainly by the Carnegie Foundation, rather than taxpayer dollars, but why didn’t N.E.H. just fund it and let the libraries choose which books? Are the D.C. bureaucrats concerned that culturally-inept local librarians wouldn’t know how to pick the right books?

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The Hole in One of Biden’s Gun Scare Stories

Sunday, January 20th, 2013 - by Scott Ott

Joe Biden needs to take another mulligan on the facts.

He told a mayor’s conference that he heard the gunshots from the 2006 Amish school shooting while playing golf a quarter mile away. Turns out there’s no course there…not even close.

Before you laugh off another gaffe from “good old Joe,” consider the depravity of this craven man, and the administration that uses him.

He puts himself, Gump-like, near the scene of a grisly child slaughter to boost his credibility as he sells his anti-freedom agenda.

This is not pathetic or bumbling, it is calculated.

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