Sunday, August 31, 2008
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Next to her resume, a guy who's done nothing but serve in the phony-baloney job of "community organizer" and write multiple autobiographies looks like just another creepily self-absorbed lifelong member of the full-time political class that infests every advanced democracy.
(Thanks to Kit and Fr. Erik for inspiring this post).
Friday, August 29, 2008
When he was told [that his son was born with Down's Syndrome], Todd Palin quickly said, "We shouldn't be asking, 'Why us?' We should be saying, 'Well, why not us?'"The Palins never considered aborting the baby. That means that Trig Palin is now is a very rare group of very special children, because it is now believed that the vast majority of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome before birth are being aborted.
Artist: Sonic Youth
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Former President Jimmy Carter said Thursday that John McCain is “milking every possible drop of advantage” from his time as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, USA Today reported Thursday.
Carter focused on McCain’s interview earlier this month with author and pastor Rick Warren at his parish, the Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif. McCain used every question, whether it was about religion, domestic or foreign affairs, to talk about his five-and-a-half years as a POW, Carter claimed.
Hispanics should not have to live in fear of raids by immigration agents, Michelle Obama told a Hispanic caucus to the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday.
Her husband, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, wants to reform immigration policies and provide illegal immigrants a path to citizenship, she said.
"We would have an immigration policy that brings 12 million people out of the shadows," she told cheering caucus members who shouted "Yes we can" in Spanish.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Instead, the priest drove to a restaurant in Orange where he ordered two margaritas for the victim, then brought the boy to Cortona Inn and Suites in Anaheim, the report says. There, the priest rented a room, and tried to order a pornographic film.“The clerk remembered the defendant because he came in twice to pay for the movie, since adult movies cost more,” Pedrin said.
A high school music teacher was sentenced Monday to 90 days in jail and ordered to register as a sex offender for child annoyance involving a 16-year-old student in his campus office during school hours.Watson then kissed and fondled the girl, sent her sexually suggestive text messages and attempted to coerce her into sex acts, Emami added.
Let's see . . .
Forrest Whitaker (naw, I figured he'd do that way)
Jason Alexander (surprise - didn't think he was that political)
Whoopi Goldberg (duh . . .)
Is that Fergie?
I think it's Wyclef Jean and I am not surprised.
AAAhhhhhh!!! Barry Manilow and his plastic surgery! Followed by someone famous, I guess, looking like a crack ho!
Cyni Lauper is looking old.
Can a Black not support Barack Obama and still be Black? Or do they take away your membership card?
Look! Entire symphonies love Obama!
Old chick followed by anachronistic geek.
Pamela Anderson and Her Girls!
Now I think the aforementioned crack ho looke like Keith Richards in drag.
Naw, this ain't a cult . . .
Some faces I just don't recognize, unhipster that I am. Or I might have gotten wrong. Y'all can tell me where I made a mistake.
What will these people do if The One doesn't win? Why did I just picture Jonestown in the jungle of Guyana?
Monday, August 25, 2008
Sunday, August 24, 2008
"He lied about me," said the Irvine resident, who retired as a Marine Corps colonel shortly after the war. "The attacks on my character and integrity are totally without merit or justification. I did stand up and say the war was wrong. I would speak against the war, but I never spoke against my country. And I gave up no secrets."
In McCain's book, "Faith of My Fathers," the Republican presidential candidate writes about two "camp rats" who "had lost their faith completely.""They not only stopped resisting but apparently crossed a line no other prisoner I knew had even approached," McCain wrote. "They were collaborators, actively aiding the enemy."While McCain did not name the two in the book, Miller and Walter Eugene Wilber are identified as the POWs in question in a June 15 New York Times story on McCain's 1974 essay about POW traitors. Miller said the newspaper story brought McCain's claims to his attention.
But there's something different about Miller's case. Although he was honorably discharged after his release in 1973, he was also officially censured, the censure letter stating that he had "placed (his) personal comfort and welfare above that of (his) fellow prisoners of war," and that his conduct was "severely detrimental" to POW welfare and morale. (Miller disputes that.) Also, when he ran unsuccessfully for election as county supervisor in 1980, more than 200 former Vietnam POWs denounced Miller as a willing collaborator, or worse.
As for North Vietnamese prisons, he almost makes them sound like La Costa Resort and Spa. Despite the well-documented abuses of American POWs by the North Vietnamese, Miller says his prison was "a Boy Scout camp," complete with ping-pong tables, books, even POWs strumming guitars. He says the guards were "fairly humane."
"There was very little torture," he says. "They probably beat up more people in the Orange County jail at that time than they did in Hanoi."
Saturday, August 23, 2008
"They upheld the ban, and then they engaged in what we lawyers call dicta that is frightening. You had an intellectually dishonest rationale for an honest justification for upholding the ban. I know this is going to sound arcane--they blurred the distinction between the government's role in being involved in the first day and the ninth month. They became paternalistic, talking about the court could consider the impact on the mother and keeping her from making a mistake. This is all code for saying, 'Here we come to undo Roe v. Wade.' What they did is not so much the decision, the actual outcome of the decision, it's what attended the decision that portends for a real hard move on the court to undo the right of privacy. That's what I'm criticizing about the court's decision."
Q: You have changed your position on abortion. When you came to the Senate, you believed that Roe v. Wade was not correctly decided and that you also believed the right of abortion was not secured by the Constitution. Why did you change your mind?
A: Well, I was 29 years old when I came to the US Senate, and I have learned a lot. Look, I'm a practicing Catholic, and it is the biggest dilemma for me in terms of comporting my religious and cultural views with my political responsibility.
Q: Do you believe that life begins at conception?
A: I am prepared to accept my church's view. I think it's a tough one. I have to accept that on faith. That's why the late-term abortion ban, where there's clearly viability.
Friday, August 22, 2008
Keep the faith!
Song: Summertime Rolls (live version)
Artist: Jane's Addiction
Thursday, August 21, 2008
In a case the judge called a "double betrayal," a Catholic priest who took a 17-year-old parishioner to a motel room, gave him alcohol and then tried to grope him was sentenced Wednesday to 180 days in jail for the crime.On Jan. 3, [Luis Eduardo] Ramirez – the church's youth director – brought the boy and, some tequila, to an Anaheim motel. There, he gave the youth the alcohol. He put his head on the boy's lap, tried to reach under the boy's shirt.
It was revealed in court Wednesday that the priest had a rap sheet, and had been convicted in 2006 for drunk driving in Orange County. That case warranted a sentence of three years probation.But Ramirez's attorney, Gary Pohlson, asked for leniency. He held up a wad of letters written by parishioners who support the priest, saying he has gotten about 2,000 letters.
"He is very remorseful for what he's done to the young man and the pain he's caused the young man's family," Pohlson told the judge.
Parishioners packed the room. When the judge announced his decision, two burst out sobbing. One supporter had to be dragged outside, his face red with anger.
"He's a good man," said another parishioner, Leonardo Cortez. "These are lies.''
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family," according to a diocese statement.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
So, did Bishop Brown call Monsignor Urell back from Canada too soon?
The pedophilic piñata that is Mater Dei High School just keeps on producing lawsuits alleging sex abuse. Recently revealed is yet another one filed May 31 (but recently unsealed) in Orange County Superior Court by a former Mater Dei student against former assistant boys' basketball coach Jeff Andrade. The lawsuit alleges Andrade began molesting the student in 1990 when she was 17 and involved penetration, forced oral copulation, and other wholesome student-teacher activities long condoned by Mater Dei staff. I hear the apologists already: She was 17--that's basically a woman! Not according to California state law, you disgusting losers. More details to come of the suit as they emerge--oh, joy! 
Meanwhile, in another part of Santa Ana . . .
A Roman Catholic priest facing criminal charges for taking an unaccompanied youth to a motel room was removed from his Santa Ana parish and placed in an area monastery pending his sentencing today in the case.
The Rev. Luis Eduardo Ramirez, a member of the Augustinian Recollects order who has worked at Our Lady of the Pillar parish since 2003, was arrested by Anaheim police Jan. 8 on suspicion of child annoyance or molestation and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
The case has not been publicized, other than an announcement in the church bulletin.
 As a note, I do not agree with the style in which Gustavo Arellano goes after his targets. Having said that, however, I find he is as accurate as The National Enquirer, which is actually saying a lot these days and should be read as a compliment.
For all the problems associated with belief in God, the death of God leads to far more of them.
- Without God there is no good and evil; there are only subjective opinions that we then label "good" and "evil."
- Without God, there is no objective meaning to life.
- Life is ultimately a tragic fare if there is no God.
- Human beings need instruction manuals.
- If there is no God, the kindest and most innocent victims of torture and murder have no better a fate after death than do the most cruel torturers and mass murderers.
- With the death of Judeo-Christian values in the West, many Westerners believe in little. That is why secular Western Europe has been unwilling and therefore unable to confront evil . . .
- Without God, people in the West often become less, not more, rational.
- If there is no God, the human being has no free will.
- If there is no God, humans and "other" animals are of equal value.
- Without God, there is little to inspire people to create inspiring art.
- Without God nothing is holy.
- Without God, humanist hubris is almost inevitable.
- Without God, there are no inalienable human rights.
- "Without God," Dostoevsky famously wrote, "all is permitted."
"Which God?" the secularist will ask. The God of Israel, the God of America's founders, "the Holy God who is made holy by justice" (Isaiah), the God of the Ten Commandments, the God who demands love of neighbor, the God who endows all human beings with certain inalienable rights, the God who is cited on the Liberty Bell because he is the author of liberty. That is the God being referred to here, without whom we will be vanquished by those who believe in less noble gods, both secular and divine.
A San Francisco city commission has taken a defiant stand against Mayor Gavin Newsom's directive on young immigrant felons by urging officials to permit the offenders to remain in the city and help pay for their housing, job placement services and immigration lawyers.
- It is offensive to those who might not be able to participate in the elections because of they are (a) undocumented aliens, or (b) convicted felons, or (c) both.
- It is offensive to "carnies" since they would love to bring a union into their gypsy lifestyle but the man is keeping them down, and it's no laughing matter, people!
- It is offensive to members of PETA because it clearly exploits animals by making them do cheap tricks in a carnival setting.
- It is offensive to Democrats because it sublimally supports the GOP since the elephant is bigger than the donkey, although my Little Golden Book of the Animal Kingdom always told me that zoologically speaking, yeah, elephants are bigger.
- It is offensive to the GLBT community because the relationship is obviously mixed and if I cared, I would have made it two asses.
Monday, August 18, 2008
Monday's case began in 2001 when Oceanside, Calif., lesbian Guadalupe Benitez sued Drs. Christine Brody and Douglas Fenton, who claimed their Christian faith prevented them from providing intrauterine insemination in some circumstances. The doctors, who worked at the North Coast Women's Care Medical Group in Vista, Calif., argued that they couldn't provide fertility treatments to Benitez because she wasn't married, but Benitez said they refused because of her sexual orientation.Monday's ruling reversed San Diego's 4th District Court of Appeal, which held in 2006 that Brody and Fenton should have been able to use their religious objections as an affirmative defense at trial.The Supreme Court's opinion, authored by Justice Joyce Kennard, said the doctors' actions violated the state's Unruh Civil Rights Act, which prohibits businesses from discriminating based on sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition or sexual orientation.
The opinion, however, wasn't all bad news for the doctors. While denying them an affirmative defense, the ruling held that the physicians are still free to voice their religious beliefs, including any objections they have to the Unruh Act's prohibition against sexual orientation discrimination. The doctors are also free to rebut the allegation that their treatment qualms had anything to do with the patient's sexual orientation.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
My friends, we are facing the transcendent challenge of the 21st century: radical Islamic fundamentalism.
At the moment of conception.
Friday, August 15, 2008
For the past couple of weeks, the general public had been told via the [Saddleback] church's Web site that ticket information would be forthcoming.
Then last week, the message changed and said a limited number of tickets would be available this Wednesday. Monday night, the message was revised again, saying all tickets had been distributed.
Church officials said they'd hoped to have some tickets available for the public but ran out when they couldn't satisfy demand among church members, who got the first crack at tickets that sold for $500 to $2,000.
Church officials said they decided to charge admission for people who wanted a chance to see the Republican and Democratic presidential hopefuls because of the expenses to stage the event and provide television feeds to a host of networks.
Some residents had concerns about the church taking money for a political event. One the church's Web site, Warren said he felt the event was not a violation of church and state. "It has no government sponsorship," he said in a statement.
Then God's temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of His covenant could be seen in the temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, and peals of thunder, an earthquake, and a violent hailstorm. A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
In March, 2007, he tried to make a speech in which he describes a concept he dubbed "the partnership," a group of powerful individuals he says that run the United States and has tried to assassinate him. As a result of this attempt, the school board is attempting to silence Rocco by voting to change the process that board members can place discussion items on the agendas of meetings.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
A federal judge says the University of California can deny course credit to applicants from Christian high schools whose textbooks declare the Bible infallible and reject evolution.Rejecting claims of religious discrimination and stifling of free expression, U.S. District Judge James Otero of Los Angeles said UC's review committees cited legitimate reasons for rejecting the texts - not because they contained religious viewpoints, but because they omitted important topics in science and history and failed to teach critical thinking.
Applicants may be required to meet new provisions under the policy to include:
* Applicants may be required to submit to psychological or polygraph testing as part of the background investigation.* License restrictions may be utilized for those holders who have situation-specific needs.* Applicants may be required to submit a medical clearance letter from their physician.
Great: OC citizens may have to have their head shrunk in order to obtain a dispensation to carry a concealed weapon.
Let's take the example of my father, were the great man alive today. For years, he managed a warehouse in the Bronx and, as part of his job, went to the bank to pick up the weekly payroll. Mind you, this was during a time when men got pay envelopes every Friday or Saturday, not checks, and "direct deposit" for most of them meant handing the green over to the Little Woman as soon as they got home, if they knew what was good for them.
But my father was allowed by NYC to carry a concealed weapon (a .357 magnum, as a matter of fact) because it was considered by all those possessing common sense that it might be somewhat unsafe for a single guy to walk with a zippered bag full of cash for a twenty-man payroll. Go figure.
What got him the permit? The nature of his duty; the fact that my father had no police record and was a law-abiding citizen; the voucher of his employer that he was an employee in good standing. Maybe he had to produce a few character references (not too hard, Dad knew a lot of characters), but I don't recall. Just the type of guy that Sheriif Hutchens would want to have a CCW, right?
Except right after WWII, Dad spent some time in the VA Hospital and continued to receive disability checks until his death, but not for anything physical. He had several "breakdowns" after the war, due in large part to the training and experiences he received as one of Darby's Rangers.
Now would Hutchens give him a CCW? Would the fact that after about 1948, Dad never had another breakdown, exhibited no behavior to warrant "psychological or polygraph testing", and was an outstanding human being until his death. Would she?
I hate to see common sense go by the wayside, but I hate even more to see personal liberties compromised when for many cases a lifetime of conduct can vouch for the safety of a particular person having a CCW.
Monday, August 11, 2008
The California Senate on Tuesday approved legislation that would declare May 22 "Harvey Milk Day," honoring the openly gay San Francisco supervisor assassinated nearly 30 years ago. (Milk was born May 22, 1930.)Not one Republican senator voted for the bill, which would encourage schools and other educational institutions "to conduct suitable commemorative exercises on that date," the Los Angeles Times reported.
What I'm trying to say is that it's my fault that Rielle Hunter had an affair with John Edwards. It's my fault his display of moral laxness let down his supporters, let down the country. It's my fault he cheated on his cancer-stricken wife and betrayed his three children.
She looked up, her face lit with happy incredulity. "You wrote that article that was published in an actual book that is in stores, in the room I sleep in. In the bed I sleep in." The homeowner had told her I wrote in bed. "It's amazing," Rielle said. "I can feel your energy in there.""But ... I have been gone for so long," I protested. "Surely my energy has decamped as well."This had no effect on her. She kept staring at me, that weird glaze still over her face. "Oh, no," she said. "You have really strong energy, and I can feel it in there, and it's telling me what I want to be.""And what is that?" I asked, knowing that it was probably too much to hope that what she wanted to be was the person who would get me another drink and then go away."I am going to be famous," Rielle said. "Rich and famous. I am going to meet a rich, powerful man."
Sunday, August 10, 2008
During the fourth watch of the night,he came toward them walking on the sea. When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified. “It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear. At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter said to him in reply,“Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened;and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”I thought about this reading today after hearing it at Mass. My question is why did Peter become afraid after he began to walk on water? Think about it – Peter is doing something pretty darn miraculous and one would think that he would skip for joy toward Christ. But the wonder of walking on water was seemingly overcome by a strong wind, which had already been bad that night – it was not as if it had suddenly come up while Peter was aquastrolling.
Here is my thought and it lies in the fact that this occurred during the fourth watch of the night. Traditionally, that is the period of about 3:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. Or, what we called in the Army, o’dark thirty. It was a time to be more aware of your surroundings, since it was the time the enemy would choose to attack, knowing you are tired and fatigued.
Ever sit in a dark field at night when you are in that state? I have, and on perimeter guard. One of the things you are taught in the Army is when you take watch, immediately orient yourself to your surroundings, so that you know about fifty yards to your right is a rock. Why? Because in o’dark thirty, your mind will start playing tricks and you will swear that rock moved. And if it did, it must be the enemy.
And when you think it is the enemy, your adrenaline fires up. You lock and load and go into a defensive mode. As you approach, you are sure, very sure of the job you have to do . . . when suddenly you start thinking, maybe it is that damn rock. And then you hesitate, whether for a nanosecond or longer, and in that hesitation know fear and uncertainty.
I think that is what happened to Peter. He hears Jesus say, “Come,” and out he charges, confident now that it is the Lord! And by gum, he’s walking on water!
But it’s o’dark thirty. Peter has been up all night in a boat and his mind suddenly suggests, are you sure it’s Christ? Sure he’s sure – he can see Him, right? Jesus is close enough to where when Peter cries out, “Lord, save me!” Jesus “immediately … stretched out His hand.” Peter is looking right at Him! But a voice inside still slyly asks, are you sure?
What’s the lesson? We need to be aware of our surroundings and be able to note when there are factors that keep us from recognizing Christ. You would think that when He performs a miracle for us – like allowing us to walk on water – that would be proof enough. But depression, anger, sadness, or anxiety can keep us from seeing Him. It’s when we are in the o’dark thirty of our days that our focus shifts away from what is happening with Him and to something else that serves only to distract.
Hey . . did that rock just move?!
As I posted earlier, I was going to be there with friends to catch Cheap Date, a very, very talented family of musicians (and good people, too).
The party started off easy and soon was swinging. With a band like like this, you can’t help but get up and dance. At one point, the band started the song, "Pink Houses” by John Mellencamp. You know the lyrics:
Aw, but ain’t that America,
For you and me,
Ain’t that America,
Yeah, something to see baby,
Ain’t that America,
The home of the free!
What happened next . . . the Olympics came up on the bar’s wide screens. The men’s 400 meter medly final race came on – and Michael Phelps was swimming. Now we were all going crazy. With the band interjecting shouts of “Team USA!”, we were simultaneously dancing, cheering, pointing at the screen, and singing.
Aw, but ain’t that America,
For you and me,
Ain’t that America,
Yeah, something to see baby,
Ain’t that America,
The home of the free!
And then the last few moments ticked off . . . and Phelps took the gold. Now everyone was really hollering and when the cameras flashed to President Bush and his family, the cheering went up in volume – maybe some folks don’t agree with him, but dammit, that was our Chief sitting there in China, and the USA had taken the gold, and everyone was happy. People were slapping high-fives all around.
God bless America. And thank you, Michael Phelps, for making us proud. At least in a small corner of Santa Ana, while you swam, a group of friends and strangers showed their appreciation while the band played on.
Aw, but ain’t that America,
For you and me,
Ain’t that America,
Yeah, something to see baby,
Ain’t that America,
The home of the free!
Saturday, August 09, 2008
An anti-abortion activist taking photographs outside a controversial Santa Ana family planning clinic suffered minor injuries Saturday afternoon after being attacked by a physician who obviously did not appreciate having his picture taken.
According to Santa Ana Police records, Howard Tendai Pfpajena, 66, was arrested on suspicion of assault and battery about 12:30 p.m. near Fourth and Sycamore streets. Online Christian and pro-life news services that earlier today reported [here and here] on the incident had “Pfupajena” as the spelling of the suspect's last name and claimed he is a physician at Clinica Medica Para La Mujer at 120 W 5th St., which is about a half block from where the suspect was arrested.After the man exited the clinic, Nissen snapped a shot before the jacket could be used as a cover again. The man then got in his car, and Nissen shot more photos. “The doctor had apparently had enough,” Sullenger said. “He started to drive off, but then he got out of his car, demanded the camera, and said Tim had no right to take his photo. Tim did not want give it to him, so he started back pedaling as the guy was pushing and grabbing at his camera. Tim fell over backwards and hit his head on a parking meter pole. It really jacked up his back. He lost control of his camera, his knuckles were all scraped.”
She claimed the man stomped on the camera in an attempt to break it. When Nissen retrieved his camera, “that's when the guy got him on ground, put his knee on his throat and started choking him," Sullenger said. "Tim thought, 'This guy could actually kill me.'”
Considering that abortion-performing doctors' pictures were frequently shared and circulated by people whose idea of being "pro-life" included, mysteriously, killing doctors who performed abortions, I think the "victim" here is being disingenuous at best. And I'm sure it's deep concern for women and their health that made him take pics there, just like those nice folks who care so much about us not getting venereal diseases that they take pictures of sex-shop patrons. Jimbo, taking a choice you will
never have to make away from a woman is not feminist. Be "pro-life" all you like, but keep your laws off our bodies.
Kelly Jones said: "Jimbo, taking a choice you will never have to make away from a woman is not feminist. Be 'pro-life' all you like, but keep your laws off our bodies." An issue I have with pro-choice folks, especially females, is the notion that pregnancy is solely a "female thing." It's not and that attitude only serves to devalue the role of fathers in our society. Perhaps a man's retort to Ms. Kelly's last statement could be, "Keep your forceps off our child. "
Friday, August 08, 2008
"We're very excited," said Sheehan, 51, the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq who is well-known for her protest outside President Bush's Texas ranch. "Now we have to get organized and regroup."
Former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards on Friday admitted to an extramarital affair while his wife was battling cancer. He denied fathering the woman's daughter.
Edwards told ABC News that he lied repeatedly about the affair with 42-year-old Rielle Hunter but said that he didn't love her. He said he has not taken a paternity test but knows he isn't the father because of the timing of the affair and the birth.
"Unbifurcated Garments are far more comfortable and suitable to male anatomy than trousers or shorts because they don't confine the legs or cramp the male genitals the way that trousers or shorts do," he wrote. "Please open your hearts — and inseams — for an option in mail carrier comfort!"
Song: Slit Skirts
Artist: Pete Townsend
Thursday, August 07, 2008
Here are the facts:
- Grandparents do not have standing for custody of the child and therefore they AND their attorney are ordered to leave the courtroom, thus affording them no chance to learn fully about the "allegations" except that Father claims they have "alienated" the child;
- Child is placed into foster care with no guarantee that he will be able to continue at the school where he has been doing so well, despite Grandparents saying they still want to continue paying for it for the child's sake;
- Grandparents are given supervised visitation with Child, which one may suppose was a "mercy gesture" by Judge.
They need to have one at Venice Beach, CA as well.
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
Oh, and if you can't make it Saturday, check them out on October 18, 2008 when they play the annual St. Joseph Fiesta.
Monday, August 04, 2008
The "windfall profits" tax is back, with Barack Obama stumping again to apply it to a handful of big oil companies. Which raises a few questions: What is a "windfall" profit anyway? How does it differ from your everyday, run of the mill profit? Is it some absolute number, a matter of return on equity or sales -- or does it merely depend on who earns it?
Enquiring entrepreneurs want to know. Unfortunately, Mr. Obama's "emergency" plan, announced on Friday, doesn't offer any clarity. To pay for "stimulus" checks of $1,000 for families and $500 for individuals, the Senator says government would take "a reasonable share" of oil company profits.Mr. Obama didn't bother to define "reasonable," and neither did Dick Durbin, the second-ranking Senate Democrat, when he recently declared that "The oil companies need to know that there is a limit on how much profit they can take in this economy." Really? This extraordinary redefinition of free-market success could use some parsing.Take Exxon Mobil, which on Thursday reported the highest quarterly profit ever and is the main target of any "windfall" tax surcharge. Yet if its profits are at record highs, its tax bills are already at record highs too. Between 2003 and 2007, Exxon paid $64.7 billion in U.S. taxes, exceeding its after-tax U.S. earnings by more than $19 billion. That sounds like a government windfall to us, but perhaps we're missing some Obama-Durbin business subtlety.
Maybe they have in mind profit margins as a percentage of sales. Yet by that standard Exxon's profits don't seem so large. Exxon's profit margin stood at 10% for 2007, which is hardly out of line with the oil and gas industry average of 8.3%, or the 8.9% for U.S. manufacturing (excluding the sputtering auto makers).
If that's what constitutes windfall profits, most of corporate America would qualify. Take aerospace or machinery -- both 8.2% in 2007. Chemicals had an average margin of 12.7%. Computers: 13.7%. Electronics and appliances: 14.5%. Pharmaceuticals (18.4%) and beverages and tobacco (19.1%) round out the Census Bureau's industry rankings. The latter two double the returns of Big Oil, though of course government has already became a tacit shareholder in Big Tobacco through the various legal settlements that guarantee a revenue stream for years to come.The point is that what constitutes an abnormal profit is entirely arbitrary. It is in the eye of the political beholder, who is usually looking to soak some unpopular business. In other words, a windfall is nothing more than a profit earned by a business that some politician dislikes. And a tax on that profit is merely a form of politically motivated expropriation.
It's what politicians do in Venezuela, not in a free country.