In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Jan. 6, 2004 / 26 Teves, 5765

And now, a rousing welcome to   —   Congress!

By James Lileks

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Congress is back in session. Are there any nobler words? "Rinse, repeat," perhaps. Or "Next on Fox."

Most years, the return of Congress is nothing more than the sound of the sheep bleating in the pen as the shepherds sharpen the shears. But things are different with the 109th.

The Bush administration is not interested in fixing the status quo so much as replacing it. In their dreams, the president leaves office with the tax system remade, democracy on the march in the Middle East, Social Security redefined to include private investment, and maybe a head start on beating China to Mars. Also the elimination of the key of B flat, which strikes some as annoying. And no more umlauts in The New Yorker when they use the word "cooperation." It's just so pretentious.

Here are some of the issues the 109th will address. Or pretend to.

  —   Simplification of the tax code. Right now the tax code consists of one rule for every living creature in the United States. Remove insects and birds, and it's about 14,237 rules per person. This generally means we're all doing something wrong, either by forgetting to apply for the 1083 Schedule B Miscellaneous Hummel Figurine Depreciation Benefit, or because we're not paying tax on the extra quarter the pop machine spat out by mistake. The tax code is longer than the Bible, in other words, with twice as much smiting and half as much forgiveness. Couldn't it be pared down?

Of course. But tax simplification can't be done halfway. To some it means shorter words in the 1040. To others it means replacing the entire code with bell-ringers and kettles on the street corner, soliciting donations. But to people who do not live their intellectual lives according to the wisdom of Che or Ayn Rand, there are two alternatives: a flat-rate tax or a consumption tax.

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Why have we not debated them seriously before? The obvious answer   —   because the Accountancy Lobby has used special ops to assassinate its enemies   —   is tempting but largely untrue. No, most conservatives either don't want the trouble or love their own pet loophole, and most liberals regard progressive taxation as the 11th commandment.

The chances of the Internal Revenue Service being eliminated this year are about the same as a small, Earth-bound meteor striking only Paris Hilton. In other words, it doesn't matter how desirable the outcome, it's not going to happen. At best we'll get another round of "simplification," which is like the meteor winging Paris' yappy little dog. But if the Democrats kill an attempt to simplify the tax code, they've handed the GOP an issue for the midterm elections.

  —   The draft. Greetings, Gen Y! Remember how you forgot to vote, again? Let this be a lesson. Sorry, but Uncle Sam needs you. What do you think we're going to use to occupy Iran, anyway? SPITBALLS?

Just kidding. Relax. But the Congress will have to address increasing the size of the armed forces, and surely it will have wide bipartisan support from all the carpers who've complained about troop levels in Iraq. Right?

  —   The federal deficit. My fellow senators, we all agree that the increasing amount of spending and borrowing is a great worry, and a burden on future generations. Therefore, let us OH MY L-RD LOOK OUT THE WINDOW IT'S GODZILLA RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!

Works every year.

  —   Trade issues. Step 1: We import 10 billion pounds of extruded plastic from China in various forms. Step 2: We build plants in China to manufacture the electronics we really need. Step 3: (blank) Step 4: Continued world domination! Resolved: We figure out Step 3. (Tabled; sent to committee)

  —   Social Security reform. Also known as the hysterical Sunday-morning pundit full employment act. President Bush might get this one through, if he sticks to a simple plan that hammers simple points: It's your money, and you ought to have a voice in how it's invested. Expect resistance from seniors who think Bush wants to convert their checks to quarters and feed them into slot machines. That's their job, dagnabbit!

In short: This is the start of the next phase of GOP activism. Lame duck? Maybe by 2008   —   and only lame from four years of kicking sacred cows, as hard and often as possible.

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JWR contributor James Lileks is a columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Comment by clicking here.


© 2005, James Lileks