The Sin of Ingratitude

By Jerry Newcombe — Joey Adams told a joke that goes like this: Did you ever hear about the ungrateful lady at the beach who had a little child with her? She was too close to the water, and a big wave came in. By the time the water went back into the sea, she realized her son was missing. She looked all around for her little boy and cried out: “Melvin…Melvin…where are you, Melvin?” She realized he had been swept out to sea. So she prayed, “Oh, dear and merciful Father, please…please…take pity on me and return my beautiful child. I will promise eternal gratitude to you…I’ll never cheat on my income tax again. I’ll be kind to my mother-in-law. I’ll give up smoking…Anything…Anything… only please grant me this one favor and return my son.” Just then the next wave washed in, and there he was, safe and sound. Then she looks up to God and says, “But he had a hat!” Ingratitude runs deep in the human heart. Dostoyevsky once called man “the ungrateful biped.” What a nice thing to have a national holiday dedicated to the giving of thanks to God. In addition to praise and Bible-reading, I have begun to start my Thanksgiving days by participating in a 5k or 10k run. I “ran” (I’m pretty slow) a 10k the other year, and there was a man with half a body using a skateboard and with hands covered with thick gloves. He pushed himself through the whole thing—6.2 miles. I found out after the race that he had been born that way, and he has even participated in the New York City Marathon. Life dealt him a heavy blow, but he took it in stride and with gratitude nonetheless. I marvel at his attitude. Ingratitude comes easily to most of us. My mom used to always say: “As a rule, a man’s a fool; / When it’s hot, he wants it cool. / When it’s cool, he wants it hot— / Always wanting what is not.” “Give a man everything he wants,” declared Immanuel Kant, “and at that moment, everything will not be everything.” This morning I was struggling to read the very opening of John’s Gospel in the Greek New Testament. One of the things he says there of Jesus is that “Without Him nothing was made that has been made.” That means you, me, everybody, and everything. Yet how many give Him thanks? Nonetheless, every beat of every human heart is by His grace. I think in many ways our nation is rife with ingratitude. We have been blessed in innumerable ways, yet through it all, we have forgotten the source of that blessing. America’s history is summed up well in 1702 by the great Puritan minister Cotton Mather. He said, “Religion begat prosperity, and the daughter hath consumed the mother.” America became prosperous because of our Christian roots. But in our prosperity, we have forgotten God. As Pastor Paul Jehle of Plymouth, Massachusetts says, “We like the fruit, but not the root.” Look at America—a nation that historically has been so blessed by God. George Washington said in his First Inaugural Address (4/30/1789), “No people have more reason to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency.” He said in another context, “The hand of Providence has been so conspicuous in all this, that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more than wicked, that has not gratitude enough to acknowledge his obligations.” Washington said America should be grateful. He was the first to declare (10/3/1789) a National Day of Thanksgiving to God. (These days you have to clarify that last point.) The same Congress that gave us the First Amendment (which is today being used to try to keep God out of the public arena) suggested to Washington that he make this declaration, in thanks for the Constitution. Lincoln was the president who made Thanksgiving (to God) an annual event. He said America should be grateful. Even during the calamity of our nation’s greatest crisis, the Civil War, he said, Let us give thanks. In a different proclamation (3/30/1863), he said America has amnesia—toward God, the source of our blessings. He noted, “We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown; but we have forgotten God.” This Thanksgiving, may I suggest a simple exercise? Carve out a few minutes with a sheet of paper and list a hundred things that you’re grateful for. I have done that a few times, and I’m struck by how much I’m grateful for. I must admit it reminds me of how ungrateful I often am. “Who is rich?” asked Ben Franklin: “He that rejoices in his Portion.” He also said, “Content[ment] makes poor men rich; Discontent[ment] makes rich Men poor.” Warren Weirsbe wrote: “Yesterday God helped me, / Today He’ll do the same. How long will this continue? / Forever—praise His Name.” I hope for more Americans that this Thanksgiving may be a meaningful time of genuine thanks to the Lord. To paraphrase a great Puritan prayer: “God, you’ve given me so many things. Give me one more thing—a grateful heart.” ### Jerry Newcombe is cohost/TV producer of Kennedy Classics. He has written/co-written 25 books, including The Book That Made America, Doubting Thomas (w/ Mark Beliles on Jefferson), and (w/ D. James Kennedy) What If Jesus Had Never Been Born? & (w/ Peter Lillback), George Washington’s Sacred Fire. tiam.org  jerrynewcombe.com  @newcombejerry

The Goal of Our Political Process is Not to Create a Government That Works

The New York Times recently ran an op-ed column calling for the end of midterm elections. Since the column was posted on the eve of a midterm election leading to record Republican gains, many readers presumably just rolled their eyes and chalked it up to the Times being opposed to anything that helps Republicans. There is probably some truth to that. If the Republicans win the White House in 2016, the Times will likely find substantial merit in the 2018 midterms. But there is more to the story than just partisan cheerleading. The Times column, written by David Schanzer, a Duke University professor, and Jay Sullivan, a Duke student, contains a dark undercurrent of desire to free those in power from accountability to voters. “In the modern age,” they write, “we do not need an election every two years to communicate voters’ desires to their elected officials.” That is technically true. Elected officials can find out the desires of voters, but that doesn’t mean they act upon them. Getting politicians to respond to voters requires elections. Even in an age where incumbents routinely get re-elected, the fear of being rejected by voters can have a powerful impact on the legislative process. In fairness to Schanzer and Sullivan, they frame their objective as a desire to make government work better. They worry about the fact that midterms tend to “weaken” presidents and “cripple” their agendas. To fix this perceived problem, they advocate having all federal officials on the ballot at the same time. Let the people elect Senators and Representatives only when there is a presidential election. With such a system, those elected would have four years to develop their theories and projects without interference from the voters. That’s a reasonable approach if your goal is to have a more energetic and efficient government. However, it misses the larger point. The purpose of our political process is not to create a government that works. It is to create a society that works. Those are two very different objectives. A government that works well can be dangerous to society if it’s run by ambitious men and women seeking to use it for their own purposes. That’s why our government was established with a careful system of checks and balances. Today, many are frustrated when the House and Senate can’t agree on what some see as common sense legislation. While frustrating, that’s the way the process is supposed to work. As James Madison put it, “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition.” The fact that Representatives are elected for two-year terms, presidents for four years and senators for six is a wonderful feature of our electoral process, rather than something to be fixed. It limits the amount of change that can be brought about by the passing passions of the moment in any individual election. It makes it harder for ambitious and ideological politicians to overwhelm the common sense wisdom of the American people. Our system of checks and balances is not perfect. But the problem is not that it places too many limits on politicians. It’s that presidents and other politicians have found too many loopholes to escape the appropriate limits on their power. To find out more about Scott Rasmussen and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2014 SCOTT RASMUSSEN DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

Immigration and Christian Charity

With the midterm elections over, President Obama now apparently feels himself freed to do via executive order what Congress has been unable or unwilling to do: declare millions of people here in the United States unlawfully to be legally present. That prospect has divided the nation. I keep thinking back to the protests in Murrieta, California, over the summer that received so much attention. The spectacle was ugly — Americans blocking buses filled largely with women and children from Central America, holding up signs that said things like, “Go home!” and “Return to sender!” Roman Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan from the Archdiocese of New York was appalled, and said so on his blog. The scene was, he said, “un-American. It was unbiblical. It was inhumane.” Dolan, like many others, invoked Christ’s exhortations to welcome the alien, the widowed, the orphaned and to treat “the least” among us as we would Christ Himself. The idea of deporting millions of people already here is absurd and appalling. The magnitude of the suffering it would create is almost unfathomable. This past week, actress Diane Guerrero tearfully described her own experience having her family taken away, leaving her alone to fend for herself at 14. (Born in New Jersey, Guerrero is a U.S. citizen). She returned home from school one day to find everyone gone — they had been taken by immigration authorities and were subsequently returned to Colombia. She has been separated from them since. Multiply that story hundreds of thousands of times. Why would we want any child, any family to go through this? But there are at least two critical issues: first, the responsibility for reforming immigration law — which desperately needs reforming — lies with Congress, not the president. We cannot allow the Executive Branch to wholesale usurp the legislative role. (Progressives who disagree need only consider the prospect of a conservative president attempting the same thing.) Second, assuming that such a law was legitimately passed by Congress, then what? This is the part of the story one never hears discussed. Even if we manage to reform our immigration laws, will we enforce them? President Obama insists that he will veto any legislation that isn’t “comprehensive immigration reform.” But “comprehensive immigration reform” always means, “amnesty now, border enforcement later.” And later never comes. In 1986, amnesty was given to nearly three million people living in the United States illegally. The border was supposed to be secured thereafter. It wasn’t. 30 years later, four times that number are now here. Where are the proposals that state clearly how our immigration laws will be reformed so that families like the Guerreros can apply for and obtain lawful residency within a reasonable period of time? Where are the regulations that will keep out drug and gun runners, and other criminals? Where are the bills that demonstrate how our borders will be enforced thereafter, so that 12 million does not become 20 million? The world is filled with suffering people; we cannot take all of them. And none of this even mentions the risks of terrorists exploiting porous borders. When the citizens of Murrieta blocked those buses, their anger seemed directed not as much at the immigrants as it was at their own government, which thumbs its nose at their concerns. Americans in Southern California and other border states live with the realities of unenforced borders every day. The government’s response is to announce that tens of thousands more will arrive and the Border Patrol will be told to do nothing. Cardinal Dolan and others call for Christian charity. But it isn’t charity when people pour across the border to take fraudulent advantage of welfare programs that Americans are taxed to provide. It isn’t charity when lax enforcement permits the release of felons into our cities. Furthermore, people pouring across the border unaccounted for doesn’t permit any kind of systematic assistance from Americans who are eager to help; a regulated and monitored system of admitting people into the United States would make it easier for churches and other groups who want to provide assistance to immigrant families. Christian charity and a rational immigration system go hand in hand. To find out more about Laura Hollis and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2014 CREATORS.COM

Who Is a Disciple of Christ?

“People will know that I am a follower of Jesus if I get caught doing good deeds,” says Emma, 8. Being caught for doing good deeds? That isn’t the way it worked at the elementary school I attended. But that’s the policy instituted at Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy where Emma attends. When students get caught for doing something good, teachers send them to the principal’s office. There they choose a prize from a treasure chest packed with all sorts of goodies. The only thing I remember about visits to the principal’s office is the board. I treasured every instance in which I walked away from a visit without feeling the effects of that board when I sat down. Anna, 7, says Jesus’ disciples will love people by “telling them about Jesus, giving stuff to poor people and making pictures for grandma, grandpa, sister, brother, mom and dad.” Consider yourself blessed if a child draws a picture for you. Some of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received have been from young children who drew pictures for me at Kids Talk About God Arts Festivals. Whether the art is a masterpiece or simple stick figures, one thing remains consistent. Children’s faces always beam when they hand me their pictures. Jesus had taught that the way up in his kingdom is the way down. That’s the direction Jesus went when he demonstrated how his disciples should love one another at the Last Supper. He started the evening by washing feet. Jesus performed a task normally reserved for servants. At the Last Supper, the apostle Peter initially objected to the Lord washing his feet. Taking on the role of a servant is so contrary to the way we think, but it’s the way Jesus said people would know his disciples. People will know you’re a disciple “by the way you act,” says Faith, 9. “It’s what’s inside. More like your attitude. If you have a bad attitude, people aren’t going to think about you being a Christian.” You can’t fake it. “A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance,” says the Proverb (15:13). Every face needs grace. Even a beautiful or handsome face can appear ugly if the heart is agitated or depressed. I was amazed one day when the owner of a health food store I frequented asked me why I was always smiling. I didn’t realize my joy was showing. “I try to help people as much as I can,” says Abby, 9. “I try to help my mom with dinner. I will feed my birds, also. My mom usually fixes salad. I help.” Enroll in God’s Discipleship University by being faithful in whatever he gives you today. God honors faithfulness in small things by promoting us to greater opportunities to demonstrate his love. Think about this: Jesus demonstrated his love by offering his life as a sacrifice for the sins of the entire world. Jesus followed his Father’s will all the way to the cross so that we might receive eternal life by believing in him. Memorize this truth: “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13). Ask this question: Would anyone accuse you of being a disciple of Christ? Listen to a talking book, download the “Kids Color Me Bible” for free, watch Kid TV Interviews and travel around the world by viewing the “Mission Explorers Streaming Video” at www.KidsTalkAboutGod.org. Bible quotations are from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted. To find out more about Carey Kinsolving and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2014 CAREY KINSOLVING DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.

TV Anchors Shouldn’t Lecture About Democracy

On the Sunday before the election, CBS “Face the Nation” host Bob Schieffer unloaded one of those pompously “progressive” end-of-show commentaries about how our democracy is being ruined by money. “The right to vote is our proudest possession, but the way it has become debased by money shames us all.” He claimed “Congress hasn’t done anything in years, yet these midterm elections will be the most expensive in history, just like the last one — $4 billion this time around. That’s billion with a B,” he lamented. On one level, he is correct. Special interests are purchasing candidates right and left and spending money at a dizzying pace. Consider: the North Carolina Senate campaign this year will cost more than all candidate spending in the presidential campaign of 1980. Still, wouldn’t it be fun to throw back in his face the idea that candidates are buying more and more TV ads in part because there’s less and less TV news about politics? Who could possibly be an informed voter if they just limited their diet of political information to ABC, CBS, and NBC? People quickly get sick of campaign ads, but they couldn’t accurately claim they’re sick of campaign news stories. The networks have been almost completely absent in this campaign season, obsessing over Ebola and violent football players instead of politics. ABC’s “World News Tonight” didn’t air a single story on the midterms from June 11 to Oct.27. That somehow did not make Schieffer’s sermon on the abuse of the democratic process. Deliberately refusing to report on a campaign is every bit as bad, or worse, than overspending on it. . CNN’s Brian Stelter insisted on Sunday that the dearth of network coverage of this year’s midterms wasn’t liberal bias — avoiding the “bad news” of Barack Obama’s unpopularity and the resulting decline of the Democrats’ appeal. “To me, it’s not about bias, so much as it is about priorities. They decide to prioritize other stories, in many cases more entertaining stories, because that’s what the public seems more interested in.” Taking Stelter at his word, we conclude that maybe democracy is falling apart because the viewers have voted with their remote controls for “priorities” other than politics. They want more “news” like this example from ABC’s “Nightline”: “Have a sexy selfie? So do they [celebrities]. From celebs to the new nude reality stars, it looks like everyone is baring it all. Why we’re stripping down now more than ever!” That led the show, followed by a segment on “Royal Baby Mania” in Great Britain. Sensationalistic garbage is winning. The same is true of local TV news, which likewise avoids political news as a ratings loser. Nobody in TV news is going to force-feed the “vegetables” of politics to viewers when they can make money focusing on nude reality stars. But in Schieffer’s estimation, politics has been ruined by politicians and campaign consultants, transforming “what used to be an amateur sport into a professional business where the jobs that volunteers used to do for free have been outsourced to professionals. … And in the process winding up with an inferior product, a government that remains in permanent gridlock.” True again — but hypocritical coming from Schieffer. TV “news” has been taken over by accountants and consultants who create an inferior product where politics is squeezed out in favor of weather news, tabloid material, and feel-good “human interest” stories. Anchormen lecture that our government is broken while they would rather pull out their own eyebrows than cover a congressional hearing. The way these networks largely ignored the 2014 midterms was journalistic malpractice. They are the last people to lecture America about why our elections are debased. L. Brent Bozell III is the president of the Media Research Center. Tim Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog NewsBusters.org. To find out more about Brent Bozell III and Tim Graham, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2014 CREATORS.COM

My Veterans Day Test

With Veterans Day being Nov. 11, patriots everywhere feel a sense of pride as we again honor all who have served our country. But can you pass my Veterans Day test? Do you know these facts about Veterans Day? According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau statistics: —There are 19.6 million veterans in the U.S. —There are 9.3 million U.S. veterans who are older than 65. —There are 1.6 million younger than 35. —There are 1.6 million female veterans. —There are 39,890 veterans still alive who served during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. —There are 3.6 million veterans with a service-connected disability rating. Veterans Day originated as Armistice Day on Nov. 11, 1919, the anniversary of the end of the Great War, now known as World War I. (An armistice is an agreement by opposing forces to stop fighting.) In 1926, Congress passed a resolution to make Nov. 11 an annual observance. In 1938, Nov. 11 became a national holiday. In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation that changed Armistice Day to Veterans Day to honor those who served in all American wars. It’s interesting to note that in 1968, Congress changed Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October so that federal employees would have another three-day weekend. But in 1975, President Gerald Ford changed the date back to Nov. 11, effective in 1978, because of its initial importance. Veterans Day is commonly confused with Memorial Day. That is why it is important for citizens to realize Veterans Day falls on Nov. 11 and honors living service members, whereas Memorial Day is commemorated on the fourth Monday in May and honors those who have died in service of our country or from resulting injuries thereof. As far as caring for living veterans goes, History’s website highlights a few noteworthy facts: “The VA health care system had 54 hospitals in 1930, since then it has expanded to include 171 medical centers; more than 350 outpatient, community, and outreach clinics; 126 nursing home care units; and 35 live-in care facilities for injured or disabled vets.” A 1946 Gallup poll revealed that most veterans — 75 percent from World War I and 69 percent from World War II — believed that the U.S. government had given them sufficient help. What’s interesting is that uninjured combat vets from World War I were given “little more than a $60 allowance and a train ticket home,” according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. With the GI Bill becoming law in 1944, however, additional benefits for vets included education, job training, unemployment compensation and guaranteed home and business loans. My father fought in World War II at the Battle of the Bulge. I served for four years in the Air Force in South Korea, and my brother Aaron served in the Army in the Korean Demilitarized Zone. My other brother, Wieland, was killed in action in Vietnam when he walked point alone and drew out enemy fire so that others in his platoon could fight their way out to freedom. Many souls were saved on that day because of my brother’s bravery. (My mom wrote a chapter on each of us and our military service — and for the first time tells Wieland’s war story at length — in her autobiography, “Acts of Kindness: My Story,” available at https://www.chucknorris.com.) Honoring vets on Veterans Day is about not knowledge but homage. It is not about looking at your neighbor’s Stars and Stripes but about posting Old Glory with pride on your own home. It is not about merely saluting from afar those who have served but about shaking the hands of those who have valiantly sacrificed their time and lives for our republic. I agree with these words by President John F. Kennedy: “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” You want to pass my Veterans Day test? Then educate others about veterans and, as often as they are before you, shake the hands of those who are serving or have served our country as you say, “Thanks for your service.” On behalf of millions of Americans, my wife, Gena, and I salute all who serve and have served our great country and the cause of freedom. And we pray daily for those who continue to put themselves in harm’s way and humbly bow our heads in thanks for our fallen heroes who have given their lives so that we might live ours. Follow Chuck Norris through his official social media sites, on Twitter @chucknorris and Facebook’s “Official Chuck Norris Page.” He blogs at https://chucknorrisnews.blogspot.com. To find out more about Chuck Norris and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2014 CHUCK NORRIS DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

The Shrinkage of the Obama Majority

Some observations on the election: (1) This was a wave, folks. It will be a benchmark for judging waves, for either party, for years. (2) In seriously contested races, Republican candidates were generally younger, more vigorous, more sunny and optimistic than Democrats. The contrast was sharpest in Colorado and Iowa, which voted twice for President Obama. Cory Gardner and Joni Ernst seemed to be looking forward to the future. Their opponents grimly championed the stale causes of feminists and trial lawyers of the past. Democrats see themselves as the party of the future. But their policies are antique. The federal minimum wage dates to 1938, equal pay for women to 1963, access to contraceptives to 1965. Raising these issues now is campaign gimmickry, not serious policymaking. Democratic leading lights have been around a long time. The party’s two congressional leaders are in their 70s. The governors of the two largest Democratic states are sons of former governors who won their first statewide elections in 1950 and 1978. This has implications for 2016. Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee, worked in her first campaign in 1970. She has been a national figure since 1991. The Clintons’ theme song, “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow,” was released in 1977. That will be 39 years ago in 2016. (3) The combination of Obama’s low job approval and Harry Reid’s virtual shutdown of the Senate insured a Republican Senate majority. Reid prevented amendments — Mark Begich of Alaska never got to introduce one — that could have helped them in campaigns. Votes were blocked on issues with clear Senate majorities — such as the Keystone XL pipeline, medical device tax repeal and the bipartisan patent reform bill backed by Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. That left Democrats running for re-election stuck with 95-plus percent Obama voting records. It left them with no independent votes or initiatives to point to. Reid kept Democratic candidates well-stocked with money. But not with winning issues. (4) Democratic territory has been reduced to the bastions of two core groups — black voters and gentry liberals. Democrats win New York City and the San Francisco Bay area by overwhelming margins, but are outvoted in almost all the territory in between — including, this year, Obama’s Illinois. Gov. Jerry Brown ran well behind in California’s Central Valley, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo lost most of upstate New York. Democratic margins have shrunk among Hispanics and, almost to the vanishing point, among young voters. Liberal Democrats raised money to “turn Texas blue.” But it voted Republican by wider than usual margins this year. Under Obama, the Democratic base has shrunk numerically and demographically. With superior organization, he was able to stitch together a 51 percent majority in 2012. But like other Democratic majority coalitions — Woodrow Wilson’s, Lyndon Johnson’s, even Franklin Roosevelt’s — it has proved to be fragile and subject to fragmentation. (5) In many states — including many carried twice by Obama — Republicans have been governing successfully, at least in the estimation of their voters. Gov. Scott Walker has won his third victory in four years in Wisconsin against the frantic efforts of public employee unions. Gov. John Kasich won a landslide victory against a flawed opponent in Ohio, and Gov. Rick Snyder won solidly in Michigan after signing a right-to-work law hated by private sector unions. In Florida, Gov. Rick Scott’s second consecutive one-point victory means that Republicans will be in control for 20 years in what is now the nation’s third-largest state. Democratic governance, in contrast, was rebuked by the voters in Massachusetts, in Maryland (with the nation’s fourth highest black population in percentage terms) and in Obama’s home state of Illinois. (6) The Obama Democrats labor under the illusion that a beleaguered people hunger for an ever-bigger government. The polls and the election results suggest, not so gently, otherwise. The fiasco of healthcare.gov, the misdeeds of the IRS, the improvisatory warnings of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — all undermine confidence in the capacity of big government. Looking back over the last half-century, the highest levels of trust in government came, interestingly, during the administration of Ronald Reagan. (7) This election was a repudiation of the big government policies of the Obama Democrats. It was not so much an endorsement of Republicans as it was an invitation to them to come up with better alternative policies. In the states, some Republicans have. At the national level, they are just getting started. We’ll see how they do. Michael Barone, senior political analyst at the Washington Examiner, (www.washingtonexaminer.com), where this article first appeared, is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2014 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

8 Founders Advise How to Vote

Vice President Joe Biden was exactly right when he said as he campaigned in Iowa on Oct. 27, “Folks, this election is even more important than the two elections you elected Barack and me.” With President Obama’s approval rating tanking to 38 percent in September, I can understand why Biden is shaking in his boots. The fact is that this election can serve for the 6 in 10 voters who are disappointed with the administration as a mega-loudspeaker and overarching referendum. As a way of showing the potential power of that vote, I want to share what America’s founders told us. This is what eight Founding Fathers want you to remember as you go to the polls and draw the curtain on that voting booth. (A special thanks goes to David Barton from WallBuilders for providing this information at https://www.wallbuilders.com.) Samuel Adams, organizer of the Boston Tea Party and signer of the Declaration of Independence, wrote: “Nothing is more essential to the establishment of manners in a State than that all persons employed in places of power and trust be men of unexceptionable characters. The public cannot be too curious concerning the character of public men.” John Adams, our second president, wrote: “We electors have an important constitutional power placed in our hands; we have a check upon two branches of the legislature, as each branch has upon the other two; the power I mean of electing, at stated periods, one branch, which branch has the power of electing another. It becomes necessary to every (citizen) then, to be in some degree a statesman, and to examine and judge for himself of the tendency of political principles and measures. Let us examine, then, with a sober, a manly … and a Christian spirit; let us neglect all party virulence and advert to facts; let us believe no man to be infallible or impeccable in government, any more than in religion; take no man’s word against evidence, nor implicitly adopt the sentiments of others, who may be deceived themselves, or may be interested in deceiving us.” Thomas Jefferson, principal author of the Declaration of Independence and our third president, said, “Should things go wrong at any time, the people will set them to rights by the peaceable exercise of their elective rights.” Alexander Hamilton — chief of staff to Gen. George Washington, one of the greatest advocates of the U.S. Constitution and founder of the first American political party and our nation’s financial system — wrote, “A share in the sovereignty of the state, which is exercised by the citizens at large, in voting at elections is one of the most important rights of the subject, and in a republic ought to stand foremost in the estimation of the law.” John Jay, the first chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and the second governor of New York, wrote, “Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.” William Paterson — a signer of the U.S. Constitution, an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and the second governor of New Jersey — wrote, “When the righteous rule, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan.” William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania, noted: “Governments, like clocks, go from the motion men give them, and as governments are made and moved by men, so by them they are ruined too. Wherefore governments rather depend upon men than men upon governments. Let men be good, and the government cannot be bad. … But if men be bad, let the government be ever so good, they will endeavor to warp and spoil it to their turn.” Noah Webster, a strong advocate of the Constitutional Convention and known as the “Father of American Scholarship and Education,” advised: “In selecting men for office, let principle be your guide. Regard not the particular sect or denomination of the candidate — look to his character. … When a citizen gives his suffrage to a man of known immorality he abuses his trust; he sacrifices not only his own interest, but that of his neighbor; he betrays the interest of his country.” Follow the above advice and we’ll vote for the right candidates and issues, as well as reboot our county, state and federal governments upon those who are worthy of our respect. Enough said. Now, go vote, and encourage others to do the same! Follow Chuck Norris through his official social media sites, on Twitter @chucknorris and Facebook’s “Official Chuck Norris Page.” He blogs at https://chucknorrisnews.blogspot.com. To find out more about Chuck Norris and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2014 CHUCK NORRIS DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

Save Taxes Start NOW!

The holiday decorations aren’t up yet, and the Christmas carols haven’t hit the radio yet. That would really be rushing the season. But there’s one place where it pays to do your shopping early if you want to save money: Taxes! There are a few steps you can take now before the holiday rush to reduce your tax bill. Increase Retirement Plan Contributions Have the HR department take a little bit more out of your paycheck to increase your tax-deductible contribution to the 40l(k) or 403(b) plan. Unlike an IRA, you must make this year’s contributions before year-end. And the limits are generous: $17,500 if you’re under age 50, and $23,000 at age 50 or older. But even if you can’t contribute the max, every little bit will grow tax deferred. If your company gives you a matching contribution, you get a double benefit — tax deduction and “free money.” You can’t afford to miss out on that deal. And though it sounds painful, you’ll get by without those extra few dollars in your paycheck. Use Flex Spending — Save HSA Account There are two different kinds of health care savings accounts. The Flex Spending account must be spent before yearend. Don’t wait until the last minute to consider appropriate purchases. Schedule eye exams or dental procedures now, before the holiday crunch. This is use-it-or-lose-it money, so be sure to take advantage of any opportunities. For a list of approved spending items, go to IRS Publication 502 online. But if you have a health savings account, it can roll over for future use. Although you do want to schedule regular preventive care, there’s no rush to use this money as it will grow tax-deferred to be used for some future medical expense. Open Enrollment for Health Care Plans Even if you already are enrolled in an individual health care plan for 2014, it may pay to check out the features of other plans, and their costs, for 2015. Yes, you’ll have to navigate Healthcare.gov again! But this year should be less confusing. Remember that open enrollment starts on Nov. 15, and ends on Dec. 31. Be sure to avoid this last-minute crunch. Other Healthcare Deadlines Seniors should check on new deals being offered on Medicare Part D. Even if you take the same drugs, or don’t take any drugs at all, you must have Part D coverage. Many plans have changed their pricing or their formularies. The best way to find out is to go to Medicare.gov and click on the plan finder tool. And you might also want to check on the best Medicare supplement plan — or enroll in Medicare Advantage. You’ll be surprised at how much money you might be able to save by considering other supplement plans. You can compare Medigap supplements at the Medicare.gov website. Or if you’d like some handholding and advice, go to eHealthInsurance.com and they will help you find both a supplement and a Part D prescription drug program to fit your needs. Consider Charitable Contributions Pretty soon the bells will be ringing on the Salvation Army kettles. But if you make larger donations, it pays to get a receipt so you can deduct the amounts from your income. Start now to think about worthy causes. Make a list so your generous impulses don’t overwhelm your budget. Check out charities on Guidestar.org to make sure they are legitimate, and have a reasonable expense ratio. Or create your own charitable “foundation” by setting up an account at a charitable gift fund offered by Fidelity or Vanguard or many others. You get an immediate deduction for your contribution, and the money grows tax-free until you issue instructions to distribute it to recognized charities. In past years, seniors could direct contributions from their IRA accounts, avoiding taxation on those amounts — but including these charitable contributions in their required minimum distributions for the year. Congress hasn’t extended that break to 2014, although last yearend they did it at the last minute. So proceed cautiously. Capital Gains These tax rates on the sale of appreciated stock or assets are about half the tax rate on ordinary income. With the stock market still near its highs, you might have a chance to benefit from this tax deal if you’ve held stocks for the required 12-month period. Then again, if the market falls, it might be better to take the gains and run! Consult your investment advisor AND your tax advisor to make sure the sale of an asset doesn’t move you into a higher bracket, or impact some benefits, such as the monthly Medicare premium you pay, which is based on your income level. Maximize Deductions If you “bunch” some deductions in the same year, such as paying 2015 professional fees and dues in advance, you might reach the threshold for creating a larger deduction (2 percent of AGI). But before applying this and similar strategies, consider the Alternative Minimum Tax, which might be triggered by too many deductions! Who said life was simple when it comes to yearend money management? But making a few smart moves now could make you a lot happier next April when you have to file your tax returns. And that’s The Savage Truth. Terry Savage is a registered investment adviser and is on the board of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. She appears weekly on WMAQ-Channel 5’s 4:30 p.m. newscast and can be reached at www.terrysavage.com. She is the author of the new book “The New Savage Number: How Much Money Do You Really Need to Retire?” Terry answers readers’ personal finance questions on her blog at www.TerrySavage.com. To find out more about Terry Savage and read her past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2014 TERRY SAVAGE PRODUCTIONS DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM