March 30, 2009

Congressman Ross leads effort to keep gun control law at bay

An old girlfriend of mine lives in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. We remain in contact and she often send e-clippings from her local newspaper (which has an interesting name). The most recent is an article covering the same topic as one of my recent posts, and gives a little more in-depth information.

By Wendy Ledbetter
The Daily Siftings Herald
Thu Mar
26, 2009, 02:42 PM CDT

Prescott, Ark. -
PRESCOTT — U.S. Congressman Mike
Ross said a delegation of pro-gun Democrats was successful in stopping the possibility of reinstating a weapons ban that had expired five years ago.In a telephone interview Wednesday, Ross said he had led the effort, which included a 65-member delegation. The group wrote a letter in opposition to reinstating the weapons ban, which had recently been discussed by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

Ross said his reasons for speaking out against the weapons ban are simple. “The Second Amendment to the Constitution gives us all the right to own firearms,” Ross said. Ross said that ownership of firearms for hunting is one aspect, but that owning firearms for personal protection is an equally important part of that right.

The weapons ban that had reportedly been discussed by Holder’s office was in effect from 1994 through 2004 when a sunset clause adopted at its passage came into effect, eliminating the law from the books. That law banned some types of weapons, reportedly aimed specifically at assault weapons. While it can be argued that the goal of that ban was to eliminate weapons typically used in crimes, there are some studies available that dispute the effectiveness of that claim.

The problem with that ban, according to Ross, is that crime didn’t go down. “Criminals will get guns whether we have gun control laws or not,” Ross said in a press release issued earlier this week. “Regulating guns will not keep guns out of the hands of criminals, but it will keep guns out of the hands of those trying to defend themselves from criminals.”

During the telephone interview, Ross said that he enjoys hunting and that the sport is a way of life for many in rural America. He said there is also a responsibility on those who hunt to share that with the next generation. “It’s not only part of our heritage, it’s a big part of what we are,” Ross said. “It is up to us to take our children hunting and teach them that this is an important part of our heritage and our tradition. I love to deer hunt, duck hunt. I take my son with me every chance I get.”

Ross said there have also been rumors that ammunition would be heavily taxed or unavailable. He said that has never been a part of any announced plan and that he would fight equally hard against such a plan.

Ross said he believes there is some question in the minds of the general public as to who among the members of Congress is pro-gun control. While he said that party affiliations are sometimes a factor, he said the “address” is also a factor. “It has more to do with who those people represent,” Ross said.

Ross said there are many who believe — as he does — in the “common sense” approach. The 65 who supported Ross’s plan to object to additional gun control is, according to Ross, proof of that.

The delegation has apparently put an effective end to any plan to reinstate the weapons ban. Ross said that both Holder and President Barack Obama have issued statements to that effect.

“I think we got their attention,” Ross said. “If they do (make an attempt at gun control laws), I’ll be there in force.”

March 27, 2009

Loverly Bunch of Coconuts

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) is at it again. As I’ve pointed out before, this lady is a few French fries short of a happy meal. And in Glenn Beck, who I have also found reason to ridicule, she has an enabler in her most recent whacky quest.

Bachmann, following some comments made earlier this week by the Governor of China’s Central Bank, began spouting off about some global conspiracy that the world was bound for ruin and heading toward establishing a global currency, and that the U.S. would join in the move as early as the G-20 conference next week. China’s suggestion of replacing the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency contained no language about Bachmann’s feared “unified global currency”, but that didn’t stop her from running off at the mouth yet again.

Beck is right about one thing; most Americans have no idea what Bachmann is talking about, but then neither does she.

Most countries hold financial reserves in various foreign currencies, or in gold, and right now a majority of countries hold mostly U.S. dollars. This is not exclusive, as Euros Yen and British Pounds are also popular. Our treasury does not hold our own dollars in reserve, but we do keep a bit of gold.

What the Chinese were referencing is that our currency the de facto global reserve currency, but the International Monetary Fund also issues International Reserve Assets, called Special Drawing Rights (SDR), which governments may use instead. The Chinese suggested that the world move away from dollars. The use of SDR’s, they suggested, would be more balanced and less vulnerable to changing U.S. policies.

How Bachmann made the leap from a mere banking policy suggestion to some global conspiracy is beyond me, and why Glenn Beck would find any value in enabling a kook defies reason. I thought Beck was crazy when he was with CNN, and the move to FOX only deepened his bizarre behavior. As for Bachmann, she should stick to more substantial issues, like Freedom of Choice for light bulbs.


March 26, 2009

It's A Start

Texas has long been home to various religious billboards, and the North Texas plains cities of Dallas and Fort Worth have drawn more than an equal share. Dallas is one of several cities where, in 1999, an anonymous donor helped fund the now famous God Speaks billboards. The ads featured quirky little ditties signed by god, such as…

Clever, I must say, and apparently successful enough that the boards made a return engagement in 2005, eventually growing in number to some 5,000 signs around the nation. Still, I’ve always had a bit of a problem with the arrogance that would allow a mere mortal the authority to not only speak for the supreme being, but to sign his name to the “quotes.”

More recently a less arrogant, but enigmatic and equally mysterious campaign has posted billboards around the area. These signs feature sports stars, Hollywood celebrities and average people professing, “I Am Second”. Lou Costello would probably be asking, “Who’s on first?”

In addition to these well-funded campaigns, a drive down the byways and highways of North Texas treats the traveler to numerous amateur attempts at putting the name of god in the eyes of passersby.

So the god squad has their signs, and now those of us without the burden of belief have our own.

Starting the middle of next month, two billboards will be erected in the Metroplex. One along IH-35E near Loop 12 in Northwest Dallas, and the other in north Fort Worth at IH-35W and Braswell.

The sign’s message will encourage folks to visit The C.O.R stands for "Coalition of Reason," and the website will be ready for business coinciding with the unveiling of the billboards.

DFW isn’t the first area to see such signs. Similar billboards have been previously erected in Philadelphia and in Denver.

It’s good to know we aren’t alone.

March 23, 2009

Fox host apologizes for mocking Canadian military

Colbert is ain't.

This is the kind of crap that happens when FOX tries to do comedy. On the day this segment aired, the bodies of four Canadian troops were repatriated. I'm sure the families of the soldiers were very happy.

At least the idiot apologized.


Signal to Noise Ratio

Do any of y’all ever read and WorldNetDaily? If you ever want to feel better about yourself, you should visit one of these sites to see how sour old men and women behave.

World Net Daily bills itself as "an independent news company dedicated to uncompromising journalism, seeking truth and justice and revitalizing the role of the free press as a guardian of liberty." The site’s stated mission is “exposing wrongdoing, corruption and abuse of power." Journalistic giants one might find on the site include Pat Buchanan, Ann Coulter, David Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, and literary genius, Chuck Norris. is a web-based publication “primarily dedicated to conservative United States politics.” It was previously operated by the Heritage Foundation, but is now owned and operated by Salem Communications. The site features such notable wingnuts as Ann Coulter (she’s everywhere!), Robert Novak and Cal Thomas.

One of the sourest old men on both sites is a dude who was once a scriptwriter for television but kind of faded away. Now, because he can’t find anyone else to publish his mess, he writes for free and gets published on Townhall. He had a blog too (doesn’t everyone?), but it seems to have vanished.

Burt Preludsky was once a humor columnist for the Los Angeles Times and a movie critic for Los Angeles magazine. He freelanced for the New York Times, TV Guide, Sports Illustrated and some others. He wrote scripts for old TV, like Dragnet, McMillan & Wife, MASH, Mary Tyler Moore, Rhoda, Bob Newhart, Family Ties, Dr. Quinn and Diagnosis Murder. He also wrote scripts for several good movies.

But these days Burt is just a sour old man with a chip on his shoulder. Were that not the truth I don’t think we would see the kind of drivel that was published yesterday on

One is left to wonder how someone could live with so much bile in one’s gut.


March 22, 2009

What Did You Know, and When Did You Know It?

For our reading pleasure, the House Financial Services Sub-committee offers the now infamous AIG employee retention agreement. The general public may now savor language protecting the excessive usurer’s bonuses for their high level of dedication to the company, and protection of the American public. Turn to pages 10 and 11 for the real meat of this contract.

You may notice that, by contract and with full approval of the U.S. government, the bonus pool cannot be reduced by more than $67.5 million annually. This effectively ensures a minimum bonus, regardless of company or employee performance, or even if the employee still works there.

And pay they did. According to AIG, the company paid retention bonuses totaling $165 million. Wallace Witkowski of WSJ’s MarketWatch reports that bonuses in excess of $1 million were paid to 73 AIG financial-products-unit employees, 11 of whom had already left the company. So much for retention.

So much for truth, too, as it appears that AIG’s Liddy lied about what they paid out. According to Witkowski, the actual figure was closer to $218 million. But Liddy isn’t the only liar in this mess.

What Did You Know, and When Did You Know It?

This is the big question, about which there has been plenty of debate. Aaron Task asks the question on Yahoo Finance. Who knew (or should have known) that AIG had rigged the bonus deal, and why did our Treasury feel it necessary to step in? From all I can tell, the following is a general timeline:

From the March 19, 2009 New York Times: "As early as December, two Democratic lawmakers had vociferously and repeatedly complained about the bonuses, and one of them went so far as to demand the resignation of A.I.G.’s chief executive,"

From the January 27, 2009 Bloomberg electronic edition, Reporter Hugh Son quotes Congressman Elijah Cummings and Senator Richard Shelby opining on the AIG retention bonuses. Obviously both houses were aware of the impending fiasco.

On February 28, 2009, Federal Reserve officials say they warned Treasury officials about the bonuses.

On March 3, 2009, in a hearing before the House Ways and Means Committee. New York Congressman Joe Crowley asks Treasury Secretary Geithner if anything could be done to stop the bonuses.

March 10, 2009: Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner says he just learned about the AIG bonuses.

March 15, 2009. AIG pays out $165 million in retention bonuses.

And they paid them with our money. Stinks, doesn’t it? It stinks even more considering the language may have been allowed due to the efforts of Geithner’s Treasury Dept.


March 20, 2009

Gee, Democrat... Gee

From the NRA-ILA:

“[Wednesday] in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, 65 Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives, led by Congressman Mike Ross (D-AR), expressed their opposition to the reinstatement of the failed 1994 ban on semi-automatic firearms and ammunition magazines.”

Actually quite a comprehensive document, demonstrative of a centrist turn in the Democratic Party.

Politics reflect the people and the people are swayed by current events. After the tragedies of Columbine High School, Virginia Tech University, and the Westroads Mall in Omaha there were outcries for gun control. Shooters followed with Second Amendment arguments and outcries for enforcement of existing laws.

There is little middle ground in the gun control issue, and Americans remain deeply divided when it comes to firearms ownership. However, it seems a greater number oppose stricter regulation than support the idea. Surveys consistently show that somewhere around three out of every four believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual the right to have a firearm. Gallup polls in 2006 and 2007 indicated that only 38 percent would combat Columbine-like events with stricter gun laws, and another 58 percent believe more should be done to enforce current laws instead. The numbers of Americans opposing an outright ban on handguns ranges somewhere around 70 percent.

Perhaps Democrats have finally taken notice, or perhaps they remember what happened the last time there was a major push for gun control. The Democratic-controlled Congress in 1993 passed the Brady bill, and a year later the same group banned the elusive “assault weapon”. Then in 1996 Democrats were turned out of office in droves, and Republicans won the next few election cycles by handy margins.

The gun issue didn’t fare well in the 2000 presidential campaign either. Al Gore stumped for limits on handgun sales, a crack down on gun shows, and support for state registration of firearms. Considering the close vote count that year, and the fact that he lost in every rural state, it was possibly that position which cost him the election.

In 2006, with the extreme right wing of the Party of Hoover behaving so badly, and with very little campaign rhetoric regarding gun control, Democrats again took control of the House. The only significant gun control legislation to pass muster in these past couple of years is an increase in funding for mental health background checks for potential gun purchasers. The Democrats seem to have found a centrist element.

Gun control is a losing issue, and salvation for the Democrats will be to maintain a moderate approach, leaning heavily on enforcing existing laws and getting tough on crime. Then candidate Barak Obama said as much a little over a year ago:

"We essentially have two realities when it comes to guns in this country.... We can reconcile those two realities by making sure the Second Amendment is respected and that people are able to lawfully own guns, but that we also start cracking down on the kinds of abuses of firearms that we see on the streets."


March 19, 2009


No, Not a Typo

While the Party of Hoover was in power, congressional members from that side of the aisle garnered millions in campaign contributions from the very Wall Street characters we are now bailing out. To be fair, there are an equal number of Democrats taking these legal bribes, and rececently it is the left side who have been the most egregious violators of the public trust. When the mantel of leadership passed hands, it seems, so did the hat.

Since AIG is already in the barrel, let’s take a few more pokes into the bunghole and discect a honeypot scandal. According to, over $9 million has been contributed by AIG to various politicians, placing American International Group at number 79 on the list of top 100 political contributors of all time. AIG is not alone, and neither are they the worst offender. Just for grins, take a look at some others:

#4 Goldman Sachs
#15 Citigroup
#25 JP Morgan Chase
#30 Morgan Stanley
#40 Bank of America
#52 Merrill Lynch
#72 MBNA Corp. (part of Bank of America since June of 2005)
#75 Freddie Mac

Business as Usual Inside the Beltway

But since they are in the news, let us take a deeper look. AIG’s contributions over the past 10 years have been non-partisan, almost equally balanced between political parties in all but two election cycles. In 2002, the year in which the company made more and larger campaign contributions than any previous, their bent was overwhelmingly Republican ($1,371,840 to the R’s and $894,517 to the D’s). Then in 2008, a year in which the company donated a paltry $856,000, the D’s got almost twice that offered to the R’s.

Since I’m certainly not a supporter of the Party of Hoover, I find it important to report that over $200K was donated to the George W. Bush war chest, meaning young Shrub himself was one of the top targets for AIG money. John McCain is also in the top 10, gleaning almost $100K.

But Demorats have been the greatest beneficiaries of AIG’s generosity over the past 10 years, and at a whopping $281,038, the top rat award goes to Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut. Other D’s on the list include Charles Schumer, D-NY at $111,875, Barak Obama at $110,332, and Senate Finance Committee chair, Max Baccus, D-MT, at about $90K. AIG is the single largest contributor to Baccus.

Now here comes the hypocrisy. On Monday March 16th, Senator Dodd, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, is quoted as saying:

"This is another outrageous example of executives - including those whose decisions were responsible for the problems that caused AIG's collapse - enriching themselves at the expense of taxpayers. A car mechanic or teacher in Connecticut shouldn’t have to subsidize the bad decisions of these executives. Executives at other companies receiving TARP funds have voluntarily foregone bonuses - there's no reason why those at AIG shouldn't do the same."

What a Difference 48 Hours Makes

On March 18th, in an interview with CNN, Dodd admitted he had a hand in altering the language of the stimulus bill, removing the bonus caps and allowing AIG to “
pay controversial bonuses to its employees.”

Me thinks the Capitol could stand some fumigating...


March 17, 2009

Too Much Time on Your Hand?


March 16, 2009

Not Too Close to the Trigger, Please…

The concern I have represented in previous posts as symbolized by certain dominionistic religious sects, especially those espousing an End Days element, becomes more real daily. In the Sunday, March 15, 2009 Fort Worth Star Telegram, a letter to the editor started out innocently enough with a view of gun control with which I could agree. The writer voiced his concern with previous letters in which the writers were enumerating the same, old, tired and ineffective anti-gun arguments.

You have been warned

Now, I’m not the sharpest blade in the drawer, but let’s put a recent article about firearms to the litmus test.

It is unfortunate that former Virginia Tech student Jason Woods — now at the University of Texas and opposed to allowing firearms on campus — lost his girlfriend. Other lives were lost that day. Did the deranged individual who killed 32 people on that fateful day run down to the professional weapons class and get a carry permit?

To quote UTA student Tom McEnroe: "With a college campus that is a gun-free zone, the only people that will have a firearm are criminals." Hello?

And friends, the time is coming soon when they will be coming for our guns. When the Antichrist takes his seat on the throne of God, for his 3 1/2 years of wrath, and that day is coming soon, look out! Reluctance to give up your firearm might result in your death.

I support open carry. The sight of my weapon might just deter a potential crime.

— Tom King, Grand Prairie

I was with him until that next-to-last of paragraph.

I think I’ve made my constitutional views clear enough, and that I am a Second Amendment supporter of the Originalist school. There are very few instances where I see the need to limit these rights. Existing gun laws go beyond that which I feel is legally correct or necessary, but one thing I do agree with is that certain individuals should not have access to firearms. Those who have shown a disdain for the rule of law; those of insufficient mental capacity to understand the consequences of firearms misuse; those who have stupidly or carelessly misused or abused firearms. These folks forfeit their rights.

Now here comes our erstwhile letter writer with an apparent End Days philosophy, stating “that day will come soon.”

I truly do not care what kind of loony mythology anyone wants to believe, and I defend the right of most of the loonies to own firearms, but the End Days Soon crowd has begun to frighten me. I’m not sure I’d want our letter writer to be my neighbor and have an arsenal on the day he decides is “that day”, and I certainly don’t want someone with similar beliefs in high political office… particularly in an office placing this person only a missed heartbeat from the nuclear launce codes.


March 13, 2009

Bust a Gut!

Laughing my ASS off!


The Recession May Accomplish What Common Sense Could Not

California is considering legalization and regulation of marijuana

Last month a California State Assemblyman introduced a bill that would legalize marijuana and establish a taxing structure for the substance. Democrat Tom Ammiano says this would mean millions in tax revenue for the state. Considering that the state is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, the funds from a marijuana tax could prove to be California’s salvation.

All things considered, Ammiano is probably correct. Pot is already the largest cash crop in the state, producing an estimated $14 billion annually and dwarfing all other agricultural production. All but a fraction of this money is black market, with only about $200 million in sales of medical marijuana subject to taxation. In addition to lost tax revenues, there is cost involved with interdiction efforts, and the monetary and human toll of the continuing drug wars along the Mexican border. With legalization would come an end to the revenue loss.

California is one of 13 states allowing marijuana cultivation, possession and sale for certain medical uses, but the feds continue to consider pot illegal under any circumstance. Under the Bush administration, the DEA had the authority to arrest medical marijuana providers in spite of legality under California law. There have been several recent incidents where owners and employees of California legal but federally illegal dispensaries have been arrested, charged and jailed. See one recent story HERE.

But with a change in administration in the White House seems to be coming some rational thought. Attorney General Eric Holder recently announced that federal intervention would end, and that states can decide their own rules on medical marijuana. Rep. Ammiano has seized upon this change and is attempting to make the best of it for his state.

The Anti-Saloon League Resurrected

As could be anticipated, however, special interests have pounced. Along with the religious element, the California Peace Officers Association and State Police Chiefs Association have raised all the usual arguments; the same as were used in the early 30’s by the alcohol prohibitionists. It appears to me that the cops' real (but unspoken) argument relates to job security. Once pot is legal, the narcs will have to find a new line of work.

The most common argument is that legalization would promote use. In the 30’s we found this not to be the truth with alcohol, and in fact, the opposite is more likely to be the case. Legally produced and regulated pot will be far more difficult to obtain than that which is currently peddled on the street corner.

The argument ignores the obvious; that pot is readily available even in spite of its illegal status. In an editorial in the Contra Costa Times, columnist Tom Hennessy admits he was once opposed to marijuana legalization. It was due to an interview with retired Orange County Superior Court Judge James Gray, a longtime proponent of legalization, that Hennessy had a change of heart.

Judge Gray was present at the Ammiano press conference announcing the legislation, where he stated "I served 25 years on the bench and I've seen the results of this attempted prohibition. It doesn't make marijuana less available, but it does clog the court system. The stronger we get on marijuana, the softer we get with regard to all other prosecutions because we have only so many resources."

In an earlier interview Judge Gray lamented the financial cost of the unwise laws, estimated to be in excess of $1 billion for California alone, and the lack of effect the laws have had. "We couldn't make this drug any more available if we tried.” Gray further contends that "Unfortunately, every society in the history of mankind has had some form of mind-altering, sometimes addictive substances to use, to misuse, abuse or get addicted to. Get used to it. They're here to stay. So, let's try to reduce those harms and right now we couldn't do it worse if we tried."

A majority of Californians probably recognize the futility in the anti-legalization arguments, so the likelihood that Ammiano’s bill will pass is high. This could establish a trend and steer us away from the draconian War on Drugs. We can hope.


March 12, 2009

Beer and Texas Music... Who Could Ask For More?

Welcome to San Antonio. Hey Beer Man!

This one is for you, TOTWTYTR!


March 9, 2009

Crazy for the Religious Right

Francis August Schaeffer was an evangelical Presbyterian minister, Christian theologian and religious philosopher. He was well known and respected in the circles of folks who helped establish the right wing Christian political movement, along with the likes of Robert Grant, Jerry Falwell, James Dodson and Pat Robertson. He moved in high political circles. Barry Goldwater, Jack Kemp and Ronald Reagan were his contemporaries.

It was a family effort. Francis Schaeffer was aided by his wife, Edith, and his son Frank. Reagan’s 1980 winning presidential bid was greatly aided by Schaeffer’s organization and his Christian Conservatives. Schaeffer died while Reagan was stumping for a second term, but he has left a legacy that haunts the American political landscape like the grim reaper.

It was during Reagan's second term that Schaeffer’s dream of an evangelical Christian movement rescuing this country from secular evils took a bizarre twist. This is evidenced by the rise of such Republican political activists as Conrad Burns, George Allen, Rick Santorum, James Talent, Mike DeWine, potential 2012 Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay, and a host of others. We are fortunate that the electorate was wise enough to turn each of these out of office, but others remain and still others are queuing up for future contests. Sarah Palin is a prime example.

The aberrations in the religious right, and the Republican association with the neo-conservative movement caused Schaeffer’s son Frank to examine his affiliation with the Party of Hoover. Frank watched with dismay as his father's philosophies spawned politically active radical religionists such as Tim LaHaye, Randall Terry, and Randy Brinson. Bush 41 and Bush 43 both owe their winning campaigns to the Christian Right. John McCain finally gained some measure of conservative support once he added Sarah Palin to his ticket.

The goals expressed by the senior Schaeffer, while certainly in the theocratic dominion class, can’t come close to the suicidal bent of those who followed. .

By foisting ideology ahead of the good of our country, today’s religious right Republican base is telling us that winning is the only thing that matters, and if they cannot win, they will ensure we all lose. It was this attitude that has turned Schaeffer’s son against the party. .

Frankie Schaeffer has seen the light

The following is an interview with Frank Schaeffer on the D.L. Hughley show:

Even though the interview is done with some humor, Frank Schaeffer's obvious turn from the religious right is dramatic. In his book Crazy for God, Schaeffer relates his family story and his journey through a labyrinth of evangelical Christianity, describing it as a freak show. This is a memoir of the author’s life with super-evangelist parents and how his experiences colored his political and religious philosophies, turning him from Christian activist to Christian realist and Obama supporter.
At one point Schaeffer states, “I believe that my parents’ call to the ministry actually drove them crazy. They were happiest when they were the farthest away from their missionary work. I think religion was actually their source of tragedy.” He describes his father as often muttering to himself, threatening suicide, then going to church and preaching a sermon. .

This does sound pretty crazy, and unfortunately it is the origin of religious right wing conservatism.

My Vote for Best Blog Post Title So Far

The Axis of Drivil

by Badtux the Snarky Penguin



Take Your Grandson Hunting

A boy wanted to go hunting with grandpa; but gets a lesson in politics and law.

From the Tulsa World, Monday March 09, 2009

13-year-old Lane Dunkley of Tulsa, Oklahoma wanted his grandfather to teach him how to deer hunt. Grandpa was willing, but the boy’s parents wanted something in return. Lane wasn’t doing so well in school, so a deal was struck. Get your grades up and you’ll get your hunting license. Lane complied and raised his average to B-plus.

So Daniel Reddy, Lane’s father, located a prerequisite hunting safety course, sponsored by the Department of Wildlife Conservation. The available opening was Tuesday night, so Mr. Reddy drove Lane over to the Broken Arrow classroom.

Then the surprise. Volunteer instructor Kell Wolf asked if any of the students had voted for Barak Obama. Mr. Reddy raised his hand. The entire class was shocked when Mr. Wolf told Reddy to get out, that he would not teach “liberals,” and that he would cancel the class if they did not leave. According to Reddy and others in the room, Wolf called President Obama, "the next thing to the Antichrist."

Rather than see the class cancelled, Mr. Reddy, a former Marine, took Lane and departed, accompanied by some others who disagreed with Wolf’s behavior

According to Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation coordinator Lance Meek, Wolf was a 15-year veteran volenteer instructor. "From what we've heard and observed, [he] had always done a great job."

Someone other than the Reddys phoned Meek early the morning following the incident. “by 9 o'clock (Wolf) was no longer a volunteer for us." Meek spoke with Wolf, who did not deny the incident and did not offer an explanation. "It's a shame,” said Meek, “what he did is definitely not all right with us."

Lane said he was angry about the situation. "This was a big deal for me because my grandpa doesn't have a lot of time to hunt anymore."

But Oklahoma stepped up to the plate and made things right. Since there were no other classes with available openings, Mr. Meek arranged a private class just for Lane. "They called and said they'd meet us any time, anywhere," said Mr. Reddy. "Their response has been exemplary. It has really restored my faith in government."
This story illustrates the polarization that is so evident in the country these days. From all accounts, Wolf was a good and reliable instructor who let emotions override good sense. There is a lot of that going around right now, and somehow we’re going to have to find a way to get over it.

March 8, 2009

True Evil Lies Here

Since 9/11/2001 this country has been led down a garden path. The Trade Center and Pentagon attacks were all it took to allow a very Hoveresque White House to turn the mood of the country from the standard, casual optimism toward an ingrained culture of fear. If we are to survive and get the country back onto an even keel we’re going to have to chisel away the hardened bovine excrement that the hate and fear mongers have heaped upon us. We, as Americans must find that which we’ve lost and remember who we are. There must be a return to government of the people, by the people, for the people.

Let’s look at some specifics. In the days to come Bernard Madoff is scheduled to stand before a magistrate and confess his sins. He will plead guilty to running the greatest scam in the history of mankind, and explain how he created the nonsense that robbed billions from his fellow citizens. Another offender is the Noel family Walter, Monica, five daughters and some well connected in-laws) of Fairfield County, Connecticut, who in 2003 alone took in half a billion in fees by steering clients into Madoff’s web. The photos of Monica and Walter published in Vanity Fair and Town and Country, depicting the happy family in one of their numerous homes, was so touching.

Next we find Allen Stanford, a U.S. citizen living in the Bahamas and a con artist of gargantuan scale. In similar style to Madoff, Stanford hustled greedy but otherwise innocent folks into his Ponzi scheme, then used his profits to buy jets and build castles. Stanford was enabled by money managers Paul Greenwood and Stephen Walsh. These smiling pirates looted ¾ of a billion dollars from the endowments at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon, among others. Wall Street at its finest, not.

Throughout history there have been con men and swindlers moving among Americans striving for the dream. They would pick your pocket or scam you if they could, but they’ve always been small time… until now. Enabled by unwise deregulation, the big guns have rolled on deck and have taken aim at the American dream. They will sink us… if we let them.

If you want to see what it is that is killing this country, pick up a copy of Forbes and look at the smiling faces; or watch any of the three 24-hour cable financial channels and listen to the smiling boys and girls tell you how you can be a millionaire if you only follow their advice and hook up with the next-generation Madoffs and Stanfords. Funny that the advice is so similar to that given in years past that led us into this debacle. Do you ever wonder who is paying for that garbage; and why?

American boys and girls are fighting and dying in the sands of distant parts as parents and spouses struggle to find a way to pay the bills back home. Both events are the result of the lack of restraint this country has been displaying since about 1980. Laissez Faire capitalism, unregulated and unmonitored, has led to big problems that have required big fixes. Giving all that bail out money to the banks wasn’t necessarily such a bad idea, considering the dismal options available, but not prosecuting the bankers who did the evil deeds is inexcusable. How are we ever going to prevent reoccurrence if there is no punishment for the offenders?

We must hope that all of this will eventually settle down, then it will be up to those of us for whom our soldiers are fighting to clean up this republic and return to them a better world. There is more evil on Wall Street than even Osama bin Laden could muster. The country needed a break from business as usual, and a chance to do the clean-up. Optimism will return once we regain control and place some sensible regulations upon the rampant greed from which this mess was born.

March 7, 2009

When God’s Law Sucks

Abortion is a topic nobody wants to debate. There is just too much emotion involved. Roe vs. Wade remains among the most hotly debated decisions ever handed down by the Supremes. Abortion is a topic steeped in morality and ethics, colliding with a woman’s right to choice and privacy. Personally, I find even the thought of abortion repugnant, but I recognize the natural right of a woman to choose, and for her privacy in this choice. It isn’t my business, and neither should it be the business of the church.

But apparently Brazilian Archbishop Jose Cardoso Sobrinho thinks it is very much his business. So much so that he has ordered the excommunication of a 9-year-old girl, the child’s mother, and the physicians who terminated the child’s pregnancy, even though the pregnancy was the result of her rape by her stepfather. The shocking action by the Vatican followed an intense battle in which the church sought to have the courts intervene and stop the procedure.

Abortion is illegal in Brazil except in the case of rape or when a mother’s life is threatened by the pregnancy, and this case qualified on both counts. Who could rationally believe that a 9-year-old could remain health following the delivery of twins? Yet Sobrinho insists that the delivery could have been performed by C-section.

I worked in Brazil for a few years in the late 90’s and early 00’s, and I know the Brazilian folk to be mostly Catholic, and very devout. These are a good people who take their religion seriously. Still, when Sobrinho announced the actions of the church, many were infuriated. The influence of the church has been ebbing over recent years, and this latest stupidity is certain to have further detrimental effect.

Apparently popularity isn’t much on his mind, because Sobrinho says that Rome "is not going to open the door to anyone just to get more members," then comparing abortion to the Holocaust. "We know that people have other ideas, but if they do, then they are not Catholics. We want people who adhere to God's laws."

But when God’s laws suck, what is the option?

March 3, 2009

Not That I'll Ever Have to Worry About it

Justin Gardner, on Donklephant, one of my favorite blogs, writes the following regarding how many misunderstand the tax system, and why so much of this “redistribution of wealth” claptrap is just that. Claptrap.
Please tell me people in Louisiana aren't really this clueless.

Because after reading stories like this, I think a lot of people believe that tax brackets are things that you fall into and then ALL of your income is taxed at that rate.

This is obviously not true because that system wouldn’t make ANY sense, but ABC apparently found some wealthy people who think it does.

Here’s one such case…

A 63-year-old attorney based in Lafayette, La., who asked not to be named, told that she plans to cut back on her business to get her annual income under the quarter million mark should the Obama tax plan be passed by Congress and become law. …

“We are going to try to figure out how to make our income $249,999.00,” she said.

“We have to find a way out where we can make just what we need to just under the line so we can benefit from Obama’s tax plan,” she added. “Why kill yourself working if you’re going to give it all away to people who aren’t working as hard?”

The attorney says that in order to decrease her income she’ll have to let go of clients, some of whom she’s been counseling for more than a decade.

“This means I’ll have to tell some of my clients we can’t help them and being more selective in general about who we help,” she said. “I hate to do it.” .

First, let’s just state the obvious…if this woman actually turns clients away she is remarkably dumb. Because all she’d be paying is another 3 cents on the dollar for the income she earns over $250K.

The math on this is easy. Let’s just say she makes an additional $250K and her total income is $500K. Do you know what she’s paying right now on that $250K? $90,000. Do you know what she’d be paying with the 3% hike? $97,500. So she’d have to pay another $7,500.

My challenge to you…ask the people you know if they understand how the progressive taxation system works. Seriously. Please ask folks. Because after asking a lot of people I know (and these are smart people) I found that at least 50% of them thought that tax brackets were things that ALL of your income fell into.

Long story short, we can no longer afford for people to be so uninformed about our tax system. Everybody should know how this stuff works and I hope you do your part to make sure that happens.
So Show Me the Down Side...
The attitude of this lawyer seems to indicate that she will do less law, and therefore there will be clients left behind. This argument leaves out the obvious; that new lawyers will pick up the slack. If these new lawyers are fresh out of school, this will aid them in establishing a practice. Good for the economy, and as good for the future of the country as lawyers can be...

Secondly, the argument is faulty when it makes the assumption that a single lawyer working less will diminish the effectiveness of the taxing plan. The inverse is actually correct. If she earned in excess of the quarter million she strives to avoid, she would pay only 5% or so in taxes on the overage. If she shirks this business and another lawyer picks it up, the rate paid will be considerably more than 5%, unless that lawyer earns in excess of $250K.

I can hardly imagine a good, greedy lawyer shirking business, but if she does nobody will suffer. In either event there will be no less service to the community, and tax revenues will increase either way.