Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Scandals and Money

The artificial scandal continues. Subpoenas are ready to fly, but will it work? Will the President cave in to Congressional demands? NPR has a fairly good story discussing what is going on and more importantly what should be going on.

The really amazing thing about this scandal is that President Bush could have simply said that they were fired, "Because I can". A couple of days of hysterical opeds and it would be over. Instead we have Washington declaring war between two of the three branches of the .gov. They really expect Rove and Miers to testify, under oath, and in public. I can't help but laugh.

All along I have said that I want the new Congress to succeed. But, instead of succeeding, they are falling into the same trap that all the others did. The focus of effort is still an us (congress) v. them (the administration) contest.

IRT the war, Congress should simply defund it or shut up and let the Administration execute the war. In either case they can realistically make hay. IF they defund it, then they get to campaign in 08 about how they brought home the troops. If they fund it without all the extra cash ($21,000,000,000) thrown in for good measure they can still be "antiwar" and "pro-troops".

But, in reality land they have made a supplemental appropriations bill that isn't subject to caps etc. And they added twenty-one billion dollars in non-war related funding. I see a need for multiple bills. One for the war, one for the farmers, one for the victim of the week, one for etc etc etc.

Here is an idea that would tell the people of McUSA that they are serious about thier role as so-called statesmen.

First, make each bill a single topic. No additional riders, amendments on other topics etc. They get thier own bills.

Second, precisely declare how the bill is to be funded and for how long.

Third, cite the chapter and verse of the US Constitution that grants them the authority to make that law at all.

Because this Congress is so young, they have a golden opportunity to restore a bit of the lost faith. The question isn't what they will do with the opportunity. The question is when will they start.

NPR: Gonzales: A Timely Distraction for All Sides?
Bush aide ordered to testify over sackings
Funding more than war
House Spending Bill Short of Votes

Monday, March 19, 2007

Cowardice and Red Tape

Hat tip to Stephanie at Debate Policy. She found the LGF article that depicts masked protesters burning both an American Flag and a Soldier in effigy. I have to admit that the sight of the Flag being burned turns my stomach. I also have to admit that I understand the rights of assembly and protest. But, since I am human I also reserve the right to have an opinion IRT thier actions. In a word, Cowards.

Me and my family are animal lovers. I think I may've mentioned that before. All over the news today is the story of the pet food recall. The thing I noticed is that the affected food is the big bux brand. The amazing thing is that while we have dead pets, and dead lab animals, no one can figure out why. I hope the days of the elderly eating pet food are over.

For me the most important amendment in the bill of rights is the second. That amendment ensures that if over time the other nine are abrogated, I will be able to defend myself. I don't understand the anti-gun folks at all. You would think that everyone would be overjoyed to have the right (unless you are in NYC or SF) to defend yourself with deadly force. Not everyone agrees however as you will see if you click the link below. The mayor of NYC is on his own personal crusade (or jihad) against guns and is crossing state lines to do it.

What in your opinion is the single most important amendment in the bill of rights?

Virginia Gun Dealers Hold Contest to Protest New York Mayor Bloomberg's Gun Policy
Pet Food Deaths Remain a Mystery
Leftists Supporting the Troops

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Media Bias, Business as Usual

Here's a trick that the Democrats really need to master in order to stay in power. They must learn to use the media instead of being used by them. They need to recognize that the media is no better or worse than a ditch digger. They need to realise that the media has an overinflated opinion of itself as a whole. I'm not advocating cover ups at all. I would like to see the media restored to it's rightful place of reporting the news in an unbiased manner.

Back in 1979 I was enrolled in Journalism 1 as a Sophomore in high school. The thing I remember the most was that we were required to write in what our teacher called "the neutral voice". Neutral meant that after reading the piece she had no clue what our opinion on the issue was. So of course we were required to write about abortion. And of course we were required to write about school policies. Finally, we had to write a biography of President Carter. She would red pen all the stuff that pointed to an opinion. Then she'd subtract that from the total column inches assigned. Normally we had to provide a minimum of thirty and a maximum of thirty-five inches. If the pen took you below that minimum, you failed.

Speaking of failure, the modern professional media would not survive that class. The current mantra is that "If it bleeds, it leads". The goal is to sell papers, airtime, bandwidth, google ads, or something. So while there are competing arguments about whether the media bias is liberal or conservative, there cannot be any doubt that the media leans far more to the sensational than the mundane.

Take the current Scandal Dejure. Some US Attorneys were fired. Wow. And that affects Mr. or Mrs. McUSA how? Let's be realistic for a moment. They serve at the pleasure of the President. When the questioning began, he should have said "because I can". Of course he didn't. Now, between the media pontificating, and the Congressional sound-bytes, who is profiting? The outlets. Ratings are up, sales are up, the almighty dollar is fat, dumb, and happy for the nonce.

Proof that sensationalist bias rules is easy to find. Look at what "war correspondent" Geraldo Rivera did. He knelt down and started to draw pictures in the sand. The Army rightfully ejected him. The entire event was sensationalized to the point that Geraldo got a plum job out of it. Lucky for him it wasn't my unit. The on-camera beating would have really been sensational.

Note to Pols. Save the speeches for the floor. Note to the media. Stick to the facts and leave the editorializing to the oped pages.

Media Bias Is Real, Finds UCLA Political Scientist
"In a world of blogs, instant messaging and multiplying media choices, is media bias a real problem for our society or just a political argument?"
Sensationalism in the News: The disinformation superhighway
FAIR Archives: Profit-driven news organizations are under great pressure to boost ratings by sensationalizing the news

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Break Time Again.....

It's another Saturday Night and I aint got ..... Well not quite. But, I am not in the mood for deep political thought right now. Even realists have to have some fun from time to time. So let's check out some very cool places

Does anyone besides me actually read books anymore? I think of the library as the best public money ever spent. It's like a prehistoric Internet. But sometimes the library doesn't have what you want and you will actually have to pay the big bux to get that much needed information.

Two sites that I really like are Booksprice and Smartflix. Booksprice allows you to compare the prices on book or dvds or cds. Just enter the author or title or ISBN and voila there is your books. Hit compare price and voila again.... many sources for the book with links and reviews. It will also get sources in Germany and the UK. So if your 5.00 book has a 40.00 shipping fee, check the country of origin.

Smartflix is just like netflix except the content is how-to oriented. Wanna make a knife, knit a sweater, build a mold to cast plaster or plastic in? They have the video. SF is a bit pricey when you compare it to netflix. But, netflix isn't going to give you a class in oxyacetylene welding either. So if you would like to build it, fix it, or just learn about it check out smartflix. There is a link on the left to click.

Like animals? My family is very animal oriented. If we had the space, we'd have dozens of animals. But alas we have to get by with two cats and a pup. If you have a canine buddy and need advice on how to care, feed, train, etc here is a message board that is all about dogs. The members are great and have proven to be helpful many times.

In the shop I like to listen to the radio. I listen to sirius at work in my van and at home listen to the local AM talk radio. On Sirius I listen to all the talking heads. Sean Hannity,Spencer Hughes, Brian and the Judge (Napolitano),Andrew Wilkow Lynn Samuels, The Young Turks, and Alan Colmes. I obviously cannot listen to everyone everyday or I'd never get any work done. But I find that they all are generally talking about the same or similar issues. It can be real entertaining to listen to each sides talking points. If you didn't know better you'd think they had an agenda.

On the AM talker I listen to Pratt on Texas. He is a Libertarian leaning with a mix of conservatism. He also rarely comments on national issues. Instead he focuses solely on Texas. That is cool since nowadays it is sooooo easy to get distracted by the label-makers and forget that there is a local and state government you need to keep an eye on as well.

I'm not going to bore you with all the hobby related woodworking or metal working sites I go to. But suffice to say that I am a news and Internet junkie. Now, the real question is where you go to surf when you are not going after the political analysis of the moment.....

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Car Wrecks and Common Sense

Nothing in the normal world gets your attention quite as fast as a 200 mph explosion literally in your face. Got in a car accident day before yesterday and the air bag hit like Mike Tyson with a fast jab. After that, things focus sharply and you have to wonder about all the stupid stuff going on in the world. I didn't see my life pass before my eyes or anything. But it damn sure made sure I noticed the blue sky, the green grass, my dog, and so on and so forth. But, I'm still on a mission to ensure the Democrats are successful in governing the USA. Why? Because if they fail as miserably as the Republican Congress did, I am the one living with it.

I'm going to incorporate a new idea in (hopefully) each political post from now on. Instead of the normal left/right Repub v. Dem paradigm, we are going for the common sense approach that has a realistic chance of success if implemented. It won't be perfect of course since nothing is. If I don't have an idea, I will look for the common sense solutions in effect and highlight some of them.

I found this during the news dump. I can't help but laugh. Folks who argue politics either love or hate Wikipedia. In all reality it is improving. It's gone from pure speculation to almost authoritative.
Morning Edition, March 12, 2007 · The online encyclopedia Wikipedia is running into trouble with with contributor credentials. Last week it discovered that an influential contributor who claimed to be a theology professor was, in fact, a 24-year-old college dropout.

One of the founders now says the site may start vetting the credentials of contributors who claim to have advanced degrees.

Isn't that a hoot?

Anyway...... Today's issue is the Flag Burning Amendment that was before Congress. The house passed it, but the senate rejected it by one vote. I seriously doubt that the Democrats are going to allow it to come up again either. So, if you want to prevent flag burning without compromising civil liberties.... how do you get it done? Simply pass a law that requires all US Flags or US Flag images manufactured, bought, sold, or imported into the USA or its' territories be made of a nonflammable material. Try to burn it all you wish. Some will succeed, most will fail. No amendment needed, no violation of anyone's rights. As a practical matter, we will have to make a reasonable deadline so folks can switch over. But, it is doable. Credit for this goes to Redwinggirl over at polyrap.

In the issue that was resolved using common sense category..... today goes to Texas and the legislation that limits protests at funerals. No ones rights are violated, and the dignity of the occasion is maintained. Good Job.

The new law makes it a Class B misdemeanor to protest within 500 feet of the site of a funeral service from one hour before a site is used for a service to one hour after the service.

"This bill protects the sanctity and solemnity of services as fallen Texas heroes are laid to rest," Perry said. "There is a time and place for protests, but it is not at funerals and burials for U.S. soldiers who died to protect the freedoms we hold so dear."

The point of these two examples is to demonstrate that we don't have to accept ideological solutions or talking points from any side. And, by thinking out of the box, things can be fixed no matter who is in charge.

So far I haven't seen much out of the current Congress. I hope they get a move on.

Time to hit the wood shop. Thanks for reading.

Wikipedia Considers Vetting Contributor Credentials
Perry signs law barring funeral protests

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Right of Peaceful Assembly

Hat tip to SouthsideDem at Daily Kos for this piece that details the police breaking up a war protest. There are two videos from YouTube showing what appear to be peaceful war protesters singing an old John Lennon tune. Then shots ring out and teargas begins to cloud up. The police broke up the demonstration with teargas and rubber bullets.

Over on Kos, one of the posters opined that the state has a plan to provoke this kind of thing. To me that sound like a bit of a conspiracy theory that won't work. But there is no denying the evidence of the videos. Pretty surreal as the camera guy backs out of the fog and you see darkened cops coming in to latch onto hapless protesters. There is a girl, obviously gassed (no not that kind of gassed) trying to clear the effects with water.

Of course there is always another side to the story. The police arrested three people. The next day the charges were dropped. The link to the story is at the bottom of the page. I'm afraid that the videos trump the police story. IF only three protesters were getting rowdy or breaking the law, why gas the lot of them?

This blog isn't about current news so much as using the news to assist in driving home a point or two in the political realm. For starters, video of things like this will be covered far more often since it falls into the "IF it bleeds, It leads" mentality of the media. The camera is double edged. I am a law and order type of guy and I didn't like what I saw the police doing in the videos. So, it has the effect of making a psychological statement without presenting the rest of the facts. Am I the only one who realises that sentence can apply to virtually any marketing strategy up to and including the presidential race?

From the second link: Emphasis added.
But Tacoma Police say what you don't see in the video is that just before the tear gas canisters were fired, some demonstrators had started to throw barricades at officers, and the crowd was told to disperse.

"A large number of protesters started to cause a disturbance. They picked up some of these sawhorses and started throwing them in the direction of officers, and then started sitting down to blockade the street." said Det. Brad Graham. "At that point officers had to move in and disperse the crowd."

Throwing sawhorses certainly isn't what I'd call peaceful and non-violent. I have to wonder how many cops were there and how they were arrayed. Could they have isolated the violent protesters and simply monitored the rest? Pundits and Critics alike will second guess this until hell freezes over. I've been in situations where you have to make a decision under stress, RightFreakingNow. When it is over you have to wonder if it was you, or your training that made the call. Right now, based only on the kos entry, the two videos, and the two stories linked below, I have to conclude that I think the cops mishandled the situation. Just like the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines: Cops are (and should be) held to a higher standard of conduct on the job.

Freedom to assemble and protest in this country is sacred. It is what allows a person who is so frustrated, enraged, fed up, or just plain mad to get thier point out in the open without resorting to a truck load of fertilizer. I don't agree with a lot of protesters. In fact, before my retirement from the Marine Corps, I used to remind my Marines that beating up protesters was verboten. I told them that we, Marines, exist to ensure that protesters have the right to peacefully assemble. So even if you don't like the message, thou shalt not boot stomp the messenger.

As I said, I am a law and order guy. I am that way because order is better than chaos. I am that way because without law predators will go unchecked. Without law, there is only anarchy and the rule of strength. I am also that way because my country has crafted laws to ensure that opposing voices can be heard without breaking the law. The final link below is an oped from an "Anarchist" purporting to be with the "liberals" who protested. I wonder if he or his people had anything to do with tossing sawhorses around.

I don't believe we are anywhere near being a police state. If I did, then my second amendment rights would come into play. IF I did, those bullets would have been lead instead of rubber and the gas would have been a blister agent. If I did, there would have been far more than three arrested and then released.

The last question I have is directed to the cops. Where is your video? Patrol cars routinely carry them. If I am deploying riot cops I would damn sure have a camera(s) focused on the action. Obviously the other side did. IF any reader finds a video from the cops side, please email me. I would love to see it.

Activists bring war protest to Port of Tacoma

Video camera rolls as war protesters clash with Tacoma Police
Plea For Radical Presence at Port of Tacoma on Friday

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Politics As Sport

With the Presidential pre-season in full swing there comes war and rumors of war. Not Iraq, not the drug war, but instead a limited engagement on every conceivable front as the contenders work to make it to the playoffs (er I mean the primaries) and finally to the big bowl game itself. If the Democrats want to maintain control, and win the 08 elections... Here is some more free advice.

First and foremost they need to make sure that they are living the life that they talk about. They need to hammer ethics, ethics, ethics and more ethics until every American is talking about it. The rules need to be no nonsense, tough, and zero tolerance. Individually they need to build on the Leadership Traits and Leadership Principles. In other words, on a daily basis they need to make politics respectable.

By living the life, they must confess, atone, and improve. Newt knows this and has confessed. Look for him to begin some form of atonement. Emphasis/comment added is mine.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Former House speaker and potential presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has confessed, telling conservative Christian leader James Dobson that he was cheating on his wife at around the same time the House was impeaching President Bill Clinton over his White House affair with Monica Lewinsky.

But Gingrich said that didn't make him a hypocrite, because Clinton was impeached not for the affair, but for lying about it. Technically correct, but somehow not satisfying, kinda weak actually, almost like the definition of "is". Oh well, Pot, meet kettle.

"The president of the United States got in trouble for committing a felony in front of a sitting federal judge," the Georgia Republican told Dobson in an interview posted Friday on Dobson's Focus on the Family Web site. (Listen to Gingrich admit he had an affair )

Then, they must make a connection with "the people". Obama is going all out and appearing to be articulate and human. Hillary is shouting and shrill. IF she doesn't fix it, Obama will run away from her as long as the Clinton Mafia doesn't target him.

The best way to connect with the McUSA's is to give them something. Tax cuts spring to mind. Currently it's all the rage to be hypercritical of the rich and the taxes they do or don't pay. Look for a tax hike on the rich in 07 methinks. Look for buried legislation that will offset it as well. Doners understand how the game is played. So, point your browsers to Thomas and Yahoos Elected Officials to see what it turns out to be.

Watch for the judiciary to have a fight on it's hands over gun control. The USSC hasn't ruled on the second amendment in years. The recent ruling that shot down the handgun ban in DC may trigger a similar lawsuit/overturning in San Fransisco. It will be harder there however since the 9th circuit rules with an iron fist. Congress is going to have to watch closely lest they get tripped up. Why is this important? Because currently the Republicans are not well liked in the individual liberty issues. Making sure that rulings like this are supported is both the right thing and sound tactics.

At issue in the case was the wording of the Second Amendment, which is broken into two parts: "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

Washington had contended that the reference to "people" in the second part of the amendment should be considered as a collective right applicable only to the "militia" referred to in the first part.

But the judges in the majority held that the phrase "people" is well understood in constitutional law to refer to individuals -- and that the first clause was an explanation of the major purpose of the second clause, not a limitation on it. -- CNN

Another hot issue is immigration. If Congress can fix this, they win. Hands down. I haven't personally met an American that supports amnesty. I haven't personally met an American that supports illegal immigrants receiving any public assistance either. The first and most important thing to do is enforce the existing law until change is enacted. IF some wish to hold the white house accountable for violations of the law, they need to be consistent. From the LA Times (emphasis and commenting is mine):

"Every police chief since Daryl Gates has supported Special Order 40," Villaraigosa told reporters. "They have because they understand that in a city as under-policed as Los Angeles is, we need to focus on crime. We need to ensure that the victims of crime, the witnesses of crime come forward. We don't want them to believe we're going to report them to ICE when they do come forward and report a crime." Newsflash for the Mayor. The reason they are called "Illegal" immigrants is to highlight that they are committing a crime. IF the police chief is supporting an order to not enforce the law, then it is time for a new Chief of Police, and maybe a Mayor as well.

Officials with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund express similar concern. They say they do not oppose the deportation of convicted criminals by federal authorities but believe rescinding Special Order 40 would be a setback because without it some witnesses to gang crimes who are not legally in the country might be unwilling to cooperate with police.

That's it for now. Ethics, Civil Liberties, and Enforcing existing law. If they can do that then they will win.

Gingrich confession: Clearing the way for a 2008 run?
Court strikes down D.C. handgun law
Gang crackdown raises touchy issue

Friday, March 09, 2007

End the war now!

That's it, I have had it. There comes a time when the scale finally tips and you come down on one side or the other of an issue. Today is the day. I can no longer support the war. Too many people have died. It costs too much. It's hypocritical and politically motivated. And if that were not enough, it has gone on for too long with inadequate results.

A first, like most everyone, I supported the war. After all, the President said it was a worthy cause. We were told that it was important to our future that this war be won. Our kids, and our very lives and culture were at stake. So of course I went along. There were a few who didn't support it and they were shouted down. But, there was a seed of doubt in me. And after this many years, I just cannot do it anymore. No more excuses. We need to end this war, now, today, most ricky tic.

Of course I am talking about the so-called War On Drugs. Of all the "wars" we have been involved in, this one takes the cake. For starters, where is the threat to us as a nation? I don't envision the Colombian Drug Lords landing LCACS at Padre Island and establishing a beachhead.

Quite honestly the War On Drugs actually fosters drug use. Human nature gravitates towards the forbidden fruit. And since someone has to supply the fruit, it creates the latest get-rich-quick scheme.... dealing drugs.

Additionally, I finally had to ask..... who the hell is the government to tell me I can't snort coke if I want to? I mean, it's my body and so it should be my choice to pollute it or not. Let's face it, so long as T&A are legal (if heavily taxed and regulated) then drug laws are hypocritical. The logic simply doesn't support it.

It is time to radically alter the drug laws of our country. I support forbidding access to minors (under 18), and I support substance abuse being an aggravating factor in any crime. But, possession and usage of drugs should be a private matter, not a war.

Let's assume that drugs become legal. Here are some of the immediate benefits that the Democratic majority should be looking at.

The immediate savings of about six hundred dollars, per second.

How about the abolition of the DEA? I am not trying to put these brave law enforcement officials out of a job. Instead they all get transferred to reinforce the US Customs Service, the US Border Patrol, The FBI, The CIA, The TSA (imagine that outfit with dedicated professionals), or the US Marshals office for starters. The reinforcement is going to be limited because these guys are DNR's. DNR stands for Do Not Replace. Thus as they retire, move to other jobs, or die (God Forbid) there is no newbie in the pipeline. In less than twenty years we will have reduced the .gov by an entire agency and almost 11,000 taxpayer supported jobs.

By it's very nature illegal drugs are expensive. If legalized the price will drop. Then it can be subjected to the same insane sin taxing that we place on T&A. Or, for a more radical approach, let the .gov manufacture and sell drugs. The undercutting of prices and the legalization will cut off Pimp Daddy Drug-lord at the knees.

Some argue that folks will die if given free access to drugs. Likely so. But more likely, they will go after cheap drugs and not have to commit various felonies to support the habit.

Imagine if you will the rewards if we released all the non-violent drug offenders. Immediately we would create the space needed to keep the violent away from society instead of releasing them early to make way for newer felons.
The Department of Justice reported that at year-end 2003, federal prisons held a total of 158,426 inmates, of whom 86,972 (55%) were drug offenders. By comparison in 2000 federal prisons held 131,739 total inmates of whom 74,276 (56%) were drug offenders, and in 1995 federal prisons held a total of 88,658 inmates of whom 52,782 (60%) were drug offenders.

Again, this is a civil liberties issue. As a US Marine I was regularly tested for drug usage. Many employers routinely test for drugs as a condition of employment. Basically, if you want your job then don't do drugs. It (drug testing) is an effective tool when systematically applied. The bonus is that it is a private initiative. Imagine that, an action that helps society without the influence of Uncle. You have to love that. Take notes Members of Congress. While you are not known for advocating a smaller .gov, here is a chance to steal from the Republican playbook.

The monetary savings (remember 600.00 every second) can be used to balance the budget, pay down the national debt, add to anti-drug education or rehab, or (gasp) fund Social Security fully. The key element is to remember that each individual citizen has the right to live his or her life as they please free from interference. In other words so long as they don't harm anyone else, get the hell out of their lives.

Finally, I don't do drugs. I don't associate with anyone who does. I physically threaten people who I believe may be trying to entice my family with drugs. But, all of those are my choices. By legalizing drugs, the fed doesn't have to support drug use any more than they support open distribution of T&A.

National Review
How much do we spend on the WOD?
DEA Staffing and Budget
Drug Offenders In The Corrections System — Prisons, Jails and Probation

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Annual Tax Rant

It's that time of year again. Uncle Sugar has his hand out looking for your $$$. I absofreakinglutly despise the income tax in this country. I am the quintessential McUSA citizen. And I wouldn't even think about trying to do taxes without assistance. Normally I stress reality over philosophy, but on taxes I can be just as irrational as anyone

If there is a single more civil liberty stealing, group punishment, group reward, special interest target, entitlement mentality fostering, or privacy crushing mechanism than the internal revenue code I hope someone will point it out.

Patriot Act? Nah. Piss off an IRS auditor and let him or her get your name. Then you may see the American Gestapo in action. If a bank says that you owe a thousand dollars, you can tell them to pound sand. Can they come in and seize your assets? Nope. Do they get to be the arbiter in your dispute? Nope. Are you required to prove that you didn't get the bill? Nope (proving a negative). But, if the IRS alleges that they sent you a bill for a hundred bux, it's up to you to prove you didn't receive it! If you don't pay, they can literally freeze your life in its' tracks without a court battle.

Can that bank or other creditor haul you in to thier offices and demand that every detail of your life be opened to thier scrutiny? So much for privacy. The IRS needs to know your name, address, occupation, wages (verified by the employer), social security number (the one that wasn't supposed to be an ID), number of kids, how much you spent on your home, etc, etc, etc. And, this "private" information is available to members of congress. So, don't piss off your Congress critter.

Then of course there is the mandatory loan I have to make to the .gov every payday at no interest. But, go ahead and not pay up when the bill is finally figured. Interest and penalties accumulate and we are back to seizing assets.

Speaking of figuring it out, no two people are alike and neither is thier tax return. You and I can be virtual twins and make exactly the same cash. But depending on how good our advisers are, the tax bills can be drastically different. There is no person alive that can be called an expert on all possible permutations of the tax code.

I support the Fairtax, also known as HR25. It is a national sales tax in place of the tax code. No, it is not perfect. But at least I won't spend $$$ to make sure that I have the correct $$$ amount figured to send to the .gov.

When the Democrats won the elections, Charlie Rangel was to be appointed to a powerful committee. I sent this letter to him.

To the Members of the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee:


My name is MSgt [redacted], United States Marine Corps, Retired. I live in the [redacted] District of the State of Texas. I am writing to express my personal support for HR25 also known as the Fairtax.

I am sure that you will receive statements from professionals more qualified than I about economic issues in regard to taxation and revenue generation. My statement is intended to discuss HR 25 from the man-on-the-streets perspective.

Our income tax code has grown or changed substantially since the first year (1981) that I filed a tax return. Today’s tax code is so complicated that a layman cannot hope to comprehensively understand it. Instead, the average person is forced to hire professionally trained tax preparers to assist them. Ironically, if you ask three nationally known preparation agencies a tax question, and then the IRS, you are likely to get four answers. I did just that as an experiment in 1999.

So, the first and most important reason from my perspective to support HR 25 is the elimination of approximately 13,400 pages of Title 26 of the US Code of Federal Regulations and another 3,387 pages of Title 26 of the United States Code.

The simplification inherent in HR 25 will pay huge dividends simply by removing the need for professional help to do your part as a citizen.

No American agency should be feared by her citizens, ever. Yet the average person at tax time lives in dread of “the audit”. The second big reason to scrap the tax code is obvious. HR 25 will remove the potential IRS abuses of individuals.

Let’s face it. Politicians do not have the best of public reputations. The weekly scandals and the partisan infighting do nothing to detract from the image of politicians as little better than sharks. At least with sharks the dorsal fin is obvious. So the next great reason to support and expeditiously pass HR 25 is in public relations. The folks you need to impress are the indifferent middle. Passage of this bill will target those people where they live, in the wallet. They will know who voted for and against the reform. On election day they would very likely remember those who voted to directly make their daily lives easier.

Finally passage of HR 25 will ensure fairness and eliminate manipulation of the tax code by politicians in order to reward or punish. Further, everyone, whether they are rich or poor, saint or sinner, legal or illegal will pay. Even better is that each person chooses how much to pay as a direct result of their spending habits. The very poor may actually make money if the prebate exceeds the amount they spend on new goods or services.

So, if each Member is truly a representative of all of the people within their districts they will vote to pass HR 25 without delay or excessive modification. Your constituents will thank you for eliminating 17000 pages of existing legislation and regulation. They will note that the IRS can no longer be the American Gestapo. They will remember who ignored the lobbyists and stood up for the folks who put them into office, and they will remember who helped bring about fairness and relegated “Tax Day” to the other failed experiments of American History.

Of course I didn't get a reply. I didn't expect one. I don't expect the fairtax to be set up this year either. Instead I just hope that I don't get skinned (again).

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

And Justice for All?

Ding Dong the wicked witch is dead...... The Libby Trial has just completed phase one. He has been found guilty. Now we proceed to phase two, the appeals or new trial process. I'm glad that after all that time and money we finally got someone involved in Plamegate.

I mean the guy(s) who actually leaked the information were not charged. So far as I know they haven't been fired either. If Armitage or Rove isn't still on the .gov payroll please comment on it. I may have just not seen it. But in any event the prosecutor said:
"I do not expect to file any further charges," Fitzgerald said. "We're all going back to our day jobs."

This really has me doing a slow burn. Classified data is so important to our national security that any violation should be dealt with harshly. And, even if Armitage's remarks were off the cuff and not intended to do harm, it was professionally irresponsible. So yeah, it was determined that legally there was no actual crime committed. So what? They should be fired and be a pariah and be happy that no one has charged him.

I don't condone Libby's actions. But I would trade two firings in disgrace (followed by charges) for his pardon.

The other thing about all this that burns me up is that these "senior administration officials" get off light. If a young Lance Corporal or Corporal (about 19-22 years old) were to mishandle classified data ala Armitage, Rove, or (God Forbid) Berger they are looking at severe brig time. Just goes to show that we hold our servicemen to a higher standard than their supposed leaders.

Now that Libby is getting ready to fade off the front page the newest scandal du jour is in the making. By firing several US Attorneys the Justice Department has put itself in an unwelcome spotlight. Instead of simply declining to discuss it, they had to go and say it was "performance related". Of course that means that the performance reviews would back it up right? Nuh uh. The reviews I have seen in the media may not be glowing, but they shed light on something.

So how can this help the Democrats with winning in 2008? Simple. Each of the above is ethics related. It breaks down into a liar, and a department of shadows. We don't yet know the true reasons for the firings. We are being told from some sources that it was because they (the US Attorneys) didn't cleave to the party line. Time (another round of hearings and more $$$) will tell.

So, make it about ethics. Seize the moral high ground and purge congress of every lying, cheating, dishonest pol. Make the rules so tough that it isn't a matter of if you get caught, but when. Trumpet this new attitude to the heavens and follow it up with enforceable rules that exact a high price for being a crook.

The McUSA's will love it. And as an added bonus everyone should sleep a little more soundly.

Thanks for reading.

Democrats to Bush: Don't pardon Libby
Gonzales Defends Move to Fire Attorneys, Denies Political Role

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Does Walter Reed lead to socialized health care?

OOh boy, the world of the news is going nuts. No matter how unrealistic the various labels are in the opening stages of war. IF it's like this now then imagine how it is going to be next year. The Secretary of the Army "resigned" following the relief of the Commanding General of Walter Reed. Some don't think it's enough and are calling for the Army's Surgeon General to go as well.

Folks I am going to completely tick some of you off with this post. So in advance, I think it is for your own good. You, I, and the rest of the McUSA have got to stop thinking with our emotions and look at the reality of things. Take Walter Reed for example. Unless I missed a story, the issue was in living quarters not in actual medical treatment. The other issue was bureaucracy. I served in the Marines and lived in some pretty humble barracks. I also lived in some awesome structures. The reality is that all units in the service have a budget and priorities. IN the case of Walter Reed, I would assume the priority is in premier health care. I could be way off, but I bet there is more to this story.

So the question has to be: Who is Responsible and who should be held Accountable?

I personally have no problem with the idea that the Secretary of the Army is ultimately responsible for everything that got done or failed to get done IRT the US Army as a whole. But this is a general responsibility. Should he have been held personally accountable for WR? How you answer this question can say things about your thought process.

If you think that his "resignation" was warranted I have to wonder how much you are looking at the day to day realities of that level of responsibility. Obviously he cannot supervise every minute detail of every unit in the US Army. If he did, why would we need Generals, Captains, Sergeants, or Corporals? And in my mind, there is the crux. While he should accept responsibility for the problem and for getting to a solution, I feel that holding him personally accountable was wrong.

It's wrong because at WR there are literally hundreds of leaders supervising even more followers as the minutia of daily operations goes on. It's wrong because you cannot reasonably expect that he would be aware of the problem at WR anymore than he'd be aware of a shortage of toilet paper at Fort Bliss. Frankly, there are subordinate leaders who's mission it is to see the problems coming and head them off at the pass.

I have no problem reliving the Commanding General. HE is the one who is responsible for the day-to-day operations of all aspects of Walter Reed. Which means we can reasonably expect that he should have been aware of the problem. It means we can reasonably expect that he should have had the issue already on his agenda and prioritized properly. Had he said, "Yes, the conditions are tough. But I have XX number of dollars to either rehab the BEQ or purchase a new doohickey for the burn ward. I can save lives in the burn ward." Folks would have nodded wisely and life would have gone on. He also, for all we know, apprised his higher headquarters of the BEQ issues and was told to make do. Most Officers who take thier oaths seriously don't whine about difficulties that blow up on them.

Finally, let this be a lesson to the National Health Care folks. Socialized medicine isn't working well in the UK, Cuba, or Canada. And any government agency (even the .mil) adds layers of red tape to an already bloated system. If we go with a full blast .gov operated health system, you may be the next patient living in WR like conditions.

In fact the best working example of socialized medicine is the US Military Health Care system. Let's see, free or low cost to the patient. Worldwide care available. First rate trauma care. Standardized procedures. Standardized record keeping. Overall, in spite of inevitable bumps in the road, it works very well. Why? Simple proportioning and basic common sense is the thing to look at here.

I believe it (the success) is in the resource to patient base ratio. I don't have boring facts or stats to back it up. I have 42 years of using the system. The first 18 as a dependant, then 22 years of active duty, and the rest as a retiree. Look at the number of hospitals, clinics, unit aid stations, doctors, nurses, corpsmen/medics and money spent. Compare that to the number of folks in the patient base. I bet it is higher than most civil institutions.

Now, if we socialize health care then we increase the patient base by how many fold? But we won't increase the resources to match it I bet. Another thing to consider when figuring out why military medicine works is that the focus of effort is on the active duty population. The active duty folks tend to be physically superior to the civilian norms. Ergo, less likely to need the medical services. The dependents and retirees are treated on a space available basis and are partially covered by the VA and insurance respectively. Yet if you ask most dependants, they would prefer to be treated in civil facilities.

I think that health care insurance should be available to all. So, after means testing, if you need insurance the .gov can provide bare bones coverage for a very small fee. I don't advocate failing to treat anyone who needs it. But, the bill must be paid and I am not sure that the taxpayer is the right one to be paying it.

The NYT Story that got me to thinking about all of this.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Latin for "PAIN"

Let me tell you, pain has a way of rendering everything else nonessential. I have sciatica. I think it is Latin for "PAIN". If you could induce it, you would have the perfect torture weapon. So, for the last few days I wasn't watching the news. Hard to believe that they tried to kill Dick Cheney.......

Honestly, I don't believe they did try to kill anyone but other locals and some American troops. I think that the mighty hunters almost getting bagged was a lucky coincidence. I think that the enemy is simply doing what all the pols are doing, namely seeking a media outlet.
About 20 Afghans died, including a 12-year-old boy. An additional two dozen or so were wounded.
By Tuesday evening, long after Mr. Cheney wrapped up his visit and headed home to the United States, it remained unclear whether the suicide bomber had known that Mr. Cheney was on the base at the time of the attack. One military official at United States Central Command, which oversees operations in Afghanistan, said he strongly believed that the bomber was unaware of Mr. Cheney’s presence. Sources

Today's news has an openly gay Marine rallying to end the Clinton era policy on gays in the military. During my time in the service I always thought that the general mindset of the military was about twenty or so years behind society. IOW, we had a sixties mentality in the 1980's. Well, now that Y2K has come and gone, we have an 80's mentality. So, there is a small chance that the services might not balk as hard as you think when it comes to changing the policy. Anyway Dems, listen up. If you want to keep and hold power, make this a priority. The McUSA's don't really care one way or the other. But if you package it right, you can lock in the gay rights people. It will be at the expense of the churchgoers though. So, to them you must either give something, or go on the attack and portray them as "intolerant". Essentially the time is almost right. Guys like me were raised to despise Homosexuality in any form. But, time heals wounds and tempers attitudes. A retired Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff weighed in:
"Last year I held a number of meetings with gay soldiers and Marines," retired Army Gen. John Shalikashvili wrote in The New York Times. "These conversations showed me just how much the military has changed, and that gays and lesbians can be accepted by their peers." Sources

On the opposite end of the military sex spectrum is this piece about a USAF Officer who got fifty years for raping other men. For what it is worth, a court martial is far less likely to be swayed by rhetoric, and less likely to go easy in cases like this. Personally I am glad to know that he will be in a place with other predators and not polluting the military. It's also nice to see that the military still polices it's own. The term "dismissed" when applied to Officers is the equal of receiving a Dishonorable Discharge.
The sentence was delivered a day after nine Air Force officers serving on Capt. Devery L. Taylor's court-martial jury found him guilty of all charges against him for drugging and kidnapping servicemen and others he met in bars. Taylor was dismissed from the Air Force and will not be eligible for parole for 20 years. Sources

The Presidential race is already heating up. I've already mentioned elsewhere that it is way too early to call or even commit to a candidate. Review the posts on Leadership Traits and Principles. Go to and compare issues. Be informed.
What do you do if no one meets your criteria? Be realistic and know that there is a lesser of two evils. Cast your vote for the one person best and most fully qualified by your information. Not voting is a cop out. But, for now, hold your fire and simply take in all the information that is out there.

Thanks for reading.


Gay veteran calls for end of 'Don't ask, don't tell'
AF Officer Gets 50 Years for Raping Men