Friday, February 18, 2005

Here comes the S.S. Peanut Butter

The Navy is going to christen the newest Seawolf class submarine, U.S.S. Jimmy Carter (SSN-23), this Saturday, according to this Navy Newsstand article.

According to sources, the sub will run on peanut oil and can only fill up on odd or even days, in accordance with the former president's energy policy. Also, sailors will be encouraged to turn down thermostats and wear sweaters while on board. If engaged by the enemy, the sub will wallow and drift erratically, deferring to the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan to clean up the situation. An accompanying ship, the U.S.S. Walter Mondale, will drift behind the Carter, later challenging the Reagan before drifting away into obscurity and irrelevance.

HT to Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity for the inspiration for this post.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Private accounts risky? Not for some.

Here's a great article from today's Opinion Journal about who's opposed to Social Security reform: Socialism's Last Redoubt. What's funny is that they have their investments in the exact same accounts that we'd be able to place our 4% in and have it grow. So apparently these accounts are too risky for most but not for the power players in D.C. and their employees.

I guess what's good for the goose isn't good for the gander in their opinion, the gander being the taxpayers that continue to elect these fine folks into office and pay taxes to fund their pork projects. The 2006 cycle is only 1-1/2 years away, and some of these same people might find themselves unemployed if they don't start being more responsive to the needs and desires of their constituencies.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

When gas taxes aren't enough...

Well, just when you thought that the government couldn't be fickle enough, here comes the latest way to gouge the public for a basic service. In a CBS News story from yesterday, apparently the influx of hybrid and clean-fuel vehicles is having an unforeseen effect: gas tax collections are down since these vehicles use less or no gasoline. Since the states' coffers are beginning to feel the effect of this, several states are now toying with the idea of making motorists pay by the mile to use the roads & highways. And not just the hybrids & clean-fuel cars, but ALL vehicles would be subject to this new tolling/taxation system. Talk about a double edged sword, this is it.

We all pay taxes at the pump when we fill our tanks, and these taxes are supposed to go directly into road budgets for maintenance and construction. When states build a toll road, it is understood that drivers have the option to pay the toll or find another route that is free of charge; thus the toll is a voluntary fee paid for a convenience, much like an ATM fee. However, under this new scheme to drain our wallets, you won't have a choice; you'll be forced to pay a toll on any road that you travel in what amounts to one of the largest double-taxation schemes ever devised. And of course, you and I won't have a say in the matter since our elected representatives seem to lose sight of the pesky fact that they are supposed to represent our interests, and one of those is LOWER TAXES.

Folks, if the states are truly having problems building roads & maintaining them, we need to tell our legislators to stop useless spending, trim pork projects and put the tax money back into the transportation budgets. Also, they need to stand up to the D.C. bunch and stop sending their tax money to Washington so that Congress can dole it out as they see fit and force the states to "tow the line" on various demands that D.C. makes, many of which are ridiculous at best and borderline unconstitutional at worse. Either way, this sounds like another attempt to force us out of our cars and into mass transit, but that's another column for another day.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Week in review Feb. 13 2005

Well, it’s been a busy week out there, so it’s time for a “week in review” type of post since I’ve been derelict in my blogging duties. I apologize in advance for the post length, and here we go. Read on!

First on the list, CU professor Ward “Maybe I’m an Indian, maybe not” Churchill and his antics from the past several weeks. In my opinion, this man is an abomination and a disgrace to not only the academic community, but to the American Indian cause and humanity in general. Because of his writings on the 9/11 attacks (comparing WTC workers to Nazi collaborators, saying the US caused the attacks, etc.), he has exposed himself as nothing more than an America-hating liberal socialist who would like nothing more than to see our government and society destroyed and replaced by a socialist utopia subservient to the likes of the United Nations.

What’s truly scary about him is that he’s a college professor, in the position to educate our youth and mold them into the leaders of tomorrow. Instead of using his position to expand his student’s knowledge of the world, he instead uses his position to indoctrinate them with his perverse worldview and anti-American propaganda. What’s worse, the school where he teaches (CU Boulder, long known as a liberal hippie refuge) won’t remove him from his position based on a First Amendment argument, even after repeated calls from Gov. Owens, state and national officials and the citizens of Colorado. Prof. Churchill, in a statement last week, said that he doesn’t work for the taxpayers (or the government) but instead for the Board of Regents and the university and because of this he can basically teach and say anything he wants. Funny, I remember that the Board of Regents is a PUBLICLY elected body, elected by those very same taxpayers whose taxes help support CU Boulder and who can vote them all out of office and replace them with regents who are more responsive to the voter’s wishes. Sadly, Prof. Churchill and the CU Boulder administration seem to have forgotten this. They would be best served to remember this pesky little fact, get their act together and remove this “man” from his position before Gov. Owens and the state legislature take more punitive and permanent action, such as freezing or yanking funding from the university.

Sadly, as a member of the U.S. military, I’ve taken an oath to defend the Constitution, which includes the right of this “man” to spew whatever bilge he sees fit to bless the world with. This actually provides me with a nice segue into my next topic, Eason Jordan and the Magic Mythical News Story.

Eason Jordan was, until Friday afternoon, was CNN’s Chief News Executive. In that position he was directly responsible for the quality and factual integrity of the stories that are reported on CNN and its networks. However, as is the case with most of the MSM, he confused factual integrity and truth with personal opinion and bias, and this led to his demise. As has been reported all across the blogosphere and finally picked up (and given little exposure) by the MSM, Mr. Jordan stated that several journalists in Iraq had been intentionally targeted and killed by coalition forces as a matter of fact. However, the blogosphere grabbed on to this statement and, much like what happened with the CBS “Rathergate” memo, quickly exposed the statement for what it was, a statement of personal bias and an glaring example of just how far the MSM has strayed from “just the facts” reporting. According to a My Way News article on Friday evening, Mr. Jordan resigned after a website demanded a transcript of his remarks and his termination based on this transcript. Even though no transcript was found or provided, Mr. Jordan resigned in order to “…prevent CNN from being unfairly tarnished…” by his remarks.

Mr. Jordan, CNN’s (and the MSM as a whole) reputation has been tarnished not by this one action, but by their actions over the past 30 years, culminating with the CBS antics during the 2004 election. The MSM has evolved into a medium more concerned with pushing a liberal agenda on the American public than with factual reporting and analysis of the events of the day. They don’t even accept the blogosphere as an influential part of the news/information gathering and reporting system, even with current evidence to the contrary. Even as I write this, I’m watching the McLaughlin Group and listening to Eleanor Clift, the Newsweek managing editor, state as fact that Iran has a democratically elected government that’s in charge of running that nation. I’m not sure which Iran she’s thinking of, but I don’t think it’s the one we’re dealing with right now, especially since the Iranian mullah run Iran and the legislature is a rubber-stamp body at best. This just further illustrates how out of touch the MSM is with the world today and how they are quickly descending into a position of irrelevance in the information industry. Mr. Jordan’s resignation just shows how scared the MSM is of the blogosphere, even if they won’t admit or accept it existence. MSM, we’re here to stay and you’d better get used to us sharing the spotlight.

Thirdly, let’s touch on the Social Security issue. My take on it: scrap the current system for people 40 and under, allow the private accounts for people 50 and over, and maintain the current system for current retirees. Folks, I WANT MY MONEY BACK so I can invest it for my own future instead of sending it to the “stewards” in Washington, D.C. (long known for their prowess in money handling) and allowing them to squander it on pet projects and dolling it back to me in increments that equal pennies on the dollars I’ve dumped into the system. If we could do this, everyone 40 and younger would get a 12.4% pay raise and would be able to invest how we choose. Imagine the power you could have over your future in this scenario; also, imagine the burden that would be lifted from your employer and small business by being allowed to pay you the money instead of siphoning it off and giving it to the government.

However, that option isn’t on the table. But President Bush’s plan is a good step in the right direction. Even FDR, creator of the Social Security system, said that by 1965 we’d have to create personal accounts in order to maintain and fund the system. We’re only 40 years late on that objective, so let’s get started. On Dave Ramsey’s website is a calculator that computes the amount you’d have if you were able to invest the 4% on the table into the market; depending upon your age, the results are amazing, and these don’t take into account future pay raises and independent retirement plans you might make, plus the fact that the Social Security net will still be there, albeit reduced by the amount you invested in the “personal account”. Plus you can opt completely out of the system; and if you’re over 55, you’re ineligible and will receive your benefits under the current guidelines. Folks, its time to take our retirement and future into our own hands and away from the bureaucrats in D.C., so run the numbers and see if that changes your opinion on the subject.

Finally, a couple of lighter items from the week:

  • First, I saw a something in Chuck Muth’s daily newsletter discussing an idea to repeal the 17th Amendment. For those who don’t know, the 17th Amendment changed the way U.S. senators are elected from state government appointment to popular election. I was intrigued by the idea because the framers intended the House to be the representatives of the people and the Senate to be the states’ representatives in D.C. This issue divides my opinion because while I’m a big advocate of states rights and devolution of power form D.C. back to the state level, I know that we couldn’t have achieved the GOP revolution without the 17th amendment. This is something that I’ll have to research and ponder in the days and weeks to come.
  • Second, it looks like the Delegates in Virginia are finally going to do what the voters asked and follow through with the promise to eliminate the car tax, especially in the face of a $1.4 billion budget surplus and after a $1.6 billion tax hike last year that was approved with the help of Senate Republicans. Yet even talk of doing this has panicked both Gov. Warren (D) and the Republican (RINO) dominated Senate, saying that this is financially irresponsible and will derail the state’s economy. That’s like saying that you can’t live without credit cards. Since moving to VA from CO, I’ve learned that this state loves to
    tax people to death for everything and without the approval of the citizens. Research the “flush tax” on Google and you’ll see what I mean. Once again I’ll make my call for a TABOR-style amendment to the state constitution to place the purse strings back in the hands of the taxpayers in order to get a handle on the rampant mismanagement of money that we experience here in the “Commonwealth”.
  • Finally, more state nannyism in the form of useless legislative ideas. Sponsored legislation in Richmond that would have fined people $50 for having exposed underwear or low-riding pants was defeated this week, and rightly so. Unfortunately, so was legislation that would have repealed the motorcycle helmet law. Both of these are examples of the state having too much say and control over our individual lives and attempting to legislate away stupidity. While I personally don’t like the “droopy drawers” fashion statement, I don’t agree with the state getting involved in an area which should be governed by personal common sense and societal awareness. The same holds true for helmet and seat belt laws; while they do save lives, the state shouldn’t mandate their use to help minimize costs for
    the insurance and medical industries. People should be taught to rely more on common sense, personal responsibility and learning from their actions instead of being coddled by the state.

Well, that’s my wrap up for the week, complete with my views on the issues. Feel free to comment on anything written here.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

SOTUS: The Agenda

Well, SOTUS is history, but the President's agenda is clear: reform Social Security, promote moral values and continue the GWOT. Here are the highlights and my thoughts on them:

Social Security Reform: This is the big one, as was evidenced by the partisan reaction from both sides of the aisle. He listed a number of points, the main ones being:
  • Age 55 and older: no changes to the current system.
  • Under ange 55: allow for private accounts, stating at 2% of each person's FICA tax and slowly rising to 4%. This money would be insured, placed in "safe" conservative accounts and couldn't be touched by the government. This would be similar to systems susch as the Thrift Savings Plan and COPERA.
This is a great compromise, and one that will gather support and momentum on both sides of the aisle. He'll run into stiff resistance from groups such as the AARP and other eldery groups, as well as hardline Democrats who don't want any change and beleive that the system still works. Folks, welfare doesn't work to promote self-reliance. Social Security was designed as an insurance program, not a permanent benefot system for all. I'd either like to see the system scrapped or the benefits age raised to 79; one would give me back my money and the other would at least place the original risk back into the system. Either would be better than what we have now, and would help elminate the elderly welfare system we have now.

Values: This was an interesting section, and one which I'll divide & conquer:
  • Marriage amendment: I don't agree with this at all. I don't like tinkering with the Constitution at all, least of all for something that should be handled at the state level. If the states want to pass these amendments, then so be it. But the federal government shouldn't be involved in this area at all.
  • The "Culture of Life": talk about a sound bite phrase, this is it. He's catering to the ultra conservative right, allowing politics to dictate scientific research. While I don't agree with raising embryos for stem cells and body parts, I don't think that the government should be obstructing the progress of scientific & medica research. Also, I'm not a big fan of federally financed "faith based initiative programs". His plan to create a national anti-gang program targeting inner-city youth, while noble, is something best left to the cities & states that are experiencing problems and can create solutions tailored to their own situations.
GWOT: another sound bite moment, "Freedom from fear". The President outlined broad goals for continuing the war on terror, including naming specific states to be targeted in the next round: Syria/Lebanon and Iran, both for terrorism and Iran for nuclear development. By listing these nations, he has placed them and the whole world on notice that if you don't ferret out terrorism and allow the seeds of democracy to be sown, we'll be there to ensure that you tow the line. Well, that's the type of aggressive foreign policy that we need at this time in history. By taking the fight to the terrorists and thier lands, he's ensuring that the fight will remain where it belongs and we won't be fighting the GWOT in the streets of our cities. And by seeding democratic change in Iraq, we now have a base of operations in the Middle East to encourage reform in that area.

All in all, it was a great speech with targeted agenda items that he means to accomplish during the next four years. And judging by the applause tonight, he'll have the support of the House and the majority of the Senate. This wil be an intersting and amazing four years for us all.

While I've been writing this, the Democrats have given their response, and it was nothing short of a yawn. They rehashed the same tired points that they've been hyping for the past four years, and its beginning to sound like a broken record. While they've accused the president of not having a clear agenda (he has), they came across again with the same claims of the grand plan of maintaing the status quo and keeping their heads in the sand to the issues we're facing. Fox News even interviewed freshman senator Ken Salazar (D-CO) and he already has the "duck and evade" dance down pat when faced with direct questions about Social Security and the speech tonight. He's a quick learner; hopefully he'll learn the facts and make some sound and correct decisions.

VA Dems have it wrong again

Once again, the Dems in Richmond, including our "wonderful" governor, have it all wrong again regarding taxes and the wishes of the people. Now that the state is running a $1 billion surplus after ramrodding a $1.4 billion tax increase through the General Assembly last year, Republican legislators are now calling for the final phases of the car tax abolition to happen. However the Dems, who never met a tax they didn't love, are screaming that this is election year posturing and that it will lead the state to fiscal ruin. Instead, we need to keep the money to spend on Medicaid, road projects, and cleaning up the Chesapeake.

Foul, foul I call. In my opinion, its the Dems who are out of touch and are leading the state to financial ruin. The voters spoke eith years ago when they elected Gov. Gilmore (R) on the platform that he would get the loathed car tax repealed. He succeeded on doing this, and current Gov. Warner (D) campaigned on continuing this promise. However, he reneged on this when the state hit fiancial dificulty (read: spending more than it takes in, a common problem of government) and froze it at 70%. Since he can't stand for re-election, he doesn't care what the voters think of his plan. Because of this, a tax that is despised by all in Virginia is still in place three years after it was to be phased out completely and has now become an election year issue.

Instead of trying to balance the budget on the backs of the taxpayers and their cars (an extremely regressive way of raising funds), let's try doing things like cutting programs and re-examing priorities. Road construction is an necessity; cleaning the Chesapeake is not, especially since the bay is the cleanest its been in 50 years. Cutting taxes and ensuring the citizenry has more money in thier pockets is a priority; extending Medicaid to all who want it is not and is actually unsound fiscal policy.

Coming from Colorado, we had a safeguard against tax-loving politicians called TABOR. It works well; so well, in fact, that the current legislature is looking for ways to alter or repeal it so that they can keep more money from the citizens there and grow the government to obscene proportions, much against the will of the population. We need an amendment like that here in VA so that we the people can once again have a say in the taxation process in our state and reign in our tax-and-spend legislators in both parties.

So my advice to the folks inRichmond: repeal the car tax, re-examine your budget priorities and balance the budget through well-planned cuts and program elimination. That or find out what the people really think when you're all up for election this November.

Tonight's SOTUS night!

Well, the State of the Union (SOTUS) address is tonight, and while the main talking points have been releasd to the media and the Dems have tried their best to debunk and rebuke the speech, it is still an event to watch. This should be a great speech, outlining the President's agenda for the next four years and how he and Congress will accomplish it. OF course, it will be a somewhat partisan event, and the Dems I'm sure will try to make it even more so. After all, Pres. Bush and Congress are attacking the sacred cow of the Dems, Social Security reform, and the Dems are scared that he'll be successful in changing it. Being a "hands off my money" guy and knowing how astute the government is in handling my money, I'd love to hear him say that he be scrapping the program entirely for people 40 and under, but I know that won't happen tonight. I'll hold further opinions until after the speech and I have time to digest what Pres. Bush says and the Democrat response.

Let's get ready to rumble!

PC police are at it again

This just in from today's "Chuck Muth's News & Views":


CRAZY BEARS

“The sensitivity police in Vermont have nothing better to do this winter than examine teddy bears for possible offenses against the emotionally thin-skinned. And so the Vermont Human Rights Commission has officially urged the Vermont Teddy Bear company to stop selling its ‘Crazy for You’ bear. The reason? The bear, which comes wrapped in a straight jacket with a little heart on it, might offend the mentally ill. . . .
“This letter was sent the day after the New Hampshire House voted against putting ‘Live free or die’ on the state flag because the state motto is allegedly ‘political’ and might offend some people. Next thing you know, Killington, Vt. and Greenland, N.H. will have to change their names. Pacifists and the colorblind might take offense.” - The Manchester Union-Leader, 2/2/05
What's next, going after the Bic Mac fearing that it might offend large men nicknamed "Mac"? Get real.