Monday, March 2, 2009

Tax Increase on 100% of Americans

Obama says he won't raise taxes on 95% of Americans. Yet, he proposes a carbon tax (or CO2 credits, or CO2 cap and trade, etc.) If you cap the amount of CO2 that can be emitted, and either purchase credits, or permit allowables, or pay a tax on it-the cost that activity goes up.

In other words, gasoline, natural gas, oil, electricity (generated by natural gas or coal) goes up. In turn, businesses that may use gasoline, natural gas, oil or electricity (generated by natural gas or coal) pay higher taxes and pass them on to the consumer. Everyone in America that pays for electricity, natural gas or gasoline, or who buys anything will be affected by this tax.

Monday, February 2, 2009


You have got to be kidding me. Another one. For those of you not following the story Tom Daschle is being proposed to head the Health and Human Services Department. After meeting with his lawyers and accountants, Daschle announced he was deeply embarrassed and disappointed about his failure to pay more than $120,000 in taxes. So, he paid them and $11,964 in interest. This was due because for 3 years he was provided a car and driver by a company whose board Daschle was on. Much of this use was personal. Therefore you must pay taxes on it. He didn’t. As I’ve mentioned before, this is not rocket science. It’s a standard piece of tax law. It’s in every standard tax book and software program.

Senator John Kerry “It’s obviously a mistake. But I think it’s an innocent mistake. I don’t think it affects one iota his ability to do the job.” (Meet the Press)

President Obama’s spokesman, Robert Gibbs. “The President believes nobody’s perfect, but that nobody’s hiding anything.”

Senator Charles Schumer “Tom identified and self disclosed his oversight. I believe Tom’s reputation for integrity will assure that he will be confirmed by the Senate Finance Committee and the full Senate.”

Again, I'd like to see what happens if I forget to pay $120,000 in taxes over a three year period. I mean, it's obviously a mistake. He has a reputation for integrity (well deserved???).

And this guy is getting in. I'm sure that he can relate to the regular person's concerns about health care. How about the regular person's concerns about paying their taxes.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


This one is a slam dunk for me. The man is in charge of the IRS.
He was paid by his employer for his self employment taxes.
He signed a form saying he understood he was being paid for them, and he would have to pay them when he filed his taxes.
He didn’t-for four years.
He was audited. He lost and owed taxes and penalties for two of the years.
He didn’t pay the taxes on the other two years, even though he now knew that he was wrong.
Once he wanted to be the Treasury Secretary, years later, he paid the past taxes.

What do you think would happen if you or I did that?
I’ve run my own business. I’ve had to do my own taxes. This is not a complicated, esoteric point of tax law. It’s quite clear. It’s right on the form. Plus, he signed a piece of paper saying he understood this. And unlike many people he was actually paid extra by his client to pay this tax. (That’s a nice deal if you can get it.) How much of your compensation don’t you understand? Me, I understand how I get paid, what I get paid, and where it comes from.

So, there are two Choices. He’s an idiot. Not necessarily a good qualification for the Secretary of the Treasury. Personally I don’t think he’s an idiot.

Second, he’s a tax cheat, unethical, a crook, and a liar. This is more likely in my opinion. Bad choice for the IRS. Bad choice for Obama. Bad choice for our country.


Thought for the day. Be grateful and happy and enjoy your family.

Okay. Today it was either Geitner, abortion or torture. Nice topics for morning conversation. Don’t have time for torture. That’ll be another day. Geitner I've filed seperately.

The Preamble to the Constitution says
We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

So justice is important. As is domestic tranquility. And the blessing of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.

The IV th amendment allows:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

So I’m allowed to be secure in my person (against search and seizure, but I think the intent was to be secure in general.)

On the competing side is that murder (the unlawful killing of another human being with intent-or other similar definitions) is illegal, and is most religious codes, wrong.

From a legal standpoint it has been determined that the killing of an embryo is not unlawful, therefore murder does not occur.

My opinion
Let’s be short. I may delve more into this later. Amoebas are alive. Trees are alive. Grass is alive. Babies, from the point of conception, are definitely alive. (Hopefully you all agree with me so far.) Is the embryo human? To me, clearly the answer is also yes. Is it a giraffe? No. Is it a bird? No. It is a human embryo. Also to me, easy. Is killing the human embryo wrong? Sure it’s wrong. It’s hard to argue that intentionally killing something (not talking capital punishment here-it’s an innocent life at this point) that may be a functioning member of society is right. Also, easy. So what’s the problem? The extras. What are the extras?

Shouldn’t a woman be secure in her person. Shouldn’t she be able to decide what’s right for her and her family. Isn’t the individual allowed to make these decisions for themselves and their family. In many cases we are allowed to decide to die. In many cases we are allowed to make decisions to refuse medical treatment that may save our lives or our children’s lives.
What about the other argument prochoicers always make: rape and incest. I’m there. I wouldn’t want to carry my attackers baby for 40 weeks. No way. (I do think that this is a very small % of the total number of abortions.)

What should we do as a country? I agree that pro choice is the way to go. But I don’t want it to be easy. I think it should be hard. I think it should be looked down upon with a small degree of moral outrage. I think it should be discouraged. I think that there should be other options, adoption, foster care that should be put in place to minimize this scourge. I think that the government (which of course means us) should pay for this. I think that once a child is given up for adoption, he is given up, and that no court in the land can overturn an adoption. This is one of the many reasons that adoption doesn’t work well in this country.

And this, like every decision we make, will be with us, forever.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

God Our Father

Lots of people say that we should live for God, and have nothing in our life other than him. Would you want your child to live for you? I don't. I hope that I give my sons a good moral compass and that they live their own lives. God Bless us all.

Monday, January 26, 2009

What about Guantanamo?

Gitmo has been in the news often lately. President Bush has been maligned for bringing the prison into existence, and the methods of interrogation (or torture, depending on your point of view) that occurred there. I am curious about several things:

What should we do with those that are captured?
What should they be called?
What laws should regulate their treatment, interrogation, punishment and release?
What other ethical/practical considerations are there to consider?

  • Preamble of the United States Constitution
    “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

    The Preamble is talking about our country, promoting the common defense of our country, promoting the general welfare of our residents and securing the blessing of liberty to ourselves (we the people of the United States) and our posterity. These are the goals of this document. Many may say that the Constitution is written to constrain the federal government (and states to a lesser extent.) And that the constraints upon the federal government apply to all no matter where they live or who they are. I disagree. I think that the goals delineated in the Preamble above are clear. The goals all apply to actions and ideas in America for Americans. It specifically says “for the United States of America.” And there are specific provisions for people from other circumstances. For instance:

    Article I of the Constitution, Section 8 specifically gives these powers to Congress:
    “To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations;
    To declare war, grant letters of marque reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water…”

    If the Constitution governed all (including those who commit piracies and felonies on the high seas and captures on land and water) why would there be a need for Congress to be given this power? There wouldn’t. These individuals would be covered under the Constitution. Therefore, since this was given to Congress, these individuals are not covered by the Constitution.

    What rules do apply?
    The governments of the United States (and Iraq and many others) have ratified the Third Geneva Convention of 1949.

    What does the Geneva Convention require?

    Article 3
    “In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each Party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following: Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.”

    There are many additional requirements to people that fit in this category.

    (Please note this only applies to members of armed forces. It also only applies to conflict of a non-international character. I think most would agree that the individuals that we are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan are part of a world wide network of fighters, protected in many areas, and not specifically tied to an individual country.)

    Article 4
    Prisoners of war, in the sense of the present Convention, are persons belonging to one of the following categories, who have fallen into the power of the enemy:
    1. Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict as well as members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces.
    2. Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfil the following conditions:
    (a) That of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;
    (b) That of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;
    (c) That of carrying arms openly;
    (d) That of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.
    (Please note these are all of the conditions, not one, or some of them.)

    Article 5
    The convention applies to Prisoners of War. If there is a doubt as to whether someone falls into a Prisoner of War category, they must be held until their status has been determined by a tribunal.

    Section III
    Has strict requirements for Judicial proceedings, trials, lawyers, release dates, etc.

    Part IV
    Discusses repatriation of prisoners.

    Article III of the Constitution states:
    Treason shall consist only in levying war against them (the US), or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.

    Also note that the Geneva Convention had additions in 1977 that would have allowed combatants that didn’t have uniforms, openly carry arms etc to have similar protections. The US was not a signatory to this Convention. It was not ratified and does not apply to the US. This may be interpreted in such a way: The US did not believe that these forces deserved these protections. Either way, it does not apply to the US.

    So- To get back to my questions from the beginning:

    It appears to me that there may be three classes of people that might be at Gitmo:
  • American citizens. They should be brought to American prisons and prosecuted if possible, released otherwise. The Constitution and all normal American laws, rights, etc should apply to these people. Any American citizens fighting against US troops should be prosecuted for treason, and if found guilty, executed, as soon as legally possible.
  • Noncitizens, fighting in uniform, etc. (POWs-see above.) These POWs need to be treated as proscribed in the Geneva Convention. Treatment, judicial proceedings, and release are strictly delineated. The questions of how to try these individuals, where to put them, etc. has already been laid out in the Geneva Convention. And since there are strict guidelines for judicial proceedings, and since the ones captured are not people of the United States, the Constitution does not apply. However, they will be treated humanely, not tortured, and have other rights. The location of the Prisoner of War camp can be anywhere. Gitmo or anywhere else. One advantage of locating a POW camp outside the US is that then there should be (but is) no argument as to whether these people are people of the United States.
  • Others, terrorists, guerillas, those that fight us without meeting the conditions of Article 4 of the Geneva Convention above. Congress clearly has the right and responsibility under Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution to make rules concerning captures. What did they do?

    In 2006 Congress passed the Military Commission Act of 2006. Congress was given this right under the Constitution. Under this Act unlawful combatants (guerillas, members of al Qaeda, the Taliban, etc.) are subject to trial under a military commission. They will get a military appointed lawyer. The Act discusses in depth the rules of the Military Commission. The Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 discusses torture in more detail. Generally it prohibits cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment. But it is left up to non DOD agencies to determine what that means for themselves.

    And recently, President Obama has decided that all interrogations will follow Army Field Manual standards. And that Gitmo will be closed in a year (as of January 22, 2009.)

    Are the Geneva Convention rules unfair? Not at all. I think they are too lenient. Especially when only one side follows them. Al Qaeda and the Taliban have certainly not signed them (or followed them). It seems as if generally only good, law abiding people are constrained by laws. But we have signed them, and we should follow them. (When applicable.)

    So what do we do with people don’t fall into a neat category?

    Treat them differently, interrogate aggressively, lock them up forever? Enticing. Tried it. Not ethically defensible as policy.

    I say that we should just treat everyone as POWs, like the 1977 Geneva Convention specifies. That would still allow us to maintain the prisoners until the end of hostilities, and there shouldn’t be any arguments in that case about if Constitutional protection applies. (It doesn’t.) POWs can still be tried if necessary and prudent. (See Articles 99-108)

    What do we lose? We lose the ability to use “aggressive interrogation techniques.” Since this is already lost, due to President Obama’s recent decisions, and previously The Detainee Treatment Act, I don’t think there is much of an advantage here. It also legitimizes our foe somewhat, by treating them as a legitimate combatant.

    What do we do?
    We should declare everyone to be a POW. We should keep them at Gitmo. (It’s already paid for.) And we should follow the Geneva Convention for all. We should allow the Red Cross and other neutral countries in to observe that the Geneva Convention is being followed. For those that also perpetrate crimes against civilians, (or commit atrocious acts against our soldiers) they should be prosecuted according to the legal section of the Geneva Convention (Articles 99-108.) This can be up to and including the death penalty.

    Here’s what I see as the bigger problem. If we start treating all of these people as POWs, people who live in third world countries with bad circumstances may see this as an advantageous way of life. Care must be taken that the POWs don’t have an easier life than the average individual of the country in question. We may need to get the country in question to pay the costs of the POW somehow.

New Blog/Content/Rules

This is my first blog. I'm new to it, and will probably make mistakes. So be it. The reason I've started this blog is that I often send political comments to my friends. Some like them. Some don't. If I keep my thoughts in a blog, those that aren't interested won't be offended. I'm not sure that I like that though, because I don't mind offending people, as I don't mind being offended. I think that respectful political discourse is a good thing for our Republic. It helps keep us honest. I will openly admit that I generally vote Republican, that I am a believer in Capitalism, and that I believe in God and that I love this Country. I do find that I don't always agree with the standard Republican platform. I am not professionally involved in politics, and my comments here are my own, and do not have anything to do with my employer.


1.) Be civil. You don't need to be nice. Just be civil.

2.) Don't take the Lord's name in vain. I will edit it. It is uneccesary. If you want to do it, start your own blog.

3.) Try not to curse. A cuss word here and there can make a point. More than that is excessive. Quoting others who cuss (within reason) is acceptable.

4.) Cite your sources. Don't steal things, especially ideas. It's okay to not always be original. Much of the thought process is consolidating things until they make a bigger picture.

I'll try to include others thoughts and opinions, but may edit or shorten them for length. If I do so, (and I will try to avoid this except in extreme circumstances) I will note that I am doing it.

5.) Please avoid heaping scorn on those who do not welcome the public eye. For example, discuss President Obama, his wife, President Bush and his wife if you choose, but don't discuss their children, unless they open themselves up.

6.) Don't lie. Everyone makes mistakes. Try not to make them too often. If I make one (or more) please correct me. It was unintentional. I welcome the opportunity to learn something new.