Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Musings 32--More terror, more often

You won't find it in any government report, but terrorists attacks increase markedly last year. (See link.) I have to wonder how Mr. President will spin the hell out of this to make it a positive. Of course, he could just ignore it and pretend that it is inaccurate reporting by the liberal media.

According to the Washington Post article, terrorist attacks "more than tripled." That a hefty increase in anybody's book. To be fair, it is world wide terrorism that is being measured, not terrorism in the United States. We are still waiting for another big blast from Osama. Our leaders have done as much as they can to keep us scared to death that it is going to happen again. Personally, I think it will only happen if it looks like democracy is taking hold in Iraq. Terrorist like to do big things when they feel they are losing ground. A last gasp would be the destroying something big in the US to prove that they are still players.

If you couple this with the news that the Iraq arms inspector stated in a thousand page report that there is no evidence that WMD's were smuggled out of Iraq into Syria; then, you start to see a pattern. Maybe we went to war a bit too quickly.

I know that it is popular to say that Mr. President lied about WMD's. I don't think, though, that that is a good plan of action for those of us who didn't care for the quickness that we went to war. I think it has more to do with good judgment. What the lack of WMD's shows, is that Mr. President and his men made leaping conclusions about Iraq. I think they thought they could sell a war by scaring the bejesus out of everybody with weapons of mass destruction. I also think they succeeded--but their judgment was flawed. They wanted to go to war, and they did.

So has the war in Iraq made the world and us safer? Well, not by the facts, and like Joe Friday used to say, "just the facts" indicates that we are not safer but more at risk.

And so it goes...

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Musings 31--Lame Duck, Insurance and Buffalo

Mr. President is wrapping up the last week of his hard-selling of private accounts to the American citizens. By a large margin, 70-30 percent, he seems to be losing this fight. It is interesting because he hasn't lost many.

This may be the beginning of the end of Mr. President's second term. If he can't get a win on Social Security reform, he might just help usher in a three year legacy of a lame-duck presidency. Usually, this happens within the last couple of years of a two-termer. In Mr. President's case, it could be due to his picking of social security as a do or die issue.

The thing that most people forget about Social Security is that there is no such system. The real name of it is Federal Insurance Contributions Act Tax (FICA Tax). When you look on your pay stub that is what you see. Social Security is no place to be seen.

The term Social Security is a derogatory term hooked on the FICA Tax by the detractors--most of which were Republicans--because they felt that Franklin Delano Roosevelt's 1935 program was nothing more than creeping socialism. They figured that calling it Social Security every chance they got would make folks think twice about such a terrible socialist concept. Well, over the years the term has lost its derogatory meaning and now everyone--friends and foes alike--refers to FICA Tax as Social Security.

It doesn't matter, you may say, the system doesn't work. Workers could make more money doing other things with their 8%. That is probably true, but that is not what FICA was designed to do. The system is an insurance. It was designed to be a safety net for the folks who did not make lots of money. FICA Tax was never intended to be the only retirement system folks had--nor should it be today. If people would toss another 8 or 10 percent into an IRA, then the money they would receive from Social Security would act as a stipend to their investments.

When the FICA Taxes were first taken out of people's salaries, big business took a powder and handed retirement over to the government. Many corporations had pension plans for their workers, but these plans were not guaranteed and many folks lost their retirement due to mismanagement and fraud. Plus, the stock market only makes you money if you invest in things that show a profit. Tech stocks were hot in the 1990's and worthless after 2001. Lots of folks lost their pensions in plans that looked really good ten years earlier.

Social Security--remember it is an insurance and and insurance guards against loss--just kept rolling along. It didn't gain much, but it gave a cost of living raise and was solid. Without this safety net large numbers of folks would be destitute.

Mr. President wants to do away with the safety net. Down deep he probably still has core Republican beliefs that FICA Tax is creeping socialism. Of course it could too, that he just wants the boys on Wall Street to play with our money. Both of these are scary scenarios.

Changing the subject:

A buffalo herd stopped traffic on a Maryland highway. See link. Ok, maybe it was a small herd--about 10 bison. I dare say it has been several hundred years since that has happened. Most of the eastern bison were gone by 1805. I take it as an omen. When the buffs return it is the sign that something big is about to happen. I'm going home and clean my .45-120 buffalo rifle. That's within 1000 miles of Greasy Ridge.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Musings 30.1--Corrections...ahhhhh

I am sorry for not proofreading my posts better. Since I am a printer and sometimes have to work at my trade, I get sloppy with my spelling and punctuation. I will try to do better, but if I don't you can go back and re-read my posts after I correct them--sometimes days later. It is a busy world, and I never could spell

Friday, April 22, 2005

Musings 30--The Pot Calling the Kettle Black

So now the blogs and e-mails are hot with haters referring to Josef Ratzinger the new Pope, Benedict XVI, as the "Nazi Pope." We are truly an immature world.

From all accounts that I've read, not being a Catholic, the new Pope is a good guy. He's a little hard-line, but that is the state of religion today. It seems that in his youth the new Pope was a member of the Hitler youth. Thus, bunches of these stupids are referring to him as the "Nazi Pope." My history is fuzzy, kind of like Mr. President's math, but I do remember that most of the young men in Germany did not have a choice about joining the late Adolph's youth group.

It is kind of like all of these slant heads that refer to Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia as Robert "KKK" Byrd. As a youth, Senator Byrd was a member of that organization. I heard him tell an interviewer that of all the things he wished he could undo, this was number one on the list. He has been a fine senator for WV over the last half century.

People can change. Many times they don't, but they can if they wish to do so. Most bad things that I have ever done come under the heading of ignorance. Usually, when I am not informed and venture and outlandish opinion, it comes back to haunt me. When I find out better, I try to make amends. That is called the growing process. I've grown so much that my pant size is double what it used to be.

The Pope is a religious man. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that he probably knows that Hitler was a genuine bad dude who is now burning in hell with his brother Satan. Thus, to call the Pope a Nazi shows the total lack of intellect of many people. Some of them can actually write a line or two, which is amazing in itself.

I suspect that folks who call the Pope a Nazi are haters of many things. Basically, they are like Adolph Hitler in their views. They never forget, forgive or find favor. It's kind of like the pot on an old time stove calling the kettle black. Take a look in a mirror before throwing out these mean and hateful phrases.

Now for something completely different:

Barbara Ruth and I now own a building. We don't know what we are going to do with it, but it's is ours...for a while. Stay safe Pat, write your parents Mike, and many happy years Vincent and Missy.

It is suppose to snow here tonight...the glaciers are melting at the South Pole...George Bush is president...I saw lights in the sky...omens, all. The end is near. As a matter or fact, it

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Musings 29--Conservative Liberal Lies

It seems that any direction you turn, you are confronted with someone saying that the national media--both network and print--are left-leaning liberal organizations. I used to hear this a lot from Fox News, but now, it seems, even the mainstream press is starting to call themselves liberal. Well, I doubt that most media is liberal biased.

When Fox started making a mark in the late 1990's, it needed something to get people to watch. They quickly came up with the "fair and balanced" theme. Everybody needs a hook, and Fox started to pound on everybody with their "fair and balanced" mantra.

Mainstream news, particularly CNN, didn't seem to pay them any mind. The first Iraq War had been covered by CNN on a 24-7 basis. They were the first to do it. They new that their place was safe in the news universe. The networks still had good anchors, and were still getting great rating. Fox was a flea on the skin of a pretty big elephant.

You also have to add to this Pat Robertson's so-called Christian news reporting. I can remember watching some of these and thinking that they were a far cry from journalism. However, Robertson had a following, and I, dare say without proof, that many of these who used to tune in Ole Pat now tune in Fox.

Anyway, the regular news folks didn't consider Fox much of a threat. I remember hearing talking heads say that Fox would probably fail big in the news biz. I wonder if they still think that? One thing about not taking something serious is that when you are wrong it is usually to late to fight back. Network news is just now coming to the realization that Fox News is for real. Yea, they only have about three million viewers on their best night. But, it is far better than CNN or MSNBC on cable. NBC, CBS and ABC still go into about 24 million houses each evening. However, the three million houses that Fox is in are a core audience that has never had a champion--until now.

Since about the mid 1990's, Fox has been telling anyone who will listen that the big three networks and the big city newspapers are all liberal leaning instruments of the Democratic Party. The networks and papers just shrugged and said, "Ah, why bother fighting them, they'll be gone within a few years." But...Fox has thrived due to all the malcontents finding a home. You see, there are a lot of malcontents in this old world.

Mr. President--probably more Karl Rove--has tapped into this group of folks who think that the liberal elite has passed them by. Fox now plays to this and so we have the basis of our current setting of how things are in the United States today.

The networks and print papers have to defend any statement they make that doesn't square with the "fair and balanced" bunch at Fox. If you add to this all of the conservative magazines that out there, then you get the idea that these guys are smelling blood. It is time the major media concerns start fight back. However, it may be too little to late.

Conservatives have painted the picture that most media is liberal. The media never ever said they were anything other than journalists. No one ever heard a newscaster say on the air at the networks or in the print media--editorial pages are the exception--that they were liberal. Most journalists have tried to be objective in their reporting. Just give them the facts has been the journalists creed for over a hundred years.

How do journalists make people understand that they are not liberal biased? Facts, facts and more facts, you say. The conservatives bide their time and when the facts are not to their liking, they yell...liberal!! A perfect example of this is the Terri Schiavo case. Most of the federal judges that wouldn't re-hear the case were appointed by Bush the Elder.

Journalists are going to have to go on the offensive against Fox Network, conservatives and the religious right. They have ignored them in hopes that they'd go away. They have not. They have only gotten stronger. So how do you go on the offensive? Now that is the $64,000 question. How do you fight the idea of conservative liberal lies?

Monday, April 18, 2005

Musings 28---DeLay today

It seems that everybody wants a piece of Congressman Tom DeLay's short little ass. There are all kinds of ethic allegations flying around about him. The latest is that he paid his wife and daughter $500,000 over a three year period for working for his campaign. If he had taken the money for himself, it would have been illegal. He did not. He paid his wife and daughter, and other congressmen have done the exact same thing. That is legal. A job is a job no matter how hard you work or how many hours you spend on it.

I have never liked Representative DeLay. I think he is an offensive little smuck that feathers his own nest whenever possible. However, I don't think he deserves the crap that he is taking over his families jobs or the trips that he took to Russia. (Some say, without evidence, that DeLay took illegal trips to Russia and other places.) DeLay has been a thorn in the side of the media for many years now. When Newt Gingrich fell from the graces of the republican party, it left a vacuum that was filled quickly by the former termite control guy from Texas.

The grandstanding over the Terri Schiavo situation was Tom DeLay at his self-serving best. By passing a law to try to keep her alive, he shored up all kind of support from the religious right. Ole Tom never misses an opportunity to make himself look good.

All of the commentators say that there is enough scandal around DeLay that he should consider resigning. That's a bunch of hooey! To the best of my knowledge, there is nothing that warrants his resigning. There is no actual evidence of wrong doing--just smoke, as in where there is smoke there is fire. Basically, it is just the press trying to do in DeLay for being a horses ass to them. They don't call DeLay "The Hammer" because he is a nice guy.

In Texas, there is a prosecuting attorney named Ronnie Earle. He is looking into the illegal funneling of monies into the redistricting activities that Tom DeLay did that guaranteed the republicians several more seats in the house of representatives before the 2004 election. Now this might amount to something. Earle is a bulldog and he goes after wrongdoers with a vengeance--republican or democrat. If DeLay is guilty of messing where he shouldn't have been messing, then he should pay the price. If Earle indicts Tom DeLay, you can bet that he feels he can get a conviction. If he does not. Then "The Hammer" is innocent of all wrong doing--at least as the letter of the law is concerned.

Newt was not a nice guy. Tom DeLay is worse, but if he isn't guilty of anything then the media needs to leave him alone. One thing about these guys, if they are doing things they shouldn't be doing, they won't ever stop. It just a mater of time. So natiional media, either come up with something or quit trying to invent something. Go interview Ronnie Earle down in Texas. If there is wrongdoing, there is where it will be found--deep in the heart of Texas.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Musings 27...Talk Radio, God and Poker

I can remember, when I was a kid, listening to the first talk radio shows I ever heard. My dad and i would listen to a fellow by the name of Dick Hustead on WWHY radio in Huntington, West Virginia--1470 on your dial. He ranted and raved about everything and took calls from listeners. He was forever getting into knock-down and drag-out arguments with the people in radioland. I always wondered why people bothered to call in if they hated his views so much. It always seemed to me that if a fellow on the radio was espousing some view point that I did not agree with, I would just turn the dial to some rock station.

Well, WWHY is long gone and so is old Dick. Today, but talk radio still thrives. There are a certain group of people who love arguing on the radio. They love hearing their own voices and they love setting other people straight.

These same people, usually think that they have a special relationship with God. They can set you straight on what is right and wrong. Many times they don't let the facts cloud their issures. They use words like moral focus, moral center, God-fearing, moral values, etc. Personally, I think they are a scary bunch.

I believe in God, but I don't have a clue as to the true mind of the Creator. How could anyone? I especially love it when people think that they have to defend God. It's kind of a slap in the face to think that God--the supreme being--needs earthly defenders. Maybe I'm over thinking it...but, I doubt it.

When I hear guys like Fat Rush and Slanthead Hannity speak of moral values, it makes me ill. Rush has a moral compass that allows him to abuse drugs. Hannity just hates everything that doesn't kiss Mr. President's Texas butt. The operative word there is hate. Hannity also wraps himself in the flag. He is forever saying to soldiers, "Thanks for you're service." It's a nice little thing to say, but action speaks louder than words. If I was a soldier--and I was many years ago--I wouldn't want to be thanked by a guy who didn't have a clue as to what it was like to walk in my shoes.

Now we get to poker. Big Bill Bennett, the guy who was the drug czar, likes to go on all the talk shows and guide people toward his idea of morality. It was reported several months ago that he had a gambling habit and had lost million in Las Vegas. He didn't see any problem with that. Of course, he cut back on his gambling when his wife complained. I'm told that Big Bill liked to play blackjack and poker. Now blackjack is not my game, but I have played my share of poker.

I love playing the game, especially seven-card stud. Texas Hold'em is a wuss game. You can lose a lot of money playing cards. My wife allows me to indulge by playing on line for play money. Yep, play money. Because if I played for real we'd be in the poorhouse. Sometimes I play good, but most times I play bad. There is a real degree of luck. Since, I don't use real money, I can do other things with my wealth. I could donate to a charity or church. I could help put some needy kid through college. Basicly, it gives me more options to do better things with my money. I wonder how many poor people and kids could have benefitted from the millions that Big Bill lost over the years.

So here it is in summary. Morality--do it...don't preach it. Godliness--practice it, don't just talk about it. Poker--play only good hole cards. It's all pretty simple...really it is.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Musings 26...Spring and Taxes

I mowed my lawn Saturday. It is the earliest I have ever done so. Most years, I just wait around till the first week of May before I even check-out my mower. Maybe I'm eager for the warm weather, or maybe it is because the grass has such a dark green color this year.

Green, the color of money from the old days, makes you think happy thoughts. (I say old days because currency these days is multi-colored. Kind of play money looking.) Only blue can do you better. Blue can get you to the sky and the ocean in nothing flat. But, green is not so bad.

I put the old horse out to chop some grass. He seems really happy that warm weather is here. He even got down and tried to roll. Rolling to a horse is big stuff. He's kind of feeble, but he gave it a good try anyway.

The only partly negative thing about spring is that April brings more than May flowers. It also brings tax time. April 15th is the verboding day of reckoning for most of us who usually end up paying each year. If you owe, you take it right to the last day--sometimes the last second.

Really, everyone gripes to high heaven about taxes, but I don't think we really pay that much. I think that over the last few years I have averaged about 5% in federal and about the same for state. That's not too bad. It buys us an awful lot. I think most of us would be willing to pay a little more if Mr. President would just pay down the debt.

There needs to be a check-off box on the 1040 form of income tax that allows people who get refunds to donate a portion of their refund to pay down the national debt. I bet all kinds of folks would donate to that. I know that on the Ohio state form there are check-offs for clean water and wildlife preservation. Barbara always makes me donate to that if, by chance, I get a refund.

Hey, it's only money, and we sure can't take it with us when we leave this mortal coil. They can put a box on the 1040 about contributing to the presidential campaign fund; hence, they can do one for the national debt.

Most people want to do their part. Only the greedy don't.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Musings 25--The Pope and Jane Fonda

The Pope is dead. If you live under a rock, you might not know that. Cable tv has run story after story about the Polish Pope. It has been exhaustive and overkilled.

I am not a Catholic. If you are--good for you. I do think that the Pope was a very good man. He was very consistent in his doctrine and was as narrow-minded as any other religious leader when it comes to science. Let's face it, this is the Pope who finally agreed that the earth was not the center of the known universe. I feel quite sure that many people died because of this, but that was centuries ago. We all make mistakes. I guess God spoke clearer to this Pope than he did to the other Popes.

The Pope is against birth control and stem cell research. I'm for both. I think we need less idiots in the world and severe injuries need to be treated anyway possible. The Pope believes that life is precious. I believe that quality of life is precious. The Pope is against capital punishment--I'm for it. I don't think capital punishment hinders or helps law enforcement, but it gets these killers and rapists off my planet. (I suppose if there was a penal institution on the moon I would be for letting them live.)

The Pope is against the war in Iraq. On this point, I totally agree. Most wars are pointless...unless you are attacked. Defense is never pointless. Howsoever, setting an example by overkill never works. (Note: I have used the word overkill twice in one column.) I also have a huge problem with preemptive war. It lends itself to what one side thinks another side might do. Scary stuff!

The Pope is very big on forgiveness. I mostly concur with that philosophy. I don't understand why many of the Popes disciples don't hold to his doctrine. Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity come quickly to mind.

Jane Fonda was against the Viet Nam war. She even went to Hanoi to protest. There is a famous photograph of her sitting on an anti-aircraft gun. Lots of the vets from my generation can't seem to get past the fact that she did that. The Pope, who is against all war, would have forgiven her. I therefore, by deduction, would conclude that all catholic vets would have forgiven her--and I'd be wrong. They still hate her, as do most of the protestant, Jewish and atheistic vets. They have long memories which are sometimes faulty. Some of them actually think we could have won that war.

I just got through listening to Bill O'Reilly on the radio. He said he would have tried Fonda for treason...such a forgiving soul. He's a Catholic. The Pope is a Catholic too. Hmmm.

Jane Fonda had a belief that the war in Viet Nam was wrong. She took action to try and stop it. It didn't help and it might have hindered, but she took a stand. You have to admire that. While she was doing that, I was trying to dodge the draft and ended up in the Marine Corps. Go figure.

The Pope was a good leader, but his views are not infallible. Past history of the papistry is evidence of this. Jane Fonda has apologized to vets many times. She realizes that she made a mistake, not in being against the war, but in going to Hanoi. Maybe it is time that the vets, review their unrelenting hate. Nobody should hold a grudge that long. I think the Pope would have agreed with that too.

Hey, Jane, I don't have the big pointy hat, but I forgive you. I also know of another fellow who would forgive you. "Neither do I accuse thee. Go and sin no more."--Jesus of Nazareth.

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