Saturday, August 14, 2004

Charley Update

It's raining harder now than anytime I noticed yesterday. Go figure.

Here are some links if you want to help - time and or donations will be greatfully accepted. I'll post more as I find them.

Volunteer Florida register to volunteer. Your services may not be utilized right away, but they may need you in a few weeks or months.

American Red Cross and a news story here for information on becoming a local volunteer.

Salvation Army or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY

FEMA. 1-800-621-3362 or 1-800-462-7585
Update: Here's a link from Strengthen the Good for more ways to help out
The Mainstream Media Bias

I know that I'm beating yet another dead horse, but when is the mainstream media going to treat issues and questions surrounding John Kerry the same way they treat issues and questions regarding President Bush? Senator Kerry is the one who has made his service in Vietnam, his Purple Hearts, his incursion into Cambodia, and his protests of the war the core issue of his presidential campaign. He puts his service out as if he deserves to be President because he served in Vietnam. As I've said before, as the sister of a Vietnam Vet and daughter of two WWII vets, I have nothing but respect for his service in the Navy and in Vietnam. But it doesn't automatically qualify him to be Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. If that were the case, I can personally name dozens of people just as qualified and maybe even more so because they spent entire tours of duty, and in some case, multiple tours, in Vietnam.

But until the media starts asking the same questions that others are asking, and get concrete answers from reliable sources, I have serious reservations about his fitness to hold the Office of the President. I'm not concerned that he spent only four months in Vietnam, my brother spent only a few months there before he was reassigned stateside due to a family emergency. I don't particularly care that he may have used his military service as a stepping stone in his future political career. What I do care about his military time is how it molded his character. What I've seen doesn't impress me at all.

I took a journalism class in high school. Now, granted, this was more than a few years ago, but I was taught that journalists have a responsibility to print the truth. If they print something and find out after that there are questions, it's their responsibility to keep digging until they find out what the truth is. Their responsibility is to present the facts, not just what looks good for one candidate or the other, but all the facts to their readers so that the readers, or viewers in the case of broadcast media, can make decisions based on facts.

I am a citizen of this country. I expect the media to present me with the facts, raw and unembellished with their opinion or interpretation. If President Bush is open for question, then so should any other candidate be. All candidates should open their records, military, financial, and personal. It's part of the price of becoming a political figure.

The people want to know. And we have the right to know that the facts presented by the media are real, uninterpreted, and provable. If it can't be proven, it's rumor, not "unsubstantiated fact" and shouldn't be presented as anything other than what it is: gossip.

We also have the right to know when a candidate, or the President, is lying to us. And it's the responsibility of the media, print or broadcast, to find that lie and to present it to the public. When the media is not presenting facts, they are lying to us, the public.

And we shouldn't take it anymore.

Update: Apparently the media is beginning to question the Senator's service also, or at least parts of it. Here and here. I'm guessing others will be jumping on the bandwagon now that it's started. Links found via the Captain's Quarters. Thanks!

I just read

LOS ANGELES (AP) - The mother of Ray Charles's 16-year-old son has asked a court to increase child support for the teenager from $3,000 a month to at least $60,000.

Mary Anne den Bok filed a petition Tuesday in which she says additional money from Charles's estate would provide Corey Robinson den Bok with "the lifestyle he enjoyed" before his father's death June 10.

Her petition seeks a minimum figure of $60,000 a month but suggests the appropriate support should be $240,800 per month.

A hearing was scheduled for Sept. 27 in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Calls to a Charles family representative, Jerry Digney, were not immediately returned Friday night.

The famed singer and musician was 73 when he died of acute liver disease at his Beverly Hills home. He left 12 children and, according to the petition, a $100 million estate.

Den Bok claimed Charles failed to pay child support for 18 months before December 2003.

During that time, according to the petition, she lost income after moving her family into a rental property that contained toxic mold.

Den Bok claimed she developed mold-related health problems, was unable to work and cannot pay for her son's school tuition.
Goodbye Charley

The good news is that Charley made landfall well south of Manatee County. We had a little rain, a little wind and that was it. East Manatee may have gotten more than we got here in West Bradenton, but we were relatively unscathed. My parents came through once again. Charley is a now a category 1 hurricane and back out over the Atlantic. He's moving at 25 mph and headed toward South Carolina, which was buffeted last week by TS Alex.

The bad news is that Charley made landfall. I wish all those in Punta Gorda and Charlotte County well and hope our fellow bloggers in that area, and their friends and family in that area, are uninjured and with no property damage.

I am hearing that President and Governor Bush have declared Florida a disaster area making those with damage eligible for federal and state funding for rebuilds and repairs and housing while those rebuilds and repairs are being done. Apparently the damage is severe and deaths are reported in several areas. A federal mortuary team has been dispatched to aid with recovery of bodies and recovery teams are either in Charlotte County or on the way.

What I'm seeing on Fox News right now reminds me of the reasons why evacuations of mobile home parks are necessary. Mobile homes have their place, but they aren't built for 75-100 mph and higher winds. I had been entertaining thoughts of living in a mobile in my "golden years." Now I want poured concrete all around - floors, ceilings, and walls.

I've lived in Florida for all but eight years of my life. I've been through numerous hurricanes including Donna and Betsy in the 60's. I saw on TV, and heard from friends who went to help, the damage that Andrew and Opal did. But, I've found that when you don't experience a hurricane first hand for some time, you tend for forget just what a hurricane is capable of doing.

A lot of the problem with this storm is that it was predicted to make landfall in Tampa Bay, so while people further south took precautions, but no one was expecting landfall in Punta Gorda. This is not to place blame on anyone. Hurricanes are unpredictable. The weather service makes its predictions based on the best information they have: weather conditions such as jet streams and high and low pressure systems, radar and fly-throughs. With a large storm, radar takes some time (several hours) to make sure that "little jog" is an actual change of course and not just a "little jog." Predicting weather is not, by any means, an exact science. And until it is we can expect damage, and unfortunately, sometimes loss of life.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Charley Update 305pm

Bay News 9 is saying that the eye will make landfall at Charlotte Harbor about 330 p.m. I just looked outside and the rain is a little heavier, but it's still little more than a drizzle. From the radar, it looks like we'll end up being on the west side of Charley. Still will get heavy rains and high winds, but it could be lots worse. Might not even lose power (yeah, right).

I still have popcorn and ice tea. Can't believe I forgot the sangria!
Kerry/Edwards Bumper Sticker

My husband gave me the code for a Kerry/Edwards bumpersticker. He set it as wallpaper on his computer. Looks like I've had a positive influence on him after all :D

It's too big to fit in the sidebar, so it's at the bottom of the page. I think it's worth the scrolling.
Update: Husband just taught me how to resize the bumpersticker. Yay!
Charley Update
Looks like Charley is on the verge of becoming a cat 4 storm. He has strengthened considerably in the last few hours according to the National Weather Service.
It's past Cuba. Cuban authorities report no substantial damage and no casualties. Jamaica reported 1 death - I'm not sure about damage, but I wouldn't doubt that there would be damage. Their building code isn't exactly top drawer.
The National Weather Service is reporting a turn toward the east with landfall somewhere in the vicinity of Sarasota, Venice, or Punta Gorda/Charlotte Harbor. Good news for Tampa Bay, not such good news for those south of us.
Here in Bradenton, there is a light rain and a very light breeze. The air is still hot and heavy. I really noticed the air yesterday, how hot and heavy it was. Not quite as bad right now, but I just stuck my nose out the door, didn't really venture out.

Next advisory isn't supposed to come out until 500 pm, but that will be after landfall somewhere in Sarasota or Charlotte County.

Fair Tax
I'm gonna beat this horse to death! Yes, it's that important! Here is a comparison of the Fair Tax, Flat Tax, and the present tax system (system?). This link will take you to FAQ's. And here you'll find the (PDF) chart detailing how much of a rebate check you can expect. It's based on the number of people in your household, not on what your income is.
This is such an important issue. It appears that President Bush is not going to make this a part of his campaign platform, although I hope he changes his mind. I hope that he will make it a central issue of his second term (if nothing else, I'm ever the optimist!)
Here are some of the salient facts:
Imagine a tax system that:
  1. Allows you to keep 100% of your paycheck, pension, and Social Security payments.
  2. Frees up the time wasted on filling out cumbersome I.R.S. forms.
  3. Makes taxation of income unconstitutional by repealing the 16th Amendment.
  4. Exempts all taxpayers from federal taxation, up to the poverty level, through a monthly rebate.
  5. Ensures that all Americans pay their fair share of taxes.
  6. Dramatically lowers tax rates for low-income and middle-income Americans.
  7. Dramatically reduces the cost of goods and services by 20% to 30%.
  8. Allows families to save more for home ownership, education, and retirement.
  9. Protects and ensures the funding of Social Security and Medicare.
  10. Leaves unchanged the amount of money raised by the federal government.
  11. Makes American products more competitive overseas.

I can't imagine why anyone would think that there was a downside to this, although I have had people try to tell me what's wrong with it. I explained what was wrong with their reasoning, and they came to the light. Hallelujah!

Help make April 15th just another day. Eliminate the IRS, eliminate Federal taxation, eliminate filing forms every year. Eliminate trying to figure out what's allowable and what's not. Don't worry, IRS personnel will find work. Someone will have to mail out those rebate checks and collect the taxes from retailers. And others can work for TSA or sell used cars.

Unfit for Command
Click on this link to get a chapter of the book free from Human Events Online.
Kerry on the Fair Tax

When asked about the Fair Tax, President Bush said that it sounded interesting, and worth some attention. Senator Kerry said, "Families already squeezed by rising health care costs, gas costs and college costs would have to carry a whole new tax burden."

Senator Kerry either (1) has not studied the Fair Tax Act, (2) is against whatever the President is interested in, (3) has studied the plan and doesn't understand it, (4) or doesn't want American citizens to have more money. In any case, he should have studied it before opening his pie hole.

Of the options, I prefer to think that he hasn't studied the FTA and/or doesn't understand it. Had he studied the plan, he would know that it would actually put more money in American pockets. I always hate to generalize, but Democrats don't want you to have money to spend how you want. They want to take your money and spend it how they want. They don't think you are capable of making any decisions. Democrats want to be Mommy and Daddy and "take care of you" so you don't have to worry about little, mundane things such as healthcare, retirement funding, and social welfare. They don't think you're smart enough to handle your own money, healthcare, and retirement. That's why they are promoting universal healthcare - everyone is entitled to free healthcare. Retirement? Let Social Security and Medicare take care of you in your old age. Can't find a job because you don't have an education or have a passel of kids? We'll give you a check every month, and help you pay for housing and groceries. This is socialism people. If it continues, we'll all be on some sort of Welfare. Welfare is when someone else (Uncle Sam) gives you housing, groceries, healthcare and a retirement pension.

I don't know about you, but I don't want to live my so called golden years on welfare. I want to be in control of my own destiny. I want to keep what I earn and make my own investments so that I can have the kind of retirement I want to have, no, I deserve to have. I want to choose my own doctors, hospitals, and insurance.

Look at your paystub. Those amounts next to FICA and Federal Witholding? That's money that would NOT be taken out each payday. You would keep that money. In my case, that's an extra $800 a month. And, I'd get a rebate check each month of about $350. I could pay off bills, the mortgage, and build a nice little nest egg over the next few years. And those who have 10, 20 or more years before retirement would be able build a very nice retirement for themselves.
This doesn't even touch on the fact that prices would go down, more jobs created and life in general would be good. If you don't believe me, go to the Fair Tax Act and see for yourself. Educate yourself. Senator Kerry couldn't fit National Security briefings into his schedule, so maybe he didn't have time to study the Fair Tax either.

A whole new tax burden? Three words, Senator: bring it on!

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Hello, Charley!
Found another little gem at The Morning Magazine today. It's a NOAA satellite feed which shows weather activity in the Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico. It's kinda cool watching the storms movements. Charley appears to have taken that northern turn over Cuba. We should start getting feeder bands of rain in the next few hours.
Lovely way to spend my (birthday) day off.
There is one benefit of having a hurricane pass by on the day after your birthday. I was going to take Friday off, but the county is telling non-essential personnel (yay! I'm non-essential! What a boost to my ego! hey, wait! Being non-essential means I don't have to drive to work in a hurricane and stay there until it's over. Gotta rethink that ego thing. Yes. It's good to be non-essential!) to stay home on Friday. So instead of burning my birthday holiday, I'll hold on to it and use it another day.
My co-workers had a little party for me today. Really nice cake from Albertson's. I highly recommend their cakes. Beautifully decorated and the icing wasn't too sweet. The cake was decorated like a present with real ribbon and a big red bow on it. Tina also gave me a bag of Dove chocolate! Yummy! Thanks Tina! And also thanks to all who wished me a happy birthday.
On the way home, Dale (who had to use my van today, hence he had to pick me up) and I stopped at Kojak's Ribhouse in Palmetto. I had been wanting to try it out. They've only been open for, what? two years? Something like that, and I pass it everyday. I highly recommend Kojak's. I had the rib dinner with fries and applesauce. The ribs were so tender, they almost fell off the bone. And the best part! After I had ordered, I noticed the sign which gave the specials also said something to the effect of: free birthday dinner on us!! Free dinner? I like free! And it is my birthday! So, after showing ID, I got my dinner free! Cool! Thanks, Kojak's! A good dinner, and free. Can't beat that with a stick!

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Bonnie and ....Charley?
Florida is gearing up on two fronts in preparation for Tropical Storm Bonnie and Hurricane Charley. I've included links to the weather maps for Bonnie and Charley if you are so inclined, courtesy of
I've lived in Florida for all but seven years of my life. While not giving away my actual age (hint: I'm over 21), I will admit that I need more than the fingers on both hands to count the years. I've been through many hurricanes, tropical storms, depressions, stormy weather, and our "ordinary" afternoon Florida thunderstorms. What I'm getting at is that I am very familiar with preparing for a storm of any kind. I'm not going to worry about Charley yet, but I will be keeping an eye on what's going on with him and will take the appropriate precautions as time nears landfall.
The thing about hurricanes is that they are unpredictable. When they start to slow down, chances are good that one of two things will happen: it will intensify and/or the direction will change. Charley seems to have slowed down a bit and I am thinking that it will turn more easterly. The current thought is that it will hit landfall somewhere between Venice and Ft Myers. I'm thinking further south. Although I could be wrong and it will continue on it's present course, turn more northerly or even westerly.
If things hold true, as they have for the last 6 years, Manatee County will notice little effect. You see, in 1998 Hurricane Georges was headed for Manatee County just before Dale and I got married - I'm talking days before. We were considering postponing the wedding for several reasons, the hurricane at the time not being one of them. Well, we decided to continue with our chosen date (September 26) when Georges decided to that he would come across the state from the east and exit out into the Gulf of Mexico using Manatee County as his pathway. Now we really were concerned about the wedding. Our caterer cancelled out on us (something about not being able to get to the shop through the flooding - the wuss!) and we started getting regrets from family and friends around the state who didn't want to be traveling in the middle of a hurricane. Can't say I really blame them. Anyway, the storm suddenly turned away from us just before hitting the county line ( was that close). Can't remember whether it went north or south, but instead of waking to a driving sideways rain, thunder, lightning and all that goes with a hurricane, we woke to sunny skies.
It was the talk of the town how Georges sidestepped us. I thought I knew the reason. My mother, who had passed away three years earlier, had gathered a veritable choir of angels. They all gathered at the county line and started flapping their wings at the storm and drove it in another direction. Now, I know you're probably laughing, but I'm serious. Mom wasn't about to let anything as insignificant as a hurricane stop her only daughter's wedding.
It happened again a year or so later. Another hurricane, the name escapes me right now, was headed, according to one forecaster's words "right into the mouth of the Manatee River" (the Manatee divides the county into two parts at the Gulf). I went to sleep expecting to be awakened during the night to rain, storm, lightning, thunder and the works. Didn't happen. And again, woke to sunny skies.
Dad went to join Mom in 2001, so, now we have both Mom and Dad guarding us. And that's a tag-team that not even a hurricane can beat.
Contribute to the Party Platform
I received email today from I've said before that I am a supporter of tax reform and replacing the current tax system (huh? it's a system?) with a national sales tax. And, no, it's not a value added tax. It's a tax paid by the final purchaser of an item.
The reason I speak of the email is because there was a link included that enables grassroots Republicans to contribute their ideas to the party platform. Here is the email and the link:
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), who is serving as the Platform Committee Chairman for the 2004 Republican National Convention, announced this week that grassroots Republicans from across the nation will be able to contribute to the party's platform for 2004.
The GOP's 2004 Platform Committee is responsible for expressing the values and views of party members. Traditionally the committee works with delegates and the party faithful to gather priorities and include them in one document that states the direction the party will follow for the next four years. However, this year, for the first time, suggestions given online may be included in the final document.
We need you to express your opinions on tax reform to the 2004 Republican National Convention! Here is where to go:
Using a home computer, anyone can log on to a web site and participate in the platform process. The site asks for personal identifying information and allows participants to select their most important issue and add comments. Here is where you submit it: (
Ginny Wolfe, a platform committee spokesperson, acknowledged to Newsday that the party affiliation of those participating would not be checked. So if you are a Democrat, Reform, Green, Veterans, or Constitution party affiliate - you can now have a voice with the GOP in getting the FairTax on the President's list.
The platform process was brought online Tuesday. "The best ideas most often come from Americans who solve real problems and live real dreams every single day," Sen. Frist said.
You will note that the email specifically refers to tax reform, but it can be used to express any contribution to the party platform.
Update: President Bush thinks a national sales tax is an "interesting" idea. Here's the link.
Human Events Online

I found this site via Mark Larsen (wwba 1040 am in Tampa) this morning. I haven't looked it over completely yet, but at first glance, it looks interesting.
Today is the day bloggers ask their readers to donate or volunteer their time to the Bush/Cheney campaign. There are only three weeks left before the Republican convention, and by law, you can't make a donation after. So, if you want to donate, you must do it in the next three weeks. Here's a link to donate, and a link to volunteer your time.
If you've already, or can't make a donation or volunteer your time, talk to your friends and relatives about how they plan to vote. And, be sure that you vote in November. That's the most important thing that you can do.
Did I get the idea across? Don't make me repeat myself!
Swift Vet Update 2

I don't have time to comment on this right now, but wanted to get this
link out (thanks to Lileks). Talk show host Hugh Hewitt had as a guest on his show a gentleman by the name of Steve Gardner. Mr. Gardner served with, as in on the same boat as, John Kerry and has first hand knowledge of Kerry's Christmas in Cambodia.

And Update 3

Zev Chafets weights in here.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Right-Wing Attack Machine

I've heard about this machine many times in the last few years. Ever since Hilary first spoke of the "vast right-wing conspiracy" and it's attack machine, I've wondered just what it was. I became obsessed with this machine of evil and determined to find out who was responsible for it and where it was kept. It began to consume my every waking moment, and, well, I've had more than a few nightmares about it.

Thanks to the Queen of All Evil, I've found its site. It's very, very scary, so be prepared!
Swift Vets Update

Talk Show host and blogger Kevin McCullough reports at Crosswalk that he interviewed John Kerry's former commanding officer, Lt. Thomas Wright. (You did know that Senator Kerry served in Vietnam, didn't you?). The surprise is that Wright claims that Kerry was asked to leave Vietnam after his third Purple Heart. Here's the link to the page. It's an audio transcript of the show, so you have to have the appropriate software to hear it.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Actions Speak Louder Than Words
I have a belief than unless you have been in a certain, or similar situation, you really have no idea of what you would do differently than someone else in that situation. That's why I have a tendency to disregard what people say they would have done if....
That being said, I also believe that their actions speak louder than words. John Kerry says that if he had been in Sarasota on September 11th, he would have reacted this way:
"Had I been reading to children and had my top aide whispered in my ear, 'America is under attack,' I would have told those kids very politely and nicely that the president of the United States had something that he needed to attend to -- and I would have attended to it,"
On the July 8th Larry King Show, he says this:
"...And as I came in [to a meeting in Sen. Daschle's office], Barbara Boxer and Harry Reid were standing there, and we watched the second plane come in to the building. And we shortly thereafter sat down at the table and then we just realized nobody could think, and then boom, right behind us, we saw the cloud of explosion at the Pentagon..."
Red State gives this timeline: "the second plane hit the World Trade Center at 9:03 a.m., and the plane hit the Pentagon at 9:43 a.m. By Kerry's own words, he and his fellow senators sat there for forty minutes, realizing 'nobody could think.'"
He is critical of President Bush for reading to school children for seven minutes, but he couldn't think for forty minutes. Now, I realize there is a difference in being the President and being "only" a Senator. I discussed this before. For those seven minutes, no one knew that we were being attacked. Information was being gathered. Then, the president had some information with which to go before the cameras. In the meantime, a senior senator, several senators as a matter of fact, were sitting, watching, and doing nothing. Because "nobody could think."
He says "we watched the second plane come into the building." These people had the "luxury" of knowing then, that this was a deliberate attack. When President Bush was told about the first attack, no one knew it was anything other than a tragic accident, or maybe a skyjacking gone wrong and was a one plane situation. No one would have dreamed it was anything else until the second plane hit the other tower.
From my own experience: we got a TV into admin very shortly after the first plane hit and turned it on in time to see the second plane hit. I thought at first that it was a replay of the first hit until I realized it was at a different angle and I was seeing smoke coming from the first tower. This was in a matter of seconds. But, it took several minutes and replays to sink in that there were two planes involved. I remember not wanting to think, not that I couldn't, I didn't want to. If I thought about it, I could come to only one conclusion: America was under attack. I'm not the President, I'm not a Senator. I didn't have to think about it.
If Mr. Kerry wants to play the "If I had been..." game, I'll play. If I had been in his position, after the second plane hit, I would have been on the phone to my office, telling my staff to find out what was going on. I would have been on the phone to the National Security Advisor trying to find out what was going on. I would have been asking questions of the Defense Department wanting to know if Washington was in danger (it was).
Now that being said, I wasn't and have never been in a situation like this, so I don't know what I would have done. Mr. Kerry wasn't in the same situation as the President, but he was in a position to get information. And didn't, because, by his own words, "couldn't think" for forty minutes. And apparently only started to think when he was told to evacuate the Capitol building.
On the other hand, maybe he, Barbara Boxer, Tom Daschle, and Harry Reid all joined hands and talked about it.
Mrs. Kerry Goes to Missouri

From the Boston Globe: While addressing the crowd during a campaign stop in Jefferson City, Missouri, Mrs. Kerry took a swipe at the Bush administration by saying:

"You cannot solve problems by throwing stones, and you cannot solve problems by telling lies, and you cannot solve problems by wishing ill to other people. The only way you solve problems is by holding hands and talking about it, and that's what we want to do in this campaign."

And, in the background, are the Johns singing Cumbaya in harmony with Linda Ronstadt, Whoopi Goldberg, and Bruce Springsteen.