Saturday, January 29, 2005

Saturday Ramblings

Isn't Technology Grand? This morning Fox News was reporting that a missile had struck the US embassy (formerly one of Saddam's palaces) killing 2 and wounding four. This evening Fox is reporting that seven are in custody for the strike.

Seems that the missile was tracked by satellite and programmed an aerial drone to spot the launch site. The drone then tracked two vehicles leaving the scene to a house in southern Baghdad. Seven people were arrested, five with rocket residue on their clothing.


Kerry Asked to Return Senate Pay
: The National Taxpayers Union wants Senator Kerry to return the pay he received while campaigning for the Presidency. Kerry is not the only one at fault. According to the NTU, Kerry is at the top of a list of 25 senator and congressmen who either ran for higher office or were in a fight to retain their seat.

Personally, I don't care if my congressional representatives (Senate or House) miss a few votes now and again. It happens. They might be sick, might be caring for a sick relative, or might actually be away on constituent business. They might be taking a few days off. But, if my congressional representative is running for another office, he or she should step down (resign) and run for that office. If they are focused on obtaining a higher office (usually the case), then they can't pay full attention to the job I, as a taxpayer, am paying them to do.

Now, if a senator or House Representative is running for re-election to the same office they currently hold, that's a bit different. I still expect them to pay attention to the job. If they can campaign and still represent my interests to my satisfaction, then I say they can stay in their position.

P.S. I thought I'd add another comment before someone else mentioned it. I don't think that President Bush should return any of his paycheck while campaigning. He was the incumbent. He was doing his job while campaigning. He is President 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Even when he takes a vacation, he is still President. He doesn't get time off. That being said, as long as he can do the job while campaigning, it's not a problem. If he can't, he won't be re-elected anyway. 51 percent of the voting American public believed he was doing his job and so re-elected him to another four years.

Illegal Aliens: There was some discussion on a local radio station Thursday about the illegal alien/border problem issue - don't remember which station it was. My thought was that in order to stop the practice of hiring illegals, there should be a two-fold "punishment" plan: 1. fine the business or individual for hiring the illegal and 2. deport the illegal to his or her home country. I have long said that I have no problem with the legal immigration of people from other countries. And I don't want to permanently penalize someone who is here illegally if that is their only crime. Return the person to their home country and allow them to return to the US once they can do so legally. If there is a reason they can't come here legally, then they shouldn't be here at all. Or, if they commit crimes while in the US, they should not be allowed to return. The purpose of fining the business or individual is to make the fine high enough that they understand that what they have done is criminal. I don't think jail time is necessary unless they are repeat offenders. If the fine is high enough, they most likely won't repeat. And they repeat, then jail time might be necessary.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

A Couple of Ramblings

Global Warming: Diplomad is all over it. A must read. The Public Policy Research in Britain, the Center for American Progress in the United States and the Australia Institute says that global warming will be irreversable within 10 years, but does on to make suggestions for actions that should be carried out by 2025. Uh....2025? Isn't that more than 10 years away? And since global warming will be irreversable within 10 years why make suggestions past that time? Just goes to show they don't know what they're talking about.

More on Social Security: I found this at Social Security Calculator. I entered my age and sex and got the following information:
  • You can expect to pay $120,936 in Social Security taxes over your working life for retirement and survivors benefits. For those taxes, you can expect to receive $1,288 a month in Social Security retirement benefits. Your rate of return under today's Social Security is 2.74%.
  • However, if you had been able to invest your Social Security taxes in a Personal Retirement Account (PRA), you would have had a total of $552,478 when you retired. Your monthly benefits would have been $4,370. You lost $3,082 a month.

I feel rather ill.

Remember, this is a very rough estimate. I believe they are simply averages. They do not take into consideration your rate of pay over your lifetime. Your figures may be higher or lower.

Illegal Immigration: The Daily Demarche has a 5 step plan to stop illegal immigration. Looks good to me.

  1. Establish a more secure employment document - the Social Security card does not work.
  2. Punish American firms that hire illegal workers - this is the most important step.
  3. Revise and expand the H2 visa category - not just for Mexicans, but for all, and require that issuance only occur in the country of origin of the alien.
  4. Require legal workers to pay into Medicaid, and deny public benefits to illegal aliens found in America.
  5. Reduce the amount of foreign aid granted to any country by a set or variable amount based on the costs associated with each illegal immigrant detained/treated/deported.

Very interesting. Read the post here.

Cold Weather

My sympathies to y'all up north, still digging out from all that white stuff that buried you over the weekend.

I got up Monday morning to drive to work. Now, I live in West Central Florida, just south of Tampa. I live in Florida, for pete's sake, and it was 34 degrees! The citrus growers and strawberry farmers like it. Cold weather make the citrus and strawberries sweeter. You Yankees choose to live in the frozen artic that exists above the Mason-Dixon line. I choose to live in sunny, warm Florida.

I moved to Kansas in December of 1978. That was the beginning of the worst winter since 1940. My Dad swore it was just a coincidence that he left Missouri in 1940 and moved back in 1978; he was NOT responsible for either winter. He often talked about how it snowed the month he was born - May. I have to wonder.

I remember saying, while scraping snow and ice off my windshield after work one day, that I left Florida for this! For all my whining about the cold weather, I don't like Florida summers, although the summer of 2003 was nice and 2004 had it's good moments. If you don't mention the hurricanes.

34 degrees. In Florida. It's just wrong.
USA Next

I've found a website that may be an alternative to AARP. I joined AARP last August when I became eligible and since then have realized that AARP is not necessarily working for the good of retired Americans. Some say it has a distinctly left bias. I won't say it's biased in all areas, but enough that I'm a bit concerned just how much AARP is working for me.

USA Next claims to be the anthisis of AARP. They have some articles that offer information that AARP isn't what it claims to be. I'll leave it up to you to decide. They have a lot of the same discounts and offers that AARP has. And, I'd say that's what really drives people to AARP. I looked into a cell phone offer for AARP members. It's a nationally know cell phone company and I had already checked out this phone on the company website. When I saw a discount for AARP members, I decided to give it a look see. I didn't see any difference in the price offered to AARP members than what was on the company website. Now, maybe I missed something. I plan to go back and check again. I want to be fair and honest about AARP. But, to tell the truth, I haven't seen much on AARP that is really worth anything. I could be wrong, but I haven't found it yet. I don't think I'll be renewing my membership next summer.

The membership fees are the same, so if you are of an age to be eligible for AARP, or coming up on it, check out USA Next. A look won't cost you anything.

Social Security Choice

Club for Growth has started a new website called Social Security Choice. The name says it all.

Club for Growth advocates, along with President Bush, an ownership society where, ::gasp!:: you are responsible for your own future. What a concept! Let me tell you, if I had been offered the chance (not that it's been offered to anyone yet) when I first starting working to put a portion of my Social Security taxes into a separate account that I own and I am responsible for, I would have jumped into it with both feet.

I don't know about you, but I get the heebie-jeebies when I think about someone else controlling some aspect of my life. I don't like giving the government, no matter how altruistic the government is, control of my future retirement funds. I've come lately into the fold of wanting to take responsibility for my own future and I don't have many years left to plan for retirement, but I am doing everything I possibly can to have a comfortable retirement. The government does not guarantee that I will ever see a penny of the money I've put in. And, dad-gum it! It's my money! I earned it and it was taken from me at the point of law before I was born, much less started earning a living. I had no say-so, I had no choice. And I still have no choice in how it's invested. It's one of those times when I feel like someone has patted me on the head and said, "There, there. Don't you worry your pretty little head. Daddy will take care of you." I loved my Daddy, but he was never so condescending to me. My Daddy raised me to make my own decisions and to take responsibility for my own mistakes.

I don't own much stock, but I've made a few good choices. Had I been able to put money into the stock market when I started working, I would have a nice nest egg now. Do you realize that the stock market averages a gain of about 12% per year? Social Security increases averages about 3.5% per year. What a difference! But, due to poor choices on my part (credit cards-the handwork of the devil!) and having money taken from each and every paycheck and turned over to the federal government, I'm playing catch up. See, I'm taking responsibility for my poor choices and would like the chance to be responsible for my own future. I like knowing that I own my home (or at least am paying a mortgage). I also like knowing that the choices I've made for my future are my choices, not someone else's.

I pity the person who is afraid to make their own choices and want to leave it up to someone else. Actually, I have to admit that there probably are people out there who shouldn't be responsible for their own futures. They don't want the responsibility, they want to sit back and let someone else take care of them. Some just can't take care of themselves for one reason or another. Some just can't be bothered. They want someone else to make all the decisions and take care of them. You know, there used to be a term for that sort of person.

When the government takes money in the form of Social Security taxes, I have no say where it goes. If I could have said give it to my mom, or dad, or aunt or whomever, it might have been different. The government can't and won't even guarantee that I will get any of it back, much less all that I have paid in over the last thirty-plus years. And when I die, what is left of the money I paid in won't even go to my heirs. It goes into the coffers to pay someone else. If it at least went to my heirs, it wouldn't be so bad. But my heirs will get something like $250.00. That's it. Not enough to put me in a cardboard box and cremate me. When my Dad died, he died on the 25th day of the month. Do you know we got a notice from Social Security to return the money for the five days of the month he didn't live? My brother and I lost our dad, and the government wanted five days of his Social Security back. He had paid in almost since the inception of Social Security, over sixty years and they wouldn't give us those five days. Nice. When you die, make sure it's on the last day of the month so you get your full check.

And, black men have it even worse. Many, if not most, black men don't live to collect Social Security. They pay into all their lives, and die before they can collect what they've paid in. Oh, some might get a few years of benefits, but not as much as any other group.

Social Security has been a hot button for the Democrats for years. Whenever the Republicans start talking about changing the system, or even running for office, the Democrats drag out the Social Security platform: the evil Republicans want to take Social Security away from you! If the Republicans get into office, they'll take Social Security away from you! The elderly will be eating cat food! The blacks will have even less than they have now! It's a plot to keep blacks in the 'hoods! Vote Democrat! We'll save you!

Let me ask you: Has it happened yet? Nope. And it ain't gonna happen. In order for the Republicans to just totally do away with Social Security, it would mean one of two things 1. The Democrats didn't do their job to keep Social Security in place, or 2. The Democrats were in on it from the first. . The Democrats want to keep the poor and lower income people (like the elderly) under their thumbs. One way of doing it is to make sure that they are scared the evil Republicans will take their Social Security away. It's just a form of slavery. Think about that. You know I'm right

Social Security in some form, hopefully better, is here to stay. I wish I could say the same as a couple of radio commentators say. They won't take Social Security for themselves. They say they'll give it away and live on what they've earned and planned their futures for. I say I earned it, I paid into the system (well, only because I had no choice), and I want my money back. As much as I can possibly get.

And I plan to live for a very long, long time.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Johnny Carson

FOX News is reporting that late night legend Johnny Carson has passed away in Los Angeles due to complications of emphysema. He was 79. His passing was peaceful and was attended by his family.

He took the reins of The Tonight Show from Jack Paar in 1962 when it was still in black and white. Aside from his vacations he was on air until he stepped down in 1992. Thirty years. Amazing. One of the big jokes of the day was that everyone went to bed with Johnny Carson. It was the truth, so much of America watched at least the monologue before turning out the lights.

I remember as a child, my bedtime was well before Johnny came on, but many nights I snuck out of my room and sat in the hallway and watched. I probably didn't understand a lot of what he said, but I laughed along with everyone else. I might not have entirely understood, but I recognized humor when I heard it. I would suddenly realize that I had to be careful that my parents didn't hear me laughing or I'd be sent off to bed. Johnny talked about events of the day in a way that was humorous and entertaining, but meaningful. There was always the double entendre, and always a voluptuous, scantily clad girl in the skits. Johnny would leer or roll his eyes and everyone knew why. But it was never dirty, either in word or deed. If a joke went sour, Johnny knew it, and knew the audience knew it. Johnny could make fun of himself as well making fun of anyone else.

One of the reasons I loved living in the Central Time zone was that The Tonight Show came on an hour earlier and I could watch the entire show and then go to bed and still get enough sleep to be able to function at work the next day.

He was born in Corning, Iowa and raised in Nebraska. He began his entertainment career as a magician and eventually went on to radio and then to hosting a television game show, Who Do You Trust? and then finished his career on top with The Tonight Show. He reportedly was a very shy man who continually suffered from cotton mouth before appearing on The Tonight Show stage.

Who can hear the theme to The Tonight Show without thinking about Johnny Carson? I remember Johnny Carson and I get a warm feeling of good, clean, fun. Remember the Ed Ames appearance where he threw the Tomahawk? Remember Karnack? How about the animals that appeared on the show?

My deepest condolences to wife Alexis and his children. And to America for losing a national treasure.
Looking Ahead to 2008

I'm not going to make predications, especially four years out, but there is so much out there about who will be running that I just wanted to offer my humble opinion.

I can't say too much about the GOP side. There are several who may be thinking of running. The only one I can speak to with any authority at all is Jeb Bush. He has said he has no intention of running in 2008, but his trip to the Indian Ocean after the Tsunami left me wondering. Two reasons he was sent: 1. He has a lot of experience with natural disasters after dealing with the aftermath of four hurricanes in what? six weeks? and 2. He is the POTUS's brother. If Bush can expect a true report from anyone, his brother, the governor, should be the one.

Jeb has said he has no intention of running for POTUS in 2008 and I tend to believe him. I think he, and the country, not to mention Florida, would be better served running for Bill Nelson's seat in 2006 and then for POTUS if he wants in 2012. He would have that much more national experience to draw upon.

I know that the the word is that Hilary plans to make a run for POTUS in 2008. I personally don't think she has much of a chance. I don't think any woman will be elected POTUS until a woman has served as VP first. Geraldine Ferraro broke the ice as a candidate. If Hilary would run as VP, I think she'd have a better chance than running for POTUS.

Same for any black male wanting a shot at POTUS. It's not so much as showing that you are qualified for the office as getting the public used to seeing a black or female face associated with the office of VP. I'm assuming that whoever runs for the office of either POTUS or VP is qualified for the position. And anybody, female or male, black or white has to be just that much better than any white male also vying for either the number one or number two office.

I'm not being sexist or racist. I'm being a realist. I don't think the American mentality is ready to elect either a woman or a black as POTUS yet. First things first. First run as VP, then get elected. Then, run as POTUS. It will take time, but it will happen.

It takes baby steps to get from one place to another. We'll get to the point where being a woman or being black isn't a hindrance to aspiring to the White House, but I doubt the American mentality will be changed in the next four years.
Sunday Ramblings

Washington Elections - The Seattle Times reports that 129 felons illegally voted in Washington state last fall. That's especially interesting because it's the exact number by which Christine Gregoire won the gubernatorial elecion.

Tsunami Relief - I'm all for helping when disasters strike, but then I read this article and I wonder when did the US get into the hotelier business?

Code Pink
Protests - I, for one, would like to know where the Code Pink protestors got their tickets. Jim Angle of FOX News reports that it was congressional Democrats from NY and California. For the record, I would be as outraged at their protests if it were Kerry's inaugurual ball. Code Pink has the absolute right to protest, but this was not the time nor the place. An apology is required to the organizers of the ball. It was their party that was crashed and their guests who were exposed to such a spectacle. If I were the organizers, I would also be speaking to the security team. How on earth were these "ladies" allowed to bring in banners? I didn't see the banners, but I'm sure they were a bit too large to go into a ladies evening bag.

Fair Tax - I'm still waiting for permission to post the 50 point talking points I wrote about yesterday. If I don't get actual permission, I'll post anyway - with proper credit to the author. Others on the list say they have already posted it on their blogs, so I don't think there will be a problem. I just like to ask, you know?