Saturday, September 20, 2008

I ’m not yet desperate enough to do anything about the conditions that are making me desperate.

- Ashleigh Brilliant
The Pickle Jar

The pickle jar as far back as I can remember sat on the floor beside the dresser in my parents' bedroom. When he got ready for bed, Dad would empty his pockets and toss his coins into the jar.

As a small boy I was always fascinated at the sounds the coins made as they were dropped into the jar. They landed with a merry jingle when the jar was almost empty. Then the tones gradually muted to a dull thud as the jar was filled.

I used to squat on the floor in front of the jar and admire the copper and silver circles that glinted like a pirate's treasure when the sun poured through the bedroom window. When the jar was filled, Dad would sit at the kitchen table and roll the coins before taking them to the bank.

Taking the coins to the bank was always a big production. Stacked neatly in a small cardboard box, the coins were placed between Dad and me on the seat of his old truck.

Each and every time, as we drove to the bank, Dad would look at me hopefully. 'Those coins are going to keep you out of the textile mill, son You're going to do better than me. This old mill town's not going to hold you back.'

Also, each and every time, as he slid the box of rolled coins across the counter at the bank toward the cashier, he would grin proudly 'These are for my son's college fund. He'll never work at the mill all his life like me.'

We would always celebrate each deposit by stopping for an ice cream cone. I always got chocolate. Dad always got vanilla. When the clerk at the ice cream parlor handed Dad his change, he would show me the few coins nestled in his palm. 'When we get home, we'll start filling the jar again.' He always let me drop the first coins into the empty jar. As they rattled around with a brief, happy jingle, we grinned at each other. 'You'll get to college on pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters,' he said. 'But you'll get there; I'll see to that.'

No matter how rough things got at home, Dad continued to doggedly drop his coins into the jar. Even the summer when Dad got laid off from the mill, and Mama had to serve dried beans several times a week, not a single dime was taken from the jar.

To the contrary, as Dad looked across the table at me, pouring catsup over my beans to make them more palatable, he became more determined than ever to make a way out for me. 'When you finish college, Son,' he told me, his eyes glistening, 'You'll never have to eat beans again - unless you want to.'

The years passed, and I finished college and took a job in another town. Once, while visiting my parents, I used the phone in their bedroom, and noticed that the pickle jar was gone. It had served its purpose and had been removed.

A lump rose in my throat as I stared at the spot beside the dresser where the jar had always stood. My dad was a man of few words, and never lectured me on the values of determination, perseverance, and faith. The pickle jar had taught me all these virtues far more eloquently than the most flowery of words could have done.

When I married, I told my wife Susan about the significant part the lowly pickle jar had played in my life as a boy. In my mind, it defined, more than anything else, how much my dad had loved me.

The first Christmas after our daughter Jessica was born, we spent the holiday with my parents. After dinner, Mom and Dad sat next to each other on the sofa, taking turns cuddling their first grandchild. Jessica began to whimper softly, and Susan took her from Dad's arms. 'She probably needs to be changed,' she said, carrying the baby into my parents' bedroom to diaper her. When Susan came back into the living room, there was a strange mist in her eyes.

She handed Jessica back to Dad before taking my hand and leading me into the room. 'Look,' she said softly, her eyes directing me to a spot on the floor beside the dresser. To my a mazement, there, as if it had never been removed, stood the old pickle jar, the bottom already covered with coins. I walked over to the pickle jar, dug down into my pocket, and pulled out a fistful of coins. With a gamut of emotions choking me, I dropped the coins into the jar. I looked up and saw that Dad, carrying Jessica, had slipped quietly into the room. Our eyes locked, and I knew he was feeling the same emotions I felt. Neither one of us could speak.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Right Change

I saw an ad on TV a couple of times for a group called Right Change. I figured out that it was a political action group advocating change. I just wondered what they meant by "right" change.

I began to think it was for one of the candidates, and honestly, thought they would be backing Obama. After all, he’s the candidate “of change”, although that’s what McCain and Palin are promising, too. So I went to the website to find out for sure.

Well, turns out, I was wrong. This is from their "about" page:

What is Right is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to helping Americans see through the haze of politicians’ “spin” to understand the facts about crucial policy choices. Our goal is to make sure that the coming wave of political change in America is the “right” kind of change, in terms of conforming to the facts and common sense. is focusing on the next generation, not the next election, always reminding our fellow citizens that the policy choices we make in the near term will have enormous long-term impacts on the quality of life of the future generations. We are dedicated to advancing the “right” kind of ideas, not electing or defeating any political candidate. communicates with a zingy edge and a sense of humor, without being afraid to pose difficult questions to those in power. believes that Americans can address our national challenges by working together across party lines and not simply accepting political “sound bites” that are contradictory to the facts and insulting to our intelligence.

And from the front page:

Change?.. What’s it cost?.. Who pays?..

We’re hearing a lot about change — and we’re sure to hear much more.

Problem is, we heard a lot about change before, and look what’s happened: higher gas prices and food prices, record home foreclosures, massive bank failures and a do-nothing Congress.

In fact, we often hear politicians making grand promises with other people’s money. That is, with our money.

Because the issues are so serious, and the stakes so high, to cut through the clutter and spin, is starting a national conversation, in plain language, around key questions:

· Is raising taxes on small businesses, seniors and investors at a time when our economy is weak the right type of change?
· What if all the programs being proposed by our national leaders can’t be funded? Who’s left holding the bag?
· Do higher taxes make America’s innovative industries and workers more or less competitive in a global economy?

The focus of the site is to give insight on “changes” proposed by the candidates for office, although they are not focusing just on this election year – they are looking to future elections and future generations.

When you read what the site says about the various policy proposals, I think it will help you to understand how this particular policy proposal will effect us in the long run – what it will or won’t do and especially what it will cost us – the citizens and taxpayers. I am sure there are lots of site around the Net where we can find similar information; this just happened to be one I saw advertised on TV.

This particular site appears to be more conservative in it's point of view; that may be why I like it. That may be entirely wrong, and I am getting that because what I did read follows my own train of thought.

We must remember that what you consider to be the "right" change is subjective to your particular frame of mind and reference. You may feel that the analysis offered do not agree with what you see as the "right" change.

The stated purpose of the site is not to elect or defeat any particular candidate, although it does have a page dedicated to Obama. But I don’t think he would agree with what the site has to say about his tax plan. I saw nothing about McCain/Palin. I hope something will be forthcoming.

I hope if you have questions about the site, or policy changes proposed by the candidates, you will check out this site. It is interesting, and I thought, informative.

As always, I suggest that you investigate for yourself.
Can America’s Seniors, and those Close to Retirement Afford the Wrong Change?

Millions of American seniors have worked hard, saved and invested their entire lives to ensure that they can enjoy and afford their golden years. Yet Senator Obama’s tax plan proposes to penalize those who have worked hard and achieved the American dream.

10 million senior households will pay higher taxes: Under Senator Obama’s plan, millions of senior citizens will pay much more in taxes.

Fact: "Even though Senator Obama's plan eliminates individual income taxes for seniors with incomes less than $50,000, his plan would raise taxes for almost 10 million senior households, over a third of the total. On average, seniors would face a tax increase of about 2 percent of income." (Burman et al., "A Preliminary Analysis of the 2008 Presidential Candidates' Tax Plans," The Tax Policy Center, 6/11/08)

Taxes on investments and retirement savings will be 40% higher than under Bill Clinton: Retirees who have saved and invested will find that their accounts are worth far less than they anticipated under Senator Obama’s tax proposed tax plan.

Fact: “The capital gains rate was cut to 20% in 1997 under President Bill Clinton, and again to 15% in 2003. Mr. Obama would thus give us the worst of both worlds: a top tax rate on wages (also interest, rent and royalties) 40% higher than Reagan and a capital gains rate up to 40% higher than Clinton.” (Michael Boskin, “A Closer Look at Obamanomics.)

The “death tax” tax will rise from the grave: Under Senator Obama’s plan, death tax will rise again from the dead.

Fact: Since the estate tax was addressed in 2001, “death” tax rates have been dropping and will be all together repealed for in 2010 for just one year unless Congress acts. Rather than keeping the repeal in place, Senator Obama has proposed reinstating the tax at a rate of 45 percent for estates valued over $3.5 million – this isn’t just the rich guy down the street. Many small businesses and family farms that have been passed down for generations will be hit by this tax.


Monday, September 15, 2008

In interview, McCain says he'll reduce taxes for 'everybody'
New Hampshire Sunday News Staff
Sunday, Sep. 14, 2008

John McCain yesterday said he will take Barack Obama's New Hampshire pledge not to raise taxes for anyone making less than $250,000.

"Not only that, I'm going to cut taxes for literally everybody," the Republican nominee said yesterday in a telephone interview from Washington, D.C.

McCain will appear at today's NASCAR race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. His visit will follow Democratic nominee Barack Obama's two-day swing through the state.

The reason for all this attention by the campaigns is clear, McCain said.

"It's obvious that New Hampshire will be one of those battleground states," he said. "I think the polling data shows it's very close.

"And on my part, I've grown to love New Hampshire over the years."

Voters here, he said, "take their responsibility with the utmost seriousness. They're used to their first-in-the nation status, and they do examine the candidates, there's no doubt about it. They expect you to be there."

Asked about Obama's criticism of McCain's campaign ads, notably on taxes, as "dishonest," McCain replied, "Let's point out the fact that his ads were the first ones that were negative."

He cited ads by the Democratic National Committee, 527 groups and unions as evidence.

And he repeated his contention that "the tenor of this whole campaign would be different" had Obama agreed to town hall-style joint appearances.

Why? "Because we're two people on the same stage; the discourse becomes much more civil," McCain explained. "That's the experience we've had in New Hampshire, that's the experience we've had nationally."

So how does it feel to have been overshadowed over the past two weeks by his vice presidential pick, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin?

"It feels wonderful," McCain said, chuckling. "I can't tell you how overjoyed I am to have her as a running mate."

McCain said he loves visiting New Hampshire, especially at this time of year. So any chance he'll make his summer White House here?

"The least I can do is go stay at (Mitt) Romney's place," he quipped. "I've heard it's a beautiful home."
Barack Obama's Record Doesn't Match Rhetoric

Mr. Obama's "new kind of politics" - which was based on telling the truth, being a principled politician and treating one's opponents fairly - collapsed once he secured the nomination in June. He reversed course with dizzying speed on NAFTA, FISA, public financing of campaigns, whether the D.C. gun ban was constitutional, meeting with rogue leaders without preconditions and the uni ty of Jerusalem.

He even qualified his Iraq policy by stating it would be "refined" according to "conditions on the ground." Most recently, in light of the economic downturn, Mr. Obama stated he might reconsider implementing the tax increases in his economic plan. Mr. Obama appeared authentic during the Democratic campaign as a liberal champion: In running to the left of Hillary Clinton, he was passionate, fiery and convincing.

Yet since his mad dash to the center, he appears uncomfortable: He stammers and stutters in response to questions rather than speaking forthrightly. The polished, Ivy League-educated senator now uses "folksy" expressions. This downhome speaking manner is geared toward attracting white, blue collar voters - and is not in consonance with his impeccable oratory. He is now packaged and artificial.

-- The Washington Times
Dumbest Question Ever?

Whoopi fears McCain will bring slavery

When answering a question about what type of judges he will elect, McCain is thrown a curveball from Whoopi Goldberg on 'The View'. Whoopi wants to know if McCain is elected, will that mean the eventual return of slavery? That's the kind of high brow questions (Elisabeth aside) that you get from the liberal ladies on 'The View'. Sounds familiar----oh yeah, that's right---remember in 2004 when the military draft was rumored to return? Ah, isn't election time just wonderful?

Here's the transcript from Glenn Beck

Dumbest. Question. Ever.
Obama's female staffers shortchanged

He's no great equalizer
By Deroy Murdock
Saturday, September 13, 2008

On average, Obama's female staffers earn just 83 cents for every dollar his male staffers make. This figure certainly exceeds the 77-cent threshold that Obama's campaign Web site condemns. However, 83 cents do not equal $1. In spite of this 17-cent gap between Obama's rhetoric and reality, he chose to chide GOP presidential contender John McCain on this issue.

Obama responded Aug. 31 to Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's Republican vice-presidential nomination. Palin "seems like a very engaging person," Obama told voters in Toledo, Ohio. "But I've got to say, she's opposed - like John McCain is - to equal pay for equal work. That doesn't make much sense to me."

Obama's criticism notwithstanding, McCain's payment patterns are the stuff of feminist dreams.

McCain's 17 male staffers split $916,914, thus averaging $53,936. His 25 female employees divided $1,396,958 and averaged $55,878.

On average, according to these data, women in McCain's office make $1.04 for every dollar a man makes. In fact, all other things being equal, a typical female staffer could earn 21 cents more per dollar paid to her male counterpart - while adding $10,726 to her annual income - by leaving Obama's office and going to work for McCain.

How could this be?

Deroy Murdock is a columnist with Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University.

The Education of Charlie Rangel
September 15, 2008

House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel of New York admitted last week that in recent years he has underpaid his taxes by about $10,000. Republicans are demanding that he step down as chairman pending an Ethics Committee investigation, but we're more sympathetic. Charlie is a victim of the tax code he helped to write.
[Charles Rangel]
His lawyer says Mr. Rangel flubbed his tax return by failing to record some $75,000 of rental income he received from a beach house he owns at a posh Dominican Republic resort. Mr. Rangel professes to have made an honest mistake, and says "I personally feel that I have done nothing morally wrong." He explained that he didn't know how much income he received from the property because his Dominican business partners would "start speaking Spanish."
Plenty of Americans know how he feels since the IRS tax form might as well be in Spanish. The tax code now runs to some 67,000 pages, and Mr. Rangel has probably written a few thousand himself in his 38 years on Capitol Hill. If even the nation's top tax writer can't figure out what to declare as income, and what not to declare, how can the rest of us be expected to get it right?
Not that the IRS will show Joe Taxpayer any mercy. In most disputes over even honest mistakes, the tax collectors presume guilt. Mr. Rangel is also one of those who like to denounce corporations that shield income overseas. He'd better hope both the IRS and his House colleagues treat him with more forbearance than he and they treat private citizens or businesses. Who knows, maybe Mr. Rangel will even take this embarrassment as new motivation to work with the next President on tax reform. How do you say "flat tax" in Spanish?

A Flat tax is exactly what we don't want or need. What we have now is a flat tax, or at least that's what it started out as when the tax code was overhauled in 1986. It's been amended 16,000 times since then (that's according to my source, but wow....that's a lot of amendments!). No wonder Rangel can't keep up with it! 

We need the Fair Tax. It's the only tax plan that is fair to everyone. Everyone pays the same tax rate...and everyone pays. Under the Fair Tax, no matter who you are, when you make a purchase, you pay the same tax rate as everyone else. I'm not going into all the details. It's much too late this evening and I need to get to bed :D

And anyway, you don't need to read what I have to say about it, or what anyone else has to say. Go to and read what the framers of the FairTax have to say. I'd really appreciate if you would educate yourself on the positives about the FairTax before you start listening to the naysayers. I can almost guarantee that if you do your own education and research - honest, open-minded education and research - you will see that this is the best tax plan going. A flat tax (or almost anything) is better than what we have now and the FairTax is even better.

Maybe Rep. Rangel should look into the FairTax. Under the FairTax, he wouldn't have the problems he has now.