Saturday, June 04, 2005

Fair Tax Calculator

Here's a handy-dandy calulator that will help you see just how much you will save when the Fair Tax is passed.

From the web site: The FairTax Calculator will demonstrate the improvement of the FairTax over the income tax for your own financial situation. Once the FairTax is passed into law it will replace the entire federal income tax system with a national retail sales tax.

You need to have your pay stub handy to enter the appropriate information.

The only complaint I have is that I wish it would show a side by side comparison to the Flat Tax. Too many people still think that's the way to go.
Posted at Americans for Fair Taxation

Increasing the Tax Base - Group 3

Illegal Aliens. One of my favorite topics. Illegal aliens are usually, although not always, paid in cash, so payroll taxes are not taken out. I differentiate immigrants here as “illegal” because those who are here legally are paying taxes through a payroll deduction. I am assuming that the illegal aliens we are talking about here is the immigrant from a depressed country and there are here to earn money to help their families survive back in the old country. And yes, I know that is not the only reason illegal aliens are in the United States, that’s a topic for another time and place. I may have problems with the “reason” they are here, but I am more concerned with the “way” they are here. But that too, is a topic for another time and place.

The illegal alien generally doesn’t have a traditional job. They are usually day laborers and paid in cash. They are gardeners, hotel maids, dishwashers, mechanics, nannies, and in other jobs where the employer is willing to pay them in cash. Are they bad people? Of course not. That’s not the point. Even though they are here and try to “fly under the radar” they will need public assistance in the form of social services. At some time or another, because they work at minimum wage jobs, someone will help them to apply for welfare, WIC, Medicaid, and any other number of social welfare programs that my liberal side and my fiscally conservative side fight over. These programs are all paid for through my (and your) tax dollars.

Under the Fair Tax, illegal aliens would automatically be added to the tax rolls every time they made a purchase. Here in Manatee County we have a large Hispanic population. I see Hispanics in every store I shop in. So, my point is, under the Fair Tax, they would pay a tax every time they shopped, just as I would.

We started out with the wage-earner group and added the criminal element, tourists and now illegal aliens. Who will be in the next group?
Weekend Ramblings

Is Newsweek Ignorant Or What? A Newsweek poll asks: "Do you think the Federal government should lift restrictions on stem-cell research?" The answers are: yes, no, and I don't know.

The problem with the question? There are no Federal restrictions on stem-cell research. Private companies and state research facilities can do all the research they want to do. The Federal government does not grant subsidies to the study of stem-cell research.

I haven't yet looked at the results, but I would say that "yes" outweighs "no", or maybe "I don't know" wins. Ah...just looked. Survey says......79% of those who took the poll answered.....yes! No is second with 19% and 4% answered "I don't know."

I was one of the 4% because I couldn't answer either yes or no and I wanted to see the results. Now, does that mean the 79% who answered "yes" don't know there are no federal restrictions or do they think the government should subsidize stem-cell research?

Lt. Pantano resigns: The Marine who served in the Gulf War, returned home, and then re-enlisted after the WTC bombings has resigned. Here, thanks to Euphoric Reality is the text of his statement. He served his country well and truly. God Bless you, Ilario Pantano. May the rest of your life treat you better than the last two years.

And speaking of Marines, this from Neal Boortz: Language Arts teacher, Matthew Lund invited his friend, Marine Sgt. Zach Richardson to speak to his students at Anita White Carson Middle School in Greensboro, Georgia. Matthew's students had written to Sgt. Richardson while he did a tour of duty in Iraq. Richardson gave the students names of other Marines who wanted to receive letters. When he returned to the US, Richardson wanted to thank the students personally. Well, you have to read what happened the day Sgt. Richardson came to speak to the kids. Just another reason to not trust your kids to bureaucratic morons.

THE MOUTH THAT ROARED Well, Republicans, I guess, can (stand in line at the polls waiting to vote) because a lot of them have never made an honest living in their lives. But for ordinary working people, who have to work eight hours a day, they have kids, they got to get home to those kids. The idea of making them stand for eight hours to cast their ballot for democracy is wrong.
- DNC Chairman "Howling" Howard Dean

And I thought Newsweek was being ignorant.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Hurricanes Happen – Part 2

Here are some things that need to be decided before a hurricane is knocking at your front door:


  • Are you in an evacuation zone?
  • Will you evacuate?
  • Where will you go? – will they take pets?
  • What will you take? – medicine, clothing, food and water for at least 3 days for each person, canned and unrefrigerated
  • How soon to evacuate? – don’t wait until the last minute. The roads may be too congested to get out of harm’s way

If you plan on staying at home:

  • Gas up your vehicles – the pumps won’t work if the electricity is out
  • Get cash from the bank – see above. The cash registers at the grocery store won't work either, even if it's open after the storm
  • Food and water – at least 3 day’s worth for each person – canned and unrefrigerated. Storms have stalled over Cuba for as long as a week. Yes, I know, this isn't Cuba, just saying it's happened
  • Cook stove and propane – so you can have soup, chili and hot meals instead of cold sandwiches. Cook in a well-ventilated area for obvious reasons
  • Have plenty of fresh batteries on hand for flashlights, lanterns, and radios

Preparing your home:

  • Have lumber to board up windows and doors
  • Remove all items from your yard – garbage cans, hoses, lawn furniture and lawn decorations

Early in the season, you might want to inspect trees in your yard. If you have dead limbs or limbs that may break in a high wind, you might want to cut them down now so they don't end up in your living room either through the roof or through a window.

Speaking of windows, don't use masking tape. It's only paper with some adhesive. If you have to use something other than plywood, use duct tape. It's still a poor substitute, but better than masking tape.

If you have a pool, it's a good place to store lawn furniture and garbage cans if you can't put it in your house or garage. And don't be concerned about the pool. Leave the water in it. It can help protect the pool.

Something else to think about: Insurance. Are you in a flood zone? Do you have flood insurance? Don't think about waiting until hurricane season to start looking for insurance. Some companies won't even write policies between June 1st and November 30th. And if they do, the premium could be higher than a cat's back. Your homeowner's policy may change deductibles for hurricane damage. If you rent, look for renter's insurance. Your landlord's policy more than likely won't cover damages to your personal belongings if the roof comes off or a tree limb comes through the front window.

You can't stop hurricanes from happening, but you can take precautions to protect your property, and more importantly, your life.

June Holidays

A list of holidays and observances on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. You've got to see some of these!

Monday, May 30, 2005

Remembering Those Who Made the Ultimate Sacrifice

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American Cemetary - Normandy

The American Battle Monuments Commission administers, operates, and maintains twenty-four permanent American burial grounds on foreign soil. Presently there are 124,917 U.S. War Dead interred at these cemeteries, 30,922 of World War I, 93,245 of World War II and 750 of the Mexican War. Additionally 6,010 American veterans and others are interred in the Mexico City and Corozal American Cemeteries.
"In Flanders Fields"
by John McCrae

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow,
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky,
The larks, still bravely singing, fly,
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead.Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved and now we lie,
In Flanders Fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw,
The torch, be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us, who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow,
In Flanders Fields.
He Will Not Be Forgotten

By Jeff Jacoby
The Boston GlobeSunday,
May 29, 2005

Monday night, in a special Memorial Day broadcast of ''Nightline," Ted Koppel will call the roll of the more than 900 US troops who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan during the past 12 months. As each name is read, viewers will see a photograph of the fallen soldier. Executive producer Tom Bettag says the program is meant to remind Americans, ''regardless of their feelings about the war, that the men and women who have given their lives in our behalf are individuals with names and faces." When ABC aired a similar "Nightline" in April 2004, it was accused in some quarters of trying to inflame antiwar sentiment for political purposes. In the event, it proved a solemn and respectful tribute, and there has been no controversy this year.

Long lists of soldiers killed in wartime can have great emotional power, as anyone who has been to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington can attest. However dignified and moving, though, in the end such a listing can really describe them only as a group: They wore the uniform and died in the service of their country. But who they were individually, how they served, what they left behind -- that is more than a catalogue of names can convey.

So here is the story behind just one of the names ''Nightline" will enumerate on Memorial Day: Sergeant Rafael Peralta of Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 3d Marines. He was killed in action on Nov. 15 during Operation Dawn, the epic battle to retake the Sunni stronghold of Fallujah.

What follows is chiefly based on an account by Marine Lance Corporal T.J. Kaemmerer, a combat correspondent who took part in the operation that cost Peralta his life. Reports also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The Marine Corps Times, The San Diego Union Tribune, and on ABC News.

On the day he died, Rafael Peralta was 25 years old, a Mexican immigrant from San Diego who had enlisted in the Marines as soon as he became a legal resident. He earned his citizenship while on active duty and re-upped in 2004. He was a Marine to the core, so meticulous that when Alpha Company was training in Kuwait, he would send his camouflage uniform out to be pressed.

He was no less passionate about his adopted country: His bedroom wall was adorned with a picture of his boot camp graduation and replicas of the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. "Be proud of being an American," he wrote to his kid brother Ricardo, 14. "Our father came to this country and became a citizen because it was the right place for our family to be." It was the first letter he ever wrote to Ricardo -- and the last. It arrived in San Diego the day after he died.

The Marines of the 1/3 were on the front lines in Fallujah, purging the city of terrorists in house-to-house combat. As a platoon scout, Peralta could have stayed back in relative safety. Instead, as was often the case, he volunteered to join the assault team.

On the morning of Nov. 15, one week into the battle for Fallujah, his squad had cleared three houses without incident. They approached a fourth, kicking in two locked doors simultaneously and entering both front rooms. They found them empty. Another closed door led to an adjoining room. As the other Marines spread out, wrote Kaemmerer, ''Peralta, rifle in hand, tested the handle." It wasn't locked. He threw open the door, preparing to rush in -- and three terrorists with AK-47s opened fire. He was shot multiple times in the chest and face. As he fell, severely wounded, he managed to wrench himself out of the doorway to give his fellow Marines a clear line of fire.

The gunfire was deafening. To the sound of the terrorists' AK-47s was added the din of the Marines' M16 rifles and Squad Automatic Weapon, a machine gun. The battle was raging, with Peralta down and bleeding heavily and the other Marines firing at the enemy in the back room, when, in Kaemmerer's words, "a yellow, foreign-made, oval-shaped grenade bounced into the room, rolling to a stop close to Peralta's nearly lifeless body."

As the other Marines tried to flee, Peralta reached for the grenade and tucked it into his gut. Seconds later, it exploded with such force that when his remains were returned to his family for burial, they were able to identify him only by the tattoo on his shoulder. His five comrades-in-arms, shielded from the worst of the blast by Peralta's last act as a Marine, survived.

** ** ** **

"Right now, people are really nice and everything," Peralta's 12-year-old sister Karen told a reporter 10 days after her brother's death. "But I know that when it comes to later on, they are going to forget him. They're going to forget about him."

No, Karen. The Marines, always faithful, do not forget their heroes. And neither does the grateful nation that pauses to honor them this week -- the nation Rafael Peralta loved so deeply, and for which he gave his last full measure of devotion.

Received in email
Operation Homecoming USA

From the Operation Homecoming USA website: Thirty years have passed since the end of the Vietnam War. During those three decades, the brave men and women who served in that conflict have never been given the recognition they deserve for their heroic sacrifices in service to our country. Now, the time for that recognition has come. Welcome Home…America’s Tribute to Vietnam Veterans will be the homecoming celebration they never received.

This first-ever national event will take place June 13-June 19, 2005 in Branson, Missouri. Including veterans, their families and friends, thousands and thousands of participants from across the country are expected to attend.

For Vietnam Veterans and their loved ones, and our nation, this celebration is profoundly important. By honoring those who answered their country’s call during a difficult time in our nation’s history, the legacy of duty, honor and country will be passed on to America’s sons and daughters who will be called to serve in the future. It’s an idea whose time has come.

Operation Homecoming USA is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation established to organize and execute this grand scale weeklong event. We approached a broad spectrum of national and regional experts to provide oversight of this sensitive project. Noted patriots from every walk of American life are now actively involved.

Here is the schedule of events
And here is the main page of the website

Some of the announced performers are the Beach Boys, the Fifth Dimension, the Supremes and the Oak Ridge Boys, The Doobie Brothers, Creedence Clearwater Revisited and Tony Orlando.

It's about time we recognized our Vietnam veterans.
Memorial Day 2005

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Memorial Day speeches by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes:

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Set an Empty Table Tomorrow

I got this in email and thought it would be a tradition worth continuing.

"The table is set with a white tablecloth, a black napkin and white candle, and a plate with only a slice of lemon and salt. An empty chair leans against the table. The tradition, little known to the general public, of setting an empty table with a white tablecloth in remembrance of prisoners of war and those missing in action had its beginnings with a group of fighter pilots who flew in Vietnam.

"...The tradition, started by the Red River Valley Fighter Pilots Association - the so-called River Rats of Vietnam - has spread to other branches of the military where remembrance tables are set when units or commands gather for dinners or reunions.

"The symbols on the tables may vary depending on the ceremony. Generally, the tablecloth represents purity of heart, the black napkin the sorrow of captivity and the white candle, peace. The lemon represents the missing service member's bitter fate and the salt, the tears shed by the families of the missing."- Washington Times, 5/28/05