Thursday, May 28, 2015

Huckabee's 17 Pledges

I thought it was 16 but I must have miscounted the last time. Wilson had 14 points, God had ten commandments and Huckabee has 17 pledges.

OK, here we go. Let's remember that this is a man that thinks he should be President of the United States.

Not everything he says I disagree with but the problem is simply stating that you will do something without any indication as to HOW you expect to go about it only addresses the first part of the question. We can talk whether or not this is a good objective or a bad objective but even the best of intentions can become a big problem with a lousy implementation.

I will adhere to the Constitution of the United States. 
Actually you would be taking an oath to preserve and protect the Constitution. The problem here is agreeing on what the Constitution means. I don't think most Americans would be willing to accept your interpretation Huck. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't.

The next three pledges are related so I'm going to talk about them together.

I will oppose and veto any and all efforts to increase taxes. 

I will advocate for a complete overhaul of our tax system. This means passing the FairTax and abolishing the IRS. 

I will support a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution. 

Just about every reputable organization that has looked at the US budget situation agrees that a combination of new taxes and spending cuts is necessary.

The basic argument is who gets cut and who gets additional taxes?

To say you're going to balance the budget but at the same time declare no new taxes is wishful thinking. But, show me the math and I can perhaps be convinced.

I've looked at the Fair Tax and I'm pretty sure it's anything but fair and would most likely lead to a tremendous revenue shortfall.

The basic idea of the Fair Tax is to replace both payroll and income taxes with a consumption tax and something called a prebate. A prebate is sort of a necessities allowance that everyone receives to cover the consumption tax on necessities. Including people making billions of dollars which strikes me as more than a little ridiculous.

Also tuition, interest payments, local taxes and savings and investments are tax free. This implies to me that capital gains taxes are gone. Corporate income taxes are also eliminated. The consumption tax is set to 23% based upon a typical 15% income tax bracket, 6.2% in Social Security Tax and 1.4% in Medicare taxes. The 23% is INCLUSIVE so that makes it similar to a 30% sales tax.

Here are the immediate problems I see with the Fair Tax. One caveat is there may in fact be resolutions to some of these questions. I just may not be aware of them.

- What happens to the 6.2% Social Security and 1.4% Medicare employer matching funds? As far as I can see they're gone with nothing to replace them.

- The 0.9% additional Medicare tax on high earners (over $250k filing jointly) also appears to have disappeared. What's replacing that?

- I did a check on their Fair Tax Calculator and I would be entitled to about a $460 prebate per month. All of this money comes off the top. What's replacing it?

- What revenue stream replaces corporate income taxes and capital gains taxes?

- If you make less than $44,000 and are on Social Security, at least 50% of your Social Security is not currently taxed. But under the Fair Tax, if you spend it, it's taxed. I see no allowance for Social Security in the prebate calculator.

- Here's some simple math. If your tax bracket is 15% then you end up paying more tax because you don't pay 15% on everything. The first $18,000 is taxed at 10% for those filing jointly. If your tax bracket is higher than 15% then you're definitely getting a tax reduction. If you invest a lot of your salary, like most rich folks do, then you're getting a huge tax cut.

In general, if you spend almost all of your salary you pay the tax on everything. if you don't spend it, or spend it outside the US, then you're not taxed on it. Guess who spends most or all of their salary and guess who spends not all or most of their salary?

The bottom line is the math screams to me that this is a scheme for getting the poor and the middle class to further subsidize the rich.

I will now, and will for the duration of my presidency, promote and sign all measures leading to Obamacare’s defunding, deauthorization, and repeal. 
What is it that Republicans have against (a) getting people health care and (b) slowing the growth of health care costs? The ACA can be improved but it's a good start.

I will oppose amnesty and government benefits for illegal immigrants who violated our laws, repeal President Obama's unconstitutional executive orders, and secure our borders. 
This issue is more complicated than it looks and I would like to see real bipartisan immigration reform. This sort of statement doesn't accomplish anything. I have a serious problem with young adults brought here by their parents as children and living most of their lives as Americans being booted out of the country because of something their parents did wrong. That's not justice.

I will stand for the sanctity of all human life from the moment of conception until the grave. Taking this unequivocal stand includes fighting to defund Planned Parenthood. 
Politicians seriously need to get their noses out of people's private health issues. Only about 3% of Planned Parenthood services are abortion services. 80% help reduce unplanned pregnancies which actually REDUCES abortions. If you "defund Planned Parenthood" the number of abortions might actually skyrocket.

I will stand for the Institution of Marriage and vigorously oppose any redefinition. 
Blah, blah, blah. It's time to come to grips with the simple fact that this ship has probably sailed. If the SCOTUS rules for marriage equality in June it will be long gone.

I will defend our 2nd Amendment rights and oppose gun control legislation.
If you don't think we should be keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, the mentally ill and people just too plan stupid to handle them, then you're not thinking this through. Gun control legislation is intended to keep guns out of the hands of people that shouldn't have them.

I will fight for the United States military to be the most feared, respected, and capable fighting force the world has ever known. 
And here I always thought it already was.

I will restore our military infrastructure after years of abuse and neglect.
I'm all for common soldiers getting paid better and having better benefits. Soldiers should not have to rely on food stamps to feed their families and they should have better housing. Beyond that, you'll have to get more specific about this one. If you're talking about White Sands Missile Range, the place could definitely use some sprucing up

I will stand with our friend and ally Israel in our shared fight against Radical Islam. 
Then you better tell Netanyahu to get his act together or you might find yourself getting very lonely in the support for Israel club.

I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear capability. 
I agree with the objective but we'll have to see about the approach.

I will end the national disgrace of failing to properly care for our veterans. 
I agree 100% and note the point above about soldier salaries, benefits and housing.

I will protect Social Security and Medicare and never rob seniors of the benefits they were promised and forced to pay for. 
I agree again but seniors look like they would take a bath with the so-called Fair Tax. You're going to have to fit this in with the rest of your tax ideas. Unfortunately all of those look really bad so why do I suspect this one will be just as bad?

I will fight to kill Common Core and restore common sense. Education is a family function - not a federal function. 
Clearly you don't understand Common Core. It's not a federal function. It was put together by the states in order to try and introduces standards across the country. The federal government simply put  a monetary incentive on the table. The objective is good, standards work, but if the implementation can be better, then let's improve it. By the way, what the hell does "Education is a family function" mean?

I will support the elevation of none but faithful constitutionalists as judges or justices. They must be committed to restraint and applying the original meaning of the Constitution, not legislating from the bench.
Great, just what we need. A bunch of dinosaurs like Scalia and Thomas driving us back into the 1950s.

I will fight for term limits for members of Congress and judges.
I agree with this as well but, once again, the devil is in the details.

Huckabee is basically tossing out pledges to do what he thinks the under 80 IQ Republican base wants to hear. He clearly hasn't thought a lot of this through. If he was a tad less doctrinaire I would feel more comfortable,

For example, if he said he was going to focus on balancing the budget primarily through cost cutting and tax reform, I wouldn't argue with it. But to declare a solution, no taxes, the Fair Tax and a balanced budget amendment, that are very probably mutually exclusive doesn't fill me with a whole lot of confidence.

I suppose that's why I have him all the way down at #10 in the Republican menagerie.

Muhammad Cartoons on Buses

Pamela Geller is the head of an anti-Islamic group called the American Freedom Defense Initiative. I was familiar with Geller from Right Wing Watch but she got a lot of free publicity when two Islamic sympathizers tried to crash her contest in Texas about drawing cartoons of the prophet Muhammad and got themselves killed.

Geller is loony tunes and utterly delusional with respect to Islam. She has no idea what Sharia Law actually is but is convinced it's somehow taking over here in the states. She's a nut that trivializes real issues and deserves to be ignored.

Unfortunately the incident in Texas has gotten her attention that she doesn't deserve.

Her latest idea is to publish the winning cartoon on buses in Washington DC claiming it's free speech.

Now, I published a few of the Danish cartoons that caused all that trouble and proudly proclaimed Je Suis Charlie as well so I'm not one that's been terribly careful about upsetting Muslim sensibilities.

But Geller isn't in the publishing or satire business and this idea strikes me as having the sole purpose of insulting Muslims and attempting to incite a reaction.

Fighting Words, speech or print intended to invoke hatred or violence are NOT covered by the 1st Amendment guarantee of free speech and this idea strikes me as being perilously close to Fighting Words if it's not over the line.

Patacki Joins the Crowd

I'm starting to lose track of who has actually declared themselves a candidate but I'll do the best I can. George Pataki has declared his candidacy and Rick Perry is making noises like he'll declare any day now so I've added him as well. An asterisk indicates I think he or she has formally declared.

#1 - George Patacki* - The man is actually sane and did a pretty good job as governor of New York. I don't see how the hell he's going to win a Republican primary but you never know. This might be the guy the money can combine behind.

 #2 - Marco Rubio* - I don't agree with Rubio on a lot but he doesn't strike me as completely crazy like a few of the others in this field.  One big problem with Marco is he seems to be intent on avoiding difficult questions rather than addressing them. Not a terribly encouraging trait for a potential president.

#3 - Jeb Bush - Florida survived him as governor and he couldn't possibly be as bad as brother Dubya. But the man needs to learn that he's not Hispanic as he claimed once. Jeb doesn't really seem to understand what's going on in Iraq either so he falls to #3.

 #3 - Chris Christie - Anything to get him out of New Jersey. Besides, Christie would at least be entertaining as hell. If it weren't for his idiotic deal with Exxon-Mobil, I might even list him higher.

 #4 - Rand Paul* - Like his dad, not only does Paul not have any solutions, he doesn't even understand the questions. This is a man that wants to eliminate Meals on Wheels because seniors that can't afford food should depend upon charity. His stand against the Patriot Act however moves him ahead of Cruz.

#5 - Rick Perry - OK, look, Perry sounds loony tunes but I don't think he's really that crazy. He's certainly not as crazy as Cruz or Santorum so I'm sliding him in at #5.

#6 - Ted Cruz* - Cruz is hopeless but most of the others are even worse! Even so he continues to slide rapidly.

 #7 - Scott Walker - Talk about scrapping the bottom of the barrel. The more this guy opens his mouth the more of a clown he makes himself out to be.

 #8 - Bobby Jindel - Undoubtedly the worst of the people that might actually be considered qualified. Look what a "great" job he did in Louisiana where the economy is in a shambles. Why would anyone vote for this turkey? The legislature refused to pass an RFRA due to pressure from the business community so Jindel issued an executive order to accomplish essentially the same thing. The mayor of New Orleans promptly issued a counter executive order. Nothing like a little chaos on the Bayou.

 #9 - Carly Fiorina* - There's a reason she's an ex-CEO. Aside from missing all sorts of earning goals while at HP she was known as a divisive factor and laid off thousands of workers while sending jobs overseas. Eventually the HP board had enough and booted her ass out.

 #10 - Mike Huckabee* - Mike has gone seriously down hill in the last eight years or so. He's dropped in my list because after thinking about who might be at least qualified to be president from this list, I can't honestly say I consider Huckabee, despite his stint as governor of Arkansas, to be qualified.

Huckabee has at least posted his positions. Wilson had 14 points, God had ten commandments but Huckabee's got 17 pledges. To be honest I don't agree with many of them.

 #11 - Rick Santorum* - Yes, incredible as it may sound, there's someone even worse than Walker and Jindel. He's worse because I don't even consider this ass wipe qualified for the job.

 #12 - Ben Carson* - This man is utterly delusional. I seriously believe that he has mental problems. I hope he gets regular brain scans just in case there's something growing up there. Supposedly Carson won a straw poll in South Carolina which goes to show you how dumb they are in South Carolina.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Ireland Approves Gay Marriage

Ireland became the 1st country to approve Gay Marriage by popular vote.

Despite strong lobbying by the Catholic Church the Irish voted for marriage equality by a solid 62-38 majority.

Can you hears the walls of bigotry crumbling?

As for the Church, the dinosaur inched closer to extinction.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Another Prediction of Violence

The Religious Right continues to predict violence if the SCOTUS rules in favor of gay marriage. This time PFAW is reporting that it's Bryan Fischer.

Fischer called upon state legislatures to pass resolutions declaring that they will not abide by any supreme court ruling that legalizes gay marriage.

"If the Supreme Court continues to overreach and they aren't checked, we are headed towards civil unrest, I don't think there is any other way around it. If it's not stopped and reversed, the tyrannical overreach of the Supreme Court, we are to have social dislocation and I believe we are going to have violence as a result."

According to PFAW Fischer declared that states "have every moral and legal right to ignore the federal government."

So what to make of all this?

First of all there's isn't going to be any violence. That's just absurd. there aren't enough people that care enough about this issue to get all storm the Bastille about it. Even if there were, they would find out pretty quickly what a painful experience it's going to be.

As for Fischer's idea that states have the legal right to ignore the federal government, I wish people who claim to support the Constitution would actually read it.

First of all there is the Supremacy Clause. Article 6, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution states:

"This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding."

This includes INTERPRETATIONS of the Constitution or federal law as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States.

Article 3 of the Constitution:

"The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish."

 "The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority..."

So Fischer and Ben Carson, who somehow thinks the Supreme Court can be ignored, are both wrong. If any state, including Alabama and Texas, wants to argue about it, I have two words for them. Those two words are ORVAL FAUBUS.

The only thing ignoring federal law will accomplish is meeting the 101st Airborne or 4th Infantry Division up close and personal. Assuming Obama has the balls to do what needs to be done of course. If he doesn't, the SCOTUS can always direct him to take the appropriate action to enforce the law.

Of course I'd be very surprised if it came to that.

Pew Research Religious Landscape Survey

Pew Research has published it's findings in a new majority religious landscape survey. Their last survey was in 2007.

Key findings based upon interviewing 35,000 adults.

- The number of people identifying as Christian decreased from 78.4% to 70.6%
--- Protestants 2007: 51.3%  2014: 46.5%
------ Evangelical 2007: 26.3%  2014: 25.4%
------ Mainline 2007: 18.1% 2014: 14.7%
------ Historical Black 2007: 6.9% 2014: 6.5%
--- Catholics 2007: 23.9% 2014: 20.8%
--- Orthodox 2007: 0.6% 2014: 0.5%
--- Mormon 2007: 1.7% 2014: 1.6%
--- Jehovah's Witness 2007: 0.7% 2014: 0,8%
--- Other Christian 2007: 0.3% 2014: 0.4%

- Non-Christian faiths increased from 4.7% to 5.9%
--- Jewish 2007: 1.7% 2014: 1.9%
--- Muslim 2007: 0.4% 2014: 0.9%
--- Hindu 2007: 0.4% 2014: 0.7%
--- Buddhist 2007: 0.7% 2014: 0.7%
--- Other 2007: 1.5% 2014: 1.8%

- the unaffiliated (the Nones) went from 16.1% to 22.8%
--- Atheists 2007: 1.6% 2014: 3.1%
--- Agnostics 2007: 2.4% 2014: 4.0%
--- Nothing in Particular 2007: 12.1% 2014: 15.8%

This makes the Nones now the second largest group only an eyelash behind evangelicals.

- Evangelicals - 25.4%
- Nones - 22.8%
- Catholics - 20.8%

Atheists and Agnostics now at 7.1% of the population outnumber all non-Christian faiths at 5.9% combined. There are more than three times as many Atheists and Agnostics as Jews, four times as many as Mormons and almost eight times as many as Muslims.

Much of the change is related to age. The youngest Americans are by far the least religious with a solid 36% of Young Millennials (born 1990 to 1996) identifying as unaffiliated as compared to only 11% of the Silent Generation (born 1928 to 1945) and 17% of Baby Boomers (born 1946 to 1964).

Based upon these numbers perhaps there's some hope for the human race yet.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Deflategate

I'm going to put my 2 cents in about the apparent deflating of footballs during the AFC Championship game last January.

At the time I said that the whole thing sounded silly but predicted that they would "through (sic) some poor schnook under the bus so the team and the league could live happily ever after." OK, so I can't spell "throw."

After an investigation concluded that the balls were most likely deflated on purpose by two Patriot's equipment staffers and that Tom Brady most likely knew about the shenanigans, the NFL handed down the following punishment.

1. Tom Brady is suspended for the first four games of the 2016 season.

2. The team was fined $1 million.

3. The Patriots will lose a 2016 1st round draft pick and a 2017 4th round draft pick.

4. The two equipment staffers were suspended indefinitely.

Well, at least I got the throwing under the bus part right.

Brady has three days to appeal the suspension.

This is less severe than the punishment handed out to the New Orleans Saints in "Bountygate" a few years ago but at least in this case it wasn't a matter of trying to physically hurt other players so I don't have an issue with that.

I think a $1 million fine is a joke but the loss of draft choices and suspension time strikes me as about right.

Monday, May 04, 2015

The Republican 2016 Field Expands

Ben Carson has made it official and Carly Fiorina, the ex-CEO of Hewlett Packard and one time senate candidate, has become the first Republican woman to declare her candidacy.

In the meantime I got a whiff of Christie's ideas on Social Security which really suck so he drops to #3 and Rubio moves up to #2. Fiorina I'm going to slide in at #8 since she does have some executive experience. Of course she screwed up at HP so badly that nobody else wants her.

 #1 - Jeb Bush - Florida survived him as governor and he couldn't possibly be as bad as brother Dubya. But the man needs to learn that he's not Hispanic as he claimed once.

 #2 - Marco Rubio* - I don't agree with Rubio on a lot but he doesn't strike me as completely crazy like a few of the others in this field.

#3 - Chris Christie - Anything to get him out of New Jersey. Besides, Christie would at least be entertaining as hell. If it weren't for his idiotic deal with Exxon-Mobil, I might even list him as #1.

 #4 - Ted Cruz* - Cruz is hopeless but most of the others are even worse!

 #5 - Rand Paul* - Like his dad, not only does Paul not have any solutions, he doesn't even understand the questions. This is a man that wants to eliminate Meals on Wheels because seniors that can't afford food should depend upon charity.

 #6 - Scott Walker - Talk about scrapping the bottom of the barrel.

 #7 - Bobby Jindel - Undoubtedly the worst of the people that might actually be considered qualified. Look what a great job he did in Louisiana. Why would anyone vote for this turkey?

#8 - Carly Fiorina* - There's a reason she's an ex-CEO. Aside from missing all sorts of earning goals while at HP she was known as a divisive factor and laid off thousands of workers while sending jobs overseas. Eventually the HP board had enough and booted her ass out.

 #9 - Mike Huckabee - Mike has gone seriously down hill in the last eight years or so. He's dropped in my list because after thinking about who might be at least qualified to be president from this list, I can't honestly say I consider Huckabee, despite his stint as governor of Arkansas, to be qualified.

 #10 - Rick Santorum - Yes, incredible as it may sound, there's someone even worse than Walker and Jindel. He's worse because I don't even consider this ass wipe qualified for the job.

 #11 - Ben Carson* - This man is utterly delusional. I seriously believe that he has mental problems. I hope he gets regular brain scans just in case there's something growing up there.

And the name of the Princess is...

Charlotte Elizabeth Diana.

Well, at least I got the Diana part right.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

It's a Princess

The Duchess of Cambridge has given birth to a baby girl (awww). The new little princess is going to be an absolute boon to the British economy as she becomes the fashion trend setter of the English speaking world and probably most of western civilization.

All I can say is happy, happy, joy, joy.

Too bad tomorrow it'll be back to death, ignorance, bigotry and destruction as usual.

Now we wait to see what name William and Kate choose. I hear Charlotte has overtaken Alice as the betting favorite. Then there's Victoria Olivia and Diana also in the running. The little lady will probably get at least three names so I'n betting Diana, if not the first name, will be in there somewhere.

How about Victoria Diana Alice? Or maybe Charlotte Alice Diana? I don't really care for Olivia. How about Alice Victoria Diana?

Monday, April 27, 2015

The 2015 NFL Draft

Only a couple of days to go until the NFL Draft.

The NFL and the need for SOMETHING to talk about in the spring has managed to get this thing into one of the bigger sports soap operas around.

Every year now mock drafts and analysis by "experts" whip things up into a frenzy. Last year it was the saga of Johnny Football. This year it's a tale of two quarterbacks.

The two quarterbacks are Jameis Winston from Florida St. and Marcus Mariota from Oregon.

Winston is physically everything you want in a QB. He's 6'4", 230 lbs and has a BIG arm. He's got a National Championship under his belt and comes from a school which runs a pro style offense. Draft 2015 compares him to Eli Manning which, given the two Super Bowl rings Eli has, ain't a bad comparison.

That's the good news.

On the other side of the coin, like Eli, he's known for forcing the ball into impossibly tight windows leading to a lot of interceptions and he's not really very mobile so he's not going to be able to scramble around and extend the play.

That's the bad news.

The ugly news is Winston has a penchant for getting into trouble off the field. It's unclear whether he's actually a problem or just has a knack for attracting trouble. Either way this isn't what you want to hear when you're shopping for a franchise quarterback.

Mariota is 6'4" and 220 lbs, and can throw and run. Draft 2015 compares him to Colin Kaepernick which, given Kaepernick's inconsistency last year, could be good or bad.

Coming from a spread offense Mariota could have some issues fitting into a pro style offense right away unless he ends up in Philadelphia with Chip Kelly who is in the process of changing the NFL offensive culture. Mariota played for Kelly at Oregon so that would be a match made in heaven for the Eagles and a potential nightmare for the rest of the NFC East.

Off the field he's just about perfect. No problems, no troubles and he even helps little old ladies across the street.

The consensus of opinion is that Tampa Bay, with the 1st pick, is going to take Winston. Tennessee has the 2nd pick and has been shopping around for a trade.

Teams that have been mentioned, besides the Eagles, are the Chargers, Jets and Browns.

I don't see the Browns giving up on Manziel just yet so I don't think they're going to pay the Titan's price. I don't see the Jets ponying up either. The Chargers and the Eagles maybe.

The Chargers would probably offer Phillip Rivers plus draft choices and the Eagles Sam Bradford or Mark Sanchez and draft choices. Rivers would be the better deal than Bradford or Sanchez but I'm betting Chip Kelly of the Eagles is willing to offer more in the way of draft picks.

If they don't make a deal, the Titans should take Mariota themselves and keep working the trade angle. Either way, Mariota is the 2nd pick.

The Jaguars have the 3rd pick and will probably take a defensive player. Either DE Leonard Williams of USC or Dante Fowler Jr. of Florida. My be would be Leonard Williams.

The Raiders have the 4th pick and I'm betting they'll look for a WR to give Derek Carr an additional weapon. That could be either Amari Cooper from Alabama or Kevin White from West Virginia.

The Redskins have the 5th pick and will probably take whichever defensive standout the Jaguars didn't take.

The Giants have the 9th pick and it will depend upon who's still on the board. Way to much could happen to make any predictions.