Saturday, July 30, 2011

Ft. Hood Shooter Still Receiving Military Pay

KXXV-TV is reporting that Major Nidal Hassan, the accused gunman in the Fort Hood shootings, has his rank and continues to receive a paycheck from the military. Lieutenant General Donald Campbell, Jr., the Commander of Fort Hood, says that it is part of the judicial process of innocent until proven guilty. Campbell stated, "The bottom line is when you cut through everything we are as an army, we have to be fair to him regardless of what we saw or we think we saw or whatever the case may be. It's imperative we maintain the integrity of the court martial so he gets as fair a shot as possible defending himself with his team..."

I understand innocent until proven guilty, and I support it wholeheartedly. I am fine with him being able to keep his rank until the court martial. However, I am not fine with him continuing to draw a paycheck. If Hassan had been a bank teller who walked into his bank and started shooting people, he would no longer be working for the bank and therefore, would stop receiving his salary. The same thing would apply to any arrest regardless of location. Hassan is in confinement and no longer performing work for the military pending his court martial. Why is the military giving him free money on top of having all his expenses paid? If the military is simply following its procedures, then the procedures need to be examined.

Anyone Looking for One Billion Dollars?

Christian Science Monitor has a great article showing $1 billion in cuts that can be made for the coming year: cutting out ridiculous compensation for Senators. Salaries remain the same, and there is still no cost for health insurance and retirement. However, fitness club memberships, hair care allowances, gift shop allowances, and use of foreign currency are covered. I guess the Senators need these extra allowances because their meager salaries of $174,000 do not give them much spending money.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Where Is The Senate Bill?

After delaying a vote overnight, the House of Representatives passed a new debt bill that will increase the government's borrowing authority and cut government spending. The bill also makes the debt ceiling increase contingent on the submission of a balanced budget amendment to the states. However, the bill was tabled in the Senate, with six republicans joining the democrats and independents in defeating it.

Meanwhile, the Senate has done nothing to help solve the issue except to criticize everything that has come over from the House. The House has passed three bill (Ryan budget; Cut, Cap, and Balance; and now this bill) and all three have been criticized by the Senate. However, the Senate has passed nothing; the House has not received even a single sheet of paper approved by the Senate to help solve this matter. It is time for Boehner and the House Republicans to tell the Senate to choose one of the bills and send it to the President or present a bill to them for consideration. The time for talking about a compromise has run out; it is now time to take action.

Kids Hurt By Latest Economic Cuts

The state of our economy is now starting to affect the children by way of the tooth fairy! According to the Denver Post, the going rate for a lost tooth has dropped 40 cents in the past year. Perhaps the tooth fairy should apply for an economic stimulus package; it is for the children, after all!

First Amendment Tested in New Jersey

A man in Livingston, New Jersey is considering legal action after he was told he had to remove a cross from a tree in his yard. The man complied with the request, but replaced it with a 6 foot by 4 foot cross in his front yard. However, this also violated local regulations, so he was forced to move it behind a "ten foot line" in order to allow it to stand. The man then contacted the Alliance Defense Fund, who is considering taking the matter to court.

If both ordinances are enforced equally (the littering ordinance prohibiting items on trees and the ten-foot ordinance), then I do not think that he has much of a case. However, if this is a case of selective enforcement against a Christian, then it should be stopped with the ordinances either equally enforced or not enforced. While everyone should have the right to display a cross or any other religious symbol, the laws governing display of any items must be followed. While the first amendment does stop prohibitions on the free exercise of religion, that free exercise should fall in line with all other laws that govern both religious and non-religious activities.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

New NASA Data May Show Errors In Global Warming Predictions

A new study in the journal Remote Sensing shows that the global warming problems may not be as bad as certain people want us to believe. NASA data shows that the earth actually releases more heat from the atmosphere than warming models show. Also, the earth begins releasing heat earlier in the warming cycle. Some of these studies are so far off that they show warming with NASA data showed a net release of energy (less heat).

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

George Lopez Gives Us One Reason to Elect Sarah Palin

In an interview with CNN, George Lopez said that if Sarah Palin were elected President, he would move to Canada. When asked to explain his decision, he stated that he liked his politicians to have a political background. However, The Blaze points out that Palin has 5 more years of political experience than Obama did in 2008, when Lopez supported him for President. (Perhaps all the "present" votes of Obama in the senate gave him extra experience.)

If I thought that Lopez would actually make good on his promise, I would say that this just gives us one more reason to hope she runs...and wins! Unfortunately, he will probably be like all the people who said that about George W. Bush but still decided to stay after the election. However, if she does win and Lopez does move, something tells me our country will be just fine without him.

Obama Says It Is Tempting To Rule On His Own

In a speech to La Raza, Obama made some very scary statements. First, he said "Now, I know some people want me to bypass Congress and change the laws on my own." One would think that a statement like this would be greeted with horror, but the people at La Raza applauded. He began his next sentence, but was interrupted with chants of "Yes, you can! Yes, you can!" (Is this the new version of his 2008 campaign slogan?) Obama then goes on to say, "Believe me, the idea of doing things on my own is very tempting." He does clarify it by saying that is not how our system works.

The full speech is available at the link above; the excerpt (starting at about 15:15 in the full speech) is below.

Coal Mine Owner Tells Government He's Quitting

Blogger David McElroy has a post about a coal mine owner's speech at a Birmingham meeting dealing with environmental issues in mining. In this speech, he says he is not worth the time it takes to meet all the regulations in order to open a new coal mine. His mine could employ up to 125 people making between $50,000 and $150,000 per year, and could have a total economic impact of $50 to $60 million.

My name’s Ronnie Bryant, and I’m a mine operator…. I’ve been issued a [state] permit in the recent past for [waste water] discharge, and after standing in this room today listening to the comments being made by the people…. [pause] Nearly every day without fail — I have a different perspective — men stream to these [mining] operations looking for work in Walker County. They can’t pay their mortgage. They can’t pay their car note. They can’t feed their families. They don’t have health insurance. And as I stand here today, I just … you know … what’s the use? I got a permit to open up an underground coal mine that would employ probably 125 people. They’d be paid wages from $50,000 to $150,000 a year. We would consume probably $50 million to $60 million in consumables a year, putting more men to work. And my only idea today is to go home. What’s the use? I don’t know. I mean, I see these guys — I see them with tears in their eyes — looking for work. And if there’s so much opposition to these guys making a living, I feel like there’s no need in me putting out the effort to provide work for them. So as I stood against the wall here today, basically what I’ve decided is not to open the mine. I’m just quitting. Thank you.
(Text taken from McElroy's post)

Does George Soros Have Something to Hide?

Bloomberg is reporting that George Soros is ending his career as a hedge fund manager and returning all money to non-family investors. More interesting, though, is the reason: new regulations would require that any hedge funds with more than $150 million in assets register with the SEC. However, funds that are family-owned are exempt from this requirement. Ending a money-making business because you are going to have to file paperwork is strange, and it gives the appearance to me that Soros has something he does not want revealed in the paperwork. Perhaps it really is just a "transition" but with Soros, things are never what they seem.

California Approves Private Scholarships for Illegal Immigrants

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill allowing college students who entered the country illegally to receive privately-funded scholarships. Debate is still continuing over a second bill that would give them access to public scholarships. Proponents of the bill say that it will equalize education opportunities for everyone, but opponents say that the bill will force law-abiding students to compete with the illegals for limited resources.

The State of California is going broke, yet it wants to increase the number of students receiving financial aid from the government. This is another example of the backwards thinking of our leaders. Instead of taking them away from government subsidies, we are giving them government subsidies. For its entire existence, America has had its arms open to those who will go through the process in order to come here legally. However, America now seems to be expected to open its arms to anyone who wants to come here, whether they come legally or illegally. If people cannot follow the laws of this land to get into this country, why should we expect that they will follow the laws once they are here.

The History of [Ignored] Debt Commissions

Common logic would dictate that if you have a problem, you figure out how to fix it and then do what it takes to make the fix. Everyone is Washington is paying lip service to the fact that the debt is too high and deficits are out of control, but no one seems interested in fixing the problem. Now we hear reports calling for the creation of another commission. Over the past 30 years we have had 17 commissions dealing with our finances, including six during the Obama administration and four in the last four months of 2010. Here's a youtube video from Sen. DeMint showing what these commissions have done for our debt.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Whatever Happened In Wisconsin?

Fourteen State Senators fled across the border, people camped out in the capitol building in protest, and as the bill prepared to pass, riots began to break out. However, Gov. Scott Walker's budget bill was passed, signed, and following a court battle, implemented. The Weekly Standard has an article discussing what happened after the law was implemented. This is certainly an interesting analysis that no one in the media is reporting on.

Time Magazine Says U.S. Will Not Default

Time has a new article stating exactly what has been said here and on many other media outlets: The U.S. will not default on August 2nd. You can read it here.

CNN Host Attacks Tea Party

CNN host Fareed Zakaria on Sunday questioned how the Tea Party has become so popular and able to "dominate Washington" when it is "ideological extreme."

Will Hot Dogs Wreck Your Health?

Those traveling to the Brickyard 400 in Indianapolis may be surprised to see a new billboard ad announcing that engaging in the American tradition of eating hot dogs may "wreck" your health.

The ads are being published by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. The website mentioned on the billboard describes two statistics about the consumption of processed meats, but does not specifically address hot dogs.

However, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is not what it appears. It gives the appearance of being a medical group, but its main goals are to achieve the elimination of animal products (milk, meat, and seafood) from the American diet and to eliminate the use of animals from laboratory testing. PCRM also has close ties with PETA and other animal rights groups, and the American Medical Association calls it a fringe organization whose membership is less than 5 percent physicians. Perhaps those going to the Brickyard 400 should eat an extra hot dog just to get on the nerves of the PCRM!

Ohio Court Says Minor Crimes Eliminate Second Amendment Rights

In 2006, Ohio resident Paul Stone was convicted of marijuana possession, a minor misdemeanor that is punishable with no jail time, no more than a $150 fine, and community service. Even though this crime is a misdemeanor, it is not considered a criminal offense for employment and licensing questions. However, when Stone was found to be in possession of a gun, he was charged with 3rd degree felony gun possession. The charge was dismissed by the county court, but it has reinstated by the appeals court without even a mention of the second amendment. The court's decision says that the issue would be better directed to the legislature, who wrote the law that Stone is being charged with violating.

In writing this decision, the court has ignored its main purpose for existence. The appellate system exists in order to be a check on the legislative and executive branches. When a law violates the Constitution, the courts are supposed to step in and correct the violation. However, instead of addressing whether or not this law is in violation of the Constitution, the court's decision tells Stone to take it up with the legislature. This is not the way the court should act, and hopefully, this decision will be corrected by the state supreme court.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Vermont Employees Protesting Losing Free Bottled Water

Employees of the state of Vermont are objecting to a plan to stop bottled water deliveries. The plan, which was scheduled to take effect on July 1, would save the state $200,000 per year. However, employees have complained that the tap water is not drinkable or that the only place to get it is from the bathroom sinks. Furthermore, state regulations requiring water fountains or coolers based on the number of employees may cost some of the savings in costs to install water fountains.

I believe that the state should comply with its building regulations, so if removal of the dispensers would violate regulations, then the employees have reason to complain. However, I have worked at many places, and none of them have provided bottled water for free. Some have had a dispenser with a "chip in" bucket placed next to it, some have had a cooler that provided tap water, and one place even provided small bottles of water for purchase for 25 cents. None of these would break the budget of the state's employees, but would still allow for the savings the state wants. It appears that some employees need to learn that "free" water still is not free.

Democratic Senator Says Obama Should Invoke 14th Amendment

Senator Bernie Sanders said on radio Friday that President Obama should invoke the 14th amendment to raise the debt ceiling and deal with the courts later.

What Color Is Your Roof?

Former President Bill Clinton said in a Newsweek piece last week that people should paint their roof white in order to reduce the temperature inside the building and save energy. Clinton is not the first to make this proposal; Energy Secretary Steven Chu made a similar proposal in 2009, claiming that painting roofs and even roads white would help reduce global warming.

For someone looking to keep a building cooler during the summer, this might be a viable solution. As a school bus driver, I saw this firsthand. Many school buses now come with a white roof instead of the traditional yellow roof. The white roof does have an effect on the temperature inside the bus. Using a black roof, I can imagine the discrepancy in temperature would be even greater. However, this should not be a mandate from any government; it should be a decision made by individual property owners.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Raising Fees, Not Taxes

Cash strapped state and local governments have begun turning to a new method of raising new revenue: fee increases. Doubled parking fees, birth certificate fees, license plate fees, and land filing fees join new fees being implemented, such as fees for sightseeing tours and smartphone applications. Fines for minor violations have also increased in many places. Raising fees and fines have become popular because it avoids debate that would be created by a tax increase proposal.

Unfortunately, these fee increases will become more common as governments try to balance their budgets in the coming years. The smartphone app fee is a great example because it illustrates what the government will have to turn to in order to maintain revenues. Governments will continually be looking for new ways to impose these fees on us in order to take more of our money. And while some of these fees may be directly for services provide (such as parking fees at a park), there will be some, like the smartphone app fee, that will serve no purpose other than to raise more money for the government.

Leaders Considering Trick for Deficit Reduction

Fox Business has a new article detailing a possible "gimmick" in the debt reduction plans to make it appear that there would be more cuts than there actually were. As part of the deal, over $1 trillion of cuts that had already been agreed upon would be included in the total announced portion of the deal, allowing it to appear that the deal was substantially larger than it actually was. For example, including this money would have allowed a proposed $2 trillion in spending cuts to be announced as a $3 trillion cut.

In 2008, America voted the Democrats into office and asked them to clean up Washington. They failed. In 2010, America gave control of the House back to the Republicans and asked them to clean up Washington. Despite their best efforts to convince us otherwise, they are also failing. Boehner announced yesterday that he would work toward a bipartisan (read: including tax increases) agreement to resolve the debt ceiling issue. Now we find out that they are lying about the total by including money they already trimmed from the budget. More than anything else, we need honesty in Congress and the White House, and honesty is not what we are seeing right now.

Latest Conspiracy Theories From the Left

The left-wing media personalities have made a habit of using the term "conspiracy theory" to describe the ideas of those on the right. Present a new theory that goes against their ideas, back it up with facts, and you can be sure that someone will call you a conspiracy theorist. However, two recent news stories show that those on the left can certainly engage in some conspiracy theories of their own.

First, MSNBC host Thomas Roberts made the statement Friday that Michele Bachmann would "extinguish" gay people. While she has come under some scrutiny for the clinic that she and her husband run, she has never made statements about wanting to eliminate gays.

Second, radio host Stephanie Miller pondered whether or not the Murdoch pie incident was staged in order to distract from other issues and get sympathy for Murdoch.

Obama to Congress: Avoid Reckless Political Games

Following a short 50-minute meeting at the White House, President Obama released a statement telling Congress to "refrain from playing reckless political games with our economy. Instead, it should be responsible and do its job, avoiding default and cutting the deficit." This is coming from a President that has not proposed a single solution to the problem and promised to veto the one solution that has passed either of the houses of Congress. Maybe the President should take his own advice and stop playing games with American citizens (such as threats of default or checks not going out).