Wednesday, December 12, 2007

pay no attention to that man behind the curtain




occasionally, someone in the media has the courage to draw back the veil. one such man is correspondent jonathan mann of cnn, who interviewed al gore after he received the nobel peace prize , which became sorta silly after yasir arafat won it in ’94. kinda like the heisman trophy became in ’97 when peyton manning lost out to charles woodson. anyway - in a post award interview, jonathan mann asked the following, "The Associated Press, among other sources, is reporting that your family home near Nashville, Tennessee, used $1,200 a month in electricity, which is 10 times the average for homes nearby. It's been widely disseminated, and I think that's what he's getting at. Is it true? Are you a little less green than you seem?"

to which al gore replied, “There's a global warming denier group that put out misleading information.”

to which mann parried, “The Associated Press is not that kind of organization.”

to which al gore responded, “No, they reported what that group said. And the -- the -- look, when you try to make a case like this, you are going to have -- you're going to have people try to attack the messenger in order to get at the message. They have not been able to succeed. But the most important element of this is the message. And part of what they -- part of what these deniers try to communicate is that the only way to solve this crisis is for individuals to make changes in their own lives. We've made those changes, many millions of others have, but we have to stop kidding ourselves. This is not a 'me' problem. It's a 'we' problem.”

the italics and bold are mine. i mean, isn’t the main message of conservation individual responsibility? clearly, mann, in totoesque fashion, has pulled back the curtain to reveal al gore for who he truly is - the green equivalent of l. frank baum’s huckster.

but be of good cheer - gore can only pull the wool over the eyes of those of us who have no heart, no courage, or no brains.

Friday, December 07, 2007

more election fodder

on april 16, 1781, samuel adams said in the boston gazette: "Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual - or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country."

it's a weighty task we set forth to accomplish every election cycle, no? but in the information age, opportunities to appraise candidates are not difficult to find.

on december 4, 2007, republican presidential candidate, fred thompson was interviewed by charlie rose. for those of you who are still undecided, this entire interview can be seen on youtube and is well worth your time to see it. the interview appears in six sections on youtube as Charlie Rose the Candidate Fred Thompson 12-04-07, parts 1-6. what impressed me the most was thompson’s discussion of how his federalist leanings (you can read Thompson's own words in a brief article called "talking about federalism" here ) and conservative principles guide his thoughts on things like education, immigration, social security, terrorism, torture, and taxation. i have only included part 6 of the interview below, but would urge readers to view the entire six sections and give me your thoughts.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

hold out for true conservatism


the pool of republican candidates is a weak and unsatisfactory one with no clear top choice. however, there are some candidates,like giuliani and mccain, who simply are not conservative. others though, are putting on the wolves’ clothing and attempting to appear conservative when their past records clearly indicate a pattern of moderate to liberal thinking. mike huckabee’s past record and current thoughts on four issues (illegal immigration, taxes, global warming, and pardons), reveal him as one of the least conservative candidates running in the republican primary. the information provided below was taken from CBS News, the Arkansas Leader, and onenewsnow.com.


ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION


“Huckabee's recent strong stand on immigration, including an intolerance toward companies that employ illegal immigrants, runs counter to the image he crafted in his final years in office. He was battling conservatives within his own party who were pushing for stricter state-level immigration measures.

Huckabee opposed a Republican lawmaker's efforts in 2005 to require proof of legal status when applying for state services that aren't federally mandated and proof of citizenship when registering to vote. Huckabee derided the bill as un-American and un-Christian and said the bill's sponsor drank a different "Jesus juice."

That same year, Huckabee failed in his effort to make children of illegal immigrants eligible for state-funded scholarships and in-state tuition to Arkansas colleges. At the time, Huckabee said he didn't understand the opposition to it.

"It hurts me on a personal as well as a policy level to think that we are still debating issues that I kind of hoped we had put aside in the 1960s, maybe at the latest the '70s, and yet I understand people have deep passions about things usually they don't fully understand," Huckabee said.”


TAX INCREASES

“- Imposed an income tax surcharge of 3 percent on tax liabilities of individuals and domestic and foreign corporations (Act 38, 1st special session of 2003). (It was temporary until revenues improved. The legislature repealed it in 2005.)

- Increased the sales tax by 1/8 of one percent by initiated act (but it was a personal campaign by Huckabee, who campaigned across the state for it and took a celebrated bass boat trip for 4 days down the Arkansas River holding press conferences in each river city to urge passage of the act)

- Increased the sales tax by one-half of 1 percent (Act 1492 of 1999)

- Increased the sales tax by 7/8ths of 1 percent and expand the sales tax to many services previously exempt from the tax (Act 107, 2nd special session of 2003)

- Collected a 2 percent tax on chewing tobacco, cigars, package tobacco, cigarette papers and snuff (Act 434 of 1997)

- Levied an additional excise tax of 7 percent on tobacco (Act 38 of 1st special session of 2003)

- Increased the tax on cigarette and tobacco permits (Act 1337 of 1997)

- Increased the tax on cigarette and tobacco – cigarettes by $1.25 per thousand cigarettes and 2 percent of the manufacturers’ selling price on tobacco products (Act 434 of 1997)

- Increased the tax on cigarettes by 25 cents a pack (Act 38, 1st special session of 2003)

- Levied a 3 percent excise tax on all retail sales of beer (Act 1841 of 2001 and extended by Act 272 of 2003 and Act 2188 of 2005)

- Revived the 4 percent mixed drink tax of 1989 and added a 4 percent tax on private clubs (Act 1274 of 2005)

- Increased the tax on gasoline by 3 cents a gallon (Act 1028 of 1999)

- Increased the tax on diesel by 4 cents a gallon (Act 1028 of 1999) Note: Contrary to what Huckabee has said repeatedly in debates, speeches and TV shows, the 1999 gasoline and diesel taxes were not submitted to the voters and approved by 80 per cent of them. It was never submitted to a vote. It was the governor’s bill and it became law without a vote of the people. What the voters did approve in 1999 was a bond issue for interstate highway reconstruction but it did not involve a tax increase. Existing taxes and federal receipts were pledged to retire the bonds.

- Increased the driver’s license by $6 a person, from $14 to $20 (Act 1500 of 2001)
So which raised taxes more? It is hard to quantify. If you measured the increases in the revenue stream, the Huckabee tax cuts far exceeded Clinton’s but that would be unfair because the economy had grown and the same penny of tax would produce far more under Huckabee.

But if you look at the major taxes, I see the aggregate Huckabee taxes as greater, especially if you deduct the 4 cent gasoline and diesel taxes that Clinton vetoed in 1985 and that the legislature enacted over his veto.

Anyway, the sales tax is the big revenue producer. Both raised it by 1.5 cents on the dollar and both expanded it to cover a myriad of services. Clinton raised motor fuel taxes a little more, Huckabee cigarette taxes a lot more.

A further note: Huckabee claims credit for a major tax cut in 1997, saying it was the first tax cut in Arkansas history (there had been many prior to that) and that he forced the Democratic legislature to curtail its impulse to always raise taxes.

The facts: The omnibus income tax cut bill of 1997 was proposed by Gov. Jim Guy Tucker in the spring of 1996. It had multiple (7) features, all aimed at relief for middle-class families or the elderly. He asked interim legislative committees to expand on his plan. Tucker then resigned before the legislature convened after his conviction on Whitewater-related charges, and Huckabee took office.

At the legislative session that followed, the Democratic caucus of the House (88 of the 100 members) made the Tucker tax cuts its chief program. The bill was introduced with 83 sponsors (all Democrats) and all Democrats voted for it. It was unopposed. Huckabee’s tax cut was to give each taxpayer a check for $25 each fall, saying it would help offset the burden of sales taxes on groceries (the repeal of which he repeatedly opposed). The legislature rejected Huckabee’s plan and passed the Tucker bill. Huckabee signed it into law.

The 94 tax cuts that he said he fathered are similarly misleading. The vast majority of those were the usual exemptions and modifications of various taxes and fees that the legislature enacts every time it meets. They were not a part of Huckabee’s program with a few exceptions. Rather, Democratic legislators sponsored them, usually at the behest of whatever special interest benefited, and Huckabee signed them when they hit his desk. If you did a similar summary of Clinton’s years he could claim probably well over 100 tax cuts. Every Arkansas governor since World War II could claim dozens each.

If you counted all the tax benefits extended to corporations under the incentives enacted by the legislature under Clinton — and they were part of his programs, especially in 1983, 1985 and 1989 — the tax cuts would dwarf those under Huckabee.”


GLOBAL WARMING

“Huckabee has also been riding a wave of support on the campaign trail from evangelical Christians, including some liberal evangelicals who believe human activity is causing global warming. The more than 100 signers of the Evangelical Climate Initiative recently praised Huckabee for "announcing his support for a mandatory cap on global warming pollution" and "recognizing that Americans have a moral obligation to address climate change." He tells OneNewsNow that he wants to "create a greater level of conservation."”

QUESTIONABLE PARDONS


“Governors seldom reduce sentences in other states – and almost never for murderers serving life without parole or for rapists or for habitual drunk drivers, while in Arkansas it's a regular habit with Huckabee.
___ Other governors use their clemency power only rarely, while Huckabee has made it routine. As we've told you before, he has issued more than 700 pardons and commutations during his eight years in office – more than 137 this year alone – and more than his three predecessors combined.
___ Here are the figures for neighboring states since 1996, when Huckabee took office (and keep in mind the population of these states is nearly 20 times ours):
___ >> Louisiana – 213.
___ >> Mississippi – 24.
___ >> Missouri – 79.
___ >> Oklahoma – 178.
___ >> Tennessee – 32.
___ >> Texas – 98 (in-cludes 36 inmates released because they were convicted on drug charges with planted evidence).
___ Total: 624 vs. Huckabee's 703.”

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

in a world full of people only some want to fly, isn't that crazy


there are moments in time that remind us of our passing youth and imminent mortality. this past friday was such a day for me. one of my childhood heroes – evel knievel – made his last jump, from this world into the next.

as a kid, i remember watching his jumps on abc’s wide world of sports, pretending to be evel knievel on my huffy thunder-road bicycle, and wearing out three different ideal evel knievel super stunt cycle sets.

one of the greatest jumps Evel ever made was the lead of faith he made after years of resisting God. as the uk telegraph reports , “Like many American icons whose careers are distinguished by their bad boy behaviour, Knievel later found God. He became a Christian in April, and was honest enough to confess that he had refused for 68 years to convert, because he didn't want to surrender ‘the gold and the gambling and the booze and the women’. But the night before his death, sensing his imminent demise, he telephoned friends to ask them to pray for him, declaring he was ‘ready to be with God’".



i look forward to asking for evel’s autograph when i get to heaven.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

soemtimes folks get it right


often i am too cynical, too jaded. last night my lovely and gracious wife, knowing just how to goad me, informed me that brad pitt was going to make an announcement today on some morning show. my immediate reaction was to guess that he was about to announce his political support for a candidate. my wife and i mulled over the silliness of such announcements on both the part of the announcer as well as the audience members who might be swayed to vote a certain way via celeb endorsements. pat sajak nailed it when he said, “If any group of citizens is uniquely unqualified to tell someone else how to vote, it's those of us who live in the sheltered, privileged arena of celebrityhood. It's one thing to buy an ab machine because Chuck Norris recommends it (he's in good shape, isn't he?) or a grill because George Foreman's name is on it (he's a great guy, so it must be a great grill!), but the idea of choosing the Leader of the Free World based on the advice of someone who lives in the cloistered world of stardom seems a bit loony to me.” however, i must admit i was wrong and quite pleasantly surprised to read that pitt’s announcements had little to do with overt politics; rather, he announced today “(i)n a telephone interview from New Orleans, where he plans to present the designs today, Mr. Pitt said the residents of the (Lower Ninth Ward) had been homeless long enough. ‘They’re coming up on their third Christmas,’ he said. Mr. Pitt said he had been attached to New Orleans for more than a decade. ‘I’ve always had a fondness for this place — it’s like no other,’ he said. ‘Seeing the frustration firsthand made me want to return the kindness this city has shown me.’ Rather than bemoan the slow pace of redevelopment in the Ninth Ward, Mr. Pitt said he decided to address the problem directly by teaming with William McDonough, the green design expert; Graft, a Los Angeles architecture firm; and Cherokee, an investment firm based in Raleigh, N.C., that specializes in sustainable redevelopment.” i work with students everyday who have been effected by Katrina and are indeed still trying to recoup some normalcy in their lives three years later. our campus, which took around a $55 million hit from the storm, has yet to received a satisfactory insurance settlement. as a result, the troubles faced by our institution of higher learning provides us a daily mirror image of what some individuals have faced over the past three years. i would like to take just a moment to thank brad pitt and the countless others who have, over the last few years, put their money, time, and effort (no matter how great or small) into the recovery efforts of gulf coast region.