Archive for the ‘political’ Category

I just sent the note below to both of my Senators and to my Congressman. Everybody complains, but if you don’t tell it to someone who can make a difference, it’s just hot air.  Not that being someone who can make a difference will translate into someone who WILL make a difference, but if you don’t tell them, then don’t complain when they ignore you.

To the honorable senators Hagan(D NC) and Burr(R NC) and congressman Coble(R NC);

This message is just to give you a “head’s up” as they say. I believe firmly in the second amendment to the constitution and, further, believe that it insures that an INDIVIDUAL’s right to keep and bear arms SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED. I believe that the original purpose of this amendment was to allow the citizens of the United States to have an opportunity to resist or oppose any attempt by the government to suppress their rights. The country had just been through a war with Britain over a tyrannical government’s attempts to run roughshod over the populace and I believe that this, and not “hunter’s rights” or “sportsmen’s rights” is the reason for this amendment.
In addition to stating my position on this issue, this message is also to warn you that I will NOT vote for anyone, of either party, who votes to diminish the second amendment in ANY manner. Which part of “shall not be infringed” is so hard to understand?

Sincerely,
Michael Leffew
Mayodan, NC

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First thought, taxes—proposed tax policies

1. Income tax (ordinary, individual income tax)

a. Current Rates                   b. Obama Proposed Rates            c. Romney Proposed Rates
10%                                                             10% (same)                                        8% (-2)
15                                                                 15 (same)                                         12 (-3)
25                                                                25 (same)                                         20 (-5)
28                                                                28 (same3)                                   22.4 (-5.6)
33                                                                36 (+3)                                          26.4 (-6.6)
35                                                           39.6 (+4.6)                                           28 (-7)

2. Capital Gains, Interest, Investments

a. Current rates:

Certain qualified dividends are currently taxed at capital gains rates, which are zero percent for taxpayers in the 10 percent and 15 percent tax brackets and 15 percent for all other taxpayers.

General interest earnings, i.e., on such investments as CDs, are taxed at ordinary tax rates.

Carried interest, i.e., the share of profits that private equity and hedge fund partners receive as compensation, is taxed at capital gains rates.

b. Obama’s Proposed:

Increase capital gains tax rate to 20 percent on high-earners. Impose the so-called Buffett rule, i.e., a minimum 30 percent tax on high-earners.

Dividends taxed as ordinary income for individuals with adjusted gross income of $200,000 ($250,000 for married couples filing jointly).

Carried interest taxed as ordinary income.

c. Romney’s Proposed:

Eliminate taxes on investment income for taxpayers with adjusted gross income of less than $200,000. Retain 15 percent tax on interest, dividends and capital gains for all other taxpayers.

3. Estate Tax

a. Current Rates:

Currently, estates worth up to $5.12 million are not taxed, with estates worth more than that taxed at 35 percent.

b. Obama’s Proposed:
Exempt estates worth up to $3.5 million and increase estate tax rate to 45 percent.

c. Romney’s Proposed:
Repeal estate tax permanently. This would enable estates worth any amount to pass from one party to the next with no tax.

The above is from bankrate.com and can be found at link here:
http://www.bankrate.com/finance/taxes/tax-proposals-obama-vs-romney.aspx

My two cents:

1. Income tax: I am so tired of this “tax the rich” and “make the rich pay their fair share” crap. I am far from rich, so I have no personal stake in this, but if you would do the research you would see that “the rich” are ALREADY paying a much larger percentage. Change you slogan to “sock it to the rich” and be honest about it, please. “Fair” does not mean “more”. Obama’s plans increase the rates on upper earners, Romney’s drops the rates on everybody, which is better than Obama’s plan but does NOT go far enough.  I am of the opinion that the entire system needs to be scrapped and replaced with a consumer type tax, but that is for another blog.

2. Estate tax: I don’t care if you are one of the “tax the rich” or “make the rich pay their fair share” clowns; there is no way you can seriously think there is anything FAIR (if you really THINK about it and you know the definition of the word “FAIR”) about the system as it is, let alone as Obama wants to change it. Someone works their lifetime to build something, paying income taxes on all they make along the way and sales taxes on all that they buy along the way as well as property taxes on all that they possess with the idea of passing this on to their descendents when they depart this life only to have the government, which taxed them their entire life, take 35 percent (or 45 percent proposed) when they die. Do you see anything FAIR about this? If so, you don’t know what FAIR means.

2. Second thought, retired military top officers overwhelmingly back Romney over Obama, despite recent news stories about Colin Powell’s endorsement. See link

http://godfatherpolitics.com/7881/retired-military-overwhelming-endorses-mitt-romney/

My two cents: Who better than retired senior officers to decide who would be a better commander in chief?

3. Third thought, likeability:

While 22 percent of Romney voters say they are backing him because they dislike the president, only 7 percent are backing Mr. Obama because they dislike Romney. CBS News

My two cents: A lot more voting AGAINST Obama should be something to think about.

Thanks for reading, please keep thinking.

Vaya Con Dios,

MBL

Trust Matters, Doesn’t It?

Posted: October 25, 2012 in political

How “trustworthy” has President Obama been? He said in a speech yesterday that trust matters.

“And we joke about Romnesia, but all of this speaks to something that’s really important and that is the issue of trust. There’s no more serious issue on a presidential campaign than trust. Trust matters. And here’s the thing, Iowa, you know me. You know — you know that I say what I mean and I mean what I say” President Obama, speech in Iowa, 24 October 2012
So, how trustworthy has he been?
Let’s take a quick look:
1. (ABC News, Feb 13,2012) “This is big,” wrote White House director of new media Macon Phillips in a February 23, 2009 blog post, ”the President today promised that by the end of his first term, he will cut in half the massive federal deficit we’ve inherited. And we’ll do it in a new way: honestly and candidly.”
Indeed, President Obama did make that promise that day, saying, “today I’m pledging to cut the deficit we inherited in half by the end of my first term in office. This will not be easy. It will require us to make difficult decisions and face challenges we’ve long neglected. But I refuse to leave our children with a debt that they cannot repay — and that means taking responsibility right now, in this administration, for getting our spending under control.”
The 2013 budget the president submitted today does not come close to meeting this promise of being reduced to $650 billion for fiscal year 2013.
2. (Newsherald.com) President Obama promised to televise meetings about health care. He said he would have doctors, nurses, hospital administrators, insurance companies and drug companies there and would televise the negotiations on C-SPAN. That didn’t happen. All those discussions with drug companies, insurance companies and other special-interest groups were held behind closed doors.
3. (Politifact) “Barack Obama is committed to returning earmarks to less than $7.8 billion a year, the level they were at before 1994.”
The final numbers are in, and as expected President Barack Obama was unable to keep his promise to hold earmarks to less than $7.8 billion a year, the level they were at before 1994.
4. (PolitiFact) “Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes,” Obama said.
The health care law that Obama signed on March 23, 2010, raises taxes on some things regardless of income. Two taxes in particular stand out. A tax on indoor tanning services begins this year. And in 2014, people will have to pay a fine, levied through their income taxes, if they don’t have health insurance.
5. “I will sign a universal health care bill into law by the end of my first term as president that will cover every American and cut the cost of a typical family’s premium by up to $2,500 a year.”
A report by the Congressional Budget Office, the nonpartisan budget scorekeeper for Congress, said premiums would barely change for anyone who currently has employer-based health care coverage. For individuals and families that do not get health care through an employer, premiums would go up, with the average premium per policy for families increasing by $2,100.

He also promised to increase the space program and launch a manned flight to the moon, instead he closed NASA and scraped the Constellation program (the replacement for the shuttle).
Hey, this was just a real quick look, PolitiFact.com had five pages of broken promises, some of which I’m glad he didn’t keep, like cap and trade legislation, on demand abortion, and others, but the point is, he is the one who is saying “trust matters”. And he is also the one who will not release his college records or his passport while his surrogates are screaming about Romney’s tax records.
I ain’t telling you who to vote for,  just saying please think about it.

Vaya con Dios,
MBL

Comparing the Platforms

Posted: September 5, 2012 in political

(Republican National Platform for 2012 vs. Democratic National Platform for 2012)

I have read through the platforms, as the parties posted them, and comment here on a few differences.

Italics are my comments. ML

1. Taxes

GOP

“To that end, we propose to: Extend the 2001 and 2003 tax relief
packages—commonly known as the Bush tax cuts—pending reform of the tax code, to keep tax rates from rising on income, interest, dividends, and capital gains;
Reform the tax code by reducing marginal tax rates by 20 percent across-the-board in a
revenue-neutral manner; Eliminate the taxes on interest, dividends, and capital gains altogether for lower and middle-income taxpayers; End the Death Tax; and
Repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax.”

Democrats

Cutting Waste, Reducing the Deficit, Asking All to Pay Their Fair Share

Under this section title are six paragraphs. Each one has at least one sentence about “tax cuts for the wealthy millionaires” and “everybody should pay their fair share”.

This is typical class warfare (in my opinion) and I am tired of hearing it. If you took EVERYTHING, (A FULL 100% OF IT) from those who make over $1 million it would not put a dent in the problem. If you really want FAIRNESS, reform the tax code and make it a flat tax. Just as an example say 7%. (I think that if you do away with ALL the freakin’ loopholes it could be less, but let’s use 7%) If I make $50K, 7 % would be $3500 and if you make $50 Million, 7% would be $3,500,000 and if you are only working part time and only make $5K, your tax would be $350. Now the democrats would yell, “That’s not FAIR, the lower income guy can’t afford $350”. But the TRUTH is, it doesn’t get any fairer than that. FAIRNESS is NOT what the democrats are after. ML

2. Spending

GOP

“We can preempt the debt explosion. Backed by a Republican Senate and House, our next President will propose immediate reductions in federal spending,
as a down payment on the much larger task of long-range fiscal control. We suggest a tripartite test for every federal activity.
First, is it within the constitutional scope of the federal government?
Second, is it effective and absolutely necessary?
And third, is it sufficiently important to justify borrowing, especially
foreign borrowing, to fund it?
Against those standards we will measure programs from international
population control to California’s federally subsidized high-speed train to nowhere, and terminate programs that don’t measure up.”

Democrats

The democrats call spending “investing”. I was going to count how many times they used the words invest, investment and investing in their platform, but I gave up when I hit 50 and wasn’t half way through yet. There are a couple of different ways of looking at spending and, to be fair, some economists think you can spend your way out of a recession. This is one of the fundamental differences between the parties. But I am of the belief that you don’t get out of a hole by continuing to dig. ML

3. Budget

GOP

“Republican Members of Congress have repeatedly tried to reform the budget process to make it more transparent and accountable, in particular by voting for a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, following the lead of 33 States which have put that restraint into their own constitutions. We call for a Constitutional amendment requiring a super-majority for any tax increase with exceptions for only war and national emergencies, and imposing a cap limiting spending to the historical average percentage of GDP so that future Congresses cannot balance the budget by raising taxes.”

The “super majority” amendment falls short of a balanced budget amendment, which I think we need.  ML

Democrats

Despite the importance of this issue, the democrat platform has nothing on what they would do for a budget. If you do a search for the word “budget” most of the times that it turns up is as an attack on their description of a Republican budget.
The Democratically controlled Senate has not passed a budget in three years. Need I say more? ML

4. The Electoral College

GOP

“We oppose the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact or any other scheme to abolish or distort the procedures of the Electoral College. We recognize
that an unconstitutional effort to impose “national popular vote” would be a mortal threat to our federal system and a guarantee of corruption as every ballot box in every state would become a chance to steal the presidency.”

I disagree with this point. The president is running for the office of President of the US, not President of Ohio (or Florida or whatever state). For example, in 2008 my home state of NC voted 2,128,474 for McCain and 2,142,651 for Obama. That should have been counted, in my opinion, as over 2.1 million votes each instead of 15 electoral votes for Obama and none for McCain. There was a need for the Electoral College when it was established, but we are not so much a collection of individual states any longer, we are a nation. One vote should be one vote, whether one lives in New York, California, or Wyoming. If we do away with this antiquated system, we don’t have to hear the same old crap every year about “it’s going to come down to whoever wins (Ohio, Florida, insert state name here)”. ML

Democrats
Democrats don’t mention the Electoral College in their platform, but rest assured they don’t want to change the system either. Both parties have invested t0o much time and energy into learning to work the system and neither wants to change it.

Same problem from both parties in regard to candidates that are not from either of the two major parties. ML

5. Energy

GOP

‘Domestic Energy Independence:
An “All of the Above” Energy Policy’

Democrats—

“All-of-the-Above Energy Policy”

Both parties talk a good game in the energy department. Both mention energy independence, but democrats stop short of: 1) using more coal, 2) building more nuclear power plants, and, mainly, 3) drilling for more domestic oil. Don’t get me wrong, wind and solar, even geo-thermal and other alternative energies are great, let’s do all we can to use them, but they are not going to replace fossil fuels any time soon, so let’s be realistic. ML

These are just a few of the differences that a quick glance uncovered. You can go online and find the platforms for yourself, and I hope you do. In closing I would like to quote from the Democratic platform:

“This election is not simply a choice between two candidates or two political parties, but between two fundamentally different paths for our country and our families.”

I could not agree more.

Vaya Con Dios,
Michael Leffew

The Henson Company posted the following statement on its Facebook page on July 20.
The Jim Henson Company has celebrated and embraced diversity and inclusiveness for over fifty years and we have notified Chick-Fil-A that we do not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors. Lisa Henson, our CEO is personally a strong supporter of gay marriage and has directed us to donate the payment we received from Chick-Fil-A to GLAAD. (Boston.com)
“Chick-fil-A doesn’t belong in Boston,” (mayor) Menino told the Boston Herald on Thursday. “You can’t have a business in the city of Boston that discriminates against the population. We’re an open city, we’re a city that’s at the forefront of inclusion. That’s the Freedom Trail. That’s where it all started right here. And we’re not going to have a company, Chick-fil-A or whatever the hell the name is, on our Freedom Trail.” (newsfeed.time.com)

Dan Cathy, the president of Chick-fil-A stated in an interview that, yes he opposed gay marriage. What he actually said was that he was FOR straight marriage.

Cathy, however, never spoke publicly about the company’s policies on the matter. Cathy finally went on record with the Baptist Press on July 16. When asked about Chick-fil-A’s support of the “traditional family” (referring, presumably, to one led by a married husband and wife), Cathy responded, “Well, guilty as charged…We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.”(newsfeed.time.com)

He went on to state that the company applies biblical based principles to the way they do business, but that they do not discriminate.

Now, if someone has evidence that a Chick-fil-A has refused to serve someone because they were gay, or refused to hire someone because they were gay, or, after hiring someone treated them unfairly or fired them because of their sexual orientation, then discrimination can be charged. Until then, Chick-fil-A can, and, indeed has the right to be against gay marriage.  And the Muppets and the mayor of Boston have the right not to be associated with Chick-fil-A. As to whether the mayor has the right to ban them from opening a restaurant in Boston, that’s one for the courts.

In March 2006, Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar, an Iranian-American, intentionally, as he confessed, hit people with a sport utility vehicle on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to “avenge the deaths of Muslims worldwide” and to “punish” the United States government. While no one was killed in the attack, nine people were injured (none seriously). (Wikipedia)
When the above happened, did we ban cars? Or, al least ban big SUV’s? Of course not, the car wasn’t the problem.
A teen accused of breaking into his family’s Farmington Hills’ home and killing his father with a baseball bat has a court date Wednesday afternoon. The hearing will determine whether 19-year-old Tucker Cipriano and his friend, 20-year-old Mitchell Young, will face trial for the murder of 52-year-old Robert Cipriano.(CBS) When this happened, was there an outcry to ban baseball bats? No, the bat wasn’t at fault.
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) – Prosecutors in New Jersey have released the names of three children and a teenager killed along with an adult in a fast-moving apartment fire in Newark. (USA Today) Did we attempt to ban matches or lighters? No, not the problem.
And the guns, and even the availability of the guns are not the problem here, either. The problem is the perpetrator.

Whether he is mentally ill or just evil, he is the problem, not the guns. Does anybody really think that a potential criminal thinks

“I would get a gun and kill someone, but having the gun is against the law, so I’d better not”?

Anyone bent on doing evil as this guy was, is going to do so. When we ask, as we always do, “How can we prevent this from happening again?” we are whistling past the graveyard. We can’t prevent evil crazies from doing evil crazy things. All we can do is deal with it and try to move on.
Gun control, or increasing gun control and making it harder for law abiding citizens to own guns will not fix the perceived “problem”. Three of the worst examples of mass shootings in recent times were in England, Germany and in Norway where there are MUCH more strict gun control laws that we have in the US.
I hate that this tragedy happened and my prayers go out to the injured and the loved ones of the ones that were killed, but more stringent gun control laws are not the answer. In fact, I would even venture to say that had the theater not been a “gun free” zone, and had some patrons been concealed carry permit holders, the carnage may have been much less.

Race

Posted: July 10, 2012 in political, sports

Race and politics

Neal Boortz said, before the election in 2008, that if Obama wins the election, any time anyone comes out in opposition to anything that he is trying to implement, they will be labeled a racist by the administration’s supporters, and even by the mainstream press. Boy was he ever right.
This is one of those things that really burn me up. My two grandsons are the same “race” as Obama, their mother is white, and their father is black. When I explain something to them, or correct them for behavior that is unacceptable, I am not being a racist, I am being a grandpa. And when I object to some of the policies of the current administration I am not being a racist, I am being an American.

Race, other than politics

A little over a week ago a friend posted the following to her facebook:

I never cease to be amazed at the abject crimes committed in the name of racism during the 1960s… and the decades preceding, but especially during the civil rights movements of the 60s. I’m glad we’ve moved beyond that. I’m glad that my daughter can date a black boy without worrying about having crosses burned in our front yard. I’m glad my son can hang out with his black friends without worrying about being beaten for his choices. Most importantly, though, I’m glad that today when a crime is committed, the majority of Americans of all races (excluding those rabble rousers Jackson and Sharpton and Limbaugh, of course) can go before a court of law and know that the wrongs done them will be redressed. Yes, there is still racism out there – but I think we’ve come a long, long way from the days when children were taught that it was not only acceptable but Christian to hate people for differences in appearance or opinion.

I agree with her observation that while,yes, there is still racism, we’ve come a long way. This reminded me of an article I had written a few years prior for a Bible study column that I did for a Christian motorcyclist newsletter that I edited, The Kickstart Chronicles. The column was called Keeping the Faith. Below you can find that column, I hope you enjoy it.

Keeping the Faith
by Michael Leffew

I am a “child of the 60’s”, the “peace and love” generation. We were going to be the generation to change the world and change it for the better. One of the things we were going to fix was racism. Racism and prejudice would have no place in our brave, new world.
I remember segregation. I remember “Whites Only” signs at public places. Even though the Supreme Court ruled in 1954 that segregation in schools was unconstitutional, it was 1964 before I had a class that was not all white. Anyone who remembers these things must admit that we have, indeed, come a long way from those times, but we’ve still got a way to go, and anyone who looks at it truthfully will have to admit that, also. Maybe my grandchildren’s generation will finally be the ones to put this behind them and go forth to that time when, as Dr. King put it, they can “live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Let’s hope so.
OK, this is a Bible study column, so let’s see what the Bible has to say about this subject.
To start with, we are ALL (according to the Bible) descended from Adam and Eve (Gen 3:20), descended from Noah (He and his family were all that survived the flood Gen 8:23) and of “one blood” (Acts 17:26) so it follows that we are all related, hence all of the same “race”, the human race. What “race” was Adam? The Bible doesn’t say, but the Hebrew root word that is translated “Adam” is the same word that later is translated “Edom” and means “red”. Doesn’t sound like a “white” man does it? I hate to shake your beliefs but Jesus was probably not “white” either. Whatever color someone is, the Bible says there is only one race, so “racism” itself is a ridiculous idea.
Genesis 6:9 says that Noah was “perfect in his generations”. Some have used this to say he was “racially pure”. According to the story of the ark, Noah’s father Lamech and grandfather, Methuselah, were alive at the time Noah entered the ark. If “perfect in his generations” meant that he was racially pure, and this was the reason that he was spared when the rest of the “racially mixed” people were destroyed, please explain how his grandfather and father could be racially mixed and he be pure. Yet, they were destroyed in the flood along with the rest of creation. Methuselah died the day of the flood, but the point is this: if he (Noah) was “racially pure” and this “purity” was the reason for his being spared, why was Lamech not spared? And if he (Lamech) was not “pure” how could his offspring, Noah, be “pure”? So much for the “racial purity” bit, it doesn’t hold water, no pun intended.
What does the Word say about how we are to treat one another in regards to “race”? 1 Samuel 16:7 says God looks at the heart while man looks at the outward appearance. We should try to be more like God. There are many verses that have been used over the years to justify a position against “mixing races” that when examined will prove to be not about racial mixing at all, but about mixing believers and nonbelievers. Exodus 34:10-16 and Deuteronomy 7:1-6 both prohibit the Israelite’s mixing with the peoples that were in the land before them, but they are clearly for religious, not racial reasons. In the New Testament, 2 Corinthians 6:14 commands us not to be unequally yoked, but it refers to being yoked with unbelievers. Moses was one of the greatest heroes of the Bible, so important that at the transfiguration he appeared with Elijah and Jesus. Moses, according to the Bible, married a black woman. That’s right, she was an Ethiopian, an African. Another Ethiopian, this time the Ethiopian eunuch, was one of the first converts to Christianity when Phillip (Acts 8:26-40) baptized him on the road. Jesus’ parable about the good Samaritan is a study in how we are to act toward others (Luke 10:30-37). Jesus’ conversation with the woman at the well is his example of how to treat others, his disciples would not have even talked with this woman, she was, one, a woman and, two, a Samaritan, both of which, they felt, put her “below” them (John 4:9-42). They considered the Samaritans another “race”, they were “unclean”.
There are many more examples in the Bible concerning this topic, but the bottom line is we are all created in God’s image and to put someone down for how God created them is to insult God!
And, finally this, Galatians 3:28 says “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)

Vaya con Dios
Michael Leffew

Sports

Before I close, it’s the All-Star break in major league baseball, so let’s look at how my picks from the beginning of the season are holding out.

1. AL East, I picked the Yankees, and they are on top. I’ll admit I got a bit worried when they lost Mariano Rivera, but they are holding on to first.

2. AL Central, I picked Detroit. They are third, the ChiSox are on top, but Detroit is only 3 1/2 back and are coming together. Don’t count them out.

3. AL West, I picked the Angels. They are 2nd and are 4 games behind Cleveland. Four games is not that much and Albert Pujols, one of the reasons I picked them, had a bad start. They are not out of it by any means.

4. NL East. I picked the Phillies and boy did I miss that one. They are below .500 and are dead last in their division. They have had some injuries, true, but I never expected this. On the other hand, I did pick the Nationals to be “most improved” and they are in first. To be truthful, though, I did expect them to be better, but not to go to the top.

5. NL Central. I picked the Cards to hang on, even without Pujols. They are in 3rd, but are only 2 1/2 back. They still have plenty of time to move up.

6. NL West. I picked the SF Giants. They are currently in 2nd, only 1/2 game behind the leading Dodgers. I hope I miss this one and the Dodgers hold on, for Don Mattingly’s sake, he was one of my favorite players when he played and I can’t help but hope he is successful as a manager.

All in all, I would venture a guess that my picks, while some room for improvement exists, are probably better than a lot of professional sports writers.

Well that’s my two cents for today.

Vaya Con Dios