Saturday, March 31, 2007

Thompson For President

This past week Fred Thompson, the former Republican U.S. Senator from Tennessee, has been testing the political waters for a run for the Presidency. Fred Thompson is also an accomplished film and TV actor who currently plays prosecutor Arthur Branch on TV's Law & Order.

Several commentators believe he would be a serious contender if he chooses to run.

Makes sense to me. Republicans like leaders who can make fiction sound like the truth.

U.S. Dept Of Agriculture - WTHWYT

Cow saying 'Sad but true'The U.S. Department of Agriculture has just lost a court case where it was trying to make the food supply LESS safe.

Creekstone Farms Premium Beef wanted to test all the beef it processes for mad cow disease. Mad cow disease is incurable. If you've donated blood through the Red Cross in the past few years you know that they ask several questions about how much time you've spent in the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom has had a serious problem with mad cow disease which can take as long as 20 to 30 years to appear and then destroys your brain. The Red Cross is very concerned about accepting blood from people who might have the disease and not know it.

Creekstone Farms wants to test all its beef. I'm sure they would use this in their marketing to distinguish themselves from competitors. The Agricultural Department currently tests only about 1 percent of all beef slaughtered. Other meat packers were afraid that if Creekstone Farms were allowed to test all its beef, market demands might force them to test all of theirs. An expensive procedure. So the Agriculture Department threatened to take Creekstone Farms to court if they insisted on testing all the beef they processed. A court recently ruled that the Department of Agriculture could not prevent Creekstone Farms from the additional testing.

So I would like to ask the U.S. Department Of Agriculture, who threatened a business with prosecution because the business wanted to make the food supply safer,

What The Hell Were You Thinking?

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Support The Troops. Don't Hide Behind Them.

Several soldiers currently in Iraq were interviewed on television the other day. They were asked what they thought about the war debate back in the US and was it hurting their morale. One soldier said yes it hurt morale. He said something like "How can people say they support the troops and not support their mission?"

I have a great deal of respect for the men and women fighting in Iraq and Aghanistan, but it is unfair to put them on television and ask them questions like that. These are well trained and disciplined soldiers and Marines. Some of the best people who have ever worn the uniform. They are trained to take on a mission and complete it. To ask them in the middle of the mission if it is the correct mission is not fair. For them to question their mission in the middle of a war zone would be to admit defeat. I imagine it would be like deserting their fellow soldiers and they are not going to do it. Anyone who would claim that we should continue this war because the soldiers believe in their mission is a scoundrel.

The civilian leadership (and voters) got us into this war and it is up to the civilian leadership (and voters) to get us out. It is completely unfair to expect the military to decide when to quit a war that will not have a clean ending. One soldier said something like it was OK if the people back home didn't believe in their mission, they would fight on. Lives of men like that should not be wasted so politicians can maintain their electability.

The Forever Stamp Hoax

The Post Office has recently announced that they are considering a new first class stamp with no value on the face. No matter when you buy it or what you pay for it, it can always be used in the future to mail a first class letter. They claim this forever stamp will save money. Not only does the Post Office not have to print new stamps when there is a rate increase, the one cent stamps that people must buy to use up the first class stamps with the old rate cost more to produce than their face value. A one cent stamp costs more than one cent to produce and distribute which means the Post Office loses money every time it raises the price of a first class stamp.

I'm not sure the forever stamp is a good idea, even though there are some countries who have been using it for years. The Post Office says it will be good for consumers, but I'm not so sure.

The Post Office says that this will save people money, but this new policy may actually cost some consumers even more money to mail their letters. When the Post Office announces a rate increase, some people will stock up on the forever stamp. Some people will buy a six month or one year supply of stamps. This means that the extra income that would currently be generated starting the day the new rate goes into affect will now be delayed by months as the forever stamps purchased at the old rate are used up. The Post Office will have to plan and implement rate increases much earlier than they are really needed so that most of the stamps purchased under the old rate will have been used up by the time the Post Office really needs the extra revenue. That means people who don't stock up on stamps before the rate increase will be paying for a more expensive stamp before current postal policies would have required.

There is an even simpler solution to this problem than the forever stamp. Allow first class stamps to used for some period of time after the new rate goes into affect. For example, let's say the price of a first class stamp is being changed from 37 cents to 39 cents on January 1. The Post Office could allow the 37 or 39 cent stamp to be used on first class envelopes until the end of February. This would allow people to use up the old stamps without the inconvenience or expense of one or two cent stamps and the Post Office would know that their revenue increase would be in full affect in only two months.

Sounds too simple, doesn't it? That is because you are not being told the true reason for the forever stamp. With the forever stamp the Post Office doesn't have to create, print and distribute new stamps for each rate increase. A process that takes time. With the forever stamp the Post Office can announce a rate increase a couple of days before it is to take effect.

This will also make it easier to have fractional cent stamps, 45.5 cents for example. A book of 10 would cost $4.55, two stamps would cost 91 cents and a single stamp would cost 46 cents.

It will also make it easier to adopt periodic rate increases (for example, a first class stamp whose price goes up one cent every 3 months for the next two years) or for rate increases every year based on the rate of inflation. These kind of increases will not get the same kind of news coverage so rate increases will become a non-issue.

Maybe we should talk about this forever stamp a little more before it is implemented.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Pardon The Fall Guy?

Many conservatives are crying for an immediate pardon for Lewis Libby. Some have been spinning and twisting so creatively to prove that this case is a travesty of justice they should be given auditions with Cirque du Soleil.

Here are some arguments for a pardon.

How can you punish a man when no crime was committed? Prosecutor Fitzgerald was given the task to determine if a law had been broken and he determined that it had not. Nothing wrong with that. Prosecutors are not expected to return an indictment in every case they investigate. If they were, what kind of justice would that be?

In the process of the investigation Mr. Libby broke the law by lying under oath. Should Prosecutor Fitzgerald have ignored that because no one was indicted for the original crime being investigated?

I'm standing on the street and see a man break the window of a jewelry store, run in, grab a watch and run out. As he runs by I trip him. While he is down I take the watch from him and leave. The original crook gets away and is never caught. I later pawn the watch. Have I committed any crime? If I were caught, could I claim innocence of any crime since it would be unjust to punish me for stealing a watch that was already stolen? Could I claim that just because the first crook was never convicted, I shouldn't be convicted?

If convicted, do I deserve a pardon?

Two of the jurors in the Libby trial said they would be happy to see Mr. Libby pardoned. Conservatives have jumped on this as proof that the conviction was unjust and a pardon is appropriate. What?????? These are the jurors who convicted Mr. Libby. They found that he committed a crime. They have sympathy for him and wouldn't mind a pardon because they think he is a fall guy. Conservatives........wake up..........the jurors think Mr. Libby is guilty and they think others were also guilty of crimes. You are agreeing with jurors who think there was a band of crooks, possibly including the Vice President. They are sorry only one person was convicted. A pardon based on this line of reasoning is an admission that Mr. Libby and other people were guilty of crimes.

The injustice in this case is that there was a secret attempt to discredit a political opponent that originated in and was directed from the Office of the Vice President. The administration didn't stand up in the press room and say Ambassador Wilson is wrong and here are the facts as we see them. They didn't publicly confront Ambassador Wilson and say that they believed he was pursuing his own political agenda. They secretly used the power of the government to discredit the man and his wife. A wife that didn't just work at Wal-Mart. She worked at the CIA! They didn't stand at the podium and say Ambassador Wilson wasn't sent by the Vice President, he was sent by his wife who works at the CIA. They didn't say this publicly. The weasels leaked their story to the press and then denied they were the source. Why didn't they just stand up and say these things? Because it was easier to allow other people to hide their lies than to publicly face the facts. Is this administration in a war with terrorists or their political opponents?

Is the air in Washington DC so polluted that people who work there lose their judgement and common sense?

By the way, I predict that if Mr. Libby's conviction stands, President Bush will give him a pardon. I just hope he doesn't also give him the Medal of Freedom.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Repeal The Second Amendment

The recent ruling that Washington DC restrictions on handgun ownership are unconstitutional was interesting. It clearly shows that the term "strict constructionist activist judge" is not an oxymoron.

While the United States Constitution is a superb document, it was not without its flaws. This interpretation clearly shows it is time to repeal the Second Amendment. Most the of ruling revolves around historical interpretations that no longer have much meaning.

Much of the majorities argument centered on whether or not the Second Amendment is an individual right. They conclude it is an individual right and offer as one proof Robertson vs Baldwin which includes the much quoted phrase "the right of the people to keep and bear arms (article 2) is not infringed by laws prohibiting the carrying of concealed weapons;." The majority ignores their own admission that it is legal to restrict gun ownership by insisting that a person has a constitutional right to keep arms in their homes for self protection and as preparation for service in a militia (an arcane and unclear entity).

Citing legal precedence, they do agree that there are legal restrictions as to what kinds of weapons a person can own. A sawed off shotgun can be legislated as illegal, because the term "arms" refers "only to those weapons which are ordinarily used for military or public defense purposes and does not relate to those weapons which are commonly used by criminals;" (Miller).

Although not stated, the clear interpretation is that any weapon that is commonly used by the military or for public defense is legal in a home. That may have made sense when most soldiers carried muskets. The judges have basically said it is legal for people to have in their homes fully automatic assault rifles, machine guns, rocket propelled grenade launchers, etc. in case they are called upon to join a militia. The case before them did not require them to decide whether or not restrictions on these weapons outside the home would be legal.

The language of the Second Amendment is unclear and out of date. It needs to be repealed.

Read the courts ruling here.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Boehner, You Are An Idiot!

John Boehner, Republican from Ohio, was on the news again tonight and he hasn't gotten any smarter than the last time I wrote about him.

While commenting about the Democratic plan to get troops out of Iraq, he said something like "if we leave Iraq you can bet the terrorists will follow us home."

John, did you ever ask yourself if it was all that easy for the terrorists to come over here when the troops leave Iraq, why don't they do it now before the troops leave? If you were a terrorist why would you fight the US military in Iraq with all their guns, tanks, helicopters, etc. when you could just come to the USA now and kill helpless civilians? Hmmm, maybe the NRA has been arming Republicans and I just haven't heard about it. Or maybe the terrorists are smarter than you are, John.

Or John, did it ever occur to you that if you are correct, why don't we just move all our troops to Afghanistan? The terrorists would follow us there and we would only have to fight one war.

I guess you don't have to be smart to get elected to Congress. You just have to be smarter than a majority of voters in your district.

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