Don’t Buy Our Coffee!

I’m hearing that the Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz, is on record saying, “If you support traditional marriage, DON’T buy our coffee.”

Here’s one of the links.  There are several of them, so google it and please judge for yourself if it’s bogus.

http://freedomsfinalstand.com/starbucks-ceo-support-traditional-marriage-dont-buy-coffee/

If it’s true, this strikes me as totally absurd.  What CEO in his right mind would deliberately shun the vast majority of his customers? Please tell me this is a bogus quote!

The article goes on to claim that Schultz and Starbucks support all forms of diversity. I guess my question is, why does traditional marriage not qualify as a valid choice?

I’m a Libertarian. I don’t care who you marry – I only care that you don’t try to tell me who I can marry.  I was married for 30 years to a wonderful lady and if I ever marry again, it will be in that same direction.  As a bonafide American male constituent, I still prefer women over men as a marriage partner by a significant margin.

On the other hand, my son is gay and I support him marrying his choice of a good mate, even if it doesn’t happen to match my personal preference.  It’s his choice to make. That’s what freedom is all about – the right to choose, regardless if others consider it to be a good or bad choice.

Isn’t this the best part of our style of government in the United States?

May I offer two cents worth of free advice?  Don’t follow or support anyone who says you must limit your choices. People who want to limit your choices are in effect telling you that they know better than you do what is good for you.

What decisions in your life are unimportant enough to delegate to a politician (or a mob)?

I, for one, don’t want a government like that. After listening to people from both the main parties in the US Congress speak, I’m pretty sure that I don’t want those guys to plan my dinner menu, much less decide what major life choices are best for me.

St. Leo

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Sunday Morning in Dallas

I was able to close the loop on something today. On October 23, 1963, I turned twelve years old. Thirty days later, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.

It was the first political event that got my attention. Even since that day, I have been interested in politics and how the world works. It was my first exposure to the fact that some people would actually kill another person to get their way. Like many others, I still remember where I was that day.

I think I have watched most of the major movie and TV specials about the event. I read several books when I was younger. The result of all the above was a general confusion.

Since that day, I have always wanted to visit the scene of that assassination and see for myself the place that “ended Camelot.” And today I did.

I’m working a DevOps consulting engagement and decided to spend the weekend in Dallas rather than come back to Atlanta. Early this morning, I went looking for a good breakfast place and found myself near Dealey Plaza. I drove there, parked the car, and walked around for about three hours, taking pictures. I’ll post them on Facebook for those who follow me there. I stood next to the plinth where Abraham Zapruder took his famous film. I stood behind the fence on the “grassy knoll” and I checked out what I thought were the shooting angles.

I spent a couple of hours in the museum, reading again and reminding myself about all the different questions, theories and ideas. The museum presented a very balanced account, giving voice to all the different theories.

Here’s what I came away with.

After viewing the film showing the timing of the shots (under seven seconds) and looking out the window of the Texas School Book Depository for myself, I came to three conclusions.

The first is that there is no way Oswald cocked the gun twice, fired it three times, and managed to aim well enough to hit his target three times. With our modern weapons today, it would probably be much easier, but not back in 1963. I just don’t buy it.

The second conclusion is that Americans still care about this and want to know the truth. I was at the museum when it opened at ten this morning, and the line was almost out the door. And there were dozens of people, just like me, wandering around and taking pictures. The most telling evidence of this was probably that the grass on the lawn next to the two “Xs” on the street was trampled to dust. People still want to know what actually happened that day.

The third conclusion I came to was that our Federal law enforcement agencies, for whatever reason, did not give all the information it had to Congress or to the American people. Not that this is a big surprise to me or anyone else, but I still become very irritated that our government thinks the truth is something that I don’t need to know or am incapable of interpreting for myself.

All that having been said, I don’t plan to debate this with anyone – there is no way to get any real resolution and, therefore, no point in arguing about it.

Also, I don’t have the resources or the inclination to pursue an investigation of my own. It’s already been done too many times to count and, frankly, there are many other, more productive ways I can think of to spend my time. But I still think about it sometimes and wonder who else was involved in this heinous act and never paid any consequences.

I’m closing the door on this long-time source of anxiety for me. I do recommend that anyone with interest in this subject come here to Dallas and check it out for yourself.

And I also recommend a healthy distrust of our Federal government.

Government Out of Control

Sorry for being gone so long. I got busy with some other projects. That’s not a good excuse, but it is what it is. Lately, though, I’ve seen so much abuse by our Federal Government that I cannot remain silent any longer.
The Constitution requires that Congress convene at least once a year. What that means is the authors of the Constitution didn’t expect Congress to have all that much to do. They wanted to make sure the lawmakers got together annually to handle anything that came up.
Additionally, they expected the lawmakers to be volunteers and not make a business out of it. From that point of view, it was expected that their time would be donated and they would serve for a short time, then return to their communities, their businesses, and their families.
I’m not sure who said it – it was credited to Thomas Jefferson by some – but someone wisely said that we would be able to keep our Republic until the politicians realized they could bribe the people with their own money. Seems to me there is a lot of that going on now and there is much evidence that most elected officials are using their positions to enrich themselves.
I think much of this abuse could be curtailed with a few clear modifications of the regulations around our elected officials. All are related to the ability and motivation for our elected officials to accumulate wealth and power. In my humble opinion, this is not what the framers of the Constitution had in mind.
Let us resolve today to fix this. Let’s make government service exactly that – SERVICE – not a business. Let’s take away all the noise and stop the abuse in it’s tracks.
All that said, here’s my thoughts about what we need to do to fix this:
1. Implement Term Limits – Our elected officials become like royalty when they are in government for the long term. They have become America’s royalty – Lords and Ladies. Though some would recommend even less time, I recommend that twelve years for both Houses of Congress and the Supreme Court is about right. This gives them enough time to make an impact, but not a legacy.
2. No Congressional Pension – Members of Congress were granted pensions because it was thought to be unseemly for an American legislator to be living in poverty. I have not heard that this ever happened – it was just set up, just in case. Here’s my thought – If they are smart enough to get into Congress, they are smart enough to make a living somewhere.
3. No Congressional Exemptions – Congress cannot make any laws from which its members are exempt. Every law they make applies to them, just like everyone else – while in office and after they leave. No special healthcare and no special arrangements of any kind.
4. No ability to influence personal assets – This applies to all elected or appointed positions in all three branches of Government – Judicial, Executive and Legislative. Upon entering government service, all applicants must release a full accounting of their financial position and then agree to having all their assets placed in a blind trust where they cannot direct their investments based on their inside info. They must live on their government salary.
a. They should have the choice of leaving their investments exactly where they are for the duration of their service or in an index fund tied to the Standard & Poor index (so the better the economy performs, the better off they are). Some might say this is an invasion of privacy. If making your finances public bothers you, don’t get involved in government.
b. Any elected or appointed official who is found to be influencing their own portfolio or accepts (or solicits) gifts of any kind over $50 from any entity attempting to influence them, is suspended from service and all voting rights.
c. I admit this will be hard to implement and police, but where there’s a will, there’s a way. If men and women can use their position to enrich themselves, they will do it.
5. Repeal the Seventeenth Amendment – This amendment took the election of Senators away from the State legislatures and gave it to the popular vote. This erodes the power of the States in Congress and forces Senatorial candidates to align with political parties for support and funding – an effective transfer of power from the States to the Republicans and Democrats. The House of Representative is the “People’s House” and the Senate is supposed to be the “States’ House”. While there is still much politics involved, I think generally the state legislatures are more in tune with the needs of their state than the average voter. Let’s put it back like it was.
So those are my ideas. I believe these changes will change who decides to run for office. If we change public service so that it isn’t so lucrative, maybe the greedy will find another home and the jobs will attract folks who are truly in it for love of country.
Let’s have an honest, positive exchange of ideas about this. Everyone complains about the dishonesty of politicians and the overreach of our Government. Let’s get people talking about this and maybe we can help our nation change for the better. Your ideas count. Speak up.
Cheers,
Saint Leo

Post Election Musings by Guest Contibutor Ron Burch

Election Day has come and gone. And as is always the case, there are winners and losers. I’m in the latter group … sold down the river for food stamps, cheap health insurance, a cell phone and a monthly supply of condoms or birth control pills.

It’s a sad, sad day.

As I think about it, I can’t help but wonder what has happened to our country: when did Americans lose all perspective on what it means to be an American? Have we lost all of our scruples? All of our values? Swapped ‘em both for a pocketful of false political promises?  Even in 2008 it was difficult for me to understand why a majority of Americans voted as they did. I reasoned that for some, it was the idea of the first black President – a handsome, articulate man preaching the gospel of ‘Hope and Change.’ Such a whimsical notion was scary to me, especially in a world precariously balanced between economic chaos and the chaotic acts of Islamic terrorists.

I had done my research. I knew about Obama’s good friend Bill Ayers, a convicted terrorist whose only regret was that he didn’t kill more Americans. I knew about Reverend Wright, Obama’s ‘Spiritual Mentor,’ and the preacher who baptized his children. (Oh yeah, he’s also the same guy who condemned America by saying “…no, not ‘God Bless America, …God Damn America.’) He blamed this country for the 9/11 attacks saying that “America’s chickens are coming home to roost.

I knew that Obama had zero experience as a businessman … no understanding of economics whatsoever. He was a community organizer from the south side of Chicago who became an absentee Senator; one who had spent most of his Senatorial career campaigning for President. There were so many things so wrong with him I couldn’t imagine a fictional dimension where electing Barack Obama wouldn’t be the worst thing that could ever happen to America.

Still, I understood that the U.S. had a distant history of slavery and a less distant history of racism. As opposed to Obama as I was, a tiny part of me was proud that I lived in a country that in my lifetime had gone from segregation to electing a black President. Not just any black man, mind you, one that could read from a teleprompter and speak with such confidence and enthusiasm he could literally charm the panties off a Nun – no wait, that was Bill Clinton, another democrat! Regardless, in recognition of the man’s gift of gab, I told many of my Liberal friends that I secretly wished the GOP had someone who could articulate a vision as well as this guy could. The only problem was I knew that everything he said was BS, and I couldn’t convince anyone else of that reality.

So, at the end of the day, I gave the general population the benefit of the doubt. Most of them were not as informed as I was. The President was energizing, especially to the young. People had heard what the mainstream media wanted them to hear and most of them hadn’t taken the time to research the validity of their rhetoric and out their lies. With no other option, I tolerated more than 1,400 days of this President frequent dishonesty … his foreign policy embarrassments, economic devastation and giant steps towards Socialism that will redefine America longer than I will be alive … even if I break the Guinness Records.

The President demanded $800 billion in stimulus money insisting that if he got it, America would never rise above 8% unemployment. If he didn’t, it would be a disaster. Unemployment stayed at more than 8% in excess of 44 months. He said he would halve the deficit and he doubled it; he said he would lower the debt; it rose more than every President before him combined to $16 Trillion. (I remember a time when the idea of a trillion anything was pure science fiction.)

Then there was the Benghazi disaster … people who get all their news from Brian Wilson, Dianne Sawyer, Scott Pelley or Wolfe Blitzer still don’t know what an extraordinarily profound scandal this is. God’s honest truth, other than killing Osama Bin Laden (which has much less to do with Obama than almost everyone realizes), I literally could not think of one single reason to vote for Obama.

After four years I thought that everyone would finally see what I’ve seen. As 2012 rolled around, at last there would be a rising of the American ideology that created this great nation. Until Obama was declared the winner, I couldn’t imagine a scenario where Romney wouldn’t run the table.

We live in a world where there is more communication, more access to information than was available to any generation in the history of humankind. I can only assume that the new social media is mired deeply in the youth who don’t yet understand the destruction they inspire. Winston Churchill once stated, “If you’re in your 20’s and not a Liberal, you have no heart. If you’re in your 30’s and aren’t Conservative, you have no brain.” The young advocates of the new social media need to develop a brain. Sadly, that requires years that I’m not sure we can afford.

It appears that the American voter has become so superficial that they still only see the glitz in this tarnished puppet and they wanted four more years of it. The entire country … perhaps the entire world … will suffer from the choice the ignorant majority made on November 6th in ways that only historians will fully understand … assuming we survive four more years of this President. History will consider for time immemorial what might have been, but will struggle with what Obama imposes upon us and all the ways that he will diminish us.

I, for one, am inconsolable, Mitt Romney is such a good man who truly loves America and wanted to make us great. I curse the ignorant among us even though by definition they don’t realize what they’re doing. Although it’s wrong of me, I’m coming to the point of hating them for their ignorance. Ignorance that is going to cause me and mine to suffer, and for four more years, there’s no way for me to fight back.

The Monday morning quarterbacks will have us pondering if Romney should have pushed Obama’s face into the Benghazi issue; the 100 rounds of golf, the ‘Apology Tour,’ and everything else already mentioned. Americans were warned after the first election, and now they deserve whatever happens next. Unfortunately I’m going to suffer as well, and I knew better.

When I went to bed last night, the electoral votes were evenly split, but it was not looking good for our side. I prayed that God would have the last vote and that the man that eventually went to the White House would be a man of his choosing. When I awoke on November 7th, I learned the bad news. I trust that the man upstairs understands what all of this means and where we are heading. His purpose is beyond me, but tonight I will again pray for the grace to accept it and endure the next four years.

The bad news is that Americans chose a Muslim moron over a devout Mormon. The worse news is now we are all one heartbeat away from Joe Biden becoming the most powerful man on Earth.

May God have mercy on us and may God bless America!

 

What’s Wrong with Washington

This is a new world’s record for me – two blogs in two days.

But I promise this one will be short.  I saw a link about it somewhere (see below) and saved it in my Reading list in Safari.  Then I saw something about it on TV.  It’s an old story, but I think it underscores for us all that our Congress is fundamentally broken and has been for some time.

As the story goes, Senator Orrin Hatch (Republican, Utah), speaking at an event for technology companies, made the following statement:

“If you want to get involved in business, you should get involved in politics.”

His advice, in a nutshell, was for companies to hire some lobbyists and spend some money on political campaigns or expect Washington to make your business life miserable. 

What would you call this?  Words like extortion and blackmail come to my mind.

Now, you might be thinking something like, “Big Deal – it’s always been that way.  They all do it.”  That may be true (with the possible exception of Representative Ron Paul – I hear that lobbyists don’t even try to see him), but as I thought about it, I really started to get worried.

This means they are all for sale.  Every member of our Congress is for sale (except maybe for a few of the new guys who haven’t been there long enough to really get in the swing of things).  No matter what they say; not matter how loud they trumpet their righteous indignation; nearly every one of them is in someone’s back pocket.

Many of us have the attitude that nothing really bad will happen because they will not let things go too far down the path of destruction.  They’ll come to their senses and do the right thing.  It’s becoming clear to me that, when the chips are down, our legislators will all vote their own pocketbook – no matter what the issue, not matter the consequences.

So what’s the solution?  I’ve heard a few things that make some sense.  Things like making it illegal to lobby (probably not feasible) and putting politicians’ money in a blind trust while they are in office.  I doubt either of these would work very well.

I’m thinking that the real solution is to limit their terms and eliminate any long-term special privileges that they get as a member of the Congress.  They get the same retirement, tax liabilities, and healthcare that the rest of us get.  The original reason for all the special privileges was that we didn’t want a former member of Congress to be caught living in poverty.  From my point of view, that’s probably as unlikely as anything I know – If a man or woman has enough guts and drive to get into Congress, well, I think they’ll do just fine after they leave office.

I think if we don’t figure out how to fix this, we are in deep trouble.  Why?  Because, at the end of the day, some people with deep pockets own our government.  People like Microsoft, big banks, George Soros, and lots more.  Really, it’s anyone with enough money and a political agenda.  So that means every vote in Congress is actually not a vote for the constituents, but a contest between benefactors. 

Think I’m wrong? Ask yourself what has really changed over the last 50 years.  No matter what each new President says, we still fight undeclared wars.  Taxes fluctuate, but they trend up.  Inflation continues because of our money policies.  Overall, no matter what political party is in charge, things still remain the same with a few fluctuations.

The approval rating of Congress is about 10%.  That’s awful.  If they are so bad, why don’t we vote them out?  Probably because most folks think all the other guys are crummy, but their own Congressman is one of the few good ones.  So we still see the same faces, year after year.

I don’t know about you, but this scares me to death.

 

Saint Leo

 

PS:  If you have any comments, please leave them on the blog so that Wisiwuv and I will see them. As the dolphins are famous for saying, “Good luck and thanks for all the fish!”

 

http://washingtonexaminer.com/carney-how-hatch-forced-microsoft-to-play-k-streets-game/article/2500453

 

“If you’ve got a business – you didn’t build that. Somebody else made it happen.”

For a guy who’s supposed to be smart, President Obama sure misses the mark in my book.  His comments about business and who is responsible for their success left me scratching my head and thinking he is working hard to turn the middle class against the people who make the economy grow.

On Friday in Roanoke Virginia, he made the following statement (The link below provides the entire text of the speech):

“If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help.  There was a great teacher somewhere in your life.  Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive.  Somebody invested in roads and bridges.  If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that.  Somebody else made that happen.  The Internet didn’t get invented on its own.  Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.”

He’s trying to make the case for higher taxes for the wealthy, but I believe we are seeing a glimpse of how he truly feels here.  “If you’ve got a business – you didn’t build that.  Somebody else made it happen.”  The unspoken next line is, “You don’t deserve what you have and you shouldn’t have it”.  You can make up the next line for yourself.

I beg to differ with the President on a lot of levels, but here are a few of them:

First of all, the person who owns the business is the person who was willing to take a risk.  He or she put up their own money for the opportunity to fail or succeed.  In the beginning, they did all the work for their business, maybe in some cases not getting a paycheck so that their employees would get one.  As they grew bigger, they continually took more risks with their own money (and maybe someone else’s money who also took a risk to invest with them).

Secondly, I’m not sure who the President is indicating did it for them.  Their employees?  Sure, they did a lot of work for the company, but they took no risk and they were paid a wage for it.  The employees got their reward already.  Their reward was commensurate with the risk they took. 

It’s true they didn’t build the roads and bridges.  Those were generally built by the Government  – the American taxpayer.  I daresay that most business owners have paid for plenty of roads and bridges through their taxes.  According to “About.com” (link below), the top one percent of taxpayers paid more than a third of all individual income taxes in 2002. Maybe they aren’t in the top one percent.  But the top fifty percent paid nearly ALL of the individual income taxes paid.  They are surely in that group.  I suggest that insinuating that they don’t pay enough is ridiculous.  To me, fair share means everyone pays an equal percentage of their earnings. To suggest that they didn’t contribute to building the roads is disingenuous.

The President also stated that the internet was created by the government “so that all the companies could make money off the Internet”.  Rubbish.  The DARPA network (the father of the internet) was created by the government to create easy, secure communication between research facilities in the name of the National Defense.  I give the government lots of  credit for recognizing the benefit to free enterprise by making it accessible, but it wasn’t the reason they created it. 

I’ll give the President some credit for the “great teacher” clause, but only a little.  I was a teacher earlier in my life, and I know that a teacher can be the catalyst to flip a switch of understanding for a student, but all a teacher can really do is provide an idea or help a person learn to open up their mind to ideas.  But if there was nothing special about the student, then what happened to the other 150 students that teacher had?  If the teacher gets the credit, then why were the others not successful as well?

This argument wears thinner and thinner with me as time goes on.  Our President is trying everything he can think of to stimulate the economy or blame it’s failure on someone, but none of it works because he doesn’t believe that business is the engine that runs the economy. And that engine is standing still because of the uncertainty. 

Let me ask you a question.  In your personal finances, what would you do?  If you have no idea what you are going to owe in taxes and you don’t know what your health insurance is going to cost, are you going to think twice about a major purchase?  Of course you are.  If you don’t, you run the risk of going bankrupt.  If you’re smart, you start putting some money aside, just in case.  Businesses have the same problem, only worse – they make their plans over several years because they tend to lose money during the early period of expansion – the expenses are higher than the income initially.  So a tax break for the next year is great for the short term, but it’s really no help because they still have long-term uncertainty.  No wonder they aren’t expanding and creating new jobs.  They are socking away their profits to make sure they survive if the worst happens.

There are those who think President Obama is purposely trying to create a financial crisis in America.  I don’t know, but it sure seems to me like he’s barking up the wrong tree on a regular basis.

 

The President’s speech

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/07/13/remarks-president-campaign-event-roanoke-virginia

 

About.com reference:

http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/incometaxandtheirs/a/whopaysmost.htm

 

Why is Uncle Sam working so hard to promote Food Stamps?

I heard a radio spot the other day, trying to sell folks on what a great deal Food Stamps are.  There were two women talking about how great one of their friends was looking and hinted that she was eating right and it was (somehow) because she’s on Food Stamps.

Some times I think I have just lived too long. When I was a kid, you didn’t want anyone to know that you were on Food Stamps.  Rightly or wrongly, there was a stigma attached to you if you couldn’t fend for yourself.  If you were on Food Stamps, it was temporary and you got off them as soon as possible.

I’m sure I will hear back from someone that the reason for the radio spot is to make sure the poor know it is available.  I don’t buy that argument at all.  Rich folks talk, middle class folks talk, and poor folks talk. All people talk – everyone tells their friends about good deals that they know about.  Food Stamps have been around a very long time and if someone doesn’t know about them, it’s by choice.

Some have turned it into a racket.  One of my wife’s friends related a story from the local supermarket.  A woman purchased a bag of groceries with Food Stamps.  She went directly from the cashier to the service desk, where she returned all the groceries and received her refund in cash and left.  I know you all have heard similar stories.

I admit I’m somewhat of a novice where Food Stamps are concerned.  But I thought the purpose of them was to help someone get enough food to live on so they didn’t starve.  I’m hearing now that you can buy quite a few things with them that some consider to be…well…non-essential.

I think Food Stamps exist because there is a legitimate need.  I’m fine with that – the poor in America, especially the children, should not be permitted to go hungry. But why in the world are we promoting it on the radio like it’s the new cool thing to do?  I don’t buy that they’re just trying to get the word out.  Trust me, Uncle Sam – THE WORD IS OUT!

With all the budget problems we have: owning so much to China, too much deficit spending, employment trending down, etc – Why in the world would we actively be spending money to drum up more demand for a program everyone already knows about?  Why is our government actively selling this program so they can increase participation in the program?

There’s only one reason I can think of for this – a concerted and deliberate effort to make more people dependent on the government.  Now, why would we want to do that?

Saint Leo