Monthly Archives: January 2012

Mr. Romney, it’s not that you have tons of money but how you made it.

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We knew back in 2007 that former Gov. Mitt Romney is worth as much as $250 million.

That–no shit, Sherlock–is a hell of a lot of money. Just how much is that? If you take the income of the last eight presidents (Nixon to Obama) and double that figure, you’ll come close to $250 million.

That’s stunning. Gov. Romney’s wealth is five times that of both Bush presidents combined and, get this, 25 times that of President Obama, and if you suddenly take away the royalties earned by the President for his two books, Mitt Romney’s wealth would be more than 500 times the President’s wealth.

But America is not new to super-rich presidents. George Washington’s wealth, adjusted for inflation, stood at a mind-boggling $525 million back in the day.

And President Kennedy? Had he lived, he would have inherited a billion dollar empire from his father.

I sincerely don’t believe money makes a person evil. I *do* believe that it lifts the veil on one’s character, however.

Mr. Romney should not be tried in the court of public opinion for his legitimate financial success. He should be tried for his scheming evasiveness and shady dealings.

Okay, that’s probably not fair. When I say “shady” or “evasiveness,” I define them in a perfectly legal context. Mr. Romney is playing by the rules (as far as we know, to this point), but why all the smoke and mirrors?

Why did Mr. Romney find it okay to stash millions upon millions of dollars in offshore accounts? If he’s truly paying taxes on all his income, why the need for accounts in Ireland, the Cayman Islands, and Switzerland?

Then, when you factor in his tax rate of 14%, that should really start to set off some alarms. Taxpayers making under $35,001 annually pay a tax rate of about 15%.

So, what kind of voodoo magic is Mr. Romney pulling to get his income tax down to 14 rather than the typical 35 percent for those making similar incomes to his?

It’s all very fishy, and I’m not inclined to accept that Mr. Romney is managing his finances in such a way that the process would be indistinguishable from the Average American.

Of course, this may soon find itself buried. The former governor is set to win Florida, tonight, by a landslide over Newt Gingrich and often in politics, all it takes is a powerful showing to shut up the critics.

If the Bain Capital debacle and suspicious offshore accounts weren’t enough to sink Mr. Romney, what will be?

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Islam-Hating General to speak at West Point Prayer Breakfast

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LTG William G. Boykin is about as squared-away as soldiers come. A graduate of the Army War College, Special Forces Course, Ranger Course, two-time recipient of the Purple Heart and a veteran of Grenada, Somalia, and Iraq, Boykin has met a standard in soldiering that very, very few men and women ever meet in uniform.

Unfortunately, he also negates his service record by comments he has made about the American-Muslim community and faith, in general. Here’s a small sampling:

Concerning his tracking down of Osman Otto in Mogadishu:

“”He went on CNN and he laughed at us, and he said, ‘They’ll never get me because Allah will protect me. Allah will protect me.’ Well, you know what? I knew that my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol.”

On Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, and Kim Jun-Il:

“Why do they hate us? The answer to that is because we’re a Christian nation…. We are hated because we are a nation of believers. Our spiritual enemy will only be defeated if we come against them in the name of Jesus.”

On President George W. Bush:

“George Bush was not elected by a majority of the voters. He was appointed by God.”

On President Barack Obama:

“One of the things that Hitler did was he established the Brownshirts. The Brownshirts where his constabulary force to control the population because, as you’re making these radical changes, there has to be some entity that stands by you with the strength and the muscle to allow you to make these over the opposition and the protest of the sovereign, the people. So Hitler had the Brownshirts. Well, in the lead-up to the election, during the campaigns, our current president said very openly, and you can find it on YouTube, if I am elected President , I will have a national civilian security force that is as large as and as powerful as the US military.”

These are just a few quotations from the fiery, retired general, the first three spoken when he was in Active Duty in the upper echelons of the Pentagon.

Most recently, Boykin seemed to double down on his claims by saying, “Seal the borders and eliminate sanctuary cities and they’ll go home. No mosques in America. Islam is a totalitarian way of life; it’s not just a religion.”

This man has been invited to speak at West Point’s Annual Prayer Breakfast, a gathering for persons in uniform of *all* faiths and a fine tradition for the most elite colleges in the world.

I love West Point. I love its values, I love its graduates, and I love its reputation around the world as an institution of honor and integrity, but make no mistake: Inviting LTG Boykin to speak at this event will tarnish the reputation West Point holds dear.

But even more than that, we would  be allowing a bigot to paint not only one of the world’s finest institutions in sightly colors but completely misrepresent Christ’s view that we love thy neighbor.

This was never a Holy War. It has always been between good people and those who use religion as a wedge to divide us. It would seem LTG Boykin has joined these ranks. Don’t let him persuade others to do the same.

UPDATE: Ret. LTG Boykin has canceled and will not be appearing at the prayer breakfast.

 

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Vice President Hillary Clinton?

 

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It’s a cruel, cruel world when a decent Vice President is in talks of being ousted from a national ticket, but rumors are swirling that this summer, VP Joe Biden will be replaced by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as the President’s running mate.

Whether Biden will simply retire or the two will switch places with the former Delaware Senator taking the helm of the State Department is up for debate, but one thing is for certain: the ticket would be far much stronger with Clinton in the co-pilot’s seat than Biden.

This isn’t to say that Biden has done a bad job. By most accounts, he’s been a critical “point man” on the President’s team, a sort of glue that coalesced the Cabinet early on. He’s also been the main go-to official on interaction with Iraqi leadership, visiting the country several times to do everything from expressing the Administration’s expectations of Iraq’s governmental progress to helping reinstate banned candidates from the country’s 2010 elections.

But let’s be honest here: Joe Biden isn’t capable of winning at the top of the ticket in 2016. Yes, he’s lovable, a foreign policy expert, and a mainstay of Democratic statesmanship for four decades, but he’s also gaffe-prone, lacks gravitas, and, well, he doesn’t have that “x-factor” that propels a national figure to the White House. He has the same problem that Sen. John Kerry had in 2004: an impressive resume but nothing that excites the base.

Clinton, on the other hand, has steadily been boosting her reputation among, well, everyone since she was elected senator in 2000. She’s grown on some conservatives (mainly her Senate colleagues) and even has received high marks from top military officials. The Hillary Clinton of 1994’s disastrous Clinton Health Care Plan looks nothing like our modern Secretary of State. Her approval rating has continuously hovered in the low-60s for more than a year, far above VP Biden’s.

The point is that we need a natural successor to President Obama in 2016, and right now, Biden, for all  his wonderful qualities, doesn’t hold a candle to the statesmanship and game-changing abilities Hillary Clinton would bring to the table.

The problem is that the President seems stuck on carrying Biden with him for the long haul. According to the Vice President, Obama has already asked him to run with him for re-election, and the online campaign store appears to be symbolic confirmation of this as its packed with Obama-Biden gear for long road to November.

And if it does turn out that Biden stays on the ticket, we’re missing an incredible opportunity to change history. Yes, Clinton could be our country’s first woman president, but more importantly, she’s the type of person that seems to scream destiny.

You think President Obama is good? Imagine President Hillary Clinton.

 

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Heroine: 16 year-old student battles school district officials and wins

 

Image: Jessica Ahlquist, 16, in Cranston, R.I.

16 year-old Jessica Ahlquist is making headlines around the world after she successfully sued her school district to remove a prayer poster from her high school, this month. The sophomore at Cranston High School in Cranston, RI has received death threats and requires police escorts going to and from campus.

This all follows a ruling by a federal judge this month that the poster, which has hung in the school for 49 years, is unconstitutional, violating “the principle of government neutrality in religion.”

Currently, the poster still hangs in the school, a tarp covering it while an appeal is in the works at the school board to challenge the ruling of the federal judge. It stands eight-feet tall, and says the following:

Our Heavenly Father:

Grant us each day the desire to do our best, to grow mentally and morally as well as physically, to be kind and helpful to our classmates and teachers, to be honest with ourselves as well as with others. Help us to be good sports and smile when we lose as well as when we win. Teach us the value of true friendship. Help us always to conduct ourselves so as to bring credit to Cranston High School West.

Amen.

So, full disclosure here: I consider myself a devout Christian. I’m a member of a wonderful church. I pray, I fast, I meditate on the word, and I have a deep, personal relationship with Jesus Christ that I share with friends who have the same beliefs. That’s called fellowship.

School or any government institution is not the place for religion. It is not the place for organized prayer. It is not church.

The sheer hypocrisy of those attacking Ms. Ahlquist is staggering. If this were a discussion on posting the tenets of Islam in the same school, could you imagine the outcry against it? But even more than that, the actions of these people are indefensible.

Death threats? Social ostracizing? Even three florists refused in the past week to deliver roses to the young woman bought for her by leading religious freedom organizations.

State Representative Peter G. Palumbo referred to Ms. Ahlquist as “a evil little thing” on a local radio show. Wow, takes a lot of courage to pick on a 16 year-old student, bro. Good job.

Jessica, I tried to find you on Facebook, but not surprisingly, I wasn’t able to send you a message. You probably shut it off because of the death threats, so I sincerely hope you come across this.

Keep doing what you’re doing. As a Christian, I’m humbled by your courage, and as a human being, I wish to emulate it. It would seem you have more integrity in your pinky finger than most of these folks do in their entire body.

I stand with you, and rest assured, I’m not the only Christian who does.

Dear Rick Santorum, you think colleges indoctrinate students into liberal thoughts? Check this shit out.

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Oh, Rick Santorum, I’ve just about lost my sense of cordiality with your views. First, it was that children borne of rape are a blessing from God. Now, it’s your claim that the left uses colleges to indoctrinate our youth.

First things, first… could you explain how you and your conservative colleagues turned out so well despite nearly all of you attending a research university for undergrad and post-grad degrees? You,  yourself, attended Penn State for crying out loud, and here you are, desperately flailing to be the “conservative standard bearer” of the party.

Second, have you not heard of Liberty University, Bob Jones University, Regent University, etc.? These are colleges that tout themselves as conservative institutions of learning and force students to adhere to one brand of philosophy and spiritual thought. Some examples:

  • Until 2000, students at Bob Jones University weren’t permitted to date, inter-racially. These days, the ban has been lifted but students are still forced to adhere to rather bizarre rules and regulations, including “no listening to contemporary music” and no wearing of Abercrombie & Fitch or Hollister clothing as they “have shown an unusual degree of antagonism to the name of Christ and an unusual display of wickedness in their promotions.”
  • In 2009, Liberty University officially revoked university recognition of the school’s College Democrats club, saying, “The Democratic Party platform is contrary to the mission of Liberty University and to Christian doctrine.” Although they later banned all political groups on campus, this is surely a powerful example of how some Christian/conservative colleges “indoctrinate” their own students.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Anyone willing to spend a few hours rifling through conservative dogma and jaw-dropping policies should get a kick out it.

Of course, that’s not to say that all Christian colleges or conservative campuses are bad institutions. For example, Hillsdale College, often referred to as “the Citadel of American Conservatism,” is known for early-on instituting non-discrimination policies that paved the way for other universities to emulate.

But I am saying that if you’re going to attack certain colleges for having a “liberal vibe,” then you should attack these conservative schools, as well, for their suppression of thought that contradicts Judeo-Christian values.

 

 

Gay Americans Are Rightly Upset Over the State of the Union Address

 

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On Tuesday evening, President Obama delivered his third State of the Union address before a packed House chamber containing the most powerful individuals in the country.

By most accounts–well, by most liberal accounts–the speech was a homerun. It included more than a few humdinger lines calling out the GOP on their “obstructionism” of the legislative process, focusing primarily on selling a plan to the American people to get the economy back on track.

But for many gay Americans, the address fell well short of the promises the President has made to fight for gay rights.

In fact, the word “gay” was said only once, lost in a laundry list of adjectives calling for unity rather than addressing a specific concern among the LGBT community, like.. oh, I don’t know… marriage equality?

Granted, the economy should be chief among the President’s priorities, right now. Despite a decreasing unemployment rate, 8.5 percent of job-seeking Americans are currently out of work.

Yet, how difficult would it have been to simply throw a short paragraph into the mix calling for the repeal of DOMA? It would have been remarkably easy to link it to another major legislative achievement of the President: the repeal of DADT.

I can almost hear the President saying it now in that golden cadence of his:

“Our men and women in uniform deserve the very best we have to offer. To deny our war heroes equal rights based on sexual orientation is to deny the sacrifice they make, each and every day, in the name of our freedom. That’s why, tonight, I propose, once and for all, that the Congress repeal DOMA and finally bring equal rights to all Americans, regardless of their sexual preference.”

It really would have been that simple. I can hear some of the President’s supporters, now: We can’t afford to take risks in an election year. We’ll take care of it after November. Etcetera.

Really? Because I don’t think the President can afford to lose support of the LGBT community, especially if the unemployment rate suddenly decides to tumble in the year ahead. Romney and Gingrich might not be the Eisenhowers of their day, but all it takes is a dissatisfied public to turn the tide. The President simply must have the LGBT community get out the vote.

It also strikes me as retrospectively disingenuous for Sec. Clinton to be authorized a fiery speech in support of global gay rights in the UN, knowing full well the President wasn’t planning to endorse marriage equality in the SOTU. I’d even say it’s troublesome.

Another first for the night: It marks the first time in years a Democratic President hasn’t spoken up in support of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

Yes, I realize the First Lady invited two lesbians among her small group of guests. It was a wonderful gesture, and I’m certain it was sincere.

But when are gay Americans going to be invited to the table? That’s what I long to know.

 

Romney tithes more than he pays to the government, and so do I.

 

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Former Gov. Mitt Romney released his taxes on Tuesday, only a few days after his crushing loss to Newt Gingrich in South Carolina and several days ahead of the Florida Primary, an almost must-win for the recently beleaguered frontrunner for the GOP Presidential Nomination.

Amid the backlash and calls of waffling on the release of his taxes comes a surprising reason for attacking the candidate: The fact that he tithes more to his church than he pays to the federal government.

According to Gov. Romney’s tax filings, he paid $4.1 million to the Church of Latter Day Saints and $3 million to the federal government, more than a 33% disparity between the two.

My question is this: So what?

My tax rate for this past year was 15%. Guess how much I tithe to my church? %20.

Tithing to your church any amount you please doesn’t make you a bad person any more than the person who doesn’t tithe at all.

I tithe because I love my church. I love the community, and I want to see it succeed. And as it is money I earned, that’s my choice.

So, why the backlash against Romney? I’d venture to say some of it has to do with the Mormon Church’s financing of the fight to see Prop 8 passed in California, which, in my opinion, is a perfectly legitimate view to hold. Many folks, myself included, believe in a complete separation of Church and State. I personally believe that Christ never meant for us to legislate faith. That’s why it’s called faith, because it’s on the burden of the believer, not the State, to decide what religious values one embraces.

But many are bashing Gov. Romney because of the size of the tithe, which is ridiculous. There are plenty of reasons to dislike Romney for his taxes alone, regardless of how much he gives to LDS:

  • His tax rate is 15.4 percent. Why is this bothersome? Because that’s also the tax rate for taxpayers making between $8,501 and $34,500, annually. Romney is able to get away with this using talented tax lawyers and creative tax loopholes. Otherwise, he’d be paying upwards of 35% in taxes, just like his financial peers.
  • Despite being a career politician, this is the first time Gov. Romney is releasing his taxes, normally a common move among officer seekers to prove they’re just like everyone else and have nothing to hide. And if the Gov. is playing fair, why would he have anything to hide? Releasing his taxes should have been a move that would mark his personal endorsement of just how great capitalism is; that it creates winners who work hard. Instead, he’s waffled over it for the course of his career.
  • Which brings us to the final point: Why does Gov. Romney have so many tax havens? The Caymans, Switzerland, Ireland, and Luxembourg… he has money stashed everywhere, and although he claims to have not evaded taxes, why the need then to keep his money in off-shore accounts?

So, vow not to fiscally support Romney because of these reasons, not because he gives more money to his church than what would make you comfortable.

 

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