Thursday, August 31, 2006

Thank you Rocky, Ross Andersen

Good old Cliff is promoteing a "Thank You Rocky Blog".

So I thought I would give my thank you as well.

Despite the fact that I have despised nearly all of your views, many of your policies as mayor, and the "in-your face" conduct, I must thank you as well. The disdain I have had for you as a politician and as an activist, has made me be more thoughtful and active in the participatory government we have in America. I think your views are wrong for our nation, state, and your city. However, your passion makes people stand up, listen, and think, that is a much needed contribution to our style of government and society.

I whole heartedly disagree with you on almost everything, but it would be un-American to stand with the McArthy-ites who believe exercising of the first amendment is un-American or embarrassing. You are an American -- not my favorite, but American.

Blogger has tagged me as a Spam Blogger

Has this happened to anyone else? They added a word verification to my post pages, which is really annoying because the letters aren't always clear and so you have to type them over and over again, and with how relyable Blogger is the website freezes and you lose a whole post. I first thought that I had screwed something in the template.

I think I may need to switch to Word Press or something.

Part of the Plan -- Secretly a Bush Speech Writer?

Amazing Ed Partridge knew what Bush was going to speak on when he arrived in Utah. Last night, the President looked like he was either euphoric to be somewhere where people still support him, or like he tipped back a few Cuervo's on the plan ride here.

In other useless news, the Tonight Show had a rather remarkable lookalike of the President on.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Salt Lake Trib Blog: Death To Israel Protest "Not Anti-Semitic and Gutsy?"

The trib has Glen Warchol blogging at demonstrations today. This post made me scratch my head:

"You may not support his cause, but Robert Breeze is probably the gutsiest protester in Salt Lake City today. Breeze is leading a "Death to Israel" rally at the City-County Building's Washington Square. He makes one thing perfectly clear: he is not an anti-Semite."Do I look like a member of the Aryan nation?" he asks. Dressed in shorts, suspenders, and a straw hat, Breeze looks, well, just goofy. Breeze's message is simple: Israel has subjugated and brutalized the Palestinian people for decades under the cover of America's "corporate media."He has only one person with him at 10 a.m.. But Breeze freely acknowledges he has sent someone else to hire what he called "surrogate protestors" at $10 an hour."A lot of wealthy people don't have the time to stand out here, but they are more than happy to pay someone," Breeze says.Meanwhile, across the street, a dozen pro-Israel demonstrators have gathered with Israeli flags. They seem to be more baffled by Breeze than intimidated.Michael Pack is a Salt Lake City Jew who felt compelled to carry the blue and white Israeli flag today."I lost a lot of family in the holocaust," he said. "To sit around and do nothing was something I couldn't do."When asked if he was bothered that he has offended many area Jews, Breeze says: "Too bad for them, it's a free country. Tell them to have a 'Death to Wales' rally and see if I give a shit.' "

So does this make sense to anyone, a man running a "Death to Israel" rally isn't an anti-semite? What in the heck!?! (I promised my wife I would stop cursing) Let's at least be honest here Glen Warchol, a man who shouts "Death to Israel!" is an anti-semite. He has a right to protest...even the KKK has a right to protest. However, let's call a nut-- a nut, and an anti-semite -- an anti-semite.

Don Dolan

This story is heart breaking. PFC Dolan only 19 years old died after only three months in Iraq. He sounds like a wonderful kid. He sounds like he may not have been adequately prepared for the dangerous circumstances he had got himself into, but a kid who bravely served his country. Prayers are with the family, I couldn't imagine loosing a child who was just hitting the prime of his life.

America is hard, it requires sacrifice, service, involvement, and courage. I think all Americans need to reflect on sacrifices of our dead servicemen and ask ourselves what is our resolve in supporting the cause of freedom -- I know I am. I'll admit that I have never served, but I wonder if the best policy for our nation might be a draft or mandatory military service so that the price of freedom may be shared by more Americans than just the few and the proud.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

One Utah -- What Terrorist Want.

I read this post over at One Utah. I actually found the post remarkably insightful, because it brings up some strong truths about the nature of terrorism. It is true that the terrorist have succeeded in making us reliquish many of our freedoms, and change our behavior out of fear. I agree that in some respects that this fear has gotten out of hand. I get tired of every single abandoned duffle bag making breaking news, and every nutcase getting news publicity for saying bomb or Al Qaeda on a plane. It is fairly inconvienent to fly because of extrenuous security measures such as disallowing hair gel or bottled water. It is rather firightening to hear some conservatives far to willing to accept and allow the Federal government to rescind many civil liberties in the name of safety. However, what is the best course for us on the home front to take in order to be safe while living free and proud.

Do we drop our guard and go back to a care free pre 9-11 state of mind, or do we accept Bush administration rhetoric that we must allow the government to wiretape without warrents, and to strip personal freedoms in order to avoid violence or death. This dilemma reminds me of "I, Robot," Bush is the Main Robot who discovers a paradox in its duties and thus reasons that in order to protect and defend the nation and the constitution of the United States, some parts of the constitution need be ignored and personal freedoms need to be stripped to keep the American people safe. I think (in part) our country is being ruled by fear, but I don't think that that fear should be ignored.

We must remember that the terrorists do seek for attacks that are as bloody and terrible as possible, and they do consider the size and quantity of the damage and death as an important factor in planning terror attacks. Closing our eyes ignorantly to that fact would be highly dangerous. I don't believe that we should abandon the War on Terror in Iraq or Afghanistan, and I don't believe that their was any reason for the war in Iraq other than we had intelligence that led our leaders to believe to a reasonable (though flawed) certainty that Iraq was trying to attain WMD's. With an increasingly dangerous Iran, it would be disasterous for us to leave Iraq before the Iraqis are strong enough to govern and protect themselves. We must be careful to fight terrorism to keep American lives safe, but I think its a tragedy that many American's seem to be living their lives ruled by fear -- fear of terrorism, and an impending apocalypes from any one of several directions.

VIVA Las Vegas

Warren Jeffs was captured leaving Las Vegas.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Back from the IRS Nationwide Tax Forum

I was in exciting Las Vegas last week for a large tax planning convention. There were about 5,000 CPA's EA's and attorneys, all seeking continuing education credits on matters ranging from estate planning to small business tax planning and to new tax law changes for 2006. Here are the best and worst three.

Three Goodies

1. HYBRID VEHICLES -- The tax breaks for hybrid cars shifts from a adjustment to a credit. Hybrid credits this year range from the Toyota Prius at $3100 to a Chevy Silverado at under $1,000. While the Prius as we all remember gives a tax break of zippo in Utah, the Toyota is the best for a Federal tax break IRS.

2. IRA DEDUCTION FOR SOLDIERS WHO HAD NONTAXABLE COMBAT PAY -- Soldiers who had nontaxable combat pay for 2003, 04, and 05 limitations on what they could put into their IRA's. The Hero Act will allow them to count combat pay as earned income overcoming the limits and allowing soldiers to make IRA contributions for any of those tax years until 2009 and the can amend tax returns to take the deduction.

3. EXEMPTION PHASE OUT TO BE PHASED OUT -- For 2006 the amount of phaseout for personal exemption can be phased out only by 2/3 of what the original amounts would have been. The wealthy who used to get 0 for personal and dependancy exemptions now get 1,100 per exemption. The rich can now get some tax benefits for their dependants.

Three stinkers

1. KIDDIE TAX NOW KIDS UNDER 18 FROM 14 -- As a revenue raiser from TIPRA, Congress raised the age for the kiddie tax to 18 from 14. This tax change blows many tax strategies out of the water for high income taxpayers who have been anxiously awaiting the 14th birthday of their children. The kiddie tax initially was made to close a income shifting loophole in the tax code that allowed parents to shift investment income between children in order to pay less tax at their children's lower rates.

2. TUITION AND FEES DEDUCTION PASSES AWAY -- This provision that allowed students an extra method of deducting college expenses besides the two education credits rode off into the sunset.

3. STATE SALES TAX DEDUCTION DIES -- Another provision of the tax code that sunsetted last year. Ridiculous as it may be, you are once again only allowed a deduction for income tax paid and not sales tax paid. It is silly that income tax is only allowed preferance as a deduction when both taxes cut into the income of American taxpayers.

The Dumbest Tax Law Change

NO CHARITABLE DEDUCTION FOR DONATED UNDERWEAR -- Yes its true in case you were wondering, you can no longer donate used underwear and get a deduction. I guess I'll have to throw those old boxers away! Congress actually debated this issue. The speculative rumor is that this provision is a slap on the hand to Clinton who donated underwear and wrote it off.

This should be a fun week with the President in t5own, and the Rocky Andersen freak show.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Rocky Andersen, Cindy Sheehan, and the Democratic Party's Achilles Heal

I wrote a ranting post about Mayor Andersen, and the circus/protest coming for the President's August 30th Utah visit. I deleted the post because I realized that the post was a rant and contributed nothing valuable.

I believe there is one important problem that Mayor Andersen's protest creates, (problem for Democrats) bringing a extreme leftist like Sheehan to the state will be viewed by many Utahns as a validation of the common perception among pulpit politicians that the Democratic party is the party of extreme leftist. Rocky Andersen's leftist policies and actions have been well received in SLC where the most solid Utah liberal Democrat base exists, but here in right wing St. George he is viewed as extreme left as Gloria Steinem, or Jane Fonda. Unfortunately that perception is easily carried on by many Utahns to the rest of the Democratic party, although some Dem's like Jim Matheson has overcome that perception, overcoming that perception isn't easy.

Rocky Andersen is likely to be the biggest liability for Utah Democrats in Novembers upcoming election. Anyone running for office in precincts outside of Salt Lake should distance themselves as far as possible from the lame duck Mayor.

PS Part of the Plan has an excellent post about the negative impact of the August 30th protest. Having never been a soldier myself, I could never adequately express what he says in his post.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Southern Utah Blog : "Leave the Leavitts Alone"

The title sounds like she is defending some weakling from the schoolyard bully.

I was reading the new Southern Utah Blog and I read a post that made me scratch my head, Gloria Bertram of the Daily Spectrum writes regarding the Leavitt Foundation the following:

"The Leavitts have a foundations and they also have rental property.
Their foundation is providing housing scholarships for SUU students. There is another foundation in the middle of this but the end result is that the Leavitt Foundation is providing the funds. The students that get these scholarships are staying at some of the Leavitt's rentals. So the money goes full circle. And here are my thoughts: So what?

1- Students are being helped.
2- The Leavitts are giving the money through their foundation.
3- The Leaviitts are making less money by renting it to students at a "below the market" price, while they could be renting them full price somewhere else!
4- The university has the option to rent somewhere else but chooses the Leavitt out of price and convinience (only one rental contract instead of 12).
5- They are not breaking any laws. They are giving more to the community that what they are getting back. Maybe this is not the case in other areas of their business but it is in this one.
I don't have an issue with this, those that do, please explain.
If the Leavitt Foundation is providing scholarships, and the Leavitt Rentals are providing below market price and convenience, it sounds to me that it is just a good decision from the University standpoint to rent from the Leavitts."

Does anyone else see the problem with Ms. Bertram's thought processes here? As a tax professional I have two major problems. The Leavitt Foundation has as far as I can see been more of a bank for the Leavitts other business ventures than a charity. The Leavitt Foundation with the meager donations that the foundation made, made the donation to a foundation that gave housing scholarships only to SUU students which (not only by circumstance as Ms. Bertram would like her readers to accept) would be used as rental income to another Leavitt owned business. Lets open our eyes, The Leavitt family took substantial charitable deductions to an organization that non-arms length loans to family business, and also received income from money that was also used as a charitable deduction. Can we say abusive tax scam. However, Ms. Bertram as many Southern Utah-ites turns a blind eye to the fact that the Leavitts obviously engaged in (at least) unethical transaction for the sole purpose of tax avoidance. I wouldn't mind if my tithing generated income to me, but oh wait, that's not the purpose of charity is it.

This type of status quo mentality (that exist in the minds of the politically lazy) is the only thing that stands a chance of keeping Hatch in office. Open your eyes So. Utah!

Friday, August 18, 2006

IRS Goes After the BLING BLING Hollywood Gift Bags

In a recent IRS article the IRS and the "Academy" announced an agreement that the Motion Picture Academy would pay an undisclosed sum of money to settle backed taxes Movie stars should have paid gift bags given at previous Academy Awards shows, and that this years recipients would have to cover their own taxes on their gift bags this year. I'd have to say, "LaDeFrickenDa WHAT THE HE**!! The IRS means to tell us they have just (barely!) established that the thousands of dollars of gifts that Movie stars get a awards shows are taxable, but the IRS is going to leave movie stars alone for backed taxes.

I guess that I'm supposed to be impressed at the fairness of the tax system because the IRS has decided to finally tax multi-millionaire movie moguls. Kudos to the Internal Revenue Service.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Hatch -- Electing a Democrat is a Vote for TERRORISTS

Although he claims he doesn't remember making the comment to the "Tooele Transcript Bulletin" he alledgedly said "terrorists are waiting for the Democrats here to take control, let things cool off and then strike again." Hatch really wants us to believe that unless he (I'm not sure he meant the Republican Party) is still in office, America will embrace gay marriage, abandon national security, and degenerate to a pre-Nephite extinction level of corruption. It is ridiculous.

We need politicians that can look at issues openly and honestly. Hatch and Chris Buttars seem to have the same level of critical thinking -- if Rush Limbaugh or Hannity says something we should bring it up on the Senate floor. Hatch is as far to the right as Kerry is to the left, they are tied so tightly to extremist portions of their parties that they cannot provide an ounce of innovation to solve the problems of our times.

I can't stomach Hatch anymore. I don't agree with Ashdown on several issues, but I know that he will at least be critical (and hopefully innovative) in his analysis and approach to issues facing our nation. At least he won't waste time in the Senate promoting ridiculous legislation like flag burning amendments, or bringing ID into high school science classes.

Cindy Sheehan is Coming to Salt Lake

This should be fun. Cindy Sheehan is coming to join is the Rocky Anderson I'm a Liberal-Icon show. Sheehan who has turned her sons death into a badge of moral authority and her sling shot into icon status among Liberals obviously feels that "Salt Lake City is a great opportunity for her to be where Bush is and be in his face." She has openly accused the President of being a Hitler-esque war criminal and she has stopped just shy of labeling US soldiers with Vietnam era epithets of "baby-killers".

Personally, I think Sheehan is a joke. All that aside I think her visit will bring alot of attention to Salt Lake City, and if nothing else make the 30th of August interesting.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Republican Party.... Not Just for Evangelicals

Third Avenue had this story. Apparently a porn star is running as a Republican against Arnold for his office as Governator.

" 'I've actually been sober for five days now,' she said, adding that she intended to give up alcohol until election day in November to focus her energies on the campaign.
Carey's platform includes getting the FBI to 'leave porn stars alone' and concentrate on the war with Iraq and said that if elected she, like Schwarzenegger, would put her film career on hold while she served as governor."

I'm guessing this person needs some help in understanding what Republicans generally stand for. LOL though.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Ah Irony

Have to love Google Adsense. My post, which was written in opposition to abortion, brings ads for abortion clinics to my blog.


The Senate site had a recent post regarding legislation being drafted to make abortion illegal (in the event that SCOTUS overturns Roe V. Wade). The exceptions include rape, incest, severe birth defects, and if the life of the mother being endangered all exceptions that are highly reasonable. It was interesting reading some of the rather venomous comments left on the post. Every piece of ludicrous rhetoric you can imagine that is spued by pro-choicers was levied. "Let 'em it do with a coat hanger, that's real safe," and (Gloria Steinem?) said "Keep your laws and your morals off of my body! Make abortion safe, legal, and rare," and my favorite, "We'll see how you boys like being told what to do with your body!" I would like to explore this issue. Warning: my views on abortion may be slightly right-wing.

I have stayed away from association with the Democratic party in large part because of this issue. I can give credit where credit is due, there have been many suggestions such as better sex ed., increased access to contraception (although I'm not sure where in this country it is difficult to get a condom), insurance coverage for birth control, increased push toward abstinence, etc...from Democrats that have alot of potency in slowing the flood of unwanted pregnancies. However, why do we need abortion.

If a pregnancy is unwanted there are several options that are viable opposed to abortion. For infants, there are many barren sets of parents that would anxiously snatch infants up for adoption. In the worse case scenario children may grow up in orphanages if they are abandoned, which one commenter sarcastically said "I'm glad you get to make the decision for the poor kid that gets thrown in an adoption slum because his or parents couldn't make it" I guess compassionate liberals feel it is better for a kid to be dead than to live in poor or depressed circumstances. Some may argue that kids in unwanted pregnancies may grow up abused or neglected, but I'm guessing kids in the worst slums would rather live than have never been given a chance and more effort needs to be made to help these kids make it -- not aborted. Some very successful Americans have come from "adoption" slums, lets ask them if they think it would have been better to be aborted.

We need a focus of sex ed. pushing towards abstinence, increased access to birth control, and increased access to contraception. However, all this does not mean we need elective abortions. It is hypocritical to dismiss prolife as religious pandering, Roe V. Wade is in opposition of the Declaration of independence, "the right to LIFE, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

As a post script, if abortion should stay legal, lets have some consistency and grant euthanasia to terminally ill people. After all, shouldn't they have a right to say what happens to their bodies?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Politics -- Never Boring!

I've been a little swamped at work and home lately, and what a week.

Mike Leavitt's family charity issue was exposed even more to discover that the little charity money that the Leavitt foundation gave, went to a foundation with ties to SUU as scholarship money which was directed back to the Leavitt family in the form of student housing rents in Leavitt family owned apartments. The Leavitts not only got a deduction but they also earned income on their deductions. The Leavitt family's "altruistic" dealings seem to get shadier and shadier.

Mitt Romney made a Perot-esque faux-pax in using the term "tar baby" I had not ever heard the phrase but it apparently has a double meaning, one coming from the story of Brer rabbit being a messy situation and the other in later years used by some as a slur for a black person. Taken in context it is obvious that Mitt meant the former and not the latter definition. Black leaders in the community were outraged! Come on people he was referring to a "messy situation," and I mean its not as if he used a phrase like niggardly. American oversensitivity continues to overstretch the bounds of reasonableness. I do wonder though if tar baby , combined with Romney Mormon roots, will be used as an issue should Romney get a nomination

The commanding U.S. General acknowledged and opined before a Senate hearing that the situation in Iraq could deteriorate into civil war and that sectarian violence as at its worst level. While I have for the most part been a supporter of the decision to go into Iraq, I believe we, as a nation, are approaching a crossroads. The war against insurgency in Iraq is one that will undoubtedly be almost unceasing (Gadianton Robbers comes to mind) along with the apparent "Hatfield and McCoy" violent rivalry that seems to exist between Sunni's and Shi'a's I feel certain if U.S. involvement continues in Iraq until there is a full peace the US may be in Iraq for at least a decade. Therefore we as a nation have major ethical dilemma approaching, do we continue sacrificing American soldiers in a nation that seems bent on self destruction, and if we continue, do we continue without a system of mandatory military service. This decision is going to be a critical and difficult one.

Personally I believe that with a nuclear Iran, leaving Iraq in the middle of political turmoil would likely amount to negligent homicide on that nation. This leaves with only one alternative -- mandatory service or the draft. It has been inspiring watching and hearing about the bravery our men and women in our volunteer military exhibit. However, it would be altogether unfair for this long-term combat commitment to be shouldered by the volunteers alone. Many of these soldiers have been over there two to three times, and have spent over two years away from their professions and their families. If we are going to stay in a conflict as long-term as it appears Iraq will be, then the burden needs to be shared by all able-bodied men.