Friday, December 14, 2007

R.I.P. -- My Video IPod 2005-2007

It was great while it lasted. I got my first IPod for Christmas 2 years ago, a 30 GB video IPod. It was a good friend, it helped me loose 70 lbs, it accompanied me on business trips, and long drives to Salt Lake. Today, it played its last song -- Float On by Modest Mouse.

I tried to reset it, but when the cartoon IPod with a frowning face and x'ed out eyes showed up on the screen I knew it was gone.

Flags at Green Jello offices will be at half staff in Honor of My IPod.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Romney: Huckabee Lets Out His First Negative Comment About Mormomism, and MSNBC's ODonnell is a Religious Bigot

Huckabee, a former Southern Baptist minister who has become a Republican front runner in the Presidential race, finally broke with his policy of silence regarding Mitt Romney's Mormon faith. He was quoted as saying, "don't Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?" Huckabee's comment isn't all that bad, in a way he isn't all that off base saying what he did. Latter-Day Saints believe that before Satan became Satan by rebellion, he was a spirit child of God and therefore a spirit sibling to Jesus Christ. He has since apologized, and I doubt anyone will think twice about it. I have appreciated the fact that he and his campaign have (for the most part) avoided bring Mormonism out as an issue against Romney's candidacy.

However, I was apalled by the display of MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell on the McLaughlin Group. In what seemed to be a fit of bigotrous rage he went on a Anti-Mormon rant, he alledged that Joseph Smith was a pro-slavery criminal and that Mormonism is a religion based on racism and lies. The man was nearly foaming from the mouth. O'Donnell, who seemed to be the only person on the panel not even slightly impressed by Romney's Religion in America speech, called the speech the worst speech he has heard in his political lifetime. I doubt Mr. O'Donnell disliked the speech because it was a bad speech (at least 99% of GW Bush's speeches would qualify as worse than Romney's religion speech in my opinion) but because Romney didn't cower and apologize for the tenets of Mormonism. He definitely qualifies as the Rectum of the Year award.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Iran -- No Nuke Program

I have for the most part been a supporter of the Bush administration, and when I have found the Bush administration wanting I have looked the other way. No weapons of mass destruction in Iraq -- fine. Saddam Hussein was an evil dictator who needed to be removed from power (should have happened over a decade earlier in GWI). The other scandals that have plagued his administration to a certain point seemed like dirty politics, but nothing worse than what I've seen come from other Presidents. However (if reports are accurate) the Bush Administration has crossed a major line.

For months there has been a concerted effort by conservative pundits, the Bush administration, and others in the Federal government to paint the Iranian government as a threat to world peace, with a Nazi-esque leader, and a full scale nuclear weapons program. The suggestion was made by several right-wingers that the US needs to attack Iran preemptively. A frightening proposition, all warranted if the rhetoric coming from the Bush administration is true. Unfortunately, (according to recent reports) one major issue of the Iran rhetoric is false. Iran has no nuclear weapons program, and hasn't for years.

I can accept bad intelligence as an excuse the first time, but a second time, and regarding a matter that has become a central issue in the Bush administration? I shudder to find myself echoing impeachment sentiments of left-wingers like Rocky Andersen and Congressional Democrats. However, given the (apparent) reckless foreign policy of the Bush administration to provoke, intimidate, and condemn (by fraudulent means) foreign powers -- impeachment of the commander-in-chief (quite possibly)needs to be explored.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Utah No Longer Hearts Families of Disabled Utahns

This past week I attended a seminar on tax changes -- gearing up for the 2008 tax season. During the seminar, a representative from the Utah State Tax Commission presented tax changes for 2007 and 2008. For 2007 the tax changes aren't all that significant, if your rich ($150k+ incomes) you may very likely enjoy the benefits of the flat tax and if you are an average Joe you will pretty much have the exact same state income tax situation you had in 2006.

However, starting in 2008 things will change. We will all start using a modified flat tax system. Instead of explaining the specifics of the modified flat tax I'll refer you to a previous post in this blog.

There is at least one item that becomes noticeably absent in 2008. For years the state of Utah has given families with disabled dependants an extra exemption. In 2008 you will no longer be given a deduction for dependants, instead (if you are below certain income thresholds) you will be given a tax credit based on the number of dependants on your return. Inexplicably, the state disabled dependency exemption is not included in the dependency tax credit.

What was the justification of removing what was one of the few family friendly tax provisions in the Utah state tax code? It would be reprehensible if the exemption was removed merely as some revenue neutral provision of last years tax cut. Way to take away tax benefits from often financially burdened families in the name of a tax cut that, although with deduction and exemption based credits is beneficial to most Utah taxpayers, was clearly a tax cut for the rich.

I wonder if local disabled advocacy groups were, or are aware that the dependency exemption was a victim of the 2008 tax cut.

In the interest of full disclosure I am biased in this issue. My son has an (as of yet) undiagnosed neurological disorder. I would not like anyone to think that I view my son as a burden or a trial, but since we have started seeking diagnosis, therapies, and treatment I have become quite aware of the effort, financial cost, and time involved in caring for disabled individuals. Removing a tax break for such families was a heavy-handed move, and one I hope will be remedied.