Monday, April 30, 2012

FOD 2012.04.30

It's been a hectic few weeks. I've been busier than:
  • Michael Jackson in a day care center.
  • A cucumber in a woman's prison.
  • A Colombian prostitute at a Secret Service convention.
But there's light at the end of the tunnel. The semester ends this week, which will help a lot. I've also got a major project wrapping up this Friday. Between those two events, I should free up a bunch of time. Unitl then, I'll just have to get by with material recycled from other sources. Like this: (H/T JammieWearingFools)

Obama has held more re-election fundraisers than previous five Presidents combined
Barack Obama has already held more re-election fundraising events than every elected president since Richard Nixon combined, according to figures to be published in a new book.

The figures, contained a in a new book called The Rise of the President’s Permanent Campaign by Brendan J. Doherty, due to be published by University Press of Kansas in July, give statistical backing to the notion that Obama is more preoccupied with being re-elected than any other commander-in-chief of modern times.

Doherty, who has compiled statistics about presidential travel and fundraising going back to President Jimmy Carter in 1977, found that Obama had held 104 fundraisers by March 6th this year, compared to 94 held by Presidents Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush Snr, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush combined.

Since then, Obama has held another 20 fundraisers, bringing his total to 124. Carter held four re-election fundraisers in the 1980 campaign, Reagan zero in 1984, Bush Snr 19 in 1992, Clinton 14 in 1996 and Bush Jnr 57 in 2004.
Sounds like someone who knows he's in trouble. Let's hope he's right.

Other items of note:
  • at last count the first family has taken at least 17 lavish vacations around the world
Let's just hope the voters make sure the obama chickens come home to roost this November.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sunday Funnies 2012.04.29

Our son went to his first high school prom last night. Tux, corsage, limo ... the whole works. He even spent the night at his date's house (along with several other couples, all under the watchful eye of her parents.) But we had to explain a few things to him before he went.

First, tinting the windows of his mother's minivan doesn't make it a limo.

Second, we live in the country, so there are a few rednecks in his school. Consequently, the prom has child care facilities.

Finally, when he told me how much he was spending on renting his tux, hiring a limo, and buying his date's corsage, I was flabbergasted. I told him "That's more than I spent on the wedding when your mother and I got married."

His reply: "Yeah, but you've been married three times. A prom is a once in a lifetime experience."

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Is There No End To This Nonsense? Apparently Not.

I really hadn't planned to beat this horse to death, but it just won't die. Here's another in a recent series of baffling obama administration regulatory rulings. (H/T for this one to Curmudgeonly & Skeptical .)

U.S. Puts Limits On Employee Background Checks To Protect Minorities
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's updated policy on criminal background checks is part of an effort to rein in practices that can limit job opportunities for minorities that have higher arrest and conviction rates than whites.

"The ability of African-Americans and Hispanics to gain employment after prison is one of the paramount civil justice issues of our time," said Stuart Ishimaru, one of three Democrats on the five-member commission.

But some employers say the new policy -- approved in a 4-1 vote -- could make it more cumbersome and expensive to conduct background checks. Companies see the checks as a way to keep workers and customers safe, weed out unsavory workers and prevent negligent hiring claims.

The new standard urges employers to give applicants a chance to explain a report of past criminal misconduct before they are rejected outright. An applicant might say the report is inaccurate or point out that the conviction was expunged. It may be completely unrelated to the job, or an ex-con may show he's been fully rehabilitated.
Sounds reasonable, right? But the government always finds a way to screw things up. For example:
The EEOC also recommends that employers stop asking about past convictions on job applications...
And the first time an employee with an uninvestigated violent criminal record attacks another employee or customer, guess who's going to get sued? Not the EEOC, that's for damn sure.
The guidelines are the first attempt since 1990 to update the commission's policy on criminal background checks. Current standards already require employers to consider the age and seriousness of an applicant's conviction and its relationship to specific job openings. And it is generally illegal for employers to have a blanket ban based on criminal history.
So why fix what ain't broken?
EEOC commissioners said the growing practice (of using online databases for background checks) has grave implications for blacks and Hispanics, who are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system and face high rates of unemployment.

"You thought prison was hard, try finding a decent job when you get out," EEOC member Chai Feldblum said. She cited Justice Department statistics showing that 1 in 3 black men and 1 in 6 Hispanic men will be incarcerated during their lifetime. That compares with 1 in 17 white men who will serve time.
Ah, I'm beginning to see the light. And speaking of the government making a mess of things, consider this:
Nurses, teachers and day care providers, for example, are required by some state laws to have background checks. The new guidelines say a company is not shielded from liability under federal discrimination laws just because it complies with state laws.
Comply with state laws, get screwed by the feds. Comply with federal law, get screwed by the state. It's a no-win situation.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Friday Follies Happy Hour 2012.04.27

Our teenage son is going to his first prom tomorrow night. This one's for him.


The last few weeks have been crazy. The semester is nearing an end, which requires an inordinate amount of faculty time. Our kids have been busy with school projects, banquets, athletic districts/regionals (a decidedly mixed blessing), proms, and all that good stuff. I've been running back and forth dealing with problems at our lake house - a 2 hour drive from our Central Texas home, which is a 3 hour drive from where I work, which is ... well, you do the math.

The bottom line is that I haven't been able to devote as much time to this blog as I would like. For example, today's post is stolen borrowed from BMEWS:

I've always been a strong supporter of ABO (Anyone But Obama). Now I'm an equally ardent fan of OMG!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Road Trip

We have a small place on a lake about two hours north of where we live. Nothing fancy - just a little cabin. I had to go up there today to take care of a few chores in order to get it ready for the summer.

The trip is fun - mostly winding back country roads, dotted here and there with produce stands, BBQ joints, and roadhouses. The traffic is usually light. In addition to the natives and their pickups (I was driving my 1995 Ford F-150) you'll see all sorts of bikers, sports cars, convertibles, and 'big-boy' trucks.

I wish I could have taken pictures of  a few of my fellow travelers, but I was too busy texting and drinking (just kidding...). My two favorites were:

(1) the biker who was wearing a t-shirt that said "If you can't feed 'em, don't breed 'em;" and

(2) the harried-looking woman driving a minivan with the personalized license plate that said "But Mom!"

Is There No End To This Nonsense?

It's funny how once a theme appears, relevant articles seem to pop up everywhere. Here's the latest example.

Recently I've put up a couple of posts about regulatory nonsense oozing out of the obama administration's numerous and varied orifices (here and here). Now we have this latest piece of cow manure (literally).
A proposal from the Obama administration to prevent children from doing farm chores has drawn plenty of criticism from rural-district members of Congress. But now it’s attracting barbs from farm kids themselves.

The Department of Labor is poised to put the finishing touches on a rule that would apply child-labor laws to children working on family farms, prohibiting them from performing a list of jobs on their own families’ land.

Under the rules, children under 18 could no longer work “in the storing, marketing and transporting of farm product raw materials.”
You've got to be kidding me! Kids can no longer work on the family farm? What genius came up with that idea? Oh yeah - Hilda Solis ("A former four-term California congresswoman, Solis is President Obama's Labor secretary. An opponent of free trade, she is a pro-union voice in the cabinet...).
The new regulations, first proposed August 31 by Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, would also revoke the government’s approval of safety training and certification taught by independent groups like 4-H and FFA, replacing them instead with a 90-hour federal government training course.
Oh my aching back. Groups that have been around for decades composed of people who actually work on farms can no longer train farm workers? But the government - the friggin' government, which can't find its asshole with two hands, a roadmap, and a flashlight - is going to require a training course that takes more than two weeks? Words fail me.
Rossie Blinson, a 21-year-old college student from Buis Creek, N.C., told The Daily Caller that the federal government’s plan will do far more harm than good.

“The main concern I have is that it would prevent kids from doing 4-H and FFA projects if they’re not at their parents’ house,” said Blinson.

“I started showing sheep when I was four years old. I started with cattle around 8. It’s been very important. I learned a lot of responsibility being a farm kid.”
My grandkids both showed sheep via the FFA for the first time this year. I heartily second Mr. Blinson's comment about learning responsibility. They definitely improved their skills in that area, along with several others. It was a great educational experience for them, as well as being personally fulfilling (Well, up until the sheep got auctioned off. The granddaughter shed a few tears then.)
In Kansas, Cherokee County Farm Bureau president Jeff Clark was out in the field — literally on a tractor — when TheDC reached him. He said if Solis’s regulations are implemented, farming families’ labor losses from their children will only be part of the problem.

“What would be more of a blow,” he said, “is not teaching our kids the values of working on a farm.”
Or just the values of working.

Which seems to be what obama's Department of Labor is trying to prevent

Working, that is...

Now contrast the above chart ("During the Obama Administration") with the one below ("During the Reagan Administration". Which one gives us the greater Hope?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

May Cause Drowsiness ... Or Worse

A few days ago I posted about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) being used to require around 300,000 swimming pools to install hydraulic lifts -- at a cost of over $1 billion -- to help disabled swimmers enter and exit the pools. That's a prime example of regulatory overkill.

Now we have this example of regulatory nonsense trumping common sense. From the Cato Institute:
…Common sense dictates that any medication that carries with it a warning that it “may cause drowsiness” or that the patient should “use caution” if operating machinery may pose a risk in the workplace. It is for this reason that many employers adopt a policy requiring employees to self report the use of prescription pain killers. This is especially important in potentially dangerous workplaces such as manufacturing and construction.

In a recent action that defies common sense, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has taken the position that such policies are unlawful under the Americans With Disabilities Act. The ADA prohibits an employer from conducting “medical inquiries” without a business reason to do so. In EEOC v. Product Fabricators, Inc., an action in federal court in Minnesota, the EEOC required a manufacturing employer to abandon its policy of encouraging employees to inform supervisors if they are under the influence of narcotic pain killers such as Vicodin. The EEOC took the position that an employer cannot ask about prescription pain killer usage unless it has “objective” evidence that an employee is impaired on the job.

This places employers in a very difficult position….
That last line is a candidate for Understatement of the Year. The employer can either wait until someone is maimed or killed by an employee operating heavy or lethal machinery under the influence of a narcotic...

... guaranteeing an attack by a bevy of ambulance-chasing shysters, or else press the issue with its employees and face an EEOC action, most likely coupled with an individual lawsuit from the 'wronged' employee.

Pick your poison.

These two cases are excellent illustrations of how the obama administration is using its administrative powers to hamstring American businesses. We have got to get that walking disaster out of office before this country is irredeemably ruined.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Why Johnny Can't Write

Over the past four days I graded 100+ student essays. As might be expected, I experienced my this-happens-every-semester disappointment. Students who can write a complete sentence, much less a coherent paragraph, have become an endangered species. Two examples: (there were more, but somehow they disappeared in the midst of Blogger's 'upgrade.')
the english is not my first lenguage.

Microsoft is launching a new tool that is going to revolt the market.
(One might argue that the above is in fact a complete and coherent statement, but trust me, the student who wrote it is incapable of sarcasm and nuance.)
I am so tired of teaching 13th and 14th grade, instead of college. I also harbor great concerns over the future of commerce, politics, and even basic communication in this country if we keep going down this same track.

I'm not alone. One of my favorite commentators, T.R. Fehrenbach, wrote the following column last week.

T.R. is a Texas boy who was educated at Princeton. He's a Korean War combat vet, historian, book author, and social commentator. He's one of my favorite commentators because (1) he's curmudgeonly, (2) he makes me think, and (3) he usually takes the same position on issues that I do.
... human beings think in language. If you haven't mastered words you'll never be able to impart your ideas to other people. If they aren't educated, they won't understand them. This is why I believe the U.S. is taking a great risk by downplaying the mastery of language in grade school. This is what the argument concerning K-12 is all about.

Educated people think in terms of concepts, or at least know how to handle them ... The Ionian Greeks of Miletus could not have invented philosophy (circa 585 B.C.) without the marvelous Greek language; rational thought developed hand-in-hand with writing, which is the life blood of serious thought and science. Illiterate people can speak well, learn skills, and acquire wisdom — but they cannot create a continuous civilization.

I believe, strongly, that we should never let our young emerge effectively illiterate from the first six grades as we now do. I think that every kid should be forced to read — and write. I don't mean novels or essays upon philosophy, but ordinary communication: memos, letters, instruction books, etc. This is not impossible; the rising Asian nations all do it. They concentrate on the first six grades and assure that every child is capable of holding a job for which literacy is required.

This fact is just beginning to be understood publicly as a problem damaging a splendid university system. Any honest educator will tell you that today the first two years of college tends to be remedial work — teaching what students once learned in school.
Boy howdy, he's speaking the truth! Not just writing skills, but basic understanding of math and civics as well. Not to mention reading comprehension.
Even the Ivy League (for policy reasons) admits a significant number of freshmen who cannot write a comprehensible line. When I was in seventh grade, I had to diagram 40 sentences as homework, and in school, write an essay in English class every week. I rarely saw a true-false or multiple-choice test. Today students can arrive at college without writing a sentence, meaning their thinking is probably undeveloped.

This has led to a Sahara of the intellect that has made the august New York Times dumb down regularly since 1941, and the adoption of texting in lieu of written communication. To me, this is like substituting Irish limericks for Shakespeare.
I couldn't have said it better.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Blogger Ate This Blog

I don't know what the people at Google have done, but this sucks!!!

FOD 2012.04.23

The dog days of summer are still quite a way off, but the presidential campaign dogfight is in full swing.
Much has been made about Mitt Romney, in 1983, putting his family dog Seamus in a kennel on top of his roof and driving from Boston to Canada...

Democrats have signaled they have every intention of making sure the American people — especially dog-lovers — know the tale. In January, senior Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod tweeted a photo of the president and Bo in a car, with the snide observation: “@davidaxelrod: How loving owners transport their dogs.”

The Romney campaign signaled tonight that they are not about to cede any ground when it comes to a candidate’s odd past with man’s best friend.

The Daily Caller noted that in President Obama’s best-selling memoir, “Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance,” the president recalls being fed dog meat as a young boy in Indonesia with his stepfather, Lolo Soetoro.
“With Lolo, I learned how to eat small green chill peppers raw with dinner (plenty of rice), and, away from the dinner table, I was introduced to dog meat (tough), snake meat (tougher), and roasted grasshopper (crunchy)”
Needless to say, the cartoons and jokes began immediately.
"So, Mr. President, where shall we go to eat?"
"I know a great Spot."

Happiness is a warm puppy ... with a side of fries.
Q: What does Obama call Mitt Romney riding with his dog on top of his car?
A: Meal on wheels.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Random Humor

Lots to do + not much time = recycled jokes.

 * * * * * * 

A six-years-old asked his father, “Daddy, what is a transvestite?”

“Go ask your mother. He’ll tell you.”

 * * * * * * 

How many democrats does it take to screw in a light bulb?

None. They’ll just let their children take care of it.

 * * * * * * 

A man went to his optometrist to have his eyes examined. The doctor told him, “Listen, you’ve got to stop masturbating.”

“Why, Doc?” the man asked. “Am I going blind?”

“No,” said the optometrist. “But you’re upsetting my other patients.”

 * * * * * * 

A Congressman was once asked about his attitude toward whiskey.

"If you mean the demon drink that poisons the mind, pollutes the body, desecrates family life, and inflames sinners, then I'm against it."

"But if you mean the elixir of Christmas cheer, the shield against winter chill, the taxable potion that puts needed funds into public coffers to comfort little crippled children, then I'm for it."

"This is my position, and I will not compromise."

 * * * * * *

For once I find myself agreeing with a congresscritter...

Friday, April 20, 2012

Friday Follies Happy Hour 2012.04.20

I don't have the faintest idea what this is all about, but it is über mega-cool!

Shamelessly stolen from Jimbo at Parkway Rest Stop.

Regulatory Overkill

Death by a thousand cuts has nothing on death by regulatory overkill, as mastered by our government overlords. In this case, the government is beating swimming pool owners over the head with the Americans with Disabilities Act, a typical liberal law that is noble in intent but much-abused in practice.

The latest example: requiring fixed-in-place hydraulic lifts to help disabled swimmers into and out of swimming pools.
Owners and managers of swimming pools at hotels, city recreation centers and public parks are scrambling to install mechanical chair lifts to comply with new federal requirements that all public pools be accessible to disabled swimmers.

Some hotels fear the cost of the equipment or fines for noncompliance could put them out of business, and an industry lobbyist says others may close their pools this summer if they can't upgrade in time, though the government can offer more time to those having trouble paying for it. Swimmers with disabilities say the changes are overdue.

Adding to the problem is a backlog of orders created by the rush to meet a May deadline. Harry Spirides ordered lifts last month for the hotel he owns on Georgia's largest public beach and was told they should arrive in late April. He expects to pay $12,000 for the lifts at the Ocean Plaza Beach Resort on Tybee Island.

"Our supplier is backed up with orders," said Spirides. "Everybody's rushing to comply; everybody wants to comply. But when you have tens of thousands of swimming pools that have to be retrofitted with these lifts, it takes time."

Changes to the Americans with Disabilities Act in 2010 say pools must be upgraded with chair lifts, essentially mini cranes that move wheelchair users into the water. The initial deadline was March 16, but confusion over the details and pool owners' insistence for more time caused the Justice Department to give them until May 21.

The law doesn't affect private clubs or pools owned by neighborhood associations that aren't open to the public.

It's a massive and expensive undertaking. The Association of Pool and Spa Professionals says its research shows that between 235,000 and 310,000 pools require the upgrade. Manufacturers estimate the lifts run $3,500 to $6,500, and installation can double those costs. Altogether, owners could face combined costs exceeding $1 billion.
obama, no doubt, will tout this as 'creating new jobs.'
After a car crash left Beth Kolbe unable to walk 12 years ago, she took up swimming and went on to compete in college and on the U.S. Paralympic team in 2008. Despite her athleticism, she needs a person's help or a lift to access a pool.

Kolbe says when she visits pools, she usually takes a friend to avoid asking for help from lifeguards, who often seem uncomfortable lifting her.

Once the requirements take effect, the Justice Department will investigate complaints and can fine businesses up to $55,000 for the first offense and double that for further violations. Pools operated by local governments don't face monetary penalties but are subject to federal oversight.

Pool owners say they're not opposed to making accessibility upgrades, but argue they need more time - especially after a clarification to the requirements in January.
Look, I sympathize with the disabled. But this approach is swatting flies with a sledgehammer. Why not just train the lifeguards on how to assist disabled swimmers into and out of the water? Or use ramps? Many newer pools have them instead of steps. If lifts are deemed necessary, in spite of less expensive and more common-sense solutions, what's wrong with mobile or portable lifts, as discussed below?
The Justice Department now says chair lifts must be bolted down. That declaration came as most hotels were buying portable lifts that don't require expensive installation and can be wheeled into storage until a guest needs them, said Kevin Maher of the American Hotels and Lodging Association.

The group argues that fixed chair lifts pose a risk to children who are tempted to play on them. Maher, the association's vice president for government relations, said hoteliers fear their insurance rates could increase.

The association is urging the Justice Department to reconsider portable lifts and extend the deadline. Without more time, Maher said, some hotels may close their pools this summer rather than risk lawsuits or fines.
In Desert Hot Springs, Calif., the requirements have created an uproar among owners of boutique inns built around mineral hot springs. Some retreats have only six or 10 rooms, but have multiple pools at varying temperatures to give guests a sampling of the waters.

"If you have three pools that's $18,000 plus tax" to attach a chair lift to each, said Bruce Abney, owner of the 12-room El Morocco Inn & Spa. "That's just huge for us and would put some of us under, I'm afraid."

If the 20 hotels there could share portable lifts, it would satisfy the requirements and protect their bottom line, said Judy Bowman, owner of Living Waters Spa.

"I've never had a request for a pool lift in eight and a half years. It seems excessive," said Bowman, who has nine rooms and six condos.
Twenty-four senators sided with the hoteliers in a March letter urging Attorney General Eric Holder to postpone the deadline and essentially start over with a comment and rulemaking process.
Asking Holder for anything that remotely resembles a common-sense or balanced approach is a total waste of time.
In the Atlanta suburbs, Bob McCallister is in charge of getting Cobb County's pools ready for summer. He's got six indoor pools that already have accessibility upgrades, but two of them are big enough to require a second lift - at about $3,500 each.

McCallister said he's lucky the county has a penny sales tax that pays for upkeep of its parks and recreation centers. Otherwise he might have a hard time finding money.

"When mandates come up like this without appropriations, it's a hardship for a lot of agencies," McCallister said. "It seems like an overkill to me."
Me too...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Woman After My Own Heart

Every once in a while a story like this pops up in the press. It illustrates the other side of the battle over the Second Amendment - the side where a firearm equalizes the playing field between an 89-year-old grandmother and a younger, stronger, cowardly thug.

Gun-toting granny sends burglar running
A burglary suspect on the city's east side learned that even little old ladies may be packing heat.

San Antonio police said an 89-year-old woman woke early Thursday morning to somebody attempting to break through the front door of her home in the 400 block of Como. Startled, she quickly fetched her .38 caliber.

She saw the burglar's flashlight inside the house and fired one shot toward the light, police said, which sent the suspect running off into the night.

The woman told police she did not get a good description of the suspect because it was too dark inside the house.

Police said they don't believe the suspect was hit because there was no blood and the bullet was found lodged in a wall inside the home.
I just wish she was a better shot.

I Agree With Michelle Obama

It's not often that I find myself agreeing with anything that any obama says, but as I read these remarks by michelle obama I found myself nodding in agreement. Not often, and not quite as she intended, but nodding nonetheless.
First Lady Michelle Obama on Tuesday put the Supreme Court at the core of President Barack Obama's argument for reelection, telling supporters that the vote in November could affect Americans' security, freedoms and whether they can "love whomever we choose" -- a reference to the fight over gay and lesbian rights.
The vote in November will damn well affect our security and freedom. If her hubby weasels his way back into office we will have less of both.
"This President has brought us out of the dark and into the light," she said in a speech at a rally in Nashville. "I hope you all are fired up and ready to go."
That light, as the old saying goes, is from an onrushing train. And I am definitely fired up and ready to go - for ABO (Anyone But Obama).
Her comments came as Washington awaited a ruling from the nine justices on whether her husband's landmark health care law is constitutional.
Oh, delicious irony.
"We cannot forget the impact the Court's decisions will have on our lives for decades to come — on our privacy and security, on whether we can speak freely, worship openly, and love whomever we choose," she said in a ringing defense of the president's record.

Obama press secretary Jay Carney, asked about similar comments from the First Lady in March, said she was specifically referring to the president's decision to stop defending the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which bars recognition of same-sex marriage.
Regardless of how you feel about same-sex marriage (for the record, I agree with Kinky Friedman: "I support gay marriage. I believe they have a right to be as miserable as the rest of us."), this is a perfect example of what awaits us if obama gets reelected: ignoring laws he doesn't agree with and ruling by executive fiat.
With the presidential contest heating up, both sides are expected to warn their supporters that the stakes reach far beyond control of the White House for the next four years because the next president may be able to nominate at least one new justice to a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court.

"Let's not forget how my husband appointed those two brilliant Supreme Court justices," Michelle Obama said, referring to Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.
Brilliant?!? GMAFB. They're typical liberal affirmative action appointees whose qualifications are that they're of politically correct ethnicity and gender.
The American Bar Association, the largest law and voluntary professional association in the world, has declared a number of President Obama’s potential judicial nominees “not qualified.” The New York Times reports that the rejection rate for Obama’s judicial suggestions “is more than three and a half times as high as it was under either of the previous two presidencies,“ and called the number ”significant:”
Michelle went on to say: "Let's not forget how, for the first time in history, our daughters and our sons watched three women take their seat on our nation's highest court," she said.

And let's not forget, as the dems and libs conveniently do, who put the first woman on the Supreme Court.

Ronald Reagan appointed Sandra Day O'Conner in 1981.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


A perfect compromise for the controversy over forcing insurance companies to pay for women's contraceptives...

(H/T Curmudgeonly & Skeptical)

More Fallout From Tax Day

obama is prancing around touting his 'Buffett Rule,' which does little to reduce the budget deficit. In fact, it turns out that the Buffett Rule, as currently written, would actually INCREASE the federal budget deficit by $800 billion.
The case for the Buffett tax keeps eroding. When President Obama announced the idea, he said it would help "stabilize our debt and deficits over the next decade." Then came the inconvenient revelation that the new 30% millionaire's tax would raise only $46.7 billion over 10 years, and would leave about 99.5% of the deficit intact in 2013. It was a far cry from "stabilizing the debt."

Now we learn that the Buffett tax the Senate is expected to vote on early next week will make the deficit worse. That's because both Mr. Obama and Senate Democrats have made it clear that their new "fairness" tax is to offset the revenue loss from another provision related to the Alternative Minimum Tax.

The Joint Tax Committee—the official scoring referee on tax bills—calculates that the combination of AMT repeal for the middle class and the Buffett tax would add $793.3 billion to the debt over the next decade. As Mr. Obama has said, "This isn't politics, this is math."
It now seems that obama flunked not only economics, but also math.

There is, however, an alternative solution. As John Hinderaker of PowerLine suggests: "Instead of the Buffett Rule, How About the Geithner Rule?"
President Obama has now admitted that the “Buffett Rule,” formerly the centerpiece of his re-election campaign, is a silly gimmick that will raise hardly any money for the treasury. (Actually, it might cost the federal government money, as increases in the capital gains rate have been known to do.) So how about if, instead, we start talking about the Geithner Rule, which is: everyone pays what he owes under existing laws?

... The IRS estimates that year in and year out, around 15% of what Americans owe in taxes isn’t paid. This is mostly due to under-reporting of income. For FY 2011, the IRS collected around $2.3 trillion in tax revenue. Fifteen percent of that amount is $345 billion. Here, unlike the Buffett Rule, we are talking about real money.

Most tax evaders don’t wind up in prison. In fact, some wind up working for the government. Take Tim Geithner. Geithner, Obama’s Secretary of the Treasury, is a tax cheat.
Strong words, perhaps? Here's why I, and many other Americans, consider him a tax cheat. It's not just that he underpaid his taxes. To say the tax code is complex and complicated is a huge understatement. While one might reasonably expect the Secretary of the Treasury to understand its ins and outs, it is also understandable that such a person, plus his accountants, tax advisers, and lawyers, might become confused. After all, "the tax code is so complex that, according to a government study, even IRS employees answer tax questions correctly and completely less than half the time."

But here's where the 'tax cheat' part comes into play.
When the IRS audited Geithner, he paid what he owed for 2003 and 2004. But he didn’t pay what he owed for 2001 and 2002. Why? Because the statute of limitations had run on those years, so the IRS couldn’t sue him to collect the money or charge him criminally for failing to pay it. Only when he was nominated as Secretary of the Treasury did Geithner go back and pay what he owed for 2001 and 2002.
In other words, Geithner only paid up when it became public knowledge as part of the confirmation process. If he hadn't been nominated, he never would have paid. What a fine, upstanding paragon of virtue and integrity.

And what better example of the type of people obama associates himself with. But I digress.
So instead of wasting time on the Buffett Rule, how about if we promote the Geithner Rule, i.e., everyone pays what he owes under existing law. This will certainly promote fairness; is anyone in favor of tax evasion? And, unlike the Buffett Rule, if Tim Geithner, Berkshire Hathaway, Obama’s White House, and everyone else pays what they owe, it will go a long way toward solving the nation’s fiscal crisis.
Gee, what a novel idea...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Latest News From South Texas

Less than 5 miles from my office and 10 miles from my home away from home: (source)
The dismembered remains of 14 men were found on Tuesday stuffed inside a minivan left near the town hall of a Mexican city on the U.S. border that is often a flashpoint for the country's drug war, officials said.

The remains were found in downtown Nuevo Laredo just after sunrise packed inside 10 black plastic bags found in the vehicle, the officials said.

A threatening message was found with the bodies.

Nuevo Laredo, adjacent to the south Texas city of Laredo, is a stronghold for the Mexican drug cartel the Zetas.
Duck and Cover my ass. I'm coming out shooting and ain't stopping until I run out of ammo...


Okay, I try to be open-minded. I really, really try. But then I come across something like this, and it's so far outside my sphere of comprehension that my mind just boggles.

No, more than that. It mega-boggles.
As he celebrates his 28th birthday today New York Jets cornerback, Antonio Cromartie, has another reason to raise a glass – he now fathers 10 children.

The football star recently had his second child with his wife to add to his brood of nine children from a total of eight women across the country.
TEN kids!?!

EIGHT different mothers?!?

By age 28???

Hasn't he figured out what causes children by now?
Cromartie, who signed a four-year, $32 million contract with the Jets last fall, has to pay more than $3,500 in child maintenance each month to six of the women he has fathered children with.

Last March the Jets had to pay the player an $500,000 advance so that he could pay outstanding child support.
And what happens after he's not playing football any longer? How is he going to pay for all this off-the-field activity?
And now the ex-girlfriends who Cromartie has fathered children with are hoping to cash in with a new reality TV programme about their extensive brood.
Ahhh ... reality TV ... the answer to a bunch of ignorant rednecks' prayers (rednecks come in all colors - it's a mindset, not a skin tone).
Ryan Ross, who works in a hotel in Los Angeles, is the mother of Cromartie’s fifth child, son Tyler Jae, 4.  They dated for about six months after meeting in a nightclub.

Ross is keen for the show to go ahead: ‘Our kids need to know who their siblings are. It’s bigger than our past with Antonio. It’s about our children,’ she told the New York Post.  

And she described the relationship between the other mothers as a ‘close tight-knit friendship’ where they understand exactly what each is going through and can 'vent' to one another.

Former beauty queen Rhonda Patterson, who has a three-year-old daughter called London with Cromartie, wrote a book about her relationship with the footballer.

In the memoir, "Love, Intercepted", Patterson described how Cromartie cancelled their wedding a week before it was scheduled and ended their relationship when she was six-months pregnant.
"Love, Intercepted" - really? That's the best the ghostwriter could come up with? How about "Unsportsmanlike Conduct?" Or "It's a Loose Ball?" Or something incorporating the terms "tight end" and "wide receiver?"
Shortly after dumping Patterson the footballer wed his current wife, Terricka Cason, who starred in Candy Girls – a reality TV show about scouting models. Cromartie is step-father to her child from a former relationship.

The Jets cornerback also has custody of his first child, Alonzo, now 7, who he had with Rosemita Pierre.

Pierre told the New York Post that the footballer star defies a court order that allows her to speak to her son three times a week.

'He’s supposedly a role model, but he’s not doing what he should be doing as a father, or as a man,' she told the paper.

I could get all serious and social-sciencey here, and talk about all the research that indicates how children that grow up without fathers are much more likely to be "at a dramatically greater risk of drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness, suicide, poor educational performance, teen pregnancy, and criminality".

But it's late and I'm tired, so I'm just going to shake my head disgustedly, go "tsk-tsk," and wobble over to the fridge for another frosty bottle of God's elixir.

Tax Day Food For Thought

Depending on the time of day when you read this, you may want to refill your coffee cup or grab a fresh adult beverage, because this post is on the lengthy side. It may also tend to increase your blood pressure, or alternatively depress you. Either way, make sure you have the appropriate medication on hand.

When it comes to paying taxes, the obama White House sets a sterling example [/sarcasm].

41 Obama White House aides owe the IRS $831,000 in back taxes

That does not include obama cabinet members and appointees, most notably tax cheats Timothy Geitner (Sec. of the Treasury), Hilda Solis (Sec. of Labor), and Tom Daschle (nominated as Sec. of Health and Human Services who withdrew after his tax cheating came to light).

Following the example set by top administration officials and other government executives, thousands of federal employees owe $1 billion in back taxes. It's gotten so bad that U.S. Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) has introduced legislation to force them to pay up.
U.S. Sen. Scott Brown is pushing a new bill that he said would make it easier to collect back taxes from federal workers and members of Congress.

The Massachusetts Republican said that a recent report by the Internal Revenue Service showed that in 2010, 98,000 federal employees owed a combined $1 billion in back taxes.

Brown said members and employees of the U.S. Senate alone owed over $2 million.
The Senate isn't alone.
  • In the House of Representatives, 421 people owe a total $6,524,892.
  • In the IRS' parent department, Treasury, 1,204 owe $7,670,814.
  • At the Labor Department, 463 owe $7,481,463.
  • Eighty-one workers for the Federal Reserve System's board of governors owe $1,076,733.
  • Over at the Justice Department ... 1,971 employees still owe $14,350,152 in overdue taxes.
Tax cheats should be in jail, not working for the federal government.

And don't forget the hypocrisy displayed by obama and his buddy Warren Buffett.
Who's the bigger hypocrite?

Barack Obama, who schmoozes the wealthy for campaign contributions while waging a phony class war against "millionaires and billionaires."

-- or --

Warren Buffett, who publicly complains that his secretary pays a higher tax rate than he does while his company privately battles the IRS over $1 billion in unpaid taxes.
Personally, I think it's a tie.

In the Perception vs. Reality department, a recent poll reveals that most Americans think the current tax system favors the wealthy.
As procrastinators rush to file their 2011 tax returns by the Tuesday deadline, a new poll shows more than two-thirds of Americans believe the revenue system benefits the wealthy while being unfair to average workers.
Contrast that with who pays how much in taxes.
Americans making over $50,000 paid most of the federal taxes that were paid in the U.S. in 2010.

According to statistics compiled from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by the Tax Foundation, those people making above $50,000 had an effective tax rate of 14.1 percent, and carried 93.3 percent of the total tax burden.

In contrast, Americans making less than $50,000 had an effective tax rate of 3.5 percent and their total share of the tax burden was just 6.7 percent.

Americans making more than $250,000 had an effective tax rate of 23.4 percent and their total share of the tax burden was 45.7 percent.

Out of the 143 million tax returns that were filed with the IRS in 2010, 58 million – or 41 percent – of those filers were non-payers.

But Tax Foundation data also shows that people who didn’t pay any income tax received $105 billion in refundable tax credits from the IRS.
So a large chunk of people who don't pay taxes -- who in fact received over $100 billion in 'refunds' -- think the tax system is unfair. I guess they want those of us who do pay taxes to pay more so that they can get a larger handout.

For any liberals that might wander here by mistake and have trouble understanding words and numbers, here's a picture that might help you understand.

Notice how the top 40%, beginning with a household income of only $ 69K, pay proportionally more in taxes than they earn? And how the bottom 60% pay less? Now talk to me again about who is and is not paying their fair share.

Don't get me wrong. I don't like paying taxes. I think the current system is overly burdensome and complex, and riddled with loopholes that favor a wide assortment of special interests, not just 'the rich.'
... statistics from the Tax Foundation shows that the federal tax code is 3.8 million words long – 3.5 times longer than all seven books of J.K. Rowling’s famous Harry Potter series combined.

... the federal tax code is 3.8 million words, almost a tripling of its size since 2001 when the Joint Committee on Taxation estimated the tax code to be 1,395,000, and almost doubling its size since the Tax Foundation's estimates in 2001.
If it was up to me, we'd throw out the whole damn tax code and start over - preferably with a national sales tax or a flat tax. Either one would be better than the mess we've got now.

In fact, it's so bad that even obama is doing worse under obama:
"President Obama released his tax returns. It turns out he made $900,000 less in 2011 than he did in 2010. You know what that means? Even Obama is doing worse under President Obama."
 -- Jay Leno
Always leave 'em laughing...

Happy Tax Day

We laugh to keep from crying...

(click to embiggen)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Words Of Wisdom From People Smarter Than Me (Granted, it's a large club)

A few choice tidbits harvested from a random walk around this inter-thingy.

This first quote nicely puts into context the hubbub regarding Romney's tax returns:
Apparently, I’m supposed to be more angry about what Mitt Romney does with his money than what Barack Obama does with mine.
The next few quotes come from Thomas Sowell. If you're not familiar with him, I urge you to become so. His life reflects the classic American rags-to-riches success story. Born into a poor black family at a time when discrimination was both overt and covert, he nevertheless overcame. After serving in the Marine Corps during the Korean War, Sowell went on to graduate magna cum laude from Harvard, followed by a Master's degree from Columbia and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago.

If that's not sufficient bona fides, he has been criticized by the Democratic National Committee and Media Matters, among other liberal groups, perhaps because Sowell is the insightful articulate intellectual that barack obama aspires to be, but falls far short of.

Sowell has published numerous books and articles. He also is a nationally syndicated columnist.

A brief sample:
Much of the social history of the Western world over the past three decades has involved replacing what worked with what sounded good. ... The amazing thing is that this history of failure and disaster has neither discouraged the social engineers nor discredited them.
In politics, few talents are as richly rewarded as the ability to convince parasites that they are victims.

If you have always believed that everyone should play by the same rules and be judged by the same standards, that would have gotten you labeled a radical 60 years ago, a liberal 30 years ago and a racist today.
And finally, one that is particularly relevant given that our taxes are due tomorrow:
Elections should be held on April 16th - the day after we pay our income taxes. That is one of the few things that might discourage politicians from being big spenders.

FOD 2012.04.16

Last week the fit hit the shan over remarks made and subsequently apologized for by democrat strategist and obama adviser Hilary Rosen about Ann Romney, wife of the likely republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

obama and his goon squad tripped all over themselves trying to contain the damage.
When Democratic activist Hilary Rosen dissed Ann Romney Wednesday, saying she has “never worked a day in her life,” the president, first lady, and countless other Democrats swooped in and condemned the slam on the wife of presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney. Ms. Rosen apologized for her “poorly chosen” words.
Of course, even when 'apologizing' obama managed to mangle the truth. In his own words: "We Didn't Have the Luxury for Her Not to Work."
Speaking Friday at what the administration called “The White House Forum on Women and the Economy,” President Barack Obama said that after his two daughters were born, he and his wife—both Harvard Law School graduates—could not afford the “luxury” of having her stay home with the children.
. . .
In 1997, the year before Malia was born, he (barack obama) was elected to the Illinois State Senate.
I don't know what Illinois state senators got paid back in 1997, but I suspect that it was enough for a family of three to live on comfortably. Especially with the outside income opportunities traditionally available to Illinois politicians.

Three years later, in 2000, the first year that the Obamas' tax returns are available, they had a combined gross income of $240,000. Assuming barry made about half of that, they would have had a family income of somewhere around $100K - 120K. Most families could enjoy a comfortable middle-class life style on that in 2000.
In 2005, when Obama began serving in the U.S. Senate (and his daughters turned 4 and 7), he and his wife were earning a combined annual income of $479,062. Barack Obama was paid a salary of $162,100 by the U.S. taxpayers, and Michelle Obama was paid $316,962 to handle community affairs for the University of Chicago Medical Center.
So please explain to me why a base salary of $162,100 isn't enough to allow a mother the 'luxury' of staying home with her children, especially a decade or so ago.

My wife stayed home with our kids when I was making less than that. We had a nice house in a nice suburb, nice cars, took nice vacations, paid our bills, and generally lived a nice, comfortable middle-class life style.

I guess that wasn't good enough for the obamas...

P.S. In what should come as a surprise to no one, Bill Maher -- noted misogynist (at least when conservative women are involved) -- came out in support of Hilary Rosen.
At least one high-profile supporter of President Obama is defending Hilary Rosen, although it likely won’t help matters.

Bill Maher, the comedian who gave $1 million to a pro-Obama super PAC earlier this year, offered his own interpretation of the Democratic strategist’s remark Wednesday that the wife of GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney "has never worked a day in her life."

Rosen's comment spurred both a rejoinder from Ann Romney, who tweeted she "made a choice to stay home and raise five boys," and a rebuke from Team Obama, which called on Rosen to apologize while taking pains to praise stay-at-home mothers.

What Rosen meant to say, according to Maher, "was that Ann Romney has never gotten her a-- out of the house to work."

Maher said on "Real Time," his HBO talk show. Maher added during his HBO show “Real Time with Bill Maher” on Friday, that while being a mother is "a tough job," there is "a big difference between being a mother and getting getting your a-- out of the door at 7 a.m. when it’s cold, having to deal with the boss, being in a workplace, where even if you're unhappy you can’t show it for 8 hours, that is kind of a different kind of tough thing."
Right, Bill. Moms never have to get out of the door at 7 a.m. - or earlier - when it's cold. They never have to deal with a boss, only grumpy and whiny kids and husbands who think they are the boss. They never have to put on a happy face no matter how tired, depressed, and angry they are. And of course after 8 hours thay can put that whole Mom thing behind them until the next day.
What an asshole...

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Modest Suggestion

A little while ago, the Whited Sepulchre published a post asking in essence why, if the liberals thought everyone should pay their 'fair share,' they took advantage of all the deductions they could squeeze into their Form 1040s.

In the ensuing comments, Harper suggested that as part of our tax-paying process we should be able to specify what part of the federal budget we wanted our tax dollars allocated to.

Well, it seems that Harper is not the only one thinking along those lines. At least one enterprising blogger has even crafted a new and improved 1040 form that incorporates that suggestion. (click to embiggen)

Makes a lot of sense to me...

Sunday Funnies 2012.04.15

Went to a crawfish boil last night. I'm not big on eating mudbugs -- at least not the head-sucking part -- so I took advantage of the fact that there was plenty of beer available to wash the little critters down.

Mmmm ... beer ...


To some it's a six-pack, to me it's a Support Group.
 * * * * *
Fill with mingled cream and amber, I will drain that glass again.
Such hilarious visions clamber
Through the chamber of my brain.
Quaintest thoughts, queerest fancies
Come to life and fade away.
What care I how time advances;
I am drinking ale today.
 -- Edgar Allen Poe

 * * * * *
For every wound, a balm. For every sorrow, cheer.
For every storm, a calm. For every thirst, a beer.

A statesman is an easy man, he tells his lies by rote.
A journalist invents his lies, and rams them down your throat.
So stay at home and drink your beer and let the neighbors vote.
 -- William Butler Yeats

 * * * * *
In Vino Veritas. In Cervesio Felicitas
 -- "In wine there is wisdom. In beer there is joy."

 * * * * *

Hey, this blog just oozes class...

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Stop And Smell The Roses

I've grown weary of what seems like an unending barrage of depressing news - the liberals' war on women, the liberals' war on racial coexistence, the liberals' war on the economy, the liberals' war on freedom of religion, the liberals' war on ... well, you get the idea.

So last night was a welcome respite. The weather here was enjoyable  -- cool, breezy, clouds scudding across the sky -- just right for sitting outside with my wife and sharing a bottle of wine. Then inside to a nice meal and a screening of Casblanca on Turner Classic Movies. What a truly fabulous movie.

And what a truly fabulous night. Just what was needed to refresh one's outlook on life.

The next several months are going to be dominated by nasty, vicious politics. It's going to be very important to maintain some sort of balanced perspective.

Nights like this one help...

Friday, April 13, 2012

Why Professors Drink 2012.04.12

I typically assign my students an individual project that is due towards the end of the semester. For this semester that will be next week. A few early submissions have begun to trickle in. If the one below is any example, it's going to be a long, looonnng grading process.

This particular project was submitted by a 'non-traditional' (read: older) student. I usually have a few in my class, but this one, however, is apparently older than most.
Being born in the 19th century makes it a little bit harder to understand the constant growth of technology and how it is used to gather information.
What I post here are usually the more extreme examples of student ineptitude. To be fair, however, there are many more instances of students who do a good job. They're just not as entertaining. Case in point:

In addition to the individual project, I also assign a group project. It involves the students going out into the community and working with a business or non-profit organization on some sort of technology implementation effort. In this specific case, a small group of students worked with a local charity that provides assistance to the families of veterans who have been wounded or killed while on active duty.

The charity collects donations from individuals and companies, sells it in a thrift shop, and uses the proceeds to buy food, clothes, school supplies, and the like for families in the program. As you can imagine, there is a lot of record-keeping involved, from simple banking activity to inventory management to enrollment records to IRS forms to ... well, you get the idea.

When the students first got involved, everything was paper based -- literally kept in shoe boxes and manilla folders. In a few short months a PC was acquired and installed, systems were developed and implemented, the charity's volunteers were trained, and all the data was transferred from paper to the PC. The man hours required to handle the record keeping, back office, and administrative chores have been reduced from around twenty hours per week to about five. Quality is up, errors are down, and frustration has been reduced. The volunteers are spending more time soliciting new donations and have expanded the hours the store is open. The funds generated to help the families have tripled since January. Not all of that is due to the new systems, of course, but they have helped. In addition, the students have worked to spread the word about the efforts of this charity, resulting in more volunteers and more corporate involvement.

So while at times I may poke a little fun at my students, or get exasperated with them, at others times I am very, very proud of them.

This is one of those times...

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Rock Paper Scissors River

Sometimes I feel like a rock in the middle of a river. I firmly stand my ground, immovable and resolute.

But over time the river wears me down.

That's a metaphor describing how tired I get of reacting to the seemingly endless barrage of nonsense foolishness assaults on common sense from the left. Peter provides the latest example.
Warwick School Superintendent Peter Horoschak is stepping in after a student mural at Pilgrim High School was deemed inappropriate and painted over because it depicted a man holding the hand of a woman and child.

. . .

The mural was meant to depict the life of a man and it ended with the scene with the man, woman and a child. The student artist, 17-year-old Liz Bierendy, said that she depicted the man and woman as married with wedding rings. According to Horoshack’s press release the scene was painted over because “some of the members of the Pilgrim High School community suggested that the depiction of a young man’s development from boyhood through adulthood as displayed may not represent the life experiences of many of the students at Pilgrim High School.”

According to the release, the assistant principal approached the Bierendy after the concern was raised from the school and “asked her to look at other ways to show the outcome of the subject’s progression to adulthood.”
Has it really come to this? Depicting the traditional family -- a man, a woman, and a child -- is now considered inappropriate, which is just a PC phrase for "it offended someone."

Thankfully, someone in Rhode Island has a modicum of common sense.
When School Superintendent Horoschak learned about the incident, which was first reported on WPRO’s John DePetro’s Show, he contacted the assistant principal at the school and requested that Bierendy be allowed to finish the mural the way she saw fit.
Peter's closing comment:
Would someone please tell me why showing a man and a woman getting married and having a child is somehow objectionable? Would it be less so if they had the child out of wedlock, or if each entered into a gay/lesbian relationship and adopted kids with their same-sex partner(s), or if they had children using artificial insemination and/or host mothers?
My closing comment:

(H/T the Whited Sepulchre for the image.)

This Message Brought To You Courtesy Of...

Due to time constraints, this post is shamelessly stolen borrowed linked to from Moonbattery:
In the race to achieve the status of America’s worst president, Barack Hussein Obama has left Jimmy Carter choking on his dust.
Obama has hit one more Carter benchmark – both saw gas prices double in their first term of office.

In fact, while just barely, Obama has seen an even higher gas price increase than Carter dealt with under his administration.

Under the Carter administration, gas prices increased by 103.77 percent. Gas prices since Obama took office have risen by 103.79 percent. No other presidents in recent years have struggled as much with soaring oil prices. Under the Reagan administration, gas prices actually dropped 66 percent.
The difference is that Obama has been causing gas prices to rise on purpose, as part of the insane, antihuman green ideology that animates his hard left base. This is why the Keystone XL pipeline was nixed, why drilling is not allowed off most of our coasts, why the BP spill was seized upon as a pretext to strangle the Gulf oil industry, why drilling on government-owned land is down, et cetera.
Thanks, guys.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

And Then There Were Three

Yesterday Rick Santorum dropped out of the race for the GOP presidential nomination.
Rick Santorum, who pitched himself as the true conservative in the race and used a platform focused on social issues to come from well back in the pack to be the main challenger to Mitt Romney, announced (Monday) afternoon that he is suspending his effort for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator, told a gathering of reporters in Gettysburg that his three-year-old daughter's battle with a genetic disease, and her hospitalization over the weekend, "did cause us to think ... about the role we have as parents." And he concluded it was time to step aside from the campaign trail, where his campaign no longer appeared to have time left to stop Romney from being the nominee.
I can't really blame him. Family should come first. Regardless of your political leanings, I hope you will take a moment to say a prayer for Santorum's daughter.

Shortly after Santorum's announcement, Gingrich made a play for Santorum's supporters. Ron Paul's people likewise argued that their man deserved the allegiance of Santorum backers.


But that's beside the point. Of the three remaining candidates, Romney is the odds-on favorite to win the nomination. Ron Paul has been relegated to the role of after-thought. He's a novelty act that appeals only to a small number of fanatics. That's a shame, because I share his libertarian views to a certain extent. However, I think he goes too far on a number of them.

Newt is an interesting case. In my opinion he is the smartest and most articulate of anyone still running -- including obama. I like his approach to many of the issues: big problems call for big ideas, not just tinkering with existing policies. I also think he'd flat-out destroy barry in a head-to-head debate.

But Newt also has baggage - lots of it. There are ethics questions regarding his use of campaign funds. And of course, there is his history of infidelity. The press paints him as a cross between Bill Clinton and John Edwards, and there is some basis for that characterization.

Some people say a politician's private life is irrelevant. That was the liberals' position during Monicagate. Conservatives, on the other hand, argued during the entire blue dress kerfluffle that "character counts." Today everyone has switched sides. Newt's detractors argue that he's shown he can't be trusted to keep his word, while his supporters say his marital history doesn't matter.

I side with the "character counts" folks. I said it with Clinton, and with Edwards, and I hold that position with Newt. As much as I like his ideas, I can't get past the fact that he broke his oath "to forsake all others." Why should I believe that he'll keep an oath to "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States of America"?

That leaves us with Romney. By all accounts he is a good family man, a man whose personal life is above reproach. But he's also an incremental thinker, not a radical one. By that I mean he has small ideas to improve the status quo, at a time when big ideas are needed to address big problems. To borrow an overused phrase, he can't think outside the box.

He also doesn't have the most scintillating personality. He's not exactly Mr. Electricity. Women don't swoon when he walks in a room. He comes across as privileged and out of touch with most people. He's Mormon, which shouldn't matter, but will to some people. And there's that whole Romneycare thing hanging around his neck.

Still, Romney has one great big thing going for him.

He's not obama...