July 30, 2006

Fences and Neighbors

My house is situated so that there is about 3 feet between the back of the house and the fence between us and the neighbors. On one end of the house we have a deck that extends partly behind the garage. In the space between the deck, the garage, the fence and a storage shed we have a 12 foot round pool for the kids. They splash arouund while I find a shady spot and read blogs or write mine. Which is what I'm doing now.

My neighbor is mowing his lawn. Something he does at least twice a week. I don't mind the sound of a lawnmower. it's a fairly steady drone that eventually becomes background. But not my neighbor's lawnmower. I guess it must be at least 30 years old and he unfortunately has enough knowledge of small engines that instead of replacing it, he keeps fixing it. Also unfortunate is that best he can do is to get it to run in a sort of pulsating fashion. Reving between full throttle and idle at about 60 beats per minute.

Perhaps because of the inefficiency of the pulsating engine, it takes him a long time to mow his less than .25 acre property. He also has to stop periodically to empty the clipping bag, and probably re-fill the gas. based on the noxious smell of the exhaust from the thing he probably goes through twice the gas of a normal lawnmower.

If I could afford it, I would go to Home Depot and buy a brand new lawnmower, put a big bow on it and leave it in his driveway in the middle of the night.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 10:20 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment


July 29, 2006

Lieberman Will Keep His Seat in the Senate

My prediction for the 2006 Senate race in Connecticut is that incumbent Joe Lieberman will lose the primary race to Challenger Ned Lamont but will easily win re-election. I can predict this because the GOP doesn't have the slightest chance of winning, and what's more most Connecticut Republicans are well aware of that fact. I think that given the choice between voting for the Republican and the possibility of Lamont winning the election, a lot of Republicans will vote for Lieberman.

When I began my email interview with GOP candidate Alan Schlesinger (Part 1 Part 2) I made a commitment to the candidate that I would reproduce the questions and answers verbatim. I was going to publish his answers without commentary or analysis. When Mr. Schlesinger did not answer several of the questions in the follow-up, I gave him the benefit of the doubt as he was answering on a Friday night. Maybe he had something better to do than answer questions from a blogging resident of the district he is campaigning in.

But more than a week has passed without answer to those questions, so the straight reporting portion of my coverage of the candidate is over. It is now time to take a critical look at his answers.

Has the national focus on the contentious Democratic primary made it more difficult for your campaign to get significant exposure in the media?

Yes, but we expect that to change after the primary.
I think Schlesinger is trying to be optimistic here. He may get a little more notice once he's part of the race but the story of this election will be Joe Lieberman.
This would normally be a very difficult seat for any Republican to win. Do you see the possibility of Senator Lieberman running as an independent candidate as helping or hurting your chances in the election?

Helping. It splits the democratic vote.
Yes, a Lieberman independent run will split the Democratic vote. I don't see that helping Schlesinger - or any Republican in this district. Lieberman could peal off half of the Democratic vote and Schlesinger would still finish third. I think a lot of Republicans understand that which is why instead of voting for the party they will vote for the better Democrat.
What do you see as the role of the federal government in dealing with the problem of congestion in Connecticut - particularly along the I95 corridor?

Federal govt. can help with funding but the state is responsible for executing any plan.
I can't find much fault with this answer other than that it invokes the idea of a few million dollars earmarked for some hair-brained scheme cooked up by the state DOT.
What do you see as the biggest economic or social issue facing the people of Connecticut and what can the federal government do to help resolve that issue?

Health care costs and entitlements (Soc. Sec. & Medicare). Unfunded liability with he baby boomers approaching retirement. We must inject competition into healthcare by using HSA's (health savings accounts) etc. Schlesinger has a plan to guarantee Social Security.
He seems to understand the problems and even gives a very minor nod to the idea of a market solution to health care costs. And he has a plan for Social Security. That certainly warranted a follow-up.
Can you briefly outline your plan to guarantee Social Security?
All FICA taxes would be segregated. After current recipients are paid, all excess funds (currently $150 Billion per year would be invested in Mortgage Paper equivalent to Ginnie-Maes, etc. Real $ earning real interest for future retirees.
I think the way to segregate FICA money from the rest of the federal budget is through the use of deveice called a "Lock Box." But Schlesinger doesn't want to just put the money in a lock box and leave it there - he wants to invest it. Because investing it will provide a better return for future retirees. Am I the only one who sees the potential for massive waste fraud and abuse (i.e. government) in this idea? And if investing the money is such a great idea, why not just let future retirees keep the money and invest it themselves?
Your platform as given on your campaign website includes a Seasonal Employee Visa program that does not include a path to citizenship outside of the normal immigration process. Your statement does not include positions on border security and the disposition of the current illegal population. Do you see enforcement and border security as happening concurrently with the Seasonal Visa program or would they be a prerequisite to the Seasonal Visa program?

They [would] be a prerequisite to the Seasonal Visa program.
It seems like a fairly basic variation on the guest worker program but at least he is willing to put border security an immigration enforcement first.
Your position on tax reform focuses on tax simplification and eliminating special interest loopholes. Are you familiar with H.R. 25, the FairTax proposal and what is your opinion of the FairTax plan?

We need more of an overhaul han H. R. 25.
I'm not sure it was intention, but I think he pretty clearly answered the first part of the question. I don't think he's very familiar with the FairTax. So I included this in the follow-up questions:
In response to the question about the FairTax proposal you responded that we "need more of an overhaul than H.R. 25." Given that H.R. 25 calls for eliminating all federal taxes on personal and corporate income and replacing them with a tax on consumption, eliminating the IRS as well as FICA and Medicare withholding, what would you propose that represents more of an overhaul?
Tax Simplification: Eliminate AMT, eliminate most deductions and tax credits and passive income treatments. All income other than cap gains and dividends would be taxed at lower rates. Estate Tax eliminated and folded into Cap Gains for income that has never been taxed. Cap Gains and Dividends taxed at lowest rates that are possible. All proposals combined shall be revenue neutral.
I think I need to consult with an accountant, and maybe a tax attorney to figure some of this out. Which of course is a large part of the problem with the current tax structure. This feels a lot like rearranging the deck chairs on a sinking ship. Why bother. It certainly does not strike me as more of an overhaul than scrapping the entire income tax system and replacing it with something else.
What is your position on the use of the power of Eminent Domain in light of the Supreme Court Decision in the case Kelo v. New London?

Eminent Domain should be considerd on a case by case basis. I disagree with New London's use of Eminent Domain.
It is good to know that he disagrees with what New London is doing, but if we have to consider eminent domain on a case by case basis does this mean that there may be similar cases that he would not disagree with?
Do you agree that the president should sate a date certain timetable for withdrawal of U.S. armed forces in Iraq?

I recommend a 50% reduction with Iraqi replacement within 12 months.
Well he apparently does agree with the idea of a timeline for troop withdrawal from Iraq and even has a compromise idea that John Kerry might like. I challenged Schlesinger's answer in the follow-up - he chose not to answer.
You stated that you would recommend a 50% reduction of U.S. Troops in Iraq within 12 months. How do you respond to those in both government and the military who argue that troop reductions should not be based on the calendar but on conditions in Iraq?
What course of action would you recommend if there were not sufficient Iraqi forces to replace 50% of the current U.S. troops within 12 months?
These are not difficult questions for someone who has a well thought out position of the war, and certainly the kind of questions a serious candidate for the senate should be willing and able to answer.
Should the United States sign and ratify the Kyoto Protocol?

Undecided.
I confess, this was something of a trick question since the Kyoto Treaty is dead in the U.S. It is also a batting practice fastball that should have been easily hit out of the park. "Undecided." Schlesinger swung, missed, and fell down in the batters box. He also chose not to answer the follow-up to this question.
You answered that you are undecided as to the U.S. becoming a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol. Do you believe that the science surrounding Global Warming is settled and that the U.S. should be taking steps to significantly reduce production of greenhouse gasses?
It's only one of the most media driven political issues around. No reason a candidate for the Senate to want to address it though.
Do you believe that the current Israeli military actions in Gaza and Lebanon represent another front in the Global war on terror and do you believe the United States should offer it's moral and military support to the state of Israel in it's battles against terrorism?

Yes
Short and to the point with a good answer.

It is difficult to form an opinion of a candidate based on this limited interaction, and while I appreciate his taking the time to answer the questions He did not make a good first impression.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 04:47 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment


July 27, 2006

More Trivia About Me

Found at LLama Butchers and since I lack the energy for anything else...

What curse word do you use the most?
Shit.

Do you own an iPod?
Yes. It was given to me by a close friend.

Who on your MySpace "Top 8" do you talk to the most?
I don't think I've ever been to My Space. What it is some sort of AOL of blogging?

What time is your alarm clock set for?
6:00. But I usually wake up before it does.

What color is your room?
A deep tropical blue with green trim, dark wood floors. I's an island ting mahn.

Flip flops or sneakers?
If I must wear anything, Topsiders.

Would you rather take the picture or be in the picture?
Take.

What was the last movie you watched?
A Few Good Men. But it was on broadcast and it kind of sucked with commercials and a lack of colorful language.

Do any of your friends have children?
Most of them.

Has anyone ever called you lazy?
No but I've been accused of procrastinating.

Do you ever take medication to help you fall asleep faster?
Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia

What CD is currently in your CD player?
Empty - see #2.

Do you prefer regular or chocolate milk?
I prefer chocolate though drinking any milk is not kind to my digestive tract so I don't.

Has anyone told you a secret this week?
Yes.

Have you ever given someone a hickey?
A gentleman doesn't tell.

Who was the last person to call you?
Someone trying to sell me a mortgage.

Do you think people talk about you behind your back?
I couldn't care less.

Did you watch cartoons as a child?
I watch them as an adult too.

How many siblings do you have?
Three.

Are you shy around the opposite sex?
Not shy at all but a tendency to be quiet and anti-social in general.

What movie do you know every line to?
Top Gun

Do you own any band t-shirts?
I had a t-shirt of the Dark Side of The Moon album cover.

What is your favorite salad dressing?
Olive oil and Balsamic vinaigrette.

Do you read for fun?
In the few rare moments I have the chance, In other words in the bathroom.

Do you cry a lot?
Almost never.

Who was the last person to text message you?
What's a text message? I get emails without pictures - does that count?

Do you have a desktop computer or a laptop?
Three laptops two desktops (O.K. one of the laptops is the original Mac Portable and I'm not sure it still works. Technically the PowerBook belongs to my employer. One of the Desktops is an old Mac Performa that doesn't work anymore.)

Are you currently wanting any piercings or tattoos?
I pierced my hand with an Exacto knife once but I took it out and the hole closed up.

What is the weather like?
Hazy, Hot and Humid.

Would you ever date someone covered in tattoos?
Covered? Definitely not. I have nothing against tattoos but the likelihood that I would have anything in common with a person covered with tattoos is very very small. Besides my wife doesn't let me date.

Is sex before marriage wrong?
I've never been wrong before, so it must be right.

When was the last time you slept on the floor?
Four years ago when we moved I slept on a mattress on the dining room floor. The kids were in the bed with my wife until I got their rooms ready.

How many hours of sleep do you need to function?
I seem to be doing pretty good on 5 - 6.

Are you in love or lust?
Yes.

Are your days full and fast-paced?
I slow down long enough to get more coffee.

Do you pay attention to calories on the back of packages?
I only care about the taste of what is inside.

How old will you be turning on your next birthday?
44

Are you picky about spelling and grammar?
Not picky enough. Where did I put that Strunk and White?

Have you ever been to Six Flags?
Nope.

Do you get along better with the same or opposite sex?
Accidents of birth have little to do with how well I get along with anybody. Levels of stupidity and assholishness are far more determinative.

Do you like cottage cheese?
No. But I did sample a nice brie while visiting a friend's cottage.

Do you sleep on your side, tummy, or back?
I don't know I'm asleep when it happens.

Have you ever bid for something on eBay?
Yes. I've gotten some good bargains - and I have this need to be wearing antique sunglasses that eBay seems to fill nicely.

Do you enjoy giving hugs?
Sometimes.

What song did you last sing out loud?
I don't remember. Probably Happy Birthday

What is your favorite TV show?
My current favorite - House.

Which celebrity, dead or alive, would you want to have lunch with?
Ronald Reagan

Last time you had butterflies in your stomach?
Presenting some ad concepts to the president of the company tomorrow - I anticipate a few around lunch.

What one thing do you wish you had?
A sudden influx of capital precisely equal to my total debt.

Favorite lyrics?
That is too dependent on time and mood to pick just one.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 05:37 PM | No Comments | Add Comment


July 24, 2006

A Missed Opportunity

There are very few moments in which a nation can change the world. The United States has had many such opportunities and moments. These opportunities arose out of the fertile ground of freedom. For a small relatively poor nation opportunities to change the world are harder to come by. Lebanon has such an opportunity and I fear they may let it pass them by.

As Israel began gathering troops along the border with Lebanon in preparation for combat with Hezbollah terrorists, the Lebanese government indicated that were Israel to invade their territory that they would take up the fight of the terrorists against Israel. If they do so, they will have missed their chance to change the world.

Imagine what it would mean to the Middle East and the world if Lebanon got into the fight on the side of Israel and against Hezbollah. Imagine what would happen if the Lebanese government began rounding up Hezbollah terrorists and the Lebanese army began taking out Hezbollah terrorists strongholds. Imagine what would happen if Lebanon and Israel reached an agreement that when they had together destroyed Hezbollah than Israel would withdraw from Lebanon and the Lebanese government came in and asserted it's authority in their wake.

What would it mean to the Mid East and the world if Israel could do for the fledgling democracy of Lebanon what the U.S. is doing for Iraq. If Lebanon truly wants to live up to the Cedar Revolution, they should move to revolutionize the entire region.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 07:47 AM | No Comments | Add Comment


July 21, 2006

Part Two of The Rest of The Story

As I mentioned I would be doing, I emailed a few follow-up questions to Alan Schlesinger the GOP Candidate for Senate in Connecticut. I sent Mr. Schlesinger five question and he responded to two. I am, in keeping with my original promise, reproducing the exchange verbatim (editing only for typos).

Can you briefly outline your plan to guarantee Social Security?

All FICA taxes would be segregated. After current recipients are paid, all excess funds (currently $150 Billion per year would be invested in Mortgage Paper equivalent to Ginnie-Maes, etc. Real $ earning real interest for future retirees.

In response to the question about the FairTax proposal you responded that we "need more of an overhaul than H.R. 25." Given that H.R. 25 calls for eliminating all federal taxes on personal and corporate income and replacing them with a tax on consumption, eliminating the IRS as well as FICA and Medicare withholding, what would you propose that represents more of an overhaul?

Tax Simplification: Eliminate AMT, eliminate most deductions and tax credits and passive income treatments. All income other than cap gains and dividends would be taxed at lower rates. Estate Tax eliminated and folded into Cap Gains for income that has never been taxed. Cap Gains and Dividends taxed at lowest rates that are possible. All proposals combined shall be revenue neutral.

You stated that you would recommend a 50% reduction of U.S. Troops in Iraq within 12 months. How do you respond to those in both government and the military who argue that troop reductions should not be based on the calendar but on conditions in Iraq?

What course of action would you recommend if there were not sufficient Iraqi forces to replace 50% of the current U.S. troops within 12 months?

You answered that you are undecided as to the U.S. becoming a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol. Do you believe that the science surrounding Global Warming is settled and that the U.S. should be taking steps to significantly reduce production of greenhouse gasses?


Given that it is Friday night, I do not make too much of the unanswered questions. Hopefully those questions will be addressed soon.


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Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 03:15 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment


July 20, 2006

The Rest of the Story

Following up on the post below I contacted the Connecticut Republican candidate for the Senate, Alan Schlesinger, to get some of this thoughts on the Democratic primary and the issues facing Connecticut an the nation. I committed to reproducing the questions and answers verbatim (I did fix a few typos) so I am withholding any comment except to say that I will contacting Mr. Schlesinger for some follow-ups.

LOCAL POLITICS/ISSUES
Has the national focus on the contentious Democratic primary made it more difficult for your campaign to get significant exposure in the media?

Yes, but we expect that to change after the primary.

This would normally be a very difficult seat for any Republican to win. Do you see the possibility of Senator Lieberman running as an
independent candidate as helping or hurting your chances in the election?

Helping. It splits the democratic vote.

What do you see as the role of the federal government in dealing with the problem of congestion in Connecticut - particularly along the I95 corridor?

Federal govt. can help with funding but the state is responsible for executing any plan.

What do you see as the biggest economic or social issue facing the people of Connecticut and what can the federal government do to help resolve that issue?

Health care costs and entitlements (Soc. Sec. & Medicare). Unfunded liability with he baby boomers approaching retirement. We must inject competition into healthcare by using HSA's (health savings accounts) etc. Schlesinger has a plan to guarantee Social Security.

NATIONAL POLITICS
Your platform as given on your campaign website includes a Seasonal Employee Visa program that does not include a path to citizenship outside of the normal immigration process. Your statement does not include positions on border security and the disposition of the current illegal population. Do you see enforcement and border security as happening concurrently with the Seasonal Visa program or would they be a prerequisite to the Seasonal Visa program?

They[would] be a prerequisite to the Seasonal Visa program.

Your position on tax reform focuses on tax simplification and eliminating special interest loopholes. Are you familiar with H.R. 25, the FairTax proposal and what is your opinion of the FairTax plan?

We need more of an overhaul han H. R. 25.

What is your position on the use of the power of Eminent Domain in light of the Supreme Court Decision in the case Kelo v. New London?

Eminent Domain should be considerd on a case by case basis. I disagree with New London's use of Eminent Domain.

INTERNATIONAL
Do you agree that the president should sate a date certain timetable for withdrawal of U.S. armed forces in Iraq?

I recommend a 50% reduction with Iraqi replacement within 12 months.

Should the United States sign and ratify the Kyoto Protocol?

Undecided.

Do you believe that the current Israeli military actions in Gaza and Lebanon represent another front in the Global war on terror and do you believe the United States should offer it's moral and military support to the state of Israel in it's battles against terrorism?

Yes

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Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 02:04 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment


July 17, 2006

Throw Lieberman From the Train

The National Democratic Party has to be worried about the outcome of the far left's efforts to defeat Senator Joseph Lieberman. If they succeed the Party faces the question "How do you keep them down on the farm after they've tasted success?"

We have already seen party leaders ready and willing to throw Lieberman from the train, most notably Hillary Clinton who has pledged to support whoever wins the primary. She says this in the name of party loyalty but I think it is safe to evaluate her words and actions through the prism of how they serve her political ambitions. In this case her stealth endorsement of Lamont serves her well. First if Lamont loses he loses without her endorsement and she can support Lieberman in the general election. If Lamont wins it takes Lieberman out of the picture and she doesn't have to pretend to move so far to be on the right side of the Democratic Party.

But flush with their first electoral victory what effect will the "Netroots" have on the Democratic Presidential Primaries? How far to the left will candidates have to go to curry favor with the Kos/MoveOn crowd? And once they have gotten there and secured the nomination, how will such a candidate fare in the general election?

Locally, if Ned Lamont breaks the Daily Kos 0 for 20-something electoral losing streak, what does that win mean in the state of Connecticut?

If Lamont wins and forces Lieberman to run as an independent - something he has already filed papers to do - will the Democratic vote be split enough that GOP challenger Alan Schlesinger actually has a snowball's chance at taking the seat?

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 04:08 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment


July 11, 2006

I'm Going to Enlist

And you should to.

It's time once again to mobilize what Glen Reynolds called An Army of Davids. Once again, it is time to take on the National Park Service over the design of the Flight 93 Memorial.

The original design selected for the site came under heavy criticism for it's very close resemblance to the Islamic Crescent. The National Park Service listened and sent the designers back to fix the problem.

Their solution was to plant a few more trees in the background of the red crescent. They also seem to have removed any use of the word crescent in the descriptions on the web site.

You can find detailed information at among others:
Little Green Footballs
The Belmont Club
Error Theory

Read them all. Then go to the Flight 93 Memorial web site where they are accepting comments on the design. Impassioned reason is good. Flaming them, however tempting, is probably not going to get results. My comment is included below. Leave your comment to the Park Service in the comments here, or email them to me and I will add them to the post.

When the original design of the Flight 93 Memorial was published I was among the many shocked and offended by its use of symbols adopted by the people responsible for the death and destruction of 9/11. Like many I was heartened that the National Park Service heard our concerns and called on the designers to make changes to address them.
What the designer has done in response to those concerns is essentially nothing. I do not know, nor do I care, if the use of Islamic symbols to memorialize the victims of Islamic terrorists is intentional or coincidental. I do know that is appallingly offensive.
The addition of a few trees and the change of the name from Crescent of Embrace to Bowl of Embrace does nothing to mitigate the monstrous impact of this design concept. I do not think this is a design that can be modified to eliminate the offense it gives. The Islamic symbols form the essence of the design.
I urge you to abandon the Preferred Design Alternative and begin again. We should not memorialize the heros of Flight 93 with the symbols of those who took their lives.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 05:00 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment


For Syd

Remember when you were young,
You shone like the sun.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Now there's a look in your eyes,
Like black holes in the sky.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
You were caught on the crossfire
Of childhood and stardom,
Blown on the steel breeze.
Come on you target for faraway laughter,
Come on you stranger, you legend, you martyr, and shine!

You reached for the secret too soon,
You cried for the moon.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Threatened by shadows at night,
And exposed in the light.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Well you wore out your welcome
With random precision,
Rode on the steel breeze.
Come on you raver, you seer of visions,
Come on you painter, you piper, you prisoner, and shine!

Written for Pink Floyd Founder Syd Barrett dead ad 60.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 12:45 PM | No Comments | Add Comment


July 10, 2006

A Message To Remember

The Jawa Report has images from video that were released on the internet by al Qaueda terrorists operating in Iraq. The images show the mutilation of two U.S. Soldiers in Iraq. Here is the description they give of the video.

The two victims, Kristian Menchaca and Thomas Tucker, were members of the 101st Airborne division abducted by al Qaeda in Iraq. A third soldier died in the attack.
Their bodies were later recovered not far from where they had been kidnapped. The US military now says that their corpses were found tied together with a bomb between them. Three roadside bombs were planted around the bodies. The bodies had been decapitated.
The video bears the logo of The Mujahadin Shura Council and al Qaeda in Iraq. Contrary to reports by al Qaeda and in the MSM, the video appears to show that the two soldiers were already dead before at least one of them was beheaded.
After a brief introdcuction with an image and the voice of Osama bin Laden, the video shows the two dead soldiers lying on a bridge. Both are already dead.
One of the men has already been beheaded, the other man is dead. An al Qaeda member holds the severed head of one of the dead soldiers.
One of the two soldiers appear to have been shot, the other has multiply wounds but appears to have also been hit by an explosive.

The video also blurs out one of the dead men's genitels, apparently al Qaeda believes showing that would be over-the-top.
Later, an image of the now dead leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, is superimposed over the film. Zarqawi had personally murdered several people by beheading and then released those films on the internet.
The entire video has a voice over of what sounds like Abu Musab al Zaraqawi {UPDATE: Confirmed by MSM] calling Muslims to jihad. A nasheed, or Islamic jihad song, can also be heard in the background.
I have not seen the video nor do I have any desire to see it. The stills at Jawa Report are more than gruesome enough to illustrate the inhumane horror these men suffered.

But what I will do is save the link to the images and description of the video. I will save them for the next time some whiny terrorists or their simpering sympathizers have the nerve to complain that we subject captives to loud music and deprive them of sleep. Until such time as they treat captives with something approaching the humanity with which they are treated they should Shut the Fuck Up and count every breath they take and take comfort in the fact that can still breath at all.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 04:09 PM | No Comments | Add Comment


July 09, 2006

In a Manner Reminiscent of...

Gengis Kahn

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 07:15 AM | No Comments | Add Comment


July 07, 2006

The Impact of Telling Secrets

Today terrorist plots against two New York City tunnels were revealed. I question the timing. Not because of anything to do with the election but because of the New York Times revelation of secret efforts to track terrorist finances.

One plot involved bombing the Holland Tunnel, perhaps in the hope of flooding the Wall Street district. The laws of physics would have prevented that outcome but a successful bombing of the tunnel would have been devastating.

The second plot involved a plan to mark the anniversary of 9/11 with a massive attack on the New York subway.

Arrests have been made in both plots. Both in Lebanon.

At least one of these plots, the subway plot, is not a new discovery.

Officials say the plot was uncovered more than a year ago by U.S. and Canadian intelligence agents watching a jihadist internet chat room.
Officials say the suspects communicated freely, thinking that no one could track them.
It is probably safe to assume that the Holland tunnel plot has been known for a while as well.

No doubt having identified the actors in the plans, investigators were watching them. Tracking their movements. Tracking their communications. Tracking their finances. All in an effort to help them track down terrorists leaders.

But they cannot do that now. Thanks to our friends at the Times the terrorists know that we are listening to their phone calls. They know that we are tracking their money and how we are doing it.

In the time since the Swift story was published investigators likely observed changing patterns in the plotters behaviors that lead them to decide to end these plots now because the value ion trying to track the terrorists activity was lost.

What we will never know, is who is the one that got away.

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Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 04:18 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment


July 04, 2006

Rocket's Red Glare

What could be a more perfect way to celebrate the Fourth of July than a spectacular Space Shuttle launch? Maybe a spectacular Shuttle launch while multiple North Korean missile tests are failing.

There are lots of great photos of the launch all over the internet. The one I like the best was taken by Ed at Robot Guy. He was on the side of the road about seven miles from the launch. I'm not sure if the sign was intentional or if was just luck, but it works for me.

10

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 04:09 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment


The Parade Of The Waffle King Returns

Someone put a link to my site in the comments to this John Kerry piece on patriotism and the flag over at the Huffington Post. Kerry's piece is collection of falsehoods, distortions and B.S. that reminds me of, well his campaign.

I love the flag for all the history, the glory, the promise, and the possibilities that are carried within its four corners. I will never forget seeing our flag draped over my father's casket and remembering that long ago he too served his country when freedom was threatened. I've seen the cloak of patriotism draped over the coffin of friends I lost thirty seven years ago, and too recently I've seen Old Glory cover the caskets of young men lost from Massachusetts in two new wars. Our flag is a stunning symbol of all that has made us who we are.
Mr. Kerry, did you love the flag when you disrespected it on the cover of your book The New Soldier?
We desperately need a real debate about patriotism -- about service, about American values.
Would those be the values of patriotism and service you exemplified when you threw yours, or someone else's, medals over the White House fence? Or are they the values of patriotism and service you exemplified when you went to Paris to meet with enemy during time of war?
I think patriotism starts with telling the truth. Truth is the American bottom line. I don't think it's an accident that among the first words of the first declaration of our national existence it is proclaimed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident...".
Would that be the version of the truth you told when you gave false testimony to a congressional committee about atrocities you claimed to have witnessed in Vietnam? Or would that be the version of the truth that is seared into your memory about a Christmas mission into Cambodia that you, through your supporters, are now asserting actually happened in February?

Mr. Kerry, you have displayed overwhelming disregard for this nation and its ideals in your quest to further your ambitions of political power and have no business lecturing anyone on the topic of patriotism and how to love this country.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 06:24 AM | No Comments | Add Comment


July 03, 2006

Taxation Without Representation

Raise your hand if you feel that you as an individual are adequately represented in Washington when it comes to taxation.

You in the back. The one with your hand up. You can leave now.

Raise your hand if would like to have total control over how much of your hard earned money goes to the federal government.

You on the left. Yeah you with your hand down. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Those of us still here are going to talk about a revolution. We are going to talk about changing the power equation between the federal government and the American people.

There are three basic factors in this power equation. Who decides how much money the government gets, who decides how that money gets spent, and who are the people who make those decisions.

Currently, we the people only have the power to pick the decision makers. Given the way the game is rigged with legislation like McCain/Feingold our power there is very week.

The government holds all the real power. The government decides how much of our money it gets to take. The government decides how that money is spent. And as our current experiment with Republican Party majority shows, who we put in power doesn't seem to matter.

It is not remotely practical for we citizens to take back the power of spending. There is no way as a population we could ever administer the federal budget.

But what if we could take back the power to decide how much of our money the federal government got to spend? I don't mean simply electing politicians who promise to cut taxes. We've all read those lips before. And even when we do get tax cuts they are only temporary. By design or just until the next batch of politicians decides to raise them again.

I am not talking about a flat tax.

I am not talking about tax reform.

I am talking about a tax revolution.

Yeah. I'm talking about the Fair Tax.

What is the Fair Tax? To get the full answer you'll have to buy the book. In a nutshell it is scrapping the entire federal tax system and replacing it with a consumption tax. A sales tax.

I am not going to go into the financial workings of the legislation here. Maybe in a future post or you could just buy the book. (There is also a movie that explains how the Fair tax works that runs about 23 minutes.) What I am concerned with today is taking the power of taxation away from the government and returning it to the individual.

The Fair Tax would apply to the purchase of new goods for consumption. You decide when and what you pay in taxes when you decide when and what you purchase.

Need a car? Buy a new car and the Fair Tax is rolled into the purchase price and that portion of your money goes to the federal government. Buy a used car and the federal government gets - say it with me - NOT ONE DIME.

Don't feel like paying much in taxes at all one year? Just put off any major purchase of anything new.

You decide when and how much tax you want to pay by deciding when and what you buy. It should be theoretically possible to pay almost no taxes in a given year. (Note to self: if this bill looks like it might pass buy shares of eBay.)

Keep in mind, that the Fair Tax is designed to replace all federal taxes on income. That means no more IRS. No more federal tax withheld from your paycheck. That means no more FICA withholding from your paycheck. No more Medicare withholding from your paycheck.

You earn it. You keep it.

There are of course entire industries built around the current tax code. Tax lobbyists, tax lawyers, accountants. All of them would be no longer necessary. But these people would not likely be out of work for long.

Gone also would be corporate income taxes. The kind of taxes that make businesses decide to invest their money outside of the country to avoid paying taxes. Imagine the growth potential if all of that money and billions of dollars more were invested in the US.

And you do understand that companies do not pay income taxes don't you? You do know that when a company decides what to charge for a product they are trying to maximize their after tax dollars? You do understand that companies are just tax collectors for the government? You do know that you pay the taxes on corporate income, right?

All those tax incentives the government uses to manipulate things it lacks the constitutional authority to regulate - gone.

All those thousands of wasted hours and millions of wasted dollars spent on filling out tax forms and complying with the tax code - we get those back.

The IRS - gone.

The power over citizens contained in the ability to manipulate the tax code - gone.

Watch the movie. Buy the book. Buy copies for your friends. Badger your congressional representation.

Let's make a revolution.

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Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 01:54 PM | No Comments | Add Comment


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