February 27, 2014

The Johnson Family thanks you for your support.

Hope blood pressure isn't a worry for you.  If so, you might want to skip this post.

Let's start with the basics of the story:
Danielle Johnson flipped through tax forms earlier this week at her kitchen table, the only furniture in her apartment. Empty mattresses on the bedroom and living room floors indicate the number of kids away in school...
...She cares for her own children and her little sisters left by her late mother. She has six dependents altogether.
Johnson styles hair to pay the rent.  
Okay, then.  Single mom, caring for her younger sisters as well as children of her own.  Marginally but gainfully employed.  No doubt receiving public assistance; probably Social Security benefits for the sisters, likely food stamps, maybe WIC.  I can live with that.  She has a job, she appears to live frugally, trying to do the best she can.

It stinks what apparently happened to her, someone fraudulently filed a tax return using her SSN, and they got her refund.  And, the IRS told her it would take up to 6 months to get it straightened out.  This sort of tax fraud is growing by leaps and bounds, and, I would imagine, is even more pronounced in low income areas where con artists can masquerade as tax preparers and can probably scam a bunch of people in a short period of time, moving on before anyone is wise to what has happened.

So, I feel for Ms Johnson, I really do.  What makes my blood boil is this:
She poured out her story and her tears.
“These are my original tax forms,” she said. “I was getting back $8,304.00”
"I made $17,493 dollars," she said, pointing to a line on her return. 
What is your guess on the withholding amount on her W-2?  $18k with 6 dependents.  Sheesh, do you think any tax was withheld at all?  

She was/is getting a refund equal to nearly half of her annual wages.  How can we even call it a tax 'refund' if you are getting back more than you ever paid in?  Heck, $8,304 is probably more than she will pay in taxes over the next decade, and she is raking this type of change in every freaking year.  Shouldn't she have to claim that as income?    

People like you and me are funding all of the assistance programs, as well as paying into the big pot that gives stacks of cash to people like Ms Johnson.    

February 26, 2014

Absolutes

From north of Houston, we have yet another (un)intended consequence of a school's zero tolerance policies.
Christi Seale said her 17-year-old son Chaz was running late Monday and accidentally grabbed a beer instead of a soda to pack in his lunch.
When Chaz realized his mistake, Seale said he immediately gave it to a teacher at Livingston High School, about 90 minutes north of Houston.
But the school didn't buy the story. The teacher called the principal and Chaz was suspended for three days. He will also have to attend an alternative school for two months.
Suspended for three days and alternative school for two months, for a freakin' can of Coors Light?

In the article, the student's mom makes the key point -  this kid has been punished for doing the right thing.  He is receiving the same punishment that would be given to a kid who intentionally brought a beer to school and got caught with it.  Though I do have to point out that thanks to the president's wife, that can of soda he intended to bring would likely get him in a heap of trouble, as well.

Many moons ago, I was taking a summer school class.  For reasons I do not remember, I drove my mom's car to school one day.  I do remember that it was a Wednesday, because Tuesday nights were my mom's rec league softball games.  That Wednesday morning, I got pulled out of class and questioned about what I was driving.  Yes, the silver Datsun (showing my age) instead of my black Ford.  Well, the problem hinged on the clearly visible 12-pack cartons of beer in the hatchback, remnants of my mom's turn to bring the post-game beer the night before.

Thankfully, it was still an age of sanity, and one call to my mother and a stern reminder to check for contraband before driving onto campus again, was enough.

Schools don't care to weigh issues with common sense.  More disturbing is that schools have no regard for parents.  Yes, I agree that there are many parents that cover for their kids when they shouldn't, but have we really sunk so far that none of us can be trusted?

Tip for the Seale family:  buy your beer in bottles, preferably ones that say "Shiner" on the label, and you shouldn't have this problem again.

February 25, 2014

Priorities

In my little town this morning, a bunch of people just lost their jobs.  Some people in the know had already cleaned house, but the rest were greeted with a local paper headline about a horse farm busted for importing and employing illegal aliens.  Now, I will admit that these workers were treated far worse than most I know, and, yes, I know a few.  No, I don't ask for green cards or papers upon meeting someone, but there is an assumption made, whether it be ranch work, yard work, construction...some number of those folks are likely in our country illegally.

This case was egregious in that the farm owner, allegedly, didn't allow his workers to have a vehicle.  They never left the ranch on their own, only getting to go to the store once a week when he took them to town.  As you would imagine, they were paid well below the minimum wage.  Does that justify a full-on federal raid?

This is a small town, so when Homeland Security first came investigating, leaving calling cards on gates and talking to neighbors, word traveled fast.  This action, apparently, based on one disgruntled employee getting wise and alerting authorities.

Why do calls to investigate child abusers go unanswered?  Why is any American hungry, homeless, jobless?  Why does our government devote seemingly infinite resources to protecting and defending the plight of people, whose very presence in our country is unlawful to begin with, while unspeakable crime and violence affects American citizens every minute of every day?

Yes, all life is precious.  Yes, all humans deserve to be treated as such.  But, people who make choices to accept something less for a buck, to break a law, to cheat a system - why should they receive more care or attention than innocent children, or lawful citizens?

February 24, 2014

FOD

Though I am generally opposed to inviting the government into my home, I have a proposition.  I think everyone should have a taxpayer funded expenditure clock in their home.  Like the popular debt clock widgets on blogs, or the big digital debt clocks at political conventions, only this one will have a Jerry Lewis-worthy timpani roll and running total each time that taxpayer money is used to fund something that most taxpayers would never dream of voluntarily funding.  "Obamaclocks"

Here is my 'for instance'.

Sitting in front of the TV, phone, tablet or laptop in hand, checking social media while waiting for the Daytona 500 to crank back up, and *ding*, there on Twitter is another taxpayer funded commercial goading you to sign up for Obamacare:



The Obamaclock would light up, an alarm would sound, and ta-da, here is the running total of how much of your wealth has been redistributed today.  It's okay, it's for people that need healthcare.  And have Twitter accounts.

Over the course of the NBC Olympic coverage, I would surmise that I saw the Magic Johnson Obamacare commercial at least a dozen times.  The first time, I turned to my husband and said, "Did the man with AIDS just tell me I needed to sign up for a healthcare plan?"  And then I remarked about how offensive it was to know that we paid for that commercial.

I think a lot more people would be offended if they were constantly reminded of what their tax dollars pay for, hence the clock idea.  Now, if I can design it with some NSA eavesdropping capability, I can probably get the government to buy it.  Forget "a chicken in every pot", we need "an Obamaclock in every home".

February 23, 2014

Outta Gas

The weather is nice, the chore list is long, but I just can't seem to find the energy to do anything.

I have several projects that need to be started (and finished), but I keep finding excuses to delay them.  Procrastination usually isn't my style, but I have become an expert the past few weeks.  The Olympics have provided a nice cover story, but the clock is ticking on that one.  All that remains is the tape delay broadcast of the closing ceremonies, then I am minus one good excuse.

The weather cleared, but still isn't quite warm enough for a couple of tasks.  Unfortunately, my other go-to excuse has been the disaster otherwise known as our garage.  Christmas, Boy Scout camping trips in the mud, and the clutter of things that must be hidden from Labrador puppies have multiplied into a scene from a hoarding reality show.  I really need my workbench cleared.  And Bang is set to begin work on his Eagle Scout project that will command some open space.

Gah.  Guess it is time to embrace the suck and dive into the 'indoor' madness, since the outdoor chores are on the cusp of their season, and trying to do both will be overwhelming.

Hmmm.  Maybe I should have a Shiner and make a plan of attack.  Yeah, that's the ticket, I haven't planned it out yet, so I will work on that and get started next weekend...

February 21, 2014

Location, location, location

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – A group of Girl Scouts are making quick work of their ongoing cookie sales by setting up shop outside marijuana dispensaries, according to published reports.
The East Bay Express reported that Girl Scout troops have boosted sales by targeting the pot clubs in the Bay Area.
Heh.

I am surprised that we haven't heard more of these stories from the states that allow legal recreational sales.  (For the record, Colorado GS officials tweeted that they don't allow cookie sales in front of marijuana or liquor stores - but they do allow kids with penises to be Girl Scouts).

Of course, the cookie mom in the California story was quick to find moral high ground, saying that part of the decision to sell cookies outside of medical marijuana dispensaries is to provide a 'teachable moment' for the girls, to show that people that 'need' medical marijuana aren't strung out, they are just nice normal people with 'serious needs' - and those needs result in the munchies.

February 20, 2014

Economizing Deaths

An excellent article seen on one of my daily reads, White House Dossier, titled "Obama Will Ensure Global Warming Kills You".  The article includes a photo of a wrecked Smart car.  One that would make any normal person think twice about getting into one.

Having lived in Germany for several years, I saw more than one small economy car crumbled up in a ball on the autobahn.  To be fair, Smart wasn't and isn't the only 'micro-car', and was only one of several European favorites that we routinely saw decimated on the highway.  Europeans, for the most part, don't have the 'bigger is better' mentality that Americans do, especially in relation to automobiles.  Their streets and farm roads couldn't sustain them, their gas prices are atrocious, and, it is much more fun to zip down the autobahn in something small and quick, anyway.

The WHD article points to a 1999 USA Today review, "Death by the Gallon", about the number of American auto-related deaths that would have been survivable, had the wreck involved larger, heavier vehicles.
...in the 24 years since a landmark law to conserve fuel, big cars have shrunk to less-safe sizes and small cars have poured onto roads. As a result, 46,000 people have died in crashes they would have survived in bigger, heavier cars, according to USA TODAY's analysis of crash data since 1975, when the Energy Policy and Conservation Act was passed. The law and the corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards it imposed have improved fuel efficiency. The average of passenger vehicles on U.S. roads is 20 miles per gallon vs. 14 mpg in 1975.
But the cost has been roughly 7,700 deaths for every mile per gallon gained, the analysis shows.
I wonder how dramatically that number has increased in the 15 years since the study?  Especially as the micro-car segment has entered the scene.  Sure, great strides have been made in vehicle safety features, but simple physics reigns supreme.  Our government has mandated fuel economy that can't be achieved without compromising safety.

One of Boom's friends drives a Smart car.  The family is quite proud of the car, they even have a personalized plate on it celebrating the fact that the car is one-quarter the size of an SUV.  Therein lies the rub.  When one-quarter of an SUV meets an actual SUV at highway speed, what outcome do they expect?

February 19, 2014

Olympic Whiners

As the Olympics began, the advance team of media wonks were quick to take their lodging complaints and photographs to social media.  And, let's be honest, there were some inexcusable conditions, no matter the host country.  Somehow, the story became 'spoiled Americans' instead of 'unprepared host country'.  Lack of manhole covers and breaker boxes in showers, in any country, are an accident waiting to happen.

Last Saturday, the USA Men's Hockey team beat Russia in an eight-round shoot out overtime victory.  Earlier in the game, a Russian goal was waved off due to the net being off of its mooring.  Yes, an American referee made the call on the ice, but, replay hockey goals are reviewed by a group of 'video officials' in a booth, who call in the final decision to the on ice referee.  That didn't stop Russia and Russians from claiming an American conspiracy.  Even the head of the Russian parliament's foreign affairs committee Tweeted about it.  Apparently, he wasn't part of the Russian contingent that watched the play frame-by-frame and agreed that the call was correct.

Earlier this week, America won gold in ice dancing.  Arguments about it (not) being a 'sport' aside, the American team's training partners, who compete for Canada, were quick to bitch about not getting enough attention from the (Russian) coach that both teams share.  Apparently the shared coaching gig wasn't a problem when the Canadians won gold and the Americans took silver.  Nor was it as issue in any lead up to the competition and the numerous feature stories about how the two teams train together and share a coach.  Nope, it wasn't a problem until the whiny ass Canadians took second place.

For the record, every girl I have ever known named 'Tessa' was a raving bitch.  Add 'ice dancer' to the equation, and no one should be surprised.

I am about sick of the whiners.  Especially considering that an extremely high number of foreign athletes train in the United States.  I caught part of a Tony Kornheiser rant yesterday that I will paraphrase - If you want your own coach/training facility/top of the line equipment/team of experts - pony up the money.  And, I think, you should have to train in the country you plan to represent at the Olympics.

February 18, 2014

Why Texas is better than California

I came to Texas kicking and screaming as a teenager, loathe to leave my childhood friends behind, and sad to move 8+ hours away from a close extended family.  I still love that family, but feel relief wash over me each time I see the Midwest in my rearview, headed back south on I-35 after a visit.  It really is better in Texas.  Sure, we struggle with the oppression out of D.C., and the liberal scourge that is found in some of our large cities, but the vast majority of Texans - whether natural born, or blessedly transplanted - will ferociously protect the tenets of personal freedom, property rights, the 2nd Amendment, and the superiority of Shiner beer and Texas Country music.

My friend Charlie Delta is a left coaster who is forgiven for his state of residence because he would be in Texas if he could, recognizing the insanity that reigns in Cali.  Here is a run-down of some of the key differences:

February 17, 2014

FOD - President's Day Edition

Do you think that Obama realizes that President's Day isn't about him?

The current occupant of the Oval Office spent the weekend in California, golfing (161st round of his presidency), while his wife and daughters jetted off to Aspen for a weekend of skiing.

Other world leaders celebrated their country's athletes in Sochi, Russia, at the Olympics.  Some likely visited their troops, met with lawmakers, or tried to educate themselves as to the plight of their people.

Not our boy, no way.  He works so hard that he needs a weekend with the boys.  After all, it has been nearly six weeks since his Hawaiian vacation ended.

Well, what do we expect in a country where Groupon thinks Hamilton was a president, and more people than I would care to admit didn't even recognize the mistake?  We enable this sort of activity by our apathy and ignorance.  C'mon America, wake up and take back your government.  This President's Day, let's remember leaders who were willing to risk their lives for our freedom.  Who sought to establish a representative government, to prevent tyranny.

I don't know what the answer is to our presidential problems, but I know the answer can't be found on the golf course.


February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day

Not sure if it is my age, or something else, but while I wish everyone else the best this Valentine's Day, I have no patience for the whole thing.  Dinner?  Hell, no.  Who wants to fight Friday night and pseudo-holiday crowds?  Flowers?  Nah, archetypal.  Candy?  Well, sure, but that works any day, doesn't have to be in a heart-shaped box.

When my husband and I discussed whether or not we were doing anything for V-Day, I got most excited about him using his day off to knock out some laundry.  It's the little things that keep our love alive.

Whether you are celebrating big or small, or not at all, I hope it is everything you hoped for.


February 12, 2014

An Acorn of Sanity

It is sad, that in today's world, the infrequent, yet blessedly welcome, bright spots of sanity are as few and far between as the proverbial acorn found by a blind squirrel.
Former U.S. Army 1st Lt. Michael Behenna has won parole and will be released from Fort Leavenworth on March 14, his mother, Vicki Behenna, said Wednesday.
If the name doesn't ring a bell, well, it should, as his story is an epic tale of an egregious miscarriage of justice.
On March 20th, 2009, Army Ranger 1st Lieutenant Michael Behenna was sentenced to 25 years in prison for killing Ali Mansur, a known Al Qaeda operative while serving in Iraq. Mansur was known to be a member of an Al Qaeda cell operating in the lieutenant’s area of operation and Army intelligence believed he organized an attack on Lt. Behenna’s platoon in April 2008 which killed two U.S. soldiers and injured two more. Army intelligence ordered the release of Mansur and Lt. Behenna was ordered to return the terrorist to his home.
During the return of Mansur, Lt. Behenna again questioned the Al Qaeda member for information about other members of the terrorist cell, and financial supporters. During this interrogation, Mansur attacked Lt. Behenna, who killed the terrorist in self-defense. The government subsequently prosecuted Lt. Behenna for premeditated murder. 
The terrorist lunged for his gun.  Expert testimony corroborated Behenna's version of events, but that evidence was (illegally) withheld during the trial.  Behenna has served 5 years of a 40 year sentence, waiting for this first opportunity of parole.

While I celebrate his release, I am disgusted that an American soldier did any time for killing a known terrorist, and yes, Geneva Convention and ROE, be damned.  Mansur was an al Qaeda terrorist, and now he rots in hell.  "They that sow the wind, shall reap the whirlwind."

February 11, 2014

Olympic notes

The Good:

It sure is pretty in Sochi for those of us sheltered by/treated to only the televised money shots of the venues and views of the Caucasus Mountains.

I like the sport of the Olympics, not so much the hold hands and sing Kumbaya as one big happy world part, but more the opportunity to see so many world class athletes compete in so many sports in a short period of time.

Tucker West is almost guaranteed a date out of all this.

Curling pants.  Fantastic!

The guy that announces some of the skiing events, Chad Salmela.  He is enthusiastic.  And a screamer.

The Bad:

Bob Costas' pink eyes.  Sheesh, I squint and squirm just looking at him.  Glad to hear he is taking a day off.

White ski suits.  Notably, the Swedish cross-country ski suits.  At the beginning, Crash noted that he could 'see their underwear', by the end of the race, with sweat likely being a factor, the suits were even more transparent.

The halfpipe, apparently.  Shaun White was diplomatic in describing the conditions, but then shredded it anyway.

Todd Harris, whose snowboard play-by-play announcer vernacular makes me feel woefully old and uncool.

The Inexplicable:

Johnny Weir.  Seriously.  Earlier in the week, he styled his hair into, what was described as, a braided tiara.  He has worn these outfits:


 
C'mon, NBC, whatever happened to the standard issue of polo shirts, sweaters and blazers with the corporate and Olympic logos?

February 10, 2014

FOD

Saw it first over at A Nod to the Gods.  Too good not to re-post:



February 8, 2014

This is how we roll...

The local school district made waves in the media over the past year as they explored, approved and implemented a program that arms school staff members.

If you are remembering that crazy shop teacher you had in high school and shuddering at the thought of him with a weapon in a school, have no fear.  It isn't as if the district just said, "Hey, bring your guns."  There are psychological screenings, extensive training, and a comprehensive set of policies that round out the security plan.  No one outside of a very select group knows who, or how many, of each school's staff is armed.

They used to have signs similar to this one:


But, this week, these beauties went up:


Which one do you think would actually deter a criminal?

February 6, 2014

Snick Day

This morning dawned cold.  I hadn't slept well, waking often, and hearing that the heat was blowing in earnest, never kicking off, because our southern climate heat pump struggles to keep the house warm when it is 15 flippin' degrees outside.

It took every ounce of grown-up-edness to crawl out from my warm cocoon of blankets and into the shower at 5:30 am.  We got ready for our day.  As the kids ate breakfast, the snow started to fall.  And it was actual snow for a change, not north Texas ice.  We layered up and headed out.

The kids' school is on a hill.  A steep, S-curve of a hill when approached from the north, as we do.  As soon as I turned onto the road, I knew something was wrong as there were cars stopped.  No one could get up the hill.  Those with four-wheel drive probably could have made it with some momentum, but dozens of cars were stopped, and sliding sideways backward.  Not to mention those coming down the hill and curve sliding along.  Everyone was turning around, which we did as well.  The snow was coming down harder.  We headed for the long way around, with the intention of going to school.  Three miles and 30 minutes later, I made a command 'mom' decision and headed home with the kids.  We stopped for the obligatory storm-induced gallon of milk, and snack supplies for a snow day at home.

The minute I walked into the store, I started sneezing uncontrollably.  Then came the watery eye.  Just the left one, as if someone turned on a faucet. Then the nose, and throat and bleh.  Have you ever come down with a cold like that?  Like you walked right into a wall of snot and congestion?  Sick day.

Turned out to be a double good call, the turning around.  I was feeling like crap, and it took the schools about ten minutes to announce that they would be dismissing early, which would have likely been another treacherous and long commute to pick them up.

Snow day + sick day = Snick Day

February 5, 2014

Proud to know ya

For over 10 years I was involved in the production of a bluegrass music festival.  Started by a former mayor, it involved a genre of music that I had no prior interest in, had little knowledge about, and jumped in only because it was a favor to a friend.  I ultimately ended up being the executive director of the non-profit foundation that produced the event, heard fantastic music, and met some great people along the way.

Our little festival hosted the rock stars of bluegrass.  Grammy winners.  Living legends.  And, despite the rigors of road tours, they are generally the nicest, most genuine people.  They always take time to meet their fans.  They sit backstage and pick (jam) with other artists, because they love what they do.  It is fascinating to watch, and a joy to listen to.

I am still not an everyday fan of bluegrass, though I sure appreciate and admire the talent of bluegrass artists.  There are songs, and musicians, that I truly enjoy, but you won't often find me tuning to a bluegrass radio station.  (After 10 years of scouting talent and booking bands, I have more bluegrass CDs than I could ever hope to listen to).  Bluegrass artists are often the authors or musicians behind bigger names and more popular genres, and I am always tickled when I hear a familiar voice, riff, or name.  I heard one of 'my' performers this morning, and though most radio stations don't credit him with the vocal, I know better, and am so proud to hear Dan Tyminski's voice on Top 40 radio:


February 4, 2014

Could you investigate some real criminals?

How many drug dealers do you think there are in New York?  Is catching the one that sold a celebrity some heroin worth days and hours of police resources?

I understand that there may be some deadly batch of heroin on the streets, but, aren't all batches of heroin potentially deadly?  Isn't filling a syringe with something you bought from some guy on the street a deadly gamble, no matter what you think is in the syringe?

I appreciate that the death of a celebrity, who had, by some reports, up to 80 heroin baggies in his apartment, shines an extra light on any police investigation.  I can also appreciate the unique opportunity that a case involving a celebrity provides, since they are recognizable, and more people are likely to have remembered seeing them.

But, really, what outcome does the NYPD expect from gathering surveillance footage of a dead junkie's last drug buy?  Is there a misguided belief that they will recognize the seller and make an arrest?  Is it simply an exercise in trying to identify this strain of heroin?  Are they trying to stage a CSI-worthy investigation for the media and family?

For me, it comes down to the same thing.  And, in full disclosure, I haven't ever had a friend or family member that was a junkie, so I might feel different in another life.  Yes, I realize that there is drug violence in the world, but this isn't that.  Some rich celebrity hurt himself with drugs.  Throwing thousands of dollars worth of resources into finding out every detail of his drug use and death isn't likely to help anyone.  Let it go.  Move on.  Recognize the importance of self-responsibility and realize that the responsible person has already paid for his mistake.

February 3, 2014

FOD

I did not watch the SOTU.  I just can't listen to or look at the tool occupying the Oval.  I did read the transcript, because I think it is important to numerate the lies he tells, and to be an informed citizen.  Unless you have, blissfully I would imagine, been out of touch with the media for the past week, you have heard that the president came right out and said that he didn't care to cooperate and legislate, but instead would use the power of executive privilege to do whatever he wants in the coming years.

Nice of him to admit it, but he's been doing it all along.

Politico has an entire series on the things Obama has, is, and plans to do with his pen.  I encourage you to read it in its entirety.  For the sake of economy, I am going to post for you some of the things they list as being changed outside of the due process that our law makers are generally tasked with approving.
An in-depth examination of the administration’s actions and plans, agency by agency, regulation by regulation, reveals an executive power play that’s broad and bold — and intensely ambitious. Far more than he let on in the State of the Union, the president has marshaled the tools of his office to advance policies, many unabashedly liberal, that push deep into everyday life for tens of millions of Americans.
He wants to change how power plants operate. And what we buy for lunch. How we travel to work. And how our kids learn math. How our gasoline is formulated. How we light our aquariums.
When Congress wouldn’t support a climate change bill, the administration moved on its own to push the energy industry away from coal and toward green alternatives. The executive branch found a way to drive tremendous change in public schools, too — though education is typically under local control — by holding tight to billions in much-needed funding, and doling it out only to states that pledged to follow the administration’s prescriptions for reform. A tweak to a transportation grant formula even gave the administration influence over local urban planning; streetcars, all of a sudden, are popping up everywhere.
And it’s not Congress, but the executive branch, that’s on the verge of making Hershey’s reformulate its Reese’s Pieces. (Out, out, trans fat!)
As he tees up for his final three years, Obama is pushing to take his executive power further still, with the most ambitious regulatory agenda in decades. Executive actions now underway could shut down for-profit colleges that don’t meet the administration’s definition of success — even if they’re popular with students. They could raise the price of products ranging from trucks to furnace fans to manufactured housing to aquarium lights, by requiring them to be made more energy-efficient. The executive agenda even reaches the fires of the family hearth, with the Environmental Protection Agency planning strict new requirements for home wood stoves.
Whether American guns can be sold abroad. How smokeless tobacco can be marketed. Which nonprofits can stage get-out-the-vote drives. What constitutes a single serving of potato chips.
And, perhaps, just how salty those chips should be.
And all that pencil pushing comes at a price for we insignificant vassals in the overlord's fiefdom: 
Last year alone, Obama-era regulations added 158 million hours of paperwork for individuals and business owners, according to the administration’s own estimates, said Sam Batkins, director of regulatory policy at the American Action Forum. He pegs the total cost of Obama regulations over the past five years at nearly $500 billion — about the size of Sweden’s gross domestic product.

February 2, 2014

On Brotherhood

Last night I finally saw Lone Survivor.

I am acutely aware of the supporters, the detractors, and the artistic license that every movie takes with a based-on-a-true-life story.  There are only four men who know every detail of what happened on that mountain, three of them gave their lives there, and no matter how well-meaning the lone survivor is, even his memory is colored by his personal experience and the sheer immensity of the situation.

The film was hard to watch, due to the film industry's great strides in special effects, and the realistic portrayal of the sights and sounds of battle.

It is a gripping story.  The screenwriters and director managed to stay apolitical.  The movie is, quite simply, about the operation, the firefight, and the outcome, which is exactly why so many artsy movie critic types didn't like it.  Contrary to their views, I didn't require extensive character development to comprehend that men in combat are willing to die for one another.  Sure, they love and serve their country, but when it comes right down to it, they fight, and sacrifice, for each other.  Is there any greater story to be told?

My heart is heavy today, for 19 people I never knew, that died nearly nine years ago.  Today also marks the one year anniversary of the murder of ex-Navy SEAL Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield, so I am further saddened by loss - senseless, heart-wrenching, heroic loss.  Prayers and thanks to all who serve, and God bless their families.