Monday, September 16, 2019

THE SECOND AMENDMENT IS OBSOLETE!



Yes, America, the 2nd Amendment is obsolete.

As I explained in an earlier post at my other blog THE WANDERING TAX PRO titled “The Truth About the Second Amendment”, the purpose or the 2nd Amendment, the reason it was written, was to protect the existing state and local militias because many of the founding fathers opposed a national standing army.

This purpose no longer exists. We no longer rely on volunteer local and state militias to protect our communities, states and the country and to fight wars, as was the case in the Revolutionary War and before. We now have local, county and state police forces, the National Guard and national Armed Forces.

Since the purpose for creating the 2nd Amendment no longer exists it is totally obsolete and has no relevance today.

Sara Huckabee Sanders, the former Trump Administration official liar whose job it was to lie to the American public and repeat and defend the lies of Trump, recently tweeted one the stupidest things ever, even from a “Trumpee”, which is, sadly, also erroneously believed true by some Americans and reinforced by the NRA –

No, we have guns because it’s our God-given right enshrined in the Constitution.”

For one, I don’t recall it saying anywhere in the Bible that God has given man the right to own a gun.

And let me quote conservative Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger –

The Gun Lobby’s interpretation of the Second Amendment is one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word fraud, on the American People by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime. The real purpose of the Second Amendment was to ensure that state armies – the militia – would be maintained for the defense of the state. The very language of the Second Amendment refutes any argument that it was intended to guarantee every citizen an unfettered right to any kind of weapon he or she desires.”

Before I leave the subject let me make one thing perfectly clear.  There is absolutely no legitimate reason for any American to own an assault weapon.  If the government acknowledges this and appropriately bans Americans from owning assault weapons, as it had in the past, saying people shouldn't be able to own assault weapons - why wouldn't you have a mandatory buy-back of currently owned assault weapons? It is only logical. 

The government would NOT take the rifle you use for hunting or target practice – but it should take your AR-15, your AK-47.  No American should be allowed to own assault weapons, regardless of when it was purchased.

TTYL














Monday, August 12, 2019

REALITY (TV) SUCKS!






From the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary –

ex-cre-ment noun \ ek-skrə-mənt\

Definition of EXCREMENT

(1) waste matter discharged from the body; especially: feces

(2) reality tv

— ex•cre•men•tal\ˌek-skrə-ˈmen-təl\ adjective
— ex•cre•men•ti•tious\-ˌmen-ˈti-shəs, -mən-\ adjective

Examples of EXCREMENT

(1) an ordinance that requires dog walkers to remove their animal's excrement from city streets

(2) MTV’s "The Jersey Shore" is a steaming pile of excrement

Reality sucks!  Reality tv, that is.

I wish someone would explain to me why the great unwashed masses are so fascinated by watching people with limited intelligence and no self-respect behave badly on a deserted island, in courtrooms, on the runway or at a photo shoot, in a boardroom sucking up to an over-exposed and self-absorbed millionaire, losing weight, in restaurant kitchens, in tattoo parlors and beauty salons, or supposedly looking for a mate.

Once upon a time television, while not always succeeding, at least attempted to entertain, enlighten and educate. 

Watching self-absorbed trophy wives - neither “real” nor “housewives” - bitch and moan, drink like fishes, and engage in catfights certainly does not deserve a “bravo”.

Watching a family of ignorant and bigoted hillbillies hunt ducks is neither art nor entertainment.

Watching the brain-dead living together in close quarters is not entertaining, enlightening or educational.

Watching a bevvy or women throw themselves at a potential mate, who is only in it for the sex, is nothing more than bad soft-core pornography.

Watching children being abused and paraded around in inappropriately mature costumes in dance class or “beauty pageants” is porn for pedophiles. 

The above all represent examples of the genre incorrectly referred to as “reality tv” (the only true reality tv is the evening news).  I remember coming across the last scene in the tv movie about arrogant moron Trump while channel surfing several years back.  Mark Burnett is pitching the idea for THE APPRENTICE to Trump.  It’s not reality,” Burnett tells him.  It’s reality tv”.

There is more expression of true human emotion and “reality” in the main characters of BONES remembering a fallen comrade or android Data trying to learn to be “human” in STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION than in an entire season of any reality tv garbage.

While the motto of the father of reality programs is “Outwit, Outplay and Outlast”, the real motto of the reality tv genre is “Embarrass, Humiliate and Abuse”.

Just to be clear, when I refer to “reality tv” I am not talking about legitimate talent contests or home improvement shows likes those on HGTV or DIY.  You know what shows I am talking about.

What does reality tv do?  It takes greedy self-absorbed individuals, totally devoid of self-respect and common sense and with questionable intelligence, puts them in unnatural situations, encourages them to act outrageously, and films everything they do.  This has nothing to do with “reality”.

In my younger days the criteria for determining if a book or movie was pornography was the lack of any “socially redeeming value”. I dare anyone to show me any socially redeeming value in any reality tv program.

Back in 2008 USA TODAY did a cover story on reality tv with interviews panels of “stars” from various shows of the genre.  When a panel from cable channel VH1 was asked about the most memorable moments from their shows, Flavor Flav said, “One of the most memorable moments in the history of reality TV was when that girl shit on my floor.”  Someone else responded, “No, I’d say it’s Mini-Me pissing on the carpet” from THE SURREAL LIFE.  Need I say more?

One of the programs in this heinous genre was a show called THE BIGGEST LOSER. Just who is the biggest loser when it comes to “reality tv”?

It goes without saying that those who participate as hosts and contestants on a reality program, and those who actually watch the garbage, are indeed losers, in every sense of the word. Also on the list of losers are the multitude of actors, writers, directors, and other creative personnel who are unemployed as a result of the proliferation of these programs.

No actual creativity is needed for reality tv.  The director just tells the participants to act outrageously and the cameraperson points and shoots.

But the biggest losers are those of us who recognize the genre for the crap that it truly is, and therefore avoid it like the plague. For every hour of “reality” programming that pollutes the airwaves we are deprived of an hour of real television drama, comedy, documentary or news programming. By putting shows like THE BACHELOR and THE BACHELORETTE on its prime-time schedule, ABC has denied us what may have been the next ALL IN THE FAMILY, M*A*S*H, THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW, DESIGNATED SURVIVOR, THIS IS US, or 60 MINUTES.  The only winners in “realty tv” are the networks and the shows’ producers, who are laughing all the way to the bank!

Reality tv is a result of, and a major contributor to the ongoing continuance of, the “dumbing down of America”.  A result of this vile genre is the creation of a new breed of “celebrities” – self-important narcissistic buffoons with no talent who are merely “famous for being famous”.

One of the best descriptions ever of so-called “reality tv” and the making of its pathetic “stars” into “celebrities” appeared in an episode of the BBC tv show JUDGE JOHN DEED, starring Martin Shaw as the judge, a decade ago.  In “Popular Appeal” an angry contestant in a British reality tv show called “The Dungeon” kills another competitor on camera, and the show's producers face charges of manslaughter in Deed's court. The prosecution contends that they acted recklessly and engineered conflict in order to get higher ratings.  A psychiatrist working for the station that airs the show testifies that the producers purposely look for psychologically flawed “contestants” who can be easily manipulated and angered, which clearly represents what reality tv producers do in “real life”.  

Judge Deed, speaking to the producer of a reality TV show after the jury has returned its verdict, correctly observes –

Celebrity: the pursuit of the talentless by the mindless. It's a common disease of the twenty-first century. It pollutes our society, and diminishes all who seek it and all who worship it, and you must bear part of the responsibility for foisting this empty nonsense onto a gullible public.”

Reality tv is dangerous.  It teaches bad lessons to young viewers –

* Greed is good.

* Money is more important than self-respect or human dignity.

* It is acceptable to publicly humiliate people.

* A cat fight is an appropriate form of conflict resolution. 

* You don’t need education or even intelligence to be a success in America – any brain-dead idiot can become wealthy by appearing in reality tv nonsense.

In her excellent and spot on blog post “The Danger of Reality TV” Canadian Rhonda Scharf correctly observes -

The reality of reality shows is that they effectively affect our society. Television tells us what is normal and accepted and eventually it worms its way into our subconscious.

These messages are wrong. They instill a workplace mentality of winning at all costs. They have no compassion, no understanding, and no reality about the world we actually live in.”

A news item from 2012 reported –

The Girls Scouts are warning of the dangers of reality tv after a study by the Girl Scouts Research Institute concluded that reality shows are having a negative effect on young women.

The study found that reality television ‘more frequently portrays girls and women in competition with one another rather than in support or collaboration. This perpetuates a 'mean-girl' stereotype and normalizes this behavior among girls.’

The study concluded: Teen girls who regularly view reality tv accept and expect a higher level of drama, aggression, and bullying in their own lives, and measure their worth primarily by their physical appearance.’"

Television can change the world.  Pioneers like Norman Lear and the creative staff behind M*A*S*H changed the world for the better in the early 1970s.  And same-sex marriage would not have become legally accepted without Ellen DeGeneres and shows like WILL AND GRACE and MODERN FAMILY.  Today reality tv garbage is resulting in the decline and deterioration of our society.

Still don’t think reality tv is dangerous?   

Reality tv is responsible for the death of the Republican Party and the dire mess that America and the world is in today by giving undeserved credibility to a mentally unstable narcissistic sociopath and cartoon clown who is completely unfit to serve in any elected position of power – the current President of the United States.

From the Thesaurus –

Synonyms for “shit”:

BM, crap, defecation, doo-doo, dung, excrement, excretion, fecal matter, feces, manure, number two, poop, reality tv, stool, waste.

TTYL









Monday, February 11, 2019

THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE MUST GO!



Please remember who actually won the 2016 Presidential election –

Candidate            Party           Popular Votes

Donald J. Trump      Republican      62,980,160
Hillary R. Clinton   Democratic      65,845,063
Gary Johnson         Libertarian      4,488,931
Jill Stein           Green            1,457,050

Trump lost the election to Hillary Clinton by almost 3 Million votes.  When you add the votes for the two major “third party” candidates almost 9 Million more Americans voted against Trump than for him.

The American people did not put Trump in the White House.  The blame for the daily damage Trump does to America and American values and democracy belongs to the Electoral College.

Ironically, one of the reasons the Founding Fathers created the Electoral College was, according to “Why the Electoral College” from HISTORY CENTRAL, because “they feared a tyrant could manipulate public opinion and come to power”.   The article explains that Alexander Hamilton and the other founding fathers “believed that the electors would be able to ensure that only a qualified person becomes President. They believed that with the Electoral College no one would be able to manipulate the citizenry. It would act as check on an electorate that might be duped. Hamilton and the other founders did not trust the population to make the right choice. The founders also believed that the Electoral College had the advantage of being a group that met only once and thus could not be manipulated over time by foreign governments or others.”

The other reason for creating the College was to give extra power to the smaller states, part of compromises made at the Constitutional Convention to appease the small states.

So, one of the main reasons for the existence of the Electoral College is to keep a dangerous demagogue like Trump out of the White House.  It obviously does not work. What it can do is negate the actual “will of the people”, as it clearly did in 2016.

Even Trump himself opposed the Electoral College, at least before it put him in office.  On November 6, 2012, Trump tweeted “The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy.”  It turns out to be perhaps the only time he was right – Trump’s Presidency is a disaster for our democracy, and since the Electoral College put him in office it follows that it, too, is a disaster.

The last time the winner of the popular vote lost via the Electoral College was in 2000 - Gore had 543,895 more votes than Dubya.  Before that election, the last time the popular vote winner did not become President was in 1888.

Like Trump, the Electoral College must go!  We must never again allow it to put an incompetent, unqualified and ignorant malignant narcissist in the White House, contrary to the wishes of a substantial majority of the voters.

Tennessee Representative Steve Cohen, a Democrat, introduced a bill in the House to eliminate the Electoral College on the first night of the 116th Congress.  However, actually getting rid of this outdated and unnecessary way of electing a President would take a constitutional amendment, which would require 3/4 of the states to approve it. 

So, while eliminating the Electoral College is essential, it will be very hard to do.  But we must start the process now.  

TAFN






Monday, February 4, 2019

INCOME TAXES – PENNSYLVANIA HAD THE RIGHT IDEA



It is tax time again.  As we organize for and prepare, or have prepared, our federal income tax returns we often think about the need for tax reform.

If we really want to simplify the current complicated and convoluted federal Tax Code, we should look at a tax system based, with some modifications, on the Pennsylvania state income tax.

The Pennsylvania state income tax is truly unique.  The tax returns of most states with an income tax follow the federal return and, for the most part, federal tax law – starting with federal AGI or taxable income and making state adjustments to this number.  PA had to be different.  Its state tax system was created from scratch, with very little similarity to federal tax law.

PA taxes gross income at a flat rate.  There are no exemptions for dependents and no filing status differences.  The only deductions allowed are unreimbursed employee business expenses, deducted directly against wages, and contributions to a Medical Savings Account, Health Savings Account, Section 529 qualified Tuition Program account, and Pennsylvania ABLE account.  Retirement income – distributions from IRAs, 401(k)s, 403(b)s, Social Security and Railroad Retirement, and other pension or retirement plans – is not taxed, and contributions to retirement accounts are not deductible or considered “pre-tax”.   Net gambling winnings, after directly deducting losses to the extent of winnings, are taxed.

Losses in one category are not allowed to reduce income in other categories.  Capital losses can reduce capital gains, but a net capital loss or a rental loss cannot be deducted from wages or interest and dividend income, as can be done, within some limitations, on the federal return.

The only credits allowed that are not related to a business activity are a special refundable “Tax Forgiveness” credit, sort of like the Earned Income Credit (unlike the EIC, based on earned income, eligibility for Tax Forgiveness is based on eligibility income, which differs from state taxable income, that includes a variety of sources) and a credit for taxes paid to another jurisdiction (like the federal Foreign Tax Credit).

I would make three modifications to the PA system for the federal return –

(1) Make the equivalent of PA’s “Tax Forgiveness” credit nonrefundable, and adjust “eligibility income” to include otherwise non-taxable retirement income, including Social Security and Railroad Retirement benefits.  

(2) Allow losses in one or more categories to be deducted against income from other categories to create a “net” total taxable income.

(3) In calculating the net earnings from self-employment activities like sole proprietorships and partnerships I would allow direct additional deduction on the Schedule C and Schedule K-1 for self-employed health insurance premiums (also allowed for sub-S owner-employees) to make the federal treatment of these activities similar to the treatment for a “C” corporation.

Like the PA state return the new federal return would allow a deduction for certain unreimbursed business expenses of employees directly against wages.  Also like PA, all pension and retirement account distributions would be exempt from tax (except for a transitional amount) and net gambling winnings, after a direct deduction of losses, would be the amount included in total income.  Gross wages would be taxed, with nothing treated as “pre-tax”.

The “transitional” amount of pension and retirement account distributions that would be taxed would be the remaining amount of applicable employee contributions that were treated as “pre-tax” or deductible on a prior Form 1040.  Going forward all pension and retirement accounts would be “ROTH-like” – no deduction or pre-tax treatment going in and no tax coming out.

There would be no “adjustments to income” other than the current self-employment tax deduction (the self-employed health insurance deduction would already be applied directly on Schedules C or E) and perhaps contributions to the same non-retirement savings accounts allowed on the PA return, no itemized deductions, and no tax credits, except for perhaps the Foreign Tax Credit.  The tax rate, currently 3.07% on the PA state return, would be perhaps 12% or more of the net total federal taxable income.

It would be an almost pure “flat tax”.

TAFN






Friday, February 1, 2019

UNIVERSAL MEDICARE AND HOWARD SCHULTZ


While I agree that it should be discussed, I disagree with the proposal for a “universal Medicare” program in the US – doing away with private health insurance companies and replacing it with government insurance – or basically socialized medicine.  While it may be an eventual solution in the future, it is not something that can, or should, be immediately implemented.

I actually like much of the basic premise of Obamacare, but with some tweaks – having the government provide direct point of purchase credits to reduce monthly health insurance premium payments for individuals who cannot afford it, and requiring insurance companies to cover “pre-existing” conditions.

My tweaks – 

Health insurance coverage should NOT be mandatory, employers should NOT be required to provide it, and those who do not have or provide what is considered “adequate” coverage should NOT be penalized.  And individuals should NOT be required to purchase the insurance through a government marketplace to be eligible for the advance premium credit.

I agree that insurance companies can be arbitrary in deciding on covered items, and perhaps there could be legislature to address this, similar to the mandatory coverage of “pre-existing” conditions.

I agree with Howard Shultz that the average mainstream Democrat does NOT support the kind of socialized medicine being proposed by several candidates.  

Sadly, while -

(1) in my opinion at first glance Schultz may perhaps be a perfect candidate for my political beliefs - an economically conservative, socially liberal "centralist" businessman (an actual self-made smart and savvy businessman who actually built a truly iconic business from scratch, coming from poverty),

(2) I agree that a too far-left Democratic Party platform may hurt chances for a Democratic victory, and

(3) I see the need for and in the past have supported 3rd Party candidates,

the 2020 election is not necessarily the right election for an independent candidacy.

The 2020 Presidential election may be the most important election in my lifetime. If deplorable, despicable, dangerous demagogue Donald T Rump lasts in office until 2020 – and hopefully he will not - he MUST not be re-elected. The most important issue of the 2020 election is putting an end to our national nightmare by defeating Trump – the future of America and the world depends on it.

While moderate Republicans could and probably would support Schultz, I fear that he would take more votes away from the Democratic candidate and potentially increase the chances of Trump being re-elected.

If he ran as a Democratic or a Republican candidate, I would seriously consider supporting him after reviewing his yet undisclosed platform and proposals. Otherwise so far, I am leaning toward Michael Bloomberg as a Democratic candidate.  But it is still early, and I expect there will be many more Democrats throwing their hats into the ring.  I also truly hope there will be Republicans challenging moron Trump in the primaries.

TAFN