Saturday, March 29, 2008
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
1-4 p.m. at the Midtown Library, 397 E. Central in Springfield, Missouri.
Everybody is welcome at MoLiCo meetings, you can go sound off too. It's a non-partisan citizen's group, a watchdog group keeping tabs on mostly local but also state and federal government.
Impending sales tax proposal for the police/fire pension fund
Commercial Street TIF
Container ordinance issue follow up
For more information contact Tom Martz 417-894-4322
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Saturday, March 22, 2008
24"(AX)The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is (AY)Lord of heaven and earth, does not (AZ)dwell in temples made with hands;
25nor is He served by human hands, (BA)as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things;
26and (BB)He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having (BC)determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation,
27that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, (BD)though He is not far from each one of us;
28for (BE)in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, 'For we also are His children.'
29"Being then the children of God, we (BF)ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man.
30"Therefore having (BG)overlooked (BH)the times of ignorance, God is (BI)now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent,
31because He has fixed (BJ)a day in which (BK)He will judge (BL)the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has (BM)appointed, having furnished proof to all men by (BN)raising Him from the dead."
16"For God so (W)loved the world, that He (X)gave His (Y)only begotten Son, that whoever (Z)believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
17"For God (AA)did not send the Son into the world (AB)to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.
18"(AC)He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of (AD)the only begotten Son of God.
23for all (A)have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
5(A)He saved us, (B)not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but (C)according to His mercy, by the (D)washing of regeneration and (E)renewing by the Holy Spirit,
8But God (A)demonstrates (B)His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, (C)Christ died for us.
1 Peter 3:18
18For (A)Christ also died for sins (B)once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might (C)bring us to God, having been put to death (D)in the flesh, but made alive (E)in the spirit;
12But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become (A)children of God, even (B)to those who believe in His name,
Friday, March 21, 2008
THERE IS NO IMMIGRATION DEBATE
Those who support amnesty for illegal immigrants, for whatever their self-serving reasons, do not care about the law. They do not want to hear about the law and they do not want the law to be enforced.
Those who support illegal amnesty will give you all sorts of emotional reasons why we should allow illegals to continue to live here in America even though they broke our laws to get here, and most of them are strawmen arguments but,
THERE IS NO IMMIGRATION DEBATE
Get it? They don't hear your valid arguments. They don't want to hear your legitimate arguments and they more than likely never will hear your arguments but that is not to say that you shouldn't continue to give them. The truth ALWAYS has a way of winning out over lies and strawmen arguments eventually.
Now, one last little item on my agenda here and then I've got to move on to other business and won't have any more time for this for a while, and actually, don't anticipate returning to the non-topic anytime soon.
Vincent David Jericho is on the radio three hours a day, five days a week. He accepts callers who can ask him anything they want to ask him. Why would he need to do an interview with anyone? I mean, you get him (or can get him) three hours a day, five days a week. Those of you who would like to see the man lose his job, or provide material support to others who would like to see him lose his job, need an INTERVIEW???
What's the matter? Can't get enough of him???
Really, get a *life* and get over it.
People have formats and forums, blog pages like this one,* letters to the editor of their local paper, all sorts of recourse to defend themselves, condemn others or build others up and communicate any message they'd like to communicate. To pretend it cannot be done except in one particular forum or one particular fashion is not only ridiculous, it's...well, never mind.
I exercise my freedom of speech as often as I want right here, I can share any opinion I want right here. I can just do it, of course with it comes responsibility, responsibility to get my facts straight and having a legitimate foundation for my opinions doesn't hurt. People will either read it and respect it or they won't, and no one has any more power over any other person than they give them.
*If you are interested in creating your own blog but don't know how to get started, it's really very simple and if you will click on my profile link you will find my email address. I'd be happy to direct you to a blog server.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
When I began this blog, I began it with a team mate (then later PJ was added).
My beginning team mate was "Momma Twoop." I have the utmost respect for my friend. Besides homeschooling her children she finds the time to tackle one of the most complex, and yes, divisive issues of our time, the issue of illegal immigration and what should be done about it.
She is an activist, not a journalist, though she could be a journalist if she chose to because I've yet to see her fail at anything she decides to do, maybe that's a part of the reason the immigration debate is such a frustration to her. She wins the arguments but loses the battle time and again because representatives are failing to represent the majority of the people in this matter.
One of the most cherished compliments I have ever received came before I even met my friend online, another commenter said, "I like her, she reminds me of Momma Twoop." I have since met her in person, met her children, her husband, broken bread with her and I can literally tell you that if she was the only friend I ever had, even though long distance, I would be rich in friendship.
Twoop recently responded to the ongoing turmoil surrounding the recent immigration panel discussion hosted by the Metro-Republicans. I felt her response to a commenter deserved to be moved to the front of the blog. She articulated many of my thoughts that I have been unable to articulate, but she does so with personal experience, with personal "battle" scars. I can't claim to have the scars she has acquired because I haven't been that active in the "battle," but I can say I have seen many of the things she writes about play out right here in Springfield, Missouri, most particularly in the editorial section of our local, daily newspaper.
So, the debate and the discussion over illegal immigration goes on:
"...it is also difficult to stand behind someone that you know is factually correct on the matter, but has burned bridges and made the discourse more difficult by their actions."
Twoop's response, (very slight editing):
I respect your position and under normal circumstances, I would agree 100%. However, these circumstances are, in my opinion, anything but normal.
I have been active in addressing illegal immigration, its costs and impact to our country, for almost 6 years. There is not a racist bone in my body, yet for 6 years I have been called a Nazi, Klan member, xenophobe, racist, bigot, white supremacist, and just about any other vile name you can think of.
For years, I have been writing and calling politicians about this and, until recently, most of them told me, in essence, don't worry about it, "It's a federal thing. Don't worry yer purdy lil haid about it none. We're handling it."
In 2003, I took a more active role when I found out that two buses of illegal aliens would be stopping in my city on their way to DC to demand "rights." They were part of the Immigrant Workers' Freedom Ride. I stood - 5 months pregnant with twins - on a sidewalk opposite the church where the buses were to stop, holding a sign that said, "Honk if you support ending illegal immigration." It would not be an exaggeration to say that 99% of the vehicles passing slowly by reacted in some way to show their support and agreement. Those supporting the "Freedom Ride," while waiting for the arrival of the buses called me every name you can think of, several suggested my twin fetuses would be better off if they died, and a few suggested I jump in front of passing cars to "make the world a better place." All this simply because I wanted our laws enforced, and people called me a "racist hater?!" That is NOT normal by any means.
Repeatedly over the past decade, the American people have made their voices crystal clear - they want illegal immigration stopped or, at the very least, slowed, our borders secured and no amnesty, and repeatedly our government has proven itself beholden to businesses that can make an extra buck and ethnocentric groups who support porous borders. The elected elite repeatedly present "comprehensive" immigration reform proposals until we, the American people who elected them to office, scream "NO! This is not right!" at the top of our lungs. At the same time, any meaningful legislation aimed at enforcement only is either watered down and passed or not passed at all. A majority of elected politicians openly supporting lawbreakers against the will of the majority of their constituents is not normal.
And throughout the years, the accusations of racism and bigotry fly without fail and without any supporting evidence. The ADL and the Southern Poverty Law Center, two groups that are supposed to point out hatred where it exists, have, in essence, labeled every group that supports enforcing our laws "extremist hate groups." A local protest at the Mexican Consulate's office against the Mexican government's meddling in our political process was labeled an "extremist event" by the ADL. *eyeroll* (I was there. Nothing approached "extreme," believe me. Quite boring actually. :)
Yet, these professional professed seekers of hate give openly hateful, and at times, violent, groups on the other side of this issue a pass - groups that have consistently and adamantly tried to stifle debate and discussion of this issue by yelling "Racist!" "Hater!" at every opportunity. That is not normal.
It is in this context that Jericho and those who believe as he does are acting. For far too long, the people who claim they want to "openly discuss" this issue have made every effort to prevent that discussion by yelling "racist, bigot, Nazi, klansman," etc., etc. ad nauseum at the drop of a pin and when it is far from the truth. Yes, there are some racists on the anti-illegal immigration side, although I have never met one in all my years in working with border security groups. It has been my experience that anyone revealing racist tendencies is immediately kicked to the curb. However, no one will deny that those kind of people exist. For years, though, people like Messenger, my local op-ed writers included, have attempted to portray us ALL as such. Yes, there are some racists on the pro-illegal immigration/amnesty side, many of whom I have met, but for years, everyone has DENIED their existence and most still do, including those professional groups that are supposed to monitor and report hatred and bigotry where it exists! Seeing hatred where it does not exist and ignoring it where it does, is not normal, nor is it healthy.
My point in writing all of this is that, I WOULD stand in support behind Jericho because what I have listed are the realities of our situation. IMO, Jericho didn't burn a bridge with his actions. There was no bridge there to burn. That bridge was burned the instant the pro-illegal/amnesty supporters started calling people racists, nazis and xenophobes simply because they want our laws respected and enforced.
It is also my opinion that Jericho didn't make the political discourse more difficult. He merely acted in accordance with existing discourse, the tone of which was set by the pro-illegal immigrant/amnesty side and their supporters, not us, and one which they seem loathe to let die.
Jericho's actions, while viewed as inappropriate and over-the-top by some, are completely understandable in light of this reality, one wherein anyone who wants those who knowingly break our laws to be held accountable is mercilessly attacked. Then, when we take a stand and attempt to stop those attacks, we're chastised for being "divisive." That is our, and Jericho's, long-standing situation in the immigration debate.
As an aside, I don't have the testicular fortitude to toss tennis balls in someone's direction, but lately I have been thinking of mailing some to a few state representatives who seem to be lacking those appendages. I haven't figured out yet how to put a spine in an envelope. :)
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
There has been some contention over Vincent David Jericho making a statement at a recent immigration panel discussion hosted by the Metro-Republicans in Springfield, Missouri. The statement he made was based on US CODE: Title 8,1324. Sections quoted by Mr. Jericho were:
(iii) knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that an alien has come to, entered, or remains in the United States in violation of law, conceals, harbors, or shields from detection, or attempts to conceal, harbor, or shield from detection, such alien in any place, including any building or any means of transportation;
(iv) encourages or induces an alien to come to, enter, or reside in the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such coming to, entry, or residence is or will be in violation of law; or....
Jericho asked those in attendance at the panel discussion to listen to what Yolanda Lorge, president of Grupo Latinoamericano, said at the panel discussion and to decide for themselves whether Lorge had violated that law. He said, if she violated that law it means she's a criminal.
Jericho cited federal law. There are many groups, organizations, businesses and/or individuals who could be considered as violators of that law. There are many federal laws regarding immigration that are not being enforced today. It is a part of the frustration that is today's illegal immigration debate.
When federal immigration laws are not enforced it causes economic, security and safety risk to all American people. That is why many people who argue for our existing laws to be enforced before any comprehensive immigration reform is considered are frustrated today. Comprehensive immigration reform seeks to change the existing law of the land to make it less "draconian" for those who have entered our country illegally and pose an economic and possible security and safety hazard to our legal population.
I think it is very unfortunate that, once again, rather than looking at the grave and serious issues that arise from our federal government's failure to enforce our existing immigration laws we are side swept into a debate of little consequence about whether this person respected or disrespected that person and the *proper* way "adults" carry on discussions. The bigger, more important issue of our federal government's failure to enforce our laws has gotten little or no attention in the aftermath of the immigration panel discussion, it seems almost by design.
That's the real insult in this situation.
It would almost seem as though some people consider civility to be a more important issue than whether our laws are enforced or not. That radio talk show hosts are a more egregious assault on our country than those who break the laws of our nation to come here illegally.
I say living under the law of our land is the most civil thing we can do.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
City Connect, the city's semi-blog,* has provided the following links at their website under the heading of "Talk to Council About the Budget on March 31" :
> Video link of the meeting today at the Council luncheon
> The city email address that citizens can use to communicate their ideas on the budget
> The budget discussion schedule
> The current year's budget
> Links to specific pages in the current year's budget that will be helpful to the public
These are the tools you need to comment or make recommendations for the future budget. You have 13 days to prepare to address Council at the March 31 meeting at Council Chambers from 6:30 - 8:00 p.m. if that is the way you choose to share your ideas. You know what to do. :)
* I consider it only sort of a blog because readers cannot post comments there. Readers can privately email questions and comments but there is no comment section. What's a blog without a comment section!?? :0
Monday, March 17, 2008
Yesterday I started writing a long, complicated post about the double whammy that Tony Messenger, outgoing Editorial Page Editor and George Freeman, former Editorial Page Editor of the Springfield News-Leader wrote regarding "dignity," "respect" and Vincent David Jericho but I had a discussion with a friend of mine last night and I rethought my approach.
On the one hand we had a subtle suggestion that there is too much political squabbling going on in Springfield these days, implying that Springfield is beginning to sound a bit undignified, a bit too much like Jefferson City and Washington D.C. these days. I read that column first.
In it, a person might get the impression that dignity is exampled by a person who allows a newspaper editorial writer to sit at your table, go back to the paper and criticize your guest of honor but invites the newspaper editorial writer back so he can have the option of insulting your guest of honor again. According to Messenger, that's the way adults act. That's gracious. And to be dignified, well, the epitome of dignity, according to Messenger is retired Greene County Circuit Court judge J. Miles Sweeney, in fact, Messenger wrote, Springfield IS retired Greene County Circuit Court judge J. Miles Sweeney and this quote from Sweeney is evidence of that:
"Treat people with respect, even if they're not respectable people."
So, how do you treat people with respect? I guess it's as simple as shaking someone's offered hand even if one doesn't have respect for the person offering the hand.
In Tony Messenger's world dignity is a very simple matter, respect is due all. Sitting in prison because you beat your wife and hurt your young son? No problem, have a "Voice of the Day" column on Tony Messenger! Accused of hassling a young student in a university social program? Sit at Messenger's table and prepare to be defended by a 2,000 word editorial column. Don't worry, we respect all --- but, but...
If you are a Republican in Jefferson City working to give urban blacks an opportunity at school choice by offering tax credits to contributors of a scholarship fund but refuse to go along with Messenger's erroneous definition of tax credits and call them vouchers you are a LIAR, you walk like a duck, quack like a duck and you lie (?) like a duck (apparently Tony doesn't care much for ducks). When pressed that the tax credits WERE tax credits and not vouchers, it didn't matter what you called them to Tony Messenger and he never apologized for trying to bully Republicans into identifying them as such. He never apologized for his sad and dishonest analysis of the bill.
We agree and disagree with people at the table and we "do it as grown-ups," around here! None of our fine citizens fall short or "ride the short bus" around here!
Dignity, that's what we need. Today, there are simply too many "political squabbles" in Springfield, Missouri, the traditionally dignified city.
"Treat people with respect, even if they're not respectable people." - J. Miles Sweeney.
Then, as is my habit, I clicked on the online "opinion" page of the Springfield News-Leader and read the column written by George Freeman. Freeman wasn't so subtle as Messenger but that's okay. Freeman deserves a spot at the table, deserves respect and we should all act like "grown ups," here in the dignified city of Springfield. Wife beaters and former Editorial Page Editors, all are welcome, all have a place at the table.
As Freeman invited Springfieldians to work their wiles to try to cause radio talk show host Vincent David Jericho to lose his job, and his advertisers, it became apparent that he disagrees with Tony Messenger. That Freeman doesn't think everyone with whom we disagree should be respected and be given a place at the table of Springfield, Missouri.
Well, that's what dignified bullies (or editorial page editors) do, I guess. Decide for the rest of us what we should do, educate us. Offer us addresses to criticize a man out of a job while failing to offer us the full address of a wife beater criticizing the Sheriff.
There is a seat at the table for everyone? Really?
"Treat people with respect, even if they're not respectable people." Really?
Messenger's "ducking" out of town now and waddling back to Jefferson City's table. I hope there's plenty of room for him there. I hope they act like "grown-ups" there. I hope the ducks ain't too mad for being compared to Republicans.
Respect the ducks!
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Under the legislation, companies that hired illegal immigrants could have had their business licenses suspended, or revoked after three instances....
Supporters accuse Hispanic activists of playing the race card and say lobbyists such as Livengood were more interested in preserving access to a low-wage work force that allows employers to reap fatter profits....
"This is a real tragedy," said Ray Mejia, a retired, Mexican-born Army Reserve officer who spoke out in favor of the illegal immigration bill.
"What took place in the last couple of days has been about the service industry, which seems to have gotten in with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce."
Mejia, whose appearance earlier this year at a Statehouse news conference while wearing his uniform drew a reprimand from his superiors, said local Hispanic leaders have missed the point about setting the example for immigrants.
"When I came here as a student, I washed dishes, I bused tables, I pumped gas," he said. "But I never had to look over my shoulder to see if anyone was looking for me. Because I did it the legal way."
Taylor, who kept supporters updated with his Hoosiers for Secure Borders Web site, directed his anger at Hispanic leaders and the business lobby.
"I think the concerted effort by those who labeled the issue as racial was probably the predominant factor," Taylor said. "Running a close second is the inherent self-interest of certain business interests and their lobbyists and the effect they have on our state legislature."
For more information visit: Hoosiers for Secure Borders
UPDATE: I thought readers might be interested to know that there have been 543 comments posted to the Indystar article so far. If you would like to read them or add your own comment, go to the article page, link listed at the beginning of this entry, and click on the "talkback" icon.
Monday, March 10, 2008
The link above will take you to Chapter 1 of Ecclesiastes. I would recommend reading the whole book in one setting because there is an overall message to the book. If you are like me you'll find yourself returning to it over and over again through the years.
Note for those who don't read the Bible or aren't familiar with Ecclesiastes: It was written by King Soloman who was asked by God what gift he would like God to give him, rather than asking for riches King Soloman asked for wisdom. God chose to give him both wisdom and riches because he chose his gift so wisely.
Saturday, March 08, 2008
Some time ago I used to try to make the case that people who are opposed to illegal immigrants receiving amnesty and people who wanted to see the law of the land of America regarding illegal immigration be enforced are not bigots, but you know what? I realized that just as on any issue and just as in any group of people, people band together for different reasons. For that reason, I realized that while I am not bigoted against brown skinned, black skinned, yellow skinned, red skinned, or purple fingered people who come into our country either legally or illegally, and the majority of people against amnesty for immigrants who came here illegally and would like to see our border laws enforced and employers pay a steep penalty for employing those immigrants who have entered our soveriegn nation illegally are not bigoted that some people may be. I have come to the realization that the motivations of some are convoluted and complicated and bigotry against people of different nationalities or skin color may play a part in some people's overall reason for opposing illegal immigrant amnesty, supporting border security and stricter laws against employers who hire such illegal immigrants. So I don't argue anymore that bigotry is not a factor for anyone, I argue that it isn't a factor for me and it shouldn't be a factor for anyone.
What is your definition of rude and uncivil behavior? What is your definition of civility and respect?
If someone throws a pair of tennis balls at a man and says, "Here, this is the only pair of these you'll ever have," a crowd of civil and respectful people might suck in some air and deplete the oxygen in the room. Those people might later issue scathing reviews of such behavior as "disrespectful," as "rude," as "crude" and as "uncivil," and I'll even concede that they would have a point.
The exclamation of tennis balls at the end of the sensationalized sentence could certainly be justified as an act of disrespect accompanied by such a comment coming from a radio talk show host at an immigration debate. But, in fact, he might have done so because he's tired of back-handed newspaper editorials that generalize and oversimply the issue of immigration reform themselves by repeatedly and regularly implying that all those who oppose amnesty, propose secure borders and would like to see the law of the land enforced are either bigoted xenophobes or ill-informed ignoramuses or a combination of the two. That, you see, is civil, in their opinion. That sweeping characterization is respectful. That sentiment is neither rude nor crude in the opinion of such an editorialist.
Let me tell you something, two wrongs don't make a right, but personally, I would much rather see the knife welded by the villan coming at me so that I would have an opportunity to defend myself against it than have it sneak, stealthily and silently from behind, never seeing it before it is slid so back-handly between my shoulder blades.
How many tennis balls does it take when given an opportunity to debate an issue for one to agree repeatedly with one's opponent, for one to offer no research and for one to just talk about how the divisive rhetoric on the part of the country needs to end? Zero.
The one offered the opportunity to debate in a forum in Springfield on last Thursday evening didn't offer any real and tangible reasons to support amnesty, to keep our borders unsecure and open and to continue to allow employers of illegal aliens to hire them with no or a mostly un-enforced penalty. In fact, anything like that, in his mind, would do more good than harm (?) but we don't know why because neither at the debate or in a recent editorial at the Springfield News-Leader does the proponent of those ideas tell us why those sentiments would be more good for our country than bad.
How many tennis balls does it take to slink back to the editorial board to form a consensus view on behalf of the Springfield News-Leader that slyly characterizes those who oppose illegal immigrant amnesty, support border security and tough employer penalty for the hiring of illegals as ill-informed, ignorant bigots?
It doesn't even take two.
I agree with the News-Leader, immigration reform is a complicated issue. The divisive rhetoric needs to stop on the part of those who are sympathetic to the illegal immigrant population. Those who want to talk out of both sides of their mouths, on the one hand stating, "It's complicated," and on the other hand refusing to even entertain the opinions of those who disagree with their sentiment for tangible and legitimate reasons and they need to stop characterizing those who disagree with them with generalized slander and assumption.
No, two wrongs don't make a right but lets at least recognize that there are two wrongs. Let's not pretend that when a debate takes place in the physical world and one party "rises above" disrespect and rudeness in that physical realm when he is face to face with his opponent and has the opportunity to make his case but fails to, then returns to his office, in quiet reflection and takes the hidden knife out of his pocket to carve away the credibility of those who feel so passionately about this issue for legitimate reasons and place in the cavity he has created the infection of generalized slander toward all is somehow more civil and respectful than the other.
Friday, March 07, 2008
I am a freelance journalist who likes the Bill HR 25/ S 25. My husband and I used to be more active in the grassroots effort of your organization but due to frustrations from trying to assist in promoting the cause but not getting the material and moral support from your organization required to do so, we have not been active for a number of years. In fact, my husband used to be a district director for your organization.
It was because of those concerns that I was interested in reading the email that my husband received from you today, "FairTax campaign apologizes." Communications Director Ken Hoagland apologized for asking for more money on behalf of your organization but in the email, Mr. Hoagland listed what your organization has accomplished and seemed quite proud of those accomplishments. My difference, and I think my husband's too (though I wouldn't dream of speaking for him) with Mr. Hoagland is in the strategy that the FairTax uses to attain its goals. There is a saying that everyone knows (except me, apparently, because I can't remember the exact way it goes) but something to the effect that if you do something and it doesn't work but you keep doing it the same way expecting different results then you aren't very bright.
FairTax.org gives great lip service to how much they appreciate their grassroots supporters when they are seeking further contributions, yet when supporters have ideas they are often dashed, or given little material support. We are not the only ones who have noticed it. It has been a complaint of many grassroots supporters of the FairTax and is the basic reason we washed our hands of working with your organization. We still support Bill HR 25/ S 25, don't get me wrong, we simply do not support your organization because your organization has not proven to support us. Many of your supporters feel the same way and I suspect you realize that since you recognized and claim you plan to change it in the future in the email apology Mr. Hoagland sent out today.
I, and my husband, never were able to give much financially to your organization but even if we had, I can tell you we would not be interested in giving your organization more and more money to use as lobbyists to Congress for the FairTax. Lobbyists to Congress are, in part, what the FairTax promises to decrease! No disrespect but we want to see you out of a job.
I suspect Neal Boortz has done much more to advance the passage of the FairTax than FairTax.org has ever dreamed of doing, though I realize that you MAY have provided him with material and moral support. If you have, that is at least, one thing you have done right. I notice that Neal Boortz shows no sign of support for your organization. I can't recall ever hearing him mention it on his show, I find that interesting and wonder why?
When and if the FairTax ever passes Congress it will do so because the people will have had enough of our current, complicated system of taxation and will demand it. This is possible. It is still possible for the people's collective voices to be heard, as evidenced by the comprehensive immigration reform's failure last year. The people will have to accomplish it, however, not a few salaried lobbyists calling on Congressmen on our behalf.
If your organization was truly interested in causing a grassroots America to passionately cry out for the reform of our federal income tax system and did so by supporting that grassroots population toward swelling growth rather than throwing good money after bad with the same failed strategy, our family's support might return. This is what Mr. Hoagland has suggested your organization plans to do in the future as it apologizes for asking for more money from the very grassroots supporters it has offered little material and moral support to in the past. Well, I live in the "Show Me State." As it is, I will be very happy when you are looking for another line of employment.
If and when the FairTax, Bill HR 25/ S 25 passes, you will no longer need your grassroots supporters to send in non-tax deductible contributions so that your organization's staff can continue driving the FairTax bus around the country and lobbying Congress to pass it. Isn't it ironic that you seek funds to pay yourselves for supporting federal income tax reform which will, in essence put tax lobbyists out of business? You will put yourselves out of business! Without the IRS you will no longer have a job, this causes me to question the sincerity of your organization, especially when watching it fail to get the FairTax passed year after year, calling for the same process and procedure, the same strategy, year after year, asking those grassroots supporters to write letters to their Congressmen year after year, asking those grassroots supporters to continue to sign your paychecks year after year only to restart the cycle with every new Congress ad nauseam. Something is simply wrong with this picture.
Sincerely, Jackie Melton, Springfield, Missouri
Dear FairTax supporters,
It's time for me to "fess up".
I want to apologize for asking for funding--and for not doing even more than we have. Both rob my sleep. We achieved so much in the past year--but it cost us.
We dominated the Iowa race, held three big rallies in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, doubled our grassroots base, launched and kept the beautiful FairTax bus on the road, "guested" on more than 600 radio talk shows, convinced ABC's George Stephanopoulos to ask the FairTax question at GOP debates and moved the FairTax onto the national stage. And best, we saw one candidate, Gov. Mike Huckabee, not only embrace the FairTax but make it a center plank of his campaign. He continued to help us last week by signing our April 15th petition in Houston in front of a room full of reporters.
We've been "running the baselines" the way Pete Rose did--without fear and with every ounce of our hearts. We put people in the field, hired local organizers, "wrapped" the FairTax bus, funded rallies and media and gave away almost every T-shirt, cap, bumper sticker and membership brochure we had (about 250,000).
But it meant that just after Iowa we laid off most of our staff to reduce operating expenses. We only kept the campaign elements that would allow us to capitalize on our momentum for the hardest work--expanding our membership base--and reluctantly said "thank you and good-bye" to a small group of talented young people who worked seven day weeks for more than a year to make our on-the-ground efforts so powerful.
We are now rebuilding the campaign infrastructure brick-by-brick. The FairTax.org Web site is better than it ever has been, the FairTax Groups (grassroots-managed sites) are growing, the FairTax bus continues to delight in hundreds of towns and cities, our media work continues and we continue to hector talk show hosts across the nation. Membership is growing and our operational tempo is again increasing. But no, admittedly, not fast enough.
We are just now turning the corner financially--because of your generosity and because our numbers are growing. We funded 100,000 memberships "tri-folds" in the new Boortz/Linder FairTax book (on the bestseller list again as one more reminder how powerfully popular is the FairTax), we launched our first direct mail effort in years, and our Internet strategies are dramatically growing the membership. In a little more than one week, we already have more than 40,000 signatures on our April 15th petition to Congress and Presidential candidates. We have just restocked our tri-fold supply with 100,000 new pieces and we have brought on long-time supporter, Jimmy Walby, to work closely with grassroots leaders nationally. We are making plans now for Congressional district level issue campaigns and are actively reaching out to national leaders for support. Still not enough.
We bought full-page newspaper ads before the Ohio and Texas primaries (thank you for making this happen!) and plan to place more ads in small to medium newspapers in states where we have large membership figures--and low co-sponsorship levels. Alone the ads are not enough, but they bring people to our Web site and help grow our base and excite newcomers about the FairTax.
I'll admit I blew my top a few weeks ago when one frustrated local leader wrote to ask why we were not "getting real" and buying TV ads across the country and putting organizers and billboards in every town and city. After talking with him at length is was clear that we both shared a common frustration that we have not been able to do more and do it faster. But we took some comfort in the fact that the FairTax has never had more Congressional co-sponsors or been better known nationally.
Our challenge now is make our campaign even more powerful and to shift our efforts from the early Presidential primary strategy that served us so well to direct pressure on Congress and the leading Presidential candidates for both parties. Both goals, and an increased operational tempo, require many more supporters and even more active measures now by the FairTax family. On the merits, we win. But being right is not enough, it takes organization, funding and political strength to overturn the self-interest of Congress and the ignorance of the national media.
For our grassroots leaders--I'm sorry we have not been able to work more closely with you and give you better tools and more materials. That is now changing. For our many contributors, I am sorry I keep asking for funding. But to all, please know that we are on the road to a stronger and self-sustaining national campaign that just keeps getting better and better. Our cause deserves much more, and we know it.
What can you do now? Here are five things (click on anything in blue):
1. Help us deliver 100,000 names by April 15th: Sign the petition now at www.changedc.org.
2. Get your friends and family to join our cause and sign the petition.
3. Write your Members of Congress (Here's a scorecard of current FairTax supporters).
4. Ask friendly online, print and radio media to feature our FairTax ads.
5. And yes, I am sorry to ask but please continue to help us fund the work.
Take pride in what we have accomplished together this last year and keep the faith because we are on the path to write history, change America and make good on our Founding Father's promise of a nation directed by its citizens. Sincerely, Ken HoaglandCommunications Director
If you would prefer sending a check or credit card contribution by mail, please download and print our contribution form here.
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
There's a lot of talk on the web about the pension fund and whether voters would support an increase in sales tax to fund it.
I attended the media budget briefing, what, a couple of weeks ago? Last week? When was that thing? Anyway, regardless of when it was, here is my understanding of the key points I think the city is trying to make.
For expediency, here's what Mike Brothers of the City wrote, in part, in an email to me this morning:
"The law was passed at the state level last year, so the best way to put it is that we’re coming up on the end of the first year and the start of the second."
The "law" Brothers is referring to is a state law that requires Springfield (and other cities) to meet an actuarial recommendation amount for funding the pension plan one year out of five and the clock started ticking last year. The City wants to meet that actuarial recommendation next year because every year the actuarial recommendation will continue to increase by big bucks.
Naturally, if the City pays the $5.2 next year they won't have to pay as much as they would have to pay the year after that or the year after that or the year after that. That is one of the reasons why the City wants to pay it in the next budget year. The other reason is, if they don't get it done sometime in the five year period the state can garnish the city's sales tax revenue and make sure it gets done. The city doesn't want the state to do that, the city wants to have complete control over their budget, not let the state get control of some of their money. Think of it in terms of this scenario: the deadbeat dad (city) fails to pay child support for his children (police and fire pension fund) so the county (state) steps in and garnishes the deadbeat dad's wages to make sure his children are taken care of, see how that works? The only difference is when the real deadbeat dad's wages are garnished he isn't offered all the other nice little options the city is offered by the state. He doesn't get to pay a portion of what he owes his ex-wife one year out of five to avoid having to pay the entire amount he owes the rest of the time.
The City is talking about tax increases for the very reasons given above. Every year the actuarial recommendation is going to increase. If the City, who can meet the actuarial recommendation this year through budget cuts, tries to continue to meet the actuarial every year through budget cuts alone, they will cut themselves right out of existence. They CANNOT do it through budget cuts alone because, even though the City rakes in a lot of money every year and you see them building and redeveloping and planning to do wonderful parks projects and center city revitalization all around you, they can only use the general fund to fund the police/fire pension fund. They cannot take money that taxpayers approved to buy donuts and spend it on bon bons. You see, folks, that would be illegal. Taxpayers didn't approve a bon bon sales tax, they approved a donut sales tax. Taxpayers didn't approve a pension fund sales tax, they approved a parks sales tax. Get it?
Now, the City has to meet the actuarial recommendation in one of the upcoming years but not necessarily next year, they just want to meet it next year because, by meeting it next year, they don't have to put as much in as they would have to if they put it off.
It is a possibility, though, in my view, to put it off next year, get taxpayers to approve of a pension fund sales tax and balance the budget without extreme cuts, if you consider 7% extreme, that is. I like the idea of government shrinking 7%, myself. I'd like to see them scale down.
Now, here's something that's been on my mind. I'd like to see the City bring to ballot a sales tax for the pension fund with the following terms included. Attached to any tax increase proposal:
> A feasible future plan for how the City is going to fund the actuarial recommendation after the tax sunsets in two years.
> City promise that they will draft a bill, with a timeline for drafting it, allowing the citizens to reconsider the Vision 20/20 plan by ballot. (Sometimes, I know in my family, we have these glorious visions for what we'd like to do in the future but other obligations get in the way and we have to postpone the timeline we originally set. Perhaps the city needs to give voters the option to retire the Vision 20/20 plan until it has settled some other priority issues of vital importance. Voters should have a say in this vital decision. There are even other areas in the overall budget that could be treated the same way.)
> An administrative delay on any further grant applications that require matching money on the part of the city. (Often I see city officials mention "this is federal grant money," as if we should all be happy it isn't costing us anything to do this or that except that either way it IS taxpayer money. Often the city has to match a certain amount of funds to the grant. Can we afford to be soliciting grants for unnecessary projects that require matching funds right now? )
Those are just some ideas I had that might make a new sales tax a little more palatable to citizens who feel they shouldn't bear the entire burden for bailing the city out of the pension fund shortfall that the city's own money management has created, for what it's worth. I think the voters would like to see the city match their "grant" of sacrifice for the pension fund with a matching sacrifice. I know I would and without a matching sacrifice I couldn't and wouldn't support a sales tax increase to support the pension fund. It's up to the City to sell me on it. I love our police and firefighters and I want security and police protection, we have a right as taxpaying citizens to expect it but I don't want police and firefighters to feel backed into a corner on this issue. The city needs to make some sacrifices on their behalf before they knock on my door.
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
Have you ever heard:
Have you even heard of Paul followers?
What about Nadar followers?
I find that very interesting. Why do you suppose the media refers to "campaigns" and "supporters" when discussing any other candidate but when they refer to Obama supporters they become "followers?" Or, am I mistaken? I'm not an Obama supporter but if I was I'd find that very offensive.
Update: Well, I'll be darned. I did a google search for Clinton followers and got a return of 465,000, McCain, 324,000, Huckabee, 195,000. When did it become common to refer to a candidate's supporter as a "follower?" I don't like it. I don't "follow" political candidates, any of them. I might support some of them. I might like or endorse some of them but I don't "follow" them. Geesh. Is this a new thing this year or did I just fall off a turnip truck? :0
When I was about 17 or 18 years old and still "wet behind the ears," I dreamed a dream of owning a little white house, with a little white picket fence, a few chickens and a garden for food. The chickens and the garden would be necessary because I dreamed of being a poet. I dreamed I'd be published one day but that I wouldn't make a lot of money because poetry books don't sell that well. I dreamed I might write a few childrens' books in order to supplement my income and, being the loner I always was, I dreamed I'd live in that little white house with that white picket fence all alone, except for the dog, of course, always gotta have that small house-dog in the mix, preferably a terrier.
In 1977, Harrison Daily Times Staff writer, Paulette Rarick wrote, "Jackie Phillips A Talented Young Poet In Harrison High School." Excerpts:
"About a month ago the creative writing class went to a writing workshop at Arkansas Tech at Russellville. Two of Jackie's poems, "Passing Moments," and "Prelude to the Odyssey for Strangers" were selected there to be read and printed in the poetry session worksheet. Students selected for this honor are eligible for scholarships, but Jackie was not since she is still a junior.
On April 8, Jackie attended another creative writing workshop at the School of the Ozarks. Several hundred students were involved in this seminar and Jackie's poem, "Prelude to the Odyssey for Strangers" won first prize for poetry. Recently Jim Reed, part of the "poet in our school" program sponsored by the University of Arkansas, visited the creative writing classes at Harrison High school. Reed was impressed with Jackie's work and told her he felt a song she has written is publishable...."
Sound promising? If I read it I'd think that was a little girl who had the world as her oyster and a life full of promise, not one who would spend several years working two part time jobs, one at a Taco Hut Restaurant and the other at the Lyric Theater and later the Mall Twin Cinema, to pay rent on a hot, un-air conditioned second floor apartment.
College didn't turn out to be an option, bridges were burned and family support wasn't there in a family that didn't consider "girls" as really "needing" to go to college. I left the home of my Dad and step-mom and made my own way because, in my young teenage mind that was the only option.
I gave up on my dream and later, when thinking of ways I might make money as a writer I never thought about being a journalist because who would hire a journalist with no college? I didn't even try, and of all the mistakes in my life I realize that was probably the worst one. From what I've been told later, having a degree in journalism isn't necessarily required to be a journalist. For gosh sakes, now I'm even a member of the Society of Professional Journalists, what a feat! (My name was drawn out of a basket at a Society of Professional Journalist's meeting I attended).
The thing is, years ago, I sold myself short and my dream gave way to marriage and the raising of two step-sons of an alcoholic father, divorce 13 years later and an eventual move to Springfield, Missouri to take care of my ailing Mother. Later, I got a new start with a new and improved husband. Thank God!
I worked as a secretary for a construction company, a receptionist, an administrative assistant for a house mover where I eventually quit. Twice I laid myself off because two different employers couldn't or wouldn't pay me the wages they owed me but wouldn't lay me off themselves.
All that to say this: It's very difficult earning a living as a freelance writer. Even if you are published or guaranteed future publishing, without a staff position there just isn't enough money in it to actually contribute substantially to a household. I've had a nice opportunity and I've really enjoyed it and hopefully will get to continue to enjoy it until something new comes along. It's been very exciting. Breck Langsford, the publisher of Community Free Press tells me I am the first "beat writer" the paper has ever had, that in and of itself, is something kind of special to me.
I'll never stop writing, it's in my blood and has been since I was about 13 years old but I need a job. A real job. Keep me in your prayers, offer ideas (I'd like to continue writing, if possible). I'll see you back here, at JackeHammer, one way or another, no matter what happens. :)
Dave A.W wrote How to make a living as a freelance journalist, his conclusion:
"Even though freelance journalism seems advantageous, there is one flaw. You do not need to be hired. The Editor-in-Chief of a newspaper can reject you and send you away with no money. If you are on the newspaper staff, you are always paid and always have work.
I strongly recommend taking any regular job offers. If you are a freelance journalist, you are taking a chance. You may not have your work bought and published. However, you may build up a nice reputation for yourself and newspapers may want to give you a staff job. Take any staff job offers. It is better to have a guaranteed income than a chancy one.
It is possible to make a living as a freelance journalist, but it is risky. It should be the start, and not end, of your career as a journalist."
Oh, for the record, I did realize parts of my dream. I've enjoyed the company of three terriers over the years, Piquie (the dog no one ever "owned"), Murphy and Spike. May they all rest in peace.
And here, since it's mentioned, is "Prelude to the Odyssey for Strangers:"
Prelude to the Odyssey for Strangers
His bismark nose peeked out serenely from
between his cornflake eyes, only twitching
now and then from the tickling spasms
caused by a nacho mustache.
His red light hair blinked messages to my
blue shield eyes as they tried to cover my
emotions, but my string bean hands were
shaking as his midnight lips were quaking
and my pastel face grew hot.
His rabbit hands grabbed my own string
beans and we ran away together.
it seemed we ran forever.
We stood at a tree bench and
fell on the side ground and we
suitcase chuckled together.
it seemed we chuckled forever.
We picked up a mushroom rock
covered with moss and ate all
the moss together.
it seemed we ate forever.
We caught a pure death leaf that
blew in the wind and we separated
the bones together.
it seemed we separated...
The Odyssey for Strangers
His backyard nose peeked out serenely from
between his cupcake eyes, only twitching
now and then from the tickling spasms
caused by a carbon mustache.
His chocolate cream hair frosted messages to
my blue shield eyes as they tried to cover
my emotions but my string bean hands
were shaking as his maple lips were
quaking and my pastel face grew hot.
His rocket hands grabbed my own string
beans and we ran away together.
"Jackie, there are a lot of people in the world that aren't very good people but they are very likable. Some of the most likable people you'll ever meet may have little morals and little integrity."
I thought about that this morning when reading in the News-Leader about the "Aunt Bee of Niangua," Joyce Thornhill, who has been accused (but not convicted) of stealing money from the city of Niangua coffers.
"...it was a "complete surprise" when city leaders learned 58-year-old Thornhill might have bilked the town for more than $8,000, Niangua Mayor Roger Mepham said Monday.
"She was the nicest lady you'd ever meet.""
Similarly, when I talked to a family member who formerly worked at the Municipal Court with Rhonda Bateman, the relative grappled with a broad spectrum of emotional reactions along with several of his/her past co-workers with whom the relative stays in touch. Being family I assume it was off the record. They were personal conversations during a time when my family was spending a lot of time together due to my Mother's health issues and so, carefully, I'll mostly just mention the flavor of the discussion.
There was a similar reaction on the part of those who worked with Bateman as there was on the part of Niangua city leaders discovering "Aunt Bee" was a thief. That "complete surprise" was coupled with indignation over the feared public assumption that all the employees of the Municipal court would be suspect, a sort of "how dare she impugn our collective integrity" attitude. Then there were the remembrances of the sweet birthday cards and small gifts that co-workers were given over the years by Bateman, the nagging fear that even the Bible that one co-worker received as a gift from Bateman could have been afforded by the bilked and misappropriated funds that Bateman plundered. I wondered, how does one hold in hand the very Word of God, read and study it's righteous instruction while wondering if it was, in essence, stolen from the public trust!? My relative told me the receiver was considering returning it to it's source...even that might be questionable, who was the source of the gift? Rhonda Bateman or the taxpayer?
After the audit of the Municipal Court I looked at employee theft as an angle for the second article I wrote about it for Community Free Press - Midweek. In "Are Springfield Funds Now Protected?" (August 29-September 11, 2007 issue) I noted:
"According to the FBI, employee theft is the fastest growing crime in the U.S....
"We don't anticipate that any of the government employees, are going to be stealing, and so, you're not prepared for that," said State Auditor Susan Montee when she discussed the Municipal Court audit report."
That is one of the reasons I wrote State Auditor wrong or lying, City of Springfield's Finance Director says, "checks not a problem." This was the second time I had either heard with my own ears or read another reporter relay that Springfield's Finance Director didn't really believe that a recommendation made by the State Auditor was a problem.
Regarding the State audit's discovery that city employees were not turning in detailed receipts to document employee purchasing card spending, Decker said she did not feel there was a problem with the issue:
"For the amount of transactions we process, we don't have a problem with receipts not being turned in, Decker said. "We do understand when people are traveling or doing a lot of business, occasionally a receipt will get lost and we try to accommodate that. It's just that we don't want that to become a habit."
According to Decker, in such cases employees are allowed to turn in a memo describing what was purchased with their card." - Community Free Press - Midweek, City Officials Grapple With Audit, January 2-15, 2008 issue.
Back to the article, "Are Springfield Funds Now Protected," I listed employee theft Statistics:
> $50 billion dollars are lost annually due to employee theft and fraud.
> 20 percent of all businesses fail due to internal theft and fraud.
> A company loses 1 percent to 2 percent of its sales to crime -- most committed by or in collusion with employees.
> One in three employees steal and it's rising 5 percent a year.
> 20 - 25 percent of the work force will cheat when the stakes are high and supervision is low.
> 10 percent of the work force will cheat no matter what.
> 75 percent of all employees steal at least once -- half of these, at least twice.
> 43 pecent of workers admitted stealing from their employers.
> Employee theft is the fastest growing crime in the U.S.
Naturally, all of us want to trust and give the benefit of the doubt to everyone, whether they are an employee of McDonalds, WalMart or our local city government and I don't mean to suggest that people who work for the city are more inclined to steal than other employees but neither would I suggest they are less inclined to steal than other employees. I just want to see employee theft taken seriously and I think a little less "benefit of the doubt," in light of those statistics might be called for, especially when discussing the public trust. Susan Montee said because we don't expect government employees to be stealing, "you're not prepared for that." We need to be prepared for that, we need to be preventing that.
"Some of the most likable people you'll ever meet may have little morals and little integrity."
Sunday, March 02, 2008
1. look up page 123 in the nearest book
2. look for the fifth sentence
3. then post the three sentences that follow that fifth sentence on page 123.
So, today's reading is from: "The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe," which I must admit was as close as several other volumes of poetry on my bookshelf, it just happens that in the Poe book, it happened to be prose at page 123 and fit the bill a little better. - It is from "MS. Found in a Bottle:"
"At the last moment I will enclose the MS. in a bottle, and cast it within the sea.
An incident has occurred which has given me new room for meditation. Are such things the operation of ungoverned chance? I had ventured upon deck and thrown myself down, without attracting any notice, among a pile of ratlin-stuff and old sails, in the bottom of the yawl."
Thank you for shootin' it at me sunny gun!
By the way, I'm gonna shoot it at Vince.