Wednesday, May 28, 2008

S.C. Cigarette Tax Is Dead

The Governor killed it and the house could not override his veto. This should not be a surprise to anyone. Stanford is not one to have his own ideas ignored.

What is depressing is the dishonest excuse Sanford used to justify his veto.

Gov. Mark Sanford vetoed the plan. Sanford said the cigarette tax — an estimated $160 million — could not match the rising cost of medical care.

“It jeopardizes taxpayers and the people who depend on Medicaid,” Sanford said.


This is an argument that I can support and at times can be a good reason to veto any bill using funding of this type. The plan would establish a annual expenses for the government, while not assuring a continued corresponding revenue stream. We all have to keep in mind that one of the major benefits of raising the cost of cigarettes is it tends to reduce consumption and discourage new smokers. The end result could be established programs facing a shortage in funds due to a decline in smoking.

This could mean that in a few years the program benefits may have to be reduced, or alternate funds would have to be found to continue them.

But, in Sanfords case this excuse is just a lie.

He threw this veto, not because he opposed a hike in the Cigarette tax, he supports this, but because this version helps the wrong people. Stanfords plan, as I remember it, involved using the income from the Cigarette tax to fund a tax cut for the richest people in South Carolina. The fact that he supports this use of the potential tax revenue, and opposes the House plan, makes it clear that his excuse is a load of bull. In either case (Medicaid or Tax Cuts for the rich), the state will have to address a shortfall in income if and when cigarette consumption falls.

The difference is; the House plan taxes the poor to provide medical care for the poor, while Sanfords plan would tax the poor to aid the rich. You see, one of the harsh truths about the use of tobacco products, the poorer you are the more likely you are to smoke. The end result: We have the lowest tax on cigarettes in the nations, That we are in the top 10 state in tobacco product use in past month among persons aged 12or older, We still have grossly underfunded Medicaid system and we will have to readdress this issue in 2009.

I see this as another failing of the state government. I fear that of all the issues involved in this the only failure that Governor Sanford sees is the failure of the richest South Carolinians to get another tax break.



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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

McCain; Needs The Cash, Not The Taint

John McCain has been trying to distance himself from George Bush. He seldom appears in the same place as the President, and tries to play up the minor differences he hold with the president's policy and actions. But, John's presidential champign is, as far as presidential canidates are concerned, dirt poor. He is so poor that he has to turn to the least popular modern president to help with his rather pathetic cash situation. As a result he will be holding fundraising events with George, including one in his home town, away from the public eye. Initially this event was to be a bit more public and have a higher profile than a traditional McCain fundraising event, but so few people were willing to pay to attend that they had to move the event to a smaller venue, and this is in McCain's home state.

George Bush is toxic. Even some republicans have grown to despise him. Yet McCain can not afford to stay away from the poison that our President has become. One of the major factors in the coming election will be the efforts of McCain to claim that his election will not mean four more years of George Bush, and the efforts of the Democrats to make it clear the McCain is just George Bush, with a nasty temper.

Seeing how this plays out will be interesting.



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Monday, May 26, 2008

She's Back

Lauren is back in the bloging world.

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For Memorial Day

A story from NPR.

Eight years ago, a French couple founded an organization that adopts graves of American servicemen who died during the Normandy invasion of World War II. The volunteer group encourages French families to lay flowers on the graves when the Americans' own families can't do it.







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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Science Sunday

On Jupiter, a new red spot has been spotted.

Fresh imagery shows that a storm system has changed color in the planet Jupiter's turbulent atmosphere, creating a third "Red Spot" to join the centuries-old Great Red Spot and the 2-year-old Red Spot Jr.

The Platypus genetic code has been unraveled

and in Denmark, a 54-million-year-old Parrot has been found.

The fossil—a large wing bone called the humerus—represents the oldest and most northerly remains of a parrot ever discovered, the study authors say. Parrot fossils are scarce, because their small, light bones tend to be destroyed before they can become fossilized. The discovery suggests that parrots evolved in the Northern Hemisphere before branching into wildly diverse species in the southern tropics.




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Friday, May 23, 2008

Some Links

For your enjoyment.


At Science Shrimp and Grits, a look at the Clinton voters who will never support Obama, and why that most likely, in the long run, doesn't matter.


Do you what to know the current state of affairs in Lebanon? Badtux the Snarky Penguin has a quick round-up.


Over at Crooks and Liars, a look at, in issues of judgment who should crow and who should shut up. Guess what, John McCain doesn't fair real well.


Private Greed, Public Good, and who is really killing our jobs, Seeing The Forest presents their view.




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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

S.C. Ignorance On Parade, Irmo High School

The formation of a Gay-Straight Alliance Club at Irmo High School has encouraged the principal to show the world just how uninformed, under-educated and ill suited for educational leadership he really is.

On May 14, 2008, I was instructed by email to allow the formation of a Gay/Straight Alliance Club at Irmo High School. On May 15, 2008 I told Ms. Ann Pilat to allow the formation of this club for the 2008-2009 school year.

Allowing the formation of this club on our campus conflicts with my professional beliefs and religious convictions.

......

The formation of this club conflicts with my professional beliefs in that we do not have other clubs at Irmo High school based on sexual orientation, sexual preference, or sexual activity. In fact our sex education curriculum is abstinence based. I feel the formation of a Gay/Straight Alliance Club at Irmo High school implies that students joining the club will have chosen to or will choose to engage in sexual activity with members of the same sex, opposite sex, or members of both sexes.


And here we have it, another homophobic christian who doesn't understand human sexuality, Christianity or the very mission of the group he opposes. Their mission is:


Mission Statement

Gay-Straight Alliance Network is a youth leadership organization that connects school-based Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) to each other and community resources. Through peer support, leadership development, and training, GSA Network supports young people in starting, strengthening, and sustaining GSAs and builds the capacity of GSAs to:

1. create safe environments in schools for students to support each other and learn about homophobia and other oppressions,

2. educate the school community about homophobia, gender identity, and sexual orientation issues, and

3. fight discrimination, harassment, and violence in schools.


All noble goals and all very reasonable and yet he opposes them.

His position is clearly not based on what this clubs goals are, not on what other GSA clubs have done or this one is planning on doing, but on his own rather silly and self developed idea that this group is based on promoting orgies (or some other such foolishness). Or maybe he fears what would happen if we lived in a society where gay students were not abused, ridiculed and picked on.

IN any case at least he has the decency to get out of a professional endeavor that he is clearly ill suited for. We need more education and rational thought in our schools, and far less right wing religious silliness. His departure has to be seen as a positive step.


Ed Brayton at Dispatches from the Culture Wars chimes in on Irmo's principal: No, sorry. I do not respect your choice to be a bigot and an ignoramus.




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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Kentucky and Oregon

We have two primary elections today. Hillary will win big in Kentucky, another of the Appalachian belt states that will not support a black candidate, and Obama will win in Oregon. There is no suspense today, the polls are not close. The only real drama is will the outcome of the final vote be enough to give Obama a majority of the pledged delegates for the national convention.

No matter what happens I suspect that the election will march on, and we will have 2 more weeks of primaries until Hillary gives up.


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Monday, May 19, 2008

The Drive Is Done

We crossed the country, from LA to Columbia, in 4 days. We didn't get to see much, be we did finish the drive.


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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Sacrifice

Since this nation started on its Middle Eastern miss adventure some of the people of our nation have been making great sacrifices. Those behind this war wanted to make it as painless as possible for as many of the people of the country as they could. We have not faced shortages, or even had to pay for this war (We are simply putting it on the credit card). Mostly it has been the military and their families who have paid a price. They have been separated from fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, husbands and wives. They have faced financial difficulty, infidelity, failed marriage and countless other personal struggles.

There have been highly motivated people who have decided to give to our nation and serve. The have left well paying high profile jobs to fight for their country, extended their service to make sure the needed skill would be in place for their units, or come straight out of school to join up. As a result they have missed birthdays, anniversaries, funerals and countless other special events. Some have sacrificed arms and or legs, parts of their brain, their eyesight or hearing or have had to face some other life altering injury.

And some 4500 have died.

And the man responsible for this; The man who broke international law by engaging in a war of aggression (a crime that, in the past, the US has executed people for), violated both the Geneva conventions and the UN human right conventions by endorsing and encouraging the use of torture on captives, the man who has illegally spied on US citizens and has run up a two to three trillion dollar debt in the process;

Well, he to has sacrificed, he has given up golf as a sign of solidarity with the people of the US who are fighting this war.

Some have given their Last Full Measure, and he has given up a once or twice a month 3 hour ride in an toy electric car.


What an a$$h*le.


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Monday, May 12, 2008

A Week For Travel, Not News

Or, how I get to spend my summer vacation.

I have to fly to the west coast, and bring a car back to the east coast. I will be listening to my I-Pod and (hopefully) taking pictures. I will be ignoring most of the news, so starting later this week, if there are any post, they will most likely be a travel log.




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Friday, May 09, 2008

Thursday, May 08, 2008

What Is Wrong With Our Govenrment

Special interest have far to much access. A perfect example has been presented to us, the US Telecommunications companies have presented Congress with a plan to grant them immunity for their past illegal actions.


Telecom companies have presented congressional Democrats with a set of proposals on how to provide immunity to the businesses that participated in a controversial government electronic surveillance program, a House Democratic aide said Wednesday.


Talk about access to power. They break the law, and then get to craft the changes to the law that will allow them to avoid responsibility for their past law breaking.

I wonder if congress will give equal access to those who have have had their communication intercepted and give equal consideration to what they think the proper course of action should be?





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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

A Perfect Summery Of Our Current Administration

The Office of Special Counsel has a very important job to do. They are responsible for protecting the rights of federal workers when they report violations of law by the government. One of the major areas that this body would normally be responsible for helping with the investigation when a federal employees reports violation of the hatch act.

This law prohibits governmental agencies from using their power or personnel to aid a political candidate or party. One of the groups the Office of Special Counsel is involved in investigating is the justice department.

Well, it appears that we have crossing investigations. The Justice Department is now looking at this office and it's Bush appointed leaders for violations of the Hatch act, among other crimes.

Nothing sums up the corruption of this group than these two highly ironic investigations.



UPDATE

For those asking about the Hatch Act

In addition to concerns about obstruction of justice, investigators are also looking into whether Bloch violated the Hatch Act, a congressional mandate that prohibits employees from using their offices for partisan political purposes.





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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Oil

Crossing $120.00 a barrel

Oil futures surged to a new trading record above $120 a barrel Monday, raising concerns about higher prices for gasoline and goods and services throughout the economy.


But look at the bright side, walking is good for you.



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Monday, May 05, 2008

Just Another Day In Bush's Americia

To make air travel safer in a post 9-11 enviroment the US government took a noumber of steps. Two of these steps were to increase the number of Air Marshels flying undercover and to expand the terrorsit watch list and to deny boarding to anyone who is on the list.

It seems that we have now merged the program, and are putting air marshaels on the no fly list.

"Federal Air Marshals (FAMs) familiar with the situation say the mix-ups, in which marshals are mistaken for terrorism suspects who share the same names, have gone on for years — just as they have for thousands of members of the traveling public," the Times reports, based on anonymous sources.

The paper says some planes have taken off without the undercover federal agents, who are supposed to protect the cockpit from hijackers and the like.



Just another day in paradise.


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Saturday, May 03, 2008

Science Saturday

In Asia, a Missing Rat has been found.

The greater dwarf cloud rat was thought to live in the canopies of tall trees in the Philippines, but the last sighting of one was 112 years ago. Now it has been found again.


and the detailed study of the Colossal Squid has started at last.



A colossal squid being defrosted this week in New Zealand is yielding "astonishing" new discoveries. For starters, the giant species has the world's biggest eyes, as well as light-emitting organs that may serve as cloaking devices, scientists say.




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Friday, May 02, 2008

Friday's Links, Check Them Out

Seeing the Forest argues that the current middle class economic squeeze is a result of tax cuts.


A very Christian response to the national day of silence can be found at Straight not Narrow.


From Balloon Juice, CNN coverage of the important issues



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Thursday, May 01, 2008

Some South Carolina Senators Making Sense

The Senate is trying to address illegal immigration. Most of the efforts have been basically useless and focused on punishing the poor sap looking for a better life. This approach is penny wise and pound foolish, and does nothing to reduce the problem.

The latest Senate proposal on the other hand is a step in the right direction.

passed a plan that would impose fines up to $10,000 for knowingly hiring a worker in this county illegally.


This is a small step down the path that may, with time, make some difference. Its greatest weakness is this proposal is way to easy on the employer, and the 'knowingly' phrase is a huge loophole.

If the US wants to stop immigration, the only path that will work is to eliminate employment opportunity. The immigrants are only doing what free market capitalist and the Horatio Alger fables have told us we are all suppose to do, work hard and take risks to get a better life. No matter what punitive actions we take against this population, as long as there is a demand for their services they will come.

The only way to eliminate employment opportunities is to make the risk of hiring undocumented aliens so high that no one will risk it, and the terms of the current proposal is to weak. We need to look at fines for the companies that run into the hundreds of thousands, if not higher. We need fines for the officers and the managers of these firms that are at least five times higher that the ones currently proposed, and jail time should also be considered. Companies that hire subcontracontractors that hire these workers must also held accountable, again into the hundreds of thousands of dollars with fines and jail for officers and managers who are involved in the process.

If this step is taken, we will see a reduction in immigration, because the only reason that the vast majority of immigrants are coming here is to get some work. Every other step we take is a waste of time and money. We, as a state and nation, are best served by abandoning them, they don't work.




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