Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Fun with "Kelo vs. City of New London"

Freestar Media, LLC has taken a swipe at the ruling of the Supreme Court regarding "Kelo"... by trying to claim Justice Souter's property for the purpose of building the "Lost Liberty Hotel." Excellent!!!

Throwing the words of the majority ruling back at one of the people who voted in favor of this ruling:

[Freestar] points out that the City of Weare will certainly gain greater tax revenue and economic benefits with a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road than allowing Mr. Souter to own the land.

The proposed development, called "The Lost Liberty Hotel" will feature the "Just Desserts Café" and include a museum, open to the public, featuring a permanent exhibit on the loss of freedom in America.

"This is not a prank" said [Logan Darrow] Clements[, CEO of Freestar].
I wonder how they'll work out the "doesn't apply to me" defense for Justice Souter? This should be fun to watch, although I'm sure I know how it'll turn out...

Proposal letter for the project...

Monday, June 27, 2005

I was robbed, I tell ya...

Well... didn't win the St. Jude's Dream Home yesterday. Didn't even win the free pizza or some other lame-o prize. Totally struck out...

Seriously, though... What a great cause to give $100 to. I have no second thoughts about this donation, as the hospital in Memphis does such wonderful work. I'm glad to see that they rose $1 million dollars in Nashville through this promotion, enough to run the hospital for one day.

On the other hand, I may just make a donation next time instead of buying a dream home ticket. That way I can avoid watching the awful production that is the "Dream Home Giveaway" show. Now I know why I don't watch Fox morning news. My goodness, this was painful. No one knew who they were tossing to, there were mistakes galore, there was no pacing to the giveaways, etc. Would it have pained them to give away more than one of the prizes in the first hour (the pizza doesn't count... it was a separate raffle) and then have to rush through ten of them in the last five minutes? It would have made better sense to give away the items right after they talked to the person who donated them, no? And was one of the guys actually named Slam Duncan? That can't possibly be is real name, can it (although it looks like he's a pretty stand-up guy with his charity work)? Maybe his parents were really big basketball fans...

I guess that's not important, though. Congratulations to the hospital for a successful fundraiser and to all of the prizewinners. And especially to the winners of the Westhaven home. <-- Link assumes that at some point Fox will put some text to the article about the winners... Like maybe at least their name... Mr. & Mrs. Michael Harrison Sr. of Mt Juliet...

Friday, June 24, 2005


Nancy Pelosi:
[For Rove] to try to exploit 9/11 for political purposes once again just shows you how desperate they are

Yeah... they are certainly desperate. Over the last several elections, the Republicans have increased their control of the Senate and House, and are in the midst of an eight-year run in the White House. Can't imagine them being more desperate at this point...

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Shhh... Nobody tell the BOMA...

CNN reports:

The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that local governments may seize people's homes and businesses -- even against their will -- for private economic development.

Now, the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution clearly states that governments can take private property via eminent domain for "public use." Is private economic development really "public use?" Justice John Paul Stevens thinks so:

The city has carefully formulated an economic development that it believes will provide appreciable benefits to the community, including -- but by no means limited to -- new jobs and increased tax revenue.

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor disagrees:

Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random. The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms.

So... by a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court has decided that my home can be taken by the city so that a developer can build a a Kwik-e-Mart and the city can gain some additional tax revenue. I can only imagine what the Franklin BOMA will do with this one...

Memo to Durbin and Pelosi...

Letter to the Editor (6/22/05), Minneapolis Star Tribune (which editorially endorsed Dick Durbin's comparison of our troops to Nazis, Communisists and Khmer Rouge killers):
As a recent veteran of Guantanamo Bay, I've been troubled by the willingness of some (namely this editorial page) to make uninformed inflammatory statements about the detention operations at GTMO. I believe that if any one of them had the opportunity to visit GTMO and witness the operation first hand, they would change their tone, if not their minds altogether.

Not only are the detainees treated humanely (top-notch medical care, hearty meals, recreational facilities, full access to religious observance, etc..) but I personally witnessed instances when detainees did not want to leave. It was not uncommon for my platoon to guard an airfield for hours in preparation for sending a detainee home, only to turn around and bring him back to the detention facility – because he refused to leave! These detainees are not stupid—they know that real torture and inhumane treatment await them at home. And while I know they’re not happy to be in GTMO, they rest assured that they will be treated well because Americans play by the rules.

I feel sheepish even having to defend this issue. While our servicemen (and innocent Iraqi citizens) are being blown-up and tortured overseas, the media obsesses over a handful of “mishandled” Korans and excessive air conditioning. (It’s also worth noting that these so-called instances of “abuse” at GTMO were all uncovered by internal Army investigations! It’s not as if the Army is torturing people and covering it up. On the contrary, the minute the Army gets wind of minor misconduct it swiftly removes and prosecutes those involved. This is an institution upholding the highest moral traditions of our country.) Would the terrorists do the same? No, I think they’d just wink at us…and then cut our heads off.

LT Peter Hegseth
Forest Lake, MN
U.S. Army National Guard, Infantry

(Hat Tip: PowerLine)

Also, the boys at SilentRunning did a little test... Love the subject matter, but had to try to ignore the conditions of the test site... ;)

Tax Cuts for the Rich (was: JFKerry teaches me wrong from right...)

Frustrated, failed ex-Presidential candidate John F. Kerry is speaking out again.
We're talking about values? You show me where in the New Testament Jesus ever talked about the value of having taxes and taking money from poor people to give to the rich people in this country.

Whuh?!? Not to confuse our old French buddy with facts, but stats from the CBO show that the top 20% of taxpayers pay 78% of the federal income tax. Rush Limbaugh has an article pinned on his home page summing up the findings rather nicely.

The overwhelming majority of federal income taxes are paid by the very highest income earners. The top 1% of income earners pay about 32% of all income taxes. The top 5% pays 51.4%. The top 10% of high income earners, pay 63.5%. The top 20% of income earners pays 78% of all federal income taxes.

What I want to know is... how does this fact equate to taking money from poor people to give to the rich?!? I feel so enlightened by his genius.

What a maroon...

Update (6/23/05):

I recently installed the new version of Netscape and haven't changed my homepage from the standard Netscape landing page. When I logged in this morning, I was greeted with a story entitled: "Oh My Gosh! Guess Who Pays NO Taxes?" I can't seem to link this story, so I'll just quote a mess of it here. It backs up the comments made in the story above:

Oh My Gosh! Guess Who Pays NO Taxes?

Fully 32.4 percent of Americans paid no taxes at all for tax year 2004, up from 25.2 percent in 2000, according to a new report from the Tax Foundation. Before you start screaming about the rich shirking their fair share of the federal tax burden, know this: The people who don't pay taxes are primarily low-income, young, female-headed households who work part-time and are beneficiaries of the $1,000 per-child tax credit or the Earned Income Credit.

Tax Foundation economists say that the 32.4 percent who pay no taxes after they took advantage of perfectly legal tax credits and deductions translates into a record 42.5 million Americans. But it doesn't end there. Approximately 15 million individuals and families earned some income in 2004, but it was so little they didn't have to file a tax return. That brings the total to 57.5 million who pay nothing. And we're not done yet. One tax return often represents several people so when the dependents are included in this no-tax sum, it amounts to roughly 120 million Americans or 40 percent of the U.S. population. And that doesn't count the millions who paid just a very small amount in taxes.

Here's the rub, according to the Tax Foundation: We have become a nation divided. There is an ever-growing class of people who pay no taxes and a shrinking class of people who do.

Who are the non-payers? Fully 91 percent of them earned less than $30,000 annually and 96 percent earned less than $40,000. They are young with more than a third under 25 and 54 percent younger than 35. More than half are single women or families where the primary wage earner is a woman. Fully 79 percent are white, 16 percent are African American and 3.2 percent are Asian Americans. (Hispanic Americans are not included in the racial category since Hispanic individuals can be of any race. When they are included as such, 15 percent of those who paid no taxes are Hispanic.)

What does this mean? The Tax Foundation says the findings raise serious questions about the future of the U.S. income tax system.

Interesting, no? So all the talk about Republicans (and Bush specifically) only giving tax cuts to the rich is pure bunk according to Netscape News (powered by CNN, of all people). The amount of lower-income people not paying taxes has increased by 7% since Bush went into office. But relaying these facts throws a big ol' bunch of talking points used by Kerry and the Dems out the window. I'll bet their talking points don't change a bit, though. I know that in my little world, my life-long Democrat union-guy father shrugged these facts off with no problem... ;)

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Who do you trust?

In a recent UPI article, former President Clinton states the following:
It is time that there are no more stories coming out of there about people being abused

So obviously Clinton trusts the suspected terrorists that are housed at Gitmo to tell the truth about their captivity more than he trusts the US military. For the sake of argument, let's assume that horrible atrocities are occurring there and that we choose to "clean up" Gitmo as Clinton suggests. Will stories of abuse stop? Or will the enemy still attempt to seek favor with the media and general public by continuing to tell the stories of abuse, regardless of the truth?

Jim Geraghty over at TKS reports on a different viewpoint... That of a chaplain who ministered to the Joint Detention Operation Group in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba from May 2004 until March 2005.

1. The detainees have direct access to the International Red Cross representatives contrary to the accusations that they have no outside contact. Also, all the detainees are allowed to write and receive mail from family.

2. The detainees have their food prepared according to Islamic guidelines. The call to prayer is broadcast for them to go to prayer. Each detainee has the direction to Meccah painted in their cell. They are allowed to practice their religion without interference and are given the religious items they need to do so. They are allowed to observe Ramadan.

3. There are strict guidelines and training concerning human rights protections. If a service member sees a violation they are to report it and if asked to violate someone's human rights they are to consider it as an unlawful order. Those who violate are subject to prosecution.

Sounds like a pretty rough go for these guys. But I'm sure this guy is lying. The Al-Qaeda members are certainly more trustworthy and better sources of information than a chaplain...

Look... I don't know what's going on down there any better than any other non-connected civilian. But the simple fact of the matter that psy-ops is a part of modern combat. If the enemy can sway public favor by telling untrue stories, they're going to do it. There were some abuses and these people are in the process of being procecuted. Of course, the abuse has not been as serious as how the detainees were abused in the Al-Qaeda prison camps, no? Let's ask these guys to follow Geneva Convention rules as well while we're accusing our guys of breaking some of these rules, OK?

Update (6/22/05): Michelle Malkin has a good article on the topic. Worth the read...

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Secret Identity?

Just got back from seeing Batman Begins. Enjoyed it immensely, but one thing bugged me greatly. Does Batman have to spill the secret identity to a girlfriend in every frickin' movie?!? I mean, it is a SECRET identity, isn't it? From Vicki Vale to Selina Kyle to Chase Meridian to Rachel Dawes, it seems like Batty has a hard time keeping it in his mask, no?

Friday, June 17, 2005

We're #47!

The "researchers" are at it again. The 2005 Quinto polls on the best and worst states rank Tennessee near the bottom in several categories. We rank 47th Most Liveable and 41st Smartest. Other recent polls show Tennessee 48th Healthiest and with a C+ ranking in Government Performance.

With all this gloom and doom, people should be leaving the state in droves. Yet, how can this be? Tennessee ranks 14th in population growth! Are these people crazy?

Well, let's look into the criteria and who ranks where in these polls. Included in the criteria are things such as Percent of Nonfarm Employees in Government, Books in Public Libraries Per Capita, and Per Capita State Art Agencies’ Legislative Appropriations, as well as some other rather non-specific categories.

The funniest thing is to note is the states at the top and bottom of these polls. No matter what the subject is, Tennessee, Florida and Texas always are near the bottom. Maine, New York, Vermont, and Wisconsin are always near the top. Apparently, the more liberal and the more taxed the state, the better they rank.

Except for the population growth poll... Interestingly, most of the states at the bottom of the other polls rank the highest in this poll. Conversely, all of those liberal states are showing the least population growth. If it's so great to live in all of these high-tax states, why are all of the people moving to the low-tax (but in the minds of the researchers) low-everything else states? Or maybe these states aren't as bad as advertised, and people want to actually (gasp!) pay less taxes and have less governmental intervention?!?

I'm just glad we rank 47th in this ranking...


Talk about freaky:

According to Oregon News, this cat was born with two noses, four eyes, two mouths with two tongues. Basically two faces. Sources say that many politicians are jealous. Ba-dum-dum. I'll be here all week. Be sure to tip your wait staff...

Westhaven on Affordable Housing

Another quick one for the locals... With all of the debate on "affordable" housing, I must relate my experience when we chose to build our house. Early on in the process, we looked at building in Westhaven. The thing that sticks with me the most about the sales pitch is that they market it as a place where all people of all income levels can live. They said that everyone from teachers and policemen to bank presidents could find a home in their price range. So what's all the fuss with "affordable" housing around here? Westhaven has you covered...

Oh... I must note that the lowest thing that they sell are some townhouses that start at $190k at a bare-bones level. Most of the houses are in the $300-500k+ range. I'm sure that fits the budget of a local cop... Truth in advertising, indeed...

New Urbanism

I live in one of these new urbanism neighborhoods that are so controversial around these parts. I chose to build there before I had even heard the term new urbanism or ever knew there was such controversy about these neighboorhoods from the BOMA perspective. I like the look of the rear-loaded garages and the clean sight-line along the fences down our street. All services happen via the alley, so we have no trash cans or mail boxes along the front. The clean-ness of this really struck me when we were looking for places to build and led us to decide to build where we did. We have been very happy with the resulting house and the neighborhood as a whole.

The operative phrase for me in my last paragraph, though, is that we chose where and what we built. This week's decision to attempt to ban front-loading garages and the efforts to enforce some kind of new urbanism standard on all new development is a bit much. If someone prefers a front-loading garage, whether it be for aestetics, functionality, or cost savings, so be it. Not my business, or the BOMA's. Why should the city have a say in the matter? If a neighborhood makes the decision to enforce these standards, that's OK too. You know what you're getting into when you decide to build in a neighborhood... you can choose which neighborhood to build in by weighing your opinion on these standards and making your own decision. Want less restrictions? Build in Neighborhood A. Want a lot of restrictions so that there is consistency to the look-and-feel? Build in Neighborhood W.

A major hat-tip to Drinkin' the Franklin Kool-Aid on this topic, as well as the battleground debate. I used to be just a national issue kind of guy who in recent years started working on state-wide issues. I never saw a lot going on in the local issues. Lately, though, with the issues and controversies that have come up via the zoning and BOMA meetings, I have seen the error in my ways and have shifted my opinion on these matters. When buying alleged battlefield property and worrying about where someone's garage is become the focus of your local government at the expense of budgets, roads, and sound fiscal management, something is amiss. It's good that people are starting to take notice...

Update (June 17th 4pm): A pretty active Fark going on the topic now... Some amusing comments, some ignorant (such as how alley-access garages will cause everyone to park on the street. Funny how that hasn't happened in my neighborhood. It's not like it's any different to park in the back in your garage/driveway and enter the house than the front...), but putting Franklin in a not-so-good light nonetheless. This reminds me of the Fieldstone flagpole controversy due to the half-truths and misinformation flowing around that one... Pretty amusing, nonetheless...

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Boom goes the Dynamite...

Ball State has a very good Journalism school. As part of their program, many of the students aspiring to be news/sportscasters get their chance to cut their teeth on the on-camera stuff via closed circuit TV channels on the campus. This poor schmoo was brought in as a last second replacement for his first on-air gig, and this is the result.

As of right now, he is not talking to the media. Hopefully he won't turn his back on his chosen profession after one bad outing. I'm sure that the initial go for many of the good ones was bad as well. Too bad for him that his first outing is in the middle of the information age where spreading the "Star Wars Kid" video and the like is in vogue...

And h$##... if he copyrights his catch phrase, he may be able to pay for his next three years of college!!!

Update (4/22/05): From the Ball State Daily News:

92,000 Google references and counting!!!

Update (6/16/05):

Haven't touched on this story in a while (or much of anything for that matter), but the Dynamite kid has finally broken his media silence, appearing on BSU-Alum David Letterman's Late Show, as well as this appearance on The Early Show on CBS. Good for him... glad to see him making lemons, or whatever the h#%@ that phrase is...

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Two for two...

Gee... two Presidential elections in a row we get a post-election report that the media portrayal of Bush as dumb and [insert Dem candidate] as smart wasn't accurate. The media trying to sway the election from the more conservative candidate? Shocking...

BOSTON (AP) - Sen. John F. Kerry's grade average at Yale University was virtually identical to President Bush's record there, despite repeated portrayals of Kerry as the more intellectual candidate during the 2004 presidential campaign.

Guess this was minor as compared to Rathergate, though. Dan's still claiming those Times Roman Microsoft Word documents that look nothing like anything produced on the 70's era typewriter at the AF base could have been real and haven't been disproven. Even though several document specialists told him they were fake. And family members of the alleged writer said they were fake. And the alleged writer's secretary said that the alleged writer didn't type and that she would have been the one to type them, yet she didn't (and didn't have access to a typewriter with this font/format). And the superior officer to the alleged writer said they were fake. And the blogosphere proved them invalid in hours. And his "unimpeachable" source was a Democratic operative who had it in for Bush. What a hack...

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Best beer... ever...

I had forgotten how good my favorite beer is. I stopped by Wild Oats this afternoon and among the healthy, earthy, all-natural, and slightly overpriced fare I found an unusual treasure... something I hadn't purchased in about a year. Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout has been my favorite beer since a tasting I attended four years ago, and I had forgotten how good this beer actually is. It's not just a drink... it's a meal. Originally marketed in the 1800's as a drink for lactating mothers, Oatmeal Stout is good and good for ya. I'm buying it for my wife... really... And it has the smoothest finish I've ever had in a dark beer. In fact, the entire Samuel Smith line is fantastic and all of the beers have an extra smooth finish. Somewhat of a splurge at $9.50 for four bottles, but well worth it.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Scenes from a hat...

Watching "Whose Line" and they're playing "Scenes from a Hat." (For those not familiar with the show and that have asked about the name of this blog... There... you... go...) What did we learn today? "Wayne has a fig ol' futt." (they were playing a game prior where they had to replace "b" with "f.") Also... things you'd say about your computer and not your girlfriend... "Ah... it's going down again... ." Ok... doesn't seem so funny on paper (or screen), but you had to be there. Don't know why, but this show makes me laugh. I was always a mark for the Comedy Warehouse (when I wasn't at my all-time favorite place, the Adventurer's Club) during my time at Disney. So sue me... ;)

This show is the one and only thing I watch on ABC-Family. Glad it found a home, and I wish they were still making episodes. Still doesn't make the unwise purchase from Fox make any sense for Disney, but this is what they intended to do with this channel... replay series from ABC. Of course, they goobered the deal by not researching it out to figure out that they couldn't do it with non-ABC produced shows. D'oh...