Monday, October 7, 2013

More Obamacare Calculations

It doesn't take much too put a person living hand-to-mouth "into bankruptcy". The "Bronze plan" (cheapest) has a deductible of $5,000.

So any Bronze plan participant with less than that amount in the bank will be in default immediately if he has a $5,000 injury. Now if that person were saving his $250 per month premium (hypothetical) rather than flushing it down the Obamacare rathole, he could cover the bill in just 20 months.

Admittedly that doesn't solve the problem of the $100,000 illness or accident, but in that situation the careful student will note that Obamacare has no preexisting conditions. So if you get badly sick, you go down to the Obamacare office and get on the plan; pay the $5000 deductible and $3,000 in premium ($250 per month for a year).  The taxpayer pays the rest ($95.000.). When you're well again, you get back off the plan. What a deal! The only way you will not play this game is if the government makes the penalty extremely high so that it is tantamount to "single payer healthcare".

Interestingly, SCOTUS has said that if the "tax" is large enough to change behavior, then it is unlawful. So just because they are getting away with a penalty "tax" of 1% of income, there will be lawsuits when goes to 2% in 2015. Their plan I think is to take it much higher. I don't think SCOTUS will allow that.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

What To Consider Before You Buy Obamacare Insurance

Before you call the government calculate your premium.  Now consider this:
  1. It's expensive.  The premium rates are unfair, arbitrary and punitive. Using the calculator, take for example a single male, age 38, living in New Jersey making $40,000 per year.  He will pay, after subsidy $250 per month or $3,000 per year for the "Bronze plan."  On the surface, that will seem to him a pretty good deal.  After all, it has a 50% subsidy in it. But what will happen to him when he is earning just $6000 more (a mere 15% raise)?  The subsidy goes away entirely and his premium doubles. That implies a marginal tax rate of 50%.  This pattern is repeated for every type of individual and family.  The rate structure is the epitome of punitive taxation.  
  2. It's slavery. Buyers of Obamacare "insurance" are like deer that fail to see why the hunter has provided a convenient and well stocked feeding station. Such is the case with all entitlements. When you have a serious health situation, you will be entirely dependent on the government to decide in your favor. What they give they can also take away. Don't be fooled into thinking that they will always 'cover' the fancy medical procedure or insurance that is keeping you alive. Obamacare is NOT insurance any more than any other federal entitlement. It's just a Ponzi scheme with lipstick. There is no contract, long term or short term. If you perceive it to be a 'good deal', it's just bait.  Again, Obamacare is not insurance.
  3. It's overkill. The federal government could easily and cheaply have provided special insurance for persons with conditions that would cause the cancellation of regular insurance, whether because of affordability or preexisting condition. They did not need to force the general public into this grandiose scheme.
  4. It's socialism. They are forcing us to buy more insurance than we want and to pay for those that want more insurance than we do. I must ask why we are entitled to socialized heathcare and not socialized food, transportation, utilities, etc. The answer of course is that Obama and his henchmen think that we ARE entitled to all these things. This is just one more step of many in the process of crippling the market system that has served our country so well.
  5. It's a boondoggle for the taxpayer. Just as the feds have screwed up social security and medicare, so also will they screw up Obamacare. The bureaucracy and waste will get worse and worse, and there will be no way to reverse the process.
  6. It's unAmerican. America was founded on individual responsibility and freedom.
  7. It violates Biblical principles that put responsibility into the hands of the family, extended family, churches and other private institutions. Government has no business trying to replace what God has instituted for the care of his people, and what He has permitted for the care of others through human charity.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Oh Lord, Humble Our Nation

The Westminster Confession (1647) says,
"It is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the person and good name of all their people, in such an effectual manner as that no person be suffered, either upon pretense of religion or of infidelity, to offer any indignity, violence, abuse, or injury to any other person whatsoever: and to take order that all religious and ecclesiastical assemblies be held without molestation or disturbance." 
The implication here is that the magistrate (the state) has no business meddling in the affairs of churches, and may not deprive the individual citizen of rights granted to him by God alone. More specifically, the state should be challenged and even disobeyed when it has overstepped its bounds. No magistrate is above the law and no citizen should be deprived of his natural (inalienable) rights.

This was not the thinking at the beginning of the Reformation a century earlier.  Emerging from medieval darkness in the mid 16th century, Reformers maintained the residual belief that the state (the King) holds the reins of authority by God's appointment, and that a citizen may claim no right except as through that appointment, whether of his property or his life, or in the case of England where the King was head of the Church, even of his eternal soul.

With respect to this question, the Reformation in the Church of England never progressed beyond the middle of the 16th century.  The "Divine Right of Kings" in the Articles of Religion (written initially in 1553) were never amended but were rather "established" by her monarchs. During the the next 100 years, the Reformers would learn many lessons from the persecution of their churches by the forces of the counter-Reformation, but the English queen (and kings) never allowed them to be incorporated into the fabric of the Church.  For all that we might claim the Book of Common Prayer to be the most valuable prize of the Reformation, which it is, it does not reflect the fact that the Reformation subsequently decided that man possesses inherent dignity and value which no king should be allowed to touch.

A century after the Westminster Assemblies, the implications of what the Reformation had learned were on display in America, and were made evident in both its Declaration and its Constitution. Men were declared to have certain inalienable rights on which the State has no claim; they are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (godly honor).

So what does a Reformed Christian that loves the Book of Common Prayer do when he comes to "Oh Lord, Save the Queen?"  I propose "Oh Lord, humble our nation." As the list of scandals and state depravities in both the USA and England keeps getting longer, such a prayer is most appropriate. Special prayers for the "Queen's majesty" are unBiblical, and prayers for the "everlasting joy and felicity of the President" or for the royal family, as opposed to any other individual or family are simply absurd. These royals, even those subject to election are owed no presumption of being on the Lord's side.  They are no more above the law than any citizen.  The authority of Christ alone may go unquestioned.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Details: How the NSA Eavesdrops on Americans

From Schneier on Security

Bruce Schneier

Two weeks ago, the Guardian published two Snowden documents; this and this . They outline how the NSA's data-collection procedures allow it to collect lots of data on Americans, and how the FISA court is failing to provide oversight.  As a result.
The documents are complicated, but I strongly recommend that people read both the Guardian analysis and the EFF analysis -- and possibly the USA Today story.
Frustratingly, the NSA over-reach is not the major news story being reported, and therefore most people don't know what it is all about. At this point, the only aspect in the news is the personal story about Snowden himself. The policy issues are apparently too complicated for the public to understand, or perhaps even for the press to understand, or perhaps it is yet another example of a press coverup to protect the government.  
What can be done about it?  If something isn't done soon, we all lose.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Christian Geopolitics; concerning Israel, Islam, China and Paganism

Christianity is waging a war on two fronts and doing poorly in both. Geopolitics is not unimportant to the life of the Church.

Theories of future raptures (dispensationalism) and of past judgements (preterism) are designed by the antiChrist to take our focus off the Gospel truth, that our times are set between His first coming (atonement) and His second coming (judgement), and that in the meanwhile His Church (the Elect) should be circumspect about the eternal significance of temporal signs, to watch carefully but not to be deceived by false "Christs." In other words, we are to live according to faith in His daily provision, not rely upon to our own senses, strengths, visions, intuitions, etc. At the same time we are not to ignore the His obvious provision of facts that enable us to distinguish between friend and enemy.

The first front, concerning Islam and Israel

Christians are supposed to believe that Jesus was "crucified under Pontius Pilate", a gentile, while he was attempting to justify himself by asking the crowd whom they would like to set free. In other words, we are supposed to look upon ourselves, the seed of Adam, as his executioners, not the Jews. Looking around the Church, it is apparent that self-justification by gentiles in respect to the crucifiction of Jesus continues to this day. It is ignorance and prejudice... and heresy in that it proposes a false enemy.

As for secular Israel, its interest lies in the defeat of Islam far more directly than the USA or the West generally. Indeed, we in the Enlightenment West are befuddled about our proper interests, that Islam is hell-bent on destroying Christianity. Israel by contrast has a laser-like focus that Westerners outside of Israel are incapable of performing. Yes, sometimes Israel goes too far, but let's remember that its objectives are compatible with our own (even if they are not the same). I'm not referring here to the USA, but rather to the Christian objective of protecting and preserving Christian witness in the dark Islamic places of this world. It doesn't matter that the secular state of Israel has no eternal or symbolic significance. The fact is that Israel is our friend because its enemy is our enemy. If we should not lose the war with Islam, it will be due in part to Israel. It certainly won't be because our leaders in Washington have the guts to stand up to Muslim terrorism and infiltration.

The reason we ought to be a friend to Israelis is NOT a special concern for their eternal salvation. No, it is a special concern for our mutual and temporal survival.  That's a huge difference. Consider also that the mandate given to Adam is still in force, that Christians are to tend and care for all of God's creation; every living thing as unto our neighbor, especially the weakest, most vulnerable and most threatened by bullies. Refusing to see help Israel is refusing the creation mandate even if it has nothing to do with the mandate to "love the brethren."

The second front, China and Paganism 

While Israel's objectives are compatible with ours, China's are NOT. China does everything it can to replace Christianity with Paganism, and is working every bit as hard as Islam, yet with the more subtle tactics of socialist materialism and espionage. Is it not true that the West already agrees with China's man-centered truth and its attitudes toward life and liberty? With respect to this second front, who on the outside is going to have the guts to do what we are unwilling to do? 

Conclusion; working with and on behalf of non-believers against enemies

These are spiritual, not national battles, and the enemies are real. Yet the far more dangerous enemy is the Christian in our own midst that sticks his head in the sand in the face of danger, or betrays the Church's allies while befriending those that would destroy us.

Again, geopolitics is important to the life of the Church.  God calls us to be engaged with the world even as He called Solomon, David, Job, Abraham, Jacob, Paul... and Jesus himself. They demonstrated clearly the value of dealing with outsiders for common objectives, trade and suppression of common enemies. Who in the Bible did the Will of God without engaging with non-believers? It is only the man who denies the sovereignty of God over His whole creation that refuses to see His hand in the lives of the non-Elect, and that God works out His purposes through them. 

We are made unclean not by what we take into our bodies but by what comes out from them. It is NOT necessarily unholy to have a conversation with a tax collector, or even with the Devil himself. Indeed, every time we engage with the world for our daily bread we are agreeing with it in some way, even if only as to the price. If God did not intend for us to engage with the world for our benefit and His Glory, He would have already removed us.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The 4th Amendment and the "Conservative" Establishment

Andrew McCarthy and the NRO conservative establishment are just plain wrong. The 4th Amendment definition of personal property includes the word "papers", and in today's understanding that includes our electronic communications. They are also wrong that these communications belong to the phone company. If that were true, then there never would have been a requirement for a judge to issue a warrant for a wiretap. The fact is that our electronic communication belongs to us, not to the carrier. They are hired to carry it, period. In other words, they are not permitted to read the contents themselves or to show it to the government unless there is a warrant related to a specific suspected criminal. 

As for metadata, that belongs to us also even though it's a little less clear. The government postman has to be able to read the address on the letter if he is to deliver it as intended by the sender, but beyond retaining proof that it performed its duty to deliver, the government carrier has no assumed proprietary interest in retaining addressing information.  Neither does it have an assumed proprietary interest in communications carried by commercial carriers. A commercial carrier has a right to maintain customer records, but the government has no assumed co-ownership of those records.

The principle that must be upheld above all others is that the public is owed a presumption of innocence. It's fine if the government wants to monitor all communications metadata, but then it should be sorted, and everything more than two degrees of separation from a suspected criminal (on which there is a warrant) should be thrown away. Less than 1% should be retained. As it is, 100% is being retained indefinitely, and the cached data becomes a huge temptation for those who would use it against the innocent.

The notorious “civil rights” lawyer William Kunstler, in addition to his work on “political” cases (i.e., anti-American radical-leftist and terrorist cases), gladly made himself available to mobsters, too — after all, someone had to pay the bills. Invited to a dinner once after a job well done for a mafia don, he hoisted a glass to the assembled capos and button men, toasting them, “Here’s to crime!”

Not content to contort natural law, Paul then works his magic on positive law. He alleges that collection of records of telephone activity (but not the content of phone conversations) is somehow “a clear violation of the explicit language of the highest law of the land.”

Rand Paul’s ‘Here’s to Crime’ Act 

Gleeful crooks across the country could be giving the same toast if Senator Rand Paul gets his way. The self-styled libertarian Republican from Kentucky, firmly in his father’s tradition of overreaction to imagined constitutional violations (or, perhaps I should say, violations of an imaginary Constitution) is outraged by reports that the Defense Department’s National Security Agency (NSA) is collecting “metadata” on phone calls of millions of Americans. He has responded by introducing an absurd piece of legislation he calls the “Fourth Amendment Restoration Act of 2013.”

Naturally, the bill is unacquainted with the Fourth Amendment — either the one given to us by the Framers or even the one enlarged over time by Supreme Court jurisprudence. I use the word “naturally” advisedly. Senator Paul’s proposed law asserts: “The collection of citizen’s [ACM: I take it he means citizens’] phone records is a violation of the natural rights of every man and woman in the United States.” A citizen’s “natural right” to telephone-usage records that are actually the property of third-party service providers? I wonder what Saint Augustine would have made of that.

By “highest law of the land,” Paul is referring to the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment. The senator apparently did not read the Fourth Amendment before cutting and pasting it into his bill. It requires (in relevant part) that “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, shall not be violated.” Perhaps Senator Paul will edify us on how it is “clear” that a phone record, owned and possessed by a telephone service provider (not the customer), qualifies as the person, house,paper, or effect of the customer, such that the government’s acquisition of it violates the Fourth Amendment. The federal courts have consistently, emphatically rejected this implausible suggestion, holding that government’s collection of phone records does not even implicate the Fourth Amendment, much less violate it.

Maybe Senator Paul would tell us that this is just the muck those crazy left-wing judges have made of the Constitution. But what Paul is advocating is a Constitution even more warped than the “organic” one progressive jurists have contrived. His proposal bears no resemblance to the Constitution of the Framers.

In last year’s United States v. Jones decision, Justice Scalia explained (not for the first time) that the animating idea behind the original Fourth Amendment is protection of personal property. The Constitution was not deemed to be violated absent some form of government trespass. That is why, under the Fourth Amendment as originally understood, it would be a violation for police, without a valid judicial warrant, to attach a GPS tracker to a person’s car and monitor his movements (the situation in the Jones case). On the other hand, it would not be a violation to wiretap a person’s conversations by physically attaching a monitoring device to the phone company’s line on a public street, without any entry into the person’s home or trespass on his property. (See Olmstead v. United States [1928].)

This changed because the Supreme Court deviated from the original Fourth Amendment’s bright-line focus on the physical person and his property to embrace the vague concept of “reasonable expectation of privacy.” The original Fourth Amendment preserved the proper constitutional order: It instructs us on what the government must protect, while the people’s representatives in Congress are free to enact additional safeguards beyond this irreducible constitutional guarantee. By contrast, were we to rewrite the Fourth Amendment consistent with its modern understanding — assuming the written word means anything when we could evolve again at any moment — it would say: “The right of the people to be secure in whatever expectations of privacy we judges think are reasonable shall not be violated.”

Unfortunately for Senator Paul, even this new Fourth Amendment that progressives have erected on the remains of the original one has never protected third-party business records. That, in particular, includes “metadata” — customer telephone activity (not the content of conversations, but numbers dialed, time and duration of calls, etc.), records of which are maintained by service providers.

To give such third-party business records constitutional status, Senator Paul would have to get the judges to invent a newer, more expansive Fourth Amendment. So could we please drop the bunkum about how Senator Paul and his anti-government followers are “constitutional conservatives” crusading to “restore” the Fourth Amendment? If Senator Paul were actually trying to “restore” the Fourth Amendment, he’d be calling not for phone-usage records to be shielded from government but for phone conversations to be more easily monitored by government.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Another Leaker. How much longer can the NSA keep the floodwaters back?

NSA is ‘bamboozling’ lawmakers to gain access to Americans’ private records – agency veteran

American citizens hoping to change the way the NSA monitors their everyday activities have little hope of recourse, longtime agency veteran Bill Binney told RT. He said the way the Patriot Act is interpreted is the a big first step toward totalitarianism.
RT: I’m sitting here with Mr. William Binney -- he’s a thirty-two year veteran of the NSA who helped design a top-secret program that he says broadly changed Americans’ personal data. And he actually helped crack those codes, and enter into this. He’s now a whistleblower. Mr. Binney, thank you so much for joining me. So first of all, let’s talk about the latest information that has come out from this NSA spying on Americans.
Bill Binney: Well, first of all, the FISA warrant that was issued to the FBI to get the data from Verizon…that’s been going on, according to the paper anyway, since 2007. And this is like being renewed every three months. So if you look at the top-right corner of that order, it’s 13-80 -- that means it’s the 80thorder since this year of 2013. So when you start to say, so what are the other 79 orders? You can figure other companies. And this is like the second order of 2013, for each company. So that maximum -- you would divide 80 by two, and the maximum number of companies that could be involved in this order would be 40. But I’m sure that there are other things, that they have other orders they are issuing than just this kind, for the service providers, or the telecoms.
RT: So let’s talk about the nine Internet companies that said that they are part of this PRISM program. Should Americans really be surprised at this?
BB: Well I’m not, that’s for sure. But I would point out that the NSA had deployed Naris devices in its court documents submitted by Mark Klein, documenting the NSA room in the San Francisco At&T building where they had Naris devices in a splitter that basically duplicated the fiber-optic lines and would send them down two paths. All the information went down two directions: one of them went down the Naris devices in the NSA room. And so those Naris devices could take everything off of that fiber-optic line. One Naris Insight device could do 10 GB per second,which meant it could reassemble a million and a quarter 1000-character e-mails per second. And that’s the kind of input they could get from one device. Now I’m sure they have multiple devices at multiple sights in the country as well as other places in the world, so that’s an awful lot of data to try to manage. So they need to do things like build Bluffdale to plan for the future so they have lots of storage for all this data.
RT: So how far down the rabbit-hole are weAre we really just at the tip of the iceberg in terms of their spying with this PRISM program coming out in the Verizon records?
BB: Tim Clemente, who is an ex-FBI agent, came on CNN a week or two ago, and he said that any digital data wasn’t safe, and that the intelligence community and the FBI had ways of getting back to it. And he was specifically talking about the phone call between one of the [Tsarnaev] brothers and his wife. And if his wife didn’t tell the FBI what they talked about in that phone call, that they had ways of getting back to that and transcribing and getting the information. So that’s telling you what they’ve got recorded – then they extend it and have digital data. That means all kinds of email, all kinds of Twitter kind-of things, anything going across the fiber-optic lines, as well as the public switch telephone network.
RT: So we’re not talking billions of pieces of information here, we’re talking trillions.
BB: We’re talking trillions, yea. My estimate with phone calls and emails jointly would be on the order of 20 trillion for the last 12 years. 
Reuters / Pawel Kopczynski
Reuters / Pawel Kopczynski

RT: How can we even manage such a thingThey’re saying, with this PRISM program for instance, we have one lawmaker after another supporting it, saying it helps thwart at least one terrorism attack. How would trillions of emails and trillions of bits of data help find one terrorist attack?
BB: My personal view is that the intelligence community is bamboozling Congress and the administration. They are telling them that they have to do this in order to find the bad guys in the networks, and that’s just absolutely false. You don’t have to do that. There are ways and means to do that, and I left that ability and capability with them, and they just threw it away. So instead they just opted to collect everything they could about everybody in this country, and one of the reasons that they would want to do that – the only one I could think of is they wanted to be able to leverage anybody in this country. For example, we can take the case of the IRS and the tea party, and the harassing they’re doing there. One of the people that’s being harassed was giving testimony in front of Congress. And they said, which I thought was quite revealing, was that they had a question from the IRS that asked, “what Is your relationship with this other person?” And they gave the name. Well how would they know that unless they knew the communications community of that person? So that means you’re getting back to this program where they’re pulling all the records of phone calls and emails and everything together and seeing who that person worked with. And on top of that it gave them the ability to pull together the entire tea party. So you would know everybody that’s involved in the tea party, peripherally or centrally.
RT: Now this new PRISM program says that the agents who are employing need to have a 51 percent confidence that it’s a foreign agent, a foreign person. Can you talk about that accuracy, how can we guarantee it, and is 51 percent even enough?
BB: Well that’s another joke [laughs]. These are all jokes. They expect people to believe this. There are two parts: one is the public switch, the PSTN – public switch telephone network, and the other is the Internet, or the World Wide Web. On the one side you have phone numbers. Now these phone numbers, whether they’re your landline phone or your mobile phone or your satellite phone, [they] all connect into this public switch telephone network, and those numbers are unique in the world. And you’re talking about switches that are routing these communications from one point in the other to another. And they have to know exactly where to send it. And so you know exactly where it went and exactly where it’s coming from. So there’s no question that we shouldn’t have fairly 99.9999 percent accuracy on identifying that – unless something happens and they have electronic blip and they lose part of the information. 
AFP Photo / Rainier Ehrhardt
AFP Photo / Rainier Ehrhardt

And the other thing is, on the World Wide Web – here again they have attributes that are part of the world wide system that identifies those people that are uniquely in the world, like the IPV4, the IPV6. You know, addresses that are assigned by the IANA in the five regions of the world. And that clearly tells you, if you don’t have that, then every device – whether it’s a switch, a server or a computer – had a MAC number. That’s a machine access code that identifies you uniquely in the world. And the same would be true in using username and service provider combinations, like, something like that. Those kind of attributes identify where you are and where you’re coming from.
RT: So let’s talk about the companies, the nine Internet companies that are involved in this. They say that they didn’t know that this was possibly happening under their watch. First of all, is it even possible that they didn’t know?
BB: Certainly it’s possible that some of the people in these companies didn’t know, but I find it hard to believe that that wasn’t already agreed to, that somewhere in the company the COO or the CEOs knew and agreed to this kind of access. Because it’s hard to believe that they could not notice that they’re being drained of information 0 that’s pretty difficult.
RT: And you have, on the other hand, lawmakers on Capitol Hill. We went out as a group with RT and we interviewed people on the streets. And one after the other, a person said that they are not only OK with this type of surveillance – but that they actually encourage it if it thwarts terrorism. So talk about this debate, this debate between civil liberties and national security – should it be either or, in this case?
BB: No, you can have both. The point is that you can filter out all the domestic communication that isn’t connected in any way with any terrorist – or even close to a terrorist, like two degrees of separation in the communications network or communities you’re building. You can reduce it to that, and if you’re not in that zone, then all your data is thrown away, and that would eliminate 99.99 percent of the US population and the world. But they don’t do that. So that’s where they’re getting back to the idea and bamboozling Congress and the administration to suggest they need to collect it all to figure it out. That’s simply false.
RT: So what can we really do to protect ourselves, is there anything we can do to protect ourselves here?
BB: Not really, there’s not really anything you can do, except to fire everybody in Congress and the administration and elect new people that will do a constitutionally acceptable job.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Reggie - A Black Lab

A great story for anyone, especially dog lovers. This is an oldie but good to read again as its been awhile since it was last making the rounds. 

They told me the big black Lab's name was Reggie,
as I looked at him lying in his pen.
The shelter was clean, no-kill,
and the people really friendly.
I'd only been in the area for six months, but
everywhere I went in the small college town, people
were welcoming and open. Everyone waves
when you pass them on the street.

But something was still missing as I attempted to settle
into my new life here, and I thought a dog couldn't hurt.
Give me someone to talk to. And I had just seen
Reggie's advertisement on the local news. The shelter
said they had received numerous calls right after,
but they said the people who had come down
to see him just didn't look like "Lab people,"
whatever that meant. They must've thought I did.

But at first, I thought the shelter had misjudged me
in giving me Reggie and his things, which consisted
of a dog pad, bag of toys almost all of which were
brand new tennis balls, his dishes and
a sealed letter from his previous owner.
See, Reggie and I didn't really hit it off when we got home.
We struggled for two weeks (which is how long the shelter
told me to give him to adjust to his new home). Maybe it
was the fact that I was trying to adjust, too.
Maybe we were too much alike.
I saw the sealed envelope. I had completely forgotten
about that. "Okay, Reggie," I said out loud, "let's see
if your previous owner has any advice."
To Whomever Gets My Dog:
Well, I can't say that I'm happy you're reading this,
a letter I told the shelter could only be opened by
Reggie's new owner. I'm not even happy writing it.
He knew something was different.
So let me tell you about my Lab in the hopes
that it will help you bond with him and he with you.
First, he loves tennis balls. The more the merrier.
Sometimes I think he's part squirrel, the way he hoards them.
He usually always has two in his mouth, and he tries to get
a third in there. Hasn't done it yet. Doesn't matter where
you throw them, he'll bound after them, so be careful.
Don't do it by any roads.
Next, commands. Reggie knows the
obvious ones ---"sit," "stay," "come," "heel."
He knows hand signals, too: He knows "ball"
and "food" and "bone" and "treat" like nobody's business.
Feeding schedule: twice a day, regular
store-bought stuff; the shelter has the brand.
He's up on his shots. Be forewarned: Reggie hates the vet.
Good luck getting him in the car. I don't know how he
knows when it's time to go to the vet, but he knows.
Finally, give him some time. It's only been Reggie and
me for his whole life. He's gone everywhere with me,
so please include him on your daily car rides if you can.
He sits well in the backseat, and he doesn't bark
or complain. He just loves to be around people,
and me most especially.
And that's why I need to share one more bit of info with you...
His name's not Reggie. He's a smart dog, he'll get used to it
and will respond to it, of that I have no doubt. But I just couldn't
bear to give them his real name. But if someone is reading this ...
well it means that his new owner should know his real name.
His real name is "Tank." Because, that is what I drive.
I told the shelter that they couldn't make "Reggie" available
for adoption until they received word from my company commander.
You see, my parents are gone, I have no siblings, no one I could've
left Tank with ... and it was my only real request of the Army upon my deployment to Iraq,
that they make one phone call to the shelter ...
in the "event" ... to tell them that Tank could be put up for adoption.
Luckily, my CO is a dog-guy, too, and he knew where my platoon
was headed. He said he'd do it personally. And if you're reading this,
then he made good on his word.
Tank has been my family for the last six years, almost as long
as the Army has been my family. And now I hope and pray that
you make him part of your family, too, and that he will adjust
and come to love you the same way he loved me.
If I have to give up Tank to keep those terrible people from coming
to the US I am glad to have done so. He is my example of service and
of love. I hope I honored him by my service to my country and comrades.
All right, that's enough. I deploy this evening and have to drop this letter
off at the shelter. Maybe I'll peek in on him and see if he finally got
that third tennis ball in his mouth.
Good luck with Tank. Give him a good home, and
give him an extra kiss goodnight - every night - from me.
Thank you,
Paul Mallory
I folded the letter and slipped it back in the envelope. Sure,
I had heard of Paul Mallory, everyone in town knew him,
even new people like me. Local kid, killed in Iraq a few
months ago and posthumously earning the Silver Star
when he gave his life to save three buddies.
Flags had been at half-mast all summer.
I leaned forward in my chair and rested my
elbows on my knees, staring at the dog.
"Hey, Tank," I said quietly.
The dog's head whipped up, his ears
cocked and his eyes bright.
"C'mere boy."

He was instantly on his feet, his nails clicking on the hardwood floor.
He sat in front of me, his head tilted, searching for the name
he hadn't heard in months. "Tank," I whispered.
His tail swished.

I kept whispering his name, over and over, and each time,
his ears lowered, his eyes softened, and his posture relaxed
as a wave of contentment just seemed to flood him. I stroked
his ears, rubbed his shoulders, buried my face into
his scruff and hugged him.

"It's me now, Tank, just you and me. Your old pal gave you to me."
Tank reached up and licked my cheek.

"So whatdaya say we play some ball?"
His ears perked again.

"Yeah? Ball? You like that? Ball?"

Tank tore from my hands and disappeared into the next room.
And when he came back, he had three tennis balls in his mouth.
If you can read this without getting a lump in your
throat or a tear in your eye, you just ain't right.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Four kinds of people

Four kinds of people:

1.  People who you think are wrong about most things, and not very nice about their wrongness.
2.  People who you think are wrong, but pretty nice about it.
3.  People who you think are right about most things, but not very nice about it.
4.  People who you think are right about most things, and nice about it.

For the Christian, being “nice,” is not ultimately what life is all about. But neither is it just a low-level option for those who are commanded by Scripture to “speak the truth in love.” The order of the commandment—truth first, love second—suggests that being “nice” can’t happen unless such behavior is rooted first in the Truth, but neither can Truth be heard unless it is wrapped in Love.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Hudson's Tax Plan

Sales Tax:
  • 5% rate
  • Not taxed:
    • State and Local Taxes
    • Exports
    • Interest payments of all kinds  
      • mortgage
      • consumer
      • investment
    • Investments of all kinds
      • Real Estate purchases
      • Equity purchases
  • Notable INCLUSIONS:  
    • education
    • services
    • wholesale products and services
    • purchases by non-profits
Corporate Income Tax:
  • 10% rate
  • Not taxed
    • capital gains and losses
  • Deductible:
    • domestic purchases and expenses
    • domestic payroll
    • dividends paid
    • depreciation (life of asset)
    • depletion
    • sales tax (see above)
  • Not deductible:
    • foreign payroll
    • foreign purchases and expenses
    • gifts and contributions
Personal Income Tax:
  • 20% rate
  • Personal exemption:  $12,500.
  • Not taxed:
    • nothing
  • Deductible
    • charity
  • Not deductible
    • mortgage interest
    • medical expenses
    • retirement "investments"
    • capital losses
  • Notable inclusions
    • capital gains
Not Taxed:
  • Estates
  • Gifts
  • Payroll
  • Excise
  • Import and export tariffs