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December 30, 2005

Let It Snow...Please!!

We are ready to ring in the new year from our cozy condo in Brian Head, Utah, and we had hoped to get in a little skiing but it has not snowed much up here since we were here the weekend after Thanksgiving. There are a few runs open, but we really need 3 or four feet of snow.

Snow or not, here's wishing everyone a Happy New Year!!!

Posted by Rick | December 30, 2005 11:27 PM | Just A Thought

December 21, 2005

Murderer And Crips Co-Founder Stanley Tookie Williams Eulogized

How many people do you have to brutally murder before the 'Reverend' Jesse Jackson, 'Minister' Louis Farrakhan, rapper Snoop Dogg and thousands of others come to honor and celebrate your life? Four...

How many violent gangs do you have co-found before the 'Reverend' Jesse Jackson, 'Minister' Louis Farrakhan, rapper Snoop Dogg and thousands of others come to honor and celebrate your life? One...

Yesterday, at a church in 'south central' Los Angeles, over 1,500 mourners attended the funeral of Stanley Tookie Williams during which the Crips co-founder and convicted murderer was eulogized as "a true revolutionary and a messenger of peace."

With heroes like Stanley it's no wonder that African-American community stays rooted in poverty and crime....

Shame on all those who went to mourn. Shame on Stanley Tookie Williams.

Posted by Rick | December 21, 2005 01:06 AM | Social Studies

December 20, 2005

Snoop Dog

Let me first say that I am in favor of the President authorizing the National Security Agency's interception of telephone calls, emails and other correspondence between suspected terrorists outside the United States and persons inside our borders without getting warrants from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA).

This is not like the unwarranted strip searches of the little old lady going through airport security, while other more likely suspects waltz through.

There has been no admission that there has been any surveillance of communications between persons inside our borders without getting warrants from the court, but it defies common sense that surveillance of the person in the United States would stop after intercepting an international call from a suspected Al Quaeda operative.

If the President abuses this power, something should be done to reign in the program, but there is no indication that there have been any abuses and the critics should just button their lip until there is.

Posted by Rick | December 20, 2005 11:04 PM | Political Science

December 19, 2005

Random Christmas Thoughts

Everybody should have snow for Christmas.

Egg nog is too thick.

Putting up the Christmas tree is always an adventure. You never know quite what it's going to look like until it's done.

I always buy peppermint ice cream before Christmas and get around to throwing out what I don't eat around June.

I love singing Christmas carols.

I hate trying on clothes I receive for Christmas, but I generally dislike trying on clothes period.

One of my favorite Christmas gifts I received as a child was a microscope.

I love all the different flavors of candy canes.

To be continued as the mood or message strikes me...

Posted by Rick | December 19, 2005 10:04 PM | Just A Thought

December 15, 2005

Moribund Government Agencies Need Overhaul

The government's mind-numbing mix of regulation and paperwork is unbelievable. Read this article in the NYT.

Posted by Rick | December 15, 2005 11:04 AM | Political Science

December 10, 2005

Cool Gifts For $50 Or Less Just In Time For Christmas Or Chanukah

Enya's new CD, Amarantine from CD Universe - $14.35

John Gibson's book, The War On Christmas from Amazon.com - $16.47

An 18 piece Signature Truffle Assortment (12.25 oz.) with striped ribbon from Godiva Chocolates - $34.00

Bill O'Reilly's The Spin Stops Here doormat from BillOReilly.com - $29.95

A Starbuck's gift card - $50 or less

A 15" Merry Christmas Bowtie Bear available in 4 colors from VermontTeddyBear.com - $49.95

Pajamas from PajamaGram.com - $49.95 and less

A Premium Investor Starter Kit from ShareBuilder.com - $49.95

A Snow Dough Gift Card from BrianHead.com or gift card from your local ski resort - $50

A pound puppy - priceless

Posted by Rick | December 10, 2005 04:42 PM | Just A Thought

Congress And Gift-Giving

It is becoming increasingly difficult to find an appropriate Christmas or Chanukah gift for your favorite Congressman that falls within the Rules of the U.S. House of Representatives on Gifts and Travel ethics guidelines which say, in part:

5. (a)(1)(A) A Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, officer, or employee of the House may not knowingly accept a gift except as provided in this clause.

(B) A Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, officer, or employee of the House may accept a gift (other than cash or cash equivalent) that the Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, officer, or employee reasonably and in good faith believes to have a value of less than $50 and a cumulative value from one source during a calendar year of less than $100. A gift having a value of less than $10 does not count toward the $100 annual limit. Formal record keeping is not required by this subdivision, but a Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, officer, or employee of the House shall make a good faith effort to comply with this subdivision.

(2)(A) In this clause the term "gift" means a gratuity, favor, discount, entertainment, hospitality, loan, forbearance, or other item having monetary value. The term includes gifts of services, training, transportation, lodging, and meals, whether provided in kind, by purchase of a ticket, payment in advance, or reimbursement after the expense has been incurred.

So, there is basically a $50 limit on any one gift that can be accepted by a Congressman, with a $100 annual limit from any individual. This means is that if you take a Congressman out for dinner, you will not be eating at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, unless you forgo everything but the entree - no wine, no appetizer, no salad, no cheesecake, and certainly no after dinner drink. If you include the tip, you may not even be able to afford the entree. McDonald's must be the place where all the power brokers are dining.

Of course this rule is a joke. It costs a lot more than $100 annually to buy influence in Washington, D.C.

Sadly, Congressman Randy 'Duke' Cunningham (R-CA), who plead guilty to charges of conspiracy and tax evasion while admitting he took bribes from Pentagon contractors and a New York businessman through illegal real estate transactions and gifts, obviously didn't bother to read the aforementioned rules or merely ignored them.

Representative Cunningham knew what his price was - $2.4 million, and I'm sure, based on preliminary evidence, that the lobbyists thought that was a bargain. From SignOnSanDiego.com:

He admitted he took more than $2.4 million in bribes and agreed to forfeit $1.8 million in cash, his share of the proceeds from the sale of his Rancho Santa Fe mansion and a variety of items bought with bribe money.

The 64-year-old Cunningham will be sentenced on February 27, 2005. He could be sentenced to as much as 10 years in prison and faces up to $350,000 in fines. (Expecting only a lump of coal, bad boy Cunningham has only one thing on his Christmas wish list this year - he would like the same judge that sentenced former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, who plead guilty to removing highly classified documents from the National Archives and intentionally destroying some of them, to two years probation, 100 hours of community service, and had to surrender his access to classified government materials for three years. Berger was also ordered to pay a $50,000 fine as well as $6,905 for the administrative costs of his two-year probation. Ouch!)

Most congressmen have figured out that they will be able to sell their influence when they leave office, and make an effort to not look too corrupt while in office. Duke Cunningham just didn't want to wait.

Note: If you have any interest in obtaining any of Congressman Cunningham's ill-gotten goods, you can learn more about it here.

Posted by Rick | December 10, 2005 02:11 PM | Just A Thought

December 9, 2005

White House Christmas Card

For those of you who have not received your Christmas card from George and Laura Bush, we will share ours with you.

Don't you just love chasing cats in the snow?
Signed personally by the President & First Lady!

There is a note on the back of the card that reads:

The Jackson Magnolia with
Barney, Miss Beazley, and India Bush

The White House 2005

Jamie Wyeth
Mixed media on board
15" x 10 1/8"

Posted by Rick | December 9, 2005 01:52 AM | Just A Thought

December 4, 2005

Immigration Lip Service?

Five years into his presidency, George Bush finally made a speech which seemed to address his concerns about the illegal immigration problem in this country.

"We're a nation built on the rule of law and those who enter the country illegally break the law. In communities near our border illegal immigration strains the resources of schools, hospitals, and law enforcement, and it involves smugglers and gangs that bring crime to our neighborhoods. Faced with this serious challenge our government's responsibility is clear - we're going to protect our border."

Hopefully this will become a major priority of President Bush and his Department of Homeland Security, but I fear this is just lip service. Bush is more concerned that he might upset his friend, Mexican President Vincente Fox Quesada, than he is about securing the Mexican border. Fox has refused to do anything to curb the flow of illegals into the United States and has even defended it saying:

"There's no doubt that Mexican men and women full of dignity, willpower and a capacity for work are doing the work that not even blacks want to do in the United States."

Never mind that Fox has lost control of his northern border, including the Texas border town, Neuvo Laredo, which is fondly referred to as 'Narco Nuevo,' and the California border town, Tijuana, which has had two police chiefs assassinated in the past few years, to drug traffickers and other nefarious characters.

The Department of Homeland Security, which is supposedly in charge of controlling the borders, is a joke and Secretary Chertoff has done perhaps less than his predecessor Tom Ridge did, if that is possible.

This past week it was announced that passengers on planes would be allowed to carry small knives and other sharp objects. The homeland security staff that strip-searches little old women and well-known personalities at airport checkpoints while letting strapping young Muslim men through unimpeded, is apparently unable to look for knives and bombs at the same time. The fact that four planes were hijacked on 9/11/2001 using small sharp objects has been forgotten.

Posted by Rick | December 4, 2005 01:05 PM | Political Science

John Kerry - Commander-In-Confusion?

Former presidential candidate Senator John Kerry (D-MA) made the following quote this past week:

"I'm not asking even for the specific timetable of withdrawal. I'm asking for a specific timetable of transfer of authority, of transfer of responsibility, of the shift and the setting of the benchmarks specifically that allow us to bring our troops home."

Can you imagine Kerry saying this to the Secretary of Defense if he were President? Wars are not fought in a vaccuum, but Kerry seems to be suffering from one between his ears.

Posted by Rick | December 4, 2005 12:51 PM | Political Science

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