Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Are Automatic Gratuities Going Away?

Dealnews reports:
A new IRS ruling has resulted in some frustrated restaurant owners and disappointed servers, and could possibly end a practice that's bugged many restaurant patrons for years. At the center of this controversy is the automatic gratuity, that compulsory charge many eateries tack on to your bill when you dine with a large group of people. As of January 1, 2014, the IRS will start treating automatic gratuities as a service charge, a change that's got the food service industry up in arms.

Servers May Feel the Pinch

When the IRS ruling, which was enacted in June 2012, starts being enforced in January, servers will no longer be responsible for self-reporting their income from automatic gratuities to the IRS. Instead, restaurant owners will have a choice: they can start adding those automatic gratuities into a server's wages (which would mean more paperwork), or they can stop charging customers for automatic gratuities altogether. According to Denise Wheeler, an attorney who spoke with the Wall Street Journal, it's likely that "the vast majority of restaurant owners will discontinue the practice."
This could be bad news for servers who depend on tips because their hourly wages are usually far below the minimum wage. When the restaurant where he works stopped charging automatic gratuities, server Michael Turney, who spoke with USA Today, noticed a significant change in his income. "I feel like larger parties don't tip as well as they should for the amount that they spend at the restaurant," Turney said. "When they spend $200 and leave $20, you're losing out on about $16 or $17." He went on to say that some servers at the restaurant are now hesitant to take on large parties, because they can make more tips on smaller groups.
I agree, this could happen.  Back in the day when I was working in food service, we saw this a lot - the same people who would leave a 20% tip for a party of four would only leave 10% for a party of 10.  For some reason, the percentage becomes less important than the dollar amount when the cost goes up due to larger parties.  That doesn't make it right, but I do see how this is a concern.  Now, the flip side...
While restauranteurs and servers may resent the IRS's automatic gratuity rule change, several customers have been vocal in their hatred of the practice. "Even if you generally tip more than 18%, automatic gratuities can't help but rub you the wrong way," read an editorial for the Chicago Tribune. "From a customer's perspective, a predetermined tip is mighty presumptuous. A server who doesn't have to earn his or her tips has little incentive to try, and the customer has no choice but to pay a premium anyway." The editorial also pointed out that a customer is rarely notified when an automatic gratuity is charged, which may lead them to leave a larger tip than they'd intended. "That's dishonest," the writer asserted.
I agree with that, too!  We may be abnormal, but we always confirm the price of our meal (including the tip) before paying, but even when you're looking it can sometimes be hard to spot.  Especially with a large group or multiple checks, it can hide rather easily.  And yes, I completely agree with the presumptuousness of adding the gratuity on from the start!  Plus, there have been times where I would have tipped more if left to my own preference, but since the restaurant forced me into the 18%, that's what the server got.  Again, we may be abnormal in that, but surely there are others who function the same way out there.

Dealnews offers some interesting suggestions and speculations about how it will play out, so check out the link above if you want to see it.  Personally, I've never understood why wait staff get paid a lousy $2.whatever in the first place.  How did that one job get exempted from the minimum wage?  Wouldn't it make more sense if they got the same $7.25/hour as other hourly jobs, and then any tip would be treated as it was meant to be (for excellent service over and above the bare minimum)?  As someone who worked for years in food service, and as someone who now regularly pays the bill at various restaurants, that seems more fair to me overall.

I wonder what that cost structure would do to the price of restaurant food, or what it would do to the typical wages earned by wait staff?  I honestly don't know what the net effect would be, but I bet there are some smart economist type people out there who could figure it out, or at least make a good guess.  If anyone happens to see anything related, feel free to drop me a comment and let me know.

Regardless, it will be interesting to see how this new IRS rule plays out in the real world.  It seems there is an unfortunately high rate at which IRS rules that seem good actually turn out pretty badly.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

KSU Wins! (For Real, Not Just A Prediction)

Final score was 31-14. Pretty good prediction, if I do say so myself!

Full recap and details are here: http://scores.espn.go.com/ncf/recap?gameId=333622306

This win snaps a lengthy streak of bowl game losses for the Cats and leaves them at 8-5 on the year. Not quite what the purple nation was hoping for back in August, but certainly a solid effort and some generally positive results.

Perhaps as much as anything, it positions K-State for another Big 12 title contention next year as most of the skill positions return and the team seems to have finally learned how to play Snyderball -- clean, smart, and hard -- over the second half of the year. If they can retain this mojo, next year should be another great year in the Little Apple.

But that's next year. For now, many congrats to Coach Snyder and the entire Wildcat football team on a job well done!

EMAW!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

KSU Wins!

Here's the short version...

Michigan is a storied program with lots of history and a bit of a snooty attitude, like USC, Alabama, or Notre Dame. But, they've lost something like five of their last six games, and they're without their starting QB. There's a lot of potential psychological damage waiting to happen if things go badly early on, especially to an upstart like K-State. Also, their O line has been pretty bad this year, so if the Cat D is on point they could have a field day (especially with a true freshman QB standing in on short notice). KSU, on the other hand, comes into the game with confidence, winning five of their last six games and with everything humming along smoothly. Plus, the biggest monkey on KSU's back -- not winning a bowl game in over 10 years -- has been discussed in the open, and is actually a major motivation.

Bottom line: KSU Wins, 34-20

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!!!

 


Luke 1:26-38
Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town in Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin who was to be married to a man named Joseph, of the family of David; and the name of the virgin was Mary.

And the angel came in to her and said, "Peace be with you, to whom special grace has been given; the Lord is with you."


But she was greatly troubled at his words, and said to herself, "What may be the purpose of these words?"


The angel said to her, "Have no fear, Mary, for you have God's approval. And see, you will give birth to a son, and his name will be Jesus. He will be great, and will be named the Son of the Most High: and the Lord God will give him the kingdom of David, his father:

He will have rule over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end."

Mary said to the angel, "How may this be, because I have had no knowledge of a man?"


The angel in answer said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will come to rest on you, and so that which will come to birth will be named holy, Son of God. Even now Elisabeth, who is of your family, is to be a mother, though she is old: and this is the sixth month with her who was without children. For there is nothing which God is not able to do."


Mary said: "I am the servant of the Lord; may it be to me as you say." And the angel went away.


Luke 2:1-20

Now it came about in those days that an order went out from Caesar Augustus that there was to be a numbering of all the world. This was the first numbering, which was made when Quirinius was ruler of Syria. And all men went to be numbered, everyone to his town.

Joseph went up from Galilee, out of the town of Nazareth, into Judaea, to Bethlehem, the town of David, because he was of the house and family of David, to be put on the list with Mary, his future wife, who was about to become a mother. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She had her first son; and folding him in linen, she put him to rest in the place where the cattle had their food, because there was no room for them in the house.


And in the same country there were keepers of sheep in the fields, watching over their flock by night. An angel of the Lord came to them, and the glory of the Lord was shining round about them: and fear came on them.


The angel said, "Have no fear; for truly, I give you good news of great joy which will be for all the people: For on this day, in the town of David, a Saviour has come to birth, who is Christ the Lord. This is the sign to you: you will see a young child folded in linen, in the place where the cattle have their food."


And suddenly there was with the angel a great band of spirits from heaven, giving praise to God, and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on the earth peace among men with whom he is well pleased."


When the angels had gone away from them into Heaven, the keepers of the sheep said to one another, "Let us go now to Bethlehem, and see this thing which has come about, which the Lord has made clear to us."


They came quickly, and saw Mary and Joseph, and the child in the place where the cattle had their food. And when they saw it, they gave them an account of the things which had been said to them about the child. All those to whose ears it came were full of wonder at the things said by the keepers of the sheep.


But Mary kept all these words in her heart, and gave much thought to them. Then the keepers of the sheep went back, giving glory and praise to God for all the things which had come to their ears and which they had seen, as it had been said to them.


Saturday, December 21, 2013

This Is eSports Episode 5 - Meet The Fans Of StarCraft 2

So...I didn't realize it'd been so long since I posted!  Between wrapping up school, the usual end of year stuff, and heading out of town for a few days on vacation, things got pretty crazy for a couple of weeks.  Sorry about that...I'll try to make up for it over the next few weeks.  To kick things off, we need to get caught up on the eSports series, so here you go...


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

As you enjoy your day with family and friends, I wanted to continue my annual tradition of sharing some of the historically accurate truths about Thanksgiving since they seem to be in short supply nowadays.

George Washington: 
“I do recommend and assign Thursdayy ... next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be.” –George Washington (October 3, 1789)


Abraham Lincoln:
The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.
In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict, while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.
Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well as the iron and coal as of our precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.
No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.
It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the imposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purpose, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.
In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
The Pilgrims, via Rush Limbaugh:
The story of the Pilgrims begins in the early part of the seventeenth century. The Church of England under King James I was persecuting anyone and everyone who did not recognize its absolute civil and spiritual authority. Those who challenged ecclesiastical authority and those who believed strongly in freedom of worship were hunted down, imprisoned, and sometimes executed for their beliefs. A group of separatists first fled to Holland and established a community.

"After eleven years, about forty of them agreed to make a perilous journey to the New World, where they would certainly face hardships, but could live and worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences. On August 1, 1620, the Mayflower set sail. It carried a total of 102 passengers, including forty Pilgrims led by William Bradford. On the journey, Bradford set up an agreement, a contract, that established just and equal laws for all members of the new community, irrespective of their religious beliefs. Where did the revolutionary ideas expressed in the Mayflower Compact come from? From the Bible. The Pilgrims were a people completely steeped in the lessons of the Old and New Testaments. They looked to the ancient Israelites for their example.

"And, because of the biblical precedents set forth in Scripture, they never doubted that their experiment would work. But this was no pleasure cruise, friends. The journey to the New World was a long and arduous one. And when the Pilgrims landed in New England in November, they found, according to Bradford's detailed journal, a cold, barren, desolate wilderness. There were no friends to greet them, he wrote. There were no houses to shelter them. There were no inns where they could refresh themselves. And the sacrifice they had made for freedom was just beginning. During the first winter, half the Pilgrims – including Bradford's own wife – died of either starvation, sickness or exposure. When spring finally came, Indians taught the settlers how to plant corn, fish for cod and skin beavers for coats.

"Life improved for the Pilgrims, but they did not yet prosper! This is important to understand because this is where modern American history lessons often end. Thanksgiving is actually explained in some textbooks as a holiday for which the Pilgrims gave thanks to the Indians for saving their lives, rather than as a devout expression of gratitude grounded in the tradition of both the Old and New Testaments. Here is the part that has been omitted: The original contract the Pilgrims had entered into with their merchant-sponsors in London called for everything they produced to go into a common store, and each member of the community was entitled to one common share. All of the land they cleared and the houses they built belong to the community as well. They were going to distribute it equally. All of the land they cleared and the houses they built belonged to the community as well.

"Nobody owned anything. They just had a share in it. It was a commune, folks. It was the forerunner to the communes we saw in the '60s and '70s out in California – and it was complete with organic vegetables, by the way. Bradford, who had become the new governor of the colony, recognized that this form of collectivism was as costly and destructive to the Pilgrims as that first harsh winter, which had taken so many lives. He decided to take bold action. Bradford assigned a plot of land to each family to work and manage, thus turning loose the power of the marketplace. That's right. Long before Karl Marx was even born, the Pilgrims had discovered and experimented with what could only be described as socialism. And what happened? It didn't work!"

"It never has worked! "What Bradford and his community found was that the most creative and industrious people had no incentive to work any harder than anyone else, unless they could utilize the power of personal motivation! But while most of the rest of the world has been experimenting with socialism for well over a hundred years – trying to refine it, perfect it, and re-invent it – the Pilgrims decided early on to scrap it permanently. What Bradford wrote about this social experiment should be in every schoolchild's history lesson. If it were, we might prevent much needless suffering in the future. 'The experience that we had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years...that by taking away property, and bringing community into a common wealth, would make them happy and flourishing – as if they were wiser than God,' Bradford wrote.

"'For this community [so far as it was] was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. For young men that were most able and fit for labor and service did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men's wives and children without any recompense ... that was thought injustice.' Why should you work for other people when you can't work for yourself? What's the point? Do you hear what he was saying, ladies and gentlemen? The Pilgrims found that people could not be expected to do their best work without incentive. So what did Bradford's community try next? They unharnessed the power of good old free enterprise by invoking the undergirding capitalistic principle of private property.

"Every family was assigned its own plot of land to work and permitted to market its own crops and products. And what was the result? 'This had very good success,' wrote Bradford, 'for it made all hands industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been.' Bradford doesn't sound like much of a Clintonite" I wrote then "does he? Is it possible that supply-side economics could have existed before the 1980s? Yes. Read the story of Joseph and Pharaoh in Genesis 41. Following Joseph's suggestion (Gen 41:34), Pharaoh reduced the tax on Egyptians to 20% during the 'seven years of plenty' and the 'Earth brought forth in heaps.' (Gen. 41:47) In no time, the Pilgrims found they had more food than they could eat themselves. 

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Anyone Need Some Extra Online Storage?

[Commence PSA...]

If anyone is looking for some additional online storage (i.e. Dropbox), send me an email and I'll hook you up right away.  I have one service that is currently doing a promo where any new member gets 6GB if I refer them, and another one that is still doing a whopping 15GB for new users plus an additional 5GB if I refer you.  Both of these are free, and just require you to sign up for an account (obviously) and then install the desktop client on your home computer.  Both provide real-time sync'ing with your computer, both are easy to install and use, and both have accompanying smartphone apps.  This way you get not only a free backup system for your most important files/pictures/videos, but you also have access to all of your stuff on the go from your phone and/or tablet.  Most tech companies and products nowadays are targeting cloud solutions for precisely these reasons, so if you don't yet have this rolling -- or if you just have the measly standard 2GB from Dropbox -- let me know and I'll get you started.

Why am I mentioning this?  Two reasons.

First, it's the 21st century, and everyone who has any kind of viable presence online and a smartphone really should have something like this in place.  I hate to see people go through loads of pain and hassle when things go south with their computer, especially when it could have been avoided.  Trust me when I tell you that using online storage services like this can save you a monster headache if your home computer is lost or stolen (or the hard drive crashes), and it can also save your bacon in the event that you need access to your stuff while you're away from home (being in school right now, homework assignments come readily to my mind, but work presentations and documents also fit here).  You get all that benefit, and it's free, easy, and convenient.  Don't worry about security, either - both of these services are reputable, and I trust them with my own stuff.  The big services like these now have very good encryption in place, so you are as safe as you can be without going completely offline.

Second, most of these online storage companies know that they have one chance to quickly build a user base, and that's when they're early in their life cycle.  So, when they first come out they often try to make a splash and generate buzz by giving away lots of extra storage space for free, not only for new users but also for new users via referrals from existing users - in most cases, both the new user and the existing user get extra space once the new user is installed and running.  I've snagged over 120GB of free online storage this way over the past 12-18 months, which is equivalent to at least $120 a year and a whole lot of assurance that our stuff is both secured and available.  By getting started with a referral like I'm proposing is a great way to not only put in place some key benefits for yourself, but also to maximize those benefits.

So, if you're reading this and hearing a little voice in your head that says, "Yeah, I really should do this..." then send me an email to let me know you want in.  I'll send you the invites from my accounts, and I'll even help you walk through the process of setting everything up if you need it.  Once you're installed and running, the extra space will magically appear on your online account, and you're off to the races!

Go for it!

[This concludes the PSA...]

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Red Bull Battlegrounds Is This Weekend

As a follow up to that last post, the latest Red Bull Battlegrounds is actually going on this weekend in New York.  Check out the official website here for information about the eight elite players competing, when the matches will occur, the casters who will be covering the event, and much more.



This Is eSports Episode 4 - Get To Know The Pros


Friday, November 22, 2013

Democrat Senators Nuked The Minority, Obama Does (Another) About Face

Important news from yesterday via Heritage:

11/22/2013

As President Obama said, they got away with it.

Harry Reid and the Democrat-controlled Senate got away with changing the Senate's rules so that they can shove through anything they want without having to worry about Republicans filibustering against it.

Just a few short years ago, then-Senator Obama spoke forcefully against doing what Senate Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) just did. When Republicans talked about a similar rule change in 2005, Obamasaid (emphasis added):

I urge my Republican colleagues not to go through with changing these rules. In the long run, it is not a good result for either party. One day Democrats will be in the majority again, and this rule change will be no fairer to a Republican minority than it is to a Democratic minority. I sense that talk of the nuclear option is more about power than about fairness. I believe some of my colleagues propose this rule change because they can get away with it rather than because they know it is good for our democracy.
Yesterday, the President's strong words in support of the filibuster were but a memory, as he declared his about-face in favor of the Democratic majority seizing power. "I support the step a majority of Senators today took to change the way that Washington is doing business," he said, describing Reid's power grab in lofty, for-the-people terms.

Obama's 180-degree turn on this issue—based on who's in the Senate majority—is perhaps most amusing when you see that he invoked the American Founders in defense of both positions.

In 2005getting rid of the filibuster "certainly is not what the patriots who founded this democracy had in mind."

But todayusing the filibuster is "not what our Founders envisioned."

filibustersplitscreen-v2

Now, whatever the Democratic majority in the Senate wants, it can be done. The rule change means that instead of needing 60 votes to cut off debate on a nomination, Reid needs only 51. He has 55 Democratic Senators.

As Heritage legal analyst Elizabeth Slattery noted, "Though the rule purportedly applies only to executive branch and judicial nominations—excluding Supreme Court nominations (for now, anyway)—it would seem with 51 votes, Reid can do just about anything."

The change could be undone again with another simple majority vote. But the minority may just want to wait it out until they get their turn—Senator Chuck Grassley (R–IA) has said, "Go ahead. There are a lot more [Antonin] Scalias and [Clarence] Thomases out there we'd love to put on the bench."

You know, I might almost believe that logic...if the Republicans had showed any sort of a pulse or spine or willingness to pick a fight over the past few years.  They haven't.  I have zero faith that they will do anything of the sort.

Regardless, would it be right if they did?  I think not.  Barack Obama has already secured more of his agenda through illegal/unconstitutional brute force -- i.e. executive orders and simply ignoring laws or the Constitution when they are inconvenient for him -- than any President before him.  He is acting more and more as though he was a king, and getting away it because no one else in Congress has the courage to stand up to it and call him on it.  We are treading closer and closer to what I think of as a distributed monarchy, where there are a certain few "nobles" who make all the rules, and the rest of us have no choice but to deal with it.  This step in the Senate only solidifies that reality even further.

This is absolutely not what the Founders intended.  In fact, this is precisely the kind of tyranny that they found so offensive that they were willing to risk treason and war to escape from it.  It is an ominous sign for the future freedom of our country.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Is America No Longer A Democracy?

Many apologies for the delay on the Obamacare follow up.  Things have been crazy busy lately, and there's so much substantive news about the topic that it's a bit of a challenge to collate it all into something useful and coherent.  It's coming, I promise.  In the meantime, here's a little thought-provoking editorial from an Iranian about the American political scene.  Read and consider:

As an immigrant, I come from where America is heading. I have seen, lived, and fled from a country where a small group can drag the large majority where they do not want to go.

I have seen how a small group of ideologues succeeded in creating fear in the hearts of the majority, forcing them to self-censure and not defend their rights, to cease speaking of the facts or telling the truth.

I have seen how they shamelessly attack and destroy good people by false accusations and lies, without any consequences or punishments, because the people are uninformed and or intimidated to use their right of freedom of speech.

The Democrats in United States are doing exactly what the Iranian left -- supported by the Soviet KGB -- did during the 1960s and 1970s. They were determined to kick America out of Iran and take Iran back; by using constant attacks, foul accusations, and lies against America and the Shah.

I have envied the American patriotism that has now been labeled as outdated and taboo, exactly what the left did to Iran.

The truth is not heard because it is crushed by the fast-moving flames of the propagandized lies that according to Winston Churchill runs around the world before the truth tie its shoelaces. Instead of the facts, targeted fictions are the politics of destruction for the Ideologues.

The Anglo/American political culture of polite, sincere, tolerant, and cooperative politicians are being destroyed by a small minority with the philosophy of total control, and no one dares to speak up for the fear of being attacked and destroyed by them.

I see the elections in America are becoming not about who is the best, most qualified, and honorable person, but who is the best propagandist, capable of attacking, destroying, and annihilating the opposition without any remorse or qualm.

Elections are no longer about appealing to informed voters, the good of society, country, and freedom; it is about targeting and promoting the greed in the uninformed and uninterested people who are easily fooled.

The dictators pitch the people against each other and demonize the opposition. The people of Iran poured out, marched in protest, and asked; "where is my vote?" and they were killed for it. However, I do not hear anyone in the free and democratic United States of America to stand up and say, "I want my vote back", although everyone knows that they have been lied to repeatedly and on every issue.

Bill Clinton lied about his personal dalliance and was pushed to impeachment. The "elites" of America called for the impeachment of George W. Bush for the absence of nuclear stockpile in Iraq. President Obama has been outright lying on important vital national and foreign relations issues time and again, and people do not even dare to use the word "LIE". Is this fear in the hearts of the citizens, the result of intimidation, or can it be called discrimination?

What happened to the free and Democratic America where I sought refuge? Where are the patriotic Americans who should ask for their votes back, since their votes were cast as the result of the lies they were told. Since had they been told the truth they would not have cast their votes to reelect Barack Obama.

Is American government and political system moving towards a third-world style of a minority ideologues ruling the majority, forcing their policies through the back doors of fear and intimidation?

When elections are about who is the best propagandist who stops at nothing to defame the opponent by lies and false accusations, it is democracy in shame.

When lying to the people becomes a normal political act and knowingly misleading society is considered just politics, that is no longer democracy, it is called corruption by the media when it happens in third-world countries.

When the members of one party stand behind the podium and knowingly make untrue accusations against the candidate of the other party, it is gangsterism not an honorable democratic challenge.

When the media becomes the lapdog, not the watchdog, of the executive branch it means democracy is dead.

When the statement of "I will fundamentally change America" replaces the "I will serve the people and the country", it terrifies the immigrant me, because I ran away from the big dictatorial government who ruled me.

I did not chose any one of the European socialist countries with free health care and monthly food stamps and special government provided housing in the ghettos for ethnic communities.

I chose America for the freedom and respect for individualism and independence of the citizens from the government. I chose America because among all the many countries that I have known, America was the only land of real freedom in a society full of opportunities and open doors, and we the immigrants hate to see it changed.


It's not just immigrants who hate to see it changed, but they do have a unique perspective on the reality of the alternative, don't you think?  This downward spiral is precisely why we need to vote away the old guard on both sides of the aisle in Washington and install new blood.  We need people who have lived in the real world rather than just career politicians, people who aren't planning to stay in office for more than a reasonably short time, people who actually do what they promised to do in their campaigns.  Perhaps more than anything else, we need an informed American public to start bringing more sanity and depth to the political scene.  Ignorance is literally killing this country, and unethical, greedy politicians in both parties are taking advantage of that fact to unimaginable degrees.  If we let this spiral persist too long there will be dire consequences for future generations of Americans.

Your thoughts...?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

More Commentary On The Middle East Crisis-In-Progress

If there is one current events related thing you read today, this should be it.  It's long, but absolutely worth the few minutes it'll take you to read the whole thing.  James Lewis at the American Thinker:

The Atlantic, November 2, 2012: Obama's Crystal-Clear Promise to Stop Iran From Getting a Nuclear Weapon.

USA Today, October 25, 2013: Iran bomb one month away.

The New Republic, March 2, 2012. "...never has an American president treated an Israeli prime minister with such shabbiness as Obama has treated Netanyahu."

Daily Blaze, November 8, 2013: UNITED STATES HAS BEEN SECRETLYLIFTING IRAN SANCTIONS, EXPLOSIVE REPORTS SAYS.

NBC News blog, last weekend: ISRAEL 'UTTERLY REJECTS' POTENTIAL IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL.

For decades sane people have tried to raise worldwide alarms about the rise of Iran as a rogue nuclear power.

Liberals chose not to listen. Conservatives listened, because we are realists, and we still read history.

Today -- at this very moment -- the crisis is here, and worst of all, it has been aided and abetted by Barack Hussein Obama.

Obama has plainly betrayed Israel in its hour of greatest danger -- and not only Israel, because every other country within reach of Iranian missiles and WMDs is also in danger of a massive assault. That includes Putin's Russia, Saudi Arabia -- the historic religious enemy of Iran for the last thousand years. Egypt is in danger. Turkey is within reach of Iranian missiles and weapons of mass destructions.

If you are deluded by our media to think only Israel is in danger, you haven't looked at a map of the Middle East lately.

The Saudis just ordered nukes from Pakistan to share with the Egyptian army, which has the big numbers the Saudis don't have.

The Israelis are preparing preemptive strikes. They have been planning with other endangered countries.

Our U.S. military forces bases all over the Middle East are now also under direct threat from the suicide cult that runs Iran. And Obama has colluded in a criminal retreat from our great power responsibilities.

If you are wondering why almost 200 general officers have resigned from what Obama calls "my army" in the last few years, consider the possibility that they simply could not tolerate Obama's strategic perversity in the Middle East. These general officers have been telling Obama not to do it. His response was to fire them.

The crisis we have been predicting is here now. Don't doubt it. This is the greatest nuclear danger since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1963. It is exactly what George Bush and Dick Cheney tried desperately to warn us about, the moment when rogue fanatics got their hands on nuclear weapons. Bush-Cheney tried to keep it from ever happening. But Obama has turned their sane and sensible policy upside-down. In Syria and Iran Obama has actually protected fanatical Muslim war cults. That was the big secret of Benghazi, where Ambassador Stevens was sending arms to nearly 60,000 Al Qaida terrorists in Syria. The Qaidaists turn on him and murdered him, but they kept those arms, including shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles.

Our media haven't dared to tell the truth. That is why you are reading this in the new media.

Today the murderous mullahs are within weeks of getting to enriched fissionable materials any time they decide to go ahead -- and Obama is demanding the surrender, not of the war-making mullahs, but rather of the peaceful people of Israel.

We are now in a nuclear crisis. Remember that. This time it's worse than the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1963, because our president at that time never doubted for a moment that the USSR was a deadly enemy that had to be faced down. Obama doesn't get that.

BHO is different. If you don't yet understand that, starting paying attention now. This is not a drill. This is real. If Americans don't understand our clear and present danger, they will very soon. We have to understand that Obama is even more dangerous than we thought he was.

Normal Americans don't have trouble choosing between the Nairobi killers who violated and decapitated young children in the Kenya mall last month, and the Israelis, who have been giving medical help to wounded refugees from war-torn Syria. Those Al Qaida killers in the Kenya mall were bloodthirsty, merciless beasts of prey. Iran's new "smiling man of peace," Ayatollah Rouhani, actually commanded the truck bombing that killed 299 U.S. Marine and French peacekeepers in Beirut in 1983. He is a ruthless mass killer.

Normal people see Al Qaida's execution of Christian children as unmitigated evil. Ordinary people see Rouhani's mass murder of peacekeeping troops in war-torn Beirut to be just as evil.

By comparison, civilized nations like Israel and America are constantly worried whether we are doing the right thing. When Ayatollah Khomeini was forced to end the Iran-Iraq war with Saddam Hussein, a war that killed one million Arabs and Iranians, he said that making peace would be like a stab to his heart. That is the difference between civilized nations and war cults like the mullahs of Iran.

Intelligence analyst Claire Lopez just reported that Saudi Arabia has ordered nuclear weapons from Pakistan. This column has warned about that threat, because Saudi nukes were inevitable once the mullahs of Iran came close enough to nukes. The Saudis have been at war with the mullahs of Iran for a thousand years. The Saudis were almost overthrown by Ayatollah Khomeini forty years ago. Saudi Arabia and Egypt must have nuclear weapons once Iran has them.

And yet -- Obama has protected the Iranian nuclear program until today, when he is effectively telling Israel to surrender to their demands. If you think Obama betrayed his promise to Americans that "if you like your health insurance you can keep it" -- you have to realize that he just committed a much greater and more dangerous act of treachery -- one that threatens a nuclear holocaust in the Middle East. And it may not stop there. Iran now has ICBMs that can reach Europe. Iran could send a freighter with a nuclear bomb to New York harbor and explode it there. The mullahs have shouted since 1979 that they were prepared or martyrdom to kill the infidels. Today they have the means to carry out their threats. The Saudis and Egyptians understand that, which is why they are buying nukes and missiles from Pakistan.

The American media have closed their eyes (as always), but Obama has now pushed over the pillars of peace in the Middle East very deliberately. Even Hillary warned him against overthrowing U.S. ally Hosni Mubarak in Egypt as reported in the Washington Post. Yet Obama went right ahead and supported the radical Muslim Brotherhood to take over Egypt. The Egyptian media are now accusing the president of the United States of supporting the most radical Muslim fanatics in Egypt and Iran.

Rouhani is a mass killer, as he showed in the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut. You can be that he's never lost a good night's sleep worrying whether he did the right thing back than. Rouhani is never in doubt, because God told him to kill those U.S. Marines. Those are the people we are dealing with. God told him to do it, and God will know his own when the souls of those U.S. Marines come before Him to be judged. That is literally what Rouhani believes.

Check it out. You can use the whole web to double-check these statements. Find out for yourself.

Today, with Obama's active connivance, Ayatollah Rouhani is now conducting a smiling "peace offensive," to lull hundreds of millions of indoctrinated suckers to sleep. Our media are in full collusion with Obama, the radical Left, and the most murderous branches of radical Islam.

Normal Americans just can't get into the mullahs' ancient theological mindset, because Christianity and Judaism left all that behind many centuries ago, after the great religious wars of European history. But radical Islam has revived Allah-knows-all indoctrination in Iran and Arabia. Westerners provide plenty of suckers for those absolutist cults.

Cult indoctrination is incredibly powerful. On November 18, 1978, more than 900 people committed mass suicide in Guyana on the direct orders of Jim Jones, a San Francisco cult leader. Those were pretty normal people before they joined the suicide cult. This is also how the Japanese Emperor cult was able to convince hundreds of young Japanes pilots to commit suicide by flying their planes into American aircraft carriers in World War II. Cults are dangerous. The mullahs in Iran have now controlled the schools and mass media in Iran for almost forty years. They are running a war-mongering suicide cult over there, but they have more than Jim Jones' 900 Americans drinking the kool-aid. They have hundreds of thousands of potential martyrs. In their war with Saddam Hussein the mullahs sent regiments of teenage boys on motorcycles into Saddam's minefields to martyr themselves in the name of Allah. Those kids wore green plastic signs around their necks, with the Arab slogan, "Key to Paradise."

The mullahs of Iran are today's Divine Emperor cult from World War II. Warmaking cults have existed throughout human history. They are not unusual. The Aztecs of pre-Columbian Mexico were a war-making cult that captured members of neighboring tribes to sacrifice atop their pyramids. The Yanamamo of Chile and Peru have been studied for decades by Harvard anthropologists. They are also a fierce, warmaking cult. The inner core of Hitler's Nazis were a cult, sworn to commit suicide to protect Der Fuehrer. The Japanese Aleph Cult is listed as a terrorist gang today, because in 1995 they carried out a Sarin gas attack in the Tokyo subway. Warmaking suicide cults are not unusual. The 9/11/01 Wahhabi terrorists all belonged to one of those cults. They killed 3,000 innocent people.

With nuclear weapons, the mullah cult could now kill many more people. That is the clear and present danger today. Delusional liberals will never take that threat seriously, but realistic people who understand the real world will take it seriously. The Israelis are realists, and so are the Saudis and the Egyptians. They understand the threat of suicide cults with weapons of mass destruction.

Obama's closest advisor, Valerie Jarrett, grew up as a child in Khomeinist Iran. She knows all about it. Obama therefore has to know the truth about the suicide cult of Rouhani and Khamenei that runs those sixty million people today.

Normal Americans see a great moral abyss between Israel and Ayatollah Rouhani, who has been whipping up murderous hatred against the West for forty years. We see the difference between good and evil.

Obama doesn't get that. He has been taught to flip what normal people believe is good and evil. This may be hard to believe, but look at the facts, not at your fond dreams of what our presidents should be.

Obama has been indoctrinated all his life -- as a child in Indonesia by Muslims following the bloody Indonesian civil war, then in Hawaii by his "mentor," race-hater Frank Marshall Davis, and later on, as Obama told us in his autobiographies, by a cult-like collection of like-minded angry people he chose to be his personal friends in college. As a result, Obama has only one opinion of the world. Everything he says is an ever-changing stream of lies. That is why Obama needs a teleprompter, to be cued about the "narrative" of the day. Honest people don't need a teleprompter. They just say what's in their minds. Obama cannot do that.

Today Obama has dropped the smiling mask.

The O'Care website doesn't work? That doesn't bother this president for one moment. Trillions of deficit spending doesn't fix unemployment after five years? No problem. Obama isn't interested. Obama is a blind ideologue. His words change, but his mind is made up.


Will America wake up before something permanent happens?  The kind of permanency I refer to when talking about Obamacare is one thing...a nuclear war is permanency on a totally different level.  Either way, it appears Obama and his radical Leftists are doing everything they can to undermine this nation and its citizens.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Better Keep Your Eye On The Middle East Again

Oh, boy.  There's always tension over there, but it seems that things are getting very serious now:

The Obama administration is preparing to cut a disastrously bad nuclear bargainwith Iran that relieves enormous economic pressure on Tehran without requiring the mullahs to dismantle a single centrifuge. The Israelis are stunned. Top officials feel betrayed by the White House, including by reports that the White House has secretly been easing sanctions for months. There have long been tensions between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu. ...

"These critical days in November will be remembered for years to come," said Naftali Bennett, a top Israeli Cabinet official. "The Free World stands before a fork in the road with a clear choice: Either stand strong and insist Iran dismantles its nuclear-weapons program, or surrender, cave in and allow Iran to retain its 18,500 centrifuges. Years from now, when an Islamic terrorist blows up a suitcase in New York, or when Iran launches a nuclear missile at Rome or Tel Aviv, it will have happened only because a Bad Deal was made during these defining moments. Like in a boxing match, Iran's regime is currently on the floor. The count is just seconds away from 10. Now is the time to step up the pressure and force Iran to dismantle its nuclear program. Not to let it up.

The Obama administration has apparently been betraying both Israel and the American people, who still largely support our Middle Eastern ally.  I remember back in 2008 before Obama became President there were any number of warning signs about the anti-Semitic advisers he placed around himself (one was even an actual Palestinian terrorist informant, if I recall correctly).  But the media ignored those things, and at the time every other issue was dominated by the economic problems going on, so they simmered underneath the surface.  Unfortunately, they have now bubbled up to the top, and a new kind of brinksmanship may be in process.  This time, however, it's a brinksmanship between the American President working with the terrorist Iranian regime...and against the American ally.

In fact, Western nations aren't the only ones who are concerned about Obama's clear desire to capitulate to Iran:

As details emerge of the deal the U.S. is about to cut with Iran — a deal that would not dismantle a single Iranian centrifuge and would leave Tehran in striking distance of rapidly building an arsenal of nuclear weapons — leaders of moderate Arab states in the Persian Gulf are horrified. They deeply fear a nuclear-armed Iran and have long pressed the White House to do everything necessary to stop this from happening. Now they fear they are being betrayed.

The Saudis, reportedly, are in the process of purchasing nuclear warheads from Pakistan, so convinced they have become that the Obama administration has no idea how to stop Iran.

While it's a travesty that it took a rare spine-filled moment on the part of France to stop the deal in the works over the weekend, at least someone acquired some sanity in the nick of time:

On Friday and for much of Saturday, it seemed as if the U.S. was going to persuade the leaders of the P5+1 group to sign a disastrous "first-step" deal with Iran. The deal would have made enormous concessions but allowed Iran to keep enriching uranium, keep spinning their centrifuges, keep building advanced new centrifuges, and not being required to dismantle a single centrifuge.

Israel immediately and very publicly objected to the contours of the deal upon learning of the details on Friday afternoon. But a meeting between Secretary of State John Kerry and Israeli PM Netanyahu went so badly that the two weren't able to hold a joint news conference before Kerry left Israel for Geneva in hopes of finalizing the deal.

The situation looked very grim from the Israeli perspective for most of Friday and Saturday, with the Iranians signaling they expected to sign a deal by Saturday evening at the latest.

Then suddenly, out of the blue, the French delegation objected to the proposed U.S. deal.

...

Iranian leaders were stunned by the last minute turn of events that went against them.

New discussions are underway between the U.S. and Israel, but with President Obama and Sec. of State John Kerry running those talks on our side, it seems unlikely that any real support of Israel -- or genuine deterrent of Iran -- is going to materialize.  The tension keeps mounting...better keep your eyes on it.