Sunday, April 7, 2013

Taxes? We don't need no damn taxes


Tax Scams:
We, in Vermont at least, are not citizens of the United States — we are citizens of our sovereign state.
Even if we are, the only taxable income is that received from foreign sources and employment.
We don’t have to file federal income taxes even if the income is from foreign sources or corporations because filing taxes is a violation of our Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and is a form of involuntary servitude (slavery) in violation of the Thirteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
If none of those reasons ring your bell, the bottom line reason that we don’t have to file or pay taxes is that the U.S. tax system (filing and paying) is “voluntary” and you may just not want to volunteer this year.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), through documents and the IRS website (, said that they have heard all of the arguments, tortured interpretations of the tax code and statutes and have disposed of all of the arguments in court. The old saying that “nothing is certain but death and taxes” is as true today as it ever was.
An IRS spokespersons, contacted on the issue of some of these arguments, said, “The courts have consistently upheld that they (arguments mentioned above) are frivolous arguments. What amazes me is that, even after all of the publicity, people still fall for the schemes. It boggles my mind that people still fall into the traps.”
The courts, addressing these tax protest arguments, have consistently used terms like: “groundless,” “baseless” and “frivolous” and have increasingly penalized those making the tax protest claims by awarding court costs and attorney fees to the government for the time and effort of defending these cases.  
The award of attorneys fees is not the only penalty. In addition to back taxes and interest, the spokesperson said that there is also a $500 penalty for filing a frivolous claim or return.
The IRS also points out that many of the tax protest organizations “charge a hefty fee for preparing baseless documents and tax forms” and these “tax advisors” are rarely around when the IRS comes calling to collect.
The most egregious tax scam is the Slavery Reparations filing. North and South Carolina are two of the more active states for this scam. Promoters are targeting black churches. The fee varies from $50 to $100 to prepare the return and can be a percentage of the return. The scam artists convince people that there is a tax credit due for slave reparations. If they can convince people that the reparations credit is $40,000 they charge a percentage of the return, up to 10 percent ($4,000) up-front to prepare the return. The scam artists are never around when the claim is denied. 
The IRS describes the Slave Reparations scam as: 
• Tax Protest Argument: Proponents of this contention assert that African Americans can claim a so-called ‘Black Tax Credit’ on their federal income tax returns as reparations for slavery and other oppressive treatment suffered by African Americans. A similar frivolous argument has been made that Native Americans are entitled to a credit on their federal income tax returns as a form of reparations for past oppressive treatment.”
The Law: There is no provision in the Internal Revenue Code which allows taxpayers to claim a “Black Tax Credit” or a credit for Native American reparations. It is a well settled principle of law that deductions and credits are a matter of legislative grace. Unless specifically provided for in the Internal Revenue Code, no deduction or credit may be allowed.
Further the IRS will implement a new policy under which these reparation claims will be treated as a frivolous tax return which could result in a potential $500 penalty.
Every time the IRS debunks one argument another surfaces, often as a verbal-twisting of a previously discredited tax avoidance argument. The long list of cases and court decisions supporting the IRS are omitted, but are available in IRS publications. Some of the most interesting, and grammatically inventive, arguments dealt with by the IRS, chosen from this long and growing list, are :
• Tax Protest Argument: The filing of a tax return is voluntary.  Proponents point to the fact that the IRS itself tells taxpayers in the Form 1040 instruction book that the tax system is voluntary.
The Law: The word ‘voluntary’ as used in IRS publications, refers to our system of allowing taxpayers to determine the correct amount of tax and complete the appropriate returns, rather than have the government determine tax for them. The requirement to file an income tax return is not voluntary and is clearly set forth in Internal Revenue Code.
Any taxpayer who has received more than a statutorily determined amount of gross income is obligated to file a return. Failure to file a tax return could subject the noncomplying individual to criminal penalties, including fines and imprisonment, as well as civil penalties.”
• Tax Protest Argument: “The IRS must prepare federal tax returns for a person who fails to file.
Proponents of this argument contend that section 6020(b) (of the tax code) obligates the IRS to prepare a federal tax return for a person who does not file a return. Thus, those who subscribe to this contention believe that they are not required to file a return for themselves.
The Law: Section 6020(b) merely provides the IRS with a mechanism for determining the tax liability of a taxpayer who has failed to file a return. Section 6020(b) does not require the IRS to prepare tax returns for persons who do not file and it does not excuse the taxpayer from civil penalties or criminal liability for failure to file.
• Tax Protest Argument: Wages, tips, and other compensation received for personal services are not income.
This argument asserts that wages, tips, and other compensation received for personal services are not income, because there is allegedly no taxable gain when a person ‘exchanges’ labor for money. Some take a different approach and argue that the Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution did not authorize a tax on wages and salaries, but only on gain or profit.
The Law: “For federal income tax purposes, ‘gross income’ means all income from whatever source derived and includes compensation for services. Any income, from whatever source, is presumed to be income unless the taxpayer can establish that it is specifically exempted or excluded.”
• Tax Protest Argument: Only foreign-source income is taxable. Some maintain that there is no federal statute imposing a tax on income derived from sources within the United States by citizens or residents of the United States. They argue instead that federal income taxes are excise taxes imposed only on nonresident aliens and foreign corporations for the privilege of receiving income from sources within the United States. 
The Law:  “In general, all citizens of the United States, wherever resident, and all resident alien individuals are liable to the income taxes imposed by the Code whether the income is received from sources within or without the United States. 
“I.R.C. (Internal Revenue Code) sections 861 and 911 define the sources of income (U.S. versus non-U.S. source income) for such purposes as the prevention of double taxation of income that is subject to tax by more than one country. These sections neither specify whether income is taxable, nor do they determine or define gross income. Further, these frivolous assertions are clearly contrary to well-established legal precedent.”
• Tax Protest Argument: Taxpayer is not a ‘citizen’ of the United States, thus not subject to the federal income tax laws. Some individuals argue that they have rejected citizenship in the United States in favor of state citizenship; therefore, they are relieved of their federal income tax obligations. A variation of this argument is that a person is a free born citizen of a particular state and thus was never a citizen of the United States. The underlying theme of these arguments is the same: the person is not a United States citizen and is not subject to federal tax laws because only United States citizens are subject to these laws.
The Law: The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution defines the basis for United States citizenship, stating that 'All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.’ 
The Fourteenth Amendment therefore establishes simultaneous state and federal citizenship. Claims that individuals are not citizens of the United States but are solely citizens of a sovereign state and not subject to federal taxation have been uniformly rejected by the courts.
• Tax Protest Argument: Federal income taxes constitute a ‘taking’ of property without due process of law, violating the Fifth Amendment. Thus, any attempt by the Internal Revenue Service to collect federal income taxes owed by a taxpayer is unconstitutional.
The Law: The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that a person shall not be ‘deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law . . . .’ The U.S. Supreme Court said that ‘it is . . . well settled that [the Fifth Amendment] is not a limitation upon the taxing power conferred upon Congress by the Constitution; in other words, that the Constitution does not conflict with itself by conferring upon the one hand a taxing power, and taking the same power away on the other by limitations of the due process clause.’
“Further, the Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of the summary administrative procedures contained in the Internal Revenue Code against due process challenges, on the basis that a post-collection remedy (e.g., a tax refund suit) exists and is sufficient to satisfy the requirements of constitutional due process.
• Tax Protest Argument: Taxpayers do not have to file returns or provide financial information because of the protection against self-incrimination found in the Fifth Amendment.
Some argue that taxpayers may refuse to file federal income tax returns, or may submit tax returns on which they refuse to provide any financial information, because they believe that their Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination will be violated.
The Law: There is no constitutional right to refuse to file an income tax return on the ground that it violates the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. The failure to comply with the filing and reporting requirements of the federal tax laws will not be excused based upon blanket assertions of the constitutional privilege against compelled self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment.
• Tax Protest Argument: “Compelled compliance with the federal income tax laws is a form of servitude in violation of the Thirteenth Amendment.
The Law: The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits slavery within the United States, as well as the imposition of involuntary servitude. The Court of Appeals stated that ‘if the requirements of the tax laws were to be classed as servitude, they would not be the kind of involuntary servitude referred to in the Thirteenth Amendment.’ Courts have consistently found arguments that taxation constitutes a form of involuntary servitude to be frivolous.
The IRS strongly recommended that any taxpayer approached by a “tax advisor” attempting to market one of these schemes or any of the arguments that the Constitution provides a reason not to pay taxes contact an independent tax attorney, tax accountant or the IRS. Paying a tax protester to prepare frivolous returns raising previously rejected arguments can have serious financial and legal consequences.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Monogamy — a good thing, or the death of the species?

The news media recently reported the results of a much heralded national poll disclosing that married people have sex more often and enjoy it more than single people. I read the poll for two reasons: First, because it dealt with my favorite subjects of all time — Yuppie, materialistic, bar-hopping single people being frightened and miserable. And second, because at no time in the poll did they mention Mitt Romney or President Obama. The one question about having sex with a bumbling multimillionaire was included in the poll only to check your fantasy life.
At the same time that the "monogamy poll" was being released a national magazine released data from a scientific study that opined that the drive to cheat on one's spouse may be genetically implanted. (Note: When you discuss scientific studies you have to use terms like "opined", "data", "genetic" and "taxpayer-supported grant rip-off".)
One study says that the vast majority of people are happy and content in their monogamous relationships and the other study says that men are driven by an uncontrollable biological urge to sew their seeds like a John Deere planter. 
At first blush (and I did) it would seem hard to reconcile these two reports.You're lucky to have me, a Professional Male Social Critic, to do it for you. The answer is simple: The survey reporting that monogamous couples have the most sex and are the happiest was conducted by female researchers.
The study that said men cheat to perpetuate the strengths of the species because it is in their nature and they have no choice, was conducted by men. 
With me so far?
Men and women have always viewed sex differently. From my own personal experience I can report that women see sex as the seal and glue of a relationship. They view it as a caring and sharing moment that cements two people together for the purposes of companionship and procreation.
Men, on the other hand, view sex as a great way to kill an hour while the coals on the barbecue are heating up and the band is playing during half-time.
Women have a pure, but simple, concept of sex. Men have a simple, but complicated, concept. 
Women view it as a sometimes enjoyable act that expands our numbers while binding two people together in a strong family unit. To women, sex has an inherently practical value.
Men do not view sex as all that important. It is not the "end all" and "be all" of our existence. It is not the nourishment of our souls. It is not the reward for a  promise of lifelong commitment. On the other hand, if it were to be taken away we would shrivel up like one of those county fair apple dolls and surely die a lingering and painful death. See? Simple and yet complicated.
In all honesty, part of the reason that the women's poll reported that monogamy was good and satisfying was the way they asked the questions. As you might guess, I happen to have a sample of the questions used on the Monogamy Poll:
1. Have you cheated on your wife in the past year, you insensitive, grunting animal? Please make sure that the spelling of your name is correct and that your phone number is legible.
2. If you are thinking of cheating on your wife in the next year which body-disfiguring and fatal disease would you like to catch from that brainless D-cup tramp at work?
3. Do you realize that the woman you are trying to seduce is somebody's sister, daughter or mother — you slobbering, animalistic pig?
The men's study simply researched gene patterns and studied years of biological information that divulged that the strength of the species was preserved if the strongest were allowed to spread their genes among the masses.
Callous women among you may feel that the Gene Study was self-serving and a justification for the scientists to linger over that beaker of wine and their compliant and supple lab assistants, but it is not so. Clearly, if the strongest, best looking and bravest among us were to fish in the deep end of the gene pool, society would benefit. Restricting the best and brightest to the shallow end of the pool is a selfish restriction and a danger to unborn generations. Women should be ashamed of themselves.
I suggest that if the dominant males maintained a harem that the offspring would be stronger, smarter, and better looking than some of those FLKs (funny looking kids) I see running around. To support this theory I'd like to gather a group of scientists, doctors, athletes, and Professional Male Social Critics and give my theory a try — for scientific research purposes only.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Days of yesteryear

“Dad, could you answer a question for me?”
“Sure, son, fire away.”
"What are Family Values”?"
"I'm not sure what you mean."
"Well, the Presidential candidates and a lot of other politicians are saying that we need to return to a time of 'traditional Family Values' and that they support Family Values and their opponents don’t. I don't know what that means."
"Well, son, I think what they want is a different America, a time when everyone has a job, we’re not at war and the future looks bright.”
“What does it have to do with gay marriage, the movies and video games?”
“The movies?”
“Sure, they always seem to link Family Values with adult movies and gay’s getting married.”
“I see what you mean. Let’s take them one at a time. A lot of politicians think that the movie industry is destroying the Family Values in this country. They swear that if a kid sees an “R” rated movie the Republic and the American family are both going to collapse.”
“I thought that the rating system was just a guide to help parents pick movies. I didn’t know it was  a commandment.”
“It is just a guide. A lot of people drop off their kids, the kids buy a ticket to see “Bambi” and then sneak into Bambi in Chains.
Bambi in Chains”?
“Never mind, son. The point is that candidates want someone to blame for their claim that America is rotting, and Hollywood is a good target. With all of the movies you can get on the computer and On Demand, kids don’t even have to sit in a movie theater to see Bambi in Chains." 
“Why is it Hollywood’s fault if a kid sees a movie rated “R”? Why isn’t it the kid and his parents’ problem?”
“Good question, son. You’ll never make a good Republican or a good Conservative, and for that you may be truly thankful. Anyway, it’s not the movies. They’re just a symptom and a target. Family Values relates to a time when all was good in America. A time when people felt safe in their homes, medical care was affordable for all and life was generally better than it is today."
"When was health care affordable for all?"
“Actually, it never was, but today healthcare costs are rising at a rate faster than Paul Ryan can run the marathon."
"Cute, Dad."
"Medical care is breaking the country and everyone is scrambling for a solution and Family Values gets pulled into that mess."
"The Government is going to tell you what doctor to see, what medicine you can take and then set up Death Panels."
"Who said they were going to do all that?"
 "No one, but if you tell the lie often enough, you scare people and people are tired of being scared. They want to return to a better time."
“Very interesting, dad, but when was this time of great Family Values?”
"You mean an exact point in time when all of those ‘feel good’ things came together? I'm not sure that there ever was such a time."
"There has to be. All of the candidates wouldn't lie to us would they?"
"I don't want to get into that, son. Maybe they can remember such a time. Let's see, I think the President and Romney were both born in the 1940s or 1950s. In the '40s we had World War Two, the holocaust, the destruction of Europe and Asia, the beginnings of the Iron Curtain, 120,000 Japanese Americans were locked up by our government just for looking different. We dropped the bomb and started an arms race. Flu and other diseases killed and crippled millions. Our society was entrenched in racial segregation. No, son, I don't think that we would want to go back to the 40s."
"How about the 50s?"
"Let’s see, we had the Cold War, Berlin blockade, polio, Korea, Thalidomide, the McCarthy hearings, the H-bomb, backyard bomb shelters, ‘Whites Only’ water fountains and schools, and the beginnings of Civil Rights protests."
"The Civil Rights movement was good."
"Sure it was, but it pointed out sores and wounds in our society that are still an embarrassment to us all. Plus, it was a painful and uncomfortable time. You asked if we would go back to that time and I, for one, wouldn't want to."
"What about the 60's and 70's?"
"They had some good things, but they had a lot more problems than solutions. We had the Cuban missile crisis, the rise of the drug culture, Vietnam,  the Kennedy assassination, the Nixon resignation,  LBJ, LSD, KKK, The Chicago 7, the deaths of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, and the worst thing of all: Disco.”
"The 80's sure didn't seem all that great."
"The government’s economic policy  fueled the collapse of the Savings and Loan industry. There was property foreclosure on a scale exceeding the Great Depression. We had crack, cocaine, HIV-AIDS,  the failure of the health care system to care for the poor, the rise in the homeless population. No son, the 80's aren't the answer."
“What about the 90’s”
“Son, we’re effectively still there. You don’t move past problems that quickly. For example, racial profiling and the anger over undocumented Mexican workers is a holdover from Jim Crow and the segregation battles of the 50s. It might take a few years to figure out the good and bad parts. ”
“And gay marriage?”
“That’s the new ‘colored water fountain’ issue of this decade.”
“Why should anyone care who you love, marry and live with?”
“They shouldn’t, but gay marriage is not ‘traditional.’ Angry and frightened people need an issue and this one is easy to identify and easy to grab to divide the people into us and them. People grab on to it in part because you can claim to care for gays, but care for the tradition of marriage more. You don’t sound like a true bigot.”
"Well if none of the candidates’ lifetimes provided a time of 'family values' then what does it mean?"
"Nothing.  Politicians have no answers. There is a growing anger in the American people. To head off that anger,  politicians try to bring to mind a better time that never really existed and then promise that they will take you back if you will only elect them. Everybody pictures 'family values' differently. Most people just want peace, food, shelter, and health care. If that is  Family Values then we all want the same thing. The problem comes in because people want some pandering, bubble-headed politician to give them Family Values at no cost."
“It has to cost somebody, Dad. Nothing is free.”
“True, but most people don’t want it to cost them or their family. They don’t care if it costs some other guy.”
"It sounds like the people are as much to blame as the politicians for the lies and promises."
“You’ll still never be a politician, son, but you might just end-up being a thinking American and that’s rare enough.”

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


 I miss 'em. They were packed with twisted, fun, and interesting tidbits of geographical and cultural minutia that made them, in many ways, like a “National Geographic” prepared by and for idiots. Those of you preparing to labor through the Republican National Convention know exactly what I'm talking about — those great state delegate speeches of the 60's, 70's and 80's.

If you're a political junkie, don't pretend that you don't remember. I bet you can still picture an over-weight party boss from East Thyroid, South Carolina standing up on the convention floor surrounded by his painfully hung-over fellow delegates. You can see him as he squares his rounded, used-car-salesman shoulders and attempts to suck in his belly. You remember him mopping his damp brow (that would be a section of pink skin shining out from under a paper hat shaped like a buffalo skull or a garden squash) and casting the votes of his delegation for the party's nominee for president.

He would stand before the nation and plug his state's favorite cholesterol-loaded, grain-gobbling farm animal, oft-investigated Division 1 college team, or soon-to-be-obsolete manufacturing product as he counted out the votes of his delegation for the preselected professional hack who would carry the party banner into the next election.

I miss’em. The old rambling speeches are gone. Party conventions are now sterilized, pasteurized, scripted, homogenized, and sanitized in the name of artificial unity. The script managers and party bosses have muzzled Representative Billy Joe Cowpie and censored his floor speech and the convention process has suffered for it.

Old American politics always had the subtlety, class and grace of a 12-man professional wrestling tag-team match. We now have involved actual wrestlers, but it’s not the same. There was a time when The Rock and Jessie “The Body” Ventura wouldn’t be on the stage in a shameless ploy to attract the youth vote. They would be on the floor giving the “V-4” arm bar to some snotty representative of the credentials committee.

The old conventions were unseemly, long, messy and ultimately enjoyable. They symbolized the street-fight method our system of government uses to grind out our laws. Today's conventions even go so far as to schedule "spontaneous" demonstrations. You can tell when to cheer based on when they drop the red-white-and-blue balloons. The professionals have been boringly successful in cleaning up the best show in town.

The conventions, GOP and Democrat, will have all of the emotion, spontaneity, and true emotion of the TV reality show “The Bachelor”. There will be as much sincere, lately discovered love in that room as you would find in a by-the-hour room with a $10 hooker. Recent bloody combatants from the GOP primary circus will express so much newly felt trust and affection for the candidate that it will make you wonder if they are talking about a different Mitt Romney: “Mitt, remember all those things I said about you, your past, your wife, your record, your taxes, Romneycare, the economic failures in Massachusetts and your character? Well, never mind, I was just kidding.”

I’m not picking on the Republicans. Some of my best friends are Republican (well, some people I know, anyway.) The upcoming Democratic convention will be a little better in that we don't have to listen to former Obama primary opponents swallow their pride. OK, Hillary might have to, but she's done it before. Where the Republican convention will be as exciting as going to the prom with your sister, I'm sure that the prearranged Democratic crepe-and-bunting orgy will be as exciting as slow dancing with your spinster aunt.

Where is Richard J. Daley? Where are the security forces wrestling obnoxious newsmen to the convention floor? Where, for God's sake, is the loyal opposition — the people who keep the stuffed-shirt, back-room, cigar-smoking professional-ballot-box-stuffers in line or at least exposed to the light of day? Well, I'm still here and I miss those old days. I miss’em so much that I feel a need to hear them again. To show that I have no bias (at least where the conventions are concerned) this speech fits both the Democrat and Republican convention. Substitute the name of your party's unqualified candidate in the blank provided:

"The Chair recognizes the currently un-indicted representative from South Carolina."
"Thank you, Madame Chairman. The great state of South Carolina, the Palmetto State, the home of the first shots fired in the War of Northern Aggression; the home of the most unmarried pregnant females under the age of 14 and the home of the largest number of married females under the age of 13; the state that currently has a significant number of its state legislators and law enforcement personnel under criminal charges or actually behind bars; the proud home Strom Thurmond, may he rest in peace; the state that (based on end of year test scores) still spells potato with an 'E'; the state that celebrates pellagra and malaria as official state diseases; proudly casts its votes for the man who has done the least with the most, the man who will fail in almost every promise made to the American people, the man who promises to mortgage the future to pay for a bankrupt present, the man who is a resident of all states but a taxpayer in none. Yes, Madame Chairman, the Palmetto State, with hesitancy and a churning feeling in the pit of our collective stomachs, reluctantly and with no apparent reason or choice casts its 43 delegate votes for the man who may, if something serious isn't done soon, be the next president of the United States — FILL IN THE BLANK."
"Thank you, Mr. Cowpie. The Chair sadly records your 43 votes and commends you on the lovely roadkill possum hats that you and the rest of your delegation are wearing."

I saw a bumper sticker the other day that said - IF GOD HAD MEANT FOR US TO VOTE HE WOULD HAVE GIVEN US REAL CANDIDATES. I haven’t become quite that cynical, but it is getting harder and harder to fight the wave of nausea.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Catching up with the news

For those of you who drop in to check my blog, I have been absent for a while. I apologize, but I've been busy. I am finishing a new book (soon to be released). It is not anything like my previous books and my wife says that all of the characters are too self-absorbed, evil and devious to turn into a series — that sounds like a challenge to me.
Anyway, in addition to the book, I have been working on my FaceBook feed to correct and comment on some of the more frequent and egregious lies that are being posted. There are days that I feel like I am alone out there. Feel free to jump in and join me. The same lies are being posted frequently. It's important that they be addressed each time.
The OBAMA OHIO LAWSUIT LIE: The Obama lawsuit seeks to expand early voting in OHIO for ALL people in OHIO — not to limit military voting. Early voting in the state stops three days before the general election except for members of the military. There is no logical, practical or logistical reason that all citizens can't get the extra three days. The suit seeks to expand voting rights, not limit rights for the military. To do this it asks why the military should get special rights denied to the rest of the state.This claim and the Romney ads that this suit is an attack on the military have been “awarded” the oh-so-special "Pants on Fire" designation by a number of Fact Check organizations. The ad keeps running and no one from the Romney campaign has addressed it.
A whole slew of healthcare benefits for women just kicked in under the ACA. I have been posting warnings and concerns. Ladies, you know that new healthcare coverage that just kicked in; the GOP has SWORN to repeal it as their FIRST act in January if they win — vote accordingly for yourselves, your sisters and your daughters.
BTW: I don't eat at Chick-fil-A. Dan Cathy is free to be a bigot and to spout his bigotry to the world. I will defend his right to do that. At the same time, I will defend my right, and the right of others, to call him a bigoted asshole and not support his company by buying his food. I have also felt the need to point out that his chicken sandwiches, and my vocal refusal to buy them has NOTHING to do with the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution. The 1st Amendment prevents government limitation on speech. Until some government body, (local, state, or federal) tells me that I can't protest his stand by refusing to buy his food, I have every right to do so and the 1st has NOTHING to do with it. I wish the Chick-fil-A supporters would climb down off of the cross; there are other people who could use the wood.
Just for review: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
On a house-keeping note, I changed my FB cover photo. I am using a photo taken by Isle of Palms resident, and photographer extraordinaire, John Rector. He gave me permission to use his photo. I grew up on the Island and it was, and I'm sure still is, a great place for a kid to grow up.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Who the hell plays POLO?

I have recognized for some time the need of EVERY organization, public and private, for a DEVIL'S ADVOCATE. 
The position originated in the Catholic church. Prior to the canonization of a saint it was the DA's job to argue against the “saint”. It was his job (in the beginning they were all hims — pun intended) to research the life and background of the candidate and find any reason why the church should NOT elevate the man or woman to sainthood.
Often referred to as the Pope's Pain in the Ass, the DA never-the-less prevented the canonization of Caligula and Henry VIII, despite a large lobbying effort by supporters.  
Every organization needs an independent, dedicated individual, answerable only to the owner, board, or Secretary, to sit in on major decision-making meetings and go, “Whoa, boy is that a dumb idea and here is why.”
If such a person had existed at the US Olympic Committee perhaps he or she would have pointed out that having the US uniforms made in China at this time (or any time) in our nation's political and economic history would be a really bad idea.
There would be no requirement to follow the suggestions of the DA. His or her job is to point out potential problems and start discussions. Perhaps if Ford had a DA the bean-counters responsible for the Pinto disaster might have been overruled.
I have been told that I am relatively bright, but my most notable feature (for better or worse) is that I am a fairly contrary individual. For the right salary I would fill that position for any organization. I'll even pay my own moving expenses; having the organization do it would send the wrong signal.   

Monday, July 9, 2012

Lessons in Baby Cow Choking

Evy onest in a wile local horse people hosts one o’ them  bullridin’ contests and I heered that ones a comin’. 
Whoa, big fella; back it up. 
It’s hard to write in dialect and not sound like an idiot. Mark Twain I ain’t, so it would be a good idea to drop the pretense and get to the point.
I heard that there is a horse show/rodeo coming to the general area and I’ve been to a few real rodeos. I’ve seen all of the events from bull riding through calf choking and barrel racing. Before the next rodeo-like event rolls into the area it would probably be a good idea to tell you folk (used to NASCAR, hockey and gunfire-exchanging family feuds) a little about the sport. I’m not an expert but, I’ve been to the big rodeo in Denver and the Pikes Peak Rodeo. Heck, I’ve been to the Cheyenne Stampede, known as the Daddy of All Rodeos (people in Wyoming just call it “The Dad.”)
The first thing that struck me about a real rodeo is that it is often sponsored by a popular brand of barbecue sauce and smokeless tobacco. Rodeos sponsored by barbecue sauce is a little bit like having a dog food company sponsor a horse show. Besides, I think that if you mix snuff with a little beer and water you get most store-bought BBQ sauces. Anyway, for those of you new to the art and sport of rodeo I have prepared a little primer that may help you over a few of the rough spots.
Read this and you can casually tilt back your 30X beaver hat, put your new pink, lizard-skin cowboy boots on the rim of any spittoon and talk rodeo with the oldest, most wizened stock molester in the place and not sound like a silly, tenderfoot, cow-pie stepping, greenhorn. So, grab a cup of coffee (strong and black) or a shot of whiskey (neat and raw) or a glass of water (from a faucet in a dirty glass) and pay attention.
Rodeo has an interesting tradition and history. The word “rodeo” comes from the Spanish word “row-day-oh” meaning “to play with your food.” It started when Spanish and Mexican cowboys began to chase their cattle in circles, working them into a lather and marinating them in their own sweat. After chasing them around for a while, they would rope them, throw them to the ground and jump on top of them. Chasing them into a sweat marinated them. Jumping on top of them tenderized them — add a hot branding iron and you have lunch.
It is a little known fact that true BBQ beef is still marinated in cow sweat (along with snuff, beer and water — the secret ingredient in most commercial BBQ sauces).
When Easterners moved west they ran into the “vaqueros.” 
“Vaquero” is Spanish for cowboy. The word was adulterated into the English “buckaroo” meaning literally — “man who struts in tight jeans.”
The Easterners watched the agile vaqueros chase, harass, tease and marinate the cows and asked what they were doing. The vaqueros answered, “Rodeo, (playing with our food) and we can do it better than you.”
The Easterners, not to be intimidated, picked up the challenge and answered with the traditional cowboy taunt, “Oh yeah, well your old man rides sidesaddle and your mama can’t cook.” The challenge was taken and the first rodeo was born.
• Bull Riding — This is my favorite of all of the rodeo events because the molested farm animal gets a real chance to strike back. It is the fairest of all rodeo events. A large man named Tex will strap himself onto the back of about 1,500 pounds of hate named “Toro” (Spanish for “well-endowed hamburger.”) Just in case Toro is not angry enough, they take a rough hemp strap and cinch it tightly around his hips. Get the picture? If not, the strap is roughly akin to a grown man putting on his 6-year-old son’s BVDs and being forced to work in them all day. I think right about 4 p.m. you would understand Toro’s pain and anger. Got the picture now?
The gate is opened and Tex and Toro go into the ring. The object is for Tex to stay on Toro until someone blows a horn signifying that the rider has voluntarily stayed on this furious animal long enough to be committed to a state institution for the terminally stupid. It may well be the longest eight seconds in sports. If he makes it to the horn and looks good flopping around on Toro, he wins.
The object for Toro is to peel Tex off of his back and, by doing a tango on Tex’s chest, turn Tex into a damp spot on the arena floor. If he does, then he and the audience wins.
• Baby Cow Choking — Tex, just back from teasing Toro, mounts a huge horse named Rib Breaker and loosen a rope. When he grins endearingly at the crowd — do not be fooled.
A small, brown, hornless piece of veal (with large soft-brown eyes that look like your first girlfriend’s) will be prodded from a cage. Lost and scared he will moo pitifully for his daddy (but Toro will be too tired to answer.)
In what passes for rodeo fair play, this terrified baby cow will get a short, ultimately meaningless, head start. Tex will chase the veal at full gallop (a horse term for haulin’ ass) and throw his rope over the baby veal’s neck. When the rope drops gently over Veal’s neck Rib Breaker will plant his hooves and the rope will snap tight. This will cause the calf to go from the speed of fright into a back flip over his own cervical vertebrae in less time than it takes to open a can of Skoal. Tex will jump down, run over and grab the stunned and groggy baby cow in the traditional Randolph Scott Full Nelson with an Audie Murphy lock. He will wrestle the semiconscious animal to the dirt, tie three of its legs together and stand with his hands in the air waiting for his score. The buckaroo who does this the fastest wins. The calf becomes tacos, short ribs and brisket. (Recipes available on request.)
Rodeo people swear that this does not hurt the veal, but they also refuse to test this by running at full speed and letting someone rope them. In fact, these are the same people who, very reasonably, strap themselves into their cars with shoulder harnesses when backing out of their driveways to avoid whiplash.
• Bronco Busting — See bull riding, but with a horse. The horse moves faster than the bull but isn’t quite as heavy when he dances on Tex’s chest. It’s more like a cha-cha than a tango.
• Barrel Racing — Women on fast, agile horses race on a course around barrels on the arena floor. (Hint: in barrel racing don’t bet on the barrels — they never win.) It is also fun to watch the women try to parallel park the horses when the event is over.
There are a lot more things to see at a real rodeo, but I’ve run out of room. If you get a chance to see one of the big ones, go. The smell alone is worth the price of admission.