Archive for February, 2009

11-Year-Old Shoots Dad’s Pregnant Fiancee; Should Be Charged As An Adult

February 24, 2009

3_21_022109_brown_350Alright, so I just heard about this story and figured I’d give  my input.  This story comes out of Wampum, Pennsylvania: 11-year-old Jordan Anthony Brown (pictured on the left; photo courtesy of the Lawrence County Prison) shot and killed his dad’s pregnant fiancee at point blank range, and is now being charged as an adult.  Brown allegedly shot the woman with his 20-gauge shotgun in the back of the head.  He had wrapped the shotgun in a sheet to muffle the sound.

But apparently, his lawyer isn’t happy with this and wants him to be tried in juvenile court.  Brown is currently being held in the Lawrence County Prison in Pennsylvania.

On Saturday, Lawrence County District Attorney John Bongivengo charged Brown, as an adult, in the murder of 26-year-old Kenzie Marie Houk. Houk was 6 months pregnant.  Bongivengo said that he has to be charged as an adult because Pennsylvania law doesn’t allow for criminal homicide charges to be filed  against Brown in juvenile court.

Brown originally lied to police about seeing a suspicious vehicle on the property, but later, police realized that he was lying after finding multiple inconsistencies in his story.  The victims 7-year-old daughter ultimately implicated Brown in the murder.  Bongivengo told reporters, “She didn’t actually eyewitness the shooting.  She saw him with what she believed to be a shotgun and heard a loud bang.  [The gun was found in the] location we believe to be in the defendant’s bedroom.”

Jack Houk, the victim’s father, told reporters, “An 11-year-old kid — what would give him the motive to shoot someone?  Maybe he was just jealous of my daughter and the baby and thought he would be overpowered.”

Brown’s attorney, David Elisco met with Brown, after which he told reporters, “I don’t think he knows what’s going on.  I walked out of there thinking he was innocent.  I believe Jordan did not do this and I’m looking forward to seeing the physical evidence to see if it matches with what I think happened.”  Elisco also met with Christopher Brown, the boy’s father.  He characterized Christopher as being “in a state of actual shock and disbelief.”  When asked if the boy disliked Houk, Elisco answered, “This is a tragic, extremely tragic situation, and it’s way too early to have any substantive comment.”

Apparently jealousy was the motive.  According to the victim’s brother-in-law, Jason Kraner, “He [Jordan Brown] actually told my son that he wanted to do that to her.  There was an issue with jealousy.”  Elisco responded to that claim, saying, “I think it’s all bull shit–there’s no animosity.”

Elisco wants Brown moved out of the county jail.  He told reporters, “I don’t think anybody wants him there. … I want him to be occupied and busy and back, essentially, in school. … I wouldn’t say he’s in good spirits.  He’s confused.  He looks and acts like a typical 11-year-old.”

He acts like a typical boy?  Are you crazy?  He shot a woman at point blank range!

Lawrence County Warden Charles Adamo also wants Brown moved out of his prison.  He says that his facility just can’t accommodate an 11-year-old boy.  Apparently they have to keep him ultra-isolated from any adult inmates, so he can’t even have visitors, since it’d mean that he’d have to be around other adults.  It’s also difficult to coordinate showers, since he has to shower alone, meaning that a whole cell block of 63 inmates must be locked down.  According to Elisco, they don’t even have clothes that fit him: “They put a shirt on him; he’s swimming in it, and his pants are cuffed up about 10 times.”  I find that a little hard to believe – they don’t have small clothes at all?  What happens if they arrest a dwarf or midget?  I feel like they must have clothes somewhere that would fit him.

Personally, I don’t care if he’s in an adult prison or not, as long as he is CHARGED as an adult.  This kid knew what he was dong.  It was premeditated (the sheet wrapped around the gun).  We have a girl who saw everything but the actual shooting (anybody can put 2 and 2 together.  Boy with shotgun + big bang + dead woman = boy killed the woman).

This freak of a kid needs to be charged with double homicide and needs to spend the rest of his life in jail.

Done Ranting,

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Central Michigan University President Michael Rao to Leave CMU

February 24, 2009

Alright, this news came in over the weekend while I was at the Michigan Republican Winter State Convention, and I’ve been swamped with stuff, so I’m just now getting to it.

President Machael Rao, who’s been at CMU for 9, decided that he’s going to leave at the end of this year, to take a job as  president of Virginia Commonwealth University.

Personally, I think that Rao is leaving at a bad time.  He just started his pet project, the medical school (which I strongly oppose because, in my opinion, it’s a waste of money that we can’t afford to waste right now), and now he’s leaving.

Personally, I hope that we have a president who’s more fiscally responsible than Rao was.  He overspent money, raised tuition, initially refused to give a pay raise to the teachers, but then decided that a 3% pay raise was alright for him.  Instead of cutting costs where we could (aluminum gutters on Warriner Hall, new street signs with university colors), lowering tuition for the students (or at least keeping it the same), and giving the teachers a pay raise, he gave HIMSELF a pay raise.

Probably the worst thing he did was get rid of the CMU promise, which promised that tuition would stay at the same level for students throughout their stay at CMU.  That was a HUGE draw for CMU, and with that gone, CMU lost a lot of it’s luster.

I wish Rao the best as he leaves.  He’s a really nice guy, but I think he could’ve done a lot better for CMU, and leaving right now is the wrong thing to do.

Good luck, Mr. Rao!  At least it’ll be warmer in Virginia!

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The Bill that Nobody Read: The Economic Stimulus Package (H.R. 1)

February 23, 2009

So, I know it’s been a while since Congress passed H.R. 1, the economic stimulus plan, but C-SPAN finally uploaded and categorized all the videos, so better late than never.  I wanted to show you all just how much the Democratic leadership tried to hide the details of the latest stimulus plan:

Here’s the first clip, courtesy of C-SPAN. In this clip, Representative Jerry Lewis (R-CA) asks for additional time for debate, so that more than 90 minutes will available for debate. Lewis was not allowed to ask for the additional time (not sure if that’s in the rules of the House or one of the previous resolutions), so he asked Representative David Obey (D-WI) (Appropriations Committee Chairman) to do so, but Obey refused to allow for more debate time. Representative Tom Price (R-GA) then asked if the bill could be read aloud by the clerk, since no member had had time to read it; however, this request was refused because House resolution 168 made it so that the bill was to be considered read (even though it was physically impossible). This violated a previous promise by the Democrats to keep all bills available for 72 hours before a final vote was brought up.

Vodpod videos no longer available.
 

In this clip, Representative Lewis shows how secretive the drafting of this bill was. Even many Democrats were left out of the negotiations.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

Representative Harold Rogers (R-KY) emphasized that the Democrats refused to allow the House Clerk to read the bill and that debate was limited to 90 minutes. 

Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

Representative Obey (D-WI) responds to Jack Kingston (R-GA) talking about appropriations to protect a mouse. He said that there’s nowhere in the bill that mentions a mouse. Well, that’s true – the word “mouse” is never in the bill; however, there is money for that’s given to the EPA for a saltwater marsh protection program where the focus of that is to protect a certain species of mouse (according to an EPA representative). So, while what Mr. Obey said was technically true, it would also be true if I said that the bill never talks about “tax cuts.” The phrase “tax cut” or “tax cuts” is never in the bill, but the legal equivalent is. So, Mr. Obey is really just playing with the words here, and he’s ultimately lying through his teeth. But what really makes him look like a fool is when he tells the Republicans to find the section they’re talking about, as he holds up the 1,000+ page bill that even HE didn’t have time to read through.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

In this clip, Representative Zach Wamp (R-TN) has one of my favorite quotes of the debate, “If ever there was a massive bill where the devil is in the details, it is this bill. And there are many devils in the details of this bill.” He also does a good job at placing some of the blame on the Republicans.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Representative Mike Rogers (R-MI) explains the mouse in the bill: “They say there is no mouse in this bill. But there is, sir. What they don’t tell you is that in the EPA projects, it cites for sure and for certain they will spend money on the salt marsh habitat for the mouse in San Francisco. Certainly, the Speaker is getting her cheese.”

Vodpod videos no longer available.

In this clip, Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) shows where the blame lies in saying that people borrowed and spent too much: “Too many of our fellow citizens borrowed too much. They spent too much, and they couldn’t pay it back. And now the mistakes of individuals, the Democrats want to force upon us collectively.” He also explains how the Congressional Budget Office says this bill was a disaster.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Representative Aaron Schock (R-IL) (the youngest House member) talks about how we’re spending trillions at a time and that we can’t afford to get this wrong.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Representative Lewis shows, again, how unprepared Congress was to even debate the bill: “Mr. Speaker, we just received official scoring of the $792 billion bill at 12:04 p.m. Unfortunately, we didn’t receive this critical information until one-third of our very limited debate time was over.” He later goes on to say, “While portions of the bill were scored by CBO earlier, in the case of the appropriations section, 40 percent of this entire package, the Members have not had the benefit of knowing what effects this bill would have. Now that we have this information, let me tell you what the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office concedes.” Lewis also shows that the Democrats are simply rushing this through in one big bill instead of going through the proper appropriations channels: CBO estimates that only 11 percent of the money will spend out this year. It begs the question why has the majority decided to include this in this bill rather than through the regular appropriations process? Why have they decided to create 33 new programs and permanently expand 73 programs? By growing the Federal Government now in this bill, the majority knows that they have a much better chance of permanently increasing government.”

Vodpod videos no longer available.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) goes over some great points on why he opposed the bill.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Alright, I hope that opened your eyes to how much the Democratic leadership in Congress tried to keep this bill hidden from the members of Congress before they voted on the bill.  So many of the Democrats in Congress have said that they wish that they would’ve asked more question before supporting the War in Iraq.  I’m guessing that many Democrats will be  saying the same about this bill in a year or 2.

Done Ranting,

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Terri Lynn Land Announces Bid for Michigan Governor

February 19, 2009

Well, it’s a move that we here in Michigan have been expecting for a while, but now it’s official.  I literally got the message just moments ago: Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land has filed for the Michigan Governor’s race.  Unfortunately, I don’t have time to post any commentary, as I’m headed out of town, but here’s the press release that I got:

LANSING – Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land announced today that she has filed paperwork forming a gubernatorial exploratory committee.

“I am excited to announce the formation of this committee,” she said.  “Our state is in dire need of strong leadership right now, and I am eager to join the discussion of how to get it back on track.”

As Secretary of State, Land has overseen numerous improvements to her department since taking office in 2003.  Increasing online services, modernizing branch offices and implementing comprehensive updates to the elections process are just a few of her accomplishments.

“Michigan residents have been forced to tighten their belts in these tough economic times but government should be setting the example of fiscal restraint.  As Secretary of State, we have demonstrated time and again that there are ways to reduce costs while still delivering outstanding customer services.  I will bring that fiscally conservative approach to all of state government.

“I was born and raised here, and I love this state,” she continued.  “Michigan has incredible resources – from our Great Lakes and abundant natural beauty to our world-class businesses and hardworking families.  This is a state worth fighting for and I am up to the challenge.  I look forward to building a strong team that is committed to finding creative solutions while focusing on the many assets we have as a state.”

Land was elected Secretary of State in 2002 and reelected in 2006.

# # #

Alright, so there you have it: Terri Lynn Land is in the running.  So far, the only other declared candidates are Attorney General Mike Cox (R) and Lt. Governor John Cherry (D).  I’m sure that will be changing in the coming weeks.

Done Reporting,

Ranting Republican

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Vladimir Putin Warns U.S. Not to Fall into Socialism

February 19, 2009

Well, it appears as if Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin knows more  about economics than President Obama.  The following is an excerpt of Putin’s speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland (transcript courtesy of the Wall Street Journal).  The full speech can be found here:

Esteemed colleagues, one is sorely tempted to make simple and popular decisions in times of crisis. However, we could face far greater complications if we merely treat the symptoms of the disease.

Naturally, all national governments and business leaders must take resolute actions. Nevertheless, it is important to avoid making decisions, even in such force majeure circumstances, that we will regret in the future.

This is why I would first like to mention specific measures which should be avoided and which will not be implemented by Russia.

We must not revert to isolationism and unrestrained economic egotism. The leaders of the world’s largest economies agreed during the November 2008 G20 summit not to create barriers hindering global trade and capital flows. Russia shares these principles.

Although additional protectionism will prove inevitable during the crisis, all of us must display a sense of proportion.

Excessive intervention in economic activity and blind faith in the state’s omnipotence is another possible mistake.

True, the state’s increased role in times of crisis is a natural reaction to market setbacks. Instead of streamlining market mechanisms, some are tempted to expand state economic intervention to the greatest possible extent.

The concentration of surplus assets in the hands of the state is a negative aspect of anti-crisis measures in virtually every nation.

In the 20th century, the Soviet Union made the state’s role absolute. In the long run, this made the Soviet economy totally uncompetitive. This lesson cost us dearly. I am sure nobody wants to see it repeated.

Nor should we turn a blind eye to the fact that the spirit of free enterprise, including the principle of personal responsibility of businesspeople, investors and shareholders for their decisions, is being eroded in the last few months. There is no reason to believe that we can achieve better results by shifting responsibility onto the state.

And one more point: anti-crisis measures should not escalate into financial populism and a refusal to implement responsible macroeconomic policies. The unjustified swelling of the budgetary deficit and the accumulation of public debts are just as destructive as adventurous stock-jobbing.

That’s right, Prime Minister Putin warned against “excessive intervention in economic activity.”  What do you think we’re doing right now as we spend trillions of dollars in bailouts?  That, my friends, is excessive intervention.  He’s absolutely right when he says, “There is no reason to believe that we can achieve better results by shifting responsibility onto the state.”

Honestly, this has to be one of the best things Putin has ever said.  He deserves a heck of a lot of credit for this one.  But honestly, did you think he’d say anything else?  He lived through the economic disaster that was the Soviet Union.  He understands that the path that the U.S. is going down is a DANGEROUS path, and he’s doing his best to warn us.

I only hope that the Democrats in Congress and President Obama heed his warning.

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Lansing, Michigan Mayor: Automotive Union Members Have Sacrificed Enough

February 18, 2009

Yesterday on Happening Now on FOX News, Virg Bernero, the Mayor of Lansing Michigan, said that auto industry workers have already sacrificed enough and it’s time for Wall Street to start making some sacrifices.  Watch the video (courtesy of FOX News), and I’ll discuss it below:

Alright, honestly, the mayor went nuts in my opinion, and kinda made a fool out of himself.  He said, “I was a little offended by your question, you know, have the unions given up enough, has the working man given up enough?  You know, my question is, has Wall Street given up enough, for the billions that they have taken?”  Um, the anchor (who’s  name slips my mind at this point) never said ANYTHING about union concessions or anything related to it!

The anchor points out that that wasn’t his question (go back to the beginning and check – it was NOT his question).  When asked if he thought that the UAW should have to “swallow some pay cuts,” Bernero focused solely on health benefits, again NOT answering the question that was asked!

Bernero late shows exactly what the problem with Michigan is, when he asks the question, “What are we going to produce in this country, if we allow the auto industry to go by the wayside?”  For too long, Michigan has relied on the auto industry as “our industry.”  The fact is that the auto industry isn’t what it used to be, and we can no longer rely on it as our only industry.  And to ask what we will produce if we don’t produce automobiles, as if saying that’s all we produce, is insulting to those who work in other manufacturing fields.

The anchor also brings up the fact that UAW members don’t need health care for life!  That’s one of the reasons that the Big 3 are suffering, because they’re giving health care to people who don’t work for them anymore.  Bernero says that the UAW has given concessions.  True, they have, but they need to give up WAY more.  UAW members are WAY overpaid and get WAY too many benefits.

If UAW members would just realize that he auto industry is in trouble and can’t afford to pay them what they have been up until now, and would take some pay/benefit cuts, then the auto industry could rebound.  But while the UAW shares the mentality that Bernero has, the auto industry is going to continue to suffer.  I’ve said time and time again that while the auto executives share some of the blame, a lot of the blame falls on the greedy UAW for keeping the auto industry in such a choke hold.

Done Ranting,

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Massachusetts Proposes Using GPS Chips to Tax Drivers’ Mileage

February 18, 2009
Yesterday, on Happening Now on FOX News, there was a  discussion a new idea for a way for Massachusetts to increase their revenue.  The idea was to use GPS chips to track mileage (mileage only and NOT location) of cars, and then tax drivers based on how far they go.  Some like the idea, which is being tested in Oregon.  FOX interviewed Jim Whitty from the Oregon Department of Transportation.  Meanwhile others, such as Massachusetts state Senator Scott Brown views it as Orwellian and an invasion of privacy.  Brown also said that taxes are too high already in Massachusetts.  Watch the video and I’ll discuss it below (video courtesy of  FOX News):

Now, did you catch what Whitty said?  At one point he was talking about the test that Oregon did of using the system and said, “There was no issue with tracking, because we didn’t–we didn’t do that.”  Notice, he never said that “We couldn’t do that.”  He said, “We didn’t do that.”

The whole point of GPS, Global POSITIONING System is to track where you’re at.  Now, I’m sure that the government in Oregon may only be paying attention to the distance that people travel; however, that doesn’t mean that they couldn’t just one day decide, instead of just counting the miles, let’s start paying attention to where these people are going.  Originally, it may be to catch criminals, or determine traffic patterns, but that’s a violation of privacy.  And it leads down a slippery slope.

Additionally, Senator Brown is right, taxes in Massachusetts could be lowered if the government would just better manage its money.

But my main problem with the system is the fact that it is, for lack of a better word, Orwellian.  Even my liberal roommate agrees with me here!  It’s an invasion of privacy.

If you’re going to do anything, put a device that measures odometer changes.  But using GPS, Global POSITIONING System, to track people’s “distance” is in invasion of privacy.

Let me know what you think:

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Kansas Can Now Afford to Pay Tax Refunds and State Employees

February 18, 2009

Yesterday I was watching America’s Newsroom, and Megyn Kelly did a story about the budget crisis in Kansas. According to the Governor, Kathleen Sebelius (D), the state was not going to be able to pay tax refunds or state employees on time.  Sebelius wants to borrow money from other state accounts within Kansas; however, Republican legislators want budget cuts because they feel Sebelius’s solution is irresponsible.  Republican leaders in the state House and Senate (both where they’re in the majority) argued that the internal borrowing wasn’t legal until the Kansas had a balanced budget for the fiscal year (the fiscal year ends June 30).

Watch the video, and I’ll discuss it below (video courtesy of FOX News):

Since that video, the Governor signed a budget-balancing bill, and the Republicans have said that the internal borrowing is now legal.

House Speaker Mike O’Neal told reporters, “I’m extremely pleased that she signed it, because that’s what needed to happen.”  Senate President Steve Morris also told reporters, “This action gives us reassurances that we will have the resources to repay this.”

Meanwhile, Sebelius said, “I’m just sorry that we had to have high drama and worry a lot of Kansans about our ability to pay our obligations in order to get to the end of the process.”

Personally, I agree with Megyn Kelly.  And while she may have been a little mean to Treasurer Dennis McKinney, she has a point – it’s bad management if you need to do borrowing within your state.  The state should be able to balance their budget and pay taxes back to people and pay their employees.  Unfortunately, I can’t find the discussion that went on on FOX News yesterday, but they brought up a point to citizens: Don’t give the government so much money when you fill out information for withholding.  You have the option to withhold more, and if you’re doing that now, just don’t.  I’m not saying lie and withhold less than you should.  I’m saying, only have them withhold the minimum that you legally have to.  That way, when states like Kansas can’t pay you back on time, you’re not getting screwed.  If you don’t pay the government their taxes, you get penalized.  When they don’t pay you back, what happens to them?  NOTHING!  It’s unfair!  So, just don’t give them extra money!

I’ll try to find that discussion video and post that and discuss it in a later blog post, but right now, FOX News’s search for videos isn’t working right.

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Obama Bitter that Republicans Rejected the Stimulus Package?

February 17, 2009

So, I was just watching the news, and they were talking about a picture and caption of the White House website.  Neil Cavuto (FOX News) was asking if the following caption was a cheap shot at Republicans.  Here’s the picture (I’ll discuss it below and ask for your opinion) (see here for the original picture; it’s picture 4: http://www.whitehouse.gov/photogallery/The-story-of-the-economic-recovery-package/):

 bitter-obama1

If you can’t read it, the caption says, “House Republicans surround the President after the meeting. Many of them were seeking his autograph. Every House Republican eventually voted against the bill.”

Now, I have to agree with Neil here.  The photo album never talks about all of the Senate Democrats voting for the bill, or all but 7 House Democrats voting for the final version of the bill (originall 11 voted against it).  It does talk about Susan Collins (R-ME) voting for it, but that’s understandable, because that was unique and he was meeting with her in order to bring her to his side.

I think this was just a partisan move meant to put the Republicans in a bad light.

So, tell me what you think:

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President Obama Signs $787 Billion Economic Stimulus Plan

February 17, 2009

Moments ago, President Obama singed H.R. 1, the economic stimulus package into law.  Unfortunately, I was taking a phone call during the beginning of his speech, so I couldn’t live blog it, but I did catch some key parts (I’ll do a summary of the whole speech later).

One part that caught my eye was when he said that the bill was “a balanced plan with a mix of tax cuts and investments.  It is a plan that’s been put together without earmarks or the usual pork barrel spending.  And it is a plan that will be implemented with an unprecedented level of transparency and accountability.”

Really?  Because, I remember the Democrats promising that the final version of the bill would be available to be read for 48 hours before being brought to a vote, but it was brought to a vote around 12 hours after the bill was posted (posted on-line around 12:30 A.M. last Friday), and voted on, I believe around 2:00 P.M. in the House, and later in the Senate.  At one point, Representative David Obey (D-WI) got in an argument with a Republican Representative (I don’t remember who), and asked the Republican to show him something in the bill.  He held it up and the Republicans just laughed.  He made a fool out of  himself by SHOWING that nobody could quickly find anything in the bill – it’s over 1,000 pages long!

So, I wonder if the Democrats and Obama will stick to this  promise of “transparency and accountability” or if they will continue to change their promises like they’ve been doing so far.

I see us being right back in position of “needing” another stimulus package in 6 months or so.  Hopefully the next one  won’t be “needed,” but if one is proposed, I hope that one fails in Congress.

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