Wednesday, May 31, 2006

You Gotta Fight for Your Right to … Be a Pedophile?

Reuters reports today that pedophiles in Amsterdam are working to launch their own political party. Main agenda: lower the age of consent and ease child pornography restrictions.

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dutch pedophiles are launching a political party to push for a cut in the legal age for sexual relations to 12 from 16 and the legalization of child pornography and sex with animals, sparking widespread outrage.

The Charity, Freedom and Diversity (NVD) party said on its Web site it would be officially registered Wednesday, proclaiming: "We are going to shake The Hague awake!"
The party said it wanted to cut the legal age for sexual relations to 12 and eventually scrap the limit altogether.

"A ban just makes children curious," Ad van den Berg, one of the party's founders, told the Algemeen Dagblad (AD) newspaper.

"We want to make pedophilia the subject of discussion," he said, adding the subject had been a taboo since the 1996 Marc Dutroux child abuse scandal in neighboring Belgium.

(Click here to read the entire article.)

Your Mom, busted in and said, “what’s that noise?” The pedophiles are raping your little boys.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Literature Review: "A Song of Ice and Fire"

by George R.R. Martin

Fat Jack’s Review: 5 stars out of 5 Customer Reviews: 1331
Average Customer Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Characters die -- main characters -- people you care about and are invested in. A device rarely seen in today’s world of sequels, spin-offs, focus group driven plots and marketing ploys main characters are not supposed to die. George R.R. Martin, however, does not follow many conventional pitfalls of contemporary authors. Unconcerned with perception, notoriety or the small-minded short attention spans of the illiterate masses, Martin has created a work of art that is about the story and the characters rather than action-adventure.

This work has been pigeonholed as fantasy, but read on before you decide to pass. Like romance, fantasy is a genre that the literati and academics tend to pass automatically as pulp nonsense for the sheep. The exceptions possibly being “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Chronicles of Narnia,” but even they receive a nose tip from the universities.

“A Song of Ice and Fire” is not about dragons or magic or fantasy. Good thing as the unliterary trio do not appear in any significant way. Fantasy is an inaccurate description of Martin’s book series. Political medieval fantasy is probably a better description. It is a work of fiction taking place in a world of his own making, but it mimics our medieval culture and political intrigue.

This series is about power: the obsession to obtain power and the wars brought on in order to keep power. Cultures and religions make alliances and break treatise in order to gain favor with one king or another. The death of kings and the uprising of the people serve to constantly throw everything catawampus. The story is not about action; it is about people and power. The story is driven by the characters not by an artificial need to make an exciting story.

This book was given to me by a friend, Gabe, who lectured me for two years to read this book series. I have since introduced it to five friends from college, four of which have started it and report back nothing but high praise.

Contemporary issues such as separation of church and state, religious superiority, war as a device to gain or maintain power, the genocide of entire cultures, security of the homeland and political warfare and the ramifications of those acts are central to this series. But do not confuse this as a commentary on any one figure in our current or past history. The first book of the series was published in 1997 and it is about power, not anyone person.

Of particular interest is Martin’s development of women. Medieval history had a tight reign on the roles of men and women. Martin, however, develops a few females who break out of the conventional roles established for them. These women become stronger as the series progresses. This is not a fast paced story, so the reader must be patient. Good literature is worth reading and waiting for.

This is an on-going series, the first four books of which have been published. Martin has stated that he sees the series ending with book 7.

Like unconventional writers and story lines
Can live with your Heroes and Main Characters getting killed
Love medieval history
Enjoy grey characters, who are not wholly good or evil
Enjoy different truths from different characters
Love conflict, and multi-level plots
Find symbolism and clues fun
Powerful women, some with unconventional roles
Enjoy mysteries.
Using your mind when you read

Are easily offended by sex appropriate to the character and society
Are easily offended by harsh language used by real soldiers and royalty
Are confused by multiple characters
Are confused by multiple points of view
Want good and evil characters easily identifiable
Wholly good and wholly evil characters
Can’t read long stories.

“A Game of Thrones” (book 1)
“A Clash of Kings” (book 2)
“A Storm of Swords” (book 3)
“A Feast for Crows” (book 4)

Muddin' in the Mini-Van

I drove from Springfield to Granby (not far from Neosho) to help a friend poor concrete in his barn and I cam back covered, not in concrete as one might think, but in mud.

I picked up two other friends and we headed to the farm in Granby for a 2 hour job. We poured the pad in nothing flat and did a good job to boot. So we had the rest of the day to do whatever. The truck still had concrete in it and they don’t take that back to the plant. So we had to find a place to put it.

Monty, the owner, told him to dump it on the gravel driveway. Fine and dandy except I was parked by the house next to his pick-up -- the wrong side of the concrete. He assured me there was another route to the street. Indeed there was, but considering this: his saw three inches of rain the night before. So after our work everyone showered so we could come back to Springfield, meet up with our families, eat dinner and go to see “X-Men: The Last Stand.” (Read my movie review at INCONCEIVABLE.)

When it was time to go, he jumped in the pick-up to show me the way out. Of course the two fat guys sat in the front of the mini-van. An interesting tidbit of information: the motor of the Honda minivan is in the front of the front-wheel drive vehicle.

Monty’s truck drove over the nice, grassy patch of yard without incident. We got 25 yards in and then sunk like a rock right up to the doors. We pushed, we pulled and we dug out the wheels. We even moved the van about 6 feet, until it sank to the frame. You can’t do much when your transmission is sitting on the ground.

Luckily, when my wife and I changed our automobile and home insurance to AAA just a month ago. So I pulled out my new AAA card and within 1.5 hours I had a tow truck at the house. Amazingly enough, if the ground is so soft that a mini-van will sink to the frame, then a tow truck won’t have any better luck. Eventually, he pulled out 150 feet of cable, went around a tree and hooked on to my rear end. With me at the wheel driving ever so slower backwards, he pulled us out to safety, back behind the concrete again.

I’m not going to tell you how we figured that out, but we did. I was able to finally get out, however, our time had eroded away and we were forced into a drive-by at Mexican Villa, scarf food at my house in order to meet the families at Springfield 8. Tell you what. The old mini-van doesn’t run too well down the highway caked in mud. We slung it all the way home.

And so it goes with my friends and I. Something always seems to happen with us. At least this time we were armed with AAA.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

'Only A Sith Thinks In Absolutes'

Michael Soetaert over at The Holy Grail Press, has written a very interesting essay “It Could Never Happen Here.” In a 1984, big brother kind of way, he writes about the failings of complacency and the erosion of freedoms in the name of national security.

Fat Jack is a Demublican: liberal on social issues and civil rights, but conservative on some some things like, oh I don't know maybe "from my cold dead hands" will you take my gun. Yeah.

The Rebel Alliance must remember: "Only a Sith thinks in absolutes."

What-A-Crock of a Competition

Fat Jack’s is giddy with anticipation just thinking of the upcoming crock pot competition sponsored by What-A-Crock. I’m plan to jack the place up with my super secret liquor laden chili recipe titled: Judas Priest! (Otherwise known as Mexican Sweat, as its so hot it’ll make a Mexican sweat.) It’s hot and drunk and gives you the big old poopers all in one fatal swoop. Course, it is summer time and chili isn’t too summery. But Jack sweats like a dancing mule whether it's rain, sun or snow. I'm just hoping I can get my recipe, which is mostly in my head, on paper by the May 31 deadline.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

We Got Robbed!

That’s right. Bloggers unite. Smug old rag-man Tony Messenger put the screw to us last night at the Springfield blogger’s meeting. According to his blog:

Tony Messenger, new Editorial Page Editor of the News-Leader, is getting to know the community and needs your help. Get Mugged when you join Tony for a cup of coffee. Talk to Tony about issues in the community that are important to you. Tony will then write about your conversation on this blog. If you live in the News-Leader readership area and want to get mugged by Tony, e-mail him and set up a time for him to meet you and a couple of your friends for coffee. He'll even bring the cups. In your e-mail, include "Get Mugged" in the subject line.

Uh, huh. I see how it is. Well all I have to say to that punk Messenger is:

I didn’t get Mugged
I got Robbed.
I’ll fix your red wagon,
Cause I have a blog.

Where is the Teacher's Code of Ethics?

Every profession with licensure requirements has a standardized state or national Code of Ethics (CoE) set up by the licensure or accreditation board – doctors, lawyers, social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, realtors, engineers, and counselors. They are all bound by a strict, written Code of Ethics that defines the professional conduct, standards and ethical principles by which every licensed person must adhere.

Not following those strict guidelines usually means sanctions or loss of licensure. Not so with educators. That’s right. Teachers, while they must be certified with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and are also automatically mandated reporters, they are not governed by any statewide or nationwide Code of Ethics.

Having been a man dated reporter for the last eight years, because I worked with persons who have developmental disabilities, I was bound to report any suspected buse and neglect, even if I was not sure that the claims were substantial. It is clear, in this profession, that not reporting is a crime, period. That is the law and the standard.

Too many mandated reporters take it upon themselves to make a determination of fact, a substantiation of the abuse or neglect claims, before deciding to report. The whole purpose of the mandated reporter law is to take that responsibility out of the hands of the person reporting. The reporter is just that, a reporter. The Department of Social Services is charged with substantiating the abuse or neglect claims.

However, the training is different for teachers. They have no standardized Code of Ethics on which to draw in order to determine what course of action to take in any particular instance. The only procedures that a teacher has to follow, is the policy of the school district. If the disctrict policy states that a teacher report to the principal, and follow his or her directives, then a teacher has no way of determining if that decision is right or wrong.

If a Social Worker, on the other hand, witnesses potential abuse or is told by the alleged victim about abuse, then the Social Worker is mandated to report. Now, agency policy may require the Social Worker to report to the supervisor first. However, and this is big, if the supervisor tells the Social Worker not to report the abuse, then the Social Worker is still bound by law and National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Code of Ethics to report anyway. It doesn’t really matter what the supervisor says.

Abuse and neglect run rampant in Greene County and the Ozarks. It is more prevalent here than anywhere else in the state. Missouri has a vague mandated reporter law, which makes this issue ever more confusing for educators.

Teaching is one of the oldest professions. We must protect our teachers from overly vague and confusing laws and standards that conflict with policy. It is a gross oversight on the part of the DESE not to have a standardized, written Code of Ethics for teachers and school districts. Until we have that, our county and state will be plagued with the covering up of abuse and neglect of our school children. Teachers need more support and help understanding their role regarding behavior, conduct and what it means to be a mandated reporter and what “reasonable cause to suspect” really means.

The News-Leader recently posted the basics of the mandated reporter law:

"When any ... (mandatory reporter, such as doctors, nurses, teachers and principals) ... has reasonable cause to suspect that a child has been or may be subjected to abuse or neglect ... that person shall immediately report or cause a report to be made to the division ... the term "abuse" is not limited to abuse inflicted by a person responsible for the child's care, custody and control ... but shall also include abuse inflicted by any other person. ...

Whenever such person is required to report ... in an official capacity as a staff member of a medical institution, school facility or other agency, ... the person in charge or a designated agent shall be notified immediately. The person in charge or a designated agent shall then become responsible for immediately making or causing such report to be made to the division. Nothing in this section, however, is meant to preclude any person from reporting abuse or neglect."

Johnny Come Lately, 8 Days to be Exact

Eight days after submitting my Letter to the Editor regarding the proposed boycott of Mexican restaurants (and essentially all immigrants) the News-Leader printed my letter rebuffing the ignorant idea. So I was very interested when I found out Tony Messenger was coming to the Springfield blogger’s meeting.

When Ron Davis got done talking with Tony, I introduced myself. I was a bit miffed that it took so long for a daily to run a positive immigration letter, as the whole last two weeks were filled with nasty immigrant-hating diatribes. Too few on the other side were speaking up.

We spoke for a time about the processing of Letters to the Editor and his thoughts on how to fix that process. A good thing, because I would probably ever write in again as eight days late makes a letter referencing Cinco de Mayo not so timely.

I think the News-Leader’s Editorial page will be better off with Tony at the helm.

(Note: My letter was over the 200 word limit, so I had to revise it. As promised, here is my submission which ran in the Sunday, May 14 edition of the News-Leader:)

The boycott of all Mexican restaurants, suggested by Jim Reeves, in last week’s News-Leader, is a bi-product of what ails our culture. Fear leads to hatred and discrimination, leading to open disdain for all Hispanics. The hatred boils down to this: “I don’t want them, to get ahead of us,” something I’ve heard all my life growing up here.

The facts that illegal immigrants consist of persons from many nationalities, and not all Mexicans are illegal, are simply a minor nuisance to those who hate. It’s hard to discriminate against a group of people if you don’t demonize the entire culture.

There has been a surprisingly small public rebuttal to this open bigotry. So on Cindo de Mayo, I had lunch and dinner at Mexican restaurants as a private protest. Reeves’ suggested Cinco de Screw-O was seen for what it is: fear-driven, hate-filled bigotry.

A silent protest against discrimination never works. If Hispanics, Asians and other minority populations are ever going to feel safe in Springfield, then the educated, the open-minded and the Christian must take their place in public life and decry this hatred of people.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Fight The Culture

Russell, a self-proclaimed worker ant for the government machine has started his first blog. Check him out over at Fight The Culture. Russell is a friend of mine and should be great for the Springfield blogging scene.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Bearing False Witness Door-to-Door

M. Goodman over at Ozarks Angel has a great post on the ruse of the “banned prayer in schools” nonsense. You should have a look-see.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

CINCO de SCREW-O: Immigration Part 2

(BLOGGER'S NOTE: As promised, I submitted a Letter to the Editor/Ozarks Voices supporting immigrants in the Ozarks. Following is the piece I submitted yesterday (Saturday, May 6, 2006). As of Sunday, May 7, 2006, 4:02 pm, the News-Leader has not printed the letter or contacted me about it (they will verify Ozarks Voices before printing). As a former newspaper man I know there are lots of reasons that can happen: too many submissions, not timely enough, unclear, too long, or not verifiable (mine was verfiable). So we will see what happens. But here it is, anyway. Interestingly enough, they did have two pieces about the importance of hearing from us and one piece about their editorial board. Following is my submission and I encourage all of you to do the same.)


The boycott of all Mexican restaurants, suggested by Jim Reeves, Kissee Mills in the May 4 edition of the News-Leader, is a bi-product of what ails our culture. Fear leads to hatred and discrimination and that fear is running rampant through the Ozarks with the open disdain for persons of Mexican descent.

Critical thinking skills allow us to see that illegal immigrants consist of persons from many nationalities. Not all persons from Mexico are illegal, although it makes it hard to discriminate against a group of people if you don’t demonize the entire culture.

Unfortunately, this hatred is not limited to Hispanics. Growing up in the Ozarks I have heard this sentiment all my life: “I don’t want them to get ahead of us.” That phrase is mired in fear, and yet it is a prevalent belief in the Ozarks.

There has been a surprisingly small public rebuttal to this open bigotry. So on Cindo de Mayo, I had lunch and dinner at Mexican restaurants as a private protest to the public discrimination against Hispanic persons. Reeves’ suggested Cinco de Screw-O was seen for what it is: nothing more than fear-driven, hate-filled bigotry. I stood in very long lines just to get a seat at both Mexican restaurants. Springfieldians were out in droves, eating Mexican food and supporting the Mexican culture.

A silent protest against bigotry never works. If Mexicans, Asians and other minority populations are ever going to feel safe in Springfield, then the educated, the open-minded and Christians must take their place in public life and decry this hatred of people.

Chris Wilson

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Storming Free Comic Book Day

The Empire struck back today, storming Vintage Stock (formerly Cavemen) during Free Comic Book Day. My 5-year-old, Sophie, and I stopped by to pick up a few of the free titles. When we got home, she dressed in her Star Wars T-shirt, grabbed her light sabre and begged me to drive back so she could have a picture with the Storm Troopers.

What is cooler than a chick that loves sci-fi?

Stan Lee Seeks New Superhero

From Associated Press:

PASADENA, Calif. - The creator of Spider-Man and the Incredible Hulk is on the hunt for a new superhero, and he plans to find it on reality TV.

Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee said Friday that his new reality show "Who Wants to be a Superhero?" breaks new ground.

"I've never lived in a world of reality," quipped the 83-year-old writer.

Eleven wannabe superheros — whittled down from 200 — are set to compete in the show, which is scheduled to premiere July 26 on the Sci-Fi channel. The winning superhero will be the star of a new comic book created by Lee.

The reported catch-phrase for those who don't make the cut? "Turn in your spandex!"

CINCO de SCREW-O: Immigration Part 1

This past week I have been watching the Opinion page of the Springfield News-Leaders. Letter after Letter-to-the-Editor ignorant people have been writing in demonstrating their open ignorance and bigotry toward Mexicans. I’ve had my fill of it. The issue, disguised as illegal immigration, is nothing more than an excuse to hate a group of people. The sentiment can be summed up in this real quote that I’ve heard all my life growing up as an Ozarkian:

“I don’t want them to get ahead of us.”

How about that? That statement is fear driven and fear, always, leads to hatred and discrimination. Always. For some reason, there has been little to dispute this. It’s a wonder that the Hispanics in Springfield and the surrounding area are not terrified. All they see in our paper is bigotry.

In celebration of Cinco de Mayo, and as a silent protest to the open hatred, I ate at Cierlito Lindo for lunch and then a group of my friends went to Qdoba for dinner. I don’t remember seeing any Hispanics working at Qdoba, but that’s not really the point.

Both restaurants were filled to the brim with people. I waited in line to be seated for lunch and we all waited in an extensive line for dinner. The line was still there when we left Qdoba. Not everyone in Springfield is boycotting Mexican restaurants as was suggested by the podunk in Stone County.

Yet we are somehow complacent on this issue. Where is our voice of dissidence? I know several conservatives, and liberals (myself being a Demublican) who do not agree with the hatred. But where are we? Where am I?

I am writing a Letter to the Editor today, cause Fat Jack is flat pissed off. I don’t know what the Hell I’m going to say, but I know that we cannot sit back and let these idiots speak for all of us. We do not all agree with the “I don’t want them to get ahead of us,” mentality.

Of the blogs I peruse I have few personal essays on immigration. As good people we should be called to gather and fight for those who are being persecuted and discriminated against. I don’t have all the answers on immigration. But I do know that fear leads to discrimination. Discrimination spreads like a cancer. If we don’t say something, then who will.

Speaking for myself, I believe that my religion demands that I speak up against fear and hatred. Jesus was kinda funny about that.

So I wonder, what will you do? Bloggers enjoy First Amendment Rights. Why else do have blogs except to write and think and speak and fight and protect? When I finish my Letter To The Editor, I will post it for you.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Round and Roundtree

M. Goodman over at Ozarks Angel and I have had some heated discussions on the issue of responsibilities of Mandated Reporters juxtaposed against the fear of reporting what may turn out to be a false allegation.

Free Comic Book Day

Saturday is Free Comic Book Day across the nation, thanks to Gemstone Publishing, Inc. for the tidbit.

With Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) less than twenty-four hours away, publishers, retailers and customers all across the nation ready to greet new customers and readers with a plethora of great books. The event, celebrating it fifth anniversary, aims to bring new readers into the world of comics and had grown into one of the largest promotional tool of the industry.

FCBD has expanded to include not only Marvel, DC, Image and Dark Horse, but also Gemstone Publishing, Archie Comics, IDW Publishing, TokyoPop, Aspen Studios, Narwain SRL and many more. In addition, companies like WizKids and Diamond Select Toys will be offering exclusives figures (a Wolverine HeroClix and a Stargate SG-1 Jack O'Neil figure, respectively). In addition, TwoMorrows Publishing will be offering free copies of their publications to any fans who visit their website.

For a complete listing of all the FCBD books, shops participating, creator signings and some frequently asked questions, be sure to check out the website ( and locate a participating comic shop by entering your zip code into the home page.

Understanding the Taxpayers Bill Of Rights

News is starting to flash about the proposed Constitutional Amendment – House Joint Resolution 48 (HJR-48) proposed in the state legislature this year by Rep. Carl Bearden. It has stalled in the legislature for now. The group in Missouri pushing the nationwide movement is going by the name Missourians In Charge. However, they are not, for the most part, really Missourians. The group is from Illinois and they are really known as Americans for Limited Government, according to the May 2 Editorial in the Springfield News-Leader. They simply set up shop in Missouri and found locals to help them.

We have several names for the same Amendments all trying to do the same thing. I will do my best to sort this all out and help you understand, in a very simplified manner, what this initiative is and how it will affect our state, based in part on how it has affected Colorado.

This initiative started in Colorado 14 years ago and is known nationally as the Taxpayers Bill Of Rights, TABOR, (pronounced Tay-Ber). In order to further complicate matters, the interest groups have changed the name. It is known as TABOR across the nation, and that is the term I will use. However, if Missourians In Charge is successful, then the issue on the ballot will probably be called Amendment 14.

Real Name: TABOR (Tax Payers Bill Of Rights)
Known Alias: Missouri House Joint Resolution 48 (HJR 48)
Known Alias: People In Charge Amendment
Known Alias: Amendment 14

TABOR is a Constitutional Amendment. That means that we have to change our Missouri Constitution in order to put TABOR into effect. A Constitutional Amendment is permanent, and can only be amended or changed with a vote of the people, which is very costly.

TABOR is a restrictive tax and spending lid. There are different kinds of tax and spending lids and TABOR is the most restrictive of its kind. One other such lid is already active in Missouri and is known as the Handcock Amendment. TABOR uses a formula based on the state’s previous year’s spending and also includes of inflation and population known as the Consumer Price Index.

TABOR is based on the state’s previous year’s spending amount, then the tax and spending lids are put in place from that point. In years of budget crisis or a nationwide economic downturn, such as happened in the past couple of years, the state has to buckle down and cut the budget.

With TABOR, those new budget cuts become permanent from that point on. There is never a return to a budget when the economic times are good, unless the people get enough signatures to get a referendum on the ballot to overturn TABOR or suspend it, which is what happened in Colorado in 2005.

If the state has multiple years of bad economic times, requiring more budget cuts, then those new budget cuts become the new spending lid for the state. This is known as ratcheting. Even if the ratcheting effect is tweaked, the basic formula is still in place.

The Missouri Budget Project analyzed the impact of TABOR on Missouri and those findings are as follows:

If Missouri had passed TABOR in 2005, then Gov. Matt Blunt’s Budget Recommendations for FY 2007 would be “$156 million too heavy.” That means that the budget that our fiscally conservative Governor feels would be the right budget for Missouri would have to be cut by $156 million.

Gov. Blunt’s increases to public education would have been dumped. The new funding formula for public education, expected to increase this year by $130 million, would be at risk. Most likely, the Governor’s proposed 2 percent increase for higher education (colleges and universities) would have to be cut.

The Missouri Budget Project also looked at the long term affects of TABOR. The MBP projected that if TABOR had passed in 1992, when Colorado enacted it, Missouri would be “required to cut $792 million more in the current fiscal year (FY 2006).”

This has long-standing and far-reaching ramifications affecting the budgets of city, county and state services. It would affect public education, fire and police departments, higher education, social services, conservation, transportation, and other state government services vital to the business and economical viability of the state.

According to the MBP, the burden of the budget cuts to basic services would fall to the local communities, creating higher property taxes, as well as increased fees for licenses, permits, tolls and even education. These cuts would affect the maintenance of buildings and roads, affecting our local business economy.

In 1992, the voters in Colorado passed TABOR. The Missouri Budget Project and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities have cited some statistics on the effects of TABOR:
  • In 2001, nine years after Colorado enacted TABOR, the K-12 funding per pupil dropped to $809 below the national average.
  • The average student-teacher ratio rose, ranking Colorado 41st in the nation.
  • Colorado teacher pay fell to seven percent below the national average.
  • The rate of high school graduates fell from 76 percent in 1990 to 70 percent in 2004.
  • Higher education funding per resident student dropped 31 percent.
  • From 2002-2005, universities increased tuition by 21 percent to make up for budget cuts.
  • From 1992-2004, the number of uninsured children went from 16 percent to 32 percent.
  • Colorado ranks 50th in the nation for on-time immunizations.
  • Mental health services were eliminated in youth corrections.
  • The case loads of probation officers rose from 130 to 238 cases per officer.
After years of watching the state budget shrink and critical services erode, a bi-partisan, coalition consisting of business leaders, educators, individuals and others developed a grassroots effort to repeal TABOR. With the help of the current Republican Governor, Bill Owens, other political leaders from both parties, and several Chambers of Commerce, Referenda C went to a vote of the people. On November 1, 2005, the people of Colorado passed a five-year suspension of TABOR.

The Missouri Budget Project collected some quotes from reputable community members in Colorado regarding TABOR and it’s effects.
Republican Brad Young, former Colorado state representative
“The (TABOR) formula … has an insidious effect where it shrinks government every year, year after year, after year; it’s never small enough…. …That is not the best way to form public policy.”
Michael Carrigan, Unviersity of Colorado Regent
“When TABOR was enacted, roughly 25 percent of the state budget went to funding higher education; it is now under 10 percent…. Without TABOR reform there is only one result – the end of state funding for higher education by the end of the decade.
Neil Westergaard, Editor of the Denver Business Journal
“Face it, business leaders have done a sober, businesslike assessment of where Douglas Bruce’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) has left Colorado – and they don’t like what they see. They’ve figured out that no business would survive if it were run like the TABOR faithful say Colorado should be run – with withering tax support for college and universities, under funded public schools and a future of crumbling roads and bridges.”
Rocky Scott, President, Colorado Springs Economic Development Corporation
“The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, with some positive attributes, is about tightly controlling, actually strangling, Colorado’s income statement, it’s income and expenses. Spending on prisons, medical care for the elderly, and K-12 education increases faster than inflation, forcing all other public needs to suffer. But while the unrealistically simplistic TABOR strategy is being executed, by constitutional edict, the decay of Colorado’s balance sheet, its net worth, representing the publicly owned capital stock that provides the foundation for economic activity, is unprecedented. It will, if unchecked, eventually lead to economic decay.

Missouri already has a working tax and spending lid called the Handcock Amendment. It limits the amount of revenue that the state can take in. It works, as Missouri’s citizens received a check back a few years ago. Handcock gave money back to the tax ayers when the state took in too much revenue. There really isn’t any reason to enact another one.

The evidence on the destructive nature of TABOR on city, county, and state services is overwhelming. Report after report have shown that services such as roads and bridge maintenance, police and fire departments, public schools, colleges and universities, services to persons with disabilities, services to the elderly, services to the poor, corrections services, and troubled youth services have experienced crippling cuts in budgets, including heavy lay-offs and services not being rendered.

Last year, our legislators passed large cuts to Medicaid. Legislator after legislator stated that no one would really be hurt. In fact Rep. Jim Viebrock from Republic wrote in an email to constituents that the opposition was really a liberal media lie and no one who really needed services would see any cuts. This year, we have several bills on the table to reinstate some of those services. People really were hurt and our legislators are realizing that now. Those cuts to Medicaid were mild, nearly non-existent, compared to the far-reaching effects of TABOR.

The real push for TABOR is that it wipes away the responsibility on our legislature. If we enact TABOR, then the legislature can throw up their hands and say they can’t do anything about it. We elect our legislators to look at our budget, based on the state’s economic status and make decision on what programs should be funded. What are legislators for if not to look out for our state’s best interests? If we enact TABOR, then those responsibilities are shifted to a static funding formula. No longer will people decide what happens in our. An arbitrary formula will do that for us.

This TABOR initiative was introduced in the legislature this year. But nothing has come of it. Legislators do not want to be responsible for that. So they stalled it so this out-of-state group could come in and try to convince the taxpayers to vote for it. Unfortunately, there information being given by the pro-TABOR lobby paints a very limited and confusing picture of TABOR.

TABOR is a Constitutional Amendment. It is a very difficult thing to repeal, as it takes a vote of the people, and again makes changes to the Missouri Constitution. Why do we TABOR when we have Handcock and elected officials to make decisions for us? We should insist that people, not formulas, make our decisions for our state. When those legislators make mistakes, then we can vote for someone else in the next election. When the TABOR funding formula makes a mistake, then we have to change our Constitution.

If the Republican Governor in 2005, legislators from both parties, many Chambers of Commerce and other business leaders all join the effort to repeal TABOR in Colorado, then Missourians should be skeptical.

If our fiscally conservative Governor Blunt’s recommended budget for FY 2007 is $156 million (had TABOR been enacted last year) then this clearly shows that TABOR is not a conservative or liberal idea. It is an extremist, anti-government movement.

Be it TABOR or Amendment 14 or People in Charge Amendment, Colorado has seen its critical services strangled. But the extremists are working hard in several other states, including Missouri, to get this passed nationwide. TABOR is bad for any state, including Missouri.

General Info
Missouri House of Representative: HJR 48
Economic Policy Institute

Missouri Budget Project
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
Center for American Progress
News-Leader Opinion on TABOR
OMB Watch

Missourians in Charge
The Heritage Foundation
The CATO Institute

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Who's Your Mac-Daddy?

Have you seen the new Mac-v-PC advertisements that recently released by Apple? Said everything that needed to be said. Click here to see why Mac rocks the house.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

What Would Jesus View?

From “The Da Vinci Code” to “Harry Potter” to “The Last Temptation of Christ,” the church, that is Christians, have taken a more active role in the protest and boycott of companies, books, movies, thoughts and dialogue. This increasing disdain for the critique of art and the debate of church doctrine has taken on a retro feel reminiscent of the Middle Ages.

In the 1980’s the secret, evil satanic beliefs of the company, Proctor and Gamble, was uncovered and quickly circulated through Christian circles. P&G was the official corporate sponsor of Beelzebub. I can only assume that the sponsorship came from The Adversary’s devastating need for cleanliness. All that weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth, not to mention the heat, has got to be Hell on the cleaning crew. For their devotion, P&G was given the okay to quietly display the head of a ram, Mephistopheles’ trademarked icon, on all products.

So it was off to the kitchen for me and my Free Will Baptist family to pour out all cleaning supplies by P&G, including any products by any of the evil empire’s subsidiaries. Had they not removed the miniscule icon (whatever it was, ram’s head or otherwise) I’m sure a ban on any television station that carried P&G commercials would have been soon to follow.

With great remorse and embarrassment, I must admit something to you, good reader. We did not, as good Christian followers would have done, rid ourselves of the corporate incarnation of Apollyon the Destroyer. More out of pragmatism rather than defiance, we just didn’t want to waste the money on something that seemed somewhat innocuous. We just moved all the products into a box and put them next to our Baptist Beer Fridge, concealed in the garage.

For those of you who do not know, a Baptist Beer Fridge is an institution in many Baptist homes, sitting covertly in a garage or other room not frequented by guests (especially the pastor or decons) and filled with delightful indulgences not approved by church doctrine: beer, wine, wine vinegar, cooking sherry and the like – anything, basically, that you don’t want The Preacher Man to know that you have in your possession.

Proctor and Gamble were not the only ones finding themselves at the business end of a mis-read Bible. The same proved true for our rock and metal bands in the 1980’s, whose soul-goal was to demonize the hearts of young children turning them from God and transforming the tender children into full-blooded, rat-eating, card-carrying, P&G shopping Satanists. This movement was lead by the sinister band, Knights In Satan’s Service, known to the mother-my-dog teenagers as KISS. After all, how could any good boy wear make up, platform boots, and sport a cod-piece? Our first clue as to KISS’s tether to Belial was that lusty, dirty, reptilesque tongue of band leader and sin generator Gene Simmons. There was something inherently evil about that tongue. God would never give a good Christian boy a tongue of such enormity, because it’s only purpose is to defile the female body during hours-long lustful interludes. As if further proof was needed, church ban was solidified upon realizing KISS’ obvious dedication to The Devil with their album titled “Destroyer.”

Fortunately for me, the church had a team of holy cleaner, Mindful Maids, who routinely scrubbed our pre-teen brains squeaky clean, ready for sanctifying, scriptural re-education. I, too, fell prey to the anti-propaganda toward the Knights In Satan’s Service and refused to listen to the band because I was afraid I would go to Hell, and I was not particularly interested in that road. There was not much about Hell that appealed to me then. I guess that’s still pretty true. Not a fan of Hell, thank you very much. My “List of Evil People and Things,” compiled by the Baptists, grew as my musical tastes broadened. Bon Jovi was also off the list because of the song, “Living in Sin.” I needn’t mention “Two Live Crew” what with all their swearing and overly descriptive sexual dialogue. And God save you from damnation if you view the sinful Hollywood mis-telling of Christ Jesus in the destructive film, “The Last Temptation of Christ.” That is just one more way that The Deceiver hornswoggle’s society, disrupting believers and confusing the weak. Christian singer “Carmen,” on the other hand, was church-approved and parents were encouraged to listen along with their children – a teen’s dream.

Long tongues and evil empires were not our only taboo abominations. No indeed. There was something ever more sinister, cunning and destructive laying wait in our teenage paths. We were lucky, however, to have a loving church wrapping us in a warm safety blanket of Christian armor. We were to need that armor, as a war was almost upon us and the government-run public educa-sin-al system had committed two unspeakable horrors against God and community:

  1. Banned prayer and all forms of Christian expression on or near school property;
  2. Groomed teenagers for pre-marital sex through the Godless, heathen, satanic act of dancing.
In seventh grade we had a junior high dance. I was a rather awkward boy around girls. I may not have understood them, but I sure did think they were dandy. Any other thoughts stronger than “dandy” or “keen,” would have been inappropriate, automatically triggering my guilty soul on a Hell-bound train ride to Flame Town. I didn’t really want that. Dances were forbidden. This included dances of all kinds and types. We suggested, foolishly, to host an alternative church dance for like-believers. Dancing was dancing and sin was sin – there’s just no other way around it. Done and done.

I like oats and mine were growing ever so much in seventh grade. In fact, I enjoyed the feeling of my oats and so I challenged Brother Bud to a debate – a debate of dance:

“Brother Bud, what is wrong with dancing?” I curiously asked.
“Oh. We don’t dance,” he replied.
“But why?”
“Because it is wrong and sinful,” he said. It will lead you down dangerous paths.”
“What paths,” I asked. I really didn’t know what paths he was referring to. Brother Bud launched into a lengthy explanation of how dancing causes us to have feelings that will lead to sex. But that did not satisfy me. I simply explained that I was not wanting to have sex; I just wanted to dance. But it was no good. If I was going to dance, then I was going to have sex. Interestingly enough, I never remember him referring to it as “pore-marrital sex.” It was always just “sex.”

“But, I don’t understand how dancing will make me have sex,” I affirmed. “I won’t.”
“It will lead you in that direction.”
“How? I don’t understand how. It’s not like I’m going to rush out the dance and have sex in the parking lot.”
“It will lead you in that direction.”
“How? I don’t understand, how.”
Brother Bud paused, took a deep breath and stared into my eyes. Then he finally and reluctantly released the true message:
“Because of the sinful gyration of the woman’s bosom.”
I didn’t have much to say to that. I was thirteen and never heard my elderly pastor label any woman’s body part, let alone describe her circulating chest region. I was instantly reduced to my Beavis and Butthead, hearing them snicker: “Bosom, huh, huh, he said bosom.”

But there it was, all layed out on the table. The temptress, the cause of our original sin would catch me in her snare, gyrating her tantalizing bosom in my face until I was reduced to a quivering mass of sexual frustration, ready to sow my seed into her fertile soil, and dooming my soul to the eternal Abyss. Amen.

I had no choice but to speak to my parents about the whole affair, and we decided that we disagreed with Brother Bud, so we chucked out that nonsensical anti-dancing business into a pile next to the beer fridge.

I went to the dance by myself. My best friend was also our pastor’s grandson; he did not go to the dance. So I danced with his girlfriend all night, who also went to church with us. She saw me at the dance and was sweet to ask me. I had to tell her that I didn’t know how. All that time fighting for the right to dance and I had no date and no clue how to dance. So she taught me – fast and slow dances. I had never rubbed up so close to a real girl before and it felt good. Great, actually. I finally felt like a real teenager, dancing and doing what other kids do. It felt nice to feel normal. Amazingly neither she nor I dashed out to the outside, overrun with hard-ons and moist spots, to have dirty, hole-poking, nasty-wet sex next to the school dumpster. We just had a really good time, and I told her so. Either her gyrating tits were out of kilter or the church doctrine was somehow misguided. Thus ushered in my first real challenge to the church establishment and my understanding that discourse and debate is more important than blind dedication to tradition and teaching. Sometimes they are wrong. Just because we are Christians does not mean that we always stand on the side of right. Christians, just like everyone else, can be misguided, fooled, hornswoggled, bamboozled, fleeced, conned and diddled, despite our continuing prayer to the contrary.

“Harry Potter is evil.” Have you heard? Potter promotes witch craft and Satanism and is unofficially banned in the Springfield classroom. You take your career into your own hands by reading “Harry Potter” to your elementary students. “The Lord of the Rings,” and of course “The Chronicles of Narnia” are all church-approved as the authors are known and self-proclaimed Christian followers. In Rings, Narnia and “The Wizard of Oz,” the witches and wizards are evil (with the exception of Gandalf who really never recites any incantations.) With Potter, however, we do not know Rawlings’ religious stance and the main characters routinely recite spells.

I have some Christian family members that were astounded to discover that I had read and loved the Potter series. Astounded, she stated that she thought I was a Christian and did I not know those were the creation of The King of Babylon? The only problem I see is when, in our struggle to worship God, we become so fearful of creative play, imagination and the important role that fantasy plays in the healthy development of a child’s mind, that we are systematically stripping away all things that may, even in the most indirect way, not immediately conform to a narrow religious preconception.

Now Hollywood is resurrecting an anti-Christian hypothesis with “The Da Vinci Code.” This book picks up a millennium-long conspiracy theory believing that Christ did not die, but married Mary Magdeline and fathered children, thus creating a holy, earthly blood line. Christians world-wide are up in arms calling for boycotts and selling books and DVDs on the debunking of “The Da Vinci Code.” I’m sure Jesus will be proud to use those dollars to forge gold-plated water fixtures in the motor homes of Pat Robertson and the Van Impe Ministries.

“The Da Vinci Code and Harry Potter are fiction – fantasy -- and neither have anything to do with reality. Children understand fantasy; they understand creativity, imagination and pretend play. Children know that a pretend friend is only make believe. Make Believe. I haven’t read “The Da Vinci Code,” yet, but I do have plans. I have read the entire “Harry Potter” series and I see the struggle of good over evil and the fact of doing right because it is right. I see Christian values in literature and I will teach my daughter that we are Christians who question the national church consciousness and, from time to time, dispute what the Christian mainstream regurgitate from the extremist, fundamentalist pulpit.

In the eyes of some, I became Satan’s cabana boy the night I went to the dance with that girl and her … tantalizing red apples. In my mind, I discovered that education and intelligence, over blind obedience, was a greater path to righteousness and the only prevention of fear – fear – being that which always leads to discrimination.

I have also realized that to demonize all churches, all Baptist churches, all southern churches or whatever, is born of the same fear, which as I stated earlier, always leads to discrimination. Incidentally, my church does not jump on national boycott bandwagons. We choose, instead, to use the Bible as a foundation along with dialogue and debate to help forge right and wrong. That’s right, my friends, just because a church does not boycott “Harry Potter” and “The Da Vinci Code” does not mean we have air-conditioned Hell. We still believe in right and wrong. We just don’t see everything in an easy evil, pure and simple, black and white, dancing-is-bad, gyrating-bazoombas-will-seduce-you kind of fear-based mentality. It’s that love thing, I guess. That whole: “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins,” from 1 Peter 4. We simply approach things differently.

Seems to me What Jesus Would View might be love above all things. But I don’t claim to know that mind of God.

Suggested Reading:
"10 Things I Learned Wrong from a Conservative Church," by John Killinger.