Keane observations about life, politics and sports.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Regarding Romney's Taxes

In the recent debates trailing candidates attempting to trip up the front runner asked/demanded that he release his tax returns and since then it has been a growing issue. Whether it is bored media looking for something to fill air time or supporters of other candidates, there has been a a lot of discussion of whether Gov. Romney should release his past tax returns. Romney in response has shifted his position from "nothing to see here" to briefly discussing his tax situation and saying he'll release the returns at a later date. My feelings on this issue are mixed. I am not a Romney supporter because based on considerable research by a couple people (Tom Blumer & Dan McLaughlin) whose opinions I've learned to trust he is not someone we can rely upon to do the right thing and moreover his main selling point of "most electable" is clearly a myth. However, I can not get on board with the "Release the Tax Records" line of attack for several reasons. Primarily, I'm opposed to this as it reeks of the leftist nonsense of demonize this guy because his returns show he's rich or they reveal that his accountants properly applied current law to minimize his tax burden. As conservatives, do we want to attack someone for being successful? Do we want to criticize him for correctly following the law? Hopefully, your answer to both is a resounding NO! Secondly, what do we expect to learn from Romney's tax returns? Will we find out he is rich? Nope, that is already known. Will we find out that he pays a lower rate of tax based on the majority of his income being dividends, long term capital gains and other investment income as opposed to regular wages paid on a W-2. Nope, that also is already known. All Romney's tax returns should do is confirm that our tax system is a horrific mess which needs to be greatly simplified or abolished. Beyond that, the fact that everyone is clamoring for his returns shows what a gross violation of our privacy the mandatory income tax return entails. People over the last decade have denounced the Patriot Act over manufactured fears of loss of privacy yet they voluntarily provide all sorts of information to the government every year in hope of getting a tax refund. In recent years, I'll admit I joined in the laughter as released tax returns from various politicians confirm that most liberals (who believe charity starts and ends with government taxation) give very little to charity while those greedy conservatives turn out to be veryy generous. Thing is, it is none of my business whether my neighbor or a political candidate tithes to their church or gives to the Salvation Army, etc. Yet, because our income tax system has gotten so ridiculous all of that information is considered fair game. It is wrong. We should elect candidates based on their policy positions and readiness to perform the duties of the office they are seeking.

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Saturday, January 14, 2012

The USMC Urination Kerfluffle

As you're likely aware a video was made public this week that shows some Marines peeing on what looks to be bodies of deceased enemy. Predictably, some people are rushing to pass judgment and condemn those Marines. In my opinion too much is being made of this and we will soon be excessively punishing these guys. Let me make a few points we should be able to agree upon:
- War is Hell. That is not just an old saying, but a profound truth.
- Our soldiers and Marines have made multiple war zone deployments since the start of the War on Terror. We have asked them to endure incredible hardships.
- They have killed the enemy and seen friends die and suffer severe injuries. That affects a person in ways the rest of us can not fully appreciate.
- During every war, combatants relieve stress in ways that would be abhorrent to those of us back in civilization.
- Desecrating a corpse is clearly bad, disgusting and wrong and they shouldn't have done it.
- Just as we didn't need to hear every misdeed in wars past (and don't doubt for a second that the war fighters in the "Greatest Generation" relieved war fatigue or stress in horrific ways as well), we did NOT need to find out about this minor transgression.
- In the 21st century anyone with a cell phone is a potential camera man ready to document the good and the bad.
- The video should never have been uploaded to the internet.

Having said all that, we are left with the fact that the video got shared online and you can't put that genie back in the bottle. Our politicians are certainly breathing down the military's neck demanding swift and dramatic justice. In a just world, the "buddy" who put the video online would be the only one facing any retribution as he not only betrayed his comrades, but also clearly helped Taliban recruiting and gave them justification for future actions on their parts. We don't live in a just world and this traitor will be hailed as a courageous whistle blower. BS! If he wanted to blow the whistle he could have gone up the chain of command and reported this misbehavior. If he had done the right thing those men would likely have been chewed out and given appropriate punishment (restriction to barracks, loss of pay or rank, etc) and they also would have been afforded counseling to see if they were adjusting properly to returning to civilization. Now, they will probably face career ending Courts Martial level punishment as the Generals will sacrifice these men to appease angry and appalled civilian "leadership." Our politicians will go over board to make the case that what these guys did is not in accord with our value system. well, no kidding. Guess what? Shooting people is not in accord with our value system either. We send our military people off to foreign lands to do ugly stuff and then act horrified to find out they did ugly stuff we didn't specifically ask them to do.

Lastly, so no one thinks I'm justifying war crimes and excusing any and all behavior let me be clear I definitely am not. There are of course rules of war to preclude raping, plundering and pillaging and to protect innocent civilians. Our soldiers should be re-instructed on those rules before deploying and violations should be dealt with when identified. However, I maintain this is not similar to My Lai where civilians were slaughtered. This was nothing more than stressed out men relieving themselves on dead enemy combatants.


Friday, January 6, 2012

Recess Appointments

The last paragraph of Article II, Section 2 of the United States Constitution states:
"The President shall have the Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.

President Obama is clearly misusing and abusing this authority with his recent appointments to the National Labor Relations Board and the appointment of Richard Cordray to head the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. None of these appointments were made to fill vacancies that happened during a Senate recess.

Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution says of the president:
Before he enter on the Execution of the Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:-"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

By his recent usurpation of congressional powers by ignoring the requirement of obtaining advise and consent of the Senate for these appointments is obviously in violation of the Constitution. These actions warrant serious response from the legislative branch. Making a few speeches denouncing this action is insufficient. The leaders in the Senate and House of Representatives need to make an unequivocal demand for President Obama to back down with the clear message that failure to obey the Constitution will result in initiation of impeachment proceedings.

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