Archive for May, 2009

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DID YOU HEAR THE ONE ABOUT 3 GUYS…

May 28, 2009

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…out to lunch?

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“C, you slapped Powell around pretty good the other day on Scheiffer’s show,” says N.

“That son-of-a-bitch needs to be knocked down a few notches. Who the hell does he think he is – votin’ for a f—ing Dem. I don’t care if he is black!”

“That’s right!” says R through a puff of cigar smoke. “We have to keep these whimps in line. They need to know who’s in charge.”

“And now we have a racist Latino woman nominated for the Supreme Court,” notes N. “That sure gives you plenty to talk about on your show, doesn’t it R?”

“I’ve always got plenty to talk about. When you make it up, you never run out of material.”

“HA!” snorts C. “And we have to keep “makin’ it up,” too. Our way is the ONLY way back to power.”

“Damn right!” huffs N. “Say, how about you and I runnin’ in 2012? With R promoting us, we can’t lose. The party would come ROARING back!”

“You might have somethin’ there N,” C agrees. “I get the top of the ticket. I’m probably only good for one term anyway.”

“What about Palin?” asks R.

“We can give her a job in our administration. She’d take Secretary of State,” C replies.

“I’m not sure she’s ready,” N says questioningly.

“SURE she is!” blurts R, still enamoured with her from the 2008 election. “State’s a cake-walk. Have somebody tell her what to say, show her how to dress, and make sure her family stays home!”

“I hate to break up this Sarah love-fest, but what’s next for us and the party?” N asks.

“I’ll keep pounding away at national security. Since I started runnin’ my mouth, my ratings have gone from sixteen to twenty-nine percent. I keep this up and I’ll be over fifty in no time,” says C.

“I’ll keep going after the SCOTUS nominee,” N chimes in. “By the time I’m done with her, she’ll be apologizing for being Latino. That’ll send that socialist President we have back to the drawing board to look for someone who thinks like us.”

“And looks like us, too!” R says.

“How about you, R?’ asks N. “Are you planning anything special to help revive our party?”

“I’ll do what I do best. I’ll keep bullshitin’ my way through a radio show everyday. The hours are good, they pay ain’t bad, and…”

“AIN’T BAD? You think fifty million a year ‘ain’t bad’ for runnin’ your mouth three hours a day, makin’ shit up as you go?” snaps C.

“It’s okay” says R, smiling. “But I’m gonna ask for a pay raise if you guys win. After all, we’re in a recession.”

“We’re gonna win!” N gloats. “There’s no way this party is gonna become extinct.

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Hmm. Sometimes, you can make this stuff up. 🙂

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

PS – Special thanks to Jonathan Alter for the R (Rush), N (Newt), C (Cheney) idea.

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ARE WE DONE NOW?

May 26, 2009

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I know very little about Erich Muller. I don’t listen to political talk radio in the morning, I prefer comedy on my way to work.

Until his recent exploit into water-boarding, Erich “Mancow” Muller was just another name in the seemingly never-ending list of talk radio show hosts. It’s been my experience that most hosts are not willing to back up their words with actions. Erich Muller is obviously the exception.

He was convinced that water-boarding was not torture. He apparently talked about it on his show and decided to get water-boarded to prove it wasn’t torture – a good move for all of us on all sides of the debate.

In 2007, Christopher Hitchens, who, in my opinion, is as arrogant as Dick Cheney and who is certainly not a friend of liberalism, experienced water-boarding.

There are others who denounced water-boarding as torture and then completely reversed their thinking after the experience. A simple Google/YouTube search will reveal these cases.

There’s plenty of evidence  that water-boarding is torture. We also know it yields no reliable results.

So can we finally put the argument to rest?

Can we please go back to the country we were before these policies were implemented?

Are we done now?

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

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KO’S K O

May 24, 2009

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It was bound to happen sooner or later.

In a brilliant move by MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann, Rush Limbaugh was revealed for the intellectual field mouse that he is. Combine that “attribute” with the personality of a rake and his Jabba-the-Hut posture as seen on  his “Ditto Cam” and you have the buffoon that conservatives are inexplicably afraid to defy.

Many think Rush is a genius when it comes to how well he markets himself, but let’s give credit where credit is due. ClearChannel Communications through its subsidiary, Premiere Radio Networks, markets Rush’s show free of charge to hundreds of radio stations. Because Rush’s popularity is barely 20%, Premiere uses his show as a loss-leader to obtain advertising time for national sponsors. In other words, radio stations don’t pay a dime for three hours of national programming. They simply trade for 45 minutes of advertising in that three hour time slot. None of this was Rush’s idea.

Olbermann has gone after Rush in the past for some of his insulting, racist, and incendiary rants. Here’s Keith highlighting some of Rush’s “greatest hits.”

Rush has now challenged MSNBC. He believes they can’t go 30 days without talking about him.

This was a bad idea.

What Rush didn’t expect was Olbermann throwing the same challenge back on him in his “WTF!?! Moment” on May 21st, which featured Keith saying… you guessed it… “F. U.”  to Rush. (Not the actual words – just the letters.)

Rush responded by saying that Olbermann’s “back-at-you” challenge was incoherent.  That’s rich. The man with no ability for thoughtful discernment calls the highly educated and intellectually superior MSNBC host “incoherent.”

Never give Keith Olbermann a second chance to make a fool of you. He’s too good at it the first time. Olbermann not only re-issued and re-aired his challenge the next night, calling it the “WTF Coherency Test,” but had his graphics team create a new “Bouncing Rush” logo from Rush’s entrance at the CPAC Convention earlier this year.

Maybe “buffoon” is too generous.

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

 

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CRANIAL FLATULENCE – VOL. 1

May 22, 2009

Flatulence

We humans have our “moments” – some intentional, some unintentional and some… well… stupid.

This will be an ongoing series as new material comes my way.

For Vol. 1, we’ll go with signs.

CF101-BikeLaneCF102-BikesCarsCF103-ChangeStupidSignCF104-DirectionSignsCF105-EatKidsCF106-PastyPiesCF107-StopOnRoadCF108-StoreClosingCF109-StreetSigns 

Can Vol. 2 be far behind?

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

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THE CRUSADE

May 21, 2009

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This post will not be easy to write.

My faith is very personal. I don’t spew it onto others and I do not respond when others try to spew theirs onto me. In fact, I find it somewhat uncomfortable to even discuss my faith unless I’m in a “safe” environment such as my church or home.

It is my experience that most practicing Christians walk with calm, quite strength through their daily routines and a reasonably clear understanding about the natural and spiritual order of life. I also find that each person experiences these differently, through his or her own personal aperture and no two understandings are exactly alike.

It is not surprising that some wear religion “on their sleeve” often quoting Biblical Scripture in nearly every situation. I don’t begrudge them. I’m simply stating my personal lack of comfort with the practice.

I do, however, take serious issue with public policy being directed by one’s personal interpretation of the Bible – a group of 66 individual books written in different parts of the world, at different times, most of which were literally spoken to scribes, in different languages, who then wrote what they heard. Contradictions within the Bible aside, the very fact that there are so many interpretations of the Bible and therefore different Christian denominations, convinces me that any elected official using his or her interpretation to make public policy is highly inappropriate.

So imagine my surprise when I read “And He Shall Be Judged,” an article by Robert Draper published this week. Draper is the author of Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W. Bush  and a correspondent covering John McCain’s campaign.

As much as I don’t want you to stop reading this page, I highly recommend taking a few minutes to read Draper’s article. I’ll wait. 🙂

Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, allowed the use of Biblical Scripture on the covers of top secret Worldwide Intelligence Updates prepared for the President and others to reinforce the belief that invading a sovereign nation was the Christian thing to do, much like the warring Christians and Muslims during the Crusades.

Here are some of the covers as reported by GQ Magazine online.

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Apparently, Bush liked the idea, using the term “Crusade” when he addressed the public on the invasion.

He continued applying religious terms to justify the War on Terror.

His certitude was complimented by his admirers. They believed that Bush’s application of his Biblical knowledge towards public policy was the proper way to lead our nation.

Bush continued to gain confidence about his decisions, with an arrogance no leader should ever display. Here are some quick clips.

I will NEVER discount or criticize the beliefs of others. This nation was founded on the concept of individual freedoms – religious faith being one of them.

But we are a SECULAR Republic functioning as a Democracy, not a Theocracy. Our forefathers specifically stayed away from religious teachings when creating our Constitution. This is how the separation of church and state is implied and applied in our form of government.

The idea that Donald Rumsfeld allowed CHRISTIAN Scripture on the covers of top secret Intelligence Updates to help justify a military action is abominable.

I pray it never happens again.

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

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DOOMSDAY DICK

May 15, 2009

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HE’S EVERYWHERE! HE’S EVERYWHERE!

HIDE THE CHILDREN!

BAR THE DOORS AND WINDOWS!

STOP WATCHING HIM ON TV!

I know the last line doesn’t fit, but it makes my point: how is it that the man who stayed in his “cave” for nearly eight years is now more visible than clouds during a thunderstorm?

Here are some highlights from Dick’s Doomsday Tour:

The former VP admits to authorizing torture.

Torture is ILLEGAL regardless of what Bush Administration lawyers concocted to the contrary. Calling it “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques,” does not make it legal. We have prosecuted and convicted people for torturing – specifically water-boarding. John McCain called water-boarding torture during the campaign of 2008 – he should know.  We’ve also prosecuted our own soldiers for water-boarding.

If you are one of the “…ends justifies the means…” crowd, then imagine your son or daughter in Afghanistan captured and tortured by the Taliban. Are the actions justified? Do they have a right to treat your child inhumanely? Do we have the right to ask them to spare your child this suffering? If so, on what basis? Is “what’s good for the goose” suddenly not good for the gander? And what about “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you?”

Scott McClellan says Bush knew everything. Dick Cheney said the same thing.

Dick Cheney believes that unless a President is impeached, he has not done anything illegal.

He says he would “talk” to congress, with pre-conditions – my term, not his.

Dick Cheney is never going to testify under oath to congress. He has no respect for the institution. He’ll have to be subpoenaed by a Federal Prosecutor under threat of incarceration before he raises his right hand in a courtroom.

The Obama Administration is making us less safe?

The argument that the Bush-Cheney Administration kept us safe is flawed. Let’s not forget: OUR COUNTRY WAS HIT – FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER – DURING THE BUSH-CHENEY YEARS. We now know the attacks on September 11, 2001 could have been prevented had the warnings not been ignored. But don’t take my word for it. Read for yourself:

Article 1, Article 2, Article 3, Article 4, Article 5, Article 6, Article 7, Article 8, Article 9, Article 10   

CheneylooksatBushIn addition, we also know that Bush and Cheney had every intention of invading Iraq, one year before the invasion took place, thanks to the Downing Street Memos, and this exhaustive report from the Washington Post on the memos. Continued research reveals far more than I’ve indicated here.

 

Once we invaded Iraq, Cheney went into hiding – revealing the character of a morally bankrupt coward – not a patriot, as he would have us believe.

The idea that he is somehow concerned about the safety of our country is laughable. From his five military deferments to his fear-based tactics as VP that led to the death of 4,500 (and still counting) of this country’s finest in an unnecessary “war,” it is obvious that Cheney is only concerned about one thing – Dick Cheney.

In case you’re wondering:

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My military eligibility years were during the Vietnam War. I was classified 1H and would have gone in the Army had my number been called in the draft lottery.

Because I was older than the 18-year-olds that were picked first, I was never called. I was against the war, to be sure, but I did not try to hide from military service. On a very personal and sad note, I lost a good friend in that war. Another friend that did make it back was never the same after his tour. He came home with deep psychological issues from all of the violence, death and destruction that he witnessed.

As I’ve said before, the truth always reveals itself no matter how hard people try to hide it. The title of this post only reflects what Cheney is saying, and not what he is really doing.

His motive for speaking now is clear to me. He’s sees himself as the defendant in what I hope will be a case against him for war crimes. Cheney is trying to influence the jury pool – TV and radio audiences – before the trial begins.

At a time when the Republican Party is trying to find its voice, the last thing it needs is a fear-mongering, draft-dodging, hypocrite who’s trying to stay out of jail. Saying that Rush Limbaugh is a better Republican than Colin Powell doesn’t help either.

For all Cheney’s efforts to defend the use of torture, there is far more evidence that it is indefensible. And now, investigations have begun.

Cheney’s daughter, Liz, has joined the tour. She mentions that others may be talking to their lawyers, which is why no one else is coming out to defend her father. (Note the 3:21 mark in the video.)

None of us knows where this will end. What we do know is our credibility as the world’s beacon for peace and hope must be restored. We should always persevere until the truth is fully revealed and the rule of law is applied to all involved.

In much the same way when I grew up, I want future generations to grow up in a country they can be proud to call home.

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

PS – A special thanks to Maureen Dowd for the “Doomsday Dick” title idea. 

 

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IF YOU CAN’T TAKE THE HEAT…

May 11, 2009

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Apparently, it is now possible to go “over the top” in comedy.

Huh?

When did that change? There didn’t used to be an “over the top” in comedy. Since when did comedy have to be politically correct? We’ve all heard comedians say crude things about different ethnicities, religious leaders, politicians and themselves.

But God forbid you say something  slightly distasteful about  Rush Limbaugh?

Seriously?

The Washington Correspondents Dinner was held this past Saturday night. President Obama was his usual funny self. He has the unique ability to deliver a line, and if it starts to fall short of the expected response, he smiles, and people start laughing. This is not something that can be taught. It’s one of many gifts this President brings when he addresses an audience.

Even the previous president was pretty good at delivering lines at these dinners, although he did have a way of indicating when the punch line was coming.

Wanda Sykes followed President Obama and apparently, she is not a fan of Rush Limbaugh. Duh. Is anyone surprised? She made a JOKE about Rush getting kidney failure as a retort to his comment about wanting Obama to fail, thereby wanting the country to fail. (Treason anyone?) This was after she brought up Rush’s admitted drug abuse. Kidney’s fail with heavy drug usage, much like they fail with heavy alcohol usage. So do livers, spleens and pancreases.

Listening to Rush’s fans, you would think she cut off his genitalia with a machete. Rush’s racists comments alone should keep anyone from critisizing Sykes. Here’ some examples:

Here’s the song called “Barack the Magic Negro” that Rush Limbaugh DEFENDED on his show. First, the song:

Now, here’s two clips of Rush’s defense of the song – one video, one audio:

To be fair, Sykes knew she had gone to that “hmmm… maybe I shouldn’t go there” area in her commentary when she turned to Michelle Obama and asked “Too much?” – which also got a great response from the audience.

I don’t know if Rush will respond to Sykes, but I would not be surprised if he did.

You know what I’m going to say next.

Okay, just in case you don’t: If you can’t take the heat, get out of the oven!

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

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PLEASE DON’T MAKE THIS A HABIT

May 9, 2009

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Dear Mr. President,

We are fortunate that you are so visible to us. It’s a refreshing change from the previous administration. You address our country often – giving us confidence that you’re working hard to make things better. It’s comforting, to say the least.

However, those of us who research what we write about on these pages know that there are those that would harm you, much like many previous popular presidents and leaders.

I am aware of your lack of concern on this issue, knowing that you are firm in your faith and safe. You live as all of us should live – free and without fear. It’s one of the reasons I voted for you. This is not to say you are naïve about your current position in life. I’m sure you and Michelle are quite cognizant of potential threats.

It’s obvious you have the best security in the world. They did a great job during your campaign and I’m sure they are continuing to do so now.

Earlier this month, you and the VP went out for burgers. It was great to see both of you together, having a casual lunch, in a small diner. I was not at all concerned that the two of you were at the same place, at the same time. I’m sure the security planning for this “meet and eat” was extensive.

Joe and you seem just as comfortable in that environment as you are at events like the Washington Correspondents Dinner. I’m sure the staff at the diner was thrilled, even if they did have to go through an exhaustive process to prepare for your arrival. 

But as you left the diner and started to enter your limo, you made a move that made me tremble for just a second.

Apparently, I need to work harder on MY faith because my memories of the Kennedy brothers, King, the attempt on Wallace’s life and Reagan’s life, came rushing back.

As much as we enjoy seeing and hearing you, Mr. President, please don’t make this a habit.

We want you around long after your eight years as President of the United States. 🙂

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

 

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R.I.P. GOP

May 7, 2009

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Let me begin by saying I want AT LEAST two strong political parties in Washington D.C. This is how our system of government works best. The graphic is an illustration of where the GOP seems to be headed as long as they allow Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin – via Rush – to be the loudest voices in the party.

Republicans continue bowing to Rush’s every word. I illustrated this back on March 12, 2009 in Checkers and Chess and it happened again a few days ago with Minority Whip Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA). During the first NCNA (National Council for a New America) “stop” on their “Listening Tour”, Cantor, along with (Jeb) Bush and Romney said that the Republicans were there to listen to Americans – to get their thoughts on the issues. Then Rush “educated” them, forcing Cantor to retract the “listening tour” statement.

As for Sarah Palin, Rush thinks that SHE is the future of the GOP.

If the intellectually challenged Limbaugh thinks that the educationally challenged Palin is the future of the GOP, and the GOP will not separate itself from Limbaugh, then maybe a Palin/Limbaugh ticket isn’t so far fetched!

Bottom line: the Republican Party needs to get as far away as possible from Rush Limbaugh and his support of Palin – now – while there is still time to repair its reputation. Here’s a few lines from his Heritage Foundation Speech in September:

LIMBAUGH: “But during all this growth I haven’t lost any audience. I’ve never had financially a down year. There’s supposedly a recession, but we’ve got – what is this May? Back in February we already had 102% of 2008 overbooked for 2009. [applause] So I always believed that if we’re going to have a recession, just don’t participate.” [laughter]

Here he is talking about food stamps.

Homeless veterans are “another myth.”

How the current recession isn’t that bad.

On the 1 out of 50 children that are homeless.

Limbaugh doesn’t care about the Republican Party or the Conservative Movement. He has an eight-year, $400,000,000 contract and he feels that gives him a license to say and do anything. He is intentionally throwing all the moderate Republicans “under the bus” because… he can. And the GOP just continues to kiss his… (insert your choice of body part.)

My idea of a moderate Republican is Colin Powell. No one can deny that Powell is one of the eloquent, rational, calm voices in the GOP. Here’s what he had to say about the “far-right” elements within his party that seem to be the dominating the conversation.

Rush shot back, calling Powell a “turncoat” for supporting Obama in the 2008 election.

Being the gentleman that he is, Former Secretary Powell never said a word about Limbaugh going after him during the 2008 election – a perfect example of how all public officials should conduct themselves.

The fact that Limbaugh supports Palin should tell every rational-thinking Republican that Sarah Palin should NOT be a leading voice. She’s a long way from being a viable candidate for any national office. Even her popularity as Governor of Alaska has greatly diminished.

Besides ignoring Limbaugh and Palin, there are three things Republicans must do to even begin to be relevant in the 21st Century.

(1) Quit talking about Ronald Reagan! Jeb Bush – a member of the “listening tour” – said it. The conservative Wall Street Journal said it. Nothing says “backwards thinking” like the name Reagan. His ideas have come and gone. They will not work going forward. Our country is too diverse for such narrow thinking.

(2) Get past the cultural issues. Let go of the religious right – what’s left of it – and move on. They will still vote Republican long after gays are allowed to marry in all states and the Roe v Wade decision is no longer debated.

(3) Tell the NRA (National Rifle Association) to pipe down! No one in this country is going to lose their right to lawfully own firearms. The Supreme Court decision on June 26, 2008 makes this a non-issue.

Republicans need to start seeking REAL leaders. They’re out there. And they are not attention-seeking egomaniacs like Limbaugh and Palin.

True leadership is recognized for the good ideas it brings to the table – not for how much noise it makes.

Honest debate is healthy and necessary, but it must also be intelligent and respectful.

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

 

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RENDER THEREFORE UNTO CAESAR

May 4, 2009

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When most of us hear economists and pundits talk about off-shore tax havens, we have a general understanding of what that means: large corporations hiding profits in bank accounts in other countries so as not to pay taxes on those profits.

I did a little research on one of the ways that tax havens are used. My illustration is based on an imaginary company because I obviously do not have access to the records of real companies.

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So the company that should pay 35% on the net profit of their printer only pays about 6.4%. Our corporate tax rate might be one of the highest in the industrialized world, but it’s NOT what our corporations are actually paying.

Thanks to the Obama administration, we now have plenty of information on tax havens and the greed being displayed by these corporations and their officers.

The report just released by the US Senate is alarming. It appears that there is in the neighborhood of 12 TRILLION dollars in off-shore tax havens. It also appears that there are nearly 13,000 companies using the same address in the Cayman Islands as their “headquarters.”

It has come to our attention that virtually all Republicans and some Democrats are against closing the tax loopholes that allow these tax havens as President Obama has asked congress to do. What we also know is the reason: many of these corporations have spent millions funding the campaigns of these politicians.

Notice that President Obama is not the least bit concerned about these corporations, which means (for me) that he is not indebted to them.

The GOP is doing everything it can to block this legislation. The Democrats that are also opposed are being less vocal. Warren Buffet had this to say about the super rich tax “burden.”

I’ll be the first to admit that I take advantage of every tax deduction that is allotted me. I am employed full-time by another company and I also have a very small recording studio business whose only employee is me. My taxes are prepared by a CPA who keeps up on all the latest changes in the tax code and uses up-to-date software to insure that my tax return is accurate. My complaint is with the corporations buying access to legislators, thereby influencing tax policy in their favor, which depletes revenues to our government and greatly reduces its ability to provide critical services to our citizens.

These corporate CEOs drive the same highways I drive. They are protected by police, firefighters, and emergency paramedics – same as me. They use the same side streets I use. They are guided by the same street signs and traffic lights. They are provided access to the public airwaves for TV, radio and emergencies, just like me. They have access to clean water, electricity and natural gas and pay the same rates I pay. They use the airports and the services of air traffic controllers, just as I do. Their children have access to public education, just like my children.

And for those CEOs that call themselves Christians, here’s what Jesus had to say in Matthew 22: 20-22:

(20)  “And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?”

(21) “They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.”

(22) “When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way.”

If you live in America and enjoy this democratic society that affords us the freedoms and liberties we all cherish, then pay your taxes, damn it!

Rant over.

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com