Blah Blah Blog
Welcome to the wonderful world of Shank! There never seems to be
enough time to cover all the things going on in Shank's mind during
the Rock and Rant, so here you'll find random thoughts and
commentary about whatever floats Shank's boat.
To prove that this blog is really written by Shank, his posts will be copied verbatim.
We apologize in advance.
8/28/13: Here's the story behind the recent photo of double amputee Jesse Cottle, who lost his legs in an IED attack in Afghanistan in '09. While taking photos on a family vacation this summer, his wife Kelly had the idea of giving him a piggyback ride, which the couple says is symbolic of their relationship in general.
This article originally appeared in the New York Times on July 9th:
The Decline of North Carolina
Every Monday since April, thousands of North Carolina residents have gathered at the State Capitol to protest the grotesque damage that a new Republican majority has been doing to a tradition of caring for the least fortunate. Nearly 700 people have been arrested in the “Moral Monday” demonstrations, as they are known. But the bad news keeps on coming from the Legislature, and pretty soon a single day of the week may not be enough to contain the outrage.
In January, after the election of Pat McCrory as governor, Republicans took control of both the executive and legislative branches for the first time since Reconstruction. Since then, state government has become a demolition derby, tearing down years of progress in public education, tax policy, racial equality in the courtroom and access to the ballot.
The cruelest decision by lawmakers went into effect last week: ending federal unemployment benefits for 70,000 residents. Another 100,000 will lose their checks in a few months. Those still receiving benefits will find that they have been cut by a third, to a maximum of $350 weekly from $535, and the length of time they can receive benefits has been slashed from 26 weeks to as few as 12 weeks.
The state has the fifth-highest unemployment rate in the country, and many Republicans insulted workers by blaming their joblessness on generous benefits. In fact, though, North Carolina is the only state that has lost long-term federal benefits, because it did not want to pay back $2.5 billion it owed to Washington for the program. The State Chamber of Commerce argued that cutting weekly benefits would be better than forcing businesses to pay more in taxes to pay off the debt, and lawmakers blindly went along, dropping out of the federal program.
At the same time, the state is also making it harder for future generations of workers to get jobs, cutting back sharply on spending for public schools. Though North Carolina has been growing rapidly, it is spending less on schools now than it did in 2007, ranking 46th in the nation in per-capita education dollars. Teacher pay is falling, 10,000 prekindergarten slots are scheduled to be removed, and even services to disabled children are being chopped.
“We are losing ground,” Superintendent June Atkinson said recently, warning of a teacher exodus after lawmakers proposed ending extra pay for teachers with master’s degrees, cutting teacher assistants and removing limits on class sizes.
Republicans repealed the Racial Justice Act, a 2009 law that was the first in the country to give death-row inmates a chance to prove they were victims of discrimination. They have refused to expand Medicaid and want to cut income taxes for the rich while raising sales taxes on everyone else. The Senate passed a bill that would close most of the state’s abortion clinics.
And, naturally, the Legislature is rushing to impose voter ID requirements and cut back on early voting and Sunday voting, which have been popular among Democratic voters. One particularly transparent move would end a tax deduction for dependents if students vote at college instead of their hometowns, a blatant effort to reduce Democratic voting strength in college towns like Chapel Hill and Durham.
North Carolina was once considered a beacon of farsightedness in the South, an exception in a region of poor education, intolerance and tightfistedness. In a few short months, Republicans have begun to dismantle a reputation that took years to build.
Looking for that perfect rendition of The Star Spangled Bannar for Memorial Day? Here's one performed by 'Madison Rising'
Watch this! Here's what happens when you don't get involved:
Thanks to Tracey for sending in this article in favor of falling over the "Fiscal Cliff" that appeared last week in the News & Observer:
Be bold and dive off the cliff
By By Rick Martinez
Imagine being in a financial bind so bad that you’re falling further and further behind on your monthly bills. Bankruptcy is looming. A financial adviser devises a plan that substantially increases your income and cuts your expenses at the same time. The plan doesn’t completely solve your money woes, but it gives you a good, stiff push toward solvency and, down the road, growth.If I were trapped in this scenario, I’d leap at the solution and give its creator a big ol’ hug. Sometimes you have to suck it up, which is why I won’t shed a tear if the current political impasse shoves the United States off the so-called fiscal cliff.Here’s the real-life scenario we face. The federal government is spending $1.1 trillion more per year than it takes in. Nearly everyone with a lick of economic sense understands this pattern can’t continue. Enter the fiscal cliff, on which we now teeter and which is routinely decried as catastrophic. (click for full article)
Here's the original 'Words For Teenagers' article, first published in 1956:
With the election now just days away, regardless of who you're voting for, remember the heroes who have fought and died for our right to vote. WW2 Vet Frank Tanabe cast his ballot from home while suffering from terminal cancer. As anticipated, it was the last election he would vote in, as he passed away just one day later. Don't waste your right to vote!
Thanks to Tracy who sent in this article by Rick Martinez from the Raleigh News & Observer about how Medicare can be saved:
This is Medicare as we know it.
In April, Medicare’s trustees reported that the program, which covers 40 million seniors, paid out $549 billion in benefits in 2011 but took in just $530 billion in revenue. At this rate, the trustees predict that Medicare will be broke in 2024, or for workers who are 53 years old and younger.
This is how those numbers break down at the street level.
Researchers C. Eugene Steuerle and Stephanie Rennane of the Urban Institute determined that a couple retiring in 2011 will receive approximately $357,000 ($170k for a man, $188k for a woman) in lifetime Medicare benefits. Conversely, they estimate the amount of Medicare taxes a couple paid with each person making $43,500 at retirement totaled about $119,000. Even at the high end of their income calculations, ($100,000 per two person household) a couple retiring in 2011 is likely to double their money in terms of Medicare taxes paid and benefits received. (In addition, Medicare recipients pay monthly fees for their health care coverage).
Given this data, I’m confused by those who want to preserve “Medicare as we know it.” Yet this is a frequent refrain among Democrats now that Wisconsin congressman and House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan has been named to the Republican presidential ticket headed by Mitt Romney.
Ryan’s proposal would replace the current defined benefit form of Medicare with a premium support model in which seniors would buy their own private insurance policy just like younger people do. For this Ryan has been called an extremist.
I took particular interest in President Obama’s chief campaign strategist’s remarks to CBS News on Monday. David Axelrod said, “They (Republicans) want to turn it (Medicare) into a voucher program. And slowly, all the burden is going to shift to seniors themselves. And that is not an answer to entitlement reform.”
Why not? Why isn’t this idea at least part of the answer? Vouchers are nothing new. In fact, one of the most popular social programs the federal government runs, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (better known as food stamps), is essentially a voucher program. Benefits are income-based and the recipient is relatively free to spend those benefits as he or she sees fit. The benefits may be enough to provide the recipient with hamburger, but when supplemented with some of the recipient’s own resources, he or she can eat steak. Either way, the recipient gets to choose.
A voucher-based social program isn’t radical or new, and if poor people can figure this out, I’m confident old people can too.
Axelrod and his like-minded allies imply that having seniors pay more for their own health care is sacrilege. It’s not. In fact, it is the moral thing to do. As I have written previously, seniors are the richest demographic among us. The Census Bureau recently reported the median net worth in 2010 of a married couple 65 and older was $307,000. Indeed, 37 percent of 65-plus couples are worth upwards of $250,000.
However, nearly 14 percent of senior couples have zero or negative net worth. Morality says their health care should as close to free as practicable. But Warren Buffet and at least 40 percent of his generation can afford to pony up more for their Medicare as well as help out those at the economic bottom.
Unfortunately, Republicans do the same thing, but with different federal programs. Increasing defense spending, as Romney and Ryan propose, is just as silly as preserving Medicare as we know it. Spending more on defense than the next largest 17 countries combined should be enough to protect our interests around the world.
I also don’t like the Republican practice of fighting wars without raising the taxes to pay for them. Spilling our young people’s blood in a war is bad enough. Shifting the cost to their generation is unconscionable.
Regardless of who wins Nov. 6, the electorate must accept that the days of keeping federal programs “as we know it” are numbered. Changes that negatively affect us personally are needed.
Otherwise, the America we know will cease to exist.
After hearing from a caller that members of Congress are able to get full retirement just for being elected, Shank put the vast tools and resources at his disposal to good use and dug up as much concrete evidence that was humanly possible in order to get truth out to you. In other words, he Googled it.
"It didn't take us long to uncover a federal report, released in January, on "Retirement Benefits for Members of Congress" prepared for Congress by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service. It outlines how pension benefits are calculated.
The key provision: no member of Congress is eligible for any pension unless he or she has served in Congress for at least five years. (Senators serve six-year terms; House members must seek reelection every two years.)
To collect, a congressman or senator must be age 62, or be age 50 with 20 years of service, or be any age with 25 years of service.
Under the most recent pension program, adopted in 1984, the size of a pension is based on the highest three years of a member's salary, the number of years of service and a multiplier, which is 1.7 percent for the first 20 years of service and 1.0 percent for subsequent years. (Typically, for a 25-year rank-and-file member who retired this year, the pension would be the sum of two calculations. First, take $172,443 [the average salary over the last three years] times 20 years times 0.017. Then, add that to $172,443 times 5 years times 0.01. The total: $67,249 per year.)
A three-term congressman (or one-term senator) who has now reached retirement age would be eligible for an annual pension of $17,588 for six years of work. That's extremely generous, but not even close to full pay. (Members of Congress are also eligible for Social Security.)
Finally, federal law prevents them from getting full-pay retirement when they leave office. The report says, "By law, the starting amount of a member's retirement annuity may not exceed 80 percent of his or her final salary." (Under the formula, it would take 67 years of service to hit that limit.)"
I hope this answers many questions we get about where Lottery money goes for education: here's an article that explains exactly why it doesn't support the whole education system: READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE BY CLICKING HERE.
Check out this powerful article on the use of drones on U.S. soil from FOX NEWS host Judge Andrew P. Napolitano, courtesy of FOXNEWS.COM
For the past few weeks, I have been writing in this column about the government's use of drones and challenging their constitutionality on Fox News Channel where I work. I once asked on air what Thomas Jefferson would have done if -- had drones existed at the time -- King George III had sent drones to peer inside the bedroom windows of Monticello. I suspect that Jefferson and his household would have trained their muskets on the drones and taken them down. I offer this historical anachronism as a hypothetical only, not as one who is urging the use of violence against the government.
Nevertheless, what Jeffersonians are among us today? When drones take pictures of us on our private property and in our homes, and the government uses the photos as it wishes, what will we do about it? Jefferson understood that when the government assaults our privacy and dignity, it is the moral equivalent of violence against us. The folks who hear about this, who either laugh or groan, cannot find it humorous or boring that their every move will be monitored and photographed by the government.
Don't believe me that this is coming? The photos that the drones will take may be retained and used or even distributed to others in the government so long as the "recipient is reasonably perceived to have a specific, lawful governmental function” in requiring them. And for the first time since the Civil War, the federal government will deploy military personnel inside the United States and publicly acknowledge that it is deploying them "to collect information about U.S. persons.”
It gets worse. If the military personnel see something of interest from a drone, they may apply to a military judge or "military commander” for permission to conduct a physical search of the private property that intrigues them. And, any "incidentally acquired information” can be retained or turned over to local law enforcement. What's next? Prosecutions before military tribunals in the U.S.?
The quoted phrases above are extracted from a now-public 30-page memorandum issued by President Obama's Secretary of the Air Force on April 23, 2012. The purpose of the memorandum is stated as "balancing … obtaining intelligence information … and protecting individual rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution…” Note the primacy of intelligence gathering over freedom protection, and note the peculiar use of the word "balancing.”
When liberty and safety clash, do we really expect the government to balance those values? Of course not. The government cannot be trusted to restrain itself in the face of individual choices to pursue happiness. That's why we have a Constitution and a life-tenured judiciary: to protect the minority from the liberty-stealing impulses of the majority. And that's why the Air Force memo has its priorities reversed -- intelligence gathering first, protecting freedom second -- and the mechanism of reconciling the two -- balancing them -- constitutionally incorrect.
Everyone who works for the government swears to uphold the Constitution. It was written to define and restrain the government. According to the Declaration of Independence, the government's powers come from the consent of the governed. The government in America was not created by a powerful king reluctantly granting liberty to his subjects. It was created by free people willingly granting limited power to their government -- and retaining that which they did not delegate.
The Declaration also defines our liberties as coming from our Creator, as integral to our humanity and as inseparable from us, unless we give them up by violating someone else's liberties. Hence the Jeffersonian and constitutional beef with the word "balancing” when it comes to government power versus individual liberty.
The Judeo-Christian and constitutionally mandated relationship between government power and individual liberty is not balance. It is bias -- a bias in favor of liberty. All presumptions should favor the natural rights of individuals, not the delegated and seized powers of the government. Individual liberty, not government power, is the default position because persons are immortal and created in God's image, and governments are temporary and based on force.
Hence my outrage at the coming use of drones -- some as small as golf balls -- to watch us, to listen to us and to record us. Did you consent to the government having that power? Did you consent to the American military spying on Americans in America? I don't know a single person who has, but I know only a few who are complaining.
If we remain silent when our popularly elected government violates the laws it has sworn to uphold and steals the freedoms we elected it to protect, we will have only ourselves to blame when Big Brother is everywhere. Somehow, I doubt my father's generation fought the Nazis in World War II only to permit a totalitarian government to flourish here.
Is President Obama prepared to defend this? Is Gov. Romney prepared to challenge it? Are you prepared for its consequences?
COPYRIGHT 2012 ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM
What do you think, time to call ADT?? Watch this guy 'prank-rob' his girlfriend. I know it's not newsworthy, but you have to have a few yuks (do you think he got any kung-pow that night??)
Here's some wild video of Tuesday's Tornado outbreak outside of Dallas.
Here's a link to the petition opposing I-95 tolls Shank talked about
Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape.
He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as knowing when to come in out of the rain, why the early bird gets the worm, life isn't always fair, and maybe it was my fault.
Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you earn) and reliable parenting strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).
His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place.
Reports of a six-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.
Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job they failed to do in disciplining their unruly children
It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer Panadol, sun lotion or a sticky plaster to a student; but, could not inform the parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.
Common Sense lost the will to live as the Ten Commandments became contraband; churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims.
Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar can sue you for assault.
Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realise that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.
Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust; his wife, Discretion; his daughter, Responsibility; and his son, Reason. He is survived by three stepbrothers; I Know My Rights, Someone Else is to Blame, and I'm A Victim.
Not many attended his funeral because so few realised he was gone.
I don't know about you, but I will dearly miss our friend Common Sense.
Who says a college education doesn't pay off?
From Bill O'Reilly's "Talking Points Memo"... I hope this gives you a better understanding of what we, the consumer, have to deal with in battling gas prices. There's no hope OR change! But keep your heads up, and hopefully, your tank full.
hello gang, nice to be back with ya and have some great news to give to all of you that made a new years resolution about losing weight. a new study found that dieters who ate DESSERT with breakfast every morning lost an average of FORTY POUNDS more in 32 weeks than dieters who did not. WHY? you are saying right about now well let me explain please. ONE, if you eat dessert in the morning it spikes your metabolism and gives you all day to burn it off and two, it fights your dessert cravings, so dieters please dig in and remember you can make dieting lots o fun i do hope this helps, till next time thanks and remember you are what you eats. shank
welcome to shanks 2012 new years annual message, ok this is my first one ever but it sounded cool. We are headed into a very important year and some say of our life time, i do not know about that but i do know that the 2012 president election is going to be huge and breaks down to what we as American citizens want our country to become. Do you want the government to be in your lives, telling you how to behave and what you can and cannot eat,drink,etc or do you want what this country was founded on and that is freedom of choice. I do know this we as American citizens are going to have to sacrifice some things we have come to expect that will always be there and that is social security, medicare, and other entitlements but because of our soaring debit these things are in deep trouble and we have got to find the right legislators to elect that will put country ahead of politics. so i ask you friends are you ready to sacrifice? thanks and good luck Shank
hello rock and ranters, just wanted to take time and wish all of you a very merry Chritmas and happy new year. thank you all for making 2011 a fun and informative year and lets hope that we get the right people in office that will do the right thing for our great country. thanks again and remember DO NOT TEXT AND DRIVE it is against the law and someone will get killed.
so whats up, hope you all had a swell Thanksgiving. well here is what is on me little brain cell this week. i went to the store and was in the mood for some double stuffed oreos and i know the price of everything has been going up and well that is life so i have learned to suck it up and not go to nuts BUT i get home and all jacked up about my oreos that would be double stuffed oreos, open the pack take out me oreo, double stuffed oreo and wtf this can not be double stuffed it is barely what a regular oreo was 10 yrs ago. my point is i know that prices are going up BUT does that mean i or you get screwed on the quantity. go ahead and jack me up on the prices but give us the same amount that used to be on the oreo or what ever you buy. does 40% more mean 40% more package or box. listen up corporate America we want what we pay for can i get an AMEN
OK here i go again trying to fill a few lines on this blog thang. This is what is sticking in my craw this week, could we please stop with the pardoning of the turkey with the President enough already do we not have enough important issues going on like a fifteen trillion dollar debt, two wars, unemployment etc. Our president has more important things to get done than giving a turkey a pardon. So please stop the madness with the turkey they will be just fine what about me. Well thanks for letting me get that off my chest i feel better now and have a very happy Thanksgiving !!!
ok here we go with blog #2 when i did blog #1 Cindy and the whole gang here at beasley broadcasting complex seemed to find it amusing which hurt my delcate being but i will march on because well Cindy said if i did not she was going to well i would rather not say.OK i am a bit confuesd because Washington keeps saying jobs are the most inportant thing they need to work on to bring our country back on the right track and i can not disagree with that so i sit here today wondering why this adminastration has put the key stone pipe line on hold, this a gas and oil pipe line that will run from Canada down to Mississippi and will employ some 20.000 jobs. So here i sit pondering what these elected officals are thinking and why did we vote them in to office, hey guess what good people we can vote them out
so Cindy tells me i have to start doing a blog in which i replied i do not need new shoes, after i picked my self up off the floor she told me this will be a new feature on our web site. my first subject will deal with something that we have talked about on the rock&rant rudeness, i hate rudeness because it only takes a few seconds to show politeness you know a thank you, maybe hold the door open for someone who has a arm load of stuff also when someone shows an act of kindness it only takes a few seconds to say thanks it works both ways. hey this blogging thing could be fun. shank