Are we a just society…

… when we don’t obey our own laws?

“Congress is way out of touch on this issue,” said Paul. “These people who believe in projecting American power, really believe in projecting American weakness. They don’t want us to respond to words with actions or obey our own laws.”

http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2013/08/15/rand_paul_slams_congress_for_aiding_egypt_how_does_your_conscience_feel_now

IRS horror stories…

23 years ago this month my wife and were sitting in a coffee shop in Rota, Spain reading the Stars and Stripes newspaper (I believe I was reading the comics, while Mary had the main section), we were joking around with a couple of friends about the similarities of one of our mates to a particular comic strip character. In the midst of that laughter my wife excitedly exclaimed, “Alan, your parents are in the newspaper!” Thinking this was a continuation of our conversation over the comics, I leaned over to take a look.

Nope. Not a comic.

It was a horror story.

This is what I saw in the upper left hand corner of the Stars and Stripes dated June 14th:  http://newspaperarchive.com/european-stars-and-stripes/1990-06-14/page-3

A federal judge said that he had been lied to and that my parents had been treated rudely and incompetently by agents of the IRS. He went on to say, in a 10 page ruling that the behavior of the IRS “demonstrates the IRS’ lack of organization and respect for the taxpayers.” What the heck happened? I had no idea what this was all about, but over the next few months I would find out.

Here is the gist of the story…

My grandmother died of cancer in 1987 and during the turmoil of that time, managing her estate and tying up loose ends, my parents turned some business books over to an accountant and he failed to pay diesel fuel tax between September of 1988 and May 1989. My family discovered the error when they took the books back over and being good citizens they called the IRS office in Atlanta, GA to let them know that they owed back taxes. The IRS assigned the case to Sherilyn Heyward of the IRS’ Savannah office and boy, did she run with it.

She initially informed my parents that their back taxes and penalties came to about $51K, then a couple of weeks later she said she made a mistake and they owed $7,000 more, then another $1,000, then, ooops, another $37,000. After mortgaging their store, cashing in insurance policies, and getting loans from banks they arraigned to pay off everything except $10K. They asked that they be allowed to pay off the rest in installments. No dice. Heyward put a lien against the business for unpaid taxes and went to a bank to seize money. In an example of the incompetence that the federal judge noted, Heyward got the address for the store wrong on the lien and the bank refused to hand over the cash.

Heyward went before judge Edenfield and lied to him, stating that my parents were moving bank accounts around in an attempt to hide money from the IRS. The judge, acting on this false testimony, issued a search warrant for my parents business and Heyward oversaw its execution with armed federal agents in tow. Some of that is covered in this article in Money Magazine: http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/moneymag_archive/1990/10/01/86126/index.htm

After all of this the IRS was ordered by the same judge to leave my parents alone and stop all collections against them. This order was ignored, in fact the IRS went door to door in my parents neighborhood asking their friends how many cars they owned, if they ever drove business vehicles for personal use, really sponsored little league baseball teams and in general ruined my parents reputation out of spite.

So, what happened to the incompetent Ms. Heyward? Well, she received a temporary appointment to oversee all collections in Savannah when last we had any dealings with her. There was never any discipline. In fact, when my mother was interviewed on the Today Show about all of this one of her fellow guests, a former IRS agent, said that agents are never disciplined for overly aggressive collections, but they are disciplined if they don’t collect. Nice, eh?

My parents spent a lot of time in the newspaper (http://archives.savannahnow.com/sav_pdf_archive/text/fr38/A_2301527.pdf

http://archives.savannahnow.com/sav_pdf_archive/text/fr38/A_2301555.pdf)

The Money Magazine article was picked up by Readers Digest as well and with all that publicity guess what happened?  Nothing. In the end my parents closed down two businesses in Georgia, moved to Florida and filed for bankruptcy. My dad had a massive coronary in 1991, surviving thank God, and began to rebuild their lives.

The IRS is raw, uncheck power and when they move on people they are capable of inflicting great harm.

Jesus Christ, Lord of the State and How That Informs My Voting

As a post-mil, “Thy Kingdom Come” kinda guy here is where my difficulty lies.  For a Christian to actively support a person for a position of authority over the State is to also promote that person to a position of authority over the members of Christ’s body, the Church. To promote a non-Trinitarian to that position is, I believe, very problematic. If God is Lord over the State, which I believe he is, then to elect someone within the LDS to the presidency is to give tacit approval to, or at least gross ambivalence toward, the doctrine of Joseph Smith and the LDS Apostles.

So, what is different between this case and supporting someone who advocates for example an unjust preemptive war or is ambivalent to homosexual unions? We all make compromises when we vote these days. What makes this more significant than Ron Paul’s ambivalence toward the Morning After Pill, Senator Santorum’s desire to treat Iranian nuclear scientists as Al-Qaida members, or Newt Gingrich horrid personal life?  Two things…

First, our primary call as Christians is to expand the Kingdom of Christ. We are his workmanship created for good works and the first and greatest work is that we should go out and make disciples of all men, teaching them and baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Why would we actively work to promote the Mormon god and his disciples?

Second, the other candidates I mentioned may be addressed within the governance of the Church and, God willing, one day with a state in submission to Christ. We can even call a man like President Obama back to the truth of his God as revealed in Scripture, pray for him as a Christian who may yet return to the Triune God of his Baptism. If our particular Church were in authority over him – we could discipline him in accordance with the Scriptures that he might repent.  None of these things are an option with a Mormon.

This is the key for me.

I welcome your thoughts…

 al sends

Warriors And Lard…

…mark the decline of the US Navy.

This has been a week of marrow and fatness and lard is thick before me.

Alright, the Spartans were a warrior people.  Their youth were segregated early on and trained to battle.  Young boys were taken from their families and trained by trials deep to fight and win.  There city state believed that soldiers must be hardened by mentors so that they might not break in the face of the enemy.

For much of our existence the US Navy wanted ships of steel and men of similar metal to man them.  We wanted to follow the Spartans in this one area at least.  The result was a Navy that could withstand the attack of Pearl Harbor and then crush the Japanese in naval battle after naval battle.  Much of this had to do with training that was tough and living conditions onboard ship that were often as dangerous as the sea itself.

Today  risk in training is to be avoided at all costs.  The once brutal Chief’s initiation has been pared down to a few weeks and a lecture or two.  The Shellback crossing-the-line ceremony requires no blood and bruises are kept to a minimum.  For the “old Salts” out there these are pictures of decline and I don’t think I can disagree…

I received this via Facebook today:

No lard for Navy plebes in yearly academy ritual

From the article:

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – As they have for 70 years, students at the U.S. Naval Academy celebrated the end of their grueling first year by scaling a 21-foot obelisk on Monday. But this time, without a lard coating on the monument, students completed the task in minutes.

For years, the Herndon Monument was slathered in the grease to make the event as challenging as possible. It often took hours for a group of first-year students, or “plebes,” to hoist a peer on their shoulders to place an officer’s hat atop the obelisk.

 The money quote:

This year, the event drew more attention after Vice Adm. Jeffrey Fowler, the academy’s superintendent, cited “unnecessary injury risk” as a reason the school could end the yearly ritual. He declined to offer a timetable for a decision that will likely rest with his successor.

“I just think at some point it will become not very interesting and it will just cease to be a climb,” Fowler told reporters earlier this month, adding that there have been minor injuries in the past.

Warriors that don’t take risks in training, risks with their bodies and even their lives, die in battle in greater numbers.  We have lost our desire to raise warriors capable of battle.  This bit of silliness will come back to haunt us in years to come.

This is not to say that today’s Military has abandoned all things Sparta.  No sir.  We are embracing Sparta’s sodomy with open arms. 

 al sends

Hey Vets… How Is That Tax And Change Working For Ya?

…  Military Retirees are asking questions:

This is from the Defense Finance and Accounting website

Two recent changes to the Internal Revenue Service tax tables have a lot of military retirees and annuitants asking questions. Please read the updates below to find out how these changes may affect you.

Tax increase leads to smaller paychecks for some

If you noticed a reduction in your net pay on a recent retirement paycheck, your taxes may have increased. (GEE YA THINK?)

The Internal Revenue Service recently issued new tax tables for 2010. The new tables included tax increases for individuals in certain tax brackets. DFAS complied with the new tax rates by implementing the new IRS tables with the first paycheck of the year. For military retirees and annuitants, that check was issued Jan. 4, 2010.  (unintended consequences?)

As a result, some military retirees’ and annuitants’ Federal Income Tax Withholding increased despite the fact that they received no Cost of Living Adjustment this year. This is why some retirees’ and annuitants’ net pay decreased.

2009 tax credit may affect refund in 2010

On February 17, 2009, President Barack Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 into law, providing a refundable credit for many working individuals. The credit was distributed in 2009 through a reduction in the income taxes withheld from salaries and wages, including Retired and Annuitant pay. In accordance with the IRS tax tables, most single taxpayers’ Federal Income Tax Withholding decreased by $400 for the year, and most married taxpayers’ withholding decreased by $800 for the year.

Tax tables do not account for individual circumstances; therefore, depending on their personal situation, some people may have had less withheld from their paychecks than they should have. As a result, some recipients of retired and annuity pay, especially those who are married filing jointly and those who worked in 2009, may owe taxes or receive a smaller refund in April 2010.

Here is a screen capture if the link does not work:

al sends

Castro’s endorsement

HAVANA (AP) – It perhaps was not the endorsement President Barack Obama and the Democrats in Congress were looking for.

Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro on Thursday declared passage of American health care reform “a miracle” and a major victory for Obama’s presidency, but couldn’t help chide the United States for taking so long to enact what communist Cuba achieved decades ago.

Extremely Faithful

Goldwater’s running mate, Rep. Bill Miller, spoke at Notre Dame during the 1964 campaign. At a press conference afterwards, a reporter asked Miller why Goldwater was so “extreme.”

Miller asked the reporter, “Are you married?”

“Yes.”

“Would your wife rather you be moderately faithful to her, or extremely faithful?”

End of press conference.

{HT:Chris Manion}

To War or not to War?

This is Obama’s question. David Brook’s op-ed piece in the New York Times questions Obama’s fundamental commitment to the Afghanistan war. He poses at one point that Obama accepted the premise of the Afghan war in order to sound hawkish, thus gaining the reputation of a tough president. Whether this is true or not, Bill Maher was right when he said that Obama needs a little more of George W. Bush.

My own perspective is that Obama was hawkish from day one of his presidency. He may not have the tenacity of the former president, but he has neo-conservatism running through his blood. As Brooks writes:

So I guess the president’s most important meeting is not the one with the Joint Chiefs and the cabinet secretaries. It’s the one with the mirror, in which he looks for some firm conviction about whether Afghanistan is worthy of his full and unshakable commitment.

Luke Russert from MSNBC said on Morning Joe that progressives have no interest in the Afghan war. They are tired of the similarities to the Iraq war. They fear blood on their hands, as the Republicans had in Iraq. While 2010 seems ripe for a Republican take-over, the Democrats are scrambling to find a suitable message to the American people. They know they need bi-partisan support, but their sophisticated constitutional scholar commander-in-chief  is losing his charm. As David Gregory said: “The yes we can is becoming maybe.”