Friday, July 19, 2013

Lemons **

Sally Mullihan of Coral Springs, Florida decided to take one of the jobs that most Americans are not willing to do.

When applying for a job in a Florida lemon grove, she seemed to be far too qualified for the job. She had a liberal arts degree from the University of Michigan and had worked as a social worker and school teacher.

The foreman frowned and said, "I have to ask you, have you had any actual experience in picking lemons?"

"Well, as a matter of fact, I have! I've been divorced three times, owned 2 Chryslers and voted for Obama."

** - received via e-mail from a friend.

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Monday, July 15, 2013

Crank Up the Volume - They're Back !

Back on June 25th, Skillet released its newest record - Rise. Then, in early July, the band released the record's first music video. Today, I feature that video in another edition of Music Monday here on The Sheepdog.

With today's video, Skillet ties Queensryche for the most appearances here on Music Mondays with six. Today's video is of "American Noise." It is a song whose sound differs just a bit from what we've been accustomed to from Skillet. In my opinion, Rise is not quite as edgy and "hard" as some of their earlier works. It seems the band has toned the sound down a little. However, even though the sound may have changed some, the band's mission and message is still the same. They want to minister to and bring the hope of Christ to people everywhere in their own unique way.

As always, the video is embedded below or can be watched by clicking here.

Skillet - American Noise (Official Music Video) from skillet on GodTube.

In addition to its fan base in Christian music, Skillet is making inroads and receiving some attention from the secular side of the entertainment industry, too. Recently, they appeared on Conan O'Brien's show, and last week, Glenn Beck's The Blaze publication ran an article about the band titled "One of America's Most Successful Rock Bands is An-Under-The-Radar Christian Group with a Life Changing Message" (read it here).

Things continue to look up for Skillet. Enjoy today's video and go get yourself a copy of Rise.
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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Seventy-two Killed Resisting Gun Confiscation in Boston !

"Seventy-two killed resisting gun confiscation in Boston !" from Vision to America

National Guard units seeking to confiscate a cache of recently banned assault weapons were ambushed by elements of a Para-military extremist faction. Military and law enforcement sources estimate that 72 were killed and more than 200 injured before government forces were compelled to withdraw.

Wikipedia : British Army in Concord
Speaking after the clash, Massachusetts Governor Thomas Gage declared that the extremist faction, which was made up of local citizens, has links to the radical right-wing tax protest movement.

Gage blamed the extremists for recent incidents of vandalism directed against internal revenue offices. The governor, who described the group’s organizers as “criminals,” issued an executive order authorizing the summary arrest of any individual who has interfered with the government’s efforts to secure law and order.

The military raid on the extremist arsenal followed wide-spread refusal by the local citizenry to turn over recently outlawed assault weapons.

Gage issued a ban on military-style assault weapons and ammunition earlier in the week. This decision followed a meeting in early this month between government and military leaders at which the governor authorized the forcible confiscation of illegal arms.

One government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, pointed out that “none of these people would have been killed had the extremists obeyed the law and turned over their weapons voluntarily.”

Government troops initially succeeded in confiscating a large supply of outlawed weapons and ammunition. However, troops attempting to seize arms and ammunition in Lexington met with resistance from heavily-armed extremists who had been tipped off regarding the government’s plans.

During a tense standoff in the Lexington town park, National Guard Colonel Francis Smith, commander of the government operation, ordered the armed group to surrender and return to their homes. The impasse was broken by a single shot, which was reportedly fired by one of the right-wing extremists.

Eight civilians were killed in the ensuing exchange.

Ironically, the local citizenry blamed government forces rather than the extremists for the civilian deaths. Before order could be restored, armed citizens from surrounding areas had descended upon the guard units. Colonel Smith, finding his forces over matched by the armed mob, ordered a retreat.

Governor Gage has called upon citizens to support the state/national joint task force in its effort to restore law and order. The governor also demanded the surrender of those responsible for planning and leading the attack against the government troops.

Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, and John Hancock, who have been identified as “ringleaders” of the extremist faction, remain at large.

And this fellow Americans, is how the American Revolution began, April 20, 1775.

** Note from The Sheepdog - I shared the story above from Vision to America solely for the simple purpose of it being a brief, but important, reminder of a little piece of American history. I hope my readers enjoyed it and that it got them thinking about what America is about - freedom.  

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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Nashville = Taxville

Recently, I ran across an article listing the top ten U.S. cities with the highest and lowest traveler tax rates. I was a little surprised at what I learned. I think you will be, too. I break it down for ya below.

The article was a summary of the annual study conducted by the GBTA Foundation (Global Business Traveler Association Foundation) and can be found on their website, by clicking here. The article is titled "GBTA Reveals Best and Worst Travel Taxes in Top 50 U.S. Destinations."  

Geographic center of the contiguous United Sta...
Geographic center of the contiguous United States is located in United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The study looked at the total amount of daily taxes paid by travelers to various U.S. cities. The amount includes both general sales taxes and discriminatory travel taxes. Discriminatory travel taxes are taxes on things that specifically target travelers, such as rental cars, hotels, and restaurant meals. These discriminatory travel taxes are in addition to the sales tax travelers pay on the same items.

Below, I have listed, by ranking, the top ten U.S. cities, according to the article, with the highest total traveler taxes per day along with the total dollar amount of taxes incurred each day :
  1. Chicago, IL - $40.31
  2. New York, NY - $37.98
  3. Boston, MA - $34.83
  4. Kansas City, MO - $34.58
  5. Seattle, WA - $34.43
  6. Minneapolis, MN - $34.32
  7. Cleveland, OH - $34.22
  8. Indianapolis, IN - $34.19
  9. Nashville, TN - $34.13
  10. Houston, TX - $33.51  
Next, per the study, I have listed, by ranking, the top 10 U.S. cities with the lowest total traveler taxes per day along with the total dollar amount of taxes incurred by travelers each day :
  1. Ft. Lauderdale, FL - $22.21
  2. Ft. Myers, FL - $22.21
  3. West Palm Beach, FL - $22.21
  4. Detroit, MI - $22.37
  5. Portland, OR - $22.45
  6. Orange County, CA - $22.79
  7. Burbank, CA - $23.74
  8. Ontario, CA - $24.08
  9. Honolulu, HI - $24.38
  10. Orlando, FL - $24.50
Please note the four brightly colored cities, because there's some shocking stuff in there. First, consider that in a recent article on titled, "States with the Highest and Lowest Tax Burdens", California was ranked as having the 4th highest overall, out of 50 states, tax burden in the country. However, in the GBTA study, 3 of California's largest cities ranked as having the 6th, 7th, and 8th lowest daily total taxes on travelers in the country !

The raw satellite imagery shown in these image...
Nashville, TN - The raw satellite imagery shown in these images was obtain from NASA and/or the US Geological Survey. Post-processing and production by (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Second, the same article, showed that Tennessee has the 3rd lowest overall, out of 50 states, tax burden in the country. However, Nashville, TN has the 9th overall highest daily tax burden upon travelers of any city in the country !

Now, let's break these numbers down a little further. (Sorry, the accountant in me can't help it.) For simplicity's sake, let's round the daily total traveler tax burdens for Nashville, TN and Orange County, Burbank, and Ontario in California. Nashville's becomes $34, Orange County's $23, and Burbank's and Ontario's $24. Then, let's look at some percentages.

Let's say you originally planned to travel to Orange County, CA, but changed your mind and decided to go to Nashville, TN instead. Each day of your trip you would pay 47.8% more in taxes than if you had kept your original plans and gone to Orange County, CA [(34-23) / 23 = .478 x 100 = 47.8%]. Also, if you changed your plans from going to Burbank, CA or Ontario, CA and went to Nashville, TN instead, you would pay 41.7% more in taxes per day [(34-24) / 24 = .417 x 100 = 41.7%]. WOW !! Who would have thought that traveler taxes would be over 40% higher in Nashville, TN than in a big city in tax happy, Progressive California ? 

These statistics seem backwards, right ? I thought so, too, until I remembered the never-ending string of Progressive / Liberal Nashville Mayors. Ever since I moved into the area, Nashville's voters have insisted on electing one "Big Gubmint" lovin', tax and spend, go-into-debt Democrat after another. These Mayors have paid for project after project with more taxes on the backs of taxpayers.

First, there was "Uncle Phil" Bredesen. In my opinion, his regime could be characterized as the most pro-corporate welfare and tax increase-loving administration the city has ever known. It built a NHL hockey arena and brought in the Nashville Predators to play in it. Next, Bud "You Can Take Me At My Word" Adams and his then Houston "Loser" Oilers, now Tennessee "Thug" Titans, were recruited to Nashville. The Bredesen Regime then builds the team the nice, new stadium Bud's been wanting at a nice, fat price tag to Nashville taxpayers of over $300 Million. The NHL and NFL both came to Nashville via Bredesen and on the back of Nashville taxpayers. All to the tune of about $400 Million. Oh, and don't get me started on Uncle Phil's other big corporate welfare project - Dell Computers.

During the Bredesen Mayoral Regime, Nashville property taxes went up, up, up to pay for the Titans and Predators. Some will tell you, "No, that's not so." Well, it is so. It was one of the reasons I moved out of Davidson Co. I'm not paying for playpens for a bunch of spoiled brats. In my opinion, they should pay for it themselves. While Nashville's taxpayers were paying for professional sports teams, many other important needs of the city's citizens, such as its schools, went without.

Next up - Bill Purcell. I kinda felt sorry for him. Now, in his defense, he was the guy stuck trying to manage all the debt Bredesen's Regime piled on the city. It seemed that besides making budget cut after budget cut each year of his tenure, and reading books to the kids, Purcell spent most of his time as Nashville Mayor treading water trying to survive the debt avalanche inherited from the Bredesen Regime. It was so bad the poor guy got outta Dodge as soon as his 2nd term was up to go to Harvard and teach or something. I mean, that dude got WAAAYY out of Dodge. Can't say that I blame him. I will give Purcell credit for one thing, though - he fought his tail off opposing the new Nashville Convention Center and stopped it dead in its tracks. Unfortunately for Nashville, though, next up as Mayor was Karl "Let's Spend Some Money" Dean.

English: Construction progress of Music City C...
English: Construction progress of Music City Center in Nashville (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Dean is the current Nashville Mayor, and if you are an elected official wanting to learn how to spend some money, Dean is the guy to learn from. He came into office determined to build the new convention center. I thought the city's debt piled up during Bredesen's Regime, but I hadn't seen nothing, yet. Bredesen was just the warmup for the headliner, Dean. The city went in debt nearly $400 Million on the Pred-a-Thugs and Titan Thugs deals combined during the Bredesen years, but Dean topped that in one deal. The new "Music City Center" has a price tag of about $600 Million. Furthermore, according to an article titled "Nashville Gambles On Lure of New Convention Center" on, the city is also fronting around $125 Million toward the new Omni hotel near the new convention center.

Dean is the king of Nashville's Mayors when it comes to spending money and racking up debt. He's over the $700 Million mark with the Music City Center and Omni Hotel. Now, ... that's Progressive.

The question is - how does Dean and the city plan to pay all this massive amount of debt for the new convention center ? Quite simply, they plan to do so with even more taxes on tourists. Yes, I said more. Perhaps they're not happy with that #9 ranking above.  According to an article on titled "Nashville's New Convention Center Sets Up Big Challenge for Memphis", the Music City Center debt will be paid off with :
  • half of the city's current hotel / motel tax, plus
  • an extra $2 per night / per room hotel motel tax, plus
  • a 1% rental car surcharge (tax), plus
  • a $2 tax every time as bus, taxi, or other commercial vehicle leaves the airport, plus
  • all sales taxes within a zone around the building, and 
  • ALL sales tax collected at both the hotel and new convention center.
Whew !! That's a lot of dadgum taxes.

All of these taxes above will be on top of all the taxes that travelers to the city are already paying. So, that $34.13 per day total travel taxes figure noted above can only go in one direction - up.

Here's the good news, though, Nashville - if that total travel tax burden per day goes up just $.71, and with the new taxes above, that's pretty much a certainty, your city will vault all the way into 3rd place, behind only the Progressive Metropolis' of Chicago, IL and New York City among U.S. cities that tax travelers the most. Yippeeeee !

Additionally, if the total tax burden on travelers goes up just $6.19 per day, and you've got a real good shot at achieving that mark, too, Nashville would jump all the way into 1st Place as the city which taxes travelers the most in the U.S. Nashville may not have a Super Bowl Trophy or a Stanley Cup, but it would become "Taxville U.S.A." As far as travelers are concerned, Nashville's motto could then be "Send 'Em and We'll Tax 'Em." Or, "Just Tax 'Em." I think I like the latter one better. It would fit on hats and t-shirts easier.

The best thing is that the city would finally be the best at something, and that's been a long time coming. "Taxville U.S.A." has had some leaders that really knew how to show the city's visitors some "Southern hospitality."

Just Tax 'Em.
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