Friday, June 24, 2005

Flag Burning

In North Korea, every house is required to have a picture of Kim Jong-Il. This picture must be prominently displayed and kept clean so that it can be seen clearly by all guests. The idea behind this is to force families to show off their support for their leader, the obvious flaw, is that patriotism cannot be forced.

For years, in the United States, patriotism has been one of our greatest assets. Citizens flock to the aid of their country when they are needed. Knowing that our country stands for something great, that our country stands for freedom. Citizens of the United States wave their flags freely, display them prominently, and treat the flag with respect. This displays their patriotism.

Yesterday, the United States House of Representatives, passed a bill that would make it illegal to burn a United States flag. While I agree with the sentiment, respect for the flag should not be written into law. Being free to burn the flag and choosing not to, respecting the flag by choice is a great thing. However small it may seem to make a decision not to do something, it is far more impressive then being forced not to.

Quite simply, the ability to burn the flag is guaranteed to us by the First Amendment of the bill of rights. It is a clear freedom of expression, and freedom of expression that does not harm other shall not be infringed upon. Any argument that flag burning is somehow different then any other protest, is certainly flawed.

Some one who chooses to burn a US flag, can most certainly be looked down upon, shunned by a patriotic society. However the fact is that they have merely burned a piece of cloth. The United States is so much more than that. The main symbol of this country will never be the flag. American soldiers have not sacrificed their lives for a piece of cloth, they have fought in the name of freedom. Freedom is the symbol of this country, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of expression. To impeed upon the freedoms of the citizens of this country in order to protect a piece of cloth, is not only wrong, it's a travesty.

-> Trevor

Monday, June 06, 2005

Rare coins and collectibles.

Who ever would have thought that JFK memorrabilia might have a crucial impact on the Republican party, but that is exactly what's going on in Ohio right now. If you haven't heard about it yet, join the crowd. While it's huge news in Ohio, and no doubt across the region, it's barely passed as news in many parts of the country, but it is news, big news. It's big enough to have earned that much lusted after "gate" suffix. I mean, if it has "gate" on the end, it's gotta be big, right?

Anyway, as I mentioned in the topic, it all started with rare coins and collectibles. Apparently, somebody at the Ohio State Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) thought that investing money in normal places, like the stock market or bonds, was for the weak. If you really want to invest your money, you need to be creative. You need to find something less mainstream to invest in.

This is where Tom Noe stepped in. Tom Noe is a big time Republican backer, who just happens to run a business of collectibles. It occured to some one at this time, that this would be a great investment for the BWC. Normally I would expect a sane investor to laugh off this idea and go along his way, but it's a republican run state, so much for sanity. Instead of laughing it off the BWC went for it. Boy did they go for it, $13 million of state money was invested in collectibles owned by Tom Noe.

Just to play the devil's advocate here, I will say if Tom Noe were an honest man, rare coins are probably a more stable market then the stock market, it hasn't exactly been doing very well for the last 4 and half years (give or take). Unfortunately, it appears Tom Noe is not an honest man, and around $12 million of the collectibles that were invested in by the state are simply missing. In the mean time, Noe has invested millions of dollars into local Ohio Republicans, as well as quite a bit of money into the Bush campaign. It's unclear at this point exactly how much Noe has donated.

To make things worse for the Ohio politics, it appears Noe may not be the only culprit. Here's a quote from the Cincinnati Enquirer.
  • "Noe, who faces several investigations, also has given campaign donations to virtually all statewide elected officials. But Noe is not alone. It was reported this week that Republicans have received more than $200,000 from 50 other brokers who have done business with the BWC. And that's just one state agency."
So who knows how much money truely has been syphoned to the GOP through this system.

I'm sure you're thinking, something HAS to be done about this, and rest assured something is. I mean asside from the fact that all of the people who have recieved money from Noe are scrambling to get rid of it and deny any connection with him. There's more, an investigation is being called for. Who's calling for it, you ask? Well, according to the article in the Seattle Post-Intellegencer (on page A7 of course), it's none other than Kenneth Blackwell.

If you followed the election and resulting Ohio controversy, the name may sound familiar to you. Kenneth Blackwell was the vote count guy for the 2004 election debacle. He was also the co-chair of the Ohio Bush-Cheney campaign. This might seem like a conflict of interest, but let me assure you, it doesn't end there. He is calling for help from a different Government Agency, he's calling for the United States Atourney General. That's right, Alberto Gonzales is being paiged. I'm sure if anybody will get tot he bottom of the matter, he will. After all, he certainly knows how to extract information from people.

Ok, so I guess it's not that hopefull that we'll have all the answers soon. However, it seems this is a story that won't go away. Eventually it may even make the front page here. We'll just have to wait and see who's left standing when the dust settles.

-> Trevor