If you have a problem with ‘How I Met Your Mother’ being at San Diego Comic-Con, blame the IRS

jason_segel_cobie_smulders_h_20131

The San Diego Comic-Con is going on this weekend. It’s the country’s largest, annual comic book convention. At least it’s supposed to be. Contrary to what the name implies, every year the event is a little less about comic books and a little more about stuff that doesn’t have to do with comic books, mainly TV shows and movies.

Sometimes the TV shows and movies promoted at San Diego Comic-Con make sense. They’re either related to the medium of comic books in some discernible way, such as the newest X-Men movie, or they feature a genre popular with the same type of nerds that dig comic books, for example, the upcoming Godzilla movie. Other times, the TV shows and movies promoted at San Diego Comic-Con don’t have anything at all to do with comic books or geek culture, such as the TV show How I Met Your Mother.

I’ve watched one or two episodes of How I Met Your Mother, and I can confidently say that the show has nothing to do with comics or comics culture. So what’s it doing at San Diego Comic-Con?

Remember when the story about the IRS and the Tea Party started making the rounds online and on Fox News? Basically, various Tea Party groups were applying to the IRS for tax-exempt status based on the criteria that they were social welfare organizations. Who knew having members protest with signage showing Barack Obama with a Hitler mustache made your group a social welfare organization?

Agents at the IRS began giving extra scrutiny to these applications because the Tea Party is a political group, not a social welfare organization. They did this either on their own prerogative or under the personal direction of Barack Obama, it depends one who you believe. I only bring this issue up because San Diego Comic-Con is a non-profit organization exempt from all taxes. They claim to be a non-profit educational corporation dedicated to creating awareness of, and appreciation for, comics and the related popular art forms.

If a TV show like How I Met Your Mother is related to comic books, the San Diego Comic-Con desperately needs to do some more educating, because I’m not seeing it.

The real controversy involving the IRS and the Tea Party isn’t that Tea Party groups were given extra scrutiny by IRS agents. No, it’s that most groups requestion tax exempt status aren’t given enough scrutiny. Extra scrutiny should be the default level of scrutiny when asking to be exempt from paying taxes, whether it’s a political group claiming to be a social welfare organization or an entertainment convention claiming to be an educational corporation.

When you get out of paying your fair share of taxes by lying about what you are and what you do, it’s cheating. If you cheat on your taxes, you can go to jail. Just ask Wesley Snipes.

If Hollywood ever gets around to answering the pubic’s demand and makes a sequel to White Men Can’t Jump, I guess Snipes can go to the San Diego Comic-Con to promote it.

Edward Snowden is no hero, he’s an idiot who can’t keep a secret

I am trying to understand the moral outrage some are having over news that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been conducting a massive phone and Internet surveillance program called PRISM. Officially the program is called US-984XN and it’s been in place since 2007. Reportedly the information gathered includes email, video and voice chat, videos, photos, voice over IP conversations, file transfers, login notifications and social networking details.

In other words, just about everything.

Frankly, I don’t see the problem with any of this. This PRISM program has been going on since 2007, and it appears to be perfectly legal. According to President Barack Obama, every member of Congress knew about the program.

The truth is, nobody in the public would even know about PRISM if it wasn’t for Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old civilian contractor who leaked the classified information about PRISM to The Guardian and The Washington Post. Snowden is currently hiding out in a hotel room in Hong Kong. Evidently he believes China won’t hand him over to the United States so that he can face espionage charges. Good luck with that. How ironic that he would claim the United States is robbing its people of their civil liberties while holed up in a hotel room in China. If he want’s to see a country that truly robs its people of their civil liberties, he needs to look out his hotel window.

Though some may foolishly believe that Edward Snowden is some sort of hero, I am not one of them. I think he’s a traitor, a blabbermouth, and an attention whore. I look forward to his trial in a United States court on charges of espionage and treason. I hope he enjoys prison, because that’s where he’s going to end up.

Senator Rand Paul is not a big fan of drones

Senator Rand Paul from Kentucky held an old-school filibuster on the Senate floor yesterday. Paul is against President Obama’s choice of John Brennan to lead the CIA. Brennan is currently Obama’s chief counter-terrorism adviser. He also played a central role in Obama’s targeted killing by drones of suspected terrorists in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

Paul and others have a problem with Obama’s drone policy. They believe it’s unconstitutional. Evidently Paul once asked the president if he could kill an American citizen on American soil. The president responded by winking and saying he hasn’t killed anyone yet.

OK, I made up the part about Obama winking, but not the part about him saying he hasn’t killed anyone yet. You’ve got to admit, it would have been so much better if he had winked at Paul while providing his answer.

If Paul’s question to the president seems somewhat stupid and naive, it’s because it is. Of course the president can kill an American citizen on American soil. Anyone to has taken the oath of enlistment of the United States armed forces know that you swear to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. If someone is posing a direct threat to the country, their citizenship doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t matter if they’re in a training camp in Somalia, a cave in Pakistan, or a truck packed with explosives in New York City, if they pose a threat to the United States, the president has a responsibility to kill them.

The filibuster lasted 13 hours. Something tells me that if it were a Republican president killing terrorists with drones, there wouldn’t have been a filibuster yesterday.

How will closing loopholes lower taxes?

We’re at Day One of the sequestration and it already looks like it will be a permanent situation for some time to come.

From the Huffington Post (which probably means it was lifted word-for-word from somewhere else):

Boehner’s office, in a statement describing the meeting, said he and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell told Obama they’re willing to close loopholes but only to lower taxes overall, not to replace spending cuts. Obama and congressional leaders agreed that Congress should pass a bill funding the government while they keep working on a way to replace the spending cuts, Boehner’s office said.

How will closing loopholes lower taxes? The rhetoric coming from John Boehner and the Republicans makes no sense. I wish it did, but it doesn’t.

I actually like tax loopholes, but only when they are coupled with higher tax rates. They work to promote spending and investing. How so? For example, to lower the amount a business will be paying in taxes, they can elect to take some profits and spend it on new equipment or an expansion. They then can claim the money they spent on the new equipment or the expansion as an expense and not pay taxes on that money. That’s the reason the so-called loopholes exist in the first place. The problem is, for years now, the top tax bracket has been historically close to its lowest amount. The rate has been so low for so long that there hasn’t been an incentive to invest profits back into the business.

The highest tax bracket in the 1950’s was a whopping 91 percent. Not coincidentally, the U.S. economy then was probably the best it’s ever been.

We have too many tax loopholes. Our loopholes have loopholes. It’s one of the reasons Facebook paid no state or federal income tax for 2012 even though it made over a billion dollars in profit.

I’d love to hear John Boehner explain why Facebook shouldn’t pay taxes.

Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of sequester!

sequester_congress

President Obama signed an order earlier tonight that enacts cuts in federal spending, nine percent for non-defense spending and 13 percent for defense spending. These automatic cuts are referred to as sequester or sequestration. It’s the result of the White House and Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives not being able to come to an agreement as to how to tackle the national debt.

Personally, I don’t understand what the big deal is. Even after reading this article, I don’t see how my life is going to be ruined because of sequester. I haven’t heard anything about rivers turning to blood or people being forced to move to Ohio, so I don’t understand what the fuss is about.

We Americans are strong people. We survived the horrors of Y2K and Michael Jordan playing for the Washington Wizards. If we can collectively persevere things like that, we can withstand anything, including sequester.