Wednesday, February 3, 2010

My thoughts on the Illinois Primaries

Following the stunning win by Republican Scott Brown in Massachusetts’ special election to fill the Senate seat made vacant by the passing of Ted Kennedy, national eyes were on Illinois, and their primary elections.


While it would be a little harder to read these elections as reflecting on Barack Obama, there are still many telling sings that can be taken from these elections.

As with most primaries, voter turnout was low, with a little over 1.6 million votes cast, out of almost 8 million registered voters in Illinois.

First, I’ll recap the races of importance, and then provide a bit of commentary regarding the outcomes. As I write this, it’s after 3 AM in Illinois, and we don’t know as much as we thought we would some 8 hours after polls closed.

Both party’s Senate primary were decided early, not surprisingly.

On the Democratic side, with 99% of precincts reporting:

Candidate Votes Percentage

Alexi Giannoulias 345,265 39.0%
David Hoffman 298,845 33.8%
Cheryle Jackson 174,433 19.7%
Robert Marshall 50,725 5.7%
Jacob Meister 16,000 1.8%

Winning this election is the first bit of good news to happen to Alexi Giannoulias lately. He’s been in the news a lot lately, and not because he has long been the Democratic front runner for the seat formerly held by Barack Obama. Instead, he’s been in the news for scandals at his family owned bank, Broadway Bank. In their latest FDIC filings, Broadway Bank revealed they have lost more than $75 million dollars in the last year. This, coupled with Giannoulias’s ties with convicted influence peddler Tony Rezko, will give his opponent in November’s general election some ammunition to load their smear gun with.

And who will that candidate be?

In the Republican Senate Primary, with 99% of precincts reporting:

Candidate Votes Percentage

Mark Kirk 416,853 56.6%
Patrick Hughes 141,751 19.3%
Don Lowery 65,771 8.9%
Kathleen Thomas 53,673 7.3%
Andy Martin 37,201 5.1%
John Arrington 20,888 2.8%

This result comes as no surprise. Some might argue Mark Kirk is one of the most powerful men in Illinois politics. It was the thought of him running in a special election, after all, that led for the state’s Democratic leaders, such as Pat Quinn and Michael Madigan, to do an about face on calling for a special election to fill President Obama’s Senate seat following the arrest of Rod Blagojevich. Mark Kirk, a congressman from Chicagoland, is a moderate Republican, and is often criticized by the more conservative faction of the GOP. Personally, I don’t have a ton of problems with him, although his vote for the Cap & Trade legislation last year bothered me. He’s not as conservative as I’d like, but I also know he’d be a good fit for Illinois.

The Giannoulias vs. Kirk election will be very interesting, and will get a lot of press nationally. Illinois is listed as a tossup by most pundits, and would be a big pick up for the GOP, should Kirk win. A lot remains to be written between now and November, and the question I have is how far Kirk will go to tie Giannoulias to Rezko, and by default, Blagojevich. His close ties to Obama (they’re basketball buddies) may also have an effect, and that could be positive or negative, depending on how Obama’s year two goes.

In the governor races, both sides are still up in the air.

It was a two person race on the Democratic side, between Gov. Pat Quinn and state comptroller Dan Hynes.

With 99% of precincts reporting:

Candidate Votes Percentage

Pat Quinn 451,702 50.4%
Dan Hynes 444,050 49.6%

It looks like this is going to go for Quinn, barring a large number of absentee ballots coming in. It will be hard for Hynes to gain the over 7,600 votes necessary.

The Republican side is a difference story, however:

With 99% reporting:

Candidate Votes Percentage

Bill Brady 154,646 20.3%
Kirk Dillard 154,143 20.2%
Andy McKenna 146,614 19.3%
Jim Ryan 129,686 17.0%
Adam Andrzejewski 109,954 14.4%
Dan Proft 58,861 7.7%
Bob Schillerstrom 7,343 1.0%

This race is one of the closest I can recall, with only 503 votes separating the top two finishers. As a downstater, I am certainly pulling for Bill Brady, a lifelong resident of Bloomington, here. Kirk Dillard has come under fire from Republicans for his support of Barack Obama, and he even appeared in a campaign ad for Obama before the Iowa caucuses in 2008.

Since Illinois has fairly unique recount laws, it will take a bit of luck for the outcome to be changed. There is no automatic recount, however, a candidate who receives at least 95% of the vote of the winner my file for “discovery”. A court has to rule that there is sufficient cause that a recount would change the outcome of the election.

I don’t expect the winner of this race to be determined for a while, and it will hinge on absentee ballots, and more than likely ultimately be decided in a courtroom.

As far as local Peoria elections, there are a few I’d like to comment on. I always thought it was weird that positions such as Sheriff and judges are elected positions. I think the community would be better served by the most qualified person serving on those positions, as opposed to someone who can win a popular vote.

However, in the case of Peoria County Sheriff, I agree whole heartedly with the decision to retain Mike McCoy. Sheriff is one of those positions that people generally don’t put as much thought into their vote as they would for say Senator or President. However, it is positions like these that directly affect your lives. As a good friend of mine says, “the local elections are the most important, than can screw you directly.”

In the same vein, I am glad to see Joe Vespa win the Republican primary to fill his brother’s judgeship. He ran an outstanding campaign, and, if elected in November, will be a great addition to the 10th judicial circuit.

It’s certainly an exciting time to be a fan of politics, with plenty of nationally important races coming up. As a proud conservative, it’s great to see the GOP finally have a chance at making strides in Illinois, and having a say in state politics. I’m hopeful that Bill Brady will be victorious in November, and will bring some downstate sensibility back to Springfield, something we haven’t had since the days of Jim Edgar.

Monday, January 25, 2010

NYT Blames Sexism for Coakley's loss

On Monday, the New York Times joined other media outlets in suddenly uncovering sexism in overwhelmingly liberal Massachusetts, after the shocking takeover by Republican Scott Brown of a seat held by Democrats for almost 60 years. Katie Zezima reported from Boston: "After Senate Race, Some Say Barrier for Women in Massachusetts Still Stands."

Not mentioned in the laundry list of accusations of "macho" politics: The womanizing and worse committed by the late liberal Sen. Ted Kennedy.

The defeat of Martha Coakley in last week's special election to fill the Senate seat that was long held by Edward M. Kennedy has reignited the debate over whether there is a glass ceiling for women in Massachusetts politics.


"Welcome to liberal Massachusetts -- we're not," said Mary Anne Marsh, a Democratic political consultant. "And if you didn't believe it before, anyone who thinks that Massachusetts is liberal in light of Tuesday's results need only look at the record and lack of success women have had in Massachusetts politics. That should just put it away for good."

For decades, women have been unable to gain a solid political toehold in Massachusetts, a state long dominated by male political figures. Five women in Massachusetts's history -- including Ms. Coakley, the attorney general -- have been elected to statewide constitutional office, and four have been elected to the House of Representatives.

Coakley in fact beat three men in the Democratic primary, which enabled her to lose to Brown in the first place.

Part of the problem with Mass. voters? They didn't realize Coakley was a woman (so much for sophisticated liberals):

[Democratic strategist Dan] Payne said he believed women had given Ms. Coakley a late push in her primary victory against three male opponents. But he said Ms. Coakley never mentioned her gender or that she would have been the state's first female United States senator, while Scott Brown, her opponent, ran "a macho, testosterone campaign," driving around the state in a pickup. (No tallies of the vote by gender were available.)

Once again, the NYT has crack journalism, and all the news that's fit to print...

Brown's win shows GOP how to seize Obama's old Senate seat - TheHill.com

Here's a great piece courtesy of The Hill...let's all hope for this change!

Brown's win shows GOP how to seize Obama's old Senate seat - TheHill.com

Friday, January 22, 2010

Corporations, Campaign Funds, and SCOTUS

James Fallows is not happy about the difference between John Roberts's testimony in his confirmation hearing, in which he said we should be deferential to precedent, and his questioning during oral argument of Citizens United:


"And even if Kagan were wrong -- and, she is right -- is it not breathtaking for one appointed Justice, on his own, to decide that he does not like the balance that elected legislators decided on many decades ago, and that many waves of his judicial predecessors have declined to tamper with?

On the merits, Roberts' approach is like the idiot-savant faith in flawless markets that we all recall from Introductory Ec class. The cliched joke about this outlook concerns the economist's refusal to pick up a $20 bill sitting on the sidewalk: After all, if really were a $20 bill, someone would already have picked it up. But the merits of his argument aren't the point. It's the disjuncture between the person who presented himself with "humility" at the confirmation hearings and the man happy to legislate from the bench.

The head of the nation's judicial branch was purposefully deceptive during his "umpire" testimony. Or he had no idea what his words meant. Or he has had a complete change of philosophy and temperament while in his mid-50s. Those are the logical possibilities. None of them is too encouraging about the basic soundness of our governing institutions."


I find this reaction a little odd. First of all, at least as I've always understood it, during oral argument the judges often ask extreme questions, because they're probing for weaknesses in the case. That doesn't mean they're endorsing the extreme, any more than employing the infamous trolley problem to explore our intuitions about making tradeoffs that cost human lives, means I think we should stop runaway street cars by throwing people in front of them.

Second of all, surely no one could have expected that John Roberts was going to endorse every single precedent ever decided by the Supreme Court. In fact, questions about "deference to precedent" are, again at least as I understand it, code for "are you going to overturn Roe v. Wade", not a request for an actual pledge to endorse any and all things the Supreme Court has ever said in its history.

The description in the first paragraph could just as easily describe sodomy law before Lawrence v. Texas, civil rights law pre-Brown, or indeed, the state of abortion law pre-Roe. Had Roberts voted for the majority in one of these cases, would we be hearing the same anguish about his lack of deference to precedent?

And respectfully, one does not need to be an idiot savant from Introductory Ec class to think that "Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech" means that, well, Congress shouldn't make any law abridging the freedom of speech, even if that speech is done by corporations. Nor is it crazy to think that as long as people have the right of exit, their decision not to exit legitimates the ability of organizations to speak for them.

In fact, I think speech through associations is a lot more complicated than I think this post captures. Many of the organizations we like making political speech don't get any more supervision from the majority of their members than publicly held corporations do. I mean, quick, name the charities you were supporting during the last United Way drive! Pick three of the groups you gave to directly last year, and tell me what issues their lobbyists are working on right now! (Yes, I virtually guarantee that if they're a large state or national group, they have at least one "our man in the capitol".) Maybe you know the answers to those questions, because you're the sort of motivated and very well informed person who, well, reads my blog. But the majority of people don't know. They give to causes because they want to be associated with the vague sentiment.

It's not crazy to think that if you own a company, even through a mutual fund, you want that company to make money. The corporation spending money to that end is presumed to be advancing those goals. That it may contradict with other speech you want made is not, itself, proof that it shouldn't be allowed. Many, many people give to groups that may sometimes be at cross purposes with each other--indeed, if you support a politician, and some group like the Sierra Club, this is virtually certain.

We don't presume that the Sierra Club gets speech because it flawlessly reflects the views of its members. I canvassed for environmental groups, and trust me, most of the membership have no idea what the hell these groups do with their money. Frankly, they have no idea what the hell these groups should do with their money; their own ideas are usually vague, and frequently self-contradictory. Their donation to the Sierra Club is less an endorsement of its platform than a way to say, "I care (a little) about the environment!"

But the Sierra Club translates this very loose endorsement into very specific political speech advocating things that many of its members would hate if any of it actually got enacted. We presume that the Sierra Club's political speech is nonetheless a legitimate use of the organization's money, because if the members hated it enough, they'd take their money elsewhere. This is the standard you have to apply in nation full of enthusiastic and trusting givers who mostly aren't particularly engaged in the policy process.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Obama's New Bank Fee

This post will be short, sweet, and too the point...

Why should companies that have either paid back 100% of their TARP money, or never recieved any TARP money to begin with, have to pay for those that haven't paid back their money...

Why don't we start with GM, Chrysler, Fannie, and Freddie...they are all exempt from the fee, even after receiving billions of taxpayer money.

If Obama want's to get "every last dime" back...why not go after the people who should be repaying it...i.e. the people who borrowed who have yet to pay back.

If I have a mortgage, and pay it off...I don't than have to pay a tax to make up for people who defaulted.  That's exactly what this President is trying to do, and it's un-American

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Importance of Blogs, Message Boards, and Online Media

Over the past ten plus years, online media sources have grown in popularity. Once seen as a fringe for conspiracy theorists and radical nut jobs, blogs and other nontraditional media sources have become legitimate outlets for people, and have consistently broken stories the mainstream media has missed.


The first story I remember being broken by an online news source was the Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky debacle, broken by Matt Drudge at The Drudge Report. After this, blogs and other news sites took on a whole new appearance.

Even while the main stream media tried to portray blogists as unprofessional and irresponsible, the continued to flourish.

Here’s why I think blogs are important:

1.) All News is Local…local blogs, message boards and news sites report stories that are of interest to people in a certain area. The mainstream media, be it print, television, or radio, simply doesn’t have the time or resources to cover every story possible.

2.) Opinions are like….well you know the rest. People like to be active in their communities, whether it’s their neighborhood, city, state, or country. Blogs, message boards, and other forums allow people to share their takes on views, and engage in civil (some of the time) debate.

3.) Anyone can do it…Go to WordPress or Blogger and start a blog. Even if it’s just your family and friends reading it, who cares. Writing can be a great release, and if you blog often enough, or about interesting topics, it won’t take long before people stumble on to your site. Before you know it, you have a following.

4.) The 1st Amendment is Wonderful…it means just how it sounds. As long as you’re using fact, you can have whatever opinion you want, and there’s nothing anyone can do, besides disagree.

5.) You can eventually make a living out of it…it might seem hard to believe, but there are thousands of websites that pay for submissions. It might only be $10 per story, but it’s a start.

I’ve only been blogging for about 2 weeks now, and I’m hooked. I use it as an outlet for my views. I’ve met some great people through blogs and message boards, and have had some great debates. The ability for anyone to go online and have a forum for their views, thoughts, and opinions is one of the great parts of living in America.

And who knows…one of you might break the next big scandal…keep digging, friends!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

My Thoughts on Health Care "Reform"

I posted this earlier today on a message board, and I liked the wording so much, I thought I'd share it here...

First off, let me say that while I oppose the Health Care bills that passed the House and Senate, I do support health care reform. There is a big difference.


Something I hear a lot of people saying is that American should be ashamed to be the richest country in the world, and not provide health care to its citizens. First off, while America is well off, I wouldn't call us rich right now. Think of someone who has a Mercedes parked in the driveway of their mansion but doesn't have money to pay their bills. Are they rich? It's not that America has no money as a nation, it's that we have less than no money. Universal Health Care right now would be akin to the guy with the Mercedes taking out his credit card and booking a monthlong vacation to Hawaii. He doesn't have the money for it, and neither do we.

Secondly, I hear that there are 46 million uninsured Americans, and that number is very misleading. First off, approximately 10 million of those are illegal aliens, and shouldn't get government sponsored health care (which they won't in the bill) or any other support from the government, what with them being illegal and all.

Over half of the 46 million have a household income of over $75,000 a year...so they could afford insurance if they really wanted to make it a priority. Do you want your tax dollars going to a family making $75,000 a year, but chooses not to buy insurance?

There are already 83 million people in America that receive some sort of governemtn assitance for health care, and approximatly 14 million qualify for medicare or medicaid, but haven't applied yet.

I also strongly believe that the individual mandate is unconstitutional and un-American. Never before has the federal government, or a state or local government, told us how to spend our money. Before someone brings up auto insurance, bear in mind that you don't have to drive, therefore you aren't required to carry auto insurance. Under both the House and Senate plan, you will face a fine if you choose to not carry insurance.

A lot of people who argue for the public option point to the "fact" that medicare is more efficient than private insurers because they spend less on overhead and administrative costs. That's true...sort of. If you look at total expenditures, yes, federal health care progams spend a smaller percentage of total expenditures on overhead...however they spend sigifigantly more than private insurers when you look at it on a per patient basis. Simple fact is, most people on medicare are expensive to insure, due to their age.

Tort reform needs to be addressed. Either on this thread or on another one on this forum, someone stated that awards from malpractice suits aren't a large part of medical costs. But when you look at malpractice insurance, the costs are staggering. One neurosurgeon I know who practices in Manhattan pays $350,000 a year in malpractice premiums. He's never had so much as a complaint against him. Granted, as a neurosurgeon, his premiums should be higher than say a family doctor...but $350,000???

I reccomend setting up sort of an arbitration for tort reform. When someone feels a doctor is guilty of malpractice, they go to a team of arbitors, make their case, and the team would make a recomendation, either malpractice is possible, or not really. If they find that it's not malpractice, it can still go to trial, but the plantiff would be responsible for defense fees should they lose.

I'd also like to see insurance companies be able to operate across state lines. It's common sense that if you expand the competitive market substantially, prices will come down.

As for abortion funding, while I'm pro-choice, I firmly believe that federal money should not fund elective abortions. In the bill that passed the Senate, states would be able to vote on wheather or not to allow people who recive federal subsidies to purchase a plan that covers elective abortions. This is an end run around the Hyde Ammendment, plain and simple. I'm all for abortions being covered in cases of rape, incest, or if the mother's life is at risk. It's sort of funny that with the "botax" elective cosmetic procedures are taxed, but the Dems in the House and Senate are fighing to get elective abortions covered.

And now just today, it was announced that a tentative deal has been reached on how to pay for the plan. The House wanted an increased payroll tax on people making over $500,000 a year. I'm fine with that...however, the Senate wants to tax so called "Cadillac" health plans, which they value at $8,900 a year for an individual and $24,000 per family. These plans will be taxed at a rate of 40%! They also annouced that unions would be exepmt from this tax until January 2018. Unfortunatley, I'm not a member of a union, so my health plan, which has a total value of roughly $9800 a year will be taxed...leaving me to either pay a tax liability of almost $4,000, or switch to a lower cost plan, leaving me with more co-pays, deductibles, and higher prescritions costs.

Dems have said that it's likely that employers will switch to lower cost plans for their employees, and pass along the savings to their workers in higher wages. Presidnet Obama and his wife have railed against greedy corporations for years, long before anyone knew who they were, and now they're going to trust them to "do the right thing"

The system needs to be tweaked, but despite what people say, a large majority of Americans have health care, or qualify for it but choose not to carry it, and a vast majority of Americans are qualified with their health insurance.

These bills contain vast over reaching by the federal government, and I see it as the start to a single payer system, which are riddled with horror stories from Italy, the UK, and Canada.

I'll close with a few of my favorite quotes, which seem to fit in here: "You don't need to amputate a leg to fix a broken toe" Also, Will Rogers once said "It's a good thing we don't get all the government we pay for" And finally...by me..."The Dems wanted health care reform in the worst way..and that's what they're getting"

College Sports

One of the big things I miss about living in the Midwest is the college sports.  New York has some of the greatest academic institutions in the world, however, they are lacking for college sports.  Hofstra, on Long Island, just eliminated their college football program, and no New York metro team has made it to the NCAA basketball tournament since 2006.

I have been a life long Illinois State fan, much to the dismay of Bradley fans in Peoria who still think it's 1952 and Bradley is a national power.  Redbird Arena, when it's rocking, is one of the best venues in college basketball.  It doesn't rank up there with Allen Fieldhouse or the Dean Dome, but for a mid major program, it's a hell of a home court advantage.

One of the sites I check just about every day is The Mid-Majority  They focus on schools outside of the power conferences (SEC, ACC, Big East, Big 10, Big 12, Pac 10, Mountain West, C-USA)  All of these schools have an average athletic budget over $20 million a year, a huge amount compared to the Missouri Valley, Sun Belt, WAC and other conferences.

Kyle Whelliston did an outstanding article on the state of college basketball in the NYC metro area...it's a great read, I'd love for you all to check it out!  Link below...

The Mid-Majority Road Report--The Empty City

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Reid and Race

From Real Clear Politics...

In his State of the Union response to Pres. George W. Bush a few years ago, Harry Reid included a heartwarming anecdote about a kid in his old hometown saying he wants to grow up to be like him. Did the ten-year-old realize that he, too, could be charmless and inarticulate and still be an awesomely powerful politician?


The furor over Reid's comments about then-candidate Barack Obama being "light-skinned" and not speaking in "a Negro dialect" says less about the Senate majority leader's racial attitudes than his already well-advertised tin - or is it iron? titanium? some metallic substance yet unknown to man? - ear. If nuance and verbal intelligence were necessary to success on Capitol Hill, Reid would have quit long ago.

But since when is a history of saying dumb things a defense in a racial controversy? Since when is the truth even a defense?

TheRoot.com, the website of Henry Louis Gates Jr., the Harvard professor last seen accusing a white cop of racism for the offense of showing up at his door, published an elaborate defense of Reid. It cited the 1993 paper "When White Voters Evaluate Black Candidates: The Processing Implications of Candidate Skin Color, Prejudice, and Self-Monitoring" to support Reid's contention that Obama's lightness would help him with voters. As for "Negro dialect," TheRoot.com argues it's a catchier phrase than "black or African-American vernacular English," and what harm comes from "using dated language with no bad intent"?

No conservative Republican should test this tolerance for archaic speech. Reid's idiocy is excused, fundamentally, by his political positions. In absolving him, Obama cited "the passionate leadership he's shown on issues of social justice." Al Sharpton, who's built a career on stoking distracting racial controversies, advised that "these comments should not distract America from its continued focus on securing health care."

Real racism has been almost entirely eliminated from respectable American public life. With no one defending segregated lunch counters anymore, the accusation of racism is left mostly to hang on infelicitous phrases, legitimate policy disagreements, or the airing of uncomfortable truths.

That means the charge has become unavoidably subjective, and those with the most credibility to make it - black politicians and civil-rights groups - all lean to the left. They've turned it into a handy political tool wielded only against their opponents. Reid could practically perform in a minstrel show, and the NAACP would defend him as long as he remained a reliably liberal vote.

It isn't just that Reid is treated differently than Republican Majority Leader Trent Lott, whose disastrously foolish praise of Strom Thurmond's segregationist 1948 presidential campaign spiraled into his resignation from leadership. It's that the Left read more meaning into a minor candidate for the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee distributing a CD with a parody song called "Barack the Magic Negro" than into Reid's earnest use of the term. It's that there was more outrage on the left over fabricated Rush Limbaugh quotes endorsing slavery than over comments Reid doesn't deny making.

The fraudulent Rush quotes illustrate the next logical step in the charade: Accusing someone of racism based on the belief that the person somehow should be racist. The anti-Obamacare protests of the summer had racial motives attributed to them, even though they were notably absent of racial content. One protester who ostentatiously carried his rifle outside an Obama event in Phoenix was deemed a racist threat to the president, even though he himself was black.

Taking the Reid flap to its absurdist conclusion, The Atlantic blogger Ta-Nehisi Coates concluded that GOP objections to Reid's comments themselves prove "that the GOP is not simply still infected with the vestiges of white supremacy and racism, but is neither aware of the infection, nor understands the disease." Maybe one of Reid's Republican critics can be made to resign for his insensitive criticisms.

Most racial controversies are eventually described as "teachable moments." If only the lesson of this one were that the politicized game of taking racial offense deserves permanent retirement.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Cigar Aficionado's Top 25 Cigars of the Year

Cigar Aficionado released their annual list of the top 25 cigars in the world today, and as always, there is much debate on the cigar blogs and message boards. Here are my thoughts in the list, and the process itself.


First, The List:

1.) Padron Family Reserve No. 45 Maduro
MADE BY: PadrĂ³n Cigars Inc.
FACTORY LOCATION: Nicaragua
WRAPPER: Nicaragua
BINDER: Nicaragua
FILLER: Nicaragua
PRICE: $25.00
RING GAUGE: 52
LENGTH: 6"
RATING: 95
I personally don’t feel this cigar should have been #1. I love a lot of stuff that Jorge and Orlando Padron are doing, but I thought this cigar was overhyped, and was dull and uninspired. With the marketing blitz behind it, it came onto the market in September with almost unprecedented buzz, and I was woefully unimpressed.

2.) Cohiba Siglo V Tubo
MADE BY: Habanos S.A.
FACTORY LOCATION: Cuba
WRAPPER: Cuba
BINDER: Cuba
FILLER: Cuba
PRICE: £25.00 ($40.06 USD)
RING GAUGE: 43
LENGTH: 6 3/4"
RATING: 94
This is one of the few Cubans that I like (not that I’ve had it, because that would be illegal) Cuban cigars in general have suffered a decline over the past 10-15 years. This has also coincided with huge advances in cigar quality from Honduras, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic. Almost every time someone asks me where they can get Cubans, they always want Cohibas. They are the biggest name in cigars in Cuba, and this cigar is deserving of their name.

3.) My Father No. 1
MADE BY: My Father Cigars Inc.
FACTORY LOCATION: Nicaragua
WRAPPER: Ecuador
BINDER: Nicaragua
FILLER: Nicaragua
PRICE: $10.00
RING GAUGE: 52
LENGTH: 5 1/4"
RATING: 94
This was my #1 cigar of the year. Pepin Garcia is the hottest cigar maker right now. His tobacco is second to none, and his blends and production are top notch. The leather and coffee flavors in this cigar make it a great compliment to a glass of aged single malt. The Habano seed wrapper grown in Ecuador is silky smooth with a nice touch of oil.

4.) Diamond Crown Maximus Double Corona No. 1
MADE BY: Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia.
FACTORY LOCATION: Dom. Rep.
WRAPPER: Ecuador
BINDER: Dom. Rep.
FILLER: Dom. Rep.
PRICE: $17.50
RING GAUGE: 50
LENGTH: 8"
RATING: 93
I have only smoked one Diamond Crown in my life, and was so unimpressed by it that I have no desire to spend the money on another one. There are so many other cigars in this price range that blow this away.

5.) Oliva Serie V Liga Especial Belicoso
MADE BY: Tabacalera Oliva Cigar S.A.
FACTORY LOCATION: Nicaragua
WRAPPER: Nicaragua
BINDER: Nicaragua
FILLER: Nicaragua
PRICE: $5.90
RING GAUGE: 54
LENGTH: 5"
RATING: 93
The Oliva Serie V is by far one of the best values in the cigar world. Its construction is fantastic, and they are able to match a true full bodied cigar with a touch of sweetness on the palate. I haven’t smoked many V’s lately, but I know it’s always there, in my humidor, and I reach for one when I’m not sure what I’m in the mood for. It’s a cigar that never disappoints.

6.) 601 Box Press Maduro Toro
MADE BY: My Father Cigars Inc.
FACTORY LOCATION: Nicaragua
WRAPPER: Nicaragua
BINDER: Nicaragua
FILLER: Nicaragua
PRICE: $9.30
RING GAUGE: 54
LENGTH: 6 1/4"
RATING: 93
Yet another cigar made by Pepin Garcia in the top 10. The 601’s in general, and especially the Maduro and Oscuro wrapped varieties, are absolutely gorgeous cigars, and their cocoa and strong coffee flavors match the appearance. Eddie Ortega and Erik Espinosa made a great choice when combining with Pepin Garcia to make this cigar.

7.) Arturo Fuente Hemingway Classic
MADE BY: Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia.
FACTORY LOCATION: Dom. Rep.
WRAPPER: Cameroon
BINDER: Dom. Rep.
FILLER: Dom. Rep.
PRICE: $8.10
RING GAUGE: 48
LENGTH: 7"
RATING: 92
This is my favorite production Fuente out there. For me, the wrapper makes this cigar…it is super thin with a toothiness that I like. The aroma and flavors on this cigar range from citrus to coffee, and it produces a large amount of smoke.

8.) Rocky Patel Olde World Reserve Maduro Torpedo
MADE BY: El Paraiso Factory
FACTORY LOCATION: Honduras
WRAPPER: Costa Rica
BINDER: Nicaragua
FILLER: Honduras
PRICE: $10.50
RING GAUGE: 54
LENGTH: 5"
RATING: 92
I’ve never been a huge fan of Rocky Patel’s cigars. Occasionally he’ll come up with a good one, but for the most part, in my opinion, he’s doing far too much. It seems like every week he’s coming out with a new blend, size, or cigar. This one surprised me, and I fell in love with the wrapper of this cigar. Not something I smoke frequently, but it’s a good change of pace smoke.

9.) Ashton Virgin Sun Grown Torpedo
MADE BY: Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia.
FACTORY LOCATION: Dom. Rep.
WRAPPER: Ecuador
BINDER: Dom. Rep.
FILLER: Dom. Rep.
PRICE: $11.25
RING GAUGE: 55
LENGTH: 6 1/2"
RATING: 92
This is my favorite Ashton, and the Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper is a piece of art. It’s not as full flavored as I like, but I’ve never had a bad one, and if you like a nice cedar flavor to your cigars, try this one for sure!

10.) Partagas Serie P No. 2 Tubo
MADE BY: Habanos S.A.
FACTORY LOCATION: Cuba
WRAPPER: Cuba
BINDER: Cuba
FILLER: Cuba
PRICE: £16.20 ($25.91 USD)
RING GAUGE: 52
LENGTH: 6 1/8"
RATING: 92
I haven’t had the opportunity to try this cigar yet, but it sounds like something I’d like. According to Cigar Aficionado it has a rich, earthy flavor.

11.) Aurora Preferidos Maduro Robusto
MADE BY: La Aurora S.A.
FACTORY LOCATION: Dom. Rep.
WRAPPER: Brazil
BINDER: Dom. Rep.
FILLER: Brazil, Dom. Rep., Cameroon
PRICE: $10.00
RING GAUGE: 50
LENGTH: 5"
RATING: 92
This was one of the strongest cigars on the top 25, mainly due to the large amount of Brazilian tobacco in the cigar. It is also one of the few cigars made today that uses Cameroon tobacco in its filler. I would have rated this cigar higher, probably 6 or 7. It was a strong hickory flavor, with a hint of cherry…it almost reminds me of a backyard BBQ down south.

12.) Casa Magna Colorado Extraordinario
MADE BY: Segovia Cigar Factory
FACTORY LOCATION: Nicaragua
WRAPPER: Nicaragua
BINDER: Nicaragua
FILLER: Nicaragua
PRICE: $10.75
RING GAUGE: 58
LENGTH: 7"
RATING: 92
The Casa Magna Colorado Robusto was named #1 last year. As normally happens when a relatively unknown cigar is highly rated, they couldn’t keep up with demand. This cigar is still a good value at the price, and is beautifully constructed. It has a little more pepper than I remembered from the robust, and is a good smoke, just not one that I will reach for again.

13.) La Flor Dominicana Salomon
MADE BY: Tabacalera La Flor S.A.
FACTORY LOCATION: Dom. Rep.
WRAPPER: Nicaragua
BINDER: Dom. Rep.
FILLER: Dom. Rep.
PRICE: $23.00
RING GAUGE: 64
LENGTH: 7"
RATING: 92
This is a great cigar, but it is a bit pricey. The price is well justified by the difficulty in rolling this thick (an inch around at its widest) cigar, but the price also takes it out of my regular rotation. Litto Gomez is still creating great blends though, as evidenced by his Factory Press series, as well as the Double Ligero, which is my current go to cigar.

14.) Fuente Fuente Opus X Reserva D’Chateau
MADE BY: Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia.
FACTORY LOCATION: Dom. Rep.
WRAPPER: Dom. Rep.
BINDER: Dom. Rep.
FILLER: Dom. Rep.
PRICE: 92
RING GAUGE: 48
LENGTH: 7"
RATING: 92
Carlos Fuente, Jr. and Sr. have long been two of the most respected and revered names in the cigar industry. Their Opus X line has been one of the most talked about brands in recent history. The main problem I have with Opus is, for my palate, they’re not very good right away. You give one about 2-3 years more age, and you have an outstanding smoke. However, like the LFD Salomon, their price takes them out of my regular rotation, but they are good for an occasional special event cigar.

15.) Benji Menendez Partagas Master Series Majestuoso
MADE BY: General Cigar Co.
FACTORY LOCATION: Dom. Rep.
WRAPPER: Cameroon
BINDER: U.S.A./Conn. Habano
FILLER: Dom. Rep., Nicaragua
PRICE: $9.98
RING GAUGE: 46
LENGTH: 6"
RATING: 92
This is by far the best Partagas I’ve ever had. The thin, oily Cameroon wrapper is a perfect compliment for the faintly salty taste I got, combined with a bit of pepper. Outstanding cigar…in my top 10 for the year.

16.) Alec Bradley Family Blend
MADE BY: Fabrica de Tabacos Raices Cubanas S. de R.L.
FACTORY LOCATION: Honduras
WRAPPER: Honduras
BINDER: Indonesia
FILLER: Honduras, Nicaragua
PRICE: $6.50
RING GAUGE: 50
LENGTH: 5 1/2"
RATING: 92
This is not the Alec Bradley cigar I would have had on the top 25. I wasn’t that impressed with it personally, but the SCR and Tempus are great smokes.

17.) Partagas Salomon
MADE BY: Habanos S.A.
FACTORY LOCATION: Cuba
WRAPPER: Cuba
BINDER: Cuba
FILLER: Cuba
PRICE: £19.00($30.44 USD)
RING GAUGE: 57
LENGTH: 7 1/4"
RATING: 92
Haven’t had this cigar, and wouldn’t mind trying it. It looks beautiful.

18.) Ambos Mundos No. 2 Robusto
MADE BY: My Father Cigars Inc.
FACTORY LOCATION: Nicaragua
WRAPPER: Ecuador
BINDER: Nicaragua
FILLER: Nicaragua
PRICE: $5.00
RING GAUGE: 50
LENGTH: 5"
RATING: 92
Yet another Pepin cigar in the top 25. This one, made for Pete Johnson of Tatuaje, is the best cigar for the money on the market, hands down. Great pepper, with a hint of coffee and leather. This cigar can stand up to the strongest of coffees, and is a perfect complement to a nice glass of rum. A must try.

19.) Illusione Epernay Le Ferme
MADE BY: Fabrica de Tabacos Raices Cubanas S. de R.L.
FACTORY LOCATION: Honduras
WRAPPER: Nicaragua
BINDER: Nicaragua
FILLER: Nicaragua
PRICE: $8.50
RING GAUGE: 48
LENGTH: 5 1/4"
RATING: 92
This is another cigar I would have liked to have seen rated higher. Dion at Illusione is creating a lot of buzz in the cigar world, for both his cigars, and his marketing. It takes a unique man to show up at the largest tobacco trade show with a display featuring the picture of cult leader Jim Jones. His message, “Don’t drink the Kool Aid.” Cigars are all about marketing, and once you decide what you actually like, not what marketing tells you you should like, things are much better for you. This is a cigar that, with or without marketing, is a must smoke. A hint of sweetness on the finish preceded by bits of pepper and leather.

20.) Mi Dominicana Lancero
MADE BY: Tabacalera de Garcia Ltd.
FACTORY LOCATION: Dom. Rep.
WRAPPER: Dom. Rep.
BINDER: Dom. Rep.
FILLER: Dom. Rep.
PRICE: $8.00
RING GAUGE: 40
LENGTH: 7 1/2"
RATING: 92
This cigar, a Dominican puro, is a very interesting smoke. It’s not as flavorful or full bodied as I like, but the lancero is very well made, and a beauty to the eye. It’s worth a try.

21.) Casa Fernandez Lancero
MADE BY: Fabrica de Tabacos Raices Cubanas S. de R.L.
FACTORY LOCATION: Honduras
WRAPPER: Nicaragua
BINDER: Nicaragua
FILLER: Nicaragua
PRICE: $7.00
RING GAUGE: 40
LENGTH: 7 1/2"
RATING: 92
Wow, is all I can say about this cigar. Certainly full bodied, with a very toothy dark oily wrapper that is bursting with hickory flavor…great smoke, in my top 10 as well.

22.) Padilla Signature 1932 Torpedo
MADE BY: Fabrica de Tabacos Raices Cubanas S. de R.L.
FACTORY LOCATION: Honduras
WRAPPER: Nicaragua
BINDER: Nicaragua
FILLER: Nicaragua
PRICE: $11.50
RING GAUGE: 50
LENGTH: 6"
RATING: 92
Ernesto Padilla is one of my favorite people in the cigar industry, and this cigar is a perfect indication of why. He is a traditionalist who makes cigars for people that admire full bodied cigars. This cigar has just a hint of pepper to go with a rich leathery taste that is sure to please just about everybody.

23.) C.A.O. Lx2 Toro
MADE BY: C.A.O. Fabrica de Tabacos S.A.
FACTORY LOCATION: Honduras
WRAPPER: Nicaragua
BINDER: Honduras
FILLER: Nicaragua, Dom. Rep.
PRICE: $7.25
RING GAUGE: 50
LENGTH: 6"
RATING: 91
This cigar does a great job of blending strength with flavor. Smooth, creamy smoke comes out of this cigar, and you’ll get some nice pepper flavors, with just a hint of sweetness and leather.

24.) Xikar HC Series Babano Colorado Belicoso
MADE BY: Segovia Cigar Factory
FACTORY LOCATION: Nicaragua
WRAPPER: Nicaragua
BINDER: Nicaragua
FILLER: Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras
PRICE: $9.25
RING GAUGE: 54
LENGTH: 6"
RATING: 91
I was very skeptical to try this cigar. I’ve long been a fan of Xikar for their cutters and lighters, but was leery of them spilling over into the cigar making business. I was wrong. This is a great full bodied smoke blended by Jesus Feugo, with a brilliant blend of filler tobaccos. Heavy pepper flavor here, and not for the faint of heart!

25.) Nestor Miranda Special Selection Coffee Break
MADE BY: My Father Cigars Inc.
FACTORY LOCATION: Nicaragua
WRAPPER: Nicaragua
BINDER: Nicaragua
FILLER: Nicaragua, Honduras, Dom. Rep.
PRICE: $6.00
RING GAUGE: 50
LENGTH: 4 1/2"
RATING: 91
It’s only fitting that the top 25 end with a cigar made by Pepin Garcia. This is one of the few medium bodied cigars I enjoy, with just a hint of sweetness. It was great seeing what Miranda and Garcia could do with Honduran and Dominican tobaccos. This is a must try also.

Now the Process:

Here’s what Cigar Aficionado says about their rating system for cigar of the year:

It’s the most challenging of tests facing any cigar—making it onto Cigar Aficionado’s Top 25 list. It’s hard enough for a cigar to rise to the top of any one of our ratings, but to make it here requires consistent performance. A cigar must excel in not only one taste test, but in several. And the competition gets stiffer each time. It’s an exhaustive search. We begin by scouring a year’s worth of blind tastings from Cigar Aficionado magazine and Cigar Insider, our twice-monthly newsletter on cigars. We rate more than 700 cigars annually, and this year we looked at all the cigars that scored a minimum of 90 points, outstanding on our 100-point scale. We eliminated duplicates among brands, choosing the best of each, then sent our tasting coordinator out to buy new samples of the chosen cigars. Just as in the original tests, the coordinator stripped each cigar of its identifying cigar band and gave each cigar a new code known only to him (and he is not one of the tasters). The cigars were then smoked by a panel of senior tasters from the magazine, each with a minimum of 12 years experience in cigar tastings. The cigars were rated on their appearance, smoking characteristics, flavor and overall impression, and those scores were averaged for each cigar. At the conclusion of that round, the best of the cigars were rebanded once again with a new code and resmoked by the panel to ensure their consistent quality, and to find the very best. This final tasting consisted of 14 cigars, all of them wonderful, none of them mediocre. At the end, we had our cigar of the year, a smoke that was clear in our tasters’ minds as the very best of a series of rigorous and exhaustive tests, a cigar that we found absolutely brilliant.

It seems pretty simple to me. All the conspiracy theorists that say if you spend more on advertising, you get better ratings. It’s simply not true. The process is legit. One thing people need to keep in mind is that the ratings, as in all ratings, should be a guide, not a gospel. I’ve learned over the years to read the descriptions, not the ratings, to decide if it’s a cigar worth trying. If the description says full bodied, tons of pepper, I’m going to try it, even if it gets an 85. If a cigar is a 95 and it has flavors of salt, citrus, or is mild, it’s not something I’m likely to try.

For all the people who get bent out of shape about the ratings…remember one thing…you’re reading the ratings and talking about them, which is exactly what Cigar Aficionado wants.

Links Of The Day

Culture of Corruption Creates Awful Bill--RealClearPolitics
What Health Care Reform Means to the States--Time Magazine
The Risk of a Catasrophic Victory--The Wall Street Journal
Why The GOP Should Be More Like A Pizza Chain--Jonah Goldberg
Why Dems Are Jumping Ship--CNN.com
Libertarianism's Comeback--RealClearPolitics
Internet Exposes Obama Chicanary
9 Reasons Why Dec Job Report is Bad for Dems--Reuters
Where American Health Care Ranks #1--Wall Street Journal
The Gitmo Obsession--Charles Krauthammer

Supreme Court Should Rule Against NFL--Drew Brees
NBA Needs To Teach Guys Like Arenas
Seahawks Fire Mora, Target Carroll--ESPN

Also, today Cigar Aficianado Magazine announced their entire Top 25 of the year, and as always, there are large disagreements among cigar smokers...look for another post in a bit about that.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Why I'm a Conservative, Plus Some Other Thoughts

“If you’re not a liberal at age 20, you have no heart…if you’re not a conservative at age 40, you have no brain”—Winston Churchill


People ask me a lot why I’m a conservative. They say things like, “You’re young, the GOP is for old people”, or things along those lines.

Well, I’ll lay out why now…I’m not defending it, because I strongly feel that, as long as someone has real reasons for their views, they shouldn’t have to defend them.

1.) I grew up in a conservative leaning house. Parents are the earliest influences on a child, and more often than not, this includes politics. Some children embrace their parent’s politics. Imagine all the kids growing up hearing things like, “That damn Clinton, he screwed Monica now he’s screwing us”, or “George Bush is the biggest idiot I’ve ever seen!” It has a strong affect on kids.

I still remember the night of the 1992 Presidential election, watching the returns with my dad. I was pulling so hard for George H.W. Bush. At that time, I was 10 years old, and I didn’t really know why. The same went for Bob Dole in 1996. I was so excited to register to vote when I turned 18. My first election was the Presidential election of 2000, which was memorable for some reason. I stayed up until 7:00 AM watching the back and forth coverage, still not sure who our next president was.

Later that November, I was with my dad in Tallahassee, FL for the Florida State vs. Florida football game and got to witness some of the mayhem up close. It was amazing for me to see all the pundits I had been watching on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC for the past month. The buzz was palpable, as people knew the Florida Supreme Court was close to ruling on the recount. One lasting image in my head…the two young Tallahassee Community College Students, one wearing a shirt that said “Lick Bush” the other wearing a shirt that said “Beat Dick”. I didn’t agree with their politics…but dammit, I loved the First Amendment.

2.) I consider myself a big picture kind of guy. One thing I always stress to people is think about the future. In last year’s election, for my economic and social status, I probably should have voted for Barrack Obama. However, for the good of the country, I knew the choice was John McCain. Liberal and Progressive ideas often seem to be about instant gratification, which is great…but what happens 10, 20, 30 years down the road?

I was not a huge fan of George W. Bush’s second term. I don’t believe he was as bad as most people think, but he could have used improvement, I’m the first person to say that. With the state of the economy, even I, with my very limited grasp of economic principles and policy knew that spending was not the answer. We needed someone who would tighten the belt, not go out and buy a new belt with stimulus money.

As a country, we are at a record deficit, and our national debt is skyrocketing…soon to be raised to $14 trillion dollars. It’s my generation, along with that of my children, and grandkids, that will be saddled with paying that off. That gives you a lot to think about.

3.) I firmly believe Ronald Reagan got it right when he said, “Government is not the solution to our problems…Government is the problem.” I’ve always worked for what I have, and have been lucky to know the right people and make the right connections. But nothing has been handed to me in my life. I think that the government’s role should be to keep the country safe and keep it operational. Sure, national health care seems like a great idea, but not when you look at the staggering costs. The inefficiencies in the government are mind boggling. This needs to be curtailed if we’re ever going to cut down on the debt. I mean seriously…Department of Education never should have even been introduced. The government has no Constitutional power to regulate education. It was the responsibility of the states for 200 years, than Jimmy Carter comes along, and by a margin of 4 votes in the house, gets the Department of Education set up.

4.) We can’t always be everyone’s friend. It’s something that is often hard for liberals and progressives to understand. If some people or countries don’t like us, that’s fine. We need to lookout for ourselves, first and foremost. Was it the right thing to invade Iraq…looking back on it, no. However, hindsight is always 20/20. In my opinion, it would have been irresponsible for Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld to ignore the intelligence that the US, Britain, Greece, and Australia had regarding the WMD’s. All the people that yelled, “Bush Lied, Kids Died”, weren’t privy to the daily, and sometimes hourly security briefings that the President gets. Last time I checked, Cindy Sheehan didn’t have Yankee White clearance.

5.) Because I can. That’s what’s great about America. In theory, no one is persecuted for their political beliefs. While I do find something wrong with people who vote blindly, i.e. African American’s voting for Barrack Obama simply because he’s black, or white’s voting against Obama because he was black. If you have reasons that are legitimate, feel free to voice them. I can back up my opinions with fact, and sometimes, unfortunately, it seems to be getting harder and harder to find others who can do the same, and that goes for both sides of the isle.

Politics will always be a divisive issue in America, but with respect and understanding, along with a little patience, we can have a very effective dialogue on politics. I firmly believe that we should be able to talk about things that are normally taboo…politics, religion, sex, race…in an open and candid manor. It will make us a much better country.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Pete Johnson & Tatuaje Cigars Creates Mass Hysteria in Cigar World

To follow up on the success of last year’s wildly popular Monster Series, Pete Johnson, owner of Tatuaje Cigars had a tough chore ahead of him. His attempt was this year’s release, The Drac, a fang shaped torpedo (6.75 X 52) cigar, a Nicaraguan puro with a beautiful Habano Maduro wrapper.


Pete has been one of the marketing geniuses since he burst on the premium cigar scene 5 years ago. In October of 2008, he released a cigar called the Frank. It was a very limited run, with only 666 boxes of 13 made. The cigar was one of the most sought after cigars in a long time, so Pete decided to up the quantity for this year.

On Tuesday, October 13, 2009, Tatuaje announced which retailers would get large allotments of the coveted Drac, as well as the Boris (“The Frank out of costume”) which was a Frank cigar from 2008 with a different wrapper. The “Unlucky 13” retailers were announced, and chaos ensued.

Smoke Signals Tobacconist, located in Port Jefferson, NY was lucky, er should I say unlucky enough, to be chosen to receive 31 boxes. The list was put on www.tatuajecigars.com at 1:00 PM EST (13:00 hours…sensing a theme here?)

As a long time friend of Smoke Signals’ owner Scott Stanley, I was ready to man the phones. Within two hours, I had answered at least 100 calls regarding the Drac. Unfortunately for the people calling, Pete himself was to make an appearance at Smoke Signals on November 1st, so there would be no over the phone sales, and the boxes would be made available on the 1st, first come, first serve.

On Sunday, November 1st, there were people lined up outside Smoke Signals at 8:00 AM, for an event that didn’t start until Noon! All this to be able to buy a box of the Dracs!

And for all, the wait was well worth it. The Drac is an outstanding smoke, that is different from anything Tatuaje has released as of yet.

The packaging itself had people buzzing, with the fang shaped cigars coming in coffin shaped boxes of 13, complete with a wax seal and red lacquered inside. Inside random boxes of both the Boris and the Drac were 13 Spooky Tickets. The lucky recipients of these tickets were entered into a drawing to win a custom Ducati motorcycle.

The cigar, which featured a black and red Tatuaje band on the foot, had a pre smoke aroma of light leather and chocolate. The smoke was thick; however it lacked the amount of pepper you’re used to from a Tatuaje cigar.

People expecting a cigar that would knock them on their butts were disappointed, but for my liking, the cigar was a perfect blend of spice, pepper, and complexity. At different points in the cigar, I detected leather, pepper, citrus, and even an aroma resembling raisins.

About half way through the cigar, the strength creeps up on you, and you realize it’s definitely on the full side of medium to full strength.

Overall, the cigar was well worth the wait. It has an MSRP of $13, before any applicable state tobacco taxes. Smoke Signals retailed theirs for $16 each, which was right on track. I saw other retailers charging as much as $50 each for the cigars.

Once again, Pete Johnson has done it! He has an uncanny knack for creating buzz, and the products to match it. I can’t wait for Halloween 2010 and the next Monster Series release…I wonder what it will be?

Links of the Day

Here ya go...

Obama's Out To Lunch Response to Terrosim
The New Two Party System
Medicare and the Mayo Clinic
The Whirlwind of Obama's Ambiguity
The Tom DeLay Democrats
Obama Begins 2010 With Highest Disapproval Rating, second lowest Approval Rating, on Record

Enjoy for now...more to be added later!

The Truth Behind Andy Martin

With all the publicity that Andy Martin is getting nowadays, let’s take a look back at some of his greatest hits. This man has no business running for elected office anywhere in the country, as a Republican or a Democrat. He is an evil, hate filled man who has a lot of issues he needs to work out. Maybe he didn’t get enough hugs as a kid, or something like that…but he obviously feels that he’s been wronged, and he uses the courts and the airwaves to try and right his perceived injustice.


It starts in 1973, when the Illinois Supreme Court refused to grant him a license to practice law, in part because he tried to have a parking violation thrown out because he said it had been “entered by an insane judge”.

After that, he moved to Massachusetts, and owned a country music station. After that failed, he decided he wanted to be a consumer advocate, calling himself the “people’s attorney general”. At one point, he filed an antitrust suit against the Big Three TV Networks, claiming anticompetitive practices in network affiliation agreements.

He ran in 1996 for the Florida State Senate, but that attempt failed, mainly because it was revealed that, in 1986 while running for the Florida House, he named his campaign committee “The Anthony R. Martin-Trigona Congressional Campaign to Exterminate Jew Power in America”. Just before that election, he assaulted two cameramen from WPTV, the NBC affiliate in West Palm Beach, FL. He was convicted of criminal mischief, and sentenced to a year in jail.

He was freed pending appeal, but decided it’d be a good idea to threaten the judge as he was leaving the courtroom. He was sentenced to 7 months in jail, but for some reason was released after serving only 1.

He never showed up for his appeal hearings, and a warrant was issued for his arrest. As near as I can tell, the warrant is still outstanding, although he claims it’s being “resolved.”

Over the years, he has also claimed the George W. Bush used cocaine, which has never been substantiated, and that his brain suffered irreparable damage from alcohol abuse, also something that has never even come close to being substantiated.

After a visit to Iraq in 2003, he claimed that he knew where Saddam Hussein was hiding, and put in a claim on the government’s $25 million reward.

Andy Martin also started rumors about our current president, Barrack Obama. He issued a press release shortly after Obama’s keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, claiming Obama “lied to the American people” and “misrepresented his heritage.” Martin asserts that Obama is really a Muslim, and he was hiding this to “endanger Israel”. Now I’ll be the first to admit, President Obama has lied to the country about a number of things…being a Muslim is not one of them.

In 2008, Martin changed course, and now says that Obama’s father isn’t Barrack Obama, Sr., but it actually Frank Marshall Davis, an African American journalist who worked in Hawaii in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Apparently it doesn’t matter to him that Obama was born in 1961.

Martin recently announced that he would be filling a lawsuit against Wikipedia, saying they were a “protosocialist scam that target conservatives, and a tax exempt wing of Obama’s political operations.”

All this brings me to his #1 hit:

In 1983, Andy Martin filed a bankruptcy case in the Southern District of New York. In one of his motions, he called the judge “a crooked, slimy Jew who has a history of lying and thieving common to members of his race.”

In another motion, he stated “I am able to understand how the Holocaust took place, and with every passing day feel less and less sorry that it did.” When confronted with these quotes, he relied they were put there by malicious judges.

Andy Martin craves attention, and his outlandish attack on Rep. Mark Kirk is giving him far more than he deserves. He’s a nomad, both physically and politically, who has run for office in numerous states as a Republican and Democrat.

Bottom line is, it makes no difference if Mark Kirk is gay or not, it won’t affect how good of a Senator he is. Do I feel Mark Kirk is the best choice for Illinois as Senator, absolutely not. However, given the choice between him or Alexi Giannoulias, it’s not a contest. Mark Kirk is the best chance for the GOP to take over Barrack Obama’s former Senate seat, and he deserves the support of all Republicans, conservative or moderate.

Cigars and Smoking Bans

As most people who know me know, I’m very passionate about cigars. They are a favorite hobby of mine, and a source of true relaxation. I have traveled around the country, and soon, around the hemisphere in order to more fully understand my passion. I have been to cigar events from coast to coast, and spent time in the Dominican Republic, learning what goes into a premium cigar, from soil to cigar. This September, I will journey into the heart of Nicaragua and Honduras to further that knowledge.


As a cigar enthusiast, and an American, it pains me to see cigar enthusiasts lumped together with cigarette smokers, especially in smoking bans and tobacco taxes. When Congress initially suggested the cap on federal taxes on cigars be raised from 5 cents per cigar to $10 per cigar, people used the justification that cigars were for the rich. Rush Limbaugh coming out against the tax didn’t help. The fact of the matter is most cigar enthusiasts are middle class Americans who view cigars as an affordable and obtainable luxury, not unlike Starbucks.

When I see a cigar, I see a work of art. What other product, that is 100% handmade, can you enjoy for around $10. I think of all the people that had something to do with that cigar, which usually numbers in the hundreds. I think of how tobacco from regions around the world, where tobacco is their biggest cash crop, blend together to make something one of a kind. It is truly humbling when you put it in that aspect.

When it comes to smoking bans, the very establishments that should allow smoking, cigar bars are being singled out. Most laws say that you can’t allow smoking if you serve liquor. The purpose of a cigar bar is for consenting adults to get together and enjoy and share their hobby. If they want to have a glass of scotch or a microbrew with it, that shouldn’t be a crime.

I’m all for smoking bans in family restaurants. I used to hate nothing worse than going to Applebee’s or some other brass & fern chain restaurant, and having to sit in the smoking section. But, in a bar, where you have to be 21 to enter, you have a choice. You can go there or not. If you don’t like smoke, don’t go there. Bottom line is, it should be up to the owner. It boggles my mind that, in what is supposed to be the freest country on earth, the owner of an establishment is told that he can’t allow a perfectly legal activity in there. If people don’t like it, they can vote with their wallets and not go there.

I know I’m probably in the minority here, but I urge you to act, on behalf of personal choice. Make exemptions in the smoking ban for establishments that carry a Class “A” Liquor license. A 21+ year old adult should be able to decide on his own if he wants to go to an establishment, knowing the risks. The decision shouldn’t belong to a nanny government. We need to go back to when America was a great country, not a condo association with too many rules and bylaws.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Health Care and Transperency

Throughout the 2008 Presidential Campaign, Barrack Obama pledged to open his administration up to a new level of transperency.  Gone would be the Bush tactics of declaring executive privilege, and hiding information from the public.

After the health care debacle, the American people know what I assumed all along...this is total BS.  Word is today that Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi will begin informal meetings to hash out differences between the two bills.  This also breaks Obama's pledge for bipartisanship, but than again, he doesn't need and GOP support to ram an unpopular bill down the throats of Americans.

While the reconciliation won't be easy, it looks like Democratic members of the House will have to give up a lot more than the Senate. 

Here are the major issues that seperate the two bills:

How to pay for it:
The largest source of new revenue in the House version of healthcare reform legislation is a tax on wealthy Americans. It consists of a 5.4 percent surcharge on families with annual incomes over $1 million and on individuals with incomes over $500,000. It's estimated to bring in $461 billion over the next decade.


In contrast, the largest source of new revenue in the Senate version of the bill is an excise tax on high-cost health insurance plans. The Congressional Budget Office estimates this would raise $149 billion over 10 years. The Senate raises another $238 billion over the decade via a mix of fees on insurers and some health device manufacturers, and other provisions.

The Public Option:
The House version has a public option – a government-run insurance plan that would negotiate payment rates with doctors and hospitals. (Liberals would have preferred that it use the Medicare rates set by the government, which would probably have been lower.)


The House bill allocates $2 billion for public option start-up money. But premiums from beneficiaries would have to pay for the full cost of the plan after it got up and running.

The Senate bill ... well, that was kind of a struggle, wasn't it? The Senate bill has no public option, following objections from Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I) of Connecticut and moderate Democrats about government intervention in the marketplace.

Instead, under the Senate bill, the federal Office of Personnel Management would oversee two national health plans from private firms offered through the exchanges to individuals, families, and small businesses. At least one of those plans would have to be operated on a nonprofit basis.

Abortion:
Under the House bill, health plans, in general, could choose whether to cover abortion or not. But federal money couldn't be used for abortions, except in cases of rape or incest, or if the life of the pregnant woman was in danger.


The public option plan would not provide abortion coverage, for instance, in the House version of the bill. Nor could individuals who received federal subsidies to buy insurance choose a plan that covers elective abortions.

Abortion language in the Senate bill is different in important details. As in the House version, the Senate language allows health plans, in general, to choose whether to cover abortion or not. But states could block plans that cover abortion from being offered through the new insurance exchanges.

The Senate would allow people who receive federal subsidies to buy insurance to enroll in plans that cover abortion. But they would have to make two separate monthly payments: one for abortion coverage, and one for all other health coverage.

As shown in the recent negotiations in the Senate, including the now infamous Louisiana Purchase and Cornhusker Kickback, there is little room for Harry Reid to opperate with.  Anything more progressive or liberal the the bill that passed on Chirstmas Eve is sure to be met with opposition from the Senate's centrist Democrats.

This is going to proove to be very interesting political theater over the next month.  It's just too bad that, as Americans, we won't be able to know what's going on behind closed doors.

Hope & Change my ass

Links Of The Day

Today, we focus on Health Care, The War on Terror, the Economy, and a few other POTUS issues...as well as some sports to boot

C-Span Challenges Congress to Open Health Care Talks to TV Coverage
Democrats Ponder Crafting Obama's Final Health Care Bill Behind Closed Doors
Hiding Health Care Behind Closed Doors
Harry Reid Decried Lack on Conferences in 2006
Obama's aide Terror-Fying
What the US needs to do to Remain #1 Economy
Time for Accountability at the White House
It wasn't Trickery that made TCU's Dream Season Disappear
Romo or McNabb?
Bears Fire Offensive Coordinator and most of Offensive Coaching Staff

Sunday, January 3, 2010



Enough said...

Immigrant Advocate Uses Texting to Warn of U.S. Crime Sweeps - Local News | News Articles | National News | US News - FOXNews.com

Immigrant Advocate Uses Texting to Warn of U.S. Crime Sweeps - Local News

News Articles
National News
US News - FOXNews.com


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Here are my thoughts on the article:


1.) Illegal immigrants are not undocumented workers, or any other PC word that people come up with. More often than not, people seem to forget that the reason they are called illegal immigrants or aliens is simple...they are here ILLEGALLY.


2.) From the story: "Lydia Guzman, director of the nonprofit immigrant advocacy group Respect/Respeto, is the trunk of a sophisticated texting tree designed to alert thousands of people within minutes to the details of the sweeps, which critics contend are an excuse to round up illegal immigrants, The Arizona Republic newspaper reported."


Bottom line...no excuse is needed...if I break the law, police don't need an excuse to arrest me.


3.) Also from the story: "Guzman said the messages are part of an effort to protect Latinos and others from becoming victims of racial profiling by sheriff's deputies. Deputies have been accused of stopping Hispanics, including citizens and legal immigrants, for minor traffic violations to check their immigration status."


Let me get this straight...deputies are being accused of stopping people for traffic violations...how dare they do their job.


4.) The thing that bugs me the most about the illegal immigrant debate is simple...Latino organizations, and most liberal organizations, turn the debate into race. I don't care if someone is here illegally from Mexico, Haiti, Panama, or England. They are here illegally, that is why I think they should be brought to justice, not because they are of Hispanic origin.


5.) I also feel that sending text messages about the sweeps is perfectly legal, since the sweeps are published beforehand. Like I always say, usually about Michael Moore, or some other blow hard...I don't like what they say, but I'll sure as hell fight for their right to say it.


What say ye?

Links of the Day

As my schedule permits...I'll try and throw up a dozen or so interesting links every day...well they're interesting to me, and I'm the HMFIC of this blog, so that's all that really matters now, isn't it.

NY Post Column on how a GOP win in 2010 would allow Obama to be a better president
Op-Ed Piece by Denver's Attorney General on the illegality of the "Cornhusker Comprimise"
Column calling for more outrage from Presidnet Obama on attempted terror attack
Obama Pretends To Get Tough on Yemen
Blowing Up Obama's Naive Approach on Terrosim
Do not ignore this warning from al-Qaeda
Replace the NFL's Pro Bowl With Somthing Meaningful
Iran Denies Entry to Sen. John Kerry
TCU & Boise St. Make Most of It
NBA finds Nothing Funny in Arenas Probe
How the "Monster" Took its toll on Urban Meyer

If you haev any links you think I'd like, Please Send Them To Me
Enjoy!

Welcome To The Inner Workings Of My Mind!

Thanks for checking out my blog!


From time to time, I'm going to post here random thoughts I have about current events. I'll focus on my three main passions...cigars, politics, and sports.

One thing that has been bothering me lately is the situation at Texas Tech University. For those who don't know, they recently fired their head coach, Mike Leach, amid allegations that he mistreated a player suffering from the after effects of a concussion. The drama level was greater due to the fact that the player, Adam James, is the son of former New England Patriots running back, and current ESPN analyst Craig James.

First off, Mike Leach and Texas Tech have had a rocky relationship in the past year or so. He led them to an 11-2 season last year, but they had a difference of opinion on how much he was worth. They had a very public, and unprofessional, stand off during contract negotiations over the summer.

First off, even the mere mention of mistreating a player with a concussion should cause alarm. As we've seen in the past, concussions, combined with a football player's natural desire to play when injured, can lead to devastating consequences.

Secondly, after hearing and reading interviews with Texas Tech players, it seems none of them were too fond of their former coach.

Said Senor offensive lineman Brandon Carter, "I don't want to say anything bad about the fans, but this is not the first situation that something like this has happened. This is just the first time someone stepped forward. I don't want fans thinking that Adam James did this because he was upset but it was just kind of the last straw, and sooner or later something was going to come out. This is the first situation that someone spoke up about."

Since Texas Tech fired Leach with cause, they do not own him the remaining money on the 5 year, $12.7 Million dollar contract he signed last off season.

One thing is for sure, this will end up in a long, drawn out legal battle that will be bad for Adam James, Mike Leach, Texas Tech, and college football.

I haven't been able to find one current Texas Tech player who has gone on the record supporting Mike Leach since he was suspended and subsequently fired. Here are a few quotes from his current players:

"I have no complaints about this decision. [Leach] put Adam [James] in a shed like an animal. Like an animal in a cage. That was bull," defensive lineman Chris Perry said. "You call other players. I think it was a good decision. We have our pep back now. We practice hard this week. We had less stress this week. You know why? Because he's gone."

"I do agree and I'm supporting Adam and what he's doing because it's the right thing to do," said wide receiver Tramain Swindall.

Said cornerback Taylor Charbonnet: "The players make this team, not one coach. As Adam's friend, I didn't like it at all what [Leach] did. He was my brother and I didn't agree with it. I don't know why [Leach] did that. But I know we are fully behind [interim] coach Ruffin [McNeill]. We love him and support him."

A lot of Leach's former players, including Wes Welker, have come out in support of Leach, which leads me to believe that something happened to Mike Leach, either during last year's contract negotiations or right after.

His behavior is unacceptable, and to me, it's clear he was trying to make an example out of Adam Jones, and that alone could have lead to a serious injury, or even worse, by a subsequent player.

The sooner this situation is taken care of, the sooner Texas Tech can move on, and with that, college football can move on, hopefully to a national playoff system...but that's a story for another blog post!