Opposition for opposition’s sake is a no-win balancing act

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imageAs most parents will tell you, every child goes through a stage where they seem to suffer from oppositional disorder, fervently opposing even the slightest difference of opinion as if the future of the world depended on it.

Although I can’t confirm it, I’m pretty sure humanity will survive no matter who sang “Shameless” first.

(Billy Joel, by the way.)

Whether it’s the “terrible twos” or teens (or both, Lord help you) it’s part of a necessary step toward independence and establishing personal perspective on the road to maturity.

However, opposition itself isn’t a sign of maturity.

Opposition for sake the of opposition only limits our opportunities, our perspectives and the kind of understanding that helps us grow as
individuals.

Maturity happens with the recognition of this fundamental truth.  Continue reading

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Tax terms that can help cover your assets

image After clearing off the kitchen table and finding an outlet for the calculator, I sat down to do my taxes. As always, I made sure to have all the necessary documentation and forms — W4s, tax forms, bank statements, insurance reports, tax schedules and, most importantly, a full box of Kleenex.

As I sat staring at this year’s tax booklet, I noticed a special section of “Tax Terms,” which is an alphabetical listing of terms one may encounter during the tax preparation process. Each term is followed by a brief description meant to enlighten the truth-seeking taxpayer through “real-life” examples. For instance, the IRS uses “Jane” and “John” to illustrate the term “Ability to Pay.” In this scenario, Jane is filthy rich, with homes on both coasts that she visits by way of her own Lear jet.

By comparison, John earns what the IRS calls a “more modest salary,” which affords him a flashlight and a camper shell to live in.

(Read the rest at Long Awkward Pause!)

Aiken says he’s ‘Measure of a Man’ Congress needs

(Some of you may have noticed the new Long Awkward Pause badge off to the right. Go ahead and look… See? And although I would have put it there simply because it looks cool, it actually means I’ve become a regular contributor there beginning today. What follows is a snippet from my first hard-hitting assignment, which included driving to North Carolina to interview Clay Aiken. Here’s a snippet along with a link to the post at LAP. And I promise to never again say “snippet” and “link” together in the same sentence…)

image RALEIGH, N.C. —  My interview with singer and 2003 American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken began with a tour of North Carolina’s second Congressional district. As I sat on the back of his bedazzled Vespa motor scooter, Aiken seemed to take pride in his city, as well as take corners so sharply I had to squeeze his waist. Though he formally announced his bid for Congress a week ago, Aiken told me more than once that he’s no politician.

“I’m no politician!” he shouted over his shoulder, then swerved to avoid a cloud of mosquitoes. “Woooo! Shields down!”

Some speculate that his run against Republican incumbent Renee Ellmers is a publicity stunt aimed at putting him back in the spotlight for the release of his next album, Aiken for Change, which coincidentally happens to be his campaign slogan. When asked about this, the American Idol star abruptly brought the scooter to a stop in a rundown South Raleigh neighborhood known for its high crime rate and low employment. He removed his helmet and raised a finger, prepared to reply with a well-thought rebuttal, then quickly put his helmet back on.

Oh darn,” he whispered. “I didn’t mean to stop in THIS neighborhood!” (More here at LAP)

Invisible Man denies being no-show on Capitol Hill

Image courtesy of my friends at The Grimm Report

Image courtesy of my friends at The Grimm Report


(A special report as Chief Political Correspondent for my friends at The Grimm Report )

In a surprise move earlier this week, President Obama appointed Dr. Jack Griffin, better known as “The Invisible Man,” to be a special mediator to hasten talks between democrats and republicans on Capitol Hill. The appointment was called the “ultimate move in transparency” by Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid. That sentiment was not shared by Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, who called the move “Hollow.”

Monday, things got off to a rocky start when Griffin, arriving in a three-piece suit and his customary head-bandage wrap, was detained and strip-searched by security until a full background check could be completed.

“It was not racial profiling,” insisted Capitol Building security director Bill Schlepindorf. “We just thought he was lost.”

Read more at The Grimm Report

Outlook for future of education looks just… Pee Chee

Education Secretary Arnie Duncan promises no child's will get left behind when it comes to getting a Pee Chee folder.

Education Secretary Arnie Duncan promises no child will get left behind when it comes to getting a Pee Chee folder.

When I was a kid, our school supply list consisted of a Star Wars notebook and a Pee Chee folder. The notebook helped us organize our assignments; the Pee-Chee folder was used for entertaining ourselves during class by drawing thought balloons for the athletes on the cover.

Football Guy: (Getting tackled) “Oh sure — run the old L-42 play, THAT always works…”
Tennis Girl: “If my skirt gets any shorter, I’ll be playing Olympic volleyball…”

You get the idea.

Just about everyone remembers this folder because, like Al Sharpton’s hair gel, it has remained virtually unchanged since 1964. What has changed, however, is the growing list of items parents must provide throughout the school year. This comes in addition to rudimentary things, such as clothing, snacks and a recent urine sample. The reason is simple: The government is tired of wasteful spending, particularly in the educational system, where a special task force has discovered that schools routinely get bilked into spending thousands of dollars on paper alone.

“And, shockingly, most of this paper has turned out to be blank,” said Education Secretary Arne Duncan. Continue reading

Don’t worry: tougher tax laws will still let you depreciate your ostrich

IRS and ostrich It used to be that when the IRS discovered you’ve been claiming a child who is actually a 50-pound Labrador retriever named “Billy,” everyone would have a good laugh. Not any more. The Treasury Department says it will be cracking down on “aggressive tax deductions” filed by U.S. taxpayers in order to keep the federal government from being bilked out of hundreds of millions of dollars — money that could otherwise be spent on important federal programs, such as the Government Shutdown Caribbean Getaway Fund.

As a service to our readers, several of whom are actual U.S. taxpayers, we thought we’d contact some of the brightest minds in tax law in order to clarify what we can still get away with. Unfortunately, everyone was too busy working on the Osbourne family’s latest tax returns to help us so, as responsible members of the news media, we were left with only one option:

Forget taxes and talk about The Bachelor!

Just kidding. We rolled up our sleeves. Got on the Internet. Made phone calls. And eventually came up with some real-life tax claims you should NOT make unless you want to end up in jail, or worse, on the computer screen of a humor columnist trying to meet a deadline. Continue reading

Don’t worry: tougher tax laws still let you depreciate your ostrich

IRS and ostrich It used to be that when the IRS discovered you’ve been claiming a child who is actually a 50-pound Labrador retriever named “Billy,” everyone would have a good laugh. Not any more. The Treasury Department says it will be cracking down on “aggressive tax deductions” filed by U.S. taxpayers in order to keep the federal government from being bilked out of hundreds of millions of dollars — money that could otherwise be spent on important federal programs, such as the Government Shutdown Caribbean Getaway Fund.

As a service to our readers, several of whom are actual U.S. taxpayers, we thought we’d contact some of the brightest minds in tax law in order to clarify what we can still get away with. Unfortunately, everyone was too busy working on the Osbourne family’s latest tax returns to help us so, as responsible members of the news media, we were left with only one option:

Forget taxes and talk about The Bachelor!

Just kidding. We rolled up our sleeves. Got on the Internet. Made phone calls. And eventually came up with some real-life tax claims you should NOT make unless you want to end up in jail, or worse, on the computer screen of a humor columnist trying to meet a deadline. Continue reading

Surgeon General’s warning: Eat healthy, lose weight — or fight a mountain lion

1drivethru copy Like many of you, I’ll never forget where I was when I heard the shocking news that obesity had officially become the No. 1 preventable health crisis in the nation. In fact, I can even tell you which super-sized meal I was eating. The truth is, it’s time for us Americans to make some drastic changes in our eating habits before the unthinkable happens, and we’re forced to apologize to the French for throwing the earth off its axis.

With that in mind, we scheduled a Q&A session with the Surgeon General to explain how we got so fat, and what we can do to reverse this trend so that Americans can get back to living a normal, healthy lifestyle cut short by smoking and drinking. Continue reading