Sunday, April 15, 2012

Taxing Times

April 15. Taxes due. Well, this year because April 15 falls on a Sunday you have an extra day to file. Lots of people gnash their teeth at the idea of forking over money to the government, be it federal, state or municipal. I kind of take my father’s approach. He used to say he wouldn’t mind paying $100,000 in taxes as it would mean he’d have had a very good business year.

Of course, not everyone agrees with how government collects and spends our monies. One of the more tongue-in-cheek commentaries on the “fairness” of our federal tax system comes from Al Lewis who writes a column for the Wall Street Journal that appears every Sunday with our copy of the Westchester Journal News. Here’s a link to his thoughts, “Time to Pay Up, Chump”:

Florida Bound: Now that George Zimmerman has been arrested and charged with second-degree murder in the slaying of Trayvon Martin, will that be enough to quell the rage and outrage of this seemingly senseless killing, or will a conviction be the only thing that can cool racial tempers?

Trayvon’s mother said the family just wanted Zimmerman arrested so he could stand trial. Sybrina Fulton even said on television she thought the shooting was “an accident,” though she later refined her comments to mean the encounter between Trayvon and Zimmerman was accidental but became a case of the Neighborhood Watch captain profiling her black teenage son before killing him.

We have yet to hear Zimmerman’s account of the tragedy but I’d be truly surprised if he is convicted. He might not even have his case decided by a jury. A judge may well throw out the case based on Florida’s Stand Your Ground defense statute which allows deadly force if threatened. Dave Ross, a CBS News radio commentator, provided several examples last Thursday of first-degree murder charges dismissed by judges, including one where the alleged murderer, Michael Monahan, was 20 feet from his victims, yet claimed he felt threatened. Arrest, said Ross, doesn’t necessarily lead to trial. You can listen to Ross’s short commentary, "Will It Go to a Jury," by following this link:

By the way, in case you’re wondering what the Stand Your Ground law says, here’s a salient portion of it: “A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.”

The National Rifle Association casts the debate on the death of Trayvon Martin as a gun issue, a right to bear arms issue ( But would it have made a difference if Zimmerman had knifed Trayvon to death? The issue is Stand Your Ground, not gun control. Dave Ross gave an example of Greyston Garcia who used a knife after chasing a thief and then being attacked by the perpetrator. Apparently, pursuing someone and then being threatened is sufficient legal grounds in Florida to have a judge invoke a Stand Your Ground dismissal.

All of this brings out my dark humor side. Friday night over dinner with friends, I couldn’t stop talking about asking anyone I dislike or just want to tease if they would like to go to Florida with me. I’d knock them off in some secluded spot and claim a Stand Your Ground defense after placing a knife or gun in their hand. Actually, as Monahan's case revealed, those threatening you don't even have to be armed. Or close by. The sordid deed doesn’t have to take place in Florida. About two dozen states have similar Stand Your Ground statutes. Of course, I was only joking during dinner (aided by a large glass of chilled vodka). The real effect of all these laws is that one should never lose one’s temper anymore. You can never tell whether the person to whom you are directing your anger feels threatened and takes the ultimate defense, straight to your heart.

Mister Roberts: While we’re on the subject of judges, here’s an interesting fact. When President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal legislation encountered problems with the Supreme Court, and he considered “packing” it with more judges favorable to his thinking, the swing justice on many of the cases was Owen Roberts. Many of the decisions rested on interpretations of the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. How fascinating that the current Supreme Court led by Chief Justice John Roberts (no relation) must decide if the Commerce Clause gave Congress authority to pass the Affordable Care Act.

Charity Work: Is it time to start a charity for Levi Johnston? We’ll call it Condoms for Levi. If you haven’t heard, the former boyfriend of Bristol Palin has impregnated another girl, though this one’s mother probably won’t be running for higher office.

For the Birds: Some people have dogs to clean up leftovers. I have birds. Leftover Passover matzo and really hallucious-tasting Crispy O’s (a Passover kosher version of Cheerios) will become bird food now that the holiday is over. In case you haven’t figured it out, hallucious is a Yiddishism for vile or atrocious. But birds being the scavengers they are, I have no doubt they will eat away, as long as they don’t break their beaks on the hard as rock Crispy O’s.