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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

How Did YOU Deal With Hurricane Sandy??

I'm sitting here early Tuesday morning in my bathrobe with poached eggs, English muffins with cherry-apple butter, and coffee with the fireplace burning brightly -- feeling like I made a great decision to stay home today and wait out Hurricane Sandy's  foul weather!  Despite dire warnings from PEPCO, I haven't lost electrical power  here in  Silver Spring, Maryland.

On the other hand, we just bought a waterside beach house in Delaware a few weeks ago.  I hope its still there.  What a time to decide to buy a beach house  :(

How did YOU deal with Hurricane Sandy?

JC Leahy
October 30, 2012

Next-Day Update:  Hurricane Sandy is over!!! My house was apparently in a lucky place. No electricity lost and no trees in the yard down, even though Route 29 had to be closed for some reason ( I wonder why??) and some people I know lost power. I just hope my Delaware beach house is undamaged -- it's at the waterside, on one of those canals.   I hope it's still there!!! :)  JL

Monday, October 29, 2012

Amazing !! Watch This Documentary Movie Before You Vote in the 2012 Election!!! 2016 Obama's America

  Don't let your undecided friends vote without watching this incredible documentary!!!!!

Immersed in exotic locales across four continents, Dinesh D'Souza (co-producer of Schindlers List) races against time to find answers to Obama's past and reveal where America will be in 2016 if Obama is re-elected. During this journey he discovers how Hope and Change became radically misunderstood.  The journey moves quickly over the arc of the old colonial empires, into America's empire of ideals and liberty, and we see the unfolding of the concepts and beliefs that constitute Obama's worldview and shape his policies.

Be informed!! Watch 2016 BEFORE you vote!!!  You can get it from Amazon!!

(If you can't see the Amazon links below, then CLICK HERE )

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Yikes!! What is Obama Doing to my Retirement Savings???!!!

By JC Leahy

People need to understand the magnitude of what Obama is doing to us.   The Obama debt shown above doesn't include the $1.2 trillion new money "printed" through QE I and II, and doesn't include the massive, open-ended amount of money being printed now  at a rate of $40 billion a month with no end in sight through QE-III.  In other words, they are buying Treasury bonds on the open market using made-from-thin-air, newly "printed" dollars. Rather than admitting that they are printing money, they call this "quantitative easing."   And by the way, the 10-time multiplier effect  in reality turns $1.2 trillion into $12 trillion. Everybody agrees that creating this much new money will degrade the purchasing power of existing dollars, including grandma's retirement savings. It's called inflation. You can see inflation when you go to the gas pump or the grocery store or pay your winter heating bill.  For example, gasoline cost $1.95 when Obama became president and I paid $3.71 yesterday and thought it was a pretty good deal!!  Go to the grocery store and check for yourself: everything is rising in price!!  When you finance excessive spending by creating trillions of dollars out of thin air, existing money buys less.  This has the effect of stealing from grandma's retirement account to finance Big Government!!

Importantly, the above debt also does not include 5 trillion of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae obligations, it doesn't included guaranteed obligations such as those under TARP, and it doesn't include 46 trillion of unfunded obligations such as Social Security and Medicare.  Consider these obligations, plus the astonishing level of "national debt" it's safe to say that with 12 trillion of new money plus unlimited QE3 money creation, you still ain't seen nothin' yet!!!


PS - For those of you checking the numbers, it will be by the end of the Government's fiscal year 2013, the last fiscal year of the Obama Administration, that Obama will have added more debt than the first 43 presidents combined -- according to the Obama Administration's own projections.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Obama Quote of the Decade - With Re-Election Poster

The Quote of the Decade:
"The fact that we are here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the US Government cannot pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government's reckless fiscal policies. Increasing America 's debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that, "the buck stops here.' Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better."
~ Senator Barack H. Obama, March 2006 - Pass it on until election day!!

This Re-Election poster would make a great desktop background on your PC at home and at work! 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Must-Have 2012 Election Souvenir Tee Shirt !!!!

I saw these 2012 Election 2012 Tee Shirts and bought a couple.  It will make a great statement now and a fantastic souvenir later.  

The tee shirt says, "If you've got a business, you didn't built it yourself. -- We've got to get them out in 2012!" If you want some of these for yourself and family, here's the link

Election Humor and Food for Thought! :)

Billboard on Route I-35 South
If you think this is a cool pic, why don't you express your view and make it your profile pic in Facebook, Twitter, and gmail at least until the 2012 election??!!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Colonel Brooks Tavern Closure Date Announced!!

By JC Leahy

Colonel Brooks Tavern employees today were notified that the Tavern will close its doors forever on September 15.  On-duty employees were seen crying.

Colonel Brooks Tavern is a landmark in the Brookland area of DC.   It is frequented by Catholic University and Trinity College students and employees, and by employees of nearby hospitals, among others.  It is at 901 Monroe Street, NE, directly across the street from the Brookland Metro Station.  The Tavern is closing to make way for private development of 205 to 220 upscale condominiums and 150 below-grade parking spaces.   The new structure will include 12,720 square feet of street-level retail space as well.  Colonel Brooks Tavern will not reopen in any of the new space, according to Colonel Brooks management.

"Where will we go for lunch now" lamented one nurse. "There's nothing else comparable around here!"

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Consumer Complaint: Carroll Home Services / Carroll Fuel

JC Leahy, MA Accounting
August 15, 2012

General Manager
Carroll Fuel/Carroll Home Services
2700 Loch Raven Road, Suite 200
Baltimore, MD  21218

Dear Sir/Madam:

Ref. Account # 10-51

Your accounting department is abysmal.  So much so that it is a barrier to doing business.  MOST bills that you send contain errors!  Although I believe I usually catch the errors, having to carefully check each billings and deal with the constant corrections takes too much of my valuable time.  Consider, for example, the fact that I am writing this letter now.

You have been dunning me for $80.52 since last heating season.  Given your abysmal track record, I have not paid.  I knew that you were probably in error.  I explained to your accounting folks that I pay by individual invoice, and I demanded to know what invoice had been underpaid.  All this time, your accounting department has been UNABLE TO TELL which invoice it was.  Then FINALLY on July 30 (postmark) you were able to send me documentation that invoice #6457659 had been issued at $580.41 and paid at $499.89, leaving a balance due of $80.52. Sigh....I am enclosing a copy of that invoice.  Also I am enclosing a copy of an e-mail from your sales agent specifying my fixed price agreement for last season.  My price cap was $3.599 per gallon.  You invoiced me at $3.999 per gallon for 138.8 gallons of fuel.  I adjusted the erroneous invoice to the correct price per gallon.  I also enclosed a $25 coupon as payment towards the invoice.  The adjusted amount due was, correctly, $499.89 and that is the amount of the payment you received.  Which leaves a balance due of ZERO.

I like your field reps and delivery service, but your accounting department is too much to bear.  It is irritating to receive a dunning notice.  It is distracting to have to check every bill I receive.  It is time consuming and frustrating to have to talk by phone to your accounting folks who are SO confident in their accuracy but are ALWAYS wrong.  What kind of a way is that to run a business???!!!!   

As a way of apology and compensation for everything, you should send me $75 in coupons towards next seasons' fuel.  Otherwise, there is not a snowballs chance in hell of my continuing my two delivery accounts with you.

Sincerely yours,
JC Leahy, MA Accounting

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Letter to the University of Virginia Board of Visitors

By Claudia Guy

Dear Editor and a Message to the Board of Visitors,

How did University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan's ousting by the Board of Visitors become such a big news story? I understand that the UVA community wants a clear explanation as to why Sullivan was ousted. But in my mind the only meaningful issue is how the ouster became such a big news story.. I've seen plenty of other less-than-meaningful arguments (below) that I cannot begin to understand.

1. "Semper Sic Dragas." Do you honestly believe Dragas' actions were in any way tyrannical? The Board of Visitors has every right to oust a president if they have different goals and priorities for the school. That's part of their job, as a committee, to develop long-term goals for the university and work as best they can to make sure those goals are achieved. The Board of Visitors offers checks and balances to the University's system and I doubt very much that the Board of Visitors took such a bold step without first trying to find some middle ground.

2. "You can't run a university like a business." Of course you can - and should! In this economic crisis funds are drying up in all directions - from federal sources, state sources, and grass root (alumni) sources. Maybe the University's students will rack up debt like they've just gotten their first credit card (because that may, in fact, be the case for many) but in the long term debt is never a good solution. The school itself should have a budget and stick to it. If you can't afford all of your programs even after rigorous fundraising, you will simply have to cut your spending. Racking up debt is not the answer. Look at Greece. Or, if you prefer, just look across the Potomac for an example a little closer to home.

3.  Similar to #2 above but more specific: "Corrupt business principles should not govern the University's budget.  For example, it is corrupt to pay more to some professors simply because their graduates will go on to higher-paying fields and therefore be able to make bigger donations in the future."  This is a lovely conspiracy theory, but I can tell you with 100% certainty that possibility of future donations is not a factor in professors' salaries.  A professor's salary is based on two main factors: First, how much would the professor be paid at another university?  Second, how much would the professor be paid working at a job in their field?  There are a myriad of other lesser factors, but these are the governing principles.  If professors are not reasonably paid according to these two factors, we will lose them either to other universities or other jobs.  Yes, in the end the chemical engineering professor will probably be paid more than a liberal arts professor.  But, it has nothing to do with the potential for future donations - or any other philosophy for that matter!  This is not a conspiracy, people!  It's simply economics.

4. "Two years wasn't a long enough time to know if Sullivan would do a good job. She was just getting her feet wet." First, I would like to say I don't think the issue is whether or not Sullivan was doing a good job. I believe the real issue here was whether or not the Board and Sullivan had insurmountable philosophical differences that neither party would compromise on. If that was the case, two years was plenty of time to determine that the board-president relationship would not work.
So, why the scandal, O Board of Visitors? If you were so definitely in the right when you acted, then why, do you appear so in the wrong now? I'll tell you why.  Because the community asked for a cause of termination and you did not offer one. You were too concerned about the principle of the matter. "This is well within our right as Board of Visitors and this is supposed to be a private affair, so 'no!' community, you may not have your answers!" You were too busy thinking about principle to think about perception. And the perception was that if you're not telling us your reasons then whatever you're hiding must stink.

Now you are faced with a reality check, Board of Visitors!  Things are out of control - donors are pulling money and faculty are resigning! Your community feels wronged! More importantly your community wants answers! Now that everyone's watching, vague answers will not do. Tell us clearly why President Sullivan was fired!!!!

Claudia Guy

Tax Tip: Avoid "Married Filing Seperate" Returns If You Can

By JC Leahy, MA Accounting

A married person can file as head of household (rather than married-filing-seperate) if he is considered an "abandoned spouse" for tax purposes.  To be an "abandoned spouse" you need to meet these requirements:
1. You file a separate return
2. You maintain a home where the child for whom you may CLAIM AS DEPENDENCY DEDUCTION lives for more than half of the year
3. You must pay more than half the cost of maintaining that home, and
4. During the lat 6 monts of the year, your spouse must not live in the same house as you.
To claim the dependency, in turn, you must pay MORE THAN HALF THE COST of maintaining the child OR have an agreement approved by a divorce court that says you get the dependency exemption.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


By JC Leahy, MA Accounting


The really great news is that you have until the April 16, 2012 tax filing deadline to open your Traditional IRA savings account and make your 2011 IRA contribution -- if you are eligible.


If you (1) have taxable earned income and (2) you are less than 70.5 years old, then you can establish a traditional IRA and contribute money to it. It's that simple.  Earned income includes salary, wages, commissions, self-employment income, alimony, and combat pay.  It does not include any pensions (including Social Security), interest, dividends, or annuities.  In the year you reach the age of 70.5, you can no longer establish or contribute to a traditional IRA.


For 2011 (and 2012 also) you can contribute $5,000 per year or the amount of your taxable earned income, whichever is less, to a traditional IRA.  This is true whether you are covered by a retirement plan or not!!  If you have reached the age of 50 during the year, you may contribute an additional $1,000 catch-up contribution.  This makes a total limit of $6,000.

Here's the exception.  It's a good one: If one spouse doesn't work or earns less than $5,000, he/she may establish and contribute to an IRA based on the earnings of the other spouse.  Between them, there is a limit of $10,000, which can be allocated in any way they wish between their two IRA accounts -- provided that neither one's account receives more than $5,000. For example, if the husband makes $100,000 and the wife makes zero of earned income, the wife may contribute up to $5,000 into her traditional IRA and the husband, likewise, may put up to $5,000 into his IRA.  This also applies to the $1,000 catch up contribution.

One other fine point:  If you have a Traditional IRA and also a Roth IRA, the $5,000/$6,000 limit includes both. In other words, you can only contribute $5,000/$6,000 TOTAL between the two.

Don’t be confused on this point:  If you are not covered by a retirement plan at work at any time during the year, you can deduct every penny of your traditional IRA contribution.  Period. .

IRA Deduction Phase Out: It's slightly more complicated if you were covered by a retirement plan at work.  In that case, if your "Modified Adjusted Gross Income" (MAGI) is less than certain thresholds, you still get to deduct your entire Traditional IRA contribution.  But you can still make your $5,000/$6,000 contribution to the IRA account -- you just won't be able to deduct it. Here are the Traditional IRA deduction phase-out parameters:

FOR 2011 IRA CONTRIBUTIONS, if you were covered by a retirement plan at work any time during the year, use this table to determine if your modified AGI affects the amount of your deduction.

If Your Filing Status Is... And Your Modified AGI Is... Then You Can Take...
single or
head of household
$56,000 or less
a full deduction up to the amount of your contribution limit.
more than $56,000 but less than $66,000
a partial deduction.
$66,000 or more
no deduction.
married filing jointly or qualifying widow(er)
$90,000 or less
a full deduction up to the amount of your contribution limit.
 more than $90,000 but less than $110,000
 a partial deduction.
 $110,000 or more
 no deduction.
married filing separately
 less than $10,000
 a partial deduction.
 $10,000 or more
 no deduction.
If you file separately and did not live with your spouse at any time during the year, your IRA deduction is determined under the "Single" filing status.

For 2012, here are the Traditional IRA Contribution Deduction Limits:

If Your Filing Status Is... And Your Modified AGI Is... Then You Can Take...
single or
head of household
$58,000 or less
a full deduction up to the amount of your contribution limit.
more than $58,000 but less than $68,000
a partial deduction.
$68,000 or more
no deduction.
married filing jointly or qualifying widow(er)
$92,000 or less
a full deduction up to the amount of your contribution limit.
 more than $92,000 but less than $112,000
  a partial deduction.
 $112,000 or more
 no deduction.
married filing separately
 less than $10,000
  a partial deduction .
 $10,000 or more
 no deduction.
If you file separately and did not live with your spouse at any time during the year, your IRA deduction is determined under the "single" filing status.

One other important tax-law quirk: If your filing status is Married Filing Separately, you are screwed!  Your IRA deduction phase out starts at $1 of Modified Adjusted Gross Income and that deduction drops to zero when your MAGI reaches $10,000!!

In situations when you can't deduct your Traditional IRA contribution, why would you want to make the contribution at all?  There are two reasons.  First, earnings accumulate and compound every year without being diminished by annual income taxes.  You only pay the tax on earnings when you withdraw them in your old age -- and you will probably be in a lower tax bracket then.  Second, if you have a nondeductible Traditional IRA contribution, you get what is called a "basis" in your IRA account.  This just means that when you eventually withdraw from your IRA, the "basis" portion will not be taxable.

If you need assistance with your income tax filing this Tax Season, you might want to contact:

JC Leahy, MA Accounting
Silver Spring, Maryland
Tel. (301)537-5365

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Whacky Liberal or Perfectly Reasonable Person??

By JC Leahy

What do you think about this?   I had lunch yesterday with a Liberal woman who FIRMLY believes that George Bush arranged the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks. Her names is W.  I asked W why she believes that Bush planned the WTC attacks. She exclaimed emphatically that (1) "George Bush used to work for the CIA", (2) "It's all about the oil, Honey", and (3) "After all, what do 3,000 lives matter in the 'Big Picture'".  To her, this trio of assertions, if repeated with enough energy and conviction, constitutes airtight proof that George Bush arranged the World Trade Center attacks.  Do you think many people share this kind of belief system??  Your comment please.

PS -- No, I did NOT make up W.  She also believes that George Bush is responsible for nearly everything  blamed on President Obama, that Obamacare is good for America, that anyone who disagrees with Obama is  racist, and that the Black Panther Party shall rise again!!!  W makes a fascinating lunch date!!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Abandoned Spouse Rule: Filing Your Federal Income Tax with Filing Status Head of Household

By JC Leahy,  MA, Accounting

Income Tax Question from Virginia:
Although I’m still married, can I file my Form 1040 Federal income tax return as Head of Household rather than Married Jointly or Married Separately? Robert's income still comes in to help provide for us, even though we've been separated for over a year and the kids live exclusively with me.  We have not drawn up any formal separation papers, but that didn't seem necessary for the status.  Me and my two daughters are going to be in college next year (me and Anna are currently)  We filled out the FAFSA stating that Robert and I are separated and I believe that if I file the taxes as "married filing jointly" again this year it may affect the help we get with tuition (which we definitely need!). 

Answer from JC Leahy:
Yes, Virginia,  you can file your Federal income tax return with the filing status Head of Household if you are considered what they call an "abandoned spouse".  To be an "abandoned spouse" you need to meet these requirements:

1. You file a separate return
2. You must maintain a home where the child for whom you may CLAIM AS DEPENDENCY DEDUCTION lives for more than half of the year
3. You must pay more than half the cost of maintaining that home, and
4. During the lat 6 months of the year, your spouse must not live in the same house as you.

To claim the dependency, in turn, you must pay MORE THAN HALF THE COST of maintaining the child OR have an agreement approved by a divorce court that says you get the dependency exemption.

Was that helpful?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

What Educational Expenses Qualify for Federal Educational Tax Credits?

 By JC Leahy,  MA, Accounting

There are 2 educational Federal tax credits currently available: They are the American Opportunities Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit.  The Hope Credit, which was established along with the Lifetime Learning Credit in 1997, has morphed into the American Opportunities Credit for tax years from 2009 through 2012.  So, currently there are two educational credits.

Both educational credits are based on what they call "qualified educational expenses."  The tricky thing is that different educational expenses "qualify" depending on which credit you choose.

The American Opportunity Credit  is a maximum of $2,500 per student.  Qualified expenses only include the first four years of post-high school study in a program of study leading to a college degree -- NOT graduate study or any other study beyond 4 years of college study.  Tuition is a qualified education expense, of course. Additionally,   books, supplies and equipment are also qualified expenses if the student needs them for his particular course of study.   Room, board, insurance, medical fees, transportation, and non-academic fees are not qualified expenses for the American Opportunity Credit.

The Lifetime Learning Credit is up to $2,000 per return.  Graduate and postgraduate studies qualify, as well as vocational study expenses Obviously, tuition is a qualified expense.  Books, supplies and equipment are NOT qualified expenses unless the student had to purchase them directly from the college as a condition for enrollment or attendance.  Room, board, insurance, medical fees, transportation, and non-academic fees are not qualified expenses for the Lifetime Learning Credit.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Restaurant Review: Hyman's Seafood, Charleston, SC

By JC Leahy

We took a day trip to Charleston yesterday and our local guide recommended Hyman's Seafood on Meeting Street for lunch. He said the scallops were outstanding.

Outside on the sidewalk, two young women in Hyman's tee-shirts beckoned passers-by with take-out menus.  When my wife and I moved to enter the restaurant, one of them accompanied us inside and assigned us to table 51 on the second floor.  The place had the informal feel of a college tavern peopled with patrons of middle-age and late-middle age in pairs and threes without children.  The menu was replete with seafood.

For the appetizer, my wife ordered  fried green tomatoes on grits, to be followed by an entree of haddock with herbal Cajun seasoning on the side, red rice.  She was surpassed and pleased to find red rice on the menu, and gave me a quick pep talk about its nutritional value.  I ordered an appetizer of alligator meat, and an entree of sautéed sea scallops, and a side of red rice -- along with a bottle of Palmetto Amber.

This was my first time to try alligator meat.  When the appetizers arrived, it looked like a plate of well fried oysters.  The taste can be best described as evocative of bland chicken nuggets with a hint of cardboard.  My wife asked me how it was. I waved my fork once and said, "Not bad.  Want to try some?"  She cautiously demurred.  After a few bites of alligator, I washed it down with a sip of Palmetto Amber Ale.  That was a mistake.  The ale brought out from the alligator meat   an unpleasant aftertaste distinctly like spoiled fish.  I would say that if you must eat alligator meat, do NOT wash it down with ale or beer.

The Palmetto Amber Ale was very nice.  It is a local brew, said to be only available in Charleston.  It has good color, and a full, smooth flavor with a bite a the front.  I'm wishing I had picked up a case of it before leaving town.

The fried green tomatoes were a surprise.  They were excellent -- a 10 on a 10 point scale.  I had never tried them before.  I asked Dali how they were.  She said they were very good, but a bigger serving than she could eat.  Would I like to try some? I cautiously demurred.  It was only later in the meal that I decided to try them, and I was shocked.  Three tomato slices were served on what appeared to be baked grits with a light cheese sauce.  It was a gentle, lightly cheesy, delicate combination which I would recommend to anyone.

The entrees arrived with the red rice in separate small dishes.  My wife exclaimed, "That's not red rice.  It looks like the cook put something in it to make it look red!"

"Tomato sauce," said the waiter.  Red rice in South Carolina is a dish involving rice and tomato sauce.  Red rice anywhere else is an actual type of rice.  This was a communication problem.  My wife had been expecting a healthy, unhulled exotic rice and the waiter had delivered something else.

Well, that's not what I want.  Red rice is a particular type of rice.  This is just white rice made to look red."  She ordered a side of collard greens instead.  I decided to stick with the rice and see how it tasted. It turned out to be so bad that I couldn't eat it. I think it was overcooked.

Dali and I nibbled at the collard greens trying to decide whether they were canned.  They probably were fresh,  but their preparation was very unfortunate.  They reminded me of the canned vegetables that I so dislike at Cracker Barrel restaurants.  The problem may have been overcooking.

From our local guide's recommendation, my expectation of the sautéed scallops was high.  Around 15 very large scallops were served lightly sautéed.  They were excellent and the serving size was ample.

The haddock was unremarkable.  To me, haddock is by its very nature an unremarkable fish.  I didn't try it with the herbal Cajun seasoning, but Dali said the seasoning improved the haddock immensely.

For dessert, I ordered bread pudding a cup of "fresh, locally roasted" coffee. Dali ordered key lime pie.  The pudding with its raisins and hints of brown sugar and rum was fantastic.  I think that it would have benefited from some sort of sauce, but other than that it was a 10.  The key-lime pie was very nice.  The coffee was nearly as good as it gets: full-flavored, smooth, and very satisfying.

I packed the leftover alligator meat and s few scallops home with me, but I left the red rice for the garbage. 

Hyman's Seafood restaurant is an odd mix of the very good and the very bad.  Very good were the scallops, the Palmetto ale, the fried green tomatoes, the bread pudding and the coffee.  Mediocre were the ambiance, the wait staff, and the haddock.  Abysmal were the alligator meat appetizer, the red rice, and the collard greens.  Unfortunately, a few bad items do ruin a dining experience.  To my thinking, unsavory vegetables ruin any meal.  I rate this restaurant as 2.5 on a 5 point scale, and that is being a little charitable.

Contact information:

Hyman's Seafood
215 Meeting Street
Charleston, SC  29401