Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day.

Today, when we pause to formally honor those who have served this country and fought to make us free, let me point out a few of the veterans in my life:

My brother-in-law, currently in the army and a veteran of three deployments to Iraq;

My uncle, who served in the Marines;

My uncle(in-law), who recently returned from duty in Iraq with the Indiana National Guard; he also served several years in the Army in South Korea and Somalia;

My grandfather(maternal), who fought in Korea from 1952-4;

My grandfather(paternal), who served in the Army in Germany; his brothers fought in WW2, one with Patton, the other as a tail-gunner in a B-17;

My wife's grandfather, who served in the Navy during WW2.

To these men, and many others, I owe a debt of gratitude that can never fully be repaid. Therefore, I offer to them my humble thanks.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Persecution in India.

Amidst all the news reports of the election, war, and the economy, one subject that always flies beneath the MSM radar is the persecution of Christians around the world. Lately, it has been particularly bad in India.

World Net Daily is reporting that another vicious round of attacks is expected after the murder of a Hindu activist by Communists.

Pray for these believers, who risk so much for the Truth, that they will be strong and steadfast. Let their faith be a beacon for those who don't believe, and may God deliver them.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Congratulations to the winner of the 2008 presidential election, Barack Obama. I vehemently disagreed with his positions and do not think he was the best choice, but the people have chosen and that's that. It's an historic occassion.

I will say, to his credit, throughout the election, Obama did look more presidential. It was the one thing that struck me during the debates, as I railed at the TV against his answers to the questions, he did answer them with poise and composure. I think that, and weariness of GOP governance, contributed to his victory.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


It's a little corny, but oh so good...

(oh, and mild content warning)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

And Going, and Going, and Going...

The space shuttle is starting to look like the Energizer Bunny:

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA's staff will study whether the space
shuttle program could continue operating past its scheduled retirement in 2010,
according to an internal e-mail sent this week.

The e-mail obtained by The
Orlando Sentinel describes NASA Administrator Michael Griffin's order for a
study to determine if the shuttle could fly until 2015, when NASA's
next-generation space platform is expected to be completed.

That next-generation platform is called Constellation, consisting of a rocket/space capsule system that hearkens back to the Apollo days.

NASA had planned to mothball the Shuttle in 2010, upon completion of the International Space Station, and I'm not surprised that they may extend operations beyond that date. The Orion spacecraft is not scheduled to be ready until 2014, and in light of recent world events, buying Russian spacecraft to fill the gap is problematic at best.

The main concern is money. I've no worries about the shuttle being up to the task; after all, it was intended to operate for just ten years when it was first launched in 1981. With hundreds of flights over 27 years, even with the tragic Challenger and Columbia incidents, the shuttle has an amazing reliability and safety record. If NASA can get the money to fly it, the shuttle will do the job.

However, the reason it has taken NASA so long to develop a replacement for the shuttle stems from a lack of a definitive mission after the conclusion of the Apollo and Spacelab programs, and a lack of definitive mission now. NASA (or the President) needs to define the vision and mission of the U.S.'s manned spaceflight program. Is it going to be active science (exploration), or passive science (orbital research and observation)? It will be extremely expensive and difficult to do both, so I think the direction needs to be clearly stated. It seems that for the last 30 years we've drifted one way, and now are starting to drift another.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

As Time Goes By.

Wow, it's been a long time since I posted on the blog. My apologies to those readers who still check back, hoping for content.

I haven't abandoned the blog, but I do have a confession: I'm not the most persevering person in the world, and I tend to get really passionate and excited about something for a while, then through obsessive over-saturation, I get bored and move on to something else. That is what has happened here, to some extent.

In addition, I started taking this blog in directions I didn't really intend for it to go. The political posts far outweigh the other content, and this was not meant to be a strictly political blog. I began to feel that if I covered current news and politics, there was no way I would have the time, desire or means to do it justice, therefore I should stop for a while. In addition, the excruciatingly long election cycle has been getting me down. I really can't stomach writing posts about what the candidates do or say every day for the next six months; I'll leave that to more capable minds.

What I would like to do is take this blog back to it's early days, with short thoughts about history, life, faith, and some of my own experiences. I'm not ready to resume just yet, as I really don't have any thoughts to share at this point, I'll be back later, and at a slower pace.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Ex-Colts are at it Again.

Apparently the Tennessee Titans believe that to beat the Colts, they have to become the Colts. Not in some figurative zen-like way either. The past couple of years the Titans have picked up several players from the Colts, evidently in the hopes that they will enjoy some of what has made the boys in blue so successful.

It doesn't work that way, however, and a player that fits in well with one team may not perform so great with another team, particularly against his old team. Jason David is a case in point. Though he played well for the Colts, and is not doing too badly at New Orleans, he was brutally used and abused by Peyton Manning when the teams met this past season.

Tennessee has a talented quarterback, who has caused the Colts some problems. They should build around him, rather than try and clone the Colts by bits.

Update: Oops! I originally said David was playing for Tennessee when he actually plays for New Orleans. Nick Harper is the former Colts' cornerback at Tennessee. Nevertheless, I think the example is still valid.

Friday, March 7, 2008

What Next?

I don't know whether to laugh or cry. Score another one for the Nanny State.
A London street is experimenting with padded lampposts to protect those not
paying attention from banging into them, ITN reports.

These are not just for the benefit of anyone distracted by a pretty girl or an ice cream truck. These are for people too busy texting on their phones to watch where they're going. Oh yes, it gets better:
The survey found that almost two thirds of respondents lost peripheral vision
while texting, and more than a quarter wanted lines on the pavement to create
routes for texters to walk while using their phones.

What next, lead dogs? You would think that a bump on the head would be fair punishment for not being attentive, but not in a society that thinks it can protect us from ourselves.


Thursday, March 6, 2008

I'm Outraged!

I saw this "cartoon" from a Jordanian newspaper on the MEMRI Blog the other day, and it has stuck in my mind.

It's offensive on so many levels, I can't think straight. First, it implies that the Israelis are committing genocide a la the Third Reich by retaliating against Hamas terrorists dropping bombs on towns like Sderot. Thus the evil Israel is built on the bodies of "innocent" Palestinians. Never mind that the Israelis experience daily missile attacks. Second, as an American I'm offended that the artist has modelled his scribble on an image of true heroism. How is it that these guys get away with it, yet pictures like these spark international riots?

The Arab press and the Mainstream Media would have you believe that groups like Hamas are freedom fighters and that the Israelis are the aggressors. This post gives a different picture.

Yanai asks me, “Why does it happen? Why are the Arabs so bad? Why do they
want to kill us? We want peace.

When I try to teach him that even in the Gaza Strip you have innocent
children and innocent civilians he says, “If they are innocent, why do they go
to military summer camps? You never send me to military summer camp, with a
uniform; with weapons, and they are younger than me.”


I supported the [2005] Disengagement from Gaza, from Gush Katif. The
Palestinian government promised, “Give us Gush Katif and there will be peace.”
And I am an optimistic person. I really hoped that it would be peace. Everyone
in Sderot was screaming at me, “No! Why do you say the Disengagement is good?” I
answered, “They promise it will be peace!” And even our mayor, Eli Moyal, told
me: “I am going to run after you and tell you all the time, ‘I told you so.’” We
had a lot of argument for I supported the disengagement but he didn’t. And now,
when we have parents’ meeting with the mayor, he all the time tells me: “I told
you so! You have something else to say?”

I really wanted to hope that there will be peace one day. And I am in
confusion now because on one side they tell us they want peace but on the other
side they send their children to military summer camp; they teach them hate in
school; they teach them that Israel does not exist on the map - there is only
Palestine; that the Jewish people are the devil; that we want to destroy their
life. They teaching hate in the school, in the house; in every place.

Brigitte Gabriel describes an experience remarkably similar to this in her book. That was thirty years ago.

Not much has changed, huh?

Link to first image source.

Link to second image source.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Game Over.

The original Dungeon Master Gary Gygax has died. When I first discovered Dungeons and Dragons, I was amazed by the amount of creativity and research that went into the creation of the fantasy game, and amused by the humor of it all. I began actively gaming when I was in high school, using the 2nd Edition rules, which still bore great resemblance to Gygax's original ruleset. I only gamed for a few years, but I remember them fondly, and still take an interest in it, albeit as a spectator. These days I get my fantasy fix from Neverwinter Nights.

Via Michelle Malkin, you can discover your D&D character here. My results? Lawful Good Elf Cleric. Amusing, considering that the character I most enjoyed playing was a Chaotic Neutral Wizard (my, how times change!).

Monday, March 3, 2008

Musician Jeff Healey Dead at 41.

Canadian rocker Jeff Healey, perhaps best known for his hit "Angel Eyes," has lost his life-long battle with cancer.

Via Wiki:

Healey was never particularly enamored with the world of rock music,
however, and soon left it for music he preferred, vintage jazz. Jeff had been
sitting in with traditional jazz bands around Toronto since the beginning of his
music career.

In his later years, he released three CDs from his true passion,
traditional American jazz from the 1920s and 1930s. He was an avid record collector and
amassed a collection of well over 25,000 78 rpm records. For many years
Healey ran his music-based club Healey's on Bathurst Street in Toronto,
where he played with a rock band on Thursday nights, and with his jazz group,
Jeff Healey's Jazz Wizards, on Saturday afternoons. Healey had moved his club to
a bigger location at 56 Blue Jays Way and named it Jeff Healey's
I remember seeing Jeff Healey in concert when I was in high school. He was the opening act for Bon Jovi, and put on a heck of a show. It was interesting because they completely shut off the arena lights when he came on and left the stage, so that the audience wouldn't see him being led to his guitar stand. I enjoyed his act almost as much as the Bon Jovi performance.

I never knew until now that the cause of Healey's blindness was cancer. Music lost a good one today, and he'll be missed.

Recommended Reading.

Brigitte Gabriel is a Lebanese Christian who experienced first-hand the horrors of jihad and the hatred of fundamentalist Islam. She lived for seven years in a bomb shelter, dodging sniper bullets and shells just to obtain basic necessities, such as food and water.

She relates her experiences, and speaks out against Islamic terror in her book, Because They Hate. Ms. Gabriel, along with Robert Spencer and others have courageously pointed out the truth about the enemies facing the United States, and criticize the liberals and politically correct who deny or hide the truth.

Her tale of life in Lebanon during the late '70's and early '80's, as well as revelations about distortion in the media reporting of past and current conflicts in the Middle East, is a powerful one. It's an eye-opener.

Find out more about Brigitte Gabriel and her work at American Congress for Truth.

Link to image source.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I Can't Wait.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Whither Conservatism? Part III.

This post is shared with BigDadGib.

The primary season for the 2008 presidential election has been a long and tiring one, both for political junkies and the politicians themselves. With the Republican race winding down, John McCain is the nominee apparent, his ascension a mere formality of garnering enough delegates, despite the continued efforts of Mike Huckabee.

The race has been a tough one for conservatives, as our best candidates fell by the wayside. Duncan Hunter, Fred Thompson, Mitt Romney - each departure seemed to be a nail in the coffin of Reagan conservatism. But conservatism did not begin with Ronald Reagan, no matter how much each Republican candidate tries to be him; indeed, they’ve done everything short of eating a jar of jelly beans on national TV to convince us that they carry his mantle. Likewise it did not end when he left office, though it has certainly been on hiatus in those lofty halls of power.

Thus we have all sorts of conservative pundits coming out with “What now?” articles, while the liberal media chortles with glee over the right-wing crackup. The subjects of these missives run the gamut from discussing the cause of the GOP rift, to calls to rise from the ashes of the old conservatism, to calls to surrender. Even the old liberal standard of “Change!” is being trotted out. However, I reject the notion that American Conservatism needs to change with the times and become the new revolution; that’s just letting liberalism move the goalposts by saying that today’s status quo was yesterday’s innovation. While true enough, I think it’s a mistake to apply that definition of “conservative” to American Conservatism.

American Conservatism is not a stubborn insistence on maintaining the status quo, but rather eschewing change for changes’ sake. It is not resisting all change, but making changes with consideration, where needed, and with wisdom. It is recognizing that though not all are capable of greatness, all should be free to reach for it. It is acknowledging that we are all equal in the eyes of God, with rights that no man or elected body can take away. It embraces a desire to protect those values that anchored the American peoples’ march from the Atlantic to the Pacific. It recognizes that authority is dangerous, and that power corrupts, thus there must be safeguards to protect against a tyranny of the majority.

Thus, I think Michelle Malkin has it right: Get fired up! Let us not be revolutionaries, but let us stoke the fires of patriotism lit by our Founding Fathers. Government does not exist solely from the White House, but from Congress, and in the Statehouse, and from the people. We won’t get a conservative in the White House this November, that much is assured, so why not focus on getting conservatives in Congress? Alexis de Tocqueville wrote that individuals with the most ability will never run for political office, because they will be busy building wealth, and will not be beholden to the crowd. A politician’s primary goal is to get re-elected, so he is behooved to listen to his constituents. Write to your representatives, call them on the phone; demand that they work for conservative principles and values. American Conservatism is and always has been a grass-roots enterprise.

Stop pining for the Gipper, stop sulking over Fred Thompson, and don’t get despondent about John McCain. Take Michelle’s advice: Get fired up!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Your Love Style is Agape

You are a caring, kind, and selfless partner.

Unsurprisingly, your love style is the most rare.

You are willing to sacrifice your world for your sweetie.

Except it doesn't really feel like sacrifice to you.

For you, nothing feels better than giving to the one you love.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Whither Conservatism? Part 2.

Mark Steyn hits one out of the park at CPAC. There's no embed feature on the video, so alas, you'll have to follow the link. The first part is the speech, the second is the Q&A. Total time is around 45 minutes or so, but it's worth every minute.

Mark Steyn is one of the most eloquent and witty voices conservatism has, and here he offers up a picture of what the Republican party should be, rather than what it is fast becoming.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Mindless Election Day Fun.

Worn out with Super Tuesday coverage? Live in a state that is not voting today? Then click here for hours of mindless diversion.

Only wannabes go for normal mode - true afficianados know the only way to go is manic. If you're truly desperate then click for a fresh sheet. Go on - you know you want to.

Friday, February 1, 2008


Cast your eyes to the right of the screen and you'll notice that I've updated my blogroll. It's been a while since I did some housekeeping here, and there were several blogs sitting in my favorites folder that deserved links. Here's what's gone and what's new.

What's gone:

Fred Thompson - His candidacy is done, and so's his blog.

NeoAuteur - Actually removed this one some time ago, due to that blog's retirement.

Simply Conservative - One of the first blogs to add me to its blogroll; sadly, clicking the link
results in a site not found error.

What's new:

Beauty and Depravity - Eugene Cho's blog. I discovered Eugene's blog via Michelle Malkin during the South Korean hostage crisis last year. Once that situation was over, I found that, while Eugene does not necessarily share my political views, I enjoy reading his blog. He's funny, insightful, Christian, and is not afraid to take shots at himself.

Conservative Propaganda - A conservative blog by a fellow HotAir commenter. Tantor doesn't post often, but when he does it is always well-written, well-researched, and soundly conservative.

Dr. Laura's Blog - Yes, the Dr. Laura Schlessinger. I recently read her book, The Proper Care and Feeding of Marriage, and was amazed at how different it was from the typical marital advice books, which do little more than denigrate men and place primacy on the wife's needs and wants. Dr. Laura acknowledges that a marriage has two people, and problems are not always the fault of the man; sometimes men behave the way they do because of how women treat them. Her blog is as interesting as her book.

Polis Politics - A local blog, focusing solely on Indianapolis, filled with biting commentary towards the Democrats in my hometown.

Shane Vander Hart - A recent addition to my favorites, Shane is a Christian blogger. Check out his recently begun series about abortion.

The Punch Die - A history and numismatics blog by the blogger formerly of The Oxford Medievalist blog (now defunct). Titus is a historian by training, and an obsessive coin collector. His posts are interesting, and he has some great pictures of Roman coins. I never got interested in coins and coinage, being drawn to art and architecture, but the study of coins is an important facet of archaeology, and I'm glad that individuals such as Titus have taken it up (better them than me, heh heh).

The Thirst for Freedom - Another conservative Christian blog. Worth a visit, even though other concerns have kept him from posting much lately.

Use the Oxgoad - Travis Gilbert is a fellow Christian Hoosier, a Baptist minister, and an IU sports nut. Excellent reading, and I love his comment descriptor.

Whither Conservatism? Part I.

Via The Corner:

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Praise! Update on Dasia.

You might remember my post before Christmas about Dasia Atkinson, the little girl who wanted Christmas cards from all 50 states for Christmas. Well, thanks to the efforts of her CaringBridge friends and the blogosphere, she received all the cards and more.

I'm pleased to report that her doctor says she is cured! Dasia was diagnosed in 2005 with a Pontine Glioma (tumor of the brain stem), which is usually fatal.

Miracles do happen, people, and the Lord surely is at work in the world. God bless you, Dasia.

Breaking: Ann Coulter to vote for Clinton! Update: Video Added!

If the Republican nominee is John McCain, that is. Video, via HotAir:

I've been half-listening to Hannity and Colmes, and just heard Colmes wring this confession from Ann Coulter: that if John McCain is the Republican nominee, she'd actually vote for Hillary Clinton. I missed the exact reasoning, I was nearly as flabergasted as Colmes was, though I'd hesitate to call it an endorsement. But it's no secret that her candidate of choice is Mitt Romney (she admitted as much on the O'Reilly Factor months ago).

(I've been preparing some thoughts on the presidential race as it stands now that my man Fred has dropped out, and it seems that a two-man race is shaping up. I'll share them once I've gotten them into fairly coherent shape.)

Now, I'm no big fan of Ann Coulter, but I think it's interesting that stalwart conservatives are in such dire straits.

[Apologies for the Drudge-like headline. I just thought it was so funny I'd try to drum up a little traffic. Back to sanity next time.]

An Unsung Hero.

If you've studied American history at all, you've seen the iconic photo by Joe Rosenthal of the Marines raising the American flag on Iwo Jima during WWII. Raising the second American flag, I should say.

"The first flag-raising occurred a couple of hours earlier - shortly after
Marines had gained the top of the mountain after hard fighting. This flag was
deemed too small to be easily seen from the base of the mountain so a second,
larger flag was raised."

Ray Jacobs was part of the group that raised that first flag. His account of it can be read here. Mr. Jacobs passed away today. He was 84 years old.

(h/t The Corner)

History Link.

This has been sitting in my bookmarks for a while now. I came across it while Stumbling, and I thought it was pretty interesting. Some of the comments at the site I found it on are interesting as well. Here is a link to the original source.

Exit Question: The map's purpose is to address the question, "How has the geography of religion evolved over the centuries, and where has it sparked wars?" Did religion itself spark the wars, or were there other factors? Do you think this map shows a bias in favor of or against a particular religion? If so, which one, and why do you think so?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Disgustingly Cute Video.

So cute it will make you sick. Posted here for your viewing pleasure, two and a half minutes of fuzzy goodness.

Monday, January 21, 2008

News Flash: It Might Not Be Global Warming...

...that's melting the Antarctic, at any rate.

"Western Antarctica "is losing ice to the oceans, and the volcano could be
contributing to that effect.""

But don't get too excited, kids:

"Global warming is still the main culprit behind the overall
loss of ice from western Antarctica
, researchers say."

Of course, the reality of what is going on in Antarctica is murkier than that, and these news stories seem intended to fan the flames of climate change alarmism. I'll accept that the climate changes (it's an inherently dynamic system, after all), but I'm not convinced that human beings are the cause of it.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

How Many Apply To You?

If you need a distraction from the S.C. Primary coverage, consider this it. How many geek types apply to you? I'm in at 22.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Thursday Stupid.

I'm tired of blogging about serious stuff, so here's something completely silly, just for your viewing enjoyment. Incidentally, there are a couple of people I work with who sound just like this.

(h/t Shiny Sink)

Monday, January 14, 2008

Underground Update.

It seems that I jinxed myself by starting my fantasy fiction site, Jezla's Underground. Having posted the intro and a short character sketch, I promptly succumbed to writer's block and have been stuck ever since. I've had some ideas, but they all are little more than Dungeons and Dragons fan fiction, which I want to try and avoid. I'm listening to lots of Celtic music, hoping to get a little inspiration!

In order to do something with the Underground, I dug up an old pencil drawing and posted it. Click the link above to see it, and thanks for visiting!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Our Big Mistake In Iraq.

Once again, the media (and most of the rest of the world) ignores the plight of Christians in Iraq.

As evident in my post on the Petraeus and Crocker report to Congress, I'm a supporter of our current strategy in Iraq; however, I have not written at length about my views on the War as a whole. As an American, I support the military and want them to succeed, and I feel that having a democratic state in the Middle East that is friendly to us is in our interest.

I don't worry overmuch about whether President Bush's stated reasons for invading Iraq and deposing Saddam Hussein were valid or not. I don't know if there were WMD's or what happened to them if there were; my opinion was and is that we were doing what should have been done in 1992.

However, I think that we made some serious mistakes in 2003-4 that are being blithely ignored now by proponents and defenders of the surge. One of those, and the most serious, is to allow language like this to get into the Iraq Constitution:

"Article (2):
1st — Islam is the official religion of the state and is a
basic source of legislation:
(a) No law can be passed that contradicts the
undisputed rules of Islam.

(b) No law can be passed that contradicts the
principles of democracy.
(c) No law can be passed that contradicts the
rights and basic freedoms outlined in this constitution.
2nd — This
constitution guarantees the Islamic identity of the majority of the Iraqi people
and the full religious rights for all individuals and the freedom of creed and
religious practices."[Emphasis added.]

This gives Islamic Law precedent over the laws of the state, effectively making the declaration of religious freedom worthless, in theory now, possibly in practice later. So far Maliki is giving lip service to that freedom, but the danger remains.

As a Christian, I'm dismayed that our country dropped such a big ball at the outset, no matter how our military strategy has been successfully revised. I think this mistake could come back to bite us in the future. Unfortunately, Christian persecution is nothing new, but statements like this bother me as well.

"Msgr. Sako is not discouraged and guarantees: “One thing remains absolute and
unshakable for our community here in Kirkuk, we will persevere with dialogue to
build and strengthen peaceful coexistence”."

I hope the Gospel is part of that dialogue. I get nervous when church leaders talk about "dialogue" and "coexistence" with Islamists, because it usually is code for appeasement.

Remember our Christian brothers and sisters around the world who suffer in His name. Pray that they keep strong in their faith, and that God will deliver them.

Friday, January 4, 2008

The Only Certainty. (Updated)

The new year is upon us and the holidays are over. Most people are looking beyond the remaining winter months to the coming spring, with its glorious explosion of color, life, and 1040s.

Now that I've brought your wistful reverie to a screeching halt, let's talk taxes. This is the time of year when most Americans start turning out their file cabinets and old shoe boxes (don't smirk, you know you have 'em), compiling the precious bits of evidence they'll need to protect their hard earned dollars from the grasp of Uncle Sam, or rather, with which to persuade him to return some of our hard earned income that he's been squandering for us the last twelve months.

Fittingly, The Christian Science Monitor has an article today about the Presidential Candidates' tax policies. It's a fair rundown of the differences and similarities of each camp's ideas, and pretty predictable: the Democrats, to a man (and woman) want to raise taxes, the Republicans (generally) want to lower them.

Then there's Huckabee and (gasp!) Paul. They favor something called the Fair Tax, and that is my major point of contention with this article.

The Fair Tax, simply put, goes back to the Constitutional requirement that all taxes should be equally applied. It entails eliminating the current tax code, income, business, FICA, etc, and doing away with the IRS. In order to raise revenue for the government, a 23% inclusive tax is set on all new goods and services, including food. This tax should not affect prices, since the Fair Tax theory assumes that with corporate income and other taxes abolished, the taxes that are embedded in products' prices (which all consumers pay) will no longer factor into the price of consumer goods. To ease the sting of paying taxes on necessities like food, the Fair Tax plan allows for a "prebate," mentioned in the article. Basically it is an advance reimbursement from the government to each household to cover the taxes they would pay on bare necessities, according to income level. All of this is spelled out in the 2005 book, The Fair Tax, by Neal Boortz.

Since reading the book I've become pretty interested in the Fair Tax, especially in light of the tax troubles we've been having here in Indiana. I feel that government must have some income to fulfil its duties to citizens and build infrastructure, but I have come to feel more and more displeased with our current tax system. As it is, our tax code punishes the middle-class heavily, and is often used as a means of income redistribution (see 'Earned Income Credit'). It seems to me that the only fair means of taxing people in this day and age is a tax on consumption. The Fair Tax fits that bill rather nicely.

The problem is that the media doesn't like it, or at least, mis-characterizes it as a sales tax. A sales tax is a surcharge added onto a product at the point-of-sale. The Fair Tax is inclusive, meaning the price on the tag is what you pay; it's also not a VAT, which is added incrementally at each step in the production and distribution process. This list of complaints in the article is pretty standard:

But other economists point out that some of those deductions, such as the
one for interest paid on home mortgages, are enormously popular. Sales taxes are
regressive – that is, they affect the poor, who must spend a higher percentage
of their income to live, more than the rich.

And there is debate over whether a 23 percent national sales tax,
as called for by Huckabee, would raise enough money to replace the taxes lost.
Some economists say the rate would have to approach 50 percent, particularly as
Huckabee's plan also calls for a "prebate" cash subsidy for poor taxpayers.

Let's address them a little. Firstly, the deductions are popular because they allow people to recover more of the taxes they've paid out of their paycheck the previous year. Under the Fair Tax plan, there is no income tax, so people already have the money, to spend or save as they wish.

Secondly, that sales taxes are regressive, and impact the poor unfairly: the poor may have to spend a higher percentage of their income to live, but the rich also buy more, and more expensive products. There's also this: with a tax on consumption, there's a simple way to avoid it. Don't buy anything. Let's have some personal responsibility, people. If you're poor, do you really need 18" rims on your car or the latest cell phone? In addition, the Fair Tax is only applied to new goods and services. Eschew the new car for a used one, on which the taxes have already been paid.

Lastly (and my favorite), revenue replacement: this is typically used by government as a dodge. We're hearing it now in Indiana. "We can't abolish property taxes because replacing the revenue would mean raising other taxes to prohibitive levels." What about addressing the real problem and cutting spending? That's why taxes are so high in the first place. Besides, eliminating the IRS means there's less revenue needed anyway.

I'm no shill for the Fair Tax, even though everything I've said is pretty much right out of the book. I think it places a little too much faith in manufacturer lowering prices when they no longer need to transfer their corporate tax costs onto consumers. I don't quite understand how it will be phased in, so that we're not paying the inclusive tax on top of the embedded taxes. I also am not sure how it will coexist with current state tax codes. Here's the rest of the story. I do know, however, that our current system is badly broken, and adding new exemptions and credits just makes the problem worse. Raising taxes on businesses just drives them offshore, taking jobs with them. Taxing property is an affront to the principle of ownership, and income taxes amount to government theft.

Nothing may be certain but death and taxes, but one needn't lead to the other.

Update (1/5/08): Ramesh Ponnuru poses an interesting question at the Corner:

"The notion is that getting rid of income taxes will cause prices to drop
to offset the impact of the new sales tax. My question in response: If this
theory of how the economy works is valid, then shouldn't wages drop 23 percent,

A very valid question. My feeling is that yes they would, however, that yes should be qualified by the statement that wages have been fairly stagnant for a while now. I know of people who have not gotten a raise in three years, and my own company's annual raises are nowhere near what is needed to keep up with cost of living. So, they probably wouldn't drop, per se, but the stagnation of wages would probably get worse.

Also, I should add another concern I have about the Fair Tax, and that is the so-called 'prebate,' designed to offset taxes a family would pay on necessities. The idea is that in order to keep the tax fair, you cannot allow exemptions for things like food. If one product was exempt, other manufacturers would demand exemptions, leading to a mess similar to what we have now. I'm not sure I agree. State sales taxes (in Indiana at least) exempt food, and I can't think of any other manufacturers clamoring to get their products exempt. Plus, I'm mistrustful of receiving money from the government for any reason, particularly on a regular basis.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Use The Force.

An eleven-year old in England demonstrates that guts and Jedi are not extinct.

"Police said the boy hit the man with his toy after the man had punched and
verbally abused his mother as she approached her car."


As predicted, commentators of all stripes are hastening to raise Benazir Bhutto to political sainthood.

"Sipping tea with her was an experience I shall never forget. She knew the
risks of returning to Pakistan, but accepted them because, "I love my country
and my people." That's something else we don't see much of today: patriots.
There are many politicians who, for reasons of ego and a need to satisfy their
own narcissism, seek power, but hide their hunger with bows toward more noble
objectives. Like all politicians, indeed like all humanity, Bhutto was flawed,
but she was less flawed and more principled than many others in her country.
Women with a husband and children don't jeopardize comfortable and relatively
safe lifestyles for what awaited her in Pakistan. True heroism is to know the
risks and to take them in spite of danger."

She has been compared to the Aquinos of the Philippines for her determination to return home in the face of danger. The comparisons continue now that the inevitable assassination has happened. But the comparison doesn't hold water:

"Sytangco, who was also Aquino's spokeswoman when she was still president,
recalled that both Aquino and Bhutto came to power in 1986 as first women
democratic leaders.
She said that while Aquino did not make any state visit
to Pakistan when Bhutto was still prime minister, both leaders met twice --
first in 1989 when they attended the centennial of Paris and in Manila when
Bhutto paid a visit on Aquino after attending a conference here.

"They both
had similarities except that Aquino was never charged with corruption," Sytangco
[Emphasis added]

Further evidence comes from those who knew her, such as David Warren:

"She was my exact contemporary, and I met her as a child in Pakistan, so let me
jump on this bandwagon. I remember her at age eight, arriving in a Mercedes-Benz
with daddy's driver, and whisking me off for a ride in the private aeroplane of
then-President Ayub Khan (Bhutto père was the rising star in his cabinet). This
girl was the most spoiled brat I ever met."

Such testimony paints her less as a crusader for democracy than as a crusader for her own power. This is bolstered by the dynastic succession of her party's leadership.

The resistance to Marcos by the Aquinos was fueled by genuine democratic fervor and religious conviction, and change was largely peacefully. Saint Bhutto? I don't think so.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy New Year!

For those of you who like blogs better than parties, allow me to offer you this:

The Recipe For Jezla

3 parts Nonconformity

2 parts Inspiration

1 part Wisdom

Splash of Savvy

Finish off with a squeeze of lime juice