Saturday, October 29, 2005

Ending the income tax

There is a lot of talk about getting rid of the income tax (and presumably Social Security, or payroll, tax as well). I am in favor of this general principle and have read several such proposals in detail, some better than others. WND reports that Sen. Jim DeMint is going to put his proposal to replace the income tax with a sales tax on the Senate floor. This has happened before but it is great that it is happening again. The interesting part of the article is:

Senate staff members tell the paper the 8.5 percent figure had been determined after consultation with economists to assure the proposal would remain revenue-neutral.

I have seen proposals ranging from 12% to 22% but I have never seen a proposal with less than 12% floated by even the most rabid anti-income-tax proponent. This leads me to one of four possible conclusions.

1. The Senator is insane or has consulted only insane economists. I disregard this as unlikely.

2. Everyone else proposing a sales tax is insane or can't do math. I disregard this one too.

3. The Senator is proposing to replace the Income Tax but not the Social Security and Medicaire, etc taxes. If this is the case I am solidly against his proposal.

4. The Senator is really proposing a VAT tax and not just a sales tax. If this is the case I am also against his proposal. The VAT tax in Britain and our northern neighbor Canada is more oppressive to business than our current oppressive income tax system. An 8.5% VAT tax will increase the price of a car by more than 50%.

For those of you not familiar with VAT taxes they tax each transfer of supplies. The cloth companies pay 8.5% when they buy cotton from the farmer. The shirt company pays 8.5% when they buy the cloth from the cloth supplier. The distributor pays 8.5% when he buys the shirt from the shirt maker. The retailer pays 8.5% when they buy the shirt from the distributor. You then pay 8.5% when you buy the shirt from the store. It is one of the reasons that many common items are double the price in England that they are here. It is an even more evil tax than the death tax, in my humble opinion.

Update: It has been pointed out to me that parts of this post are easily read to mean something other than what I meant and that I failed to explain other thoughts that go into the 50% number. I will get back to it and update it soon. You may still disagree but at least the post will then say what I think better.

Mr. Galloway goes to prison?

It seems our favorite lefty loon from Britain has really stepped in it. See here and here for details.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Has Hugh lost it?

I intended to comment more deeply on this post Hugh made before Ms. Miers withdrew her name from consideration for the Supreme Court.

I agree with Hugh that Judge Bork went over the top in his essay on Ms. Miers but I am happy to give him the benefit of the doubt. After what happened to him it must have been very disappointing to see a President who claimed to be committed to putting up top notch judges get this so wrong. After Ms. Miers withdrew I thought I would just skip it (that work thing got in the way.... gotta win the lottery).

I disagree with Hugh and his attack that George Will and others implying that it was crude to attempt to use Mier's faith as support for her nomination. It is crude. People of faith are not, by default, crude. It is a crude argument. How many legislators and judges and governors claim on one or more issues that their personal belief is different from the law but.... I am happy for her that she has a strong faith. I am happy for her that her church, and presumably she personally, is opposed to abortion. That tells me nothing about how she would act as a Justice. It certainly tells me nothing about how she might interpret the constitution and laws about personal property rights, affirmative action and a whole host of other issues that will come before the court. Chief Justice Roberts was correct to assert that a judge's personal and religious beliefs should not make any difference on his/her ruling. If Ms. Miers shares that philosophy, which we were told she did, then her religious beliefs are irrelevant and the argument is crude.

But I made the mistake of reading his NYT piece today and I now have to comment. From the October 25 piece:

But many commentators --just read the comments at various boards and blogs-- wouldn't know what a reference to Harlan's dissent in Plessy meant and wouldn't trouble themselves to find out, or even a couple of other major cases and turning points in the history of the SCOTUS. They are making outrageous leaps of logic and engaged in simple invective against a fine public servant and impressively accomplished lawyer. They are not in fact equipped to comment on her qualifications because there is a minimum background necessary that they lack.

Now who is being elitist? So you have to go to law school and or spend hundreds of hours reading all the major decisions and dissents to be able to comment on a Supreme Court nomination? I know little about physics. I probably know more about it than Hugh, but it is not my field of expertise. I will make a bet. I will get together 100 resumes from physicists around the world, most of whom were competent but not brilliant and 5 of whom were Nobel prize winners. I will remove the references to the Nobel prizes (btw, the physics prize is not like the peace prize or the literature prize, you do really have to do something amazing to get it). I will then send the resumes to Hugh and bet that he can pick out the Nobel prize winners from the stack in less than an hour.

Now, onto his NYT piece that has me wondering about Hugh's reality today.

The right's embrace in the Miers nomination of tactics previously exclusive to the left - exaggeration, invective, anonymous sources, an unbroken stream of new charges, television advertisements paid for by secret sources - will make it immeasurably harder to denounce and deflect such assaults when the Democrats make them the next time around. Given the overemphasis on admittedly ambiguous speeches Miers made more than a decade ago, conservative activists will find it difficult to take on liberals in their parallel efforts to destroy some future Robert Bork.

I don't know what Hugh was reading but I followed most of his links and I didn't see this for the most part. There is an enormous difference between a filibuster or no vote from the Senate because the Senators don't agree with the philosophy of a highly qualified mainstream nominee and pointing out that why a nomination is disappointing because it is a crony appointment. Taking out TV ads was over the top but most people on the right commenting on the nomination didn't even call for or expect the Republican Senators to vote against her. Many asked the President to withdraw the nominee but that is different. The argument against Bork was that he was too conservative, he was appointed by a Republican and the Dems didn't like him. The argument against Miers was that with a full bench of enormously qualified candidates Bush reached past them and picked an unvetted crony of little distinction and even less public record recommended only by a far left enemy of the opposing party.

Let's be honest here. One cannot make the argument that Chief Justice Roberts was not supremely qualified. One cannot honestly make the argument that he is out of the mainstream. One would have a hard time making the argument that Justice Ginsberg was not well out of the mainstream when she was nominated and has remained there. Chief Justice Roberts got more no votes on the committee than Justice Ginsberg got from the full Senate. Fully half of the Senate Democrats voted against Chief Justice Roberts. There is no comparison between the behavior of Republicans and Democrats on these issues. There is no comparison between their baseless arguments against Thomas and Bork and the vast majority of the right bloggers claims that Miers was a poor choice and appeared to be a crony appointment that should be withdrawn.

Not all critics of Ms. Miers from the right used these tactics, and those who did not will be able to continue on with the project of restoring sanity to the process that went haywire with Judge Bork's rejection in 1987. Conservatives are also fortunate that no Republican senator called for Ms. Miers's withdrawal.

I would argue that most didn't use "these tactics". And Hugh should have added the word "publicly" to that last sentence. He has on the radio but the article should contain it. It is widely believed that some of the senior Republicans went to the White House and told them that they didn't believe that they could get Miers through the process. That is a request for withdrawal from the Republican Senators, it just isn't a public request.

The next nominee - even one who is a superb scholar and sitting judge who recently underwent Senate confirmation like Michael McConnell of the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, or a long-serving superstar like Michael Luttig of the Fourth Circuit - will face an instant and savage assault.

The wackos on the left did this to Roberts. Miers has nothing to do with this. I agree it will happen but it would have happened had Miers never been nominated. The problem for them is that at some point the nominee gets to go head to head with Durbin/Kennedy/et. al. on public television. Someone truly qualified for the job walks through that process blindfolded with one hand behind their back completely unscathed. The lefty senators just aren't that bright.

After all, it "worked" with Ms. Miers.

Hugh, what worked is a truly political process. Judicial confirmation processes should not be political. The nomination process always will be. The President's base expressed their displeasure. They gave him money, they got him elected and they handed him a 55 seat majority in the Senate. They expected, because he promised it as a condition for that support, a good selection (to them) for SCOTUS. They didn't get it, they screamed, the Republican Senate felt the heat and the nomination was withdrawn before the confirmation process really got into full swing. Notice that the folks who lost the election weren't involved.

My grandfather always said, "If you don't vote, don't bitch." Politicians will tell you "If you don't vote for ME, don't bitch to me." The Republicans are a majority party and if they want to stay that way they had better start acting like it on the issues near and dear to the base.

The Miers precedent cements an extraconstitutional new standard for nominees. Had the framers intended only judges for the court, they would have said so. No doubt some Miers critics will protest a willingness to support nominees who have never sat on the bench, but no president is going to send one forward after this debacle.

If future Presidents are so dense that they don't understand the difference between appointing an extraordinary non-judge, non-professor and appointing your personal attorney they are probably in the wrong job. Do you really believe there would have been a peep from the right if Ted Olson had been nominated? I sincerely doubt it. Even us poor dumb Christian farm boys can tell the difference between those two resumes.

If there has been damage done to "the cause", and I am not convinced there has been, I believe it came from the ammunition given to the left by the anti-anti-Miers conservatives (led by Hugh) in exaggerating the nature of the dissent from the right.

This could turn out to be a real win for the President. If there is a threat of filibuster on a McConnell, Luttig, Jones, etc., there will now be tremendous pressure from the right on the Sissy Seven to find a spine and support the President's right to get a qualified mainstream nominee of his choice, not Ted Kennedy's, through.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

And Then There Was HOPE

Military might in use or in threat by this country has brought us independence, and an end to slavery, Nazism, Facism, Soviet Communism and other evils.

While slavery was over for decades, the situation for blacks in this country as a whole, and in the south in particular, was highly oppressive more often than not. Most could not vote, not because they weren't "allowed" legally but because they were kept from registering by intentionally racist poll tests or other barriers. They had to put up with substandard segregated schools. Water fountains, restrooms and restaurants were labeled "whites only" in most of the south. And in Montgomery Alabama in 1955 blacks had to ride in the back of the bus.

Then along came Hope. A high school educated (only 7% were) married black seamstress in her early 40s refused to give up her seat to a white man. She was arrested. And the legend of Rosa Parks and the modern civil rights movement were born. It is hard for me to imagine a world where a man would actually ask a 42 year old woman to give up her seat on a bus and not be ridiculed, irrespective of the skin color of the people in question. I was born in 1967 and my father would still smack me for not giving up my seat on a bus to a 42 year old woman, black, white or otherwise. Rosa Parks couldn't understand the world she lived in either, or at least she couldn't tolerate it any more. Her bravery led young and old, black and white, Christian and Jew to march together and complain and resist. And southern blacks had something more important than nominal freedom. They had hope.

Their ancestors were born into slavery. Most of them had never voted and many had little to no education. They now had hope that their children or grandchildren would be equal in the nation of their birth and that of their parents and grandparents.

A majority of black people in this nation today have no ancestors that were ever slaves in this nation. Why? Because black people, just like white people, from all over the world today are willing and eager to come here knowing that, while not perfect and with little likeliness that this or any other nation will ever be perfect, they are equal and will be treated fairly here. Thank you Rosa Parks and all who heard her call in Montgomery and acted so that I am blessed not to understand the world she was born into.

Rosa Parks died last night in her Detroit home. She was a hero to millions 50 years ago. She should be a hero to all today, tomorrow and for all generations to come. God rest her soul. Let us all say a prayer and vow not let her bravery in the face of oppression be forgotten.

I also read this morning that Yaakov Kirschen of Dry Bones Blog in Israel and Omar of Iraq the Model have exchanged blog roll links. Maybe the blogosphere will help to bridge that racial divide so Arab and Israeli children will hope to see the day when they live in true peace as equals.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Added some more new links to the blog roll

And did some semblance of organization too :-) Have fun.

Suggestions for 365

Blackfive is collecting milblog articles for a book. Daniel at 365 and A Wakeup is looking for input as to which of his articles to submit. I have to go back over my own postings and send him a list. I would definitely include this one on "Justice" that I read this morning.

Greenland icecap shrinking and thickening

I am not sure that this article tells us anything other than:

1. We are not sure if the Greenland icecap is growing or shrinking given that it's area is decreasing (unmeasurably) and it's depth is increasing.

2. "We" think, but aren't apparently really sure, that the ocean level is probably increasing "slightly" (whatever that means).

3. There are wackos at the UN who have extrapolated this to a sea level rise of over a meter in the next 95 years (sounds all too familiar to the warnings that Miami would be under water by 2000 that were put out 20 years ago).

Tammy's take is funny.

Toy Pig Ban lifted

Apparently the Dudley Council does live in the real world even if the local government administrators don't. And, thankfully in this case, they are in charge. (HT:Tammy Bruce)

Tammy's dog rules

Apparently Tammy Bruce and my wife went to the same school of dog training.

1. The dog is not allowed in the house.
2. Okay, the dog is allowed in the house, but only in certain rooms.
3. The dog is allowed in all rooms, but has to stay off the
4. The dog can get on the old furniture only.
5. Fine, the dog is allowed on all the furniture, but is not
allowed to sleep with humans on the bed.
6. Okay, the dog is allowed on the bed, but only by invitation.
7. The dog can sleep on the bed whenever he wants, but not under the
8. The dog can sleep under the covers by invitation only.
9. Okay, the dog can sleep under the covers every night.
10. Humans must ask permission to sleep under the covers with the

Techno Ooopppssseee!

LGF tell us:
Don’t you just love it when Microsoft Entourage decides it’s time to corrupt your email database, and blow away all your email? I know I do. No better way to start the day.

So here’s an open thread while I set up and switch to Apple Mail.

Some people learn slower than others... but at least some of them do learn :-)

Another Ooopppssseeee!

Walgreens now has a PR problem after giving $100K to the Gay Games in Chicago. Companies continue to get shaken down by lefties and give in with donations to their causes. Then they get hammered by righties for doing it. I would feel sorry for the CEOs who are stuck in these positions if it weren't for how overpaid most of them are and how stupid most of them make themselves out to be by donating corporate dollars to fringe groups. This isn't a donation to the Boy Scouts or the United Negro College Fund both of which are controversial in some fringe circles. This is a group in the fringe that is disliked by most of the mainstream.

I love Melanie

One of the few things I miss about living in the San Jose, CA area is listening to Lee Rodgers and Melanie Morgan in the morning. It is, IMHO, the best political and news morning show in the country. I still listen occasionally listen over the Internet. The good news, Melanie is now doing a weekly column, the first of which is "The media: They're not with us". Check it out. Maybe we can get Lee to start a weekly column too!!

New, "ethical" embryonic stem cell research

Dr. Kelly Hollowell has a great article on two new techniques being explored to try and make ESCR more appealing to the American public (and thus get federal funding). If this topic is of interest you should read this admittedly partisan article. Partisanship aside the following remains both true and my foremost objection to federally funding such research:

Sadly, they were not talking about the 600-pound gorilla in the room called adult stem-cell research, which is successfully treating 65 different human diseases.


Finally, let's not forget that all tolled, when comparing adult stem-cell therapies to embryonic stem-cell therapies, the count is still 65-0.

Who are the "insurgents"?

Rantingprofs proposes the following:

Egyptians Largest Group of Detainees

If you assume the detainees in Iraq are representative of the proportionate breakdown of foreign fighters in Iraq, Egyptians are the largest group, which is interesting given that Saudis have consistently been best represented among the suicide bombers.

Do any of you guys remember hearing about an American captured in Iraq? Because I think this is the first I'm hearing of it. Now that's something you'd think the press would want to dig a little on (but suspect they won't.)

I agree that it is very interesting that the major press still (this was from 3 days ago, sorry but my fire hose isn't empty yet) hasn't hit on this.

I would, however, not assume that the detainees are representative of the foreign fighters. That assumption breaks down to multiple other assumptions from how well trained are the various groups involved in the meddling to how fanatical each is. While the statistic is interesting I do not think that it leads one to any conclusions about the overall insurgency without significantly more data. The point that she makes, that the Saudis have the most suicide bombers is part of the latter (more fanatical). I would assume based on everything that I have read that the non-suicide bombers, i.e. fighters, from Saudi Arabia and Syria are, in general, more fanatical than their Egyptian counterparts. It is also more likely that they and their Iranian friends are better equipped and trained.

Blog Roll changes

I had been meaning to get around to removing Colorado Conservative from my blog roll for some time. It is not that I thought Darren became untrustworthy or uninteresting. He changed jobs and basically stopped blogging. If he starts up again I will make a note and add him back to my list. I particularly miss both his local news stories (I am in Colorado) and the utterly bizarre stories he routinely found and posted.

While I was at it I added Dry Bones Blog which I found recently (although it has been around a long time) and have been looking at daily. Yaakov Kirschen is a cartoonist from Israel who post a cartoon and the thoughts behind it every Monday through Friday. In this time of war, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc. I know that a little humor every day is helpful to me.

I have a few others I need to add as well as to bother to categorize them.... I promise I will get to it soon.