Friday, August 31, 2007

Karl's Weekend Reading

Lets start the three-day weekend off right!

You know it is election season when liberals start caring about the poor. Robert Rector at NRO offers some hard-to-swallow facts about America's "poor" in his Monday article, "Poor Politics: Edwards Poor "Plague" Examined".

46 percent of all poor households actually own their own homes. The average home owned by persons classified as poor by the Census Bureau is a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage, and a porch or patio.

Larry Kudlow reviews the $127 BILLION spent on the Katrina recover ($425,000 per resident), and the differing philosophies, left vs. right, of disaster recovery in his Thursday Townhall article, "The Big Easy's Billion Dollar Boondoggle".

Think of this: The idea of using federal money to rebuild cities is the quintessential liberal vision. And given the dreadful results in New Orleans, we can say that the government's $127 billion check represents the quintessential failure of that liberal vision. Hillary Clinton calls this sort of reckless spending "government investment." And that's just what's in store for America if she wins the White House next year.

Remember President Reagan's line during the 1980 campaign about how LBJ fought a big-government spending war against poverty, and poverty won? Well think of all this Katrina spending as the Great Society Redux. And it failed. I suppose the current Bush administration would like to label this "compassionate conservatism." But guess what? That failed, too.

Right from the start, New Orleans should have been turned into a tax-free enterprise zone.

Kimberley A. Strassel has a must-read for every GOP candidate - for president, congress, and dog catcher. "What Women Want" is THE conservative approach, tailored to women. As always, Kimberly makes it simple. Lets see if anybody is listening...

Most married women are second-earners. That means their income is added to that of their husband's, and thus taxed at his highest marginal rate. So the married woman working as a secretary keeps less of her paycheck than the single woman who does the exact same job. This is the ultimate in "inequality," yet Democrats constantly promote the very tax code that punishes married working women.

You go, Kimberley!

Friday Night Cigar

Nothing goes better than starting a three-day weekend with a fine cigar. Tonight's cigar: A Rocky Patel Olde World Reserve. Like the Anniversary cigar earlier this week, the OWR is a nice smoke, but doesn't rise to the level of our favorites. Which is good, because its expensive.

For the guys out there, a question. Do you find yourself hesitating before walking into a men's restroom these days? Comments are open.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Hillary Wins!

We haven't seen a blowout like this since Reagan unseated that Georgia fella! Here is the result of our most recent Comrade Survey:

A Glimpse of Middle America...

...and the Senator Craig misunderstanding...

Found at The Jawa Report

The Symbol Lives On

Found at Townhall:

Monday, August 27, 2007

FairTax Smear (Comments)

Bruce Bartlett, Bush Sr's Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, tries to smear the Fair Tax in Saturday's WSJ editorial. It justifies a response:

Smear Rule #1: If you want others to dislike something, tie it to the Church of Scientology. Para. 2:

For those who never heard about it, the FairTax is a national retail sales tax that would replace the entire current federal tax system. It was originally devised by the Church of Scientology in the early 1990s as a way to get rid of the Internal Revenue Service, with which the church was then at war (at the time the IRS refused to recognize it as a legitimate religion). The Scientologists' idea was that since almost all states have sales taxes, replacing federal taxes with the same sort of tax would allow them to collect the federal government's revenue and thereby get rid of their hated enemy, the IRS.

As if only the Scientologists would be happy to see a 100% layoff at the IRS...

Smear Rule #2: Use phrases like "so and so asserts" or "so and so claims". This makes your audience think the other side is lying. But, don't offer a counter clarification or, in the case of the FairTax, a counter calculation. Para. 3:

They assert that a rate of 23% would be sufficient to replace federal individual and corporate income taxes as well as payroll and estate taxes. Mr. Linder's Web site claims that U.S. gross domestic product will rise 10.5% the first year after enactment, exports will grow by 26%, and real investment spending will increase an astonishing 76%.

Mr Bartlett continues with his guess that the FairTax will instead be closer to 30%. This argument is refuted in the Fair Tax Book (available one click away at the Book Club to your left), but Mr. Bartlett ignores the author's argument.

He also misses one big point here - 23%, 30%, 40%, whatever. IT. IS. FAIR. Fair for the 50% of Americans that pay tax today, but also fair for those who don't pay taxes today. Get it?

Smear Rule #3: Talk about the burden on the government. Liberals eat this up! Paras. 8 & 11:

...state and local governments would have to pay the FairTax on most of their purchases. This means that it is partly financed by higher state and local taxes. It's also worth remembering that state sales taxes now average 6%, which means that the total tax rate will be 36% on retail sales.

Since sales taxes are regressive--taking more in percentage terms from the incomes of the poor and middle class than the rich--some provision is needed to prevent a vast increase in taxation on the nonwealthy. The FairTax does this by sending monthly checks to every household based on income.

Mr. Bartlett, do you mean the government will have to be more selective on how it spends our money? Do you also ignore the possibility that the government may receive higher revenues now that our 12 million illegal immigrants and the tens of thousands of tourists will start paying taxes? Have you not heard of technologies called "database" and "direct deposit" that could support monthly payments to the, so called, American poor?

Smear Rule #4: Incorporate words like "deception", even if you do not know how to use the word correctly. Para. 17:

Perhaps the biggest deception in the FairTax, however, is its promise to relieve individuals from having to file income tax returns, keep extensive financial records and potentially suffer audits. Judging by the emphasis FairTax supporters place on the idea of making April 15 just another day, this seems to be a major selling point for their proposal.

Actually, the FairTax DOES eliminate federal tax returns, the need for extensive records and audits. So far, the only deception appears to be Mr. Bartlett's purpose for writing this article. We suspect Mr. Bartlett will be coming out for a Republican other than Gov. Huckabee, as this is clearly a hit piece on Gov. Huckabee's recent surprise showing in Iowa.

To further use the "deception" word, let's look at what Mr. Bartlett leaves out. There is no mention that employees will now keep every penny of their gross salary, minus any state tax. Like all FairTax opponents, he deceives by painting the picture that you'll pay 23/30% more of your current take-home pay at the cash register. Nor does he address the idea that the reduced tax burden on businesses will result in lower prices for goods and services. And where is the new concept - people will now choose when they pay taxes, and how much they will pay? These missing items were not for a lack of space.

Mr. Bartlett used his previous position in government to grab half of the WSJ editorial page. He wasted an opportunity to apply critical thought to a complex, but popular idea. His article has two target audiences: those who haven't read the Fair Tax Book, and those who remember that wonderful economic boom in 1991-1992 when Mr. Bartlett was serving our country. For everyone else, Mr. Bartlett has shown himself to be an economic non-authority.

We think taxes will rank equal to the war on terror in the 2008 election, thanks to the Alternative Minimum Tax. We hope someone will step up for the FairTax, offer an enhancement of the FairTax, or provide a fair alternative. Here's to hoping...

I'm Karl. Thanks for reading.

Monday Afternoon Cigar (Comments)

We're trying a Rocky Patel Vintage 1999 tonight. Smooth. Pleasant. But probably not in our top 5.

We're not celebrating Attorney General A. Gonzales' resignation. We don't have it out for him like the Dems, and the 'pile on/my-s**t-don't-stink' Reps & otherwise conservative bloggers.

Even if he fired all 93 attorneys like Clinton did (remember?), we'd still support him. Why? Because he fired people that didn't adopt the President's vision. Period. He's a good man who was loyal to his boss. We wonder if other good people will avoid public service after seeing this Schumer/Reid witch hunt. Your thoughts?

Politkovskaya Arrests

Ten were arrested for the murder of Russian journalist, Anna Politkovskaya. [Moscow Times]

So it was the Chechens working with some from the Security Services? We'll update here as the news develops.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Valery Panyushkin

Do a Google News search on Valery Panyushkin, and you'll see that when it comes to Putin-thugs intimidating journalists, you'll only find ONE report.

Gregory L. White, at the Wall Street Journal, explains how Mr. Panyushkin, 38, was detained for no other reason than to harass.
The police used the excuse of the recent law that cracks down on dissident/extremist (ie. Anti-Putin) behavior. Mr. Panyushkin has written critical articles about the Kremlin, and was one of the journalists arrested with Garry Kasparov in a recent protest.

We'll post more as soon as the professional journalists in the US, those who respect their profession and come to defend their fellow reporters, catch wind of the story...

Karl's Weekend Reading

James Taranto analyzes a segment of the anti-war crowd in the first part of his Monday Best of the Web:

...war opponents act as if favoring a precipitous withdrawal logically and necessarily follows from regretting the decision to liberate.

Why? Part of it, we suppose, is a sort of binary simplemindedness: It was bad to go in, ergo it would be good to get out. Real life is more complicated. It may be that it was a mistake to go in but a precipitous withdrawal would compound the error.

But maybe those who argue for withdrawal seek precisely to compound the error. Failure in Iraq would vindicate the position of those who originally argued that the war would be a mistake. Likewise for those who supported the war but later changed their minds--they may be cynical opportunists, but they may also have the zeal of a convert. If America loses the war, they win the argument.

John Fund, also of the WSJ, sheds light on the latest commie elitism. This time, George Soros and company attempting to deny the small Romanian town, Rosia Montana, the right to mine for $10 billion in gold.

...Mayor Virgil Narita supports the mine because it will create 700 permanent local jobs. He was re-elected with 80% of the vote this year. And in late 2004, the Council of Europe sent Eddie O'Hara, a British Labour Party member of the European Parliament, to Rosia Montana to file an official report. Opposition to the mine, he said, was "substantial," but it was "very much fueled by outside bodies, presumably well-meaning but possibly counterproductively. It seems in part at least exaggerated." Mr. O'Hara concluded the opposition "do not take account of modern mining techniques and in fact the Rosia Montana project will help to clear up existing pollution." He also warned that not allowing the mine "would remove any chance of local development for some time."

Melik Kaylan conducts an interview with Georgia's President, Mikheil Saakashvili, in Saturday's Wall Street Journal. (Georgia is where a Russian bomb landed last week, without exploding, and where Russian military aircraft recently ventured.)

I ask him if the Russians are making a big push now with maximum pressure while they can, realizing that before long, consumer countries will develop alternate supply routes to avoid Russian strategic pressure. "No, I don't think the Russians are calculating logically or strategically," he says. "I think it's an emotional and volatile process for them. Logically, they should realize that stable relations all around will pay off for them more in the long run. Instead they're driving countries to find alternative partners . . ."

For a lighter read, take a look at Mike Adam's piece, at Townhall, on why we should be treating Michael Vick as a hero.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Thursday Night Cigar

A smokey evening with a Rocky Patel Edge as we celebrated Bush's reference to Vietnam today in his speech. One can tell by the MSM response that he touched a nerve as he explained surrender leads to genocide. That's a history lesson the MSM'ers choose to forget.

Is it just Karl? (Comments?)

Is it just me, or do you notice this too? Both images came from Google News, the first on Aug 2nd, and the other on Aug 22nd. Do the Kos Kids match the images to the stories, or do the MSM'ers?

Updated 8.27: We found this at one of our favorite blogs (see blogroll) several days ago.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Karl's Weekend Reading

A bit short this week. We were busy putting the finishing touches on our June report.

Here's a quick read from the WSJ editorial page. Is Communism a good idea poorly executed, or is it the tool of the elite to control and suppress the masses?

Victor Davis Hanson shares five thoughts about the War on Terror at NRO.

The White Flags are still flying

Found at Townhall:

A 3-Cigar Saturday

We had a scare the past week when mentor, friend and enthusiast, Mikhail, was diagnosed with a severe coronary issue, obviously brought on the strain of converting so many liberals in such a short period of time. Mikhail is much better now, and we (just Karl) celebrated by smoking out the neighbors and creating our own health issue with three cigars.

Mikhail - rest up. We have work to do in 2008!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Bloggers Are Cool

Here are two great posts from fellow bloggers:

From Classic.

From Another poll about the MSM's bias.

Karl's Weekend Reading (Comments)

Propoganda Redux is the latest from Ion Mihai Precepa, the author of Red Horizons. Tuesday's WSJ editorial page. Great graphic too.

I spent decades scrutinizing the U.S. from Europe, and I learned that international respect for America is directly proportional to America's own respect for its president.
Now we are again at war. It is not the president's war. It is America's war, authorized by 296 House members and 76 senators. I do not intend to join the armchair experts on the Iraq war. I do not know how we should handle this war, and they don't know either. But I do know that if America's political leaders, Democrat and Republican, join together as they did during World War II, America will win. Otherwise, terrorism will win.
For once, the communists got it right. It is America's leader that counts. Let's return to the traditions of presidents who accepted nothing short of unconditional surrender from our deadly enemies. Let's vote next year for people who believe in America's future, not for the ones who live in the Cold War past.

Bret Stephens writes in Tuesday's WSJ about the arms sale to the Saudis, Kernal of Evil. A bit pessimtic, but he always supports his topics with a large dose of history. And he is right about the stink this arms sale emits.

We're skeptical, however, that the Saudis would use these weapons against the Shia Iraq as Bret discusses. Not because they could, but we served with Saudi officers in the US Army for training, including a prince. We knew US officers that were first in Saudi Arabia in Aug 1990. We knew why Bush Sr. sent them. The Saudis are unable to fight, period. Defense, offense, or out of a wet paper bag. The Saudis won't attack Iraq for the simple reason: their military lacks discipline, seriousness, and the will to fight. Comments?

Monday, August 06, 2007

Che, He's Everywhere

Che, Chavez and Sean Penn (in back) are keeping the faith. Whatever rallies the masses...

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Saturday Night Cigar

Karl, Catherine the Great and Mikhail went to see The Bourne Ultimatum. A fun flick. We'd like to think America has guys this tough in the shadows. As for the plot, Debbie Schlussel has an accurate assessment.

Weekend Reading

Start your weekend right with a review of current events in Cuba. Mary Anastasia Grady at the Wall Street Journal provides excellent analysis in her editorial, "Cuban Tremors". Will we see a Romanian-like rebellion?

But the man is desperate. He cannot put the whole island in jail, and with food and milk shortages growing, it may become increasingly difficult to keep the lid on things. As Armando Valladares, a former political prisoner who spent 22 years in Castro gulags told me in an interview last month, terror as a way to control people has its limits. In Mr. Valladares's view, the Cuban people are very near if not over that limit, suggesting that even a small spark could ignite a massive rebellion -- not unlike what happened in Romania.

More Cuba - Mike Adams suggests a memorial for Che in his Townhall article: "Che, You've Got to Hide Your Love Away".

James Taranto hit on all cylinders in his Wednesday Best of the Web column at WSJ. Good catch James with the AP headline:

AP July 31, 2007 - "Employment Costs Rise in 2nd Quarter"
James: If Clinton were President, they'd be called 'Wages'