Tuesday, August 29, 2006

IRS using Private Debt Collectors -- Were YOU Warned?

by Julie of Degree of Madness

Follow-up on last week's Blogburst about the outside collection agencies the IRS is employing to collect delinquent taxes.

On August 23, this was the headline: IRS Warns Against Phony Debt Collectors.

The IRS warned taxpayers Wednesday not to be duped by scammers posing as private debt collectors the agency has hired to chase unpaid tax debts.

The program isn't even in place yet and concerns are already being raised, and not just by this Blogburst writer.

The Internal Revenue Service designed the debt collection program to minimize that risk "because we know what it's like out there with regard to identity theft nowadays," said Brady Bennett, IRS Director of Collections.

The IRS designed the program to minimize the risk. Well that's comforting. The IRS is looking out for you.

And this article addresses something I wasn't sure about and that is whether the private collection agencies would have access to social security numbers. They will.

The IRS plans to give the collection agencies basic identifying and account information about the chosen taxpayers, including their names, addresses and Social Security numbers. The agencies do not have access to tax returns.

Also from the article:

Identity thieves have posed as IRS agents in "phishing" schemes that use the tax agency's logo to lure victims. The e-mail schemes are designed to dupe taxpayers into revealing personal financial information.

The IRS does not communicate with taxpayers through e-mail, and it will not e-mail taxpayers about debts turned over to private collectors. The IRS also does not ask taxpayers for any passwords or PIN numbers that would allow the agency to access bank or credit card accounts.

Bennett also cautioned taxpayers chosen for the debt collection effort to make any check or money order payable to the U.S. Treasury, not a private company, and to send the money to the IRS. The collection agencies have been told to provide addresses to the taxpayers they contact.

This is all well and good but the IRS cautioning taxpayers via articles such as this probably won't be very widely read. Is the IRS planning to contact taxpayers directly to advise them of this program? I've not received anything from them. And from the first line of the article, "The IRS warned taxpayers," how did they warn them? By telling the AP?

I read some of the comments last week on blogs that posted the Blogburst. One commenter responded to the statement I made about our tax information being private by suggesting that since the government knows our tax information it is not private. Good point, but that doesn't mean I want them passing it out to employees of private companies. And if we had the Fair Tax the government would know much less about our private financial information. KnightHawk at PoliPundit had some really good responses to some of the questions raised. There were some good questions raised and worth a look.

Now on to this week's blogburst.

Our representatives in Congress are finally getting the message that Americans are "fed up" with the current tax code. The question is, how do we fix it?

I contacted my (Alabama) Senators and Representative in Washington to let them know of my support for the Fair Tax. Three letters, three different responses. Congressman Spencer Bachus (6th district) is a co-sponsor of the Fair Tax Act of 2005, H.R. 25. Good news. Senator Jeff Sessions has not endorsed any specific proposal for reform, but does agree something has to be done about the tax code. From his letter: "Most taxpayers that I talk to are not only fed up with the complexity of the tax code, but the enormous tax burden that has been placed on them." Senator Richard Shelby supports "a flat tax, as opposed to a national sales tax." I wanted to address Senator Shelby's position because I believe his concerns about the Fair Tax are probably shared by many on Capitol Hill.

From his letter:

I support a flat tax, as opposed to a national sales tax, because I believe that the flat tax encourages savings in a more effective manner without leaving the federal budget vulnerable to fluctuations in our economy. Under a flat tax, government revenues would not fluctuate as severely because of changes in the economy as they would with a national sales tax. This is the same problem that many state budgets are facing today because they depend too much on sales taxes.

I'm not really sure about the "encourages savings in a more effective manner," but his concern about the fluctuations in the economy is interesting. In other words, if our economy slows down the government should not have to slow down. Changes, I'm assuming he means negative changes, in the economy would surely affect the taxpayer but he would get no relief from Uncle Sam. While the taxpayer's personal economy fluctuates (downward), the government keeps right on spending. To me, this would be a good argument for the Fair Tax. If the American taxpayer had to cut back and budget better, why not the federal government? But according to a study by American Farm Bureau, #9 in the Fair Tax FAQ, consumption is a more reliable source of revenue anyway.

Is consumption a reliable source of revenue? Yes, in fact, consumption is a more stable source of revenue than income. A recent study by American Farm Bureau economist Ross Korves shows the FairTax base is less variable than the income tax base. Why? Because during difficult times due to loss of a job or an inability to work, people may not have as much income, or may have no income at all. They borrow funds or use savings. They may not have earnings, but they still continue to consume.

Another argument from Senator Shelby:

Additionally, a flat tax better protects poor and low-income Americans because they are not forced to overpay taxes through their daily purchases, and then wait until the end of the month for a rebate check, as many national sales tax plans have proposed. These Americans need this money immediately to pay their bills and meet their needs. Under my proposal, the "Tax Simplification Act," low-income Americans would not have to pay for these distortions in the first place because of a personal deduction that would apply to all Americans.

The Fair Tax proposes a "prebate," paid at the beginning of the month. And low-income Americans would have the same advantage as everyone else, no deductions from their paychecks for federal withholding or social security and Medicare. This is important. Even if the low-income American has no federal tax withheld, the social security and Medicare taxes will still be deducted under the Flat Tax. Currently it is 7.65% and everyone pays the same regardless of income bracket.

Please follow this link for Senator Shelby's proposal for a flat tax. It certainly would be better than the current system, but it doesn't get rid of the IRS, it does not eliminate the corporate tax which is a huge plus for the Fair Tax, and it doesn't get rid of the social security and Medicare tax. The Fair Tax does.

The FairTax Blogburst is jointly produced by Terry of The Right Track Blog and Jonathan of Publius Rendezvous. If you would like to host the weekly postings on your blog, please e-mail Terry. You will be added to our mailing list and blogroll.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

"Snakes On a Plane" (and on some geeks)

As promised, it's time for a movie review... Yes, "Snakes On a Plane!"

For those you expecting a thrill-a-minute artistic movie, don't. It's not any of that; although there are a few thrilling moments. (One of which has you jumping out of your seat in a style reminiscent of "Jaws.") The movie, in my humble opinion, was never meant to be any of that. It was meant to be an event, a pop-culture moment, more than a cinematic work of art.

This movie is for those of you who appreciate a little tongue-in-cheek dialog and Samuel L. Jackson's signature (and possibly only) style of acting. It is loaded with great one-liners -- "This plane will go down faster than a Thai hooker" -- and has every stereotypical character found in every "crisis" movie ever made: the scaredy-cat, the nervous guy/gal, the brave hero and his sidekick, the annoying character(s) that you hope get eaten at some point, and the mom protecting her baby. It's all there and it's all well-played even though it's played as expected.

Because the movie was so well-hyped by people on the internet, most of the internet-savvy folks already had a glimpse of what to expect. When Samuel L. Jackson gives us the best line of the movie ("I'm sick and tired of these m-f***ing snakes on this m-f***ing plane!"), the entire audience said it right along with him! Brilliant!

I went with a gang of friends dressed as flight crew and passengers. We "snaked-up" with about 100 3-foot rubber snakes hanging off of us or our carry-ons. We made it the event it was meant to be and it was a BLAST!

This will be a new generation's "Rocky Horror Picture Show." You can bet on it!

Blackballed from the Planetary Frat!

Awwww, poor Pluto! Blackballed by astronomers this week. Actually, probably should have been more thoroughly considered before they admitted Pluto to the fraternity of planets.

I don't know how you all learned the order of the planets but I learned them by singing a little one-line song: "My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzapies." I suppose she'll now have to serve nachos, nothing, or notice, eh?

As a friend put it this week, "One less Disney character in the sky." So sad.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

So much to say, so little time in a day!

Guilt. It's a powerful thing. I've not written in what seems like ages now and, even though I needed to be in bed an hour ago, I feel guilty that I haven't put some effort into my blog lately. So I felt compelled to let you all know that I'm still alive and dying to write something of more interest when I find the time! For now though, a peek at what's bubbling around in my brain...

Immigration: We have two Republican Senators here in Kentucky but only one of them votes as though he knows that his Republican constituents are paying attention. I'll be posting the report cards for these two Senators very soon... maybe you can spot the one who's voting my voice! Maybe we'll make it a challenge to see if you can spot the two Republican immigration report cards on out of three or four.

SOAP: Friday night is a big movie night... going to see "Snakes on a Plane" with a group of wacky friends. We're going to be decked out in rubber snakes for this; I'll be the one dressed as a flight attendant with snakes hanging out of my carry-on. If you're at Stonybrook Cinemas in Louisville Friday night, check out the barstools at Chatters for some fun. ConservaChick will be the one drinking rattlesnakes! ;o) This movie has taken a beating in cyberspace since its release but, honestly, I can't wait to see it! The simplicity of the title alone makes it worth the effort. Okay, that and the fact that it lends itself well to playing with rubber snakes at the bar. Movie review to follow over the weekend.

Religion: Going to church over the weekend with my mother, my aunt, and a family friend. This will be the first time in years that I've been to a church when there wasn't a wedding to attend. If lightning strikes the Northeast Christian Church in Louisville on Sunday morning, you'll know where to find me...

Of course, the war: This nation has better grow some brass balls and soon. I am constantly stunned that some Americans expect this war to end shortly and "on demand," no less. We had better remember our history and we'd better start growing a national spine despite the pacifists, otherwise we'll all be worried about which American church, temple, mall, or sporting event the local Islamo-fascist homicide bombers will hit next. This is not MTV; this is not a one-hour episode of "24," folks. Grrr.

Wow! Thanks for letting me get some of that off my chest in a short and mundane manner! Now, it's lights out for this ConservaChick. 'Night y'all!

"While we're at it, may I help you with some life insurance?"

by Julie of Degree of Madness

If you owe back taxes to the federal government, the next call asking you to pay may come not from an Internal Revenue Service officer, but from a private debt collector.

Within two weeks, the I.R.S. will turn over data on 12,500 taxpayers -- each of whom owes $25,000 or less in back taxes -- to three collection agencies. Larger debtors will continue to be pursued by I.R.S. officers. (link)

So now, private firms will have access to our tax information, or at minimum how much you (may or may not) owe to Uncle Sam. Our tax information is private. Or it was up until now.

Within two weeks, the I.R.S. will turn over data on 12,500 taxpayers -- each of whom owes $25,000 or less in back taxes -- to three collection agencies. Larger debtors will continue to be pursued by I.R.S. officers. (my emphasis).

And the IRS isn't too particular about the business ethics of the firms they select to receive our tax data:

One of the three companies selected by the I.R.S. is a law firm in Austin, Tex., where a former partner, Juan Peqa, admitted in 2002 that he paid bribes to win a collection contract from the city of San Antonio. He went to jail for the crime.

Last month the same law firm, Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, was again in the news. One of its competitors, Municipal Services Bureau, also of Austin, sued Brownsville, Tex., charging that the city improperly gave the Linebarger firm a collections contract that it suggested was influenced by campaign contributions to two city commissioners.

And how will these debt collectors be paid? They will receive 25% of what they collect. Whether or not the tax bill is accurate or actually owed at all (the IRS is in a league of its own when it comes to mistakes, errors and general incompetence), will not be the concern of these collectors.

And the privacy issue is not insignificant. It's not clear whether these firms will be given the taxpayer social security number, but:

Private collectors will have authority to set up installment payment agreements, and gather financial information about those targeted, presumably to assess their ability to pay or to locate assets that might be attached.

Private collectors will have the authority to gather our personal financial information. Authority handed over to them by the federal government. Most everyone is aware of the aggressive, heavy-handed methods of collections agencies. I guess a partnership with the IRS just makes sense. A marriage made in heaven, so to speak.

The federal government already has too much access to our private financial information. And the ability of the IRS to audit at will, with no constraints or accountability is something we should not tolerate. And should not be forced to tolerate. And now private firms can get in on the action. And profit from it. At our expense.

There are so many good reasons to support the Fair Tax. Preventing the IRS from giving our private financial information to outside firms is just one more.

With the Fair Tax, the IRS will be abolished. No other tax plan under consideration abolishes the IRS. This is important. The IRS operates under the "guilty until proven innocent" theory. And however unjust that may be, that's the way it is. It will never change. The IRS has power that most politicians only dream about. And IRS abuses are legend. And most of the abuses never make the headlines. They are relatively small in nature but very significant to those involved.

The convoluted tax code is an outrage. The enforcer is an even greater outrage. Leave your Constitutional rights at the door when the IRS shows up, 'cause you no longer have any. The IRS has virtually free will to demand access to every single detail of your financial life. With no probable cause.

Some things just can't be reformed. Our tax code is one of them. The IRS is another. With the Fair Tax, we will all pay our fair share, but we won't have to give up our privacy, or our sanity, to do it.

The FairTax Blogburst is jointly produced by Terry of The Right Track Blog and Jonathan of Publius Rendezvous. If you would like to host the weekly postings on your blog, please e-mail Terry. You will be added to our mailing list and blogroll.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Support for the FairTax Crosses Party Lines

For those of you who think that the FairTax Act is supported only by Conservatives, please note that the author of the following article describes himself as a "Progressive Democrat." Yep, the FairTax crosses party lines as any good idea for reform naturally would when considered objectively. Read on!

Reprinted with permission from Running in Circles

by Connor Carney

The Progressive Democrats' Sales Tax

I consider myself to be fairly liberal on most issues. So some of you might be surprised that I am about to take a position that's usually the providence of hardcore conservatives. I support HR25 the Fair Tax Act of 2005.

Yeah. The one that would replace virtually the entire tax system with a 23% sales tax.

I read about it most recently in an unnecessarily hostile editorial by Matthew Holmes. Truth be told, his article did nothing to convince me that the tax is a good thing. But it convinced me to wade through the full text of the legislation, and I've decided that not only is the Fair Tax Act justifiable, it is the ideal legislation for progressive Democrats. I'll explain why.

Defining "Progressive"

I used the word "progressive" up there in my introduction. Exactly what that term means can be a little shaky sometimes, but when we're talking about tax code, it has a pretty clear meaning: people with more money shoulder more of the tax burden. Using this definition, sales taxes are usually something progressives would avoid, since they often hit the poor the hardest. Most sales taxes make life considerably harder for the impoverished, because they increase the cost of basic necessities, making it harder for people to get by.

A National Luxury Tax

This proposal isn't like that. The secret lies in Title II, Sections 301-303, a provision called the "family consumption allowance." These provisions allow families to purchase necessities without paying taxes on them. ("Family" means "1 or more family members sharing a common residence").

This exemption does something interesting: it means that the government would only get taxes from the sales of nonessentials -- things that the impoverished, by definition, don't buy. By allowing essential products to be purchased without the tax, it turns the "national sales tax" into something more like a "national luxury tax."

In other words, people who spend most of their money on things like food, clothing, and medicine end up paying almost none of the tax burden, while people who spend a greater percentage of their income on luxuries pay a greater percentage of the tax burden. People who don't have very much money almost uniformly fall into the former group, while people with lots of money almost uniformly fall into the latter group. People with more money shoulder more of the tax burden -- it's as progressive as it gets.

Helping the Needy

The family consumption allowance is a rebate, mailed monthly by the Social Security Administration to families of 1 or more(?!?). According to II'301, the amount of the rebate check is equal to the product of the tax rate and the poverty level.

Using this definition, families making (and thus spending) less than the poverty level could conceivably receive more money in their rebate check than the actual sales tax rate.

This is a similar concept to the Earned Income Tax Credit currently administered by the IRS, with a few exceptions. Unlike the EITC, it (the consumption allowance) can be claimed by the unemployed. The consumption allowance would also require a lot less paperwork than the EITC -- just names, address, proof of citizenship, etc. That's a good thing for families who are especially time-constrained or people who are poorly educated. And statistics show that such families are exactly the ones who would need such a credit the most.

Tax Evasion

Of course, the Fair Tax Act would also virtually eliminate tax evasion. Right now, companies can move their assets offshore and avoid paying U.S. taxes on them. Some people, particularly business executives and accountants, consider it to be good business.

I, along with most Democrats, consider this to be tax evasion. The Fair Tax Act would put an end to it. The Act would mandate that anything sold in the United States would incur U.S. taxes. There's really no way to outsource that. Businesses couldn't get around it by moving production to China, or by moving their income to Bermuda. If they want to sell their product in America (and they all do), it will be taxed.

There are no less than a thousand articles out there that deal with the tax evasion issue, so I won't say much more about it, but corporate tax evasion is contrary to the spirit of a progressive tax system. It's currently legal in many forms, thanks to loopholes in our indecipherably complex tax code. That's bad, and this would put an end to it.

Illegal Immigration

The Act would also provide a serious new tool in the attempt to end illegal immigration. It wouldn't involve any weapons or border guards or checkpoints or fences -- and it wouldn't cost the government a single extra cent. Again, it has to do with the consumption allowance that I talked about a few paragraphs back.

See, only citizens are eligible for the credit. That effectively increases the cost of living for illegal aliens (okay, okay, "undocumented immigrants") by 23% (assuming, of course, that they live under the ceiling for such a credit, which I'm just guessing that most do.

Since the primary motivations for the border jumpers are economic, this throws a wrench in the whole concept of entering the country illegally. It gets at the reasons that illegal immigrants are trying to come into America -- which is exactly what a lot of Democrats have been saying we should do all along.

Where Does All The Money Go?

The budget of the IRS is currently over ten billion dollars per year, plus the equivalent of a hundred thousand federal employees. Let's think about that for a moment: ten billion dollars and a hundred thousand people -- what could we do with that?

Some of it, of course, would go to the collection agencies established in III'302, but not nearly the scale of the IRS. For one thing, there's a lot of administrative overhead that gets out of the way because the new Federal Sales Tax Bureau would, for states that already implement sales tax, be working with an infrastructure that is mostly already in place.

So let's look at what we could do with the money, and with those employees. Let's assume that a high school can accommodate 2400 students for 3 million doallars a year. That's an average -- in some places it costs more, in some places less, but it's a fairly realistic estimate. $10 billion would cover the entire cost of operating over three thousand high schools -- that's the total cost of educating 7,200,000 students.

And that doesn't include the agency's hundred thousand employees. Let's say we divided them evenly among the states and put them to work in DMV offices. Anybody who has ever applied for a driver's license can appreciate the notion of having 2000 extra people in the DMV office. We could do that, in addition to the school thing, for no more than we are already paying just to operate the IRS.

No Tax Cuts for the Rich

The income tax and payroll tax systems that HR25 would replace have not been working out too well for progressives in the past four years. Why? Because the systems we have in place are too obscure. How many people even know what it means to "tighten the tax brackets?" How many people even realize that their income is not all taxed at the same rate?

The simple fact is, George Bush's "tax cuts for the rich" that were so offensive to the idea of a progressive tax system were only possible because the tax system is so unbelievably complex. Under the system that HR25 proposes, targeting tax cuts at the top 1% of income earners would be not only politically impossible, but literally impossible. Why? Because the system inherently gets a greater percentage from those with more disposable income. (See the section above, "A National Luxury Tax").

Unlike the current system, the national sales tax would do this without any disparity in the established rates. In other words, the only way that politicians could shift the tax burden away from the rich would be to explicitly give them a lower rate. That, my friends, sits in the dictionary as the cardinal example of "political suicide."

But Shouldn't Businesses Pay Their Fair Share?

One of the more obvious questions that comes up when we talk about replacing our entire tax system with a sales tax is whether it shifts too much of the burden away from business. A few people go so far as to say it shifts the entire burden away from business. And quite honestly, I cannot see how that is the case.

The argument that a sales tax shifts the burden away from businesses is fallacious because it assumes that consumers have unlimited disposable income. I will concede that if you are rich enough to believe that, you should absolutely oppose HR25. Most people I know do not have an unlimited supply of money.

If consumers had unlimited spending money, then the businesses could go on as usual. They'd hang on to their existing margins, pass the entire cost of the tax on to consumers, and the price of everything would go up by 23%. Again, that's assuming that every customer has unlimited money.

In the real world, if the price of almost anything were to actually go up by 23%, they would price almost all of their existing customers out of the market. We're talking a serious hit to their sales. So, we can expect most of them to change things to keep their numbers up -- to decrease margins in exchange for increased sales. They don't have to, but those who don't will find that most of their customers can't afford their products. No customers = No income = No business.

There is actually an exception to this. Businesses that cater almost exclusively to the indescribably wealthy could conceivably pass the entire cost of the tax to customers, but keep in mind that that is a relatively small market (and will remain that way), simply because so few consumers fall into the "indescribably wealthy" category.


It's kind of hard to believe that I'm finishing up an 1900-word analysis of the tax code. I mean, who am I to evaluate the complex intricacies of tax law?

Ordinarily I'd defer to the accountants on an issue like this. After all, they've studied economics and spent years of their life working with and around the tax code. They know taxes like some people know their way home from work. I, by comparison, am a rank amateur.

But this is an issue where deferring to accountants is profoundly dumb. The accountants, as people who make their living off of a tax code so complex that only trained professionals can understand it, are inherently biased against a tax code so simple that garbage men can understand it.

And so I don't, in this case, trust the people who I would usually look to for analysis. Instead I've done my own analysis, and I'm liking the prospect of a tax code that even I am able to analyze. Pretty cool.

Like most progressive Democrats, I've learned to be pretty averse to sales taxes. But in this case, we have a proposition that actually bolsters everything that progressives fight for in a tax code. I don't believe that any progressive worthy of the cause can oppose HR25, and those who give any thought to it should wholeheartedly support it.

The FairTax Blogburst is jointly produced by Terry of The Right Track Blog and Jonathan of Publius Rendezvous. If you would like to host the weekly postings on your blog, please e-mail Terry. You will be added to our mailing list and blogroll.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Touching story from Iraq posted by our local media? What?!

I have often referred to our local newspaper here (the "Louisville Courier-Journal") as, among other things, the "Louisville Communist Journal." They are very blatant about their partisanship and their disdain for President Bush and Conservatives in this community.

So, needless to say that I was shocked when this post was brought to my attention. It was posted in a section called "Mail Call: Letters from the Front Lines."

Allow me to be among the first to commend the Courier-Journal for finally condescending to post a very positive and touching letter from a servicemember who is currently a part of the American effort in Iraq. Most of all, thank you, CPO Cissell, for writing about your experience. It is a humbling reminder to us all that, even when we Americans might disagree on the intent behind our battle in Iraq, oppression is a child's worst enemy and freedom is his best friend.

Our servicemembers embody that freedom and this child recognizes it when he sees it. Well done, Chief Cissell! You make this American very proud.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Send a "Thank You!"

Courtesy of Congress.org, you can easily send a thank you letter or email message to David Manning, the ambassador from Great Britain for their good work in foiling the latest terror plot. I will certainly be taking advantage of the easy link to the ambassador's email to send my thanks and best regards!

When I received the email message from Congress.org about this new feature, I had to chuckle. Why? Well, because as usual with any government-related endeavor, they even felt it necessary to supply us with a pre-written message to send:

"As citizens of the United States, we would like to extend our sincere appreciation and heart felt thanks for the work of your Government in thwarting the recent terrorist plot. Your efforts saved countless lives in this conflict that grips both our nations.

Thank you.

The People of the United States"
Geez... I thought only the Democrats wanted to hold our hands and lead us through life making all our choices for us! Et tu, Republican-led Congress?!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Thanks, Lefties!

I would like to personally thank the Leftists in this country for their continued bleating. The more they bleat, the more evident it becomes that no sane person could ever entrust the security of our nation and its people to a Liberal.

Frontpage Magazine has compiled a naseau-inducing compendium of some of the most ridiculous Leftist rants about the foiled terrorist plot in the UK in a great article titled "Code Red." It's so very clear to those of us paying attention that we are not to blame for the Islamo-fascist movement that has been a pox on the civilized world for decades now. It's even more evident to this Right-thinking gal that the Dems are moving closer and closer to extinguishing any hope of ever regaining power in this country.

Thanks, Lefties! Keep up the good work. ;o)

Check the Expiration Date on those Assumptions!

Our friend, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross has written an excellent piece for The Weekly Standard on "The Next Big One?"

... The problem, though, is that while the enemy adapts to our defenses, our defenses do not adapt to the enemy. Airport security is entirely mechanical. Very little attention is devoted to determining who should be pulled aside for additional screening, and the limited questions asked of passengers serve no real security purpose. ...
I believe Daveed is right; we need to rethink a few of our stale assumptions in this war against Islamo-fascism and al Qaeda. While our enemies study our defenses, we're busy worrying about their "rights?" Something is just a little too skewed there if you ask me. We are, after all, in a war for our lives, folks.

Let's go back a year and revisit the argument for profiling, courtesy of Mark Alexander writing for the Patriot Post. I've seen this argument floating around the internet for almost four years now. Is anyone in a position of authority paying attention?! Maybe it's time to recruit a few of those psychology professors who are underpaid in the world of academe for underpaid but much appreciated jobs as part of our airport security screening system? Just a thought.

Congrats and Thanks to the UK

Well done, Scotland Yard all responsible in the UK! News of the busted plot to blow up more aircraft with innocents aboard was welcome news to these Yankee ears! Thousands of lives were saved thanks to the vigilance of the police and security forces in England.

In this age of Liberal whining about profiling and surveillance, thank God for the diligence and vigilance of those responsible for our security in the civilized world. Even bigger thanks to Allah that a conscientious Muslim man brought some of the terrorists to the attention of police after the London train bombings in 2005. I wish I had a link to what I heard on the news about this but I cannot remember the source and have had no luck finding it online.

Does anyone know that man's name or have a link to the report of his cooperation?

Losing the "PR War?"

I've heard it said too often that Israel is losing the "PR war." Maybe integrity is getting in their way? The nerve!

Well Israelis, pay attention! Courtesy of a Jewish website, here's your video primer on how to win the "PR war" -- "Photo Fraud in Lebanon" -- Reuters is prominently featured (surprise, surprise!). Hey, while you're at it, be sure to get your very own "Flat Fatima" for frequent use in your "news" photography!

Thanks for the link, Mark! And, as always, The People's Cube rocks!!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Diverse Support for the FairTax

by TD of The Right Track

More and more, I am hearing of people advocating for the FairTax in print, speeches, symposia, television, and radio. I've gathered a few of the more recent articles and provided links and a summary below each link. I've also quoted from several of the articles. Seems like support for the FairTax is pretty diverse!

Economic outlook: Georgia No. 1 in U.S. - July 16, 2006

Georgia's economic outlook is rosier than that of any other state in the nation, according to a new study by the father of supply-side economics.

Arthur Laffer, an influential adviser to former President Ronald Reagan, put Georgia at the top of his annual comparative ranking of state economies, a seven-category analysis that primarily focuses on tax and fiscal policy. That's up from fifth place in 2005 and a marked improvement from a No. 24 finish in 2002.

...Laffer suggested the state might want to shift more of the tax burden to sales from property or income, an idea popular among state Republican lawmakers, who are currently examining the possibilities. Even without such a shift, he advocated expanding the sales tax to encompass food and services in exchange for a lower rate.

"You want to tax those factors the most that can escape the least ... and in the least damaging fashion," Laffer said. "The broader the base, the lower the rate, the better the tax."

Perdue agreed that the state might do well to adopt a more consumption-focused tax system, perhaps after the fashion of the FairTax proposed by U.S. Rep. John Linder, a Republican who represents parts of north metro Atlanta.

GOP debate for Hefley's post, July 18, 2006

Candidates in Colorado support the FairTax:

"We need to get rid of the IRS," said candidate Jeff Crank. "We've got to allow people in the free market to make choices, choose whether they want to pay taxes."

Some Republicans also voiced support for the proposed "FairTax" that would replace all income, payroll, capital gains and inheritance taxes with a 23 percent sales tax on new goods. All five Republicans also favored abolishing the inheritance tax.

Tax and Spend, July 27, 2006

Congressional candidates in Arizona were asked about taxes and spending:

Frank Antenori, the former Green Beret now working for Raytheon, says the Bush tax cuts have resulted in "money pouring into the treasury."

He says establishing an income tax was a big mistake.

"The Founding Fathers knew that imposing an income tax would bring this country down," he says. "We screwed up with the 16th Amendment when we allowed the federal government the ability to levy taxes on personal income."

Antenori favors a national sales tax and tariffs, which he says "would be far less regressive than income taxes."

He likewise says the estate tax should be repealed because "you should only pay taxes while you're alive."

Gravel: 'Let the people decide', July 27, 2006

2008 Democrat and Presidential hopeful Mike Gravel supports the FairTax:

Another of Mr. Gravel’s major campaign points is the value of implementing the so-called FairTax. Essentially, the FairTax system calls for the abolishment of all federal taxes, including income taxes, with revenue being replaced by a higher sales tax, likely between 20% and 30%.

Mr. Gravel said the prices of most goods would remain fairly constant, since companies, no longer burdened with federal taxes, could set their prices 20% to 30% lower.

“In the end, after a year’s transition, you’re not paying any more in taxes than you were before,” he said. “That’s to keep it revenue-neutral.”

For poor and middle class families, Mr. Gravel supports the idea of the government sending monthly cash-flow checks.

“Then, you go get your paycheck, and there are no federal deductions,” he said. “Now, that’s pretty good.”


“We will turn this country from the largest economic unit in the world to the largest tax haven in the world,” he said. “Money will flow in. Investments will flow in, investments to do things, and that will create jobs.

“You’re talking about leading the entire world on an economic thrust forward,” he added.

Liberal Idealist Gives Fair Tax Big Thumbs Up, July 28, 2006

Ron Deval, a humanist, peace activist, and political agnostic strongly supports the FairTax:

Reliably left on most issues, Deval is nonetheless passionate about a tax revolution whose growing army is populated largely by conservatives and libertarians. Describing himself as an "advocate of things that favor humanity," Deval is, in short, a Fair Tax maniac.

Encouragingly, the Land O' Lakes man is not just another guy with an opinion and a couple of Web sites. He can navigate a spread sheet.

After about 20 years designing programs that helped wealthy clients of Northwestern Mutual in Milwaukee and Tampa pass inheritances to their heirs, Deval, 53, became a real estate agent and tax preparer - two professions keenly opposed to seeing the current system, with its designed-in winners and losers, scrapped.

"If all taxpayers knew about the benefits" of the Fair Tax, a proposed national sales tax designed to replace America's current complicated, cumbersome and anti-competitive tax code, "it would pass in a heartbeat," Deval says.

Read the entire article, it will be well worth your time.


The FairTax Blogburst is jointly produced by Terry of The Right Track Blog and Jonathan of Publius Rendezvous. If you would like to host the weekly postings on your blog, please e-mail Terry. You will be added to our mailing list and blogroll.

Know your State Motto!

It's Tuesday and I've been a non-smoker for two whole days now... *sigh*
I need a laugh, don't you?...


Hell Yes, We Have Electricity.

11,623 Eskimos Can't Be Wrong!

But It's A Dry Heat.

Literacy Ain't Everything.

By 30, Our Women Have More Plastic Than Your Honda.

If You Don't Ski, Don't Bother.

Like Massachusetts, Only The Kennedys Don't Own It Yet.

We Really Do Like The Chemicals In Our Water.

Ask Us About Our Grandkids And Our Voting Skills.

We Put The Fun In Fundamentalist Extremism.

Haka Tiki Mou Sha'ami Leeki Toru.
(Death To Mainland Scum, Leave Your Money)

More Than Just Potatoes... Well, Okay, We're Not, But The Potatoes Sure Are Real Good.

Please, Don't Pronounce the "S."

2 Billion Years Tidal Wave Free

We Do Amazing Things With Corn.

First Of The Rectangle States

Five Million People; Fifteen Last Names

We're Not ALL Drunk Cajun Wackos, But That's Our Tourism Campaign.

We're Really Cold But We Have Cheap Lobster.

If You Can Dream It, We Can Tax It.

Our Taxes Are Lower Than Sweden's and Our Senators Are More Corrupt!

First Line Of Defense From The Canadians

10,000 Lakes...and 10,000,000,000,000 Mosquitoes

Come And Feel Better About Your Own State.

Your Federal Flood Relief Tax Dollars At Work

Land Of The Big Sky, The Unabomber, Right-wing Crazies, and Honest Elections!

Ask About Our State Motto Contest.

Hookers and Poker!

New Hampshire
Go Away And Leave Us Alone.

New Jersey
You Want A Motto? I Got Yer Motto Right here!

New Mexico
Lizards Make Excellent Pets.

New York
You Have The Right To Remain Silent, You Have The Right To An Attorney...
And No Right To Self Defense!

North Carolina
Tobacco Is A Vegetable.

North Dakota
We Really Are One Of The 50 States!

At Least We're Not Michigan

Like The Play, But No Singing

Spotted Owl...It's What's For Dinner!

Cook With Coal

Rhode Island
We're Not REALLY An Island.

South Carolina
Remember The Civil War? Well, We Didn't Actually Surrender Yet.

South Dakota
Closer Than North Dakota

Home of the Al Gore Invention Museum

Se Hablo Ingles.

Our Jesus Is Better Than Your Jesus.

Ay, Yep.

Who Says Government Stiffs And Slackjaw Yokels Don't Mix?

Our Governor Can Out-fraud Your Governor!

West Virginia
One Big Happy Family...Really!

Come Cut The Cheese!

Where Men Are Men... and The Sheep Are Scared

...and finally (drumroll, please!)...

The District of Columbia
The Work-Free Drug Place!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Lebanon, WAKE UP!

To those of us who have understood all along that Hezbollah was being supplied and manipulated by Syria and Iran with weapons supplied years ago by the Chinese, this information comes as no suprise, I suppose. However, for those of you who might not yet see the total picture, this article from the Strategy Page called "Chinese Anti-Ship Missiles in Lebanon" is a good heads up.

... Several years ago, it was reported that C-802s had been shipped to Hizbollah. The C-802 needs a radar to spot the target at long distance, and guide the C-802 to the general vicinity of the target. In this case, the Lebanese government coastal radar apparently was used. ...
I suppose the Egyptian freighter that was sunk with a second Silkworm missile was not expecting to become a victim of Hezbollah. Shouldn't there be some condemnation of Hezbollah coming from the Egyptians now?

With attacks like this coming from inside Lebanon, it is becoming clear, even to those who would prefer to turn their heads, that Lebanon must take a stand against Hezbollah. I highly recommend that Lebanon do everything within its power as a sovereign nation to secure its infrastructure from use by Hezbollah.

Thanks to Mark for sending this info my way!

Jerusalem Online

I don't know how many times I can possibly hear the phrase "losing the PR war" with regard to Israel without becoming physically ill. Doesn't the drive-by media understand that they are being used as tools of terrorists? Can they possibly be that looney? It's sad. It's wrong. And, it's time to get news from the source, isn't it?

As far as I'm concerned, if I want to understand what's going on in Israel or Lebanon, I'll watch the Israeli news reports. For anyone else who hasn't yet undertaken the task of finding a good Israeli news source online, let me help:

Jerusalem Online is a great spot to watch news reports and video footage of the events in their war against Islamo-fascists in the region. Surprisingly enough, Jerusalem Online has a perspective which seems remarkably unbiased to me even though they have lived under the threat of terrorism since their existence. They report on the damage done to Israeli troops and civilians, Hezbollah, Lebanese civilians, and Hamas as well. I trust this source.

Until Lebanon has had enough of the "private" Hezbollah militants running the affairs of Lebanon, their news reporting will be slanted just as Hezbollah wants it. I wish the Lebanese people all the best in their efforts to remove Hezbollah from their territory. Should they decide to take a part in getting rid of their biggest problem, I'm sure Israel will be more than happy to help with Lebanese support for a change.

Historical Perspective

I don't do this often but felt that, no matter what the source or when it was written, this piece is worth posting. I have not been able to find the original writer's work online anywhere. If this was indeed written by Raymond S. Kraft of Loomis, California, I hope he won't mind my publishing it on my blog. It may have been around for years but it's new to me. If it's new to you, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did. If not, my apologies in advance.

A California Lawyer's Perspective on the Iraq War

Sixty-three years ago, Nazi Germany had overrun almost all of Europe and hammered England to the verge of bankruptcy and defeat, and had sunk more than four hundred British ships in their convoys between England and America for food and war materials.

Bushido Japan had overrun most ofAsia, beginning in 1928, killing millions of civilians throughout China, and impressing millions more as slave labor.

The US was in an isolationist, pacifist, mood, and most Americans and Congress wanted nothing to do with the European war, or the Asian war.

Then along came Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and in outrage Congress unanimously declared war on Japan, and the following day on Germany, which had not attacked us. It was a dicey thing. We had few allies.

France was not an ally, the Vichy government of France aligned with its German occupiers. Germany was not an ally, it was an enemy, and Hitler intended to set up a Thousand Year Reich in Europe. Japan was not an ally, it was intent on owning and controlling all ofAsia. Japan and Germany had long-term ideas of invading Canada and Mexico, and then theUnited States over the north and south borders, after they had settled control ofAsia and Europe.

America's allies then were England, Ireland, Scotland, Canada, Australia, and Russia, and that was about it. There were no other countries of any size or military significance with the will and ability to contribute much or anything to the effort to defeat Hitler's Germany and Japan, and prevent the global dominance of Nazism. And we had to send millions of tons of arms, munitions, and war supplies to Russia, England, and the Canadians, Aussies, Irish, and Scots, because NONE of them could produce all they needed for themselves.

All of Europe, from Norway to Italy, except Russia in the east, was already under the Nazi heel.

America was not prepared for war. America had stood down most of its military after WWI and throughout the depression, at the outbreak of WWII there were army units training with broomsticks over their shoulders because they didn't have guns, and cars with "tank" painted on the doors because they didn't have tanks. And a big chunk of our navy had just been sunk and damaged atPearl Harbor.

Britain had already gone bankrupt, saved only by the donation of $600 million in gold bullion in the Bank of England that was the property of Belgium and was given by Belgium to England to carry on the war when Belgium was overrun by Hitler -- actually, Belgium surrendered one day, because it was unable to oppose the German invasion, and the Germans bombed Brussels into rubble the next day anyway just to prove they could. Britain had been holding out for two years already in the face of staggering shipping loses and the near-decimation of its air force in the Battle of Britain, and was saved from being overrun by Germany only because Hitler made the mistake of thinking the Brits were a relatively minor threat that could be dealt with later and turning his attention to Russia, at a time when England was on the verge of collapse in the late summer of 1940.

Russia saved America's butt by putting up a desperate fight for two years until the US got geared up to begin hammering away at Germany.

Russia lost something like 24 million people in the sieges of Stalingrad and Moscow, 90% of them from cold and starvation, mostly civilians, but also more than a million soldiers. More than a million.

Had Russia surrendered then, Hitler would have been able to focus his entire campaign against the Brits, then America, and the Nazis would have won that war.

Had Hitler not made that mistake and invaded England in 1940 or 1941 instead, there would have been no England for the US and the Brits to use as a staging ground to prepare an assault on Nazi Europe. England would not have been able to run its North African campaign to help take a little pressure off Russia while America geared up for battle, and today Europe would very probably be run by the Nazis, the Third Reich. Isolated and without any allies (not even the Brits), the US would very probably have had to cede Asia to the Japanese, who were basically Nazis by another name then, and the world we live in today would be very different and much worse. I say this to illustrate that turning points in history are often dicey things. And we are at another one.

There is a very dangerous minority in Islam that either has, or wants and may soon have, the ability to deliver small nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons, almost anywhere in the world, unless they are prevented from doing so.

France, Germany, and Russia, have been selling them weapons technology at least as recently as 2002, as have North Korea, Syria, and Pakistan, paid for with billions of dollars Saddam Hussein skimmed from the "Oil For Food" program administered by the UN with the complicity of Kofi Annan and his son.

The Jihadis, the militant Muslims, are basically Nazis in Kaffiyahs -- they believe that Islam, a radically conservative (definitely not liberal!) form of Wahhabi Islam, should own and control the Middle East first, then Europe, then the world, and that all who do not bow to Allah should be killed, enslaved, or subjugated. They want to finish the Holocaust, destroy Israel, purge the world of Jews. This is what they say.

There is also a civil war raging in theMiddle East -- for the most part not a hot war, but a war of ideas. Islam is having its Inquisition and its Reformation today, but it is not yet known which will win -- the Inquisition or the Reformation.

If the Inquisition wins, then the Wahhabis, the Jihadis, will control the Middle East, and the OPEC oil, and the US, European, and Asian economies, the techno-industrial economies, will be at the mercy of OPEC -- not an OPEC dominated by the well-educated and rational Saudis of today, but an OPEC dominated by the Jihadis.

You want gas in your car? You want heating oil next winter? You want jobs? You want the dollar to be worth anything? You better hope the Jihad, the Muslim Inquisition, loses and the Islamic Reformation wins.

If the Reformation movement wins, that is, the moderate Muslims who believe that Islam can respect and tolerate other religions, and live in peace with the rest of the world, and move out of the 10th century into the 21st, then the troubles in theMiddle East will eventually fade away, and a moderate and prosperous Middle East will emerge.

We have to help the Reformation win, and to do that we have to fight the Inquisition, i.e., the Wahhabi movement, the Jihad, Al Qaeda, the Islamic terrorist movements. We have to do it somewhere. We cannot do it nowhere. And we cannot do it everywhere at once. We have created a focal point for the battle now at the time and place of our choosing, inIraq.

Not in New York, not in London, or Paris, or Berlin, but in Iraq, where we did and are doing two very important things:

(1) We deposed Saddam Hussein. Whether Saddam Hussein was directly involved in 9/11 or not, it is undisputed that Saddam has been actively supporting the terrorist movement for decades. Saddam is a terrorist. Saddam is, or was, a weapon of mass destruction, who is responsible for the deaths of probably more than a million Iraqis and two million Iranians.

(2) We created a battle, a confrontation, a flash point, with Islamic terrorism in Iraq. We have focused the battle. We are killing bad guys there and the ones we get there we won't have to get here, or anywhere else. We also have a good shot at creating a democratic, peaceful Iraq, which will be a catalyst for democratic change in the rest of theMiddle East, and an outpost for a stabilizing American military presence in theMiddle East for as long as it is needed.

The European nations could have done this, but they didn't, and they won't. The so-called "Coalition Forces" are, in most cases, little more than a "Token Force" to keep face with the US. And once attacked, like the train bombing in Madrid, they pull their forces and run for home. We now know that rather than opposing the rise of the Jihad, the French, Germans, and Russians were selling them arms -- we have found more than a million tons of weapons and munitions in Iraq. If Iraq was not a threat to anyone, why did Saddam need a million tons of weapons? And Iraq was paying for French, German, and Russian arms with money skimmed from the UN Oil For Food Program (supervised by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and his son) that was supposed to pay for food, medicine, and education for Iraqi children.

World War II, the war with the German and Japanese Nazis, really began with a "whimper" in 1928. It did not begin with Pearl Harbor. It began with the Japanese invasion of China. It was a war for fourteen years before America joined it. It officially ended in 1945 -- a 17 year war -- and was followed by another decade ofUS occupation in Germany and Japan to get those countries reconstructed and running on their own again .... a 27 year war.

World War II cost theUnited States an amount equal to approximately a full year's GDP -- adjusted for inflation, equal to about $12 trillion dollars. WWII cost America more than 400,000 killed in action and nearly 100,000 still missing in action.

[The Iraq war has, so far, cost the US about $180 billion, which is roughly what 9/11 cost New York. It has also cost over 2,300 American lives, which is roughly 2/3 of the lives that the Jihad snuffed on 9/11.] But the cost of not fighting and winning WWII would have been unimaginably greater -- a world now dominated by German and Japanese Nazism.

Americans have a short attention span now, conditioned I suppose by 1-hour TV shows and 2-hour movies in which everything comes out okay.

The real world is not like that. It is messy, uncertain, and sometimes bloody and ugly. Always has been, and probably always will be.

If we do this thing in Iraq successfully, it is probable that the Reformation will ultimately prevail. Many Muslims in the Middle East hope it will. We will be there to support it. It has begun in some countries, Libya, for instance. And Dubai. And Saudi Arabia. If we fail, the Inquisition will probably prevail, and terrorism from Islam will be with us for all the foreseeable future because the Inquisition, or Jihad, believes they are called by Allah to kill all the Infidels, and that death in Jihad is glorious.

The bottom line here is that we will have to deal with Islamic terrorism until we defeat it, whenever that is. It will not go away on its own. It will not go away if we ignore it.

If the US can create a reasonably democratic and stable Iraq, then we have an "England" in the Middle East, a platform from which we can work to help modernize and moderate the Middle East. The history of the world is the clash between the forces of relative civility and civilization, and the barbarians clamoring at the gates. TheIraq war is merely another battle in this ancient and never-ending war. And now, for the first time ever, the barbarians are about to get nuclear weapons. Unless we prevent them. Or somebody does.

The Iraq war is expensive, and uncertain, yes. But the consequences of not fighting it and winning it will be horrifically greater. We have four options:

1. We can defeat the Jihad now, before it gets nuclear weapons.
2. We can fight the Jihad later, after it gets nuclear weapons (which may be as early as next year, if Iran's progress on nuclear weapons is what Iran claims it is).
3. We can surrender to the Jihad and accept its dominance in theMiddle East now, in Europe in the next few years or decades, and ultimately in America.
4. Or we can stand down now, and pick up the fight later when the Jihad is more widespread and better armed, perhaps after the Jihad has dominated France and Germany and maybe most of the rest ofEurope. It will be more dangerous, more expensive, and much bloodier then.

Yes, the Jihadis say that they look forward to an Islamic America. If you oppose this war, I hope you like the idea that your children, or grandchildren, may live in an Islamic America under the Mullahs and the Sharia, an America that resembles Iran today.

We can be defeatist peace-activists, as anti-war types seem to be, and concede, surrender, to the Jihad, or we can do whatever it takes to win this war against them.

The history of the world is the history of civilizational clashes, cultural clashes. All wars are about ideas, ideas about what society and civilization should be like, and the most determined always win.

Those who are willing to be the most ruthless always win. The pacifists always lose, because the anti-pacifists kill them.

In the 20th century, it was Western democracy vs. communism, and before that Western democracy vs. Nazism, and before that Western democracy vs. German Imperialism. Western democracy won, three times, but it wasn't cheap, fun, nice, easy or quick. Indeed, the wars against German Imperialism (WWI), Nazi Imperialism (WWII), and communist imperialism (the 40-year Cold War that included the Vietnam Battle, commonly called the Vietnam War, but itself a major battle in a larger war) covered almost the entire century.

The first major war of the 21st Century is the war between Western Judeo/Christian Civilization and Wahhabi Islam. It may last a few more years, or most of this century. It will last until the Wahhabi branch of Islam fades away, or gives up its ambitions for regional and global dominance and Jihad, or until Western Civilization gives in to the Jihad.

Senator John Kerry, in the debates and almost daily, makes 3 scary claims:

1. We went to Iraq without enough troops.

We went with the troops the US military wanted. We went with the troop levels General Tommy Franks asked for. We deposed Saddam in 30 days with light casualties, much lighter than we expected.

The real problem in Iraq is that we are trying to be nice -- we are trying to fight a minority of the population that is Jihadi, and trying to avoid killing the large majority that is not. We could flatten Fallujah in minutes with a flight of B52s, or seconds with one nuclear cruise missile -- but we don't. We're trying to do brain surgery, not amputate the patient's head. The Jihadis amputate heads.

2. We went to Iraq with too little planning.

This is a specious argument. It supposes that if we had just had "the right plan" the war would have been easy, cheap, quick, and clean.

That is not an option. It is a guerrilla war against a determined enemy, and no such war ever has been or ever will be easy, cheap, quick and clean. This is not TV.

3. We proved ourselves incapable of governing and providing security.

This too is a specious argument. It was never our intention to govern and provide security. It was our intention from the beginning to do just enough to enable the Iraqis to develop a representative government and their own military and police forces to provide their own security, and that is happening. The US and the Brits and other countries there have trained over 100,000 Iraqi police and military now and will have trained more than 200,000 by the end of next year. We are in the process of transitioning operational control for security back to Iraq.

It will take time. It will not go off without hitches. This is not TV.

Remember, perspective is everything, and America's schools teach too little history for perspective to be clear, especially in the young American mind.

The Cold war lasted from about 1947 at least until the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. Forty-two years. Europe spent the first half of the 19th century fighting Napoleon, and from 1870 to 1945 fightingGermany.

World War II began in 1928, lasted 17 years, plus a ten year occupation, and the US still has troops in Germany and Japan. World War II resulted in the death of more than 50 million people, maybe more than 100 million people, depending on which estimates you accept.

The US has taken more than 2,000 Killed-in-Action in Iraq in 3 years. The US took more than 4,000 KIA on the morning ofJune 6, 1944, the first day of the Normandy Invasion to rid Europe of Nazi Imperialism. In WWII the US averaged 2,000 KIA a week for four years. Most of the individual battles of WWII lost more Americans than the entire Iraq war has done so far.

But the stakes are at least as high . . . a world dominated by representative governments with civil rights, human rights, and personal freedoms, or a world dominated by a radical Islamic Wahhabi movement, by the Jihad, under the Mullahs and the Sharia (Islamic law).

I do not understand why the American Left does not grasp this. They favor human rights, civil rights, liberty and freedom but, evidently, not for Iraqis. In America, absolutely, but nowhere else.

300,000 Iraqi bodies in mass graves in Iraq are not our problem. The US population is about twelve times that ofIraq, so let's multiply 300,000 by twelve. What would you think if there were 3,600,000 American bodies in mass graves in America because of George Bush? Would you hope for another country to help liberate America?

"Peace Activists" always seem to demonstrate where it's safe, in America.

Why don't we see Peace Activist demonstrating in Iran, Syria, Iraq, Sudan, North Korea, in the places in the world that really need peace activism the most?

The liberal mentality is supposed to favor human rights, civil rights, democracy, multiculturalism, diversity, etc. but if the Jihad wins, wherever the Jihad wins, it is the end of civil rights, human rights, democracy, multiculturalism, diversity, etc. Americans who oppose the liberation of Iraq are coming down on the side of their own worst enemy.

If the Jihad wins, it is the death of Liberalism. Everywhere the Jihad wins, it is the death of Liberalism. And American Liberals just don't get it.
Raymond S. Kraft is a writer and lawyer living in Northern California.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

"Hanging Out with the Boys"

I often voice my support for the war against Islamo-fascism and for the brave men and women in our Armed Forces who are fighting so that we may live in safety here at home. What I don't often write about is that, being a daughter of a Vietnam vet, I understand all too well the toll that war takes on our warriors.

They do a job that requires them to kill for their country, for their survival, and for the survival of their brothers in arms. How many of us could do that? How many of us truly understand the bittersweet comraderie that is found on the battlefield and the bond that is built there? Evidently, James Hooker does.

You heard the song on the link I provided to info on James Hooker; however, you absolutely MUST see the video of "Hanging Out with the Boys." It is a touching portrait of our warriors, both contemporary and historic.

Please know that while you are "hanging out with the boys" on the line, our prayers are with all of our warriors -- prayers that you are victorious in battle, prayers that you make it home safely to your families. Please know that you have the thanks and the respect of a grateful nation for the sacrifices you make.

God bless all of our brave men and women in uniform!

Semper Fi, Sgt. Wuterich!

Hallelujah! Representative John Murtha (D-PA) is finally being called on the carpet by one of the Marines he so readily "convicted" in the press. It's about damned time that he answers for defaming our men and women in uniform.

From the NewsMax.com story today:

Lawyers for Frank D. Wuterich, 26, argue in a suit to be filed Wednesday in federal court that Murtha falsely accused Wuterich "of cold-blooded murder and war crimes."

The suit maintains that Pentagon officials "who have briefed or leaked information to Mr. Murtha deliberately provided him with inaccurate and false information" and that the congressman subsequently "has made repeated statements .... that are defamatory" to Wuterich and his fellow Marines.

The suit accuses Murtha of spreading "false and malicious lies" about Wuterich and his squad that were "intended to serve his own private purpose and interests" and that Murtha's comments "have been reproduced by countless third parties throughout the world."

I'm aware that Congress enjoys a certain amount of lattitude with regard to their comments on the floor of the House and Senate during debate; however, I don't believe it applies to random comments made to the press. Congress should NEVER be above the law they make, especially in a time of war. This might just serve to snap a few of them to attention!

Wuterich's attorneys said it best:

"Congressman Murtha has created this atmosphere that has already concluded guilt. He's created this environment that really smells, and he's the only one who has done that."
I'm sure I'm not the only one who wishes Sgt. Wuterich and his attorneys all the best in their suit. Good luck!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

A serious look at serious reforms

by TD of The Right Track
with special thanks to KnightHawk of
Your Two Sense

Laurence J. Kotlikoff has written an article published by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Review in which he predicted bankruptcy for the United States -- unless serious reforms are put in place to raise revenue or cut spending.

While it's hard to agree with all of Kotlikoff's conclusions, one in particular is worth examining. According to Kotlikoff, his proposed policies would put America on track to eliminate the nation's "enormous fiscal gap" and avert bankruptcy.

Here's a summary of his plan (page 12 of the PDF file linked above):

The three proposals I recommend cover taxes, Social Security, and healthcare and are interconnected and interdependent. In particular, tax reform provides the funding needed to finance Social Security and healthcare reform. It also ensures that the rich and middle class elderly pay their fair share in resolving our fiscal gap.

And what of the proposed tax reform? What form would it take? Apparently, Kotlikoff likes the FairTax:

The plan here is to replace the personal income tax, the corporate income tax, the payroll (FICA) tax, and the estate and gift tax with a federal retail sales tax plus a rebate. The rebate would be paid monthly to households, based on the households' demographic composition, and would be equal to the sales taxes paid, on average, by households at the federal poverty line with the same demographics.

The proposed sales tax has three highly progressive elements. First, thanks to the rebate, poor households would pay no sales taxes in net terms. Second, the reform would eliminate the highly regressive FICA tax, which is levied only on the first $90,000 of earnings. Third, the sales tax would effectively tax wealth as well as wages, because when the rich spent their wealth and when workers spent their wages, they would both pay sales taxes.

The single, flat-rate sales tax would pay for all federal expenditures. The tax would be highly transparent and efficient. It would save hundreds of billions of dollars in tax compliance costs. And it would either reduce or significantly reduce effective marginal taxes facing most Americans when they work and save.

The sales tax would also enhance generational equity by asking rich and middle class older Americans to pay taxes when they spend their wealth. The poor elderly, living on Social Security, would end up better off. They would receive the sales tax rebate even though the purchasing power of their Social Security benefits would remain unchanged (thanks to the automatic adjustment to the consumer price index that would raise their Social Security benefits to account for the increase in the retail-price level).

The sales tax would be levied on all final consumption goods and services and would be set at 33 percent -- high enough to cover the costs of this "New New Deal's" Social Security and healthcare reforms as well as meet the government's other spending needs. On a tax-inclusive basis, this is a 25 percent tax rate, which is a lower or much lower marginal rate than most workers pay on their labor supply. The marginal tax on saving under the sales tax would be zero, which is dramatically lower than the effective rate now facing most savers.

While Kotlikoff's tax-inclusive rate is a couple of percentage points higher than that currently being proposed in the House and Senate Bills, the method is identical.

The arguments for the FairTax just keep coming in. That's because the FairTax is the best thing for America with regard to serious tax reform.

Just an FYI, KnightHawk also published the results of a ballot initiative on the FairTax from three metropolitan Atlanta counties. The question was only on the Republican ballot (aren't Dems for the FairTax?), and only in the three Atlanta-area counties, and it was non-binding. It was meant to gauge reaction to the FairTax. The results:

Gwinnett County:
Total Votes: 35,755
Yes - 31,068. 86.9% / No - 4,687 13.1%

Cobb County:
Total votes: 39,458
Yes - 33,598. 85.15% / No - 5,860. 14.85%

Fayette County:
Total votes: 11,517
Yes - 9,828. 85.33% / No - 1,689. 14.67%

An average of 85.79% of the voters in these three counties favor the FairTax! Senators? Representatives? Are you listening? Don't make us shout!

The FairTax Blogburst is jointly produced by Terry of The Right Track Blog and Jonathan of Publius Rendezvous. If you would like to host the weekly postings on your blog, please e-mail Terry. You will be added to our mailing list and blogroll.