Monday, April 30, 2007

The Enemy of My Enemy Is My Friend

Former CIA director George Tenet is making the rounds promoting his new Bush bashing book. An intelligent man, he realizes that criticizing Bush is the best way to get a free pass from the media for his failings in providing intelligence to the administration. Tenet told Bush that the case for WMD in Iraq was a "slam dunk." Bush presented this information to the public. The media now says Bush lied by using the evidence provided by the CIA and intelligence agencies around the world, while forgetting that his comments on the issue were no different from the claims of both Clintons and John Kerry. I am still skeptical that Saddam got rid of all his WMD's without bothering to prove it to the U.N. I guess he really liked the crippling sanctions that would have been lifted had he done so. Isn't it more likely that he sent them to Syria or Iran on the eve of the war or hid them very well? Back to Tenet, it is interesting to see this Clinton holdover welcomed back into the fold by the press. However, some of the information in the book (I haven't read it, just news reports) about Al-Qaeda's plans are truly frightening. Al-Qaeda has apparently gotten very close to getting nuclear weapons from Pakistan and Tenet believes they will stop at nothing to detonate a nuclear device in a major American city.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

I'm Going to Fight You Steve

I saw this video on Stop action fighting, what's not to like?

Yeah Capitalism!

I recieved a comment to my last post that I feel the need to respond to (although I do appreciate all comments). I was only trying to make the point that the rich pay the vast majority of the taxes and so we shouldn't get upset when they benefit from tax cuts. Please read the comment before continuing. Ok, let's go. I know many people in the top 10% of income. How many became wealthy by exploiting the poor? 0, zero, nada. In fact most of them became wealthy by providing products or services that people wanted at good prices. These products/services made their lives better. But wait, there's more: because they were successful in providing these products/services they needed employees. These employees got good jobs (at least better than their other options, or why else would they work there?) and improved their quality of life. Who's getting exploited here? As far as the rich getting richer, poor getting poorer argument, it's simply not true. The rich always get richer because they put their money where it will appreciate. Show me a time when they don't get richer and I'll show you a depression. The poor are also getting richer. Read my previous post on the subject for the hard data, but compared with the data from 30 years ago, the poorest fifth of the U.S. are better educated, spend more money, are in better health, and live in bigger homes. I'm not arguing that the tax burden should be spread equally, but stop hating the rich when they are they are paying far more than their fair share. One last thought, just because Adam Smith wrote it, doesn't make it true. I'm a Calvinist, but I don't support burning people at the stake.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


In honor of tax day I'm sharing a parable about tax cuts that has spread around the internet. Democrats are fond of saying that any tax cut mainly benefits the rich. There's more to the story...

Let's put tax cuts in terms everyone can understand. Suppose that every day, ten men go out for dinner. The bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing. The fifth would pay $1, the sixth would pay $3, the seventh $7, the eighth $12 and the ninth $18. The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59. The ten men ate dinner in the restaurant every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve. "Since you are all such good customers," he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily meal by $20." So, now dinner for the ten only cost $80. The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes. So, the first four men were unaffected. They would still eat for free. But what about the other six, the paying customers? How could they divvy up the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his 'fair share'? The six men realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to eat their meal. So, the restaurant owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.

And so: the fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings). The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33% savings). The seventh now paid $5 instead of $7 (28% savings). The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings). The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings). The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to eat for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings. "I only got a dollar out of the $20," declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man "but he got $10!" "Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man. "I only saved a dollar, too. It's unfair that he got ten times more than me!" "That's true!!" shouted the seventh man. "Why should he get $10 back when I got only $2? The wealthy get all the breaks!"

"Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison. "We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!" The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn't show up for dinner, so the nine sat down and ate without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn't have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being successful, and they just may not show up at the table anymore. There are lots of good restaurants in Europe and the Caribbean.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Is Imus Worse than Rosie?

I haven't gotten too hung up on the Don Imus firing (he made an ugly, possibly racist comment about the Rutgers women's basketball team, if you've been living in a cave), as I've never listened to him. However, it does present the hypocrisy of the left, as Tom DeLay writes here. "The message of the ongoing Imus scandal is simple: verbal offenses against anyone other than conservatives or Christians or Jews, will be treated as crimes, and Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are the judge and jury," he writes. Jesse Jackson can slur Jews by calling New York "Hymietown" and Al Sharpton can be convicted of libel for making up a story about a white assistant district attorney raping a black woman, but it's quickly forgotten. And how about their treatment of the Duke lacrosse players, for which they refuse to apologize? But the most egregious example today, as DeLay argues, is Rosie O'Donnell. On the TV show "The View," Rosie accuses President Bush of orchestrating the 9/11 attacks and has compared fundamentalist Christians to the Islamic terrorists. What she has done is far more offensive to far more people than what Don Imus did. Christians should be deeply offended by her comments. She should be fired and I agree with DeLay, conservatives need to come together to pressure ABC to fire her. Here is a list of companies/products that sponsor "The View."

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Stem Cells and Diabetes

An amazing study was published today in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association, a major journal) on Type 1 diabetes. Type 1 often develops in children, where the immune system attacks the pancreas and it becomes unable to produce the insulin needed to convert food into energy. Type 1's always require insulin injections for the rest of their lives and diabetics face increased risk of heart disease, foot ulcers leading to amputation and many other problems. Type 2 is much more common and is the result of being overweight. In the study, patients newly diagnosed with Type 1 had their immune systems suppressed and then were injected with their own stem cells. 15 out of 17 patients in the study no longer need insulin!
This certainly shows the promise of stem-cells in curing disease. So what's the debate in Washington about? Stem-cells are immature cells that can grow into different kinds of tissue and could potentially repair damaged body parts. These can be obtained from people, as in this study, but the most versatile stem-cells come from embryos. President Bush and many in the pro-life movement oppose federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research (it is perfectly legal, you just need private funds to do it). If you believe that life begins at conception, then embryonic stem-cell research kills life. However, artificial insemination involves the creation of many embryos that will never become babies. The President does not have a problem with using these embryos, but draws the line at using your tax dollars to fund research using embryos created for the purpose of destroying them to do research. I am staunchly pro-life, but I'm not sure that a microscopic cluster of a few cells is human life, so I am conflicted about embryonic stem-cell research, considering the promise it offers. However, I think that the government should not fund it. If you don't believe that life begins at conception then you are free to fund the research, but I don't everyone should be forced to do so through taxes.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Global Warming: Its Effect On Our Kittens

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Handouts for the Homeless

Last night in downtown Kalamazoo, a young man accused me of being "un-heartless" for not giving him money. Was he right? Is refusing to give a handout to a (presumably) homeless person "un-heartless?" I think reasonable people can disagree on this, but while I want to help out the homeless, I think it's probably better to give to shelters. In my limited understanding of the homeless experience, I think that some people don't want to go to shelters because they can't do drugs or drink there. If they are sustained by handouts, they stay out on the street. But if they went to a shelter they would be warm and well fed. They could also get cleaned up, learn that crack is wack and maybe find a job. But when I see them, I feel a little guilty all the same. The Onion offers this point/counterpoint on the issue. Any thoughts?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Pelosi Doing Her Part for Womens Rights

The idiocy of Nancy Pelosi's decision to defy the President and meet with the terrorists in Syria (no, there is no other way to describe the government of Syria) was rivaled only by her choice of attire. The Reform Party of Syria is upset that she wore a Hijab during her visit to Syria to meet with Bashcar al-Assad (thanks to Little Green Footballs for the link). Their comments:

Had Speaker Pelosi worn the Hijab inside a Mosque, this would have indicated respect but for Pelosi to wear it on the streets of Damascus all the while she is sitting with the self-imposed Baschar al-Assad who has come to symbolize oppression and one of the reasons why women are forced to wear the Hijab as they turn to religion to express their freedom is a statement of submittal not only to oppression but also to lack of women's rights in the Middle East. Pelosi just reversed the work of the Syrian civil society and those who aspire for women's freedom in the Muslim countries many years back with her visual statement. Her lack of experience of the Middle East is showing.

Assad could not have been happier because Syrian women, seeing a US official confirming what their husbands, the Imams in the Mosques tell them, and the society at large imposes on them through peer pressure will see in her wearing a Hijab as a confirmation of the societal pressures they are constantly under. No one will ever know how many women took the Hijab on after seeing Pelosi wearing it. The damage Speaker Pelosi is causing with her visit to Syria will be felt for many years to come.

Sunday, April 01, 2007


I am so excited about the Tigers this season. I have successfully suppressed my memories of the World Series and now can only recall the team that came out of nowhere to crush the Yankees and A's in the playoffs. Kenny Rogers is out for at least half a season, but they still have the best starting rotation and maybe the best bullpen in the majors (provided their young guns stay healthy). The bats will be better than ever with the addition of Gary Sheffield and getting Sean Casey for the whole season. Jayson Stark at ESPN is clearly a very smart man - he has picked the Tigers to win the World Series. TIGERS! (Sorry for that outburst). Read Stark's preview (and feel free to weep a little if you are a White Sox fan).