One man's view of the world, from the top of this great big rock somewhere in the middle of God's Country, with an eye toward freedom....or at least some way to get back down without goin' over the edge.

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Location: West Virginia, United States

Former U.S. Army, SPC E-4, Veteran of Operation Desert Storm. If you are or have ever been a soldier, you have friends in my house.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Down Under, Jihadi-Style: A Believer's Travelogue

This is just too funny to pass up, from a guy who makes it look WAY too easy:

Ask The Aussie Imam

Islamic Advice from Imam Yahu al-Zirius
Spiritual Leader, Fostaz al-Vegimita MosqueLakembabongabinga, Sydney, NSW

Read on for insightful chunks of wisdom from the Didgemaster of Islam.

(Click here if you haven't placed the name yet.)

Friday, October 27, 2006

Californistan or Bust: Here Come Da Judge

Today's edition is brought to you by Debbie over at Right Truth (who, by the way, celebrated her first year in the blogosphere yesterday, and may there be many more to follow -- Happy Blog-day, sugah!)

Meet Hamza Yusef Hanson, the Mufti of California.

"The WHAT?", I hear you cry.

From Wikipedia:

A Mufti is an Islamic scholar who is an interpreter or expounder of Islamic law (Sharia), capable of issuing fataawa (plural of "fatwa").

In theocracies like Saudi Arabia and Iran, and in some countries where the constitution is based on sharia law, such as Egypt, the Grand Mufti rules if capital punishment is in accord with Islamic jurisprudence and the sharia and sometimes overrules criminal courts.

You read right, folks...this guy has apparently proclaimed himself to be THE legal arbiter in the state of California when it comes to all matters Muslim.

Which would, of course, require that Muslim law had been set into action in California...which, according to Stephen Schwartz, it hasn't:

Why would California have a mufti? Sharia governs such minor aspects of Islamic life as the issuance of halal butchers’ licenses, which are comparable to certification of kosher meat by rabbis. Sharia also determines the propriety of certain financial transactions between observant Muslims, and many American and other Western banks, investment houses, and related institutions have sharia consultants for the preparation of business contracts by their Muslim clients.
But California has no sharia courts. California’s Muslim population is about one million, or 3.4 percent of the whole population, which does not justify appointment of a mufti. How then does a major Saudi daily describe Hamza Yusuf Hanson as “mufti of California?”

So how did this come about? Read on:

...Born of a Catholic father and Greek Orthodox mother, Hanson became Muslim as a youth and distinguished himself, until September 11, as one of the loudest, most radical, vulgar, and provocative Islamist agitators in the West. In 1995, Hanson delivered himself of the opinion that Judaism is “a most racist religion.” (No such condemnation appears in the Koran or in mainstream Islamic theology, which honor the Jewish prophets.) ...

But don't worry...if his response to the events of 9/11 are any indication, he's pretty flexible:

With the passage of two days, of course, the world changed. Hamza Yusuf Hanson saw the difficulties that would face radical Muslim preachers in the West. He briskly reinvented himself as a peaceful, spiritual Sufi, although he has never given any indication of a real knowledge of the Sufi way or its cultural legacy. He also had the incredible luck to benefit from cluelessness inside the Beltway, and got to meet President George W. Bush. On the strength of that trivial encounter, he has built himself up as a major Western Muslim leader, claiming now to be a “Bush adviser” as well as the epitome of moderate Islam...

Well, he certainly seems to have done pretty well for himself thus far. For such a title to be bestowed upon oneself by one's brethren is a lofty honor indeed.

Especially for a white guy from Walla Walla.

I must say, though, that my initial reaction to the clip above is that he's cribbing from someone else's playbook. But that's just me.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

When Kicking Puppies Just Isn't Enough

Man, how desperate was THIS guy?

A child wearing a Cub Scout uniform is robbed of money he raised for his pack by a hooded man at a convenience store.

"I feel mad that he took the money," said 7-year-old Cub Scout Brennan Starr.

Starr and his mother were at a Wawa store in Upper Chichester Township selling popcorn to raise money for the Cub Scouts.

But a man lurking in a hood apparently cased Brennan, and when the scout raised $200, he struck.

Seriously. The dude asked the kid's mom for change, and then ripped the envelope right out of her hands. Right out in the light of day.

How do you get to a level where a grown man steals from a 7-year-old? Somebody help me out here.

Oh, wait, I forgot....the Boy Scouts of America are evil discriminating intolerant hatemongers. Therefore, by association, so are the Cub Scouts. My mistake.

Now all the guy needs to do is find an old lady to flash, and his day's complete.

Fair Tax Blogburst: Oct. 25, 2006

(Note: Sorry for being a day late with kinda got in the way yesterday. ---Stander)

With this heated election approaching faster than one could imagine, we thought it would be a time to throw the FT BB into the debates to see where each of our respective candidates reside in these matters.

We have grown fast and have expanded further than Terry and I anticipated in such a short time, which should prove to be interesting as we will hopefully see. Since we have members of numerous states, and numerous districts of the House of Representatives, let us see where the incumbents and their challengers reside when it comes to the Fair Tax.

This is where Terry and I ask for a small Homework assignment, but Terry and I will be participating, as well.....

What we shall do is send a letter to each of the respective campaigns for the district you reside asking them how they feel in regards to the Fair Tax. It can be something as simple as an e-mail, and you can tell them that the Fair Tax BlogBurst will be curious to see their answers....that way, when we hear back from them, we can all report for our readers where these individual candidates stand. We have provided a form letter below, so feel free to borrow this letter and use it/modify it for your convenience. Readers of the FT BB, we encourage you to do the very same and send either Terry or I an e-mail and let us know what they have to say.

This should prove interesting, and should prove to be informative for voters, as well.

Good Luck!

Here is a valuable resource to look up the individual e-mail addresses of your Representatives.

Sample letter to Congress: The Fair Tax Act, a nonpartisan bill (rewrite this to be your letter)


The Honorable [First and Last name of congressman or senator]

United States [House of Representatives or Senate]

Washington, D.C. 20510

Re: The FairTax replaces the current tax system.

Dear [Congressman or Senator Last name]:

The Fair Tax Act, a nonpartisan bill sponsored by Representative John Linder (GA) and Senator Saxby Chambliss (GA), removes the burden of the income tax and other federal income-based taxes.

The current tax system is incomprehensible. It is beyond reform. It simply has to go.

The Fair Tax Act replaces the current tax system with a national consumption tax that:

  • Allows Americans to keep 100 percent of their paychecks, pensions, and Social Security payments.

  • Provides a prepaid, monthly rebate for every registered household.

  • Allows families to save more for home ownership, education, and retirement.

  • Raises the same amount of money for the federal government.

  • Makes American products more competitive overseas.

I urge you to heed the vast majority of voters who will surely support you if you are seen as responsible for passage of this historical tax reform measure.

As a constituent, I would like to know where you stand on the FairTax.


Your Constituent



[City, State ZIP]

[Phone number]

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, October 24, 2006

Fox in a Box: A Tale of Tangled Strings

By now, most of you know of the huge debate going on concerning the efficacy of embryonic stem cells, as opposed to adult stem cells, in relation to the search for a cure to various diseases. To be sure, it has become one of the bigger talking points leading up to the coming elections.

Michael J. Fox, who has suffered from Parkinson's disease for some years now, has now thrown his hat in the ring with the following advertisement in support of Missouri Senate candidate Claire McCaskill, on the grounds that her opponent, Jim Talent, opposes ESCR:

Some have said that his portrayal of himself is just that -- a portrayal by an actor, done for the sole purpose of tugging at voters' heartstrings enough to make them want to vote for McCaskill purely out of compassion for folks like him.

Carol Liebau has this to say on the subject:

It's up to each viewer to decide whether the ad is an over-the-top example of Fox allowing his illness to be exploited. Dean Barnett, who has some "street cred" to speak about exploitation of illness, has some thoughts that are well worth reading.
But, in any case, let's not fool ourselves that Fox is doing anything more than shilling for a Democratic politician. That's because there's already a stem cell initiative on the Missouri ballot -- so whether one votes for Jim Talent or Claire McCaskill has no impact on what happens with stem cell research in Missouri.

Now, I myself do not necessarily see this as being purely political. Mike showing himself "au naturel", as it were, doesn't seem all that inappropriate to the situation. Let's face it, one suffering through this disease without the benefit of treatment is gonna look all that good, and that's what he is putting forth.

So I'm not gonna beat up on Mikey because he's throwing his support behind a candidate whom he thinks will bolster his cause. We ALL do that.

I will, however, question the wisdom of his choices.

I mean, for a Democrat, she's not all that smart:

Tim Russert: "You had Bill Clinton come in and raise money for you, do you think Bill Clinton is a great President?
Claire McCaskill: "I do. I have a lot of problems with some of his personal issues. I said at the time, I think he's been a great leader but I don't want my daughter near him."

Nipping the hand that feeds you -- on national television -- is never a good idea. Hillary's not going to forget THAT one anytime soon.

Then there's the recent scandal about ACORN workers doing some serious voter-card-cooking on her behalf:

St. Louis ACORN workers, who have still not been paid by the way, reveal that all of the people who were being trained at ACORN headquarters (many at the same time) were told to go out and canvas for "(Democrat) Victory 2006" and Claire McCaskill!

But leaving Claire (and, apparently, Ben Cardin of Maryland as well) aside for the moment....there's something else about this that should be mentioned.

There are many -- the venerable Anchoress among them -- who fear that Michael's stumping for ESCR (and the candidates he thinks will support it) will do him, and those he represents, little good:

So, we see that in 2001, ESCR was showing the embryonic stem cells tended to be unmanagable and, actually, too powerful, too malleable. We see in 2006 that labrats treated with the stem cells tended to show some improvement but within a short time tissue growth becomes abnormal - one might assume that the rats, which were killed, might have displayed similiar behavior as was seen in 2001, had they lived. For all the talk we hear about the "great promise" of Embryonic Stem Cells, the research doesn’t support it. Nor, apparently, does private funding.

Don't get me wrong, Mike. I like you a lot, and I admire your devotion to your cause. I really do. Would God that a cure comes quickly.

But it's looking more and more like you're being used as a puppet for someone else's purposes...and in politics, strings get cut on a daily basis.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Points of Interest: Oct. 20, 2006

Today's edition starts off with a missive from our ol' pal Pat Sajak. (Yes, the Wheelwright himself...who would appear to be one of the few people in Hollywood with an actual sense of reality. Go fig.) In his latest installment of "Sajak Says", Pat pops off on the perils of perpetually putting one's prognosticating proboscis in the public puss. (AWRIGHT, awright...I'll stop. Sheesh.)

Next up, Jason over at CounterColumn delivers a solid pimp-slapping -- yet again -- to the good folks at CNN, for their airing of several video clips depicting sniper attacks upon our soldiers...and shares with us an article depicting the pounding the Supreme Court recently took when a new law, just signed by the Commander-in-Chief, put them at least a few steps closer to back in their place.

Don Surber, a fellow West Virginian, chimes in next with a reprint of a recent column of his that got so many hits at once (thanks to linkage from a Drudge report which credited him) that it killed the servers at his home newspaper, the Charleston Daily Mail. It concerns a certain "Grandma" who purports to oppose the "party of the rich"...but wait'll you hear what SHE'S worth. Yowza. (I wish I could afford to be that hypocritical.)

Next we pay a visit to the home of the Dumb Ox, who has a bone to pick with...well, okay, just about everybody, but the big targets lately are George Soros (that's "Saint George" to you, you paeans...just ask the MSM, they'll tell ya) and Madonna. (Because it's SO hard to be a good adoptive mom when you spend every night plastered on a cross done up like a mirror-ball -- oh, the SACRIFICE of it all!)

Finally, Kit Jarrell of Euphoric Reality provides us with an update or two on the status of her Innocent Pendleton 8 Family Fund...and, folks, it's doing some good, according to the mothers of some of the accused. (Keep up the good work, y'all. It IS making a difference.)


Now, for the first time in the all-too-short history of my humble establishment, I open the floor to all comers for a Open Trackback session. You are hereby invited to share your own Points of Interest herein.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Reggie White is Spinning In His Grave

Somewhere in the neighborhood of twelve years ago, I read a short story by Norman Spinrad called "The National Pastime". In a nutshell, the story predicts the future of professional football in a world where the NFL finds itself with some stiff competition with a newer, brasher league which gleefully promotes feeding-frenzy-style violence, both on the field and in the stands.

In other words....something a little bit like this.

What you are seeing is a bench-clearing brawl which occurred during Saturday night's game between the Univ. of Miami, and Florida International University. (Pay special attention to what one knuckle-dragger does with his helmet just after the Miami flaggers run past. I bet his momma's just BURSTING with pride right now.)

If I have my information right, over 30 students got suspended when the whole brouhaha finally got put back under wraps by Miami police.

Do these thugs have any idea how they're representing themselves here?

If you ask me, the whole game shoulda been tossed out the window right then and there, and both teams' remaining schedules right along with it. They deserve it.

Oh, sure, it won't make much difference to the players (who must have been looking for an excuse anyway, judging from the speed at which this donnybrook developed).

But maybe the loss of some serious broadcast and box office revenue will get the UM & FIU Boards of Regents to do something to rein in these bums.

Tip o' the rock to Kevin Aylward over at Wizbang.

Friday, October 13, 2006

I Can't Decide Which One Is Funnier...

"The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie—deliberate, contrived and dishonest—but the myth—persistent, persuasive and unrealistic."
—John F. Kennedy, 1962 Commencement address at Yale University

"Reality is that which refuses to go away when I stop believing in it."
—Phillip K. Dick

(Tip o'the rock to On Matters Of Most Grave Concern, an excellent storehouse of quotes for all occasions.)

Monday, October 09, 2006

Russian To Judgment: Bullets in One Hand, A Bullhorn in The Other

Anna Politkovskaya, an investigative reporter known for her criticism of the policies and actions of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has been gunned down in Moscow:

MOSCOW, Oct. 7 -- Anna Politkovskaya, a Russian journalist whose byline defined the fading craft of investigative and crusading reporting in President Vladimir Putin's Russia, was fatally gunned down Saturday in the lobby of her apartment building in central Moscow.

Politkovskaya, 48, was renowned for her probes of the brutality of Russia's military campaign in Chechnya as well as the banality of corruption permeating Russian life, from the remote provinces to the bright lights of Moscow.


She was a harsh critic of Putin's rule and was working on a story about torture in Chechnya, where a Kremlin-backed strongman has all but routed a separatist movement that sparked two bloody wars, at a cost to Russia that has yet to be measured.

The article was to be published Monday, according to her newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, one of the few independent media outlets in a country where much of the press is timid if not directly controlled by central authorities or regional power brokers.

From former Soviet premier Mikahil Gorbachev, who owns part stock in the Novaya Gazeta:

"It is a savage crime against a professional and serious journalist and a courageous woman," Gorbachev told the Russian news agency Interfax. "It is a blow to the entire democratic, independent press. It is a grave crime against the country, against all of us."

But don't bother asking ol' Vlad about this...he's too busy shaking his pom-poms for this little sis-boom-bah:

MOSCOW - Russia's defense minister said Monday that North Korea's nuclear test was equivalent to 5,000 tons to 15,000 tons of TNT.

That would be far greater than the force given by South Korea's geological institute, which estimated it at just 550 tons of TNT.


The U.S. Geological Survey said it recorded a magnitude-4.2 seismic event in northeastern North Korea. Asian neighbors also said they registered a seismic event, but only Russia said its monitoring services had detected a nuclear explosion.

No one has reported detecting any radiation.

Captain Ed is not impressed by the boom -- or Putin's grandstanding about it:

Even a 5000-ton-yield nuke would have a questionable deterrent level, considering the inventory in the arsenals of the world's declared nuclear powers. It might have some value as a terrorist weapon, but it would do no more damage than a Stealth bombing run can do, and the latter has a lot more accuracy than the former. No one would shrug at a bomb that has one-third of the power of the bomb that leveled Hiroshima, but we expected more than that -- and right now, it looks like Kim only has a bomb one-tenth of that size.

So why is Russia insisting on overstating Kim's success? Other than sheer bloody-mindedness, it's hard to say. If we take them at their word, then we'd have to insist that Russia join in sanctions immediately, which they have so far refused to do. They may want to make the argument that Kim has enough of a nuclear deterrent that we should leave him alone, but that won't fly either.

So here we have a journalist who makes a living exposing Russian corruption mysteriously shot dead while getting off the elevator in her apartment building on one hand...and at the same time, we have a Russian president issuing atta-boys to a North Korean nuclear nut-ball with delusions of grandeur on the other.

I don't know where Putin thinks he's taking his country right now, but I'd hate to be the guy riding shotgun.

Others covering these events:
Don Surber
Right Truth
Sister Toldjah

Saturday, October 07, 2006

An Old Fart Reminds Me of an Old Friend

Well, y'all certainly don't need me to tell ya it's been an interesting week.

Among the things we've learned lately:

1) God hates Amish people (don't take my word for it -- ask the experts)
2) There really are examples of true, honest tolerance in the world (and these folks ain't it -- how's THAT for a news flash?)
3) Some guys will do ANYTHING to get their name in the papers (yeesh -- next time, just take the cash, alright?)

And finally:

4) One of my all-time favorite storytellers...has finally lost his marbles.

All of these really made me sad (well, okay, number 3 made me laugh my ass off, and number 2 I pretty much saw coming -- that's generally how the Amish roll), but especially that last one.

I grew up listening to the Prairie Home Companion on the drive home after church on Sundays, back before I had any real political inclinations. Being of Norwegian descent myself (my family hails from Iowa & Minnesota), I've always felt a sort of distant kinship with the people Garry talks about in his tales of Lake Wobegon, and he never fails in bringing interesting people & entertainers into the mix during the rest of the show.

It saddens me greatly to hear of him doing things like what you saw in the links above. Part of me wants to put it down to old age, maybe even senility. It may also well be that he's always been this way, and I just never really noticed before.

No matter, says I. Whatever he may have done in the years since, I will always be grateful to him for at least one thing...

Introducing me to this guy.

No....not THAT guy (although the video in this link does contain two of my OTHER favorite people in the world). He has SO outgrown that song.

I mean THIS guy.

The first time I saw him was on the Prairie Home Companion's annual "Sound-Off" show, where they invited many unique vocal performers to come out and strut their stuff. I was in high school at the time, and it was just before he hit big with...well, you know.

Bobby's entry was a 10-minute solo a capella summarization of "The Wizard of Oz", and it was gorgeous. I've been hooked on the guy's work ever since.

Through the years since, he has been stretching himself in every direction there is. His astounding vocal talents, effortlessly playful spirit, and willingness to step over-around-and-through every musical boundary in sight have helped him evolve from a one-hit pop wonder into one of the world's great musical treasures. He even claimed the position of Creative Chair with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra back in 1994 (that's right -- he's a classical conductor, too), and made a point of taking the gang out to schools every chance he got, to introduce kids to classical music the fun way.

Thanks, Garry. At least you got this one right.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Fair Tax Blogburst: October 4, 2006

by Jonathan Garner of Publius Rendezvous

It has been interesting lately to observe just what the critics of the Fair Tax have to say. Lately, much of what has been said has centered around percentages. Clever as it may be to confuse people with cleverly worded assertions that tend to fool the average American when it comes to these issues. If anyone in the audience is similar to me, it takes focused attention lest my eyes glaze over at the thought of following someone's lessons involving percentages, statistics and numbers in general.

Succinctly, what has been asserted that I have seen generally resembles something such as this: (

Remember, even the proponents admit they'd need a 23 percent tax rate to fund the current size of the federal government. However, they are starting out their new "fair" tax system with highly deceptive language.

H.R. 25, Section 101(b)(1) states "FOR 2005- In the calendar year 2005, the rate of tax is 23 percent of the gross payments for the taxable property or service." Note the phrase "of the gross payment."

Here's how it works: You buy a candy bar for a total price, including tax, of $1.30. One dollar of that price pays for the candy bar; $.30 goes to the federal government.

One dollar purchase + $.30 in tax sounds like 30 percent to you and me (and to every state that currently has a sales tax). But the "FairTaxers" don't calculate it that way. They say: $1.30 total price. $.30 = 23 percent of $1.30, therefore the tax is 23 percent.

Many critics have pointed out that this is a deceptive way to calculate a sales tax. AFT rebuts the critics by saying (we paraphrase for simplicity), "If you made $1.30 in income and paid $.30 of it in tax, you'd call it a 23 percent tax rate." The 23 percent figure is what AFT refers to as the "tax inclusive" rate.

But a sales tax is not an income tax, and when we see national sales tax advocates and uncritical journalists promoting the 23 percent figure without giving the underlying explanation, we can only think that some very thick wool is being pulled over people's eyes.

But, as we shall see, there is yet again another major study that has been conducted that definitively illustrates the merit of the Fair Tax. As has been reported by The Fair Tax Blog (, Boston University Economics Professor Laurence Kotlikoff's much-anticipated study of the necessary revenue-neutral rate for the FairTax has been published and released. Terry and I will refrain from reproducing the entire study, but peruse through the abstract below to see just how much the supporters already know!

As specified in Congressional bill H.R. 25/S. 25, the FairTax is a proposal to replace the federal personal income tax, corporate income tax, payroll (FICA) tax, capital gains, alternative minimum, self-employment, and estate and gifts taxes with a single-rate federal retail sales tax. The FairTax also provides a prebate to each household based on its demographic composition. The prebate is set to ensure that households pay no taxes net on spending up to the poverty level.

Bill Gale (2005) and the President's Advisory Panel on Federal Tax Reform (2005) suggest that the effective (tax inclusive) tax rate needed to implement H.R. 25 is far higher than the proposed 23% rate. This study, which builds on Gale's (2005) analysis, shows that a 23% rate is eminently feasible and suggests why Gale and the Tax Panel reached the opposite conclusion.

This paper begins by projecting the FairTax's 2007 tax base net of its rebate. Next it calculates the tax rate needed to maintain the real levels of federal and state spending under the FairTax. It then determines if an effective rate of 23% would be sufficient to fund 2007 estimated spending or if not, the amount by which non-Social Security federal expenditures would need to be reduced. Finally, it shows that the FairTax imposes no additional real fiscal burdens on state and local government, notwithstanding the requirement that such governments pay the FairTax when they purchase goods and services.

Implementing the FairTax rate of 23% would produce $2,586 billion in federal tax revenues which is $358 billion more than the $2,228 billion in tax revenues generated by the taxes it repeals. Adjusting the base for the prebate and the administrative credit paid to businesses and states for collecting the tax results in a net tax base of $9,355 billion. In 2007, spending at current levels is projected to be $3,285 billion. Revenues from the FairTax at a 23% tax rate, plus other federal revenues, are estimated to yield $3,209 billion which is $76 billion less than current CBO spending projections for 2007. The $76 billion amounts to only 2.73% of non-Social Security spending ($2,177 - $2,101). This is a remarkably small adjustment when set against the more than 30% rise in the real value of these expenditures since 2000.

Ensuring real revenue neutrality at the federal level, given the net base of $9,355 billion, implies a rate of 23.82% on a tax-inclusive basis and 31.27% on a tax-exclusive basis. These and other calculations presented here ignore a) general equilibrium feedback (supply-side and demand-side) effects that could significantly raise the FairTax base (see, for example, Kotlikoff and Jokisch, 2005), b) the possibility that tax evasion would exceed the considerable amount automatically incorporated here via the use of NIPA data, which undercount consumption expenditures due to evasion under the current tax system, and c) the roughly $1 trillion real capital gain the federal government would secure on its outstanding nominal debt, were consumer prices to rise by the full amount of the FairTax.

The FairTax redistributes real purchasing power from state and local governments to their state and local income-tax taxpayers. It does so by reducing factor prices relative to consumer prices and, thereby, reducing the real value (measured at consumer prices) of state and local income tax payments, which are assessed on factor incomes (namely, factor supplies times factor prices).

Gale (2005) and the Tax Panel (2005) recognized this loss in real state and local government revenues in claiming that these governments need to be compensated for having to pay the FairTax. But what they apparently missed is that this loss to these governments is exactly offset by a gain to their taxpayers.

Were state and local governments to maintain their real income tax collections - the assumption made here - by increasing their tax rates appropriately, their taxpayers' real tax burdens would remain unchanged and there would be no need for the federal government to compensate state and local governments for having to pay the FairTax on their purchases. The second is that H.R. 25 does not preclude state and local governments from levying their sales taxes on the FairTax-inclusive price of consumer goods and services. This produces significantly more revenue compared to levying their sales taxes on producer prices.

Moreover, Gale (2005) and the Tax Panel (2005) arrived at a higher tax rate because they did not estimate the FairTax rate, but instead estimated a sales tax of their own design which had a substantially narrower base.

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.

Monday, October 02, 2006

First Aid Kit: The Innocent Pendleton 8 Family Fund

By now, you have most likely heard about the case involving the "Pendleton 8". In short, seven Marines and one Navy corpsman have been tossed in the brig, under accusations of (among other things) cold-blooded murder during a raid to capture insurgents in Hamdania, Iraq.

There have already been any number of prominent people out there covering the legal matters involved, Michelle Malkin and Michael Savage chief among them. I'll let them handle that aspect of the issue -- they've already done it way better than anything I could supply here.

The part I want to focus on today concerns their families.

Think about it, folks...While these soldiers have been taking fire from all sides in the legal battle of their lives, what have their families been put through? Coming to their loved ones' defense costs money -- a LOT of money -- that most of these folks just plain don't have. They've already sacrificed WAY too much in order to help their young men face their accusers, and no end appears in sight.

Well, Kit Jarrell over at Euphoric Reality has taken up the mortar plate for them with the creation of the Innocent Pendleton 8 Family Fund, a charity drive specifically designed to help those families make up the difference in their day-to-day living expenses, such as food, bills, diapers and formula for their little ones.

As Kit puts it:

Behind the news articles and interviews and drama are the families. The financial burden of these hearings and upcoming courts-martial have drained them completely. None of them were financially well off; they refinanced homes, took second, third, and even fourth jobs, and pulled other children from college to pay for the defense. Three of these men have very small children who need things like formula and diapers. But the question is inevitable: If every penny goes to defending their sons from being wrongfully convicted and having their lives ruined, what is left over for groceries? How do their everyday bills get paid? And why are they even in the position of having to choose between a defense and a package of diapers?

That’s where we come in.

The Innocent Pendleton 8 Family Fund is not for legal fees. It is not for defense experts or trial costs. It is for phone bills so their sons can call home from the brig. It is for diapers for their babies, groceries for their cupboards, gas for their cars so they can get to work. It is to help them survive financially while these horrifying circumstances are going on.

A total accounting for all monies will be made public to all who ask, and the money will go directly from me personally to the families, in order of immediate need.

In front of Camp Pendleton, where these 8 men have been held in special confinement for over 130 days, there are rallies and media and national TV coverage. But back in little towns in Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Washington State, and other locations, their parents and wives don’t have enough money to feed their children. This story breaks my heart, and I hope that you can find it in yours to give even a few dollars to help these families.

If you have a blog, please consider putting the button below on your site and linking back to this page, or even just putting up a post to tell your readers. These men and their families have sacrificed everything they have.

You can give through Paypal, Mastercard, and Visa. If you’d like to send a check, please email me at and I will give you an address to send to.

You heard the lady. Do what you can. If you're too strapped to give financially, help spread the word. These people are marching up a mountain, and they need our help to keep their lives on track while they're doing it.

Tip o'the rock to Uncle Jimbo over at Blackfive. Thanks for tapping my forward assist on this, Jim.

A couple more pertinent links to this topic, including signposts pointing to several legal defense funds set up for the soldiers themselves:

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Guitarist from Another Planet

I was gonna get all newsy today. Really, I was.

But you know what? I just got off a long shift at work, and I'm tired.

Instead, I offer a performance of the instrumental guitar piece "Aerial Boundaries", as rendered by its creator. (Okay, okay...I just wanted an excuse to put up another Youtube clip, 'cuz it's fun. But this is a good one, I promise.)

Ladies and Michael Hedges.

When I first found this gentleman's work while I was in Monterey, I learned a very humiliating lesson of life: Contrary to my beliefs, I cannot play the guitar very well.

For the next three months, I sat in my room, surrounded by broken guitar strings, a heinously abused tape recorder or two, and ten or twelve forests' worth of sheet music, trying (and failing miserably) to grow two extra hands.

Hedges' dizzy-blizzard fingerwork, damn-the-tunings-full-speed-ahead compositional techniques, and Salvador Dali-esque ability to make any song you could name sound as if it were meant to be a solo acoustic piece all along (no, seriously -- I had the honor of watching him perform live his own version of Neneh Cherry's "Buffalo Stance", and did it ever WORK!) made him one of the most dynamic forces of creativity the world of guitar music has ever seen.

Sadly, he died in a car crash in late '97, on his way to the studio to finish what has become his swan song album, Torched.

Do yourself a favor---take a look here, and see what can be accomplished with two hands and a good-sized chunk of wood and steel.