Month: October 2008

Brews You Can Use

Best site I found this week: Bum Wine. Thunderbird, Mad Dog. Enlightening and entertaining stuff. Sample:

Night Train is all business when it pulls into the station. All aboard to nowhere – woo wooo! The night train runs only one route: sober to stupid with no roundtrip tickets available, and a strong liklihood of a train wreck along the way. This trainyard favorite is vinted and bottled by E&J Gallo Winery, in in Modesto, CA. Don’t bother looking on their web page, because they dare not mention it there. As a clever disguise, the label says that it is made by “Night Train Limited.” Some suspect that Night Train is really just Thunderbird with some Kool-Aid-like substance added to try to mask the Clorox flavor.

Just in time: Halloween cocktails. … Read the rest

Best Election Blog Post of 2008

Four ways Obama will raise taxes on those making less than $250,000. Excerpt:

The first loophole was easy to find: Senator Obama doesn’t “count” allowing the Bush tax cuts to lapse as a tax increase. Unless the cuts are re-enacted, rates will automatically return to the 2000 level. Senator Obama claims that letting a tax cut lapse — allowing the rates to return to a higher levels — is not actually a “tax increase.” It’s just the lapsing of a tax cut. . . .

When those cuts lapse, my taxes are going up — a lot — but by parsing words, Senator Obama justifies his claim that he won’t actively raise taxes on 95 percent of working Americans, even while he’s passively allowing tax rates to go up for 100% of Americans who actually pay Federal income taxes.

Making this personal, my Federal Income Tax will increase by $3,824 when those tax cuts lapse. That not-insignificant sum would cover a couple of house payments or help my two boys through another month or two of college.

No matter what Senator Obama calls it, requiring us to pay more taxes amounts to a tax increase. This got me wondering what other Americans will have to pay when the tax cuts lapse.

For a married family, filing jointly and earning $75,000 a year, this increase will be $3,074. For those making just $50,000, this increase will be $1,512. Despite Senator Obama’s claim, even struggling American families making just $25,000 a year will see a tax increase — they’ll pay $715 more in 2010 than they did in 2007. Across the board, when the tax cuts lapse, working Americans will see significant increases in their taxes, even if their household income is as low as $25,000. See the tables at the

Read the rest

October 28th Bites

Save on pumpkins.

What are people wearing this year for Halloween? Forbes breaks it down: Palin, Obama, McCain, Joe the Plumber, Speedo Phelps.

Also from Forbes: How to treat the children more healthily. Give me a break, Forbes. Bunch of killjoys. Should we make the children step on a weight scale when they come to the front door, too?

Hate it when that happens: A man caused a two-hour train delay when he got his arm stuck down a toilet while trying to retrieve his cell phone.

If you weren’t aware of it already, ISI has started a blog (a “web journal”). First Principles. Good stuff over there. Check it out. … Read the rest

From the Notebooks

notebooks.jpgWhy I Don’t Know What I Am

Conservative? Liberal? Republican? Democrat? Libertarian?

Is it me, or is it a topsy-turvey political scene out there? I can’t look at any group and say, “I think like they do.” I can look at a few and say, “They have some good ideas,” or “I agree with their conclusions, if not their rationale,” but I never seem to line-up completely. Moreover, most people I know experience the same thing.

Maybe it’s the fault of labels. When, after all, does a label really fit someone? “He’s a hot head.” Really? All the time, or just some of the time? If he keeps his temper more than he loses it, is he really a hot head? What about a person who cheats on his wife once? Does that make him a lecher forever, even twenty faithful years later? If not, when does the lecher label fall off?

Likewise, when is a person a “conservative”? That’s a particular vexing question because no one even seems to know what a conservative is. Are we talking about the dinosaur-sounding creature known as a “paleo-conservative” or a cutting-edge-sounding creature known as a “neo-conservative”? And once we agree on what a conservative is, how many of the traits does a person need to be a conservative? Eight out of eleven?

I have no doubt that the innate shortfalling of labels causes much of the topsy-turvey political situation in which very few people feel comfortable with any group or party.

But there’s more to it. Labels seem especially poor at capturing people’s thinking these days, as more and more people don’t think any of the labels apply to them. Why?

I think it’s because we’re in what I call a “shifting time.” We’ve had shifting times in American history before. And … Read the rest

Schizoid Catholics

schizoid.jpgAdulterer behind me, adulterer in front of me. Both freshly unrepentant. All three of us at Mass to celebrate First Communion with our sons.

My distaste for American Catholicism spiked at that Mass, but it started long before, back before my conversion in 1991, when I was a Lutheran enamored with all things anti-Catholic, sneering contempt at every Pope and every Catholic invention like Purgatory, lustfully rejoicing with Billy “Only the Good Die Young” Joel when pure (and preferably hot) Catholic young things succumbed (alas, never to me, but to my friends, who would later tell me about it).

Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t approve of fornication, either, but when Catholics fell, it was for the obvious reason: their theology is so backwards, they can’t distinguish between chewing gum in class and backseating their boyfriends.

Bad theology creates bad people. It was pretty clear to me.

But then I became a Catholic. I became enamored with everything anti-American Catholic.

Sitting at that Mass with the joyful adulterers (mothers, by the way, which makes it worse, no matter what the gender-equity hounds say) brought it all to the surface: I didn’t like Catholicism while growing up, and I don’t like it now, albeit for completely different reasons.

I liked American Catholics and their fun ways while growing up, but didn’t like Catholicism as a dogma machine. After my conversion, I liked the dogma machine, but not American Catholics.

But it has always gnawed at me: If bad dogma makes bad people (and I still think it does), shouldn’t good dogma make good people? St. Clement of Alexandria thought so: “He does not live rightly who does not believe rightly.”

If Catholicism has good dogma, why does it produce so many moral dogs?

I’m not just talking about ideological dissidents, by … Read the rest

No Blogging Saturday

Relief is at hand. My son’s last marching band performance was eight days ago, my daughter’s last home volleyball game five days ago, my two sons’ last football games today. After this, I have a few weeks of reprieve before other activities kick in . . . and I have only two children playing winter sports. Who knows, with a little luck, I’ll be able to produce some new blogging material and stop eating into my writing principle.

But for now, no blogging on Saturday. I merely offer this nifty-looking site: Shadow Stats. How government fudges stats. The founder of this site seems to be doing a real public service. The whole concept of the government fudging stats reminds me of Murray Rothbard’s observation that statistics are the eyes and ears of the government. Without stats, it can’t function (like it can function anyway). If it can’t function, maybe it’ll leave us alone.

Then again, even if the government doesn’t have stats, based on what I see at Shadow Stats, I’m guessing they might just fabricate them. … Read the rest