The dying gasps of Russian democracy

December 26, 2007

From the keyboard of Kim Zigfeld, who blogs at La Russophobe, we get the story of dissident Oleg Kozlovsky and the brutal attempts of Tsar Vladimir’s regime to silence him.

Who pays how much?

December 26, 2007

The other night I was out to dinner with good friends, one of whom is a committed and politically aware liberal Democrat. Naturally, given the approaching end of the year, talk turned to taxes. And, also naturally, my friend went off on a mini-rant about how the middle classes and poor are unfairly burdened and the rich get out of paying taxes, etc., etc. I countered by saying the rich actually pay most of the income tax revenues the Treasury takes in. Let’s just say he found that hard to accept and called foul on me.

Trouble was, that information was something I had read in passing; I didn’t have the facts at hand. So, I decided to do a little research online. Guess what I found? (The link opens an Excel file.)

To summarize, the top ten percent of wage earners in the US as of 2005 pays more than 70% of the total income tax revenue. And half of those taxpayers pay almost 60%. Fully 50% of American wage earners –the lowest 50%– pay a little more than 3%. That’s right: three cents out of every dollar of income tax the IRS collects.

Here’s a portion of the table:

Year Top 1% Top 5% Top 10%
2001 33.89 53.25 64.89
2002 33.71 53.80 65.73
2003 34.27 54.36 65.84
2004 36.89 57.13 68.19
2005 39.38 59.67 70.30

Note also that those percentages have been steadily rising, even with the tax cuts passed under Bush the Younger. Yet, time and again, we hear the Left squawk about tax cuts mostly helping the rich, how the working class gets screwed, and how Bush is just a bought tool of his wealthy pals.

If he’s a tool, then they ought to be asking for a refund.

Thinking the unthinkable

December 26, 2007

For the 40-plus years of the Cold War, it was a common occurrence for government officials and media pundits to "think the unthinkable:" how a nuclear war between the USA and the USSR would be fought and what would the aftermath be like.

In a modern-day version, The Jerusalem Post reports on an American study of a possible nuclear war between Iran and Israel. Their conclusion: Israel could survive but Iran would be destroyed:

If a nuclear war between Israel and Iran were to break out 16-20 million Iranians would lose their lives – as opposed to 200,000-800,000 Israelis, according to a report recently published by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), which is headed by Anthony H. Cordesman, formerly an analyst for the US Department of Defense. The document, which is largely theoretical due to the lack of verified knowledge in some areas – specifically in terms of Israel’s nuclear capability – paints various scenarios and attempts to predict the strategies of regional powers, as well as the US.

The report assesses that a nuclear war would last approximately three weeks and ultimately end with the annihilation of Iran, due to Israel’s alleged possession of weapons with a far larger yield. Israel, according to the assessment, would have a larger chance of survival. The report does not attempt to predict how many deaths would eventually be caused by possible nuclear fallout.

The study also posits another 18 million Syrian deaths, should Syria join its patron in war with Israel, and pointedly says Israel would destroy Cairo and the Aswan Dam should Egypt get involved.

Like Roger L. Simon, I have to wonder if this article was encouraged by the Israeli government as an indirect warning to Iran. Trouble is, the apocalyptic, millenarian religious fascists who rule Iran want to create global chaos to bring about their version of the "end times" and hasten the return of the Mahdi. In this case, I’m not so sure the article isn’t an inducement, rather than a warning.

Happy New Year.