Monday, July 31, 2006

Jack Hoogendyk for State Rep.

One of the hottest primary races in Michigan is battle for the Republican nomination for the 61st district state house seat. Incumbent State Rep. Jack Hoogendyk is competing with two challengers.

Jack Hoogendyk is a hero to conservatives. He is both courageous and effective, and he is badly needed in Lansing. The WMU College Republicans have endorsed Jack for reelection.

Now, the Gazette has profiled the race. Surprisingly, the article contains some very interesting information that clearly distinguishes the candidates:

Hoogendyk recently introduced legislation to make English the official language of the state government, which he said would save taxpayer dollars if the state does not have to provide materials in different languages. He also said immigrants will be at a disadvantage if they are not forced to learn English.

It's a bill that Zondervan said is "unnecessary" and DeShazor said sends an unwelcoming message to foreign business.

"Will that bill generate any jobs? The answer would be no," DeShazor said. "I am about focusing on the issues that mean the most to the people."

And on traditional family values, DeShazor said, "I think we need to leave that up to families. ... Leave that to professionals, counselors, parents."
Any foreign business that expects to do business in Michigan without using English is in for a big surprise.

An 82% majority of Michigan citizens (and a larger percentage of Republicans) support making English the official language of Michigan, yet Jack is the only 61st district candidate to support it.

This is just one more reason for conservatives to enthusiastically support Jack Hoogendyk's bid for reelection.

English needs your help

You will recall that a while back the bill to make English the official language of Michigan passed the state House of Representatives. The next step to pass this bill is for the State Senate to take it up. However, I am hearing that State Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema is not planning to take up the bill.

Perhaps Senator Sikkema doesn't realize how important this issue is to Republicans and conservatives. If you want to let him know what you think about English and ask when a vote will be scheduled you can contact him as follows.

Senator Ken Sikkema
State Capitol
Lansing, MI 48909
Phone: (517) 373-0797
Toll Free: (800) 774-1174 (in state only)
Fax: (517) 373-5236

Saturday, July 29, 2006


This update focuses on democracy. Democracy is lauded at home and is believed by some to be the solution to foreign threats abroad. However, it can empower to tyranny and terrorism in some cases. It should be seen as a means to the end of limited government, rather than a mandate for the violation of rights or a cure for radical ideologies.

Walter Williams points out that the Founding Fathers created a republic, not a democracy.
Rep. Henry Hyde argues that democracy can lead to revolution, which is destructive.
Pat Buchanan shows that democracy does not guarantee religious freedom.
Phyllis Schlafly defends the electoral college and exposes a plot to undermine it.
Jonah Goldberg argues that having more voters isn't necessarily better.
John McManus explains the difference between a republic and democracy.

The fight in the middle east

I got inspiration of this from Ann Coulter's latest column, so you might notice a hint of that in here:

So as I'm sure all of you Fox News watching Americans know, Israel is currently tied up in a nasty fight with Hezbollah yet many Americans remain pretty apathetic about the whole situation. Many of those who have watched the news on the war have critized Israel for their actions. Israel is right in what they're doing for a few simple reasons:
1. Those they fight (and those who back them: Iran among others) refuse to recognize Israel's right to exist. So anyone who's crying for a diplomatic solution is simply fooling themselves.
2. Israel is constantly under attack via methods that go straight against the rules of war. It's a highly unethical technique for someone in plan clothes to blow up a civilian bus. Yet this is par for the course in Israel. I would hope a nation that suffered like we did on 9/11 would have more sympathy for a country that's constantly the victims of terrorist acts.
3. People complain about Israel not letting civilians out of the war zone. They have no choice but to attack regardless. When one has an enemy who will not grant them the decency of fighting via proper engagement (i.e. only uniformed soldiers attack non-civilian targets) they cannot take a moment to step back and risk getting hosed.

I'm greatly disappointed with my generation. People are working to wipe Israel off of the face of the earth. A couple of generations ago when a madman tried exterminating the Jews, our country came to stop him. Israel is in serious trouble now. This whole war with Hezbollah has been great for Iran (who hates Israel too) because it's completely taken the focus off of their efforts to build nuclear weapons. This all while Iran, Syria, and Russia have entered into a defense pact (for those who didn't catch the gravity of that, Russia has nukes. Iran wants them. Do the math). This whole deal is the reason why Syria and Iran are openly supporting Hezbollah in the war. The longer the war, the more they can do while the world is focused on the battle. If we want to keep nukes out of Iran's hands, we can't take our eyes off of them and we need to be more involved in Israel's attempt to defeat Hezbollah.

Lightvoet for Circuit Judge

One of the positions that will be filled in the upcoming elections is that of Circuit Court Judge for Kalamazoo County. There are four candidates running for an open Circuit Court Judgeship--Pam Lightvoet, John Conlin, Quinn Benson, and Martin Glista.

Judicial races are officially nonpartisan. However, Lightvoet and Conlin are Republicans, and Benson and Glista are Democrats. Glista is supported by most of the county's trial lawyers, as can be seen by driving past their offices. Benson is a District Court judge who is being forced out by the age limit. The Gazette profiles the race here.

Of the two Republicans, I believe the best choice is Pam Lightvoet. She has been endorsed by Kalamazoo City Commissioner Mary Balkema, as well as Judy Todd Johnson and Fred Taylor. Check out Pam Lightvoet's website here.

Local Politics

The Battle Creek Enquirer profiles a couple area political races.

The 19th state senate district covers Calhoun and most of Jackson counties. Two Republicans, Elizabeth Fulton and Al Cavasin are competing for the Republican nomination to challenge Democrat Mark Schauer. Schauer is a strong incumbent, but this is a Republican district, so it could be a pickup in November. I'm not sure how much the article helps, but here it is.

The 87th state house district covers Barry and most of Ionia counties. Seven Republicans are seeking their party's nomination. This is a safely Republican district, so the primary will determine the November winner. This article profiles six of the candidates, but doesn't do much to distinguish them.

Friday, July 28, 2006

A Few Good Thoughts

I recently came across an article that discussed the necessity of affirmative action. In Larry Adelman's 2003 piece, he discusses the value of his home (in a white neighborhood) as compared to the value of the home of a friend of his (in a black neighborhood). The basic point of the piece is that invisible government racism is the cause of rampant poverty in the African-American community. The piece is important because it uses some solid reasoning rather than relying on referring to the anti-affirmative action community as racist.

The problem with Adelman's argument is that whether or not whites have more money than blacks, the two groups have an equal opportunity to work hard while in school, participate in other activities, and, in general, give themselves an opportunity to qualify for colleges. A family's inability to pay for college is an argument for that family to take advantage of need-based financial aid.

It is interesting to note that the (politically incorrect) opinions of Charles Barkley and Bill Cosby (placing the blame for African-American poverty, crime, etc. on bad parenting and poor role models) have been scorned, while (politically correct) blame of the government has become curriculum.


The opinions of the rich and famous are often cited as a cause of liberalism in this country (the idea being that people want to be cool, and choose to make their attempt at coolness through their opinions). This is one of the most pitiable and unfortunate things that one can do - deciding personal beliefs through a means other than rational argumentation. While conservatives do fall into the trap of starting with an end argument instead of working towards it, seemingly every liberal argument starts at the end and then formulates a beginning based on that end - rendering their arguments ridiculous due to lack of foundation. The best example of this is abortion. Starting with the conclusion that abortion should legal, liberals argued that a woman had a right to choose. Faced with the dilemna that the woman had chosen when consented to have sex with a man, liberals decided that abortion must be legal because of rape (and other similar occurences). This raises an interesting point: someone actually thinks it makes logical sense from the perspective of morals that because an evil act (rape) was done, a greater evil (murder) should be allowable. However, that evil should only be allowable up until just after birth. Is it possible that this could be any more deluded and arbitary?


It may only be my fellow First Things readers and I that this means anything to, but when I saw that Joseph Bottum was writing about a video on Youtube, I was quite shocked. A magazine focused on American and world affairs discussing Youtube in general on their blog would have been shocking enough, but a specific video....and that was before I found out it was a guy playing a ukelele.

However, that shock quickly wore off when I clicked the link and heard the twang of Jake Shimabukuro's ukelele. I'll say it this way: I love of great music, I know great music when I hear it, and the ukelele doesn't make great music. Jake Shimabukuro has done what I thought undoable - he elevated the ukelele. To see what I mean, watch this video.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


One proposal which has qualified for the November ballot is the so-called K-16 initiative. It would mandate increasing spending by the inflation rate for government schools and colleges.

The WMU College Republicans oppose this initiative. It is a dangerous measure that would have many unforeseen consequences.

Everyone wants to improve education. However, is increasing spending the way to do it? There is no evidence supporting this notion. In fact, since the 1970s, education spending has roughly doubled (adjusted for inflation), while performance has remained about the same.

The problem is not that schools don’t have enough money. The problem is that they don’t wisely use the money that they have. Schools don’t need more spending, they need more effective spending.

Government schools regularly misuse money. For example, WMU gives $6500 per semester scholarships specifically for illegal aliens, so that they pay the equivalent of in-state tuition. Western also has pledged to give free room and board to full-ride Kalamazoo Promise scholarship recipients who already live in Kalamazoo.

Government schools need to be held accountable so that they will not waste your money. But mandating spending will make them even less accountable. If spending increases are guaranteed every year, what reason do schools and colleges have to spend money wisely? If the K-16 initiative passes, we can expect even more spending on education fads and liberal propaganda that disserve students.

Where would the money for more spending come from? There are only two possibilities. The first is significant tax increases. The second is cuts in state spending in other areas, including road construction. The legislature should have the flexibility to decide whether spending increases or cuts are necessary in response to changing economic circumstances.

The K-16 initiative would be a disaster for both students and taxpayers. We urge you to oppose it in November.

Open space

Thomas Sowell has written another excellent article, this time concerning the topic of open space.

About ten years ago, a subdivision was constructed near my house. News reports at the time stated that the project would include open space, which would be left natural and undeveloped. At the time, I thought this was a good idea. Why not preserve some nature along with development?

What happened? The development is complete, but the "open space" is a mess of weeds and bramble unusable by anyone. People started claiming some of the open space for their yards. While not undesirable under the circumstances, they face the problem that the property isn't really theirs.

Advocates of private property sometimes cite the "tragedy of the commons," in which an unowned piece of land is overused and ruined since no one has any incentive to improve it. This may be the opposite problem--land is unused and useless to everyone since no one has an incentive to improve it.

Of course, open space laws don't create more open space, they simply push development elsewhere. As such, they increase the price of land for everyone.

Private property is still the foundation of freedom and prosperity.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Where's Dan been?

I'm sure you're all wondering where I've been. Plain and simple I've been preparing to take on the left this fall. And I found a very useful source of information that you all might benefit from. It's a book called "State of Fear." It's a work of fiction, but all the statistics pulled for the book are real world. It presents some interesting information on the great threat of "Global Warming!!!!" Plus it has some interesting commentary on colleges, the media, and politics. So I guess that's my suggested summer reading for all of you who get to relax by the pool during this next month.


The Gazette has an interesting article about the race between Lorence Wenke and Jerry VanderRoest in the 63rd state house district.

Lorence Wenke and Jerry Vander Roest say they want to focus on the issues as they compete for the Republican nomination for the 63rd state House seat.

But the hostility between the two is obvious.

At a candidate forum Wednesday, Vander Roest made so many digs about his opponent that Larry DeShazor, a state representative candidate for the 61st District, quipped after Vander Roest left early, ``I hope I never have to run against that guy.''

Wenke wasn't at the event. But the next day during a 10-minute conversation with a Kalamazoo Gazette reporter, Wenke made references to Vander Roest's employment history, the condition of his front lawn and his 2003 arrest in a prostitution sting.

``He's had government jobs all his life and he acts like government is the enemy,'' Wenke said.

No, countered Vander Roest, government is not the enemy. He said liberal Republicans like Wenke who keep voting for more taxes are the problem.

The campaign is a rematch of the contentious primary two years ago. In that race, Wenke spent nearly $286,000, including $240,000 of his own money, to win by 90 votes, while Vander Roest spent $17,000.

One of the most divisive issues in 2004 was that of gay marriage. Wenke had expressed his support for gay civil unions and Vander Roest argued for a state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.


This update focuses on feminism. This radical ideology has largely been rejected by the American people, but it continues to be promoted through schools and government.

Phyllis Schlafly exposes feminists' war against men.
Schlafly discusses how feminists use title nine to advance their agenda.
Schlafly explains what's wrong with the violence against women act.
Schlafly shows how government attacks fatherhood.
Ivy Sellers destroys the nonsense of a "wage gap".

Friday, July 21, 2006

One against a tax increase

Most of this area's political establishment seems to have lined up in support of a tax increase for a new juvenile home. However, there is at least one dissenting voice--Kalamazoo City Commissioner Mary Balkema. From the Gazette:

Balkema cast the only dissenting vote, saying there are schools in Kalamazoo County that are older than the juvenile home and aren't being replaced and that the county Board of Commissioners should have been setting aside money annually to finance the project.

City property owners already are paying the county's highest millage rate, Balkema said, and "in this hard economic time, I cannot, in all good conscience, support this millage at this time.''
From what I have heard, a new juvenile home is needed. The question is whether a tax increase is really necessary to pay for it, or whether spending could be cut somewhere else instead.

Taxpayers forum

The Gazette has an article about the candidate forum held by the Kalamazoo County Taxpayers Association. From the article:

Much of Wednesday's discussion centered around taxes and government spending. Vander Roest, Hoogendyk and Zondervan declared their opposition to any kind of tax increases, while DeShazor and Romero took a less simplistic approach.

``Sometimes you have to spend money to make money,'' said DeShazor, adding that investment in such areas as education and infrastructure could fuel economic growth.

Romero pointed to education as an area that may need more state dollars rather than less. He was the only candidate in attendance to support a proposal to guarantee annual increases in state funding for K-12 and higher education.

Romero and DeShazor joined the others in calling for elimination of the state's Single Business Tax, but were the only two who said the state would need to find another revenue source to replace the $1.9 billion generated by the tax. ``I believe the state cannot survive without that revenue,'' DeShazor said.

Others disagreed. ``Not only do I believe this tax would be killed forever, but I don't believe that we need to replace one dime of it because I think it will be naturally replaced as businesses grow and flourish,'' Hoogendyk said.
I wonder whether politicians who want to invest our money would let the government invest their own money.

Check out the new website of the taxpayers association.

Self-defense signed

Governor Granholm just signed the stand your ground bills into law. From MCRGO:

Michigan's Governor signs Castle Doctrine Package into Law!

July 20, 2006

We once again thank our Legislators/MCRGO Directors whom led the charge in moving this through the Capitol. Please take a moment to join with us in extending our appreciation to:

Senator/MCRGO Director Alan Cropsey
State Representative/MCRGO Director Tom Casperson
State Representative/MCRGO Director Joel Sheltrown
and of course, State Representative Rick Jones also deserves our thanks. His willingness to work towards language key stakeholders could support was important.

We'd also like to thank the NRA for their help in the critical stage. From the day he hit the ground last winter, Mr. Darin Goens--Michigan's NRA representative--was thoroughly professional and effective.

We appreciate all that he--and the Legislators listed here--continue to do for responsible gunowners across Michigan!
Here are the details:

Ø SB 1046, sponsored by Sen. Alan Cropsey, outlines rebuttal presumptions for justified use of self-defense. The bill makes it clear that there is no “duty to retreat” if a person is in a place where they have a legal right to be.

Ø SB 1185, sponsored by Sen. Ron Jelinek, allows for the award of court and attorney fees in civil cases where it was determined a person acted in accordance with the Self Defense Act and where civil immunities apply.

Ø HB 5548, sponsored by Rep. Tim Moore, gives civil immunities to persons acting in accordance with the Self Defense Act, preventing criminals and their families from suing law-abiding citizens.

Ø HB 5153, sponsored by Rep. Leslie Mortimer, puts the burden of proof on the prosecutor to show that a person acted unlawfully in the application of force, rather than the person using the force having to prove they acted lawfully.

Ø HB 5142, sponsored by Rep. Tom Casperson, expands the definition of “dwelling” to include a person’s garage, barn, backyard, etc.

Ø HB 5153, sponsored by Rep. Rick Jones, creates the Self Defense Act and specifies that it is not a crime to use force or deadly force to defend oneself if that person is not breaking any laws when defensive force was used. The person must be facing imminent threat of death or great bodily harm.
Congratulations, Michigan!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Politics Extravaganza

With the primary and general elections rapidly approaching, there is a flurry of new articles about Michigan politics. I'm not going to link to every interesting article because it's not worth my time. Instead, interested readers can monitor these sources themselves.

The Detroit News politics section currently features articles about:
The Granholm/DeVos governor's race
The Bouchard/Butler/Stabenow Senate race
The Schwarz/Walberg primary
Open state senate races
Open state house races

The Detroit Free Press news section currently features articles about:
The 2nd and 13th state senate races

Other sources include, which includes The Kalamazoo Gazette.

State House at stake

The Detroit News has an article on the battle for control of the state House of Representatives. It has a sidebar that lists some of the most closely contested primaries in the state.

"This year, there's a lot less uncertainty about who the candidates are going to be in the fall matchups," said Jason Brewer, spokesman for House Speaker Craig DeRoche, who controls the House Republican Campaign Committee.

House Republicans are looking to hold onto or increase their 58-49 majority, while Democrats think they may have their best chance in years to regain control of the House, which they lost in 1998.
This part was interesting:

An interesting fight also is brewing for a seat opened by the departure of former Democratic Rep. Gretchen Whitmer of East Lansing, who won a special election in March to fill an open Senate seat.

Three Democrats and two Republicans are in the primary. While a Democrat is favored to win the seat in November, it can be competitive if Republicans put up a strong candidate.
I wonder who that might be?

Sunday, July 16, 2006

POLITICAL UPDATE--Security and Prosperity Partnership

This update focuses on the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP). This story continues outside the watch of the liberal media.

Joseph Farah writes that opposition to the SPP is mounting.
Chuck Baldwin lists the conservatives who oppose the SPP.
Jerome Corsi and John Hawkins debate whether the SPP is really a threat.
The Pittsburgh Tribune Review asks what is happening to American sovereignty.
Jerome Corsi examines the North American Competitiveness Council.
Christopher Bentley explains the process of regional integration.
Chris Kelly reports what Vicente Fox says about goals of the SPP.

Earlier news concerning the SPP here and here.

Charity begins at home

According to liberals, the government must provide retirements, health care, welfare, housing, job training, and anything else that people need but aren't already providing for themselves. Thinking otherwise makes you uncompassionate, mean, greedy, etc.

But charity is not an unmitigated good. Some people who don't really need help will game the system, and try to obtain benefits that are not meant for them. Beyond this, charity can actually be harmful some of the time.

If you give aid to someone who doesn't really need it, he will become dependent upon it. This will reduce his incentive to acquire the skills that he needs to become self-sufficient. Thus ill-placed compassion can actually do a great deal of damage.

We see this result time and again when analyzing the results of government programs. (Of course, for liberals, only intentions matter. Results are irrelevant.) But how can this problem be avoided?

Only when you know someone personally can you tell whether he really needs help or not. This is one reason why government can never replace private charity, no matter how much money it spends.

Of course, the problem that I describe can occur with private charities as well. But at least they don't take my money by force.

The only solution is to help out the people in your life. In your family, your church, your community. Charity begins at home.

P. S. See this excellent article for more on why welfare doesn't work.

WMU hikes tuition

Once again Western Michigan University has hiked tuition. Students this year will see a 6 percent increase in their bills. Here is the Gazette story.

Where is your money going? Well, not coincidentally, the faculty union managed to negotiate raises for its members for the next three years.

Remember, unions just protect the little guy.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Conservatives support Walberg

Former State Rep. Tim Walberg is the clear choice of the conservative movement in the campaign for Congress in the 7th district. He has received endorsements from a virtual who's who of conservative organizations. These include pro-life, pro-gun, pro-family, and limited government organizations.

Here's a list of conservative organizations backing Tim Walberg.

Right to Life of Michigan
Club for Growth
Citizens for Traditional Values
National Taxpayers Union Campaign Fund
Concerned Women PAC
Madison Project
Michigan Conservative Union
Campaign for Michigan Families
Eagle Forum
Shooters Alliance for Firearms Rights
National Right to Life
Gun Owners of America

These organizations have been advancing conservative ideas and policies for decades. They know how to identify a true conservative.

For conservatives, the choice is obvious. Tim Walberg is the conservative candidate.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Stop Overspending

The final initiative to qualify for the November ballot is entitled Stop Over Spending (SOS). From the Detroit News:

The proposal that apparently made it under the wire Monday would set the tightest budget limits ever faced by state and local governments.

Its backers say they turned in 503,532 petition signatures 1 1/2 hours before the deadline.

Detroit attorney Kurt O'Keefe, treasurer of the movement, said Stop Over Spending (SOS) proposal is "democracy in action."

It would restrict increases in state revenue, and spending, to a factor combining the inflation rate and proportional population increases. It also would end pensions for state lawmakers and require elections for virtually any new or increased fee by a city, county or township.

"It's no surprise that the SOS has generated so much enthusiasm and I expect that to grow," O'Keefe said.
This is a great idea. Essentially, this proposal would say that government spending could not get any larger without being approved by the voters. The spending limit would be adjusted for population growth and inflation. If politicians want to create a new program, they will have to cut spending somewhere else, or else risk losing a popular referendum.

This initiative is essentially a Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR), as exists in the state of Colorado. There are some small differences.

This initiative is the single most effective way for conservatives to limit the size and power of government. Over time, it makes a significant difference in government spending. Here is a libertarian analysis of TABOR.

Check out the SOS website. It contains this endorsement from Kalamazoo County's own taxpayer hero Ray Wilson:

"The Stop Overspending amendment to the state constitution will force the politicians to make priorities in their spending decisions--just as we citizens have had to do during these tough economic times. The facts clearly show that Michigan's state and local governments tax and spend at a higher level than most other states. That's why our economy is in the doldrums and why businesses are fleeing Michigan for better economic climates. The Stop Overspending amendment will re-invigorate Michigan's economy, and lead to the creation of more jobs and more prosperity for Michigan residents."
--Ray Wilson, the Kalamazoo County Taxpayers Association

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Malkin's Unhinged Exposes Author and Editor Gone Wild

In the fall of 2005 Michelle Malkin came to the campus of Western Michigan to deliver a speech on the delusional efforts of liberals to promote their candidates, ideas, and whatever else they have to offer. (The speech was essentially a promotional one - for her newest book.) The speech started late, had some technical difficulties, was not well received by the left, and had other major problems that limited both the enjoyability and the force of the speech.

Publisher's Weekly said of "Unhinged: Exposing Liberals Gone Wild" that "Right-wingers looking for affirmation will enjoy." Unfortunately for Malkin, that group is about the only one that would enjoy the book, and even there only those of shallow minds will not find odious Malkin's failure to identify sarcasm as well as her second-rate analysis.

Malkin starts with a decent thesis: liberals are consistently lacking in the area of self-control and levelheadedness. Her first failure lies in her ability to connect her research with the thesis that could have been well supported. Additionally, the book never moves beyond stage one of her argument.

The grossest problem with the book is the editing. The final part of one chapter does not make the book - the chapter ends in mid-sentence - and the book is rife with grammatical errors and poor sentence structure.

"Unhinged" is useful for anyone seeking a compendium of liberal nuts, however, the vast majority of readers will find their time better served by a more refined tome.

Sunday, July 09, 2006


This update focuses on demographics. It is sometimes said that demography determines destiny. Cliche though it may be, children are our future. The future of a nation will depend on how many children they have, and who has the children.

In Western Civilization, birth rates are below the rate of replacement. Meanwhile, third world populations continue to expand rapidly. This constitutes what conservative author Pat Buchanan calls The Death of the West. If these trends are not reversed, our civilization will die out and be replaced by others.

Don Feder writes that this cultural problem will destroy Europe.
Mac Johnson writes that birth control and abortion contribute much to this problem.
Donald Devine explains that this is a cultural problem unlikely to be solved by government subsidies.
Joseph D'Agostino writes that socialism both contributes to and will be destroyed by demographic problems.
Joel Belz argues that demographics show that conservatives will take over America.

Summer reading

Here are my thoughts on the books I've been reading recently.

Godless: The Church of Liberalism by Ann Coulter
I've already posted a review of this excellent book. It's well worth buying and reading.

The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science by Tom Bethell
I posted a brief review of this book previously.

The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown
I finally broke down and read it. The story was interesting, though not as good as you'd expect for a book that has sold so many copies. Of course, it's also packed with lies. I'd already read the rebuttal below, so I could pick most of them out as I went along. The book attacks Christianity with all sorts of historical and theological nonsense.

The DaVinci Code: Fact or Fiction by Paul Maier and Hank Hannegraf
This short book debunks the basic historical inaccuracies of the DaVinci Code. It also provides a basic defense of the truth of Christianity. You can hear a talk that summarizes the book here.

Discussing the DaVinci Code by Lee Strobel and Garry Poole
This book covers much of the same territory as the previous one. It uses four interviews to help discover the truth. As this book was published recently, it summarizes the results of the many other books debunking the DaVinci Code.

The Ezekiel Option by Joel Rosenberg
This book is like the DaVinci Code, except not full of crap. It's a political thriller that's like Tom Clancy meets Left Behind. The plot revolves around the war of Gog and Magog that is prophesied in the book of Ezekiel. You may want to start with the two books that precede this one, The Last Jihad and The Last Days.

The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel
Journalist turned pastor Lee Strobel has written a systematic defense of Christianity. He conducts a series of interviews with experts in many different fields. He covers eyewitness, documentary, corroborating, scientific, and rebuttal evidence. Specifically concerning Jesus, he discusses identity, psychological, profile, and fingerprint evidence. He discusses the resurrection with medical evidence, the missing body, appearances, and circumstance. The book is both important and compelling. Unfortunately, far too few Christians know that such a systematic defense of the faith even exists. This book is essential reading for both Christians and non-Christians.

The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel
Strobel follows up on The Case for Christ by addressing common objections to Christianity. He covers the problem of pain, miracles, evolution, church history, and more. The book has much good material, but its defense of church history is lacking. The author too readily makes concessions concerning episodes including the crusades, when better defenses exist.

The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
These classic stories are both entertaining and uplifting. While they are set in a fictional world, the Christian worldview behind the stories is apparent. Unlike some more modern children's fare, actions have consequences, and misdeeds are punished. Lewis's occasional swipes at public schools are also enjoyable.

Impostor by Bruce Bartlett
Former Reagan administration official Bartlett writes about the lack of fiscal conservatism in the current administration. Spending, including non-defense spending has actually increased faster now than during the Clinton administration. Beyond this, the long-term costs of entitlement programs is astronomical. The present value cost of Social Security and Medicare is 80 trillion dollars. The new Medicare prescription drug program has contributed significantly to that total. I disagreed with parts of the book, including his position on free trade, and his advocacy of a European-style Value Added Tax (VAT).

The Worm in the Apple by Peter Brimelow
Brimelow profiles teachers' unions, and in particular, the NEA in this fine book. He explains all the ways that unions damage education. He also exposes their extreme left wing agenda. The section that destroys the union goal of "reducing class size" is particularly excellent.

Wilson's War by Jim Powell
Powell adequately deconstructs the disaster that was World War I. Millions of people were slaughtered needlessly. The war made it possible for communists to take control of Russia and created many of the conditions that set the stage for Hitler's rise to power. Powell shows how Woodrow Wilson's blunders prolonged the war and led to these disastrous results. He blames interventionism, though to me it seems that idealism combined with interventionism was what precipitated the disaster.

Have you read any good books lately?

Graduate program update

The results of the graduate programs appeals are in. Many of the programs have been saved. From the Gazette:

Professors and students in the psychology department were among the most active in contending that based on research productivity, reputation and financial and other factors, their programs -- clinical psychology and industrial/organizational psychology, particularly -- should not have been cut in the first place.

Friday, July 07, 2006

WMU College Republican Tom Barrett Runs for County Commission

I want to take this opportunity to formally introduce myself to the Kalamazoo County Republican Party. My name is Tom Barrett, and I am the new Chairman of the WMU College Republicans. Many of you are familiar with us for bringing many fine speakers to campus.

We are looking forward to electing a great slate of Republicans in November. I hope to be one of those candidates. I am on the ballot, running for the 4th district County Commission seat. I am the only Republican candidate in this district, so I will be focusing most of my efforts and resources on the general election in November. I will need help, but with the dedication of our great volunteer base, I am sure we can win back this seat.

Before I came to Western, I was an active duty soldier in the United States Army, and I still serve in the Michigan Army National Guard. This experience taught me leadership and responsibility, and I hope to put these skills to good use on the County Board next year.

The 4th district has many student residents. I have a plan in place to earn the support of both students and permanent residents of the community. I would greatly appreciate and put to good use any help that you could provide. I am running this race to win it. This county can do better, and this race offers us our best chance of winning back any seat in Kalamazoo County.

My campaign committee address is: Friends of Tom Barrett, P.O. Box 19252, Kalamazoo, 49019. I also invite you to look at my updated website, Please feel free to contact me with whatever comments or advice you have. My email address is I look forward to another great year working together to get all of our Republican candidates elected. Thank you very much.

Tom Barrett

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Land of the unfree

Today is Independence Day. On July 4, 1776 we boldly declared independence from Great Britain and fought a war to make it happen. Every American should take the time to read the Declaration of Independence.

Perhaps then they will realize that the freedom that our forefathers fought for is long gone. By almost any measure, we were more free as British colonies than we are today. Once upon a time, the Founding Fathers fought a war when the government tried to impose taxes of a few cents on the dollar. Now, we meekly accept a government that steals half of what we earn. The government is just waiting to punish you for all sorts of imaginary crimes, like riding in a car without a seat belt, sell a gun to a friend in another state, installing a toilet that uses "too much" water, delivering first class mail, or even buying decent fireworks.

As usual, Congressman Ron Paul nails the issue:

One point of consternation to our founding fathers was that the king had been “imposing Taxes on us without our Consent.” But 230 years later, taxation with representation has not worked out much better.

Indeed, one has to wonder how Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin would react to the current state of affairs. After all, they were outraged by mere import tariffs of a few pennies on the dollar. Today, the average American pays roughly 50 percent of their income in direct and indirect taxes.

In fact, most Texans will not start working for themselves for another week. Texans, like most Americans, work from January until early July just to pay their federal income taxes, state and local taxes, and the enormous costs of regulation. Only about half the year is spent working to pay for food, clothing, shelter, or education.

It is easy to simply blame faceless bureaucrats and politicians for our current state of affairs, and they do bear much of the blame. But blame also rests with those who expect Washington DC to solve every problem under the sun. If the public demanded that Congress abide by the Constitution and pass only constitutional spending bills, politicians would have no choice but to respond.

Everybody seems to agree that government waste is rampant and spending should but cut—but not when it comes to their communities or pet projects. So members of Congress have every incentive to support spending bills and adopt a go-along, get-along attitude. This leads to the famous compromises, but the bill eventually comes due on April 15th.

Our basic problem is that we have lost sight of the simple premise that guided the actions of our founding fathers. That premise? The government that governs least is the government that governs best.

When we cut the size of government, our taxes will fall. When we reduce the power of the federal bureaucracy, the cost of government will plummet. And when we firmly fix our eyes, undistracted, on the principles of liberty, Americans truly will be free. That should be our new declaration.
Perhaps some day we will have a new birth of freedom.

A boot to the face

In the fight to control government spending, earmarking seems to be all the rage. Earmarking accounts for a small percentage of overall spending, so eliminating it wouldn't do much to slay the monster that our federal government has become. Still, every bit counts.

In case you don't know, an earmark is also known as pork barrel spending, or pork. An earmark is an appropriation that a government-certified thief (congressman) inserts into a spending bill for a project in his home district. It could be a new highway, bike path, or gnat research. Such projects are often (illegally) slipped into bills during conference committees, with no opportunity for discussion or debate.

Why do Congressmen earmark? The standard response is that they do so to win reelection. They need to show the voters that they are "bringing home the bacon," and so buy their constituents' votes. The only problem with this theory is that there is no evidence for it.

Sure, you may be able to find a congressman here or there who was helped out by earmarking. But congressmen who engage in little or no earmarking get reelected just as much as those who do. When Congress has failed to pass a budget in time for the election, almost everyone has still gotten reelected. The worst earmarkers (Robert Byrd, Ted Stevens, Don Young, Jerry Lewis, David Obey) are almost invariably in safe districts, and have no need to earmark to win reelection.

How many people really base their votes on earmarks, anyways? The occasional highway expansion may help out a bit. But does anyone say, "Without my Congressman, the National Teapot Museum would not have come into being. That man will get my vote!"

If reelection doesn't explain earmarking, what does? Earmarking is how Congress exercises power. At this point, George Orwell's all-too-prescient 1984 is particularly insightful.

There is a famous scene in which Winston Smith asks O'Brien why the party oppresses people. He imagines that they think it is for their own good. O'Brien responds that it is an existential expression of power. The party has power over the masses. The only way to know that they have it is to use it. Thus they rape, kill, torture, and terrorize. He describes the future as "a boot stamping on a human face forever."

And so it is with earmarking. For the moment, at least, Congress can't kill people on a whim. The next best thing is to take their money and waste it for fun. There's no larger purpose. It's how they express power.

Power still corrupts, and absolute power still corrupts absolutely.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

POLITICAL UPDATE--News from Abroad

This update focuses on news from abroad. Many new developments across the world deserve more attention.

Roger Canfield exposes Communist China's terror campaign on our own shores.
John Tkacik asks whether China is complicit in North Korean counterfeiting.
Jed Babbin explains that China wants a war with the United States.
Pat Buchanan shows that communism is silently conquering South America.
Allan Ashinoff asks whether we will face up to the threat from Iran.
Pat Buchanan shows how the collapse of Christianity will destroy Europe.
William Jasper asks whether the Italian election was stolen by communists.
Bruce Bartlett explains how the New York Times helped Castro to power in Cuba.

POLITICAL UPDATES are archived here.

United Nations versus gun rights

The United Nations wants to stop you from owning a gun. They are currently having a conference to deal with the "problem" of small arms. In theory, this means that they only want to stop illegal arms trafficking. That is, a bunch of corrupt dictatorships want to cut off the supply of arms to the rebels that are trying to overthrow them.

But their real agenda goes far beyond that. They hate the idea of armed citizens. There are two philosophies of government. Either the people have power over the government, or government has power over the people. If the people have power over the government, they must be armed, but if government has power over the people, they must be disarmed.

The National Rifle Association is closely following the conference. You can read their daily reports (five so far) at the NRA-ILA site. They have even set up a website entitled Stop the U. N. Gun Ban to expose the threat.

In addition, Rep. Ron Paul explains how gun rights stand in the way of global government. John Lott provides more evidence that gun control doesn't reduce crime.

This is just one more reason that the United States should withdraw from the United Nations. We should stop giving our money to supply 22% of the UN's budget. We should stop lending our moral authority to this decrepit organization. We should throw the UN out of New York. Continuing to tolerate this organization is a moral crime.