Hey: Don’t forget to file your taxes. The President has filed his. President Bush reported $856,056 in adjusted gross income for last year (probably about the same as you), and paid $268,719, or a staggering, confiscatory 31 percent, in federal income taxes. After the tax grab, the Bushes had not even $600,000 to live on. According to an estimate by the Bloomberg News Service, his latest tax cut proposal would have eased his and the First Lady’s taxes by $44,500, which would go a long way toward making the tax burden more equitable. (Fortunately, the $44,500 would come out of thin air and not added to the national debt.) Bloomberg estimated that Vice President and Lynne Cheney would save $327,000 a year from the cuts.

(‘Most of the tax reductions go to the people at the bottom end of the economic ladder,’ said then candidate Bush of his tax proposals in the second televised Presidential debate. It was such a gross misstatement – it would be unseemly to call it something worse – that it just boggles the mind.)

And now . . .

Kevin Clark: ‘You write, ‘Religious faith has led to more needless slaughter than perhaps any other cause.’ I believe Marxism wins that contest hands down with well over 100 million dead. Thank goodness Queen Isabella didn’t have WMD.’

☞ Oops. Good point. I blew this one.

Mike Lynott: ‘As both an avid reader of your writings and a Christian, I’d like to mildly chastise you for your comments about religion as the source of many wars and calamities in the world. There is an excellent study of this area that I commend to you and to your readers: When Religion Becomes Evil by Charles Kimball. Just as the ‘accounting’ of Enron and others was not true accounting, Queen Isabella’s religious opinions do not reflect true Christianity.’

☞ I totally agree. But somehow she and her clerical advisors didn’t see it that way.

Noah: ‘Joel Margolis listed the following [non-religious scourges]: Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Genghis Khan, Vlad the Impaler. But Genghis Khan considered himself to be heaven’s chosen. And according to this, Vlad saw himself as a Crusader against the Turks.’

Russell Turpin: ‘Lenin and Stalin did not believe in a personal god. But they believed in something that served much the same role: Destiny as described by Marx’s dialectic. Like traditional religion, it prescribes a higher estate (communism) that is man’s utopian future, it gives a purpose to the individual (solidarity), it justifies authority (dictatorship of the proletariat), it claims higher knowledge (Marx’s dialectic), and it requires a large dose of faith. To the rational and secular individual, communism is a modern religion.’

Jonathan Edwards: ‘According to this, Vlad the Impaler ‘was a member of The Order of the Dragon (a position from which he derived his surname, Dracul). The Order of the Dragon was a group of Slavic rulers and warlords who were sworn to uphold the Christian faith by fighting off the advancing Turks of the Ottoman Empire.”

Bob Novick: ‘Just in case you were not being sarcastic about Vlad’s ‘bad rap’ . . . ‘By 1462, when he was deposed, he had killed between 40,000 and 100,000 people, possibly more. He killed merchants who cheated their customers. He killed women who had affairs. Supposedly he had one woman impaled because her husband’s shirt was too short. He didn’t mind impaling children, either. Afterwards he would display the corpses in public so everyone would learn a lesson. It’s said that there were over 20,000 bodies hanging outside his capital city. Of course, the stories about Dracula’s cruelty might have been exaggerated by his enemies. Despite all this, Dracula’s subjects respected him for fighting the Turks and being a strong ruler. He’s remembered today as a patriotic hero who stood up to Turkey and Hungary. He was so scornful of other nations that when two foreign ambassadors refused to doff their hats to him, he had the hats nailed to their heads . . .

☞ There is a connection someplace to be made here to hats of meat, but I can’t find it.

Need to file for a four-month extension to file your tax return (though not an extension on paying an estimate of what is due)? You can now do it by phone, toll free – 888-796-1074 – provided only that you filed a return for 2001 or 2000.

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