Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Your Weekly Rush

Rush, of course, is on vacation, so he has a sit in guy doing it today. I caught just a few moments of the show, but it was on the flight deck landing. Apparently the way the media and the left have spun that story is disingenious and an attack on American Troops. Yep, it's an attack on American troops to suggest that Karl Rove and President Bush might have manufactured that story out of whole air.

It's an attack on American troops to report that the U.S.S. Lincoln was directed back out to see so as to mandate President Bush taking a Jet out there. Whoever is hosting Rush's show today correctly stated (I assume) that in order to fly that type of jet, you have to wear a jet suit. But what he ignores is that the flight by Jet was unnessecary. Instead he could have allowed the Lincoln to continue it's voyage home and flown out by Helicopter.

It's an attack on American troops to report that the Bush Administration provided the "Mission Accomplished" banner that hung over his shoulder (although, of course, Mr. Bush did not actually utter the words "Mission Accomplished.").

Seems like any criticism of President Bush is an attack on our troops. Be hard to run a campaign that way.

Walter E. Williams

Walter E. Williams, with whom I haven't checked in with for quite a while, writes this week on the sanctity of the market.

"I don't know about you, but I always try to get the lowest prices for what I buy and the highest prices for what I sell, and that includes my labor services. Is such a practice immoral? Nobody is forced to sell me anything at my preferred price, nor are they forced to buy from me at my preferred price. If we indeed transact, the only thing a third party could conclude is that we both saw ourselves as being better off than our next best alternative, or why would we have voluntarily transacted?

You say: "OK, Williams, you're right. But where are you going? How many times have we heard the accusation that a corporation moved overseas to take advantage of lower-priced labor or hired cheaper-priced Indians with HB-1 visas to replace higher-priced American high-tech workers? You'd think that a desire for lower prices is somehow immoral. Why should a preference for low prices be OK for you and me, and not so for CEOs?

You might say, OK, Gries, why are you wasting my time with Walter E. Williams? Because he is so enamored of the argument that money is the only true sign of value that he over steps boundaries other, more temperate writers do not. In this case, he makes it clear that the only questions a consumer should ask when approaching a product are monetary. Is this a price I am willing to pay or should I wait for a lower price.

What Mr. Williams seems not to understand is that there are prices beyond the obvious monetary ones. For example, in the case of the employer who moves as much of his company as he can over seas, he will get some short term Monetary Gain, but at the cost of hurting his employees. This has been described as a Job-less or even a Job Loss recovery. If the American working class and middle class are stretched tight, who will they buy Mr. Employer's products?

Beyond which there are moral costs. Surely the most efficient work force would be an enslaved one. In such a scenario all the employer is paying for is the bare necessities for his workers. An enslaved work force would be much much cheaper than almost any alternative (assuming you could keep the enslavement quiet). So what would keep a business person from creating an enslaved labor force?

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

The Economy

Paul Krugman's latest article is pretty telling, in the face of a thousand chattering Republicans chanting that the economy is in recovery (or, depending on how much egg nog they consumed, the economy is the strongest it's ever been)

"It was a merry Christmas for Sharper Image and Neiman Marcus, which reported big sales increases over last year's holiday season. It was considerably less cheery at Wal-Mart and other low-priced chains. We don't know the final sales figures yet, but it's clear that high-end stores did very well, while stores catering to middle- and low-income families achieved only modest gains.

Based on these reports, you may be tempted to speculate that the economic recovery is an exclusive party, and most people weren't invited. You'd be right.

Obviously I hope (and I presume Mr. Krugman shares this hope) that the economic growth some quarters have been experiencing continues and spreads to all parts of the economy; but I have to assess that President Bush's policies make long term recovery unlikely.

Full Scale attack on Howard Dean

We have articles by David Limbaugh, Rich Lowry, and Cal Thomas on Dean. Limbaugh and Lowry take him to task on his foreign policy (largely). Lowry repeats every scurrilous attack on Dean in the form of a question, which is always nice.

Cal Thomas, on the other hand, attacks Dean on religious grounds. Apparently Howard Dean is a Northeastern Congregationalist and his faith, as a Democrat, is suspect. As we all know, anybody who really loves Jesus will automatically support President Bush. Therefore Dean's faith must be all pretense and deception, designed to fool the South (where belief in Jesus is common). Limbaugh gets most of his information from a Boston Globe Article which is fractionally more fair minded than he is (that damned liberal media), but still castigates Dean and presents him pretty badly.

Monday, December 29, 2003

Another Opinion on the Military

From the New York Times opinion page.

"Over a third of the Army's active-duty combat troops are now in Iraq, and by spring the Pentagon plans to let most of them come home for urgently needed rest. Many will have served longer than a normal overseas tour and under extremely harsh conditions. When the 130,000 Americans rotate out for home leave, nearly the same number will rotate in. At that point, should the country need to send additional fighters anywhere else in the world, it will have dangerously few of them to spare.

This is the clearest warning yet that the Bush administration is pushing America's peacetime armed forces toward their limits. Washington will not be able to sustain the mismatch between unrealistic White House ambitions and finite Pentagon means much longer without long-term damage to our military strength.

Fortunately since this article appeared in the New York Times, and since we know that the New York Times is, for all intents and purposes, completely corrupted by liberalism (unless they print something that happens to support a conservative position), there's nothing to worry about.

Dean's Chances

From the Rutland Herald (Rutland being in Vermont, apparently), comes an article on Dean's chances in 2003.

"The job in 2003 is different. It is not Howard Dean's task to separate himself from recent Democratic failures, as Clinton needed to separate himself from Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis. He has needed to separate himself from the failure of the Democrats to give the voters a credible alternative to George Bush. It is an emperor-has-no-clothes problem. Bush's failures are huge and plainly visible to those who will see. Dean has been willing to help people see.

Dean has now entered a phase during which his opponents and the press are having at him with dangerous vehemence. Dean's inconsistent and provocative statements, combined with his unapologetic and defiant response to criticism, have infuriated his opponents and drawn the wrath of editorialists and columnists, liberals among them. This dynamic is the flip side of one of Dean's assets.

That asset is something Dean shares with Clinton: audacity.

Fighting the last battle again is usually a losing strategy, albeit a popular one.

Rebuilding Iraq

With all the problems that have been largely created or exasperated in Iraq by the incompetence of the Bush Administration, it's easy to believe our troops are passive victims of the logic of empire. They aren't. Some of them are taking smart steps to move the military towards adopting strategies for what, for lack of a better word, we call nation-building.

Evan Thomas, Rod Nordland and Christian Caryl have written an interesting article on the steps some are taking to win this very different kind of war. ". . . the military establishment, especially the Army brass and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, have been reluctant to take on the messy jobs of nation-building and peacekeeping that go with stamping out guerrilla movements. In truth, defeating insurgencies is very hard. The preferred method down through the ages has been extermination - genocide and the elimination of whole villages and tribes. Such brutal tactics are not an option for a democratic superpower being closely watched by TV cameras."

Hopefully the administration can wake up to the difficulties of winning against an insurgancy. If they cannot, than maybe the soldiers and their leaders will figure out ways to lessen the body count and increase the potential for success.

Liberal Hate Speech?

Well it's time for Jeff Jacobs annual column talking about Liberal Hate Speech.

The examples he comes up with this time around are pretty weak. A few Nazi analogies, and an NPR "diva" who hoped that General Boykin was not long for this world. She claims she meant that he was not long in his job, Jacobs claims that she was clearly wishing for Boykin's death, and I'm inclined to believe the Diva. He pads the score a bit by including past winners.

He doesn't seem to have a problem with conservative hate speech. He's aware, for example, of Michael Savages exhortation that a caller to "get AIDS and die, you pig." Perhaps he would respond that such comments are obviously detestable, and he shouldn't need to condemn them for us to know he disapproves of them. That may be so, but it is telling when a writer condemns one branch of hate speech and doesn't condemn the other.

On the plus side, he does comment, "Of course this complaint can be taken too far. Ed Gillespie, the Republican Party's chairman, has lately been accusing Democrats of engaging in "political hate speech" when they call Bush a "liar" or a "miserable failure." But there is a world of difference between labeling someone a failure and labeling him Hitler. " Fair enough. And it must be frustrating, assuming Mr. Jacobs really feels this way, to have his justified criticisms of liberal hate speech (and some of them are justified) diluted to include basically all liberal criticisms of the President.

Saturday, December 27, 2003

Your Weekly Rush

This is a lie.

Clinton was an ultra leftist.

Until the right realizes that Clinton was a moderate democrat (admittedly with some character issues), than how can you take them seriously? I mean it seems that their whole goal is to blur the line between moderate and more radical liberalism. So that even a dollop of concern for, say, education, means you want to take kids away from parents and raise them in Stalinist orphanages.

Take this quote from Rush. "Lieberman has expressed outrage over Howard Dean's attack on the deceptively named "centrist" Democrat Leadership Council as "the Republican wing of the Democrat Party." The DLC helped Bill Clinton hide his liberalism, and win by pretending to be a "moderate." Lieberman found Dean's attack, which he now calls a joke, an insult to Clinton and his fellow DLC chairbeings. "

If Lieberman gets the nomination, as much as some Republicans are pretending to admire him, he would quickly move from being a sensible democrat with some wrong ideas to a Stalinist style stooge, working to ruin America.

Candidate Review - Health Care - Summing Up

Here is the Sum Up Page. Enjoy.

Friday, December 26, 2003

Candidate Review - Health Care - General Wesley Clark

And here is Wesley Clarks health plan. He bases it on the sort of care he got in the army, which makes sense. This is from a speech on October 28, 2003.

"One of the great benefits to the health plan I had in the Army was that it emphasized prevention at every step along the way - from annual physicals, to cholesterol screenings, to routine check-ups. The Army recognized from the start the potential of early diagnosis and prevention to lengthen lives and reduce health care costs. Frankly, when I got out of the Army, I was surprised to learn how many health plans didn't require preventive screenings of any kind.

My plan promotes prevention, diagnosis, and management of health and disease by working to ensure that all Americans have access to and incentives to use recommended preventive services that would diagnose diseases early, improve health and constrain long-term costs.

It also reorients the health system towards payment of services that have value. My plan puts its trust in independent health clinicians rather than HMO executives or pharmaceutical company marketers to conduct clinical research comparisons to help identify what works best.

It would also evaluate and promote the proper role and use of cost sharing to reduce excessive and expensive utilization - as well as to avoid "under insurance," which can be caused by excessive deductibles or co-payments. The information produced by these independent experts - who would have no monetary conflicts -- would help all purchasers of health care make informed choices about what services produce the best medical outcomes. This would protect and promote health as well as guard against wasteful and potentially harmful spending.

As we improve care, we must be certain to make it more affordable for taxpayers, enrollees, businesses, and federal, state, and local governments. To this end, I would institute competitive bidding for Medicare services; remove legal loopholes that block high quality, more affordable generic drugs from coming to the market; promote responsible malpractice reform; and aggressively pursue and eliminate waste, fraud and abuse in the system. Where we can make our health care systems more responsive to the medical and cost needs of our people, we should not hesitate to do so.

Candidate Review - Health Care - Former Governor Howard Dean

And here is Howard Dean's proposal on health care, from his website.

"First, and most important, in order to extend health coverage to every uninsured child and young adult up to age 25, we'll redefine and expand two essential federal and state programs -- Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program. Right now, they only offer coverage to children from lower-income families. Under my plan, we cover all kids and young adults up to age 25 -- middle income as well as lower income. This aspect of my plan will give 11.5 million more kids and young adults access to the healthcare they need.

Second, we'll give a leg up to working families struggling to afford health insurance. Adults earning up to 185% of the poverty level -- $16,613 -- will be eligible for coverage through the already existing Children Health Insurance Program. By doing this, an additional 11.8 million people will have access to the care they need.

. . . Finally, to ensure that the maximum number of American men, women and children have access to healthcare, we must address corporate responsibility. There are many corporations that could provide healthcare to their employees but choose not to. The final element of this plan is a clear, strong message to corporate America that providing health coverage is fundamental to being a good corporate citizen. I look at business tax deductions as part of a compact between American taxpayers and corporate America. We give businesses certain benefits, and expect them to live up to certain responsibilities.

Candidate Review - Health Care - Senator John Edwards

Here is John Edwards health plan, from a speech on July 28, 2003.

"First, I propose a new bargain with America's parents to make sure every child gets health insurance. If we're going to fix our broken health care system, the responsible place to start is with the greatest injustice—uninsured children.

More than a century ago, we made sure every child in America could get an education. And 60 years ago, President Harry Truman recognized a responsibility that we've not yet met. He said, "The health of American children, like their education, should be recognized as a definite public responsibility."

We can't reach that goal unless both government and parents take responsibility to put children first.

. . . I will double resources for public health clinics just like this one. I want clinics to be able to keep longer hours so they can serve working families. They need to be in convenient locations: next to schools and shopping malls so parents can use them. And I want to offer mobile clinics that come to the isolated and rural communities too often forgotten by our health care system.

Finally, I will hold insurance companies, drug companies, doctors, and lawyers responsible for keeping health care costs down. We can never meet our responsibilities to one another if the health care system isn't responsible about costs.

Something is wrong when drug companies are spending billions of dollars on advertising for their new drugs while seniors are sitting at their kitchen tables deciding what they can afford: their rent or their medication. Something is wrong when insurance companies raise premiums by 15 percent but fail to use new technologies to lower their cost—like eliminating unnecessary paperwork.

Candidate Review - Health Care - Representative Dick Gephardt

Here is the text from an ad that Representative Gephardt is running in Iowa.


"When I'm president, my first week as president, I'll go to the Congress and lay aside the Bush tax cuts and I'll use those moneys to see to it that everybody is covered with health insurance in this country that can never be taken away from you. I help part time employees, full time employees. I help people who already have insurance, people who don't have insurance. I help public employees.

"I'm Dick Gephardt and I approve this message because it's time we did what's right."

Candidate Review - Health Care - Senator John Kerry

And here's John Kerry's plan, as he presented it on December 14, 2003

"In my first 100 days as President, I'll offer America a real deal on health care that starts with cutting costs and stopping skyrocketing premiums. Make no mistake, no one in this race will fight harder than I will to cover the uninsured and get to universal coverage. But there is more to the health care problem in America than covering the uninsured. The major reason Americans don't have coverage is they can't afford it. And it's not enough to get everyone covered if the whole country is still staggering under the weight of our medical bills. . . .

Here's how we'll do it. Right now, only four out of every one thousand insurance claims deal with health care costs over $50,000. Insurance companies, however, end up spending a fifth of their expenses paying for these very few cases. If they're spending that much, you can bet everyone else's premiums are going to go up. Under my plan the government will pick up most of the tab for these expensive cases - and the premiums for middle-class families will go down.

We'll also cut the fraud and waste out of the health care system. It would be one thing if every dime of that $4,000 was being spent on making Americans healthier. It's not. A quarter of the money Americans spend on health care goes to non-medical costs like paying bills and handling paperwork. If we can have banks that use computers and technology to cut down transaction costs to just a penny, we can surely have a health care system that does the same. Our money should be going to health care, not filling out forms.

Candidate Review - Health Care - Representative Dennis Kucinich

Dennis Kucinich is in favor of universal health care, and sets up his system in contrast to trillion dollar tax cuts, in a speech on September 14, 2002.

"The General Accounting Office in Washington has written "If the US were to shift to a system of universal coverage and a single payer, as in Canada, the savings in administrative costs (10% to private insurers) would be more than enough to offset the expense of universal coverage." A 7% payroll tax and a 2 percent income tax would provide the financing. Compare this with a trillion dollar tax cut for the wealthy. We could put in its place a single government fund which pays all medical expenses. A single fund which provides singular protection against illness and hopelessness. A single fund which will strengthen our families and our businesses and will enable you to go back to the bargaining table to win those wage increases which are essential to a better life."

Candidate Review - Health Care - Senator Joe Lieberman

What's interesting is that health care is really on the table at this point. Even Joe Lieberman would do something if put in office. This is from a speech on September 2, 2003.

"Now how can we do all this? By moving step-by-step as we get the economy going and bring the deficit down. By smartly targeting our resources first on the people who need the help most -- children and workers who are falling through the cracks. By building on what works in the current system -- and fixing what does not. By cutting waste and improving efficiency. And by strengthening public health, wellness, and prevention programs that will deter disease, save lives, and reduce costs.

It's not magic; it is a workable solution. For example, to expand coverage, I am going to create new streamlined purchasing pools that will harness the best forces of the market and the positive power of individual choice.

Let me explain how these work. If you're a self-employed consultant, or part-time worker, or between jobs, right now you have to buy health insurance -- if you can find it -- on your own, at high rates. But my plan combines millions of people to exercise vast buying power on behalf of each of these individuals, while limiting the profits that insurance companies can make. That will help keep premiums low.

We know this will work. Why? Because these pools are based on the successful system that currently works for federal employees, who enjoy a wide range of coverage options at affordable prices.

Candidate Review - Health Care - Former Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun

I decided to do health care today and will do programs to raise revenues without raising taxes to high on Monday.

Anyway this is from Carol Moseley Braun's website.

"Everybody in this country already gets health care. If you fall out and you don't have insurance, somewhere you will be cared for. Probably in an emergency room.

It'll probably be the most expensive care you can get. And the cost will just get shifted throughout the system to other payers - many times, people pay for insurance through their employer. What I've proposed is a single-payer system that will take advantage of the fact that we are already paying 15 percent of our gross domestic product on health care, de-couple it from employment so that it's not a burden on job creation, it's not a burden on small businesses, and it doesn't come out of the payroll tax, which is the most regressive tax, to begin with. And with the revenue that we have from that, from that 15 percent, we can then afford a system much like the federal employees have under what's called FEHBP, a federal system in which you have a single payer but the administration takes place by the companies that individuals choose.

The most important part of this is that the physician or the provider and patient relationship has to be central to the health care system. Because if you do that, then you will have a dynamic in favor of quality of care and taking care of patients and people's illnesses - or wellness as well, frankly, because prevention is a big part of this. But you will have a dynamic in favor of quality that the current profit-driven system does not have.

Thursday, December 25, 2003

Merry Christmas

Hope you are all having a wonderful day. Here are some comic strips. Don't tell anybody.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Sequence of Events

1. We Capture Saddam Hussein

2. Howard Dean comments that he is happy we caught saddam, but that capturing him won't really make us any safer.

3. The Right Wing Media goes nuts in their enthusiasm for proclaiming Howard Dean nuts.

4. The Department of Homeland Security announces that we are in more danger now than at any time since September 11, 2001.

5. (presumably forthcoming) The Right Wing Media acknowledges their mistake, and admits that Howard Dean's analysis of the situation was more or less correct.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

This Opinion should not be Allowed

Do not read the following if you love your country. It is an opinion that you should not be allowed to have, and if the people at "Patriotic Americans Boycotting Anti American Hollywood" had their way you would not be allowed to read it. I advise you to avoid the potential corruptive influence of this idea, expressed by Michael Moore.

"Remember back in March, once the war had started, how risky it was to make any anti-war comments to people you knew at work or school or, um, at awards ceremonies? One thing was for sure -- if you said anything against the war, you had BETTER follow it up immediately with this line: "BUT I SUPPORT THE TROOPS!" Failing to do that meant that you were not only unpatriotic and un-American, your dissent meant that YOU were putting our kids in danger, that YOU might be the reason they lose their lives. Dissent was only marginally tolerated IF you pledged your "support" for our soldiers.

Of course, you needed to do no such thing. Why? Because people like you have ALWAYS supported "the troops." Who are these troops? They are our poor, our working class. Most of them enlisted because it was about the only place to get a job or receive the guarantee of a college education. You, my good friends, have ALWAYS, through your good works, your contributions, your activism, your votes, SUPPORTED these very kids who come from the other side of the tracks. You NEVER need to be defensive when it comes to your "support" for the "troops" -- you are the only ones who have ALWAYS been there for them.

It is Mr. Bush and his filthy rich cronies -- whose sons and daughters will NEVER see a day in a uniform -- they are the ones who do NOT support our troops. Our soldiers joined the military and, in doing so, offered to give THEIR LIVES for US if need be. What a tremendous gift that is -- to be willing to die so that you and I don't have to! To be willing to shed their blood so that we may be free. To serve in our place, so that WE don't have to serve. What a tremendous act of selflessness and generosity! Here they are, these 18, 19, and 20-year olds, most of whom have had to suffer under an unjust economic system that is set up NOT to benefit THEM -- these kids who have lived their first 18 years in the worst parts of town, going to the most miserable schools, living in danger and learning often to go without, watching their parents struggle to get by and then be humiliated by a system that is always looking to make life harder for them by cutting their benefits, their education, their libraries, their fire and police, their future.

And then, after this miserable treatment, these young men and women, instead of coming after US to demand a more just society, they go and join the army to DEFEND us and our way of life! It boggles the mind, doesn't it? They not only deserve our thanks, they deserve a big piece of the pie that we dine on, those of us who never have to worry about taking a bullet while we fret over which Palm Pilot to buy the nephew for Christmas.

In fact, all that these kids in the army ask for in return from us is our promise that we never send them into harm's way unless it is for the DEFENSE of our nation, to protect us from being killed by "the enemy."

And that promise, my friends, has been broken. It has been broken in the worst way imaginable. We have sent them into war NOT to defend us, not to protect us, not to spare the slaughter of innocents or allies.

I don't always agree with Michael Moore, and I suspect in more peaceful times I'd agree with him even less, but it does offend me as an American that there are those who would like to silence him. I assume those people would silence me as well (assuming I were a big enough target, which I'm not. Yet.). Rather discouraging that there are people out there who want to silence all dissent and yet would attack my patriotism for disagreeing with President Bush.

Tom the Dancing Bug

Speaking of President Bush, reprinting a Tom the Dancing Bug from a couple of weeks ago. Tom the Dancing Bug, by Ruben Bolling is wonderful. One of the best strips out there.

What Makes Bush so Great

David Limbaugh writes an article today, repeating the great mantra of the conservatives about 2004, particularly now that we have Saddam Hussein. This election will be about foreign affairs, and the American people trust President Bush to do a good job. He then describes why President Bush is the best of the bunch.

"What makes President Bush the best wartime leader are his moral clarity, his decisiveness, his willingness to confront evil in the world, and his determination to place America's security and the American people's safety above his political interests. Try as they might, bluster as they will, none of the Democrats has a chance of convincing the voters they are better equipped in this department."

Did President Bush display Moral Clarity when he allowed his staff to out Valerie Plame for crass political revenge? Is he showing Moral Clarity in seeking the perpetrator of that crime?

President Bush does have Decisiveness. For example, he Decided that Tax Cuts were the answer. No matter the question posed by the economy, he prescribed one solution; Tax Cuts. Invading Iraq is another example of this Administrations ability to decide and stick to that decision no matter what the evidence supported.

President Bush's willingness to confront evil has us facing a warning from the Department of Homeland Security that Al-Queda might have trained pilots flying our airplanes.

As for his determination to put the security of the American People over his own political future, well, let's just say I'm dubious. We all remember that Mission Accomplished Flight Jacket story. Do you remember the bit about how they had to send the boat back out to sea so that President Bush would have to fly out? Of course that picture turned out to have problems, so they had to get a new one. Hence Bush's trip out to the troops on Thanksgiving. Yep, I'm sure it warmed all our hearts to see the President carrying around a prop turkey, particularly after the risky flight (although the administration did lie about running into a British Airways plane).

Anyway, remember this; this election will be all about terrorism and President Bush, for reasons passing understanding, is apparently trustworthy.

Monday, December 22, 2003

Candidate Review - The Bush Tax Cuts - Wrap Up

Once again I don't have anything from Al Sharpton or Carol Mosely Braun. Sharpton doesn't have a website as near as I can tell, and I couldn't find anything suitable from Mosely Braun.

Anyway, enjoy.

Bush and Blair

To quote that great sage Stephen Hyde, "There's nothing sadder than when two people break up. Except this time, when it's funny."

Well, apparently, President Bush has hurt Prime Minister Blair's feelings, at least according to the Sunday Mirror. "Downing Street rushed out Mr Blair's announcement before he had spoken to the American leader early last Sunday, when Mr Bush - six hours behind London - was still in bed.

Whitehall insiders confirmed that Mr Blair's decision was partly out of anger over a US veto on his proposed visit to British troops in Iraq during the Christmas holiday.

Presidential advisers in Washington wanted Mr Bush to be the sole leader to make a Christmas visit to troops in Baghdad and urged Downing Street to postpone any visit.

The US refused to co-operate on security arrangements for a Christmas visit by Mr Blair, who is going to spend the festive season with his family in the Egyptian resort of Sharm al-Sheikh.

Those lousy Brits thinking for themselves.

Candidate Review - The Bush Tax Cuts - General Wesley Clark

And we wrap up with some comments from General Wesley Clark, from a speech given October 22, 2003.

"George W. Bush told America we really could have it all: massive tax cuts for the wealthiest people; lots of spending on education; Social Security, saved for another generation; and big budget surpluses as far as the eye could see.

FDR ran on the New Deal. Harry Truman promised a Fair Deal.

George W. Bush ran on the Free Lunch.

The Free Lunch, it turns out, was a bunch of baloney.

That's what Mr. Bush campaigned on-the free lunch. He told Americans we could have everything he promised, and his administration would still run a surplus. In 1999, when Mr. Bush started running for President, he said, and I quote, "We can show Washington how to handle a budget surplus."

Unfortunately, that's one promise he kept. Just like he said he would, President Bush has frittered away the greatest budget surplus in American history.

But there were other promises Mr. Bush didn't keep. When he took office, it became clear he didn't have any plans for paying down the national debt; he didn't have any plans for saving Social Security; and he didn't have any plans to pay for his education program.

All he had was his massive tax cut. Three of them, actually. One after the other, each benefiting most those who didn't need it - the wealthiest Americans.

Some of you maybe concerned at the negative tone of these comments. I can appreciate your sentiments; however, I felt it was important to underline that Tax Cuts are seen as positive in America. Being against Tax Cuts is a bit like being against free Ice Cream. Any Democrat who takes power will have to raise taxes somehow (hopefully by cutting off some corporate loopholes, but I'm a crazy dreamer). Whoever we get in office needs to articulate why the Bush Tax Cuts are negative.

And to counterbalance this negative, possibly tomorrow but more likely on Friday we will look at the revenue generating parts of the candidates economic plans.

Candidate Review - The Bush Tax Cuts - Former Governer Howard Dean

This bit is from Howard Dean's big economic speech. Its pretty good; pity nobody is going to bother reading it.

"Republicans claim to be helping average Americans with their tax cuts.

But let's look at the facts. The average wage earner did get a few hundred dollars back. But the refund didn't come for free.

President Bush never told you about the "Bush Tax". He never mentioned that over the next six years the typical American family will take on $52,000 more in its share of the national debt. That's a part of the "Bush Tax". But there's a lot more.

Take a look at your property taxes. They probably went up. In New Hampshire, property taxes went up an average of $270 per family last year. That's part of the "Bush Tax". Or look at your state budget. Is it in crisis? In most states, it is. That's part of the "Bush Tax", too.

Getting fewer services and paying more for things like state college tuitions or special education that's the consequence of the "Bush Tax".

The "Bush Tax" is huge many times greater than most people's refunds. And it'll be here for a long time to come. Just add the "Bush Tax" to all the other things the President never told us.

Candidate Review - The Bush Tax Cuts - Senator John Edwards

Here are some extended comments by John Edwards on the effect of President Bush's Tax Cuts, from a speech given on November 12, 2002.

" . . . these challenges demanded responses, not excuses, and this administration's economic policy has been a parody of the responsibility ethic. Faced with scandals like Enron, they were dragged to the altar of reform, they accepted a large increase in SEC funding while the cameras were clicking, and then they pulled back that increase once lobbyists came running. They have ignored skyrocketing drug costs and health costs that are choking business's ability to create jobs. In the international arena, where the world looks to us for guidance, they have sent conflicting signals to countries like Brazil that have caused real harm. Finally, they have not just presided over, they have led, the fastest squandering of tax dollars in Washington's storied history of squandering.

Make no mistake: the surplus wasn't killed by accident; this was premeditated. It was a deliberate plan to shortchange most Americans' future so a very few people could get a tax cut. A supposedly conservative administration has done more than anybody else to make fiscal discipline the last priority in Washington. They didn't stop to think about expanding long-term opportunity and improving skills for the middle class. They didn't stop to think about strengthening Social Security for the retirement of the baby boom. They just threw fiscal discipline to the winds.

But fiscal discipline isn't just a nice idea - it is an absolute requirement for long-term growth. Out-of-control deficits means the government competes with you for the capital you need to innovate, expand, and create jobs. Out-of control deficits means interest rates will soar when the economy starts to pick up, dragging it right back down. Out-of-control deficits means future retirees will have to fend for themselves because we've worsened the coming Social Security crisis and spent their money. And out-of-control deficits means that America may not be at full economic strength when we have to deal with some future crisis, like 9/11 and the war on terrorism. It is time to restore fiscal discipline to Washington for good.

Now, it is impossible to talk about fiscal discipline in a serious way without addressing the $2 trillion elephant in the room. The election is over - and I hope that people in both parties will be willing to say what a very few of us have been saying for months but everyone knows is true. We have to address the Bush tax cut.

I believe we should put off the tax cut that President Bush gave to the most fortunate Americans. Whether or not we could afford it when it was originally passed, it is now clear that it is unsustainable.

Candidate Review - The Bush Tax Cuts - Representative Dick Gephardt

Here is Gephardts discussion of how the Tax Cuts hurt Americans, from a speech given April 23, 2003.

"Here's how we beat George Bush in 2004 — we simply tell the truth. This president says we need tax cuts. But his budget cut funding for children's hospitals, disease control, rural health care, and professional medical training. He even cut 11 billion dollars in funding for public and teaching hospitals — the health care providers for the majority of poor and uninsured patients. That's not health care. That's someone who couldn't care less.

We have a story to tell about George W. Bush.

Under this president, a billion dollars was cut from health care for children in poverty. And he's created a fiscal crisis in almost every state — forcing states to slash Medicaid, devastating health care programs for the poor and people with disabilities. Medicaid is the lifeline for millions of Americans. Just because George Bush is sinking the economy doesn't mean our most vulnerable should have to go down with it. We have a story to tell about George W. Bush.

George Bush passed his 'No Child Left Behind' education bill, but then cut the funding to pay for it by six billion dollars. We have a story to tell.

He's cut funding for after-school programs, teacher training, school safety. All the while he's trying to shift what few dollars are left into private schools. This president isn't leaving a child behind. He's leaving the whole class behind with them. We have a story to tell.

Candidate Review - The Bush Tax Cuts - Senator John Kerry

Here is Senator John Kerry's analysis of President Bush's handling of the economy, from a speech on August 28, 2003

"But instead of acting to secure prosperity for all or even a measure of basic fairness, George Bush has brought back the days of deficits, debt, and doubt. He has put the interests of his buddies and big shot campaign contributors ahead of the people he passes by in his motorcade. And rain or shine, surplus or deficit, George Bush has one answer for our economy: special interest tax giveaways that are unwarranted, unaffordable, and unfair.

We need action and leadership because we’re not just in a temporary downturn. America is in a fight for our economic future. As I travel this country, it is clear to me that the American people know it even if some politicians don’t. And they know that America won’t win a fight for the future with the worn-out policies of the past.

Candidate Review - The Bush Tax Cuts - Representative Dennis Kucinich

Two quotes from Representative Kucinch

From a statement by Dennis Kucinich in reaction to President Bush's speech in Ohio on Labor Day.

"The President's 'leave-no-billionaire-behind' tax cut to the wealthy will do nothing to help the average Ohioan. The recently passed tax cut will continue a trend advocated by this Administration of accelerating wealth upwards. The first 60 percent of Ohio taxpayers will only see a cut of $380 in total over the next four years. But, the richest 1% of Ohioans will be rewarded with tax cuts worth $52,240 on average over the next four years.

Already, this Administration's policies have led to cuts in spending on important domestic needs such as education, health care, veterans' benefits, child care and led to sky high state budget deficits. Ohio, alone, is facing a projected state budget deficit of $2 billion in FY '04.

From a speech to the Democratic National Committee Western Caucus

Corporations should be compelled to pay a fair share of taxes. If corporations shift profits offshore to avoid paying taxes, they should not be permitted to operate in the United States. The decrease in corporate tax responsibility is an indication of the rise of corporate power. According to the Institute for Policy Studies, after the 2002 tax cuts, corporations will pay in taxes an amount equivalent to 1.3% of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product. In the 1950s they paid taxes of 4.5% of the US GDP. Corporations have less regulations, pay less taxes and yet have greater influence. (Can there be any clearer indication of the urgency of full public financing of our elections?)

Candidate Review - The Bush Tax Cuts - Senator Joe Lieberman

Today we are looking at the Bush Tax Cuts. My opinion is that President Bush's Tax Cuts aren't the best thing for America, but I'm interested to see how the candidates express themselves on this issue.

The first selection is from Joe Lieberman, as you will already have guessed. From a speech on October 18, 2002 at the NASDAQ MarketSite.

"Last year, with the storm clouds of stagnation gathering and the warnings of deficits growing, President Bush rammed through a tax cut that was far more expensive than we could afford and far less effective than our economy required. In doing so, he busted the budget, locked us in a fiscal straitjacket, and limited our ability to take any other growth-spurring measures.

There's nothing wrong with tax cuts. I have supported many of them over the years and will recommend some more today. But there is something wrong when tax cuts become not a policy tool but an ideological obsession, when one kind of tax cut is reflexively treated as the cure for every economic illness, regardless of its cost or effect, and when that one kind of tax cut substitutes, as it has under President Bush, for anything resembling a genuine economic recovery or growth plan.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

Does Howard Dean have a Chance?

Article at the Village Voice (which you don't need me to tell you is a liberal magazine), about how maybe Howard Dean has a shot at beating President Bush after all. If he can reposition himself to the center a bit, and show America he has some concrete plans, well, then he's got more of a shot.

"This month, Dean's campaign has moved past the single issue that his critics said made him unelectable—his anti-war rhetoric. While his innovative and successful fundraising strategy and his healthy poll numbers have been tracked for some time, his policy proposals have been somehow obscured by the very passion that first attracted the crowds.

Officially, his campaign maintains it was never concerned that Dean was becoming too closely identified with his opposition to the invasion of Iraq. The war, said Jay Carson, a Dean spokesperson,"is just a metaphor for standing up for what you believe in."

But any misunder-standing was largely Dean's fault. On a number of fronts—including foreign policy and the economy, the two areas that Dean has suggested are vital to a successful candidacy—the campaign had yet to offer a vision, save some very broad strokes. So in December, Dean looked to define himself, delivering major policy speeches on race, national security, and education. Later this week, he plans to talk about the economy.

Prior to Hussein's capture, and indeed before Gore's endorsement, Dean realized that to navigate the waters of 2004, he was going to need a bigger boat.

It's an interesting article, and we'll be on the lookout for the Economic Speech he's slated to give later on this week (unless it was last week, and I'm reading an old speech).

Crack Detective Work

Well, it turns out Iran may have a nucular weapons program.

"VIENNA - Evidence discovered in a probe of Iran's secret nuclear program points overwhelmingly to Pakistan as the source of crucial technology that put Iran on a fast track toward becoming a nuclear weapons power, according to U.S. and European officials familiar with the investigation.

The serious nature of the discoveries prompted a decision by Pakistan two weeks ago to detain three of its top nuclear scientists for several days of questioning, with U.S. intelligence experts allowed to assist, the officials said. The scientists have not been charged with any crime, and Pakistan continues to insist that it never wittingly provided nuclear assistance to Iran or anyone else.

Documents provided by Iran to U.N. nuclear inspectors since early November have exposed the outlines of a vast, secret procurement network that successfully acquired thousands of sensitive parts and tools from numerous countries over a 17-year period.

Yep. They gave us the evidence and we read it. We're brilliant. Reminds me of a scene from the Simpsons Episode, "The Boy who Knew Too Much."

Hutz: How could you have seen all this, Bart? Weren't you supposed to be in school?
Bart: [slowly] I sort of skipped school.
Skinner: I knew it! I knew you'd slip up sooner or later, Simpson!
Apu: What slip up? What are you talking about? He confessed it!
Skinner: Quiet, I need this.

So I suppose the obvious next question is, who needs this?

New Quote

And a new Quotes Page.

Saturday, December 20, 2003

Your Weekly Rush - Just so you know

"I have empathy, my friends, that's one of the primary ingredients for success at doing this, and I can hear some of you saying, ‘He's changed since he got back.’ Of course, I don't think I've changed at all . . . "

"I'm telling you folks, my program today is what it has always been, and tomorrow it's going to be what it has always been: irreverence and the serious discussion of issues in one package, with credibility on both sides, but even the humor and irreverence has a point."

"I'm just saying, folks, that there are so many things on this program, you think it's changed and it hasn't, and I don't want to get defensive about this, I really don't because I don't have any reason to be defensive, and those of you that are saying the program's changed, I don't think your perspective is correct here."

"So, I mean, feel free to call, don't misunderstand, but I mean this notion that the program is different, it's not. It's impossible to be different."

"You know, this is the way I look at it, my friends. I'm not trying to diminish you, but there's a reason you are listeners and I am host. And it always has been. There are countless of them. Now, you must know that I am very solid in my self-esteem."

"Well, I'm not defensive, of course - but I do want to play some best of shows to go on the offense. I mean, you people are complaining that "he's just different since he got back," but you're still listening and I know it."

Just so you know it, Rush Limbaugh has not changed since he got back, he's not defensive, and his fans are stupid if they think that he's changed.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Candidate Review - Capturing Saddam Hussein - Wrap Up

Couldn't anything on Carol Mosley Braun's site, and Al Sharptons is apparently down. So here it is.

Candidate Review - Capturing Saddam Hussein - Senator Joe Lieberman

Joe Lieberman has a surprisingly religious take on the capture.

"Hallelujah, praise the Lord. This is something that I have been advocating and praying for for more than twelve years, since the Gulf War of 1991. Saddam Hussein was a homicidal maniac, a brutal dictator, who wanted to dominate the Arab world and was supporting terrorists.

He caused the death of more than a million people, including 460 Americans who went to overthrow him. This is a day of glory for the American military, a day of rejoicing for the Iraqi people, and a day of triumph and joy for anyone in the world who cares about freedom, human rights, and peace.

This evil man has to face the death penalty. The international tribunal in The Hague cannot order the death penalty, so my first question about where he's going to be tried will be answered by whether that tribunal can execute him. If it cannot be done by the Iraqi military tribunal, he should be brought before an American military tribunal and face death.

Candidate Review - Capturing Saddam Hussein - Representative Dennis Kucinich

No big surprise from Representative Kucinich, he is in favor of getting us out of Iraq, and sees the capture of Saddam as the signal. Anyway here's his official statement.

"With the capture of Saddam Hussein the Administration's stated goal of removing him from power has been accomplished. Now the focus must be on ending the occupation. International law must be followed and Saddam Hussein must be held accountable for his actions.

The United States must seize this moment and end the occupation of Iraq. The United States must reach out to the world community with a new plan to stabilize Iraq, bring UN peacekeepers in, and bring US troops home.

Candidate Review - Capturing Saddam Hussein - Senator John F. Kerry

Here is Senator Kerry's Official Statement.

"This is a great day for U.S. forces, the Iraqi people, and the world. Capturing Saddam Hussein and ensuring that this brutal dictator will never return to power is an important step towards stabilizing Iraq for the Iraqis."

Let’s also be clear: Our problems in Iraq have not been caused by one man and this is a moment when the administration can and must launch a major effort to gain international support and win the peace. We need to share the burden, bring in other countries, and make it clear to the world that Iraq belongs to the Iraqi people."

Today is another opportunity to invite the world into a post-Saddam Iraq and build the coalition to win the peace that we should have built to win the war.

Kerry is also apparently trying to push himself as the Anti-Dean. So we'll see how that goes.

Candidate Review - Capturing Saddam Hussein - Representative Dick Gephardt

Here is Representative Gephardt, who has apparently christened himself the comeback kid, on the capture of Sadddam Hussein.

"Today is a great day for our troops, the Coalition forces and the people of Iraq.

I supported this effort in Iraq without regard for the political consequences because it was the right thing to do. I still feel that way now and today is a major step toward stabilizing Iraq and building a new democracy.

For many years, we will be confronted with a war on terrorism that is unfinished. This will be a long and difficult struggle and we need a president who has the credibility to unite the American people and our allies in an effort to make our nation and our world safe.

And here is his reaction to Governor Dean's foreign policy address.

"Yesterday, Howard Dean said that Saddam Hussein's capture was 'above politics,' but today he delivered a speech described by the Washington Post as 'repositioning' himself to the center.

Let's be clear. Howard Dean has been playing politics with foreign policy for over a year and his repositioning is just the latest Howard Dean political game. Despite issuing contradictory statements on Iraq over the last year, Governor Dean has used this issue to constantly attack his Democratic opponents and to seek political advantage.

I would caution against using the Comeback Kid to figure out what the Dean Campaign is all about.

Candidate Review - Capturing Saddam Hussein - Senator John Edwards

Here is Senator Edwards official statement on the capture of Saddam.

"Today, every American and people all over the world are waking up to the good news that Saddam Hussein is no longer free. But no citizens are happier to learn of his capture than the Iraqi people who endured his torture and oppression for decades. They have been waiting to hear of his demise and we are all grateful that they finally received this welcomed news.

Since last March our men and women in uniform have been working with courage and commitment to help the Iraqi people create the country of their dreams: one that is free, democratic, and free from Saddam Hussein's terrible reign. We are all so proud of their efforts not just today, but every day as they work tirelessly to bring democracy to Iraq.

Our military leaders have accomplished a great success. I hope President Bush will use this opportunity to chart a course in Iraq that will bring in our allies in a meaningful way to achieve a democratic and peaceful Iraq.

Candidate Review - Capturing Saddam Hussein - Former Governer Howard Dean

We were down for a bit--so will move a little faster than normal now.

These comments are from Howard Dean's big foreign policy speech, and contain the bit that has some conservatives all a-twitter. Of course placed in a bit more context, it seems a lot less nutty, and actually makes sense.

"First I want to say a few words about events over the weekend. The capture of Saddam Hussein is good news for the Iraqi people and the world. Saddam was a brutal dictator who should be brought swiftly to justice for his crimes. His capture is a testament to the skill and courage of U.S. forces and intelligence personnel. They have risked their lives. Some of their comrades have given their lives.

All Americans should be grateful. I thank these outstanding men and women for their service and sacrifice.

I want to talk about Iraq in the context of all our security challenges ahead. Saddam's capture offers the Iraqi people, the United States, and the international community an opportunity to move ahead. But it is only an opportunity, not a guarantee.

Let me be clear: My position on the war has not changed.

The difficulties and tragedies we have faced in Iraq show that the administration launched the war in the wrong way, at the wrong time, with inadequate planning, insufficient help, and at unbelievable cost. An administration prepared to work with others in true partnership might have been able, if it found no alternative to Saddam's ouster, to then rebuild Iraq with far less cost and risk.

As our military commanders said, and the President acknowledged yesterday, the capture of Saddam does not end the difficulties from the aftermath of the administration's war to oust him. There is the continuing challenge of securing Iraq, protecting the safety of our personnel, and helping that country get on the path to stability. There is the need to repair our alliances and regain global support for American goals.

Nor, as the president also seemed to acknowledge yesterday, does Saddam's capture move us toward defeating enemies who pose an even greater danger: al Qaeda and its terrorist allies. And, nor, it seems, does Saturday's capture address the urgent need to halt the spread of weapons of mass destruction and the risk that terrorists will acquire them.

The capture of Saddam is a good thing which I hope very much will help keep our soldiers safer. But the capture of Saddam has not made America safer.

Candidate Review - Capturing Saddam Hussein - General Wesley Clark

Yep, it's time for another trip around the horn. But this week, instead of taking some generalized issue, we are going to focus on their reactions to current events; specifically the capture of Saddam Hussein.

General Wesley Clark, who recently testified against Slobodan Milosevic, had this to say.

"Now, we now have another dictator in custody. Saddam Hussein was responsible for starting two wars in the Gulf. His forces used chemical weapons against the Kurds in Iraq and against Iran. And his government was responsible for massive human rights abuses in Iraq. Saddam's capture is good news for the Iraqi people and for the world.

Our Armed Forces and intelligence community deserves great credit for locating Saddam, tracking him down, and bringing him from his snake-hole to justice.

Clark's article also goes over how he feels the trial should be conducted. He feels that it should be held in Iraq, the sight of Saddam's crimes. Secondly, he feels experts in international law, from both the United States and other nations, should be consulted on the format of the trial. Third, he feels that Saddam should be held accountable for his impact on the international community (particularly Kuwait, Iran and the Kurds). And fourth, he feels that capital punishment should be on the table as a punishment for Saddam.

"Given the heinous nature of Saddam Hussein's crimes, I firmly believe that the death penalty should be on the table as a possible punishment. I believe that the death penalty should be applied to war criminals, those who've used chemical weapons, and those responsible for genocide. And as I believe the proceedings will show, Saddam is responsible for every single one of these heinous crimes and deserves the ultimate punishment."

One quibble. Holding Saddam responsible for his international effect may have the effect of embarrassing the United States and the Bush Administration, as it opens the door to Saddam discussion the source of his poison gas.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Have a Very Cheney Christmas

Dick Cheney's annual Christmas Card apparently contains the following inscription (according to Slate magazine).

"And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probably that an empire cannot rise without His aid?"

It's a quotation from Benjamin Franklin. And it is a bit off our normal message of liberation without conquest. But what do I know.

Take a look for yourself.

Thomas L. Friedman Believes

"I believe the French president, Jacques Chirac, knows something in his heart: in the run-up to the Iraq war, George Bush and Tony Blair stretched the truth about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction — but they were not alone. Mr. Chirac also stretched the truth about his willingness to join a U.N.-led coalition against Iraq if Saddam was given more time and still didn't comply with U.N. weapons inspections. I don't believe Mr. Chirac ever intended to go to war against Saddam, under any circumstances. So history will record that all three of these leaders were probably stretching the truth — but with one big difference: George Bush and Tony Blair were stretching the truth in order to risk their own political careers to get rid of a really terrible dictator. And Jacques Chirac was stretching the truth to advance his own political career by protecting a really terrible dictator."

Say Mr. Friedman how do you know that Chirac was lying when he claimed that a bit more patience on the part of the Bush Administration might have won his support? Oh, you believe it. Hmmm. Well I believe that Friedman, you want us in Iraq because of huge profits that American companies stand to rack up, some of which you might get. Now I don't have any proof of this belief, but I don't need any, do I?

And check out this chilling paragraph.

"We have entered a moment of truth in Iraq. With Saddam now gone, there are no more excuses for the political drift there. We are now going to get the answer to the big question I had before the war: Is Iraq the way it is because Saddam was the way he was? Or was Saddam the way he was because Iraq is the way it is — ungovernable except by an iron fist?

Yep. Either the violence stops in Iraq or you guys will get the dictator you apparently deserve. Friedman's made some good points in the past, but today he feels like a man grabbing at straws ("Everybody still hates the French, right?").

Article here.

Has Saddam's Capture made the world a Safer Place?


And, frankly, I doubt many of you think it has. Saddam's been reduced to hiding for months now. Whatever WMD's he may have once had, he doesn't have now. Nor does he have much to offer terrorists, assuming he ever really considered working with them to stick it to the United States.

I'm not denying that Saddam was a bad man, and that capturing him precludes any possibility of a return to power. So in that sense, you could say the world is a teeny bit safer. But the amount is negligible.

There was a MSNBC poll the other day; when I looked at it it was 60 percent towards this conclusion, with 40 percent or there abouts feeling that we were safer. And of course there's a very serious terrorist warning about Italy that was just released.

Potential Democratic Candidate for President Howard Dean apparently agrees with this analysis. After Saddam was captured, he stated that the capture of Saddam had not made the world a safer place.

And for that the conservative media has declared that he has gone off the deep end.

No doubt Dean would be happier if Saddam were still on the loose, since he, and indeed many in the Democratic Party, had pointed to the inability to capture either Saddam or Osama bin Laden as one of President Bush's major failures in the war on terrorism. But to say that Americans are no safer with Saddam behind bars is just plain strange. - Linda Chavez

Shifting to foreign policy, Dean said, "the capture of Saddam has not made America safer." Perhaps so, perhaps not, but I think it's reasonable to conclude that Saddam's capture will be demoralizing to his terrorist followers and supporters who happen to be waging war against American soldiers. Come on, Howard, can't you express a little jubilation about that? - David Limbaugh (Of course those who read the speech or heard it, know that Dean did express happiness that Saddam was captured.

And there will undoubtedly be other examples.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Do Pro-War Conservatives love our troops? Prove it!

I spent some more time at the Freedom Alliance and found, besides a nice article by Oliver North (who's article starts out "‘Tis the season to be jolly. Unless you’re a Democrat, that is."), another tearing down the United Nations. So it is a conservative partisan site.

To recap; Ben Shapiro berated anti-war Liberals for not supporting our troupes then directs them to a partisan conservative site and asks them to make a donation.

So in response, i'm going to suggest that Ben and all other Conservatives donate to Moveon.Org. I think that anybody who loves our soldiers and doesn't want to see them used in the reckless, boneheaded manner that President Bush and his buddies have pioneered, they should want to support an organization to get President Bush out of power. If they don't want to donate to, well, it just shows that they don't love our troops.

Oh wait, Moveon is a partisan liberal website. So asking them to support it in the name of the troops would be hypocritical.

To sum up, if you want to support the troops--always a good idea--send money to Operation Gratitude. If you want to support conservatism, under the theory that some of the money might to go the troops, send money to the Freedom Alliance. If you want to support liberalism, send money to

If Only the USA were more like the Third World

Interview at Salon today with Ravi Chiruvolu who is one of the big proponents of moving technology jobs to India. It's kind of a chilling look at how the captains of industry look at the American worker.

"OK. But what would you say to one of these lower-end programmers who lost his job? What would you tell that person to do?

I would tell that person that it's inevitable to the extent that someone is willing to do your job much, much cheaper than the price at which you're willing to do the job, and there just isn't enough demand to hire that other person and you. In tough economic times like today, you're exposed. There's an economic reality to that.

And you could either sit on that reality and wait until the economy gets better, or hope that this problem goes away, or you can basically move up the value chain, and the way that you do that is you gain different skill sets.

Kind of a cold outlook--and ultimately a problematic one. Because the one question is, whos going to buy your programs if everybody goes broke?

Ben Shapiro's Challenge or If you Jump through the Hoops, they'll just come up with new hoops

Ben Shapiro's latest essay is about how lousy we liberals are. Apparently the most generous states are the red states, so that proves that we liberals like to give away other people's money. Also, he mocks the idea that one can oppose the war and support the troops. He then challanges liberals to prove their support to the troops by donating to non profit organizations to suppor the troops.

Now let me take a moment to say that I think both these organizations are good. I felt a bit better about Operation Gratitude, and so they got my money. But the other organization, the Freedom Alliance, might be just as good. They just made the unfortunate choice of putting Oliver North on their front page, which makes me suspect this non-partisan organization might not be completely non-partisan.

But as for Ben's Challenge, if every anti war liberal sent these organizations money, well, Ben and his allies on the right would still be questioning the patriotism of anybody foolish enough to question President Bush. The only way liberals can really get the far right to like them is if they (we) become conservative. I don't know about my fellow liberals, but I'm pretty sure that's not going to happen in my case.

A Brief Commercial Announcement

I have recently expanded my commercial empire, and just in time for this time of gift giving.

Many of you, no doubt, have heard of the idea of naming a star after a loved one as a gift. How old-fashioned. The new way to commemorate your loved ones is to name a cactus after them.

Yes, I've recently came into the possession of a field of nearly a thousand cacti in south central New Mexico. For the low fee of $49.99, my assistant, Walter, will find a cactus and with a felt tip pen neatly write the name on the cactus. (We were initially using a knife to carve your name into a cactus but, well, walter wasn't all that careful and the patients kept dying).

Think about that, your special cactus will actually have your name on it. Can those star people claim that? Are they flying out into space and writing your loved one's name on the star of your choice? I don't think so. (That would be pretty cool though). But if you ever travel to south central New Mexico you can actually see your cactus with your loved ones name on it.

So think about it won't you? Naming a Cactus after a loved one is more than just a good idea, it's the law.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Paul Krugman and War Profiteering

Paul Krugman has some interesting and relevent comments on why war profiteering is likely to be a bigger problem under Bush than it has been previously.

"The biggest curb on profiteering in government contracts is the threat of exposure: sunshine is the best disinfectant. Yet it's hard to think of a time when U.S. government dealings have been less subject to scrutiny.

First of all, we have one-party rule — and it's a highly disciplined, follow-your-orders party. There are members of Congress eager and willing to take on the profiteers, but they don't have the power to issue subpoenas.

And getting information without subpoena power has become much harder because, as a new report in U.S. News & World Report puts it, the Bush administration has "dropped a shroud of secrecy across many critical operations of the federal government." Since 9/11, the administration has invoked national security to justify this secrecy, but it actually began the day President Bush took office.

To top it all off, after 9/11 the U.S. media — which eagerly played up the merest hint of scandal during the Clinton years — became highly protective of the majesty of the office. As the stories I've cited indicate, they have become more searching lately. But even now, compare British and U.S. coverage of the Neil Bush saga.

The point is that we've had an environment in which officials inclined to do favors for their business friends, and contractors inclined to pad their bills or do shoddy work, didn't have to worry much about being exposed. Human nature being what it is, then, the odds are that the troubling stories that have come to light aren't isolated examples.

It's almost like there isn't an ultra-powerful liberal media that marches in lock stop, but that's just crazy talk.

What does Capturing Saddam Mean? Part 1

Here's Cal Thomas's take on the issue.

"The critics - political and journalistic - who said the administration's efforts were failing have been proved wrong. These would include not only the United Nations, but also France and Germany and much of the liberal media establishment, especially the virulently anti-Bush and anti-American British press."

Well, conservatives have tried this gambit before, haven't they? After the most powerful military force in history crushed a third world army, Conservatives everywhere rang out the cry that we liberals had been proved wrong. We had, apparently, claimed that the military could never win.

Well, once again we are proven wrong, because apparently we boiled down all the myriad failures of President Bush's administration into one succinct little point; President Bush hasn't caught Saddam, the occupation has failed.

Of course here on planet earth, Mr. Thomas's comments aren't all that plausible--the truth is that we've criticized lots of aspects of the occupation. The failure to provide enough troops to prevent rioting for example. Or the pretty predictable rise in anti-American guerillas. So maybe there are still some valid critiques of President Bush, even after we got Saddam.

Monday, December 15, 2003

Candidate Review - Civil Rights

Here's the compilation of all the candidates. Enjoy.

Candidate Review - Civil Rights - General Wesley Clark

As you probably noticed did them in reverse alphebetical order. And I will be doing a page for the left there, to go right above foreign affairs, but I don't know if I will get to it tonight. Have some christmas cooking to do.

Anyway this is from Clark's webpage.

"I saw what could be accomplished when the doors of opportunity are fully opened to all. We had such a system in the U.S. military, through our strong affirmative action program. I was honored to serve with, and serve under, some outstanding African American leaders. I saw many proud young African American men and women thrive when treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. And through their service, they prepared for college and for careers, using their talent and determination to compete fairly and equally with others. As President, I'd do everything I can to make sure that the people of the rest of our nation - in government, in the business sector, in education, in health care - are treated fairly and equally as well.

. . . Throughout my career, I have seen the meaning, consequence, and importance of affirmative action firsthand. I was proud to join a group of retired military officers who filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of affirmative action at the University of Michigan. I think such policies are necessary to facilitate diversity within, and thus the legitimacy of, the nation's leadership. And the Supreme Court agreed on the importance of diversity, relying on the successes of the military model. America cannot be a great nation without the leadership of our very best - of all races, from all parts of the country. Affirmative action ensures that future leaders who might otherwise never get a chance are brought to the forefront. As a result, Americans - all Americans - benefit.

Candidate Review - Civil Rights - Former Governor Howard Dean

Dean is rightly recognized as being above average in his use and understanding of the internet and I have to agree. His website is pretty easy to use and full of the Candidates own voice.

The following quotes are from his webpage.

"I strongly support well-tailored affirmative action programs. All Americans deserve an equal opportunity to succeed, and these policies help the nation move toward that ideal. They also help strengthen our economy and society. American history is characterized by too much discrimination, intolerance and inequality. But there is also a long tradition of Americans helping each other to overcome adversity and build a better nation, and affirmative action is firmly in that tradition.

. . . When President Bush used the inflammatory word “quota” to describe the Michigan program, I criticized him for distorting the facts. In fact, the Supreme Court rejected that misleading label. It is time for the President to stop using code words that divide Americans by race. With the ink barely dry on the Court’s recent decision, opponents of affirmative action threatened to make the dismantling of these efforts a litmus test for future Supreme Court nominations. As President, I will instead appoint judges who display a commitment to equal rights, and who recognize that affirmative action is a constitutional means to further that goal.

Candidate Review - Civil Rights - Senator John Edwards

Here are comments from a speech on Martin Luther King Jr.'s Birhday , earlier this year.

"We have come far, but we have far to go:

The Constitution now guarantees blacks the right to vote; now we have to put an end to practices that lead to the deprivation of minority voting rights once and for all.

We have laws guaranteeing equal opportunity; now, we have to address the underlying economic conditions that still result in an average African-American income that is barely half that of whites.

We have laws prohibiting segregation in public education; now we have to do something about a school system that is becoming increasingly re-segregated, leaving too many minority children the victims of by inadequate education funding, inferior schools, and indifference.

More than anything, leadership means recognizing that civil rights is not a zero sum game where "we" give something to "them"-whether it's women or minorities or immigrants.

The civil rights movement was not about some "them." It was about "us." All of us. It was about transforming America into a nation so much closer to living out the true meaning of our creed.

Conadidate Review - Civil Rights - Representative Dick Gephardt

Memo to Candidate Gephardt; see my complaints about Kerry's website.

But here is a quote from the candidate.

"I believe affirmative action is an essential tool in expanding educational opportunities. It is our responsibility to continually support diversity in higher education."

And here is a section from his website.

As president, Dick Gephardt will commit his administration to realizing our nation's promise of equal justice and opportunity for all.

Our nation has made great progress in civil rights, but there is still much work left to do. Discrimination in all forms -- from the workplace to the classroom to the voting booth -- must be ended once and for all. As president, Gephardt will work to provide economic opportunity for all Americans, support affirmative action programs, protect voting rights and expand the federal jurisdiction of intolerable hate crimes.

Candidate Review - Civil Rights - Senator John F. Kerry

One critique for the Kerry Web Page. You need to make it easier to find the candidates own words. Instead, on most of the issues, you get the impression the press officer, or someone like that, typed out the candidates view on the issues in the press secretaries (or webpage guys) words. Why not link to speeches the Candidate has given? Anyway we have two quotes from the civil rights part of Kerry's web page. The first is from the candidate himself and the second is from the discussion of Affirmative Action (and unatributed).

We need to guarantee equal rights and civil rights and say that, here in America, workers have the right to organize -- women have the right to choose - and justice belongs to everyone regardless of race or gender or sexual orientation.

"John Kerry believes in an America where we take common sense steps to ensure that our schools and workplaces reflect the full face of America. He has consistently opposed efforts in the Senate to undermine or eliminate affirmative action programs and supports programs that seek to enhance diversity, for example, by fostering the growth of minority small businesses."

Candidate Review - Civil Rights - Senator Dennis Kucinich

And here is Dennis Kucinich, speaking during the Minnisota affirmative action case of a couple of months ago.

"America's diversity is a strength, not a weakness, and it is absolutely critical that we nurture programs that enhance opportunities for those who have been historically left behind. To do nothing, to abolish affirmative action, is to use de jure means to fall back into the de facto segregation of the past, which made a mockery of democracy, equality, liberty and justice - the very values on which this nation was founded.

Affirmative action is still essential because a truly level playing field is still an elusive goal, not a reality. Today, we stand united in our support of affirmative action and the University of Michigan. Our nation is at a critical junction; the Supreme Court must not send our nation back into some of the darkest moments in our history, but instead lead our nation to a fair and just future.

Candidate Review - Civil Rights - Senator Joe Lieberman

These are comments Lieberman made at the commemoration of the 40th anniversary of of the March on Washington (August 28, 2003).

Their question is the question that your generation and mine must both ask where is America today, when people of color still struggle for the promise of equal opportunity guaranteed by our Constitution, and their leaders still struggle to even get a meeting in the White House. Where are we, when jobs are going away, poverty is going up, incomes are going down, and affirmative action is under challenge?

The answer is we are not where America's national values and purpose require us to be. So the March on Washington must continue until "justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

Candidate Review - Civil Rights - Al Sharpton

I've liked Sharpton as a candidate. He doesn't have much of a chance, but he's been pretty good in the debates, particularly at focusing on the issues rather than the horse race. However, his website is terrible. There isn't much there, and if he has the standard issues page I haven't seen it. He does have a platform page, but it only has three items. Anyway I'm going to quote from the section on his support for a Voting Rights Amendment.

What are the advantages of fighting for human rights and constitutional amendments? Human rights and constitutional amendments are non-partisan (they're neither Democratic nor Republican), they're non-ideological (they're not liberal, moderate, or conservative), and they're non-programmatic (they don't require a particular means, approach or program to realize them). They're also not a "special interest."

If we pass a new voting rights amendment, the next civil rights movement will emerge fighting for congressional legislation - while also using the federal courts - to implement the Voting Rights Amendment.

Candidate Review - Civil Rights - Former Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun

Here we go. Forgot to do one of these Friday so I'm doing one today, starting with Civil Rights and with the candidates I skipped last week.

This is from Ms. Mosely Braun's website, which is pretty well organized.

"The struggle is to get to the point where the relationships exist and the confidence abides in women and minorities to lead our business community. Indeed, the paucity of both in the boardrooms makes clear that many of the 'old boys' are still more comfortable with one another than with racial or gender diversity.

The survival of affirmative action creates hope that opportunity exists for those who have not yet had a chance to lead and that performance and talent will be rewarded. That hope keeps our society on a path toward progress and the fulfillment of the promise of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. The Supreme Court's recent decision regarding the challenge to the University of Michigan's law school program kept alive the light of that hope. May it guide the district court in its decision-making regarding the pending challenge to the City of Chicago's effort to support affirmative action in contracting.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

New Quotes

And a new Quotes Page.

Also for those who don't know it, Saddam Hussein has been captured.

Saturday, December 13, 2003

Your Weekly Rush - Haliburton

Of course we referenced the Haliburton story earlier this week. Well it turns out I might have jumped the gun on that story a little bit. Rush Limbaugh explains a number of things.

1. There are a lot of Clinton Leftovers at the Pentagon and one of them probably leaked the story.

2. The Haliburton story is unfairly being linked to Dick Cheney

3. They are charging $2.65 a gallon which compared to gas in California isn't that high.

OK, lets see if I can respond to this.

First, Rush Limbaugh plays this game a lot, the old "Clinton Leftover" card. Presumably it works with his fan base, as anybody who had any connection with Clinton must be a scoundral. And the assumption is that this person leaked the info because of his desire to serve the Clintons. Fascinating how two people so depraved are able to command the loyalty of people for such a long time.

Secondly, Dick Cheney's conflict of interest with regards to Haliburton is so well known that to not mention it would be dishonest reporting. Incidently, you make great hay out of the story describing Haliburton as Dick Cheney's former company, without using it's name. But as you must know, every copy of the story had Haliburton in the title.

Thirdly, and most ludicrusly, your bland assurances that "betcha by the time this is all taken care of and it all shakes out there's not going to be any price gouging going on" and your comparisons to California don't make any sense. What the facts are is that there is another company delivering oil into Iraq from Turkey for $1.18 a gallon. So that's a pretty big jump, isn't it? $1.18 to $2.27 a gallon? Pretty big jump. I certainly know what I would do if one gas station in town were selling me gas for $1.18 and the other $2.27. And we aren't even talking about how President Bush's incompetance has kept us from using Iraqs oil, which presumably would be cheaper than Kuwait or Turkey.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Which brand of incompetence do you prefer?

David Limbaugh writes on Howard Dean's appeal today, which is, of course, an unreasoning anger. "Howard Dean appeals to this rage, and Al Gore logically fits into the equation because much of the rage is still over the 2000 presidential election."

Yep. Democrats are consumed with Rage over the 2000 election because we can't admit the wonderful job President Bush has been doing since taking office.

We can't admit the contraction in the job market that still seems to be going on, even as the DOW passes 10,000 again.

We can't admit that George Bush successfully forced Saddam Hussein to allow inspectors back in, and then invaded anyway. We can't admit that the occupational force has yet to find Saddam Hussein or even credible evidence of a weapons of mass destruction program (let alone those weapons of mass destruction that could be at our throats in a matter of minutes). We can't admit that President Bush's failure to plan for the after effects of his invasion cost the world artificacts thousands of years old (and not just 30 as some Conservatives no doubt still believe).

We can't admit that George Bush's crony capitalism has let Haliburton gouge the army to transport gas into Iraq.

We can't admit that George Bush has systematically alienated most of the world (with the exception of several countries who's governments rely directly on the United States for support. Just this week we had the spectacle of Donald Rumsfeld giving France, Germany, Russia and Canada the finger by denying them rebuilding contracts in Iraq (for security reasons!), and President Bush, the very next day, asking those countries (except Canada I think) to forgive debts Iraq owes them.

I could go on and on, but I think Mr. Limbaugh needs to consider that our anger against President Bush isn't quite so unreasoning as he might like you to believe.

The Next Election - Analysis by Ann Coulter

Apparently it's a wonder Republicans win any elections.

Yep, that's what Ann Coulter says in her latest column. Here, I'll quote the relevant bit.

"In case Al Gore hasn't called you personally at home in the last 10 minutes to remind you: In the last election, this country gave a slight plurality of the popular vote to Al Gore. A plurality voted for Bill Clinton – twice. In the middle of a titanic struggle with a Soviet totalitarianism, this country elected Jimmy Carter president. If that's not enough to keep you up at night, here's one more: Hillary Clinton's "disapproval" rating has yet to reach 100 percent.

Forget landslides: It's a wonder that Republicans ever win any elections at all.

Apparently the fact that 20 Million Americans are employed by the government means that they will all vote Democratic. Because people naturally put their own interests ahead of those of the country. (It is barely worth noting that Ann Coulter is scolding people making $30,000 a year for not sacrificing their jobs to elect a Republican, while she would, premusably, strenuously resist the suggestion that corporations abandon their offshore tax dodges and pay their fair share of the tax burden).

She also notes that there are millions on welfare and on social security (which she notes with breathtaking meanness "And of course there are the 39 million greedy geezers collecting Social Security. The greatest generation rewarded itself with a pretty big meal."

She also lumps the Earned Income Credit (which Ronald Reagan was a big fan of, apparently) in with corporate welfare. Let me clarify; she comments on government hand outs and corporate welfare and then gives as her examples, "earned-income tax credit, disability payments and workman's comp."

It's also interesting that in an article which starts out complaining that the Democrats are trying to lower expectations so that they can claim dismal failure as success she spends the second half of the article trying to lower Republican Expectations.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Two Fairly Predictable Stories

In one, President Bush has had to go hat in hand to countries the pentagon snubbed yesterday. "President Bush found himself in the awkward position on Wednesday of calling the leaders of France, Germany and Russia to ask them to forgive Iraq's debts, just a day after the Pentagon said it was excluding those countries and others from $18 billion in American-financed Iraqi reconstruction projects." Story from the New York Times.

In the other, the Pentagon is accusing Dick Cheney's old company of gouging them on fuel prices. "A Pentagon investigation has found overcharging and other violations in a $15.6 billion Iraq reconstruction contract awarded to Vice President Dick Cheney’s former company, a defense official said Thursday." Story from MSNBC.COM.

It is hard to believe that anybody would consider dropping President Bush when he is clearly doing so wonderful.

Ross MacKenzie writes a Deceitful Article

Early on, Mr. Mackenzie repeats two deceptions about Al Gore; lets see if you can catch them. "This is the guy who told us that he and Tipper were the prototypes for "Love Story" despite denials by author Erich Segal, and that he invented the Internet - remember?

For those of you who don't know, Al Gore, late one night, was talking with a group of friends including a reporter about movies. He made the comment that a Tennessee Newspaper had reported that he and Tipper were the models for Love Story. This is true. A Tennessee Newspaper had falsely attributed a quote to Erich Segal that he and Tipper were the models for Love Story. The quote was later retracted. The media reported Mr. Gores comments and left out any notion of context. Hence, Mr. Gore is a liar about Love Story.

Secondly, Al Gore was instrumental, as a member of the United States Congress, in supporting the transition from the Arpenet to the Internet. He fought for funding to accomplish this transition (although, to be fair, he probably didn't know what the internet would become). He has taken credit for supporting the creation of the internet, saying that he had helped create it (Exact quote to Wolf Blitzer - "During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet."). Conserivatives liars like Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter changed create to invent, and claimed that he had cliamed to have written the code or that he had done it all by himself or something. Which was, of course, an encomrous distortion of what he actually said. And the media, instead of doing a little research and pointing out this deception on the part of Republican liars, chose to question Gores integrity. For more on this particularly succesful shell game, check this out.

The rest of MacKenzie's article is the standard pack of lies about the race for the Democratic Nominee. Does he act shocked that presidential candidates are running to the left in order to get the nomination? Yep. Does he compliment Lieberman as being the best candidate? Yep. Does he suggest Dean is both angry and possibly unstable? Yep.

He ends with an upbeat assessment (from my perspective) of Howard Dean's chances from William Kristol. "Could Dean really win? Unfortunately, yes. The Democratic presidential candidate has, alas, won the popular presidential vote three times in a row - twice, admittedly, under the guidance of the skilled Bill Clinton, but most recently with the hapless Al Gore at the helm. And demographic trends (particularly the growth in Hispanic voters) tend to favor the Democrats going into 2004."

Always look on the positive side.

Presidents Lincoln and Bush

You may remember my review of Thomas Friedman's article earlier in the week. The one about how President Bush's acceptance of nationa building as a necessity during this war parallels President Lincolns acceptance of emancipation after Gettysburg.

Well Suzanne Fields read the same article, and apparently agreed with it so much she decided her article this week should basically rip it off. But she doesn't just rip off Friedmans thesis. Nope she carries it even further.

"Lincoln thus had greatness thrust upon him. By expanding his vision to preserve the Union to include freeing the slaves, he was poised to fulfill the promise articulated in the Declaration of Independence, that all men are created equal.

George W. Bush campaigned in 2000 against nation-building, just as Lincoln had distanced himself from the abolitionists in 1860, but circumstances changed.

Hmmmmmm. But there are a few differences between the men as well. Lincoln did actually believe in abolitionism before becoming President. He distanced himself from the Abolitionists because he didn't feel that, as President, he had the power to free slaves.

President Bush's attacks on nation building are both more heartfelt and more cynical. It is clear that before September 11th, President Bush's Foreign Policy was marked by a desire to reject everything "Clinton-esque." Part of that was nation building, but make no mistake, when he attacked the idea of nation building, he meant it.

I find myself wishing, if President Bush were to find himself changing during this war, why not bring back the idea endorsed by both Clinton and George H. W. Bush of multilateralism. Why not return honestly to the United Nations? Why allow the Pentagon to give all those who might become our allies the finger (by refusing to allow them contracts in Iraq)? But I suppose that's not for me to wonder.