Friday, January 30, 2004

More on the NEA

The NEA has two purposes; one Republicans like to talk about and one that they don't. One reason is to support artists and the other is to provide art to communities and places where access to the arts is limited.

Obviously the first one is the one that we like to talk about. Artists are seen in this country as useless pansies who accomplish nothing. Like beggers but more annoying. That's not an accurate depiction in my opinion, but that is the standard portrayal. But should supporting artists really be the main goal of the NEA?

Why not focus on providing art to those who don't have it?

Well, Rush Limbaugh, unsurprisingly, has an answer to that. "This reminds me of the argument over funding the Kansas City Symphony when I lived there. There were all these fund-raisers, and when people didn't open their wallets at them, the symphony demanded that the government force them to pony up the dough. I mean, nobody wanted the symphony, okay?" So if people don't want to pay for art it shouldn't exist.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Even More Weekly Rush

Happened to listen to Rush while I was driving around at lunch. Apparently some news source is reporting that President Bush plans to ask for more money for the National Endowment for the Arts. (The downside to not listening to Rush for three hours is that I miss some things. The upside is that I haven't been driven insane). He then read an article on President Bush's man at the NEA and how they are changing how they fund the arts.

He read a very positive article about how the current NEA guy, Dana Giora, is doing a great job at funding the classics, the works of art that we all love, instead of, say, crucifixs soaked in urine. What was hillarious was listening to Rush try to keep his disdain for even the classics out of his voice. I mean he sort of wanted to attack the Bush adminstration for funding art, not attack art per se. But he really couldn't keep his disdain for the art world out of his voice.

He must have realized how he was coming off because he said twice words to the effect of "Now I'm not attacking Art." But it's pretty clear that he doesn't just dislike artists and people who want government to fund art, he dislikes it in general.

The Cowardly Ann Coulter

Ann Coulter takes on John Kerry today, and here's the story. He's French, he's a pacifist, and he's a gigolo. Yep. That didn't take long did it? Not nearly as long or as painful as actually reading Ann Coulter's madness.

He's a gigolo because he's been divorced to a wealthy woman and then married another wealthy woman. There's the proof right there.

As mentioned earlier she comments on his bragging about his war career, although in typical Coulter Fashion she exagerates a bit. "As everyone has heard approximately 1 billion times by now, Kerry boasts that he has REAL experience with aircraft carriers, and if Bush wants to run on national security, then ... BRING IT ON!" I haven't even heard that five times I don't think, so what do I know.

She also calls Kerry a pacifist military type; showing again her disconnect from reality. And that is, of course, why I have taken to calling Ms. Coulter cowardly (and not just because I know she wouldn't like it much if she ever read it, although I admit that has some appeal as well). You see most of us have to argue from the real world, and that's tough. Tough enough that Ms. Coulter apparently isn't up to it.

Something to Add to Descriptions of John Kerry

Way back when it looked like Kerry was a very strong candidate and had a good shot at the nomination. And Rush Limbaugh and his minions started swinging away at him. The first description was "French-Looking" (as in the "French-Looking" John Kerry) which came from The Bush Administration.

Another descriptor used by Rush and others is "who served in Vietnam," as in "the French-looking John Kerry, who served in Vietnam." This one was a rare attempt to use subtlety (well, what passes for subtlety in Limbaugh Land). As we all know, John Kerry served in Vietnam. His service in Vietnam was a formative time for him, so it shows up in his speeches. And it's clearly a political asset running up against a guy who served in the National Guard, and may have failed to show up for duty for part of his term. So using the phrase "who served in Vietnam," they are trying to inoculate people from being impressed, by suggesting that Kerry's service to his country was nothing more than a political ruse.

Well the Wall Street Journal suggested another sobriquet for John Kerry on the front page of their paper. Of course being the staid and meaningful Wall Street Journal they aren't too upfront about it. But they do point out in the second paragraph of a front page story on Kerry that he served as Lieutenant Governor under Michael Dukakis. How much do you want to bet that we hear that a lot? It plays right into the idea (false idea in my mind) that Kerry is a joke and unelectable.

All this by way of stating the obvious; if Kerry is our guy, expect the right wing press to slam into him like there's no tomorrow. Although come to think of it, if there were no tomorrow, maybe they wouldn't bother, since the actual election isn't till November.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

A Postulate without Evidence

At least as far as I know.

One of the postulates of the Limbaugh right is that the Clintons will do anything to get back into the White House. Up to and including purposefully scuttling the political ambitions of whoever gets the Democratic Nomination, so that Hillary can run in 2008. Yep the Clintons are just that evil and ambitious.

My question is, does anybody have any proof of this? I mean beyond the generic "Clinton is bad so any dispicable thing we attach to him will stick." If any conservative writer has any proof that the Clintons are trying to ruin Democratic Chances to take the White House this year, please let us know.

Your Weekly Rush; why he's so angry

Well here's Rush yesterday on the radio.

"You people have absolutely zero intellectual credibility or character to sit here, call this program and try to make some issue out of the Bush administration deciding to wait one month to start explaining why we needed to go to war in Iraq? Jeez. You people are reprehensible. You are absolutely reprehensible. You are the lowest piece of (blank) I've ever run to in this planet. I can't believe you people. You used to be at least fine, upstanding people to go out and have a drink with now and then, have a honest conversation about disagreements, but you people, you can't even be civil, you can't even be honest with yourselves! How can anybody have a conversation with you? You people lie to yourselves. You people are walking around in the biggest fog that I have ever seen. You people need therapy! You people all need to be sequestered somewhere for a couple of months to get your minds right because you people can't even be honest with yourselves. You are walking delusions."

I don't need to explain that by "You People" Rush means Liberal Democrats.

So why is Rush so mad? There are a couple of theories out there, most of them involving him being under or over medicated. But I don't buy that, personally. So what could it really be?

I think it is that Rush's house of cards is starting to fall apart. Look at what prompted this tirade. Some questions on how President Bush misled us into war. At this point only the most "faithful" still believe that the Administration didn't mislead the American people a bit. Most of the honest ones will admit that, but claim that the ends justify the means. But whether or not that remains the opinion of the American people remains to be seen. The fact is that things aren't going all that wonderfully in Iraq and American troops are paying a price.

Liberals are shining a light on the decisions that led us into this war and that have failed to plan sufficiently for the peace. This would be ok if President Bush were an ordinary president like a Clinton or a George H. W. Bush. But a great deal of the Current President Bush's power comes from his ability to project power and legitimacy. If Democrats keep nibbling at his credibility, well, his legitimacy will slowly drain away as well.

Frankly if I had pinned the hopes of my movement on President George W. Bush I'd be angry too. And I'd look around for someone to take my anger out at.

Still he does take it a bit far. Remember this bit? "You people all need to be sequestered somewhere for a couple of months to get your minds right because you people can't even be honest with yourselves." Hmmmm. I think the Chinese Commies had something like this. They called it an "Education camp." Not sure if that fits in well with American traditions and values, but I guess Rush would know better than I do.

Walter E. Williams

Well, it's time for another Walter E. Williams article. After a dry spell, all of a sudden he's drawing my attention quite regularly.

This week he explores the old conservative canard that, well, if those third worlders can only make $0.70 a day on their own, and we give them $2.00 a day, that's charitable of us. He concludes his article with these sentences. "Union leaders and their useful idiots in the anti-globalism movement have also called for minimum wages and better working conditions for workers of multinational firms in Third World countries. Here's my question to you: Do you believe these people really care about the world's poor like Nhep Chanda? If you do, I have a fountain of youth I'd like to sell you.

There might be a few ministers, college students and other uninformed people who sincerely care about the Third World poor. But the thrust of the public relations campaign against the multinationals comes from the U.S. and European union movements and some businesses who see their jobs and profits threatened. They wish to raise the cost of overseas operations in order to forestall company relocation, or as Gephardt said he wants, an international minimum wage high enough so that American workers are not competing with slave, sweat shop and child labor around the world.

I truly am not sure where to start. First of all, why is preserving American Jobs some sort of dirty nasty secret agenda? I would think every American would want there to be employment opportunities in the United States. Your might, Dr. Williams, feel that this method of preserving American Employment opportunities is problematic, but I can't believe that you oppose the goal.

Secondly, what a baffling ending. Is Mr Williams saying he supports American companies investing in slave labor? Child Labor? I mean I guess I could understand it if he felt that what we call slave labor wasn't really that (Throughout his article he ignores the very real coercive power that some of these corporations use on their employees). But I don't know how you get around the child labor bit.

Frankly it's clear that Williams will support corporations no matter what they do.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Empty Wallet Economics

Well, Paul Krugman's latest article takes on the theory that the reason that President Bush's deficits are decidedly un-conservative is that he's not conservative enough. His response; "Is domestic spending really exploding? Think about it: farm subsidies aside, which domestic programs have received lavish budget increases over the last three years? Education? Don't be silly: No Child Left Behind is rapidly turning into a sick joke.

In fact, many government agencies are severely underfinanced. For example, last month the head of the National Park Service's police admitted to reporters that her force faced serious budget and staff shortages, and was promptly suspended.

A recent study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities does the math. While overall government spending has risen rapidly since 2001, the great bulk of that increase can be attributed either to outlays on defense and homeland security, or to types of government spending, like unemployment insurance, that automatically rise when the economy is depressed.

Why, then, do we face the prospect of huge deficits as far as the eye can see? Part of the answer is the surge in defense and homeland security spending. The main reason for deficits, however, is that revenues have plunged. Federal tax receipts as a share of national income are now at their lowest level since 1950.

Of course Krugman isn't taking into account the enormous boom to the economy that the tax cuts will inevitably cause. I mean after a Democrat returns to the White House and we get majorities in the House and Senate, and they start implementing a more well thought out economic plan, then President Bush's plans will really kick in and we'll see the economy working like it's supposed to.

Something else the Republican Party would like you to Believe

Inheriting a lot of money, failing at business repeatedly, being bailed out by one's father's friends, talking a city into building a baseball stadium and giving you all the land around the stadium qualifies a Republican to be President. Working as a trial lawyer and being successful at it disqualifies a Democrat. As a matter of fact it doesn't matter what a Democrat does; unless he is poor his whole life up till running for President, there's something hypocritical in him running for President.

Rich Lowry takes this tack in his latest article on John Edwards. It's pretty predictable that whoever moves to the front of the Democratic pack is a jerk in the eyes of Republicans. Anyway Lowry point is that, as a trial lawyer, Edwards is used to manipulating people and therefore shouldn't be President.

More to the point this a further attack on our judicial system. Everybody hates Lawyers right? Well I hate to break it to you, but if you get hurt on the job, or if your doctor proscribes the wrong pill, or if the food your eating poisons you, well, the only way you can protect yourself is through the judicial system. Which is, of course, why conservative shills like Lowry want to tear the system down. They are fine with the system when it's filling our jails with non-violent drug offenders, but it bothers them that the people might use the legal system to protect themselves from corporate interests.

Lowry also resorts to distorting Edward's positions. "Anything that companies do to make a profit is basically a crime, and Edwards is going to go after them, just as he did as a trial lawyer in the medical malpractice cases that made his $12 million to $60 million fortune. Edwards makes no notable call for self-reliance or individual responsibility, since in his worldview people basically aren't up to it."

First of all, I'm pretty sure Edwards, as a lawyer, considers breaking the law a crime. If Lowry feels that companies can't make a profit without breaking the law, well perhaps that says a bit more about Lowry than it does about Edwards.

In conclusion, let's consider some of Edward's own words.

"Where I come from, voters are looking for answers, not attitude. They're tired of Democrats stopping in for a visit to say, "We know what's best, we know what's good for you."

Voters don't want be looked down upon and they aren't looking for a hand out. They want leaders who will them treat with respect. They want you to listen to their concerns, and give them a fair chance to do well in life. I will never keep quiet about what I believe or fail to articulate my values simply because someone might disagree with me. Democrats don't turn their backs on a challenge, and I never will.

We need to take on these issues. This president says he wants to have a values debate, and that's exactly what I will give him. On almost every issue, George Bush's values are not America's values. This administration values wealth over work...special interests over our interests, secret meetings over open debate, the privileged few over the rest of us.

Monday, January 26, 2004

Your Weekly Rush

Actually I've kind of dropped this feature, but I didn't mean to. I've picked it up and I'm gluing it back together.

Anyway here's some masterful insight into John Kerry. ". . . John Kerry. He's every bit as liberal as Dean, he may be more liberal than Dean, he's way more liberal than Dean.

What more can I say?

Equal Opportunity Annoyance

Just to show that I'm just generally angry at everybody, let me slam into Byron Williams latest column, "What is Patriotism?" In it he makes some good points about the unthinking way Liberals are assumed to be less than patriotic. He attempts to strike a non-partisan tone, suggesting that loyalty to one party is not Patriotism, per se.

He then mucks his argument up with his concluding paragraph. "If indeed the Bush Administration exaggerated the evidence that led to war, as the facts seem to indicate, and Democrats, Republicans, and independents are unwilling to hold them accountable, we can rest assured that however one defines patriotism, its application will fit easily within the contours of any bumper sticker."

Basically this would indicate that unless we, as a nation, hold President Bush accountable for leading us into Iraq, patriotism is a joke. But of course he presupposes a verdict in the trial of the Bush Administration. His belief is that evidence shows President Bush's culpability. His statement is not akin to saying "Unless we release convict X who is clearly innocent, justice is a joke in America." That statement may be true, but only if the innocence of convict X is not in doubt.

By the same token, I have my opinion on the deceptions the Bush administration engaged in during the lead up to the Iraq war. But I am willing to admit that others who genuinely love their country might have looked at the evidence and come to the conclusion that the Bush Administration is innocent.

In other words, this article annoyed me because it argued a point I agree with (that Patriotism is not the sole province of Conservative Republicans or any other group) and then at the end harpooned it's own argument by setting a standard of patriotism that would exclude most Republicans.

Wealth Redistribution = Opportunity Redistribution

One of the phrases that people like Robert Novak like to use (when he's not busy passing on illicitly obtained information or outing CIA agents) is Wealth Redistribution. He uses it today when talking about the current presidential campaign. "The theme is redistribution of wealth in America, and multi-millionaire trial lawyer Edwards propounds it most effectively with his concept of "two Americas."

But what Democrats actually want isn't wealth redistribution but opportunity redistribution. All Americans should have access to good education. All Americans should have equal access to employment, based on their skills. Certainly all Americans should have access to the political process, instead of it being a millionaires game.

Something to keep in mind.

How to get ahead in politics without really trying

Well, David Limbaugh is angry. That seems to be a common thread in articles by David Limbaugh.

This time he's upset because a Democrat, namely John Edwards, is getting credit for running a positive campaign. Nothing, apparently, could be further from the truth. Some Edwards campaign person printed up a list of ways for door to door campaigners to trash the other candidates. Edwards denied knowing about them and called on his staff to not do anything like that again.

But, of course, that's not Limbaugh's main point. "Well, I certainly believe that Edwards is conducting a negative campaign, but not in the way his opponents mean it. His message is not one of hope and optimism but abject class warfare, characterizing America as two different countries, one for the haves and the other for the have-nots. He doesn't appeal to people's hope and optimism but their despair and envy. He talks not of an American dream, of America as a land of opportunity, but as a place where the less fortunate can only improve their lot through the coercive power of a socialistic, wealth-redistributing government.

. . . Senator Edwards, from what I can tell, has not been exposed as a dirty campaigner, but as a phony pretender to optimism. There is nothing positive about his message. Lurking behind that smile is a destructive message that, if implemented, would devastate America.

Well, a couple of assumptions one can make from this statement.

1. Limbaugh has spent little to no time studying Edwards actual platform. He knows that most of his audience won't bother reading it either, so he can just characterize it as class warfare and watered down Marxism and they'll buy it.

2. Limbaugh would love it if we all accepted the idea that campaigning against President Bush's record is negative campaigning. He'd also love it if we accepted the idea that talking about social inequality in America is negative campaigning. Personally I'd love it if Baskin Robbins decided that 31 cents was a good price for everything they sell, but I've resigned myself to reality.

Perhaps Mr. Limbaugh should adopt a similar approach.

Helpful Advice

Came across this last week, but finally getting around to it. Howard Gleckman wrote an article on "Why the Democrats Can't Win on Taxes. It's one of those articles that pretends to be giving helpful advice to Democrats while, in reality, giving them bad advice and explaining why they don't have a prayer. Check out this helpful advice.

"But many analysts fear these Presidential hopefuls are playing right into the hands of the GOP. After all, in the game of political word association, when a Democrat says "tax," voters think "hike." And in a battle with Bush, who has made tax-cutting his signature domestic priority, Dems risk coming out a distant second. "Democrats are better off changing the subject," says William G. Gale, a tax economist at the Brookings Institution. "Trying to outdo Bush on taxes is neither good politics nor good policy."

On the other hand, it's totally irresponsible for Democrats to suggest that the Bush Tax Cuts won't have to be dealt with at some point. It's also clear that regardless of what Democrats say, the Republicans are going to say, at every opportunity, "Democrats are going to raise your taxes." So is it really better to just cede that discussion to the Republicans and focus on education? I think the Democratic Candidates are doing the right thing by explaining their plans and how they differ from Republican tax schemes.

Sunday, January 25, 2004

New Quote

Yep have a new quote and a new Quotes page. Also republishing the candidate review for The Environment. For some reason when I pull quotes from the Dean page it transforms all the apostrophes into question marks. C'est la vie.

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Candidate Review - the Environment - Wrap Up

Well, this probably wasn't my strongest candidate review. I know that there will be some out there dissapointed by this, but the Environment, as an issue, doesn't motivate me all that much. So I didn't have as much of a feel for this issue. And we are coming to the end of this series--probably do one next week, but I don't know that that won't be the last one.

Anyway here's the Environment Sheet.

New Link

This is another one I should have linked to a long time ago. The Daily Howler is a media watchdog site, and they do a very good job.

Friday, January 23, 2004

Candidate Review - The Environment - Senator Joe Lieberman

This is from an Op-Ed published in the Financial Times, written by Joe Lieberman.

The record on this is as clear as the sky is blue: voluntary programmes like the one proposed by the president simply do not work. At the 1992 summit in Rio de Janeiro, the US agreed to the convention on climate change and signed up to a "voluntary" goal of reducing emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2000. Voluntary programmes were attempted. But US greenhouse gas emissions instead increased by 14 per cent between 1990 and 2000.

In fact, under the logic of the Bush administration's plan, the faster the US economy grows, the more greenhouse gas emissions will be allowed to increase. This perverse result reflects precisely the wrong-headed, zero-sum approach that has been rejected by Democrats and Republicans alike in recent years.

. . . Senator John McCain and I have a legislative plan to start reducing harmful emissions immediately by harnessing US private sector innovation. The plan is called "cap and trade". The government sets an overall limit on the amount of greenhouse gases nationwide, then businesses have total flexibility to cut their own emissions as they see fit. They buy and sell credits to other companies on the open market instead of paying penalties to the authorities.

Candidate Review - The Environment - Representative Dennis Kucinich

Dennis Kucinich under the section of his platform that covers the environment and clean air.

"The EPA under Bush stands for Every Polluter's Ally. The air and the water and the land are viewed by this administration as just another commodity to be used for private profit. We have to be about what one writer called 'the great work' of restoring our air and our water and our land. We have to look at it as the common property of all humanity - as the commonwealth, rather, of all humanity. And so my candidacy arises from a philosophy of interdependence and interconnection which respects the environment as a precondition for our survival.

I'm not tied to any corporate interests that would strip our forests, that would pollute our air or water. Throughout my career, I have worked for structures of law that protect the environment, and the principles that animate my campaign are principles of sustainability. The principles that animate my life are principles of sustainability.

. . . My administration will act on the fact that the air we breathe is essential to life. Even unseen pollution harms all our lives and destroys some of our lives. All of us pay for the pollution of others. Pollution is not necessary and the price of pollution is not something we need to pay to maintain our lifestyles. In many cases, the cost of cleaning up the pollution is less than the medical costs of treating the effects of pollution. I will continue to cleanse the air and drive down the cost that everyone pays for a dirty atmosphere.

Candidate Review - The Environment - Senator John Kerry

These are comments from a speech made on October 20, 2003, at the University of New Hampshire.

"As President, I will put environmental justice center stage. For too long, poor and minority communities have been overlooked when it came to the environment. And for too long, polluters thought they could get away with breaking the law as long as it was in someone else’s back yard. Those days need to end. Under a Kerry Administration, no community will have their environment overlooked. They will have the power to fight back. And the polluters won’t get away with it any more.

What will America look like when we are done? We will have pollution-free cars drawing their energy from redesigned fueling stations. We will see gleaming high speed trains carrying passengers from city to city. Our oceans and rivers and forests will move out of intensive care and back into health, so that they are once again teeming with life. In rural America, people will be as connected as anyone living in the city; and our cities will see almost as much green as out in the country.

America faces a choice: do we wish to be remembered as the last generation of the foolish – those who believed that the earth could be stripped without conscience – or as the first generation of the wise?

George Bush has offered his answer – time and again.

We need to offer a better answer. We need to unlock the force of invention and imagination. We need a President who will lead the country and the world in tackling the challenges we face. We need a President who’ll protect our rivers and lakes, our oceans and forests. We need to make sure our children’s children know the true meaning of “America the Beautiful.”

And from his webpage on his environmental platform.

"John Kerry understands the connection between air pollution and public health. As President, he will immediately reverse the Bush-Cheney rollbacks of our nation’s Clean Air laws, plug loopholes in the laws, and vigorously enforce them. He will take bold steps to protect the health of all Americans – particularly our most vulnerable seniors and children – by adopting an aggressive program to meet ozone and air quality standards, stop acid rain, and reduce mercury emissions. His plan also includes addressing global warming emissions through a combination of innovative programs that will drive technology change and create jobs."

Candidate Review - Senator John Edwards - The Environment

This is Edwards reaction to a proposal of the Bush administration to exempt large hog farms froms and other farming polluters from clean air standards.

""This plan was a bad idea when it was first considered, and it's still a bad idea today. The only safe harbor here is the one the Bush administration gives to big corporate interests everyday, while regular Americans lose out," Edwards said. "There's something wrong in America when the EPA wants to give amnesty to factory farms that pollute and drive families from their homes, instead of making sure they abide by clean air and water standards. It's time for a real policy that cleans up factory hog farms by imposing strict standards and tough penalties."

And this is from the environmental section of his website.

Lead the Fight Against the Bush Administration
Senator Edwards has led the fight against increased air pollution resulting from the administration’s rollback of the Clean Air Act. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) moved to make it much easier for old factories and power plants to increase their pollution levels without having to clean up the air. Edwards led the fight on the Senate floor to block the Bush administration’s rollbacks.

Work With Our Allies
Edwards supports U.S. leadership to establish international agreements to tackle world problems, including climate change, and to ensure that our competitors meet minimal environmental standards. Edwards opposes measures that empower closed tribunals to overrule America’s environmental laws.

Candidate Review - Former Governor Howard Dean - The Environment

This is from a speech Dean made in San Francisco, July 31, 2003.

"We will finally make the EPA a cabinet-level agency with a Secretary, not an Administrator, who will have not just the symbolic support of the Administration, but the actual support as well. And we?ll ensure that the agencies created to oversee our precious environmental and natural resources aren?t co-opted by the very forces they?re supposed to be guarding against.

We?ll place tighter controls on air pollution immediately. New legislation will reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, mercury and carbon dioxide. We?ll strengthen New Source Review requirements to undo the damage done by the Bush Administration. And I?ll ask Congress to close the loophole in federal law that allows old, polluting power plants to continue to foul our air.

And from the section of his website detailing his position on air pollution.

"To reduce these health threats, one of the first actions Dean will take as President is to reduce power plant emissions of sulfur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, mercury, and carbon dioxide by fully enforcing the Clean Air Act and seeking new legislation to further strengthen that law. (In contrast, President Bush has dramatically weakened clean air safeguards and proposed so-called ?Clear Skies? legislation that would actually allow more power plant pollution than current law. Bush also refuses to curb carbon emissions that cause global warming despite his pledge to do so in the 2000 campaign.) A Dean administration will also protect our health by directing the EPA to accelerate adoption of health-based standards for other toxic air pollutants.

Dean will also faithfully enforce the Clean Air Act?s provisions to clean up disproportionately high pollution from older power plants and other industrial facilities. The Bush administration has violated the Clean Air Act and created a huge new regulatory loophole allowing power companies to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in rebuilding old power plants without installing modern pollution controls.

Candidate Review - General Wesley Clark - The Environment

Hey it's time for another candidate review, this time on the environment. I will be focusing on the clean air aspect of the environment as much as I can (well, as much as I can find quotes on that specific subject.

Here's Clark's plan from a speech in New Hampshire, December 9, 2004.

"We need a President who protects the public's health, not polluters' pocketbooks. We need a President who will tell the truth to the American people about the risks posed by air pollution, not one who hides data and distorts the science. We need a President who understands that clean air and a healthy economy go hand in hand.

My Clean Air Plan will improve America's health and America's economy. Compared to the Bush administration's policies, my Clean Air Plan will prevent more than 100,000 premature deaths and more than two million asthma attacks through the year 2020.

Specifically, my four-part plan will:

Set tough standards for the worst sources of air pollution, starting with electric power plants;

Crack down on corporate polluters;

Use American technology and market-based approaches to meet air pollution challenges with innovative, job-creating solutions; and

Restore trust in the environmental stewardship of the White House.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

State of the Union

I have been perhaps a bit to hard on President Bush's State of the Union. Or at least that is the implication one could assume by reading my posts. The truth is his section on foreign policy was not as weak as I expected. Of course he failed to accept any reponsibility for the inaccurate statements in last years State of the Union. He also didn't openly suggest we would be attacking anybody else soon.

For the most part, however, I'd say his state of the Union did exactly what it was supposed to do. It set up the differences between his vision for America and those of his opponents. And based on that, yeah, I'd choose Howard Dean over him, rebel yell and all (That's not an endorsement, just so you know).

State of the Union and Rebuttal, Part 5

"Because of American leadership and resolve, the world is changing for the better. Last month, the leader of Libya voluntarily pledged to disclose and dismantle all of his regime's weapons of mass destruction programs, including a uranium enrichment project for nuclear weapons. Colonel Qadhafi correctly judged that his country would be better off and far more secure without weapons of mass murder.

Nine months of intense negotiations involving the United States and Great Britain succeeded with Libya, while 12 years of diplomacy with Iraq did not. And one reason is clear: For diplomacy to be effective, words must be credible, and no one can now doubt the word of America.
President George W. Bush, State of the Union

"But their dissing the U.N. — that palace of permission slips — and their doctrine of pre-emption are just as hot, and so was Mr. Bush's cocky implicit defense of the idea that if you whack one Middle East dictator, the rest will fall in line. "Nine months of intense negotiations involving the United States and Great Britain succeeded with Libya, while 12 years of diplomacy with Iraq did not," he said. "For diplomacy to be effective, words must be credible, and no one can now doubt the word of America."

Maybe he's right, but what about Bill Clinton's line that unless we want to occupy every country in the world, maybe our policy should also concentrate on making friends instead of targets? The president and vice president like to present a calm, experienced demeanor, but their foreign policy is right out of the let's-out-crazy-the-bad-guys style of Mel Gibson's cop in "Lethal Weapon" movies.
Marueen Dowd, "Riding the Crazy Train."

State of the Union and Rebuttal, Part 4

A strong America must also value the institution of marriage. I believe we should respect individuals as we take a principled stand for one of the most fundamental, enduring institutions of our civilization.
President George W. Bush, State of the Union (For those who don't know, last week, President Bush proposed spending $1.5 million on to Promote Marriage).

"The money will be used to teach couples how to manage their conflicts in healthy ways, and, yes, to fund ad campaigns publicizing the value of getting hitched. I can just picture the PSAs starring Trista and Ryan: "Hey, kids, we were paid millions of dollars to tie the knot on national TV. So don't believe anyone who tells you that marriage isn't worth the trouble!" Federal dollars will also be earmarked for mentoring programs that use married couples as role models. Here's a suggestion: why not start with conservative icons such as Bob Dole, Newt Gingrich and Phil Gramm. They can all tearfully testify how much those ads might have meant in their own unsuccessful attempts to keep a marriage together.

Now I'm not saying that helping married couples stay together is a bad thing. I'm just saying that it's not a job for the Federal government. At least not a government that is faced with far more pressing problems than what to do when he wants to watch football and she wants to cuddle. We have 9% unemployment, 12 million uninsured children, record-breaking $500 billion deficits, unfinished business in Afghanistan and Iraq, porous ports and vulnerable airports, and every state in the union cutting back on vital social programs, and the president wants to spend precious resources convincing young people that marriage is better than shacking up? Just whom is he protecting here? Aside from his own electoral backside.
Arianne Huffington, "Bush Leaves No Bride Behind"

State of the Union and Rebuttal, Part 3

"In two weeks, I will send you a budget that funds the war, protects the homeland, and meets important domestic needs, while limiting the growth in discretionary spending to less than 4 percent. (Applause.) This will require that Congress focus on priorities, cut wasteful spending, and be wise with the people's money. By doing so, we can cut the deficit in half over the next five years."
President George W. Bush, State of the Union, January 20, 2004

"Bush claimed that the budget he will soon send to Congress will "cut the deficit in half over the next five years." Here was the latest installment in a long run of fuzzy math. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Bush's projections "show a large decline in the deficit by 2009 only because the [Office of Management and Budget] figures will omit a series of very likely or inevitable costs in taxes, defense spending, and other areas." The center explains:

"A series of analyses -- including analyses by the Brookings Institution, Goldman-Sachs, and a joint analysis by the business-led Committee for Economic Development, the Concord Coalition, and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities -- all have found that recent budget projections omit a number of likely costs that must be added back to gain a realistic sense of the budget deficits we face in coming years. The administration's forthcoming budget is expected to have approximately $200 billion in missing costs in the fifth year."

"Specifically, the OMB figures are likely to exclude the costs of fighting terrorism internationally after September 30, 2004; to fail to reflect the full costs of the Administration's own "Future Year Defense Plan;" to omit the costs of extending relief from the mushrooming Alternative Minimum Tax after 2005; and to omit the costs of extending a series of very popular tax breaks."

Using real-world assumptions, the center calculates that the deficit is likely to rise from $374 billion in 2003 to between $440 billion and $500 billion in 2009. It adds, "The administration's contention that the deficit will be cut in half in the next five years thus is essentially an accounting fiction, derived in large part by omitting very likely or inevitable costs, including costs for proposals the administration itself hopes and intends to submit in the years ahead." Let's see Bush keep his word on his deficit pledge.
David Corn, Capital Games, "Bush's Defiant State of the Union."

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

State of the Union and Rebuttal, Part 2

"By passing the No Child Left Behind Act, you have made the expectation of literacy the law of our country. We are providing more funding for our schools -- a 36 percent increase since 2001. We are requiring higher standards. We are regularly testing every child on the fundamentals. We are reporting results to parents, and making sure they have better options when schools are not performing. We are making progress toward excellence for every child in America.

But the status quo always has defenders. Some want to undermine the No Child Left Behind Act by weakening standards and accountability. Yet the results we require are really a matter of common sense: We expect third graders to read and do math at third grade level -- that’s not asking too much. Testing is the only way to identify and help students who are falling behind.

This nation will not go back to the days of simply shuffling children along from grade to grade without them learning the basics. I refuse to give up on any child -- and the No Child Left Behind Act is opening the door of opportunity to all of America's children.
President George W. Bush, State of the Union, January 20, 2004

"Here's how No Child Left Behind and your tests work in the classrooms of Houston and Chicago. Millions of 8-year-olds are given lists of words and phrases. They are graded, like USDA beef: some prime, some OK, many failed.

Once the kids are stamped and sorted, the parents of the marked children ask for you to fill your tantalizing promise, to "make sure they have better options when schools are not performing."

But there is no "better option," is there, Mr. Bush? Where's the money for the better schools to take in the kids getting crushed in cash-poor districts? Where's the open door to the suburban campuses with the big green lawns for the dark kids with the test-score mark of Cain?

. . . Here in New York City, your educational Taliban, led by Republican Mayor Bloomberg, had issued an edict to test the third-graders. Winnow out the chaff and throw them back, exactly where they started, to repeat the same failed program another year. In other words, the core edict of No Child Left Behind is that failing children will be left behind another year. And another year and another year.

You know and I know that this is not an educational opportunity program -- because you offer no opportunities, no hope, no plan, no funding. Rather, it is the new Republican social Darwinism: Identify the nation's loser-class early on. Trap them, then train them cheap. The system will provide the new worker drones to clean the toilets at the Yale alumni club, to punch the McDonald's cash registers color-coded for illiterates, to pamper the winner-class on the higher floors of the new service economy order.
Greg Palast, "No (Rich) Child Left Behind"

State of the Union and Rebuttal, Part 1

"Tonight I also ask you to reform our immigration laws, so they reflect our values and benefit our economy. I propose a new temporary worker program to match willing foreign workers with willing employers, when no Americans can be found to fill the job. This reform will be good for our economy -- because employers will find needed workers in an honest and orderly system. A temporary worker program will help protect our homeland -- allowing border patrol and law enforcement to focus on true threats to our national security. I oppose amnesty, because it would encourage further illegal immigration, and unfairly reward those who break our laws. My temporary worker program will preserve the citizenship path for those who respect the law, while bringing millions of hardworking men and women out from the shadows of American life. "
President George W. Bush, State of the Union.

"Bush made clear that this program is not just for workers presently in the country, as the press has mostly been reporting. It is not just for those who may soon arrive. No, it is far broader than that. Here's the president's speech: "If an American employer is offering a job that American citizens are not willing to take, we ought to welcome into our country a person who will fill that job."

This program will permit any employer to admit any worker. From any country. At any time. The only requirement is that it be for a job Americans are not willing to take. But it is easy to create such jobs: Cut wages. Terminate the unions. Lengthen the hours. Speed up the lines. Chicken farmers have known this for years. Bush's plan is a blank check for every bad boss this country has.

There is no reason why principal recruitment of new workers would be from Mexico. It might be, very massively, from China. Or perhaps from India, with its large English-speaking population. Temp agencies would go out on recruiting missions. Some of this competition may displace Mexican and Central American nationals presently working illegally in the United States (and hoping to stay). That would only drive them even further underground.

And for those who take up the program, register as temporary workers, and then see their permits expire? Bush is at pains to say that he expects this group to go home. But who will make them? Will the government organize a mass campaign of roundups and deportations? Or will the workers just quietly disappear back into the sub-underground of the truly illegal?

And for those who do go home, who will replace them? Another cohort of strangers? This is a program to create a rotating underclass of foreign workers, who never assimilate to American ways or adopt American values. It's hard to imagine anything worse for our social life -- more productive of petty crime -- or for that matter, riskier for our national security.
James K. Galbraith, The no jobs President.

Walter E. Williams on Education

Apparently it's important to distinguish Walter E. Williams from Walter Williams, who is a commie economist. Walter E. Williams, on the other hand, is a conservative nitwit. His latest article talks about Black Education; explaining that it's the things that don't cost any money that make a school. For example, kids using foul language and loitering around in the hallways hurt grades (I know they didn't help mine any). In successful schools, the parents are involved; the teachers are demanding. He then says, "None of these ingredients are budget-busters, but if they're not present, no matter how high the budget, education won't occur.

The cruelest hoax of it all is the fraud perpetrated on black students and their parents. This was forcefully brought home to me over the holidays in a conversation with an in-law who boasted about how his son, a senior, was on his school's honor roll at one of Philadelphia's inner-city high schools.

While it was not thrilling, honesty compelled me to inform him that the average black high school graduate has an academic achievement level on par with that of an average white seventh-grader. His son's A's and B's would probably translate into C's, D's and F's at most other high schools.

Basically the education system doesn't fail Black Kids. The Black Kids and their families fail the system. Therefore, presumably, there's no need to worry about educating black kids. If they don't get the education they need, it's their won fault.

Also, on another note, what a total jerk Walter E. Williams is. He really told an in-law that his child was probably just as succesful as a white seventh grader? What a jerk.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

David Brooks Condescends to a Nation

David Brooks explains to us all the lessons of Kerry and Edwards victory in Iowa with typical grace and humility (I.E. none at all). He concludes it with his most condescending paragraph.

"I'm struck by how oblivious this campaign has been to the consequences of 9/11. I'm struck by how the grand idealism of the crowds is out of proportion to the smallish policies on offer. Nonetheless, it's sort of inspiring in this cold Iowa winter to see at least some Americans who have preserved, despite decades of discouragement, a stubborn faith in politics, and the possibility of change."

First of all, all of the campaigns have addressed the lessons of September 11th, and in many cases better than President Bush, in my opinion. So I don't know what consequences Mr. Brooks is talking about. Is he saying, and he probably is, that the lesson Iowa voters are supposed to learn is that only President Bush can protect us from Terrorists.

Secondly, does Mr. Brooks really find concern about education, poverty and health insurance really quaint?

New Links and more Clean Up

In our baffling effort to give you better value, we have cleaned up some of the links, and added two. Working for Change is like a smarter version of Commondreams (no offense). They have some really good writers, including Molly Ivans. I think she has a very attractive voice by the way, as well. I got Bushwacked on CD, and enjoyed it a great deal.

Also the Columbia Journalism Review has a website on coverage of the upcoming election entitled the Campaign Desk.

New York Times Editorial

Yep, that title says it all. I read a New York Times Editorial.

"John Kerry, who came in first last night, and John Edwards, who scored a surprising second, appeared to be the men voters thought looked most electable. That throws cold water, at least temporarily, on the long-held theory that primary voters favor candidates who are too far to the left or right to win in the fall. In this era of attack-dog politics, it's nice to have a moment of pragmatism."

The problem with laying it at the doorstep of pragmatism, however, automatically discounts any policies that Kerry and Edwards might have. It discounts the possibility that Iowan voters might have looked at the platforms of Kerry and Edwards (and Dean and Gephardt) and voted for the one who more closely matches what they actually believe. Instead the assumption is that if the voters voted for who they actually thought was the best man, that man would be Dean or Gephardt (or Kucinich, the most liberal candidate). I'm not sure that's a fair assumption.

One theory

This was floated at Democratic Underground, but I have to say, it makes sense to me. Edwards and Kerry both made it fairly clear that they were not going to remove the middle class tax cuts President Bush had instituted. Dean and Gephardt were less clear on the issue, and both seemed to say that they were going to repeal President Bush's tax cuts entirely. I'm sure this doesn't explain Kerry and Edward's success completely, but it is possible.

Gephardt is going to drop out of the race. I've not been a big fan of Gephardt, but I do appreciate that he has the wisdom to get off stage when its time.

Also President Bush's State of the Union is tonight; trying to decide if I have to watch or not. Maybe I can just read it.

What Yesterday Means

Which would be a good name for an album, if anybody is paying attention.

I don't know who the final Democratic Nominee will be. Could be Clark, Could be Dean, Could be Kerry, Could be Edwards. And, while I do favor one of the candidates, I could live with any of those guys as the candidate.

But up until yesterday it seemed like we had a scenario fairly well set. Dean would clean up in Iowa and New Hampshire; get that early lead and hold it until the convention. As candidate, the press has already decided they don't like him, and he can't challenge President Bush on Foreign Policy. So in November we lose, and maybe lose big. That's the scenario a lot of the right wing has been pushing, and, sad to say, I bought into a little bit. And I should know better.

But Kerry and Edwards victory in Iowa upsets the balance a little. It reminds me, and possibly reminds us all, that the electoral process is not a smooth and easily foretold road. So whether or not either man goes on to the grand finale, at least this day they give me hope.

What a Difference a Day Makes

Well a week ago Kerry and Edwards weren't really on the map, and today they are dead center. Good for them.

More analysis to come on how Kerry and Edwards are both just as crazy as Dean, I'm sure.

Monday, January 19, 2004

New Logo

Yep, we got a new logo and a little different look. Hope you like it.

Ann Coulter - Nuttier than 15 Squirrels and still counting

This week Ann takes on Wesley Clark, and, in a bit of projection, describes him as totally nuts.

Apparently Clark has the crazy idea that Intelligence information is kind of murky. He described it, in a quote that Coulter quotes twice, as a "a sort of gray goo as you look at it. You can't see through it, exactly, and if you try to touch it, it gets real sticky and you might actually interfere with the information that you're getting back. So you have to draw inferences from it." That's not the most elegant or the prettiest analogy, but it strikes me as pretty accurate.

Of course, were Ann president there would be little to no need for any intelligence. We would have invaded the middle east, killed their leaders, destroyed their armies, forcibly converted all the civilians, and demolished all the mosques. Simple. No intelligence needed. So, I guess it's understandable that she doesn't understand intelligence.

She also denigrates his work in Kosovo, and minimizes the menace of Slobodan Milosevic (some on the right now wonder if we judged Milosevic to hard; after all, he was killing Muslims).

Of course the scariest part about Clark is that he has stated that September 11th may have been preventable, but that the Bush Administration failed to put the pieces together. And for that he must truly pay; some questions nobody should ask, not even in an election year. But, since he asked it . . . Well, now I'm curious.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Clean up

First of all I added a new quotation to the Quotes page and the top of the page.

Secondly here is the sum up to the Tax Reform Candidate Review. Sharpton's website is finally back up, but it still doesn't have all that much on it. And Ms. Moseley Braun dropped out. I have to say after doing these candidate reviews she was a much better candidate than I originally gave her credit for. I am also updating the Candidate Review for the War in Iraq.

Finally, have a nice weekend.

Saturday, January 17, 2004

Candidate Review - Tax Reform - Joe Lieberman

From a Op-Ed he wrote in the Greenville News, January 12, 2004.

"I'm the only Democrat in this race to offer a broad middle-class tax cut -- for 98 percent of taxpayers. In South Carolina, that would mean a tax cut for more than 1.3 million middle-class families -- and the vast majority of the state's small businesses.

The difference between Howard Dean's tax hikes and my tax cuts adds up to more than $2,200 a year for the average South Carolina family of four. That's $800 more than the average annual family health insurance premium.

Second the specifics of his plan from his website.

First, he will keep in place the middle class tax cuts included in the Bush tax cuts some of which were included only because Democrats fought for them--such as the increase in the child tax credit and the elimination of the marriage penalty.

Second, to make the system better balanced, he will:

- Restructure the income tax brackets in a systematic way
- Reset the top two income tax rates that George W. Bush decreased
- Lower the middle two rates for middle class families
- Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income families
- Repeal the dividend tax cut that Bush pushed for
- Reform the estate tax that Bush repealed
- Eliminate wasteful corporate loopholes and subsidies that Bush has protected
- Add a special "recapture" bracket for the highest income taxpayers that will recoup the benefits of the lower rates.

As a result, about 98 percent of all taxpayers will get a tax cut as well three-quarters of all small business owners.

Friday, January 16, 2004

Candidate Review - Tax Reform - Representative Dennis Kucinich

For Dennis Kucinich something a bit different. Apparently he has already proposed his plan to improve our tax plan, in "The Progressive Tax Act of 2003." Commenting on the proposal, Kucinich said, "Our tax system is in need of desperate repair. Tax cuts to the wealthiest one percent of Americans do not create jobs and do not increase wages for working people. The only way to real economic strength and security is to provide real tax relief to those who need it most, workers and families. This bill enables real economic growth and progressive tax reform while providing fiscal responsibility."

Here is a summary of the bill.

The Progressive Tax Act of 2003

To resolve the impending crisis, action must be taken now to protect the progressive tax system, provide transparency, and ensure adequate funds for the federal government to meet its obligations. This can only be accomplished by shifting tax burden from work to accumulated wealth, from the working poor to the wealthiest, and from children to

In Title I, the bill provides tax relief for workers and families:

1. $1530 Payroll Tax Credit: A refundable tax credit for people who work, linked to what they paid in payroll taxes and phased out at higher incomes. This tax credit is simple, targeted to relieve a high tax burden, provides a stimulus effect, and encourages work.
2. $2000 Simplified Family Credit: A refundable tax credit that simplifies the tax code by consolidating the EITC, Child Tax Credit, Additional Child Credit, and exemption for children into one Simplified Family Credit. This tax credit will
simplify the tax code, provide greater transparency, provide extra work incentives, and a stimulus effect.

In Title II and Title II, the bill closes corporate loopholes and restores the federal budget:

1. Restore integrity to the tax system by closing corporate loopholes and setting tough penalties to prevent corporate tax shelter abuse.
2. Repeal most of the erroneous Bush tax cuts in the past three years that benefited the wealthy. Repeal other tax benefits that provide benefits only to the wealthy and have no stimulus effect.

The Progressive Tax Act of 2003 will provide a positive impact on the federal budget and deficit. It gives $87 billion per year to people with modest income and families in the middle class. The bill collects an additional $107 billion per year from the unfair Bush tax cuts, corporate tax loopholes, and other inappropriate tax giveaways. The bill therefore raises a sum total of $20 billion per year that remains available for deficit reduction or new spending.

Candidate Review - Tax Reform - Senator John Kerry

This is from a speech on January 14, 2004 (so Wednesday), in Davenport Iowa.

"And while we must repeal the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, I will fight - and I ask you to join me in fighting against - proposals to increase taxes on the middle class. I disagree with those in my own party who are so mad at George Bush that they want to take it out on working families in Iowa by raising their taxes an average of $2,000 a year. To me, this is a matter of principle: Democrats should stand up for everyday Americans who work hard, hope for the future, and face extraordinary challenges everyday.

A government on their side will know when to take sides. So as President, I will scrub the tax code, which has grown from 14 pages to 17,000 pages, to remove every single loophole, every single incentive, every single provision that rewards Benedict Arnold CEOs and corporations for moving profits and American jobs overseas. And we'll stop giving government contracts for companies who do wrong by their workers.

We will put an end to tax giveaways for corporations who cut back on their workers while they lavish millions on CEOs. And corporations won't get tax breaks for CEOs million dollar retirement windfalls while they cut back on worker pension plans. We need a President who fights for a fair retirement for every family not Paradise Island for millionaires.

Candidate Review - Tax Reform - Representative Dick Gephardt

This is from a speech on August 4, 2003. It's important to know that Gephardt believes that his plans to create a National Health Care Plan will stimulate the economy.

"In 1993, as House Democratic Leader, I led the fight to pass the Clinton-Gore economic plan – a plan designed to slash the deficit, invest in education, cut taxes for working families, and ask the wealthy among us to pay their fair share. We took the political heat and paid the political price. But it was the right thing to do.

Not one Republican voted for that plan. They said it was a job killer. Instead it led to the single largest economic expansion in history. It resulted in the highest home ownership ever. It forged the lowest inflation in a generation and it created over twenty two million new jobs. Turns out we were right and the Republicans were wrong.

. . . As president, my first act would be to submit to Congress legislation to repeal the Bush tax cuts and replace them with health care for all Americans that can never be taken away. Senator Wagner started the fight 70 years ago, and I’m determined to finish it.

And this is from a speech on November 23, 2003.

"Fiscal responsibility is not amputation. It's finding the right balance of optimism, incentive, fairness, and opportunity. It's rising to a fiscal challenge with imagination and compassion, not clinical detachment and disdain for the unfortunate. It's asking the most fortunate to do their part so we can invest in everyone's ability to succeed."


Well, I know some of you can't get enough negative information on Bill O'Reilly--so here's a new site that lays into him. However, I like that this website is trying an old fashioned boycott; the kind where people just don't watch the show, and tell others why not. Instead of the type of boycott where you try to scare sponsers by boycotting their products.

Candidate Review - Tax Reform - Senator John Edwards

This is from a speech at Georgetown University, Washington D.C., on June 17, 2003. Georgetown is apparently the "it" place to reveal your economic plan.

"As President, I will put the government, the economy, and the tax code back in line with our values. No more tax breaks for corporations that move their headquarters overseas or buy life insurance on janitors and make themselves the beneficiaries. No more tax breaks for CEOs who give themselves millions in top-hat pensions while giving no pensions at all to ordinary workers. No more playing games with the budget and driving up deficits. And no more of the Bush administration’s war on work.

First, I will ask Congress to cancel the 2001 and 2003 income, dividend, and estate tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans in the upper two brackets. In these times of national sacrifice, we should not be asking less of the most fortunate. I agree with Bill Gates, Sr., the father of the richest man in America, that in a world where taxes must be paid, the people who inherit massive estates ought to pay taxes too. I agree with Warren Buffett, the shrewd investor and another of America’s richest men, who said that something is deeply wrong when a billionaire has a lower tax rate than his secretary.

Second, I will give America a tax code that rewards work, not wealth. Today, middle-class families pay income tax on their earnings at a rate of up to 25%, plus another 7.65% in payroll tax. Yet under the law President Bush just signed, a CEO who pays himself whatever he wants can sell millions of dollars in stock and pay tax at a total rate of 15%.

. . . Under my plan, the wealthiest one-third of one percent of taxpayers – those who claim capital gains and have annual incomes over $350,000 -- will pay the same rate on capital gains – 25% -- that two teachers who earn $35,000 pay on their incomes. In turn, we’ll use the money not for new programs, but to restore fiscal discipline and to give tax cuts to middle-class Americans who live from paycheck to paycheck.

Third, I will cut taxes to encourage savings and wealth creation for the middle class and working poor, not take away their tax cuts. I believe ordinary Americans are taxed too much, not too little. As a direct result of this President’s policies, all across this country people are seeing their property taxes, their sales taxes, their state and local income taxes, and their college tuition bills go up. Now some in my party want to take away their federal income tax cuts, too. That’s wrong. The answer to Republicans who have made middle-class incomes and nest eggs go down should not be Democrats who make middle-class taxes go up.

Candidate Review - Tax Reform - Former Governor Howard Dean

This is from Howard Dean's big economic speech given at Georgetown University, Washington DC on October 16, 2003.

"Balanced budgets matter. They should matter not just to economists who say they lead to economic growth. They should matter to social progressives who should be fiscal conservatives, because only fiscal responsibility guarantees that the American people will have the government they need when they truly need it.

Repealing the Bush tax cuts is a good first step in restoring fiscal responsibility. But we can’t bring the budget into balance without controlling government spending. Under this president, non-defense spending has skyrocketed by over 20%. To restore fiscal discipline, I’ll work to bring back the pay-as-you-go rule that forces Washington to pay for new spending rather than borrowing for it. And we’ll root out waste and inefficiency in the way that the federal bureaucracy does business by re-instituting the National Performance Review that Al Gore started and which saved over $20 billion a year.

Once we have repealed the President’s reckless tax cuts, we will set about making the tax system fairer and simpler. We’ll end corporate welfare as we know it, eliminating up to $100 billion dollars in tax breaks and subsidies that benefit special interests and large contributors to both political parties.

And we’ll crack down on tax shelters that allow American companies to hide their profits offshore and not pay any taxes while enjoying all of the benefits that the American taxpayer provides to them.

Consider this — from the 1930s through the 1960s, corporations paid 30 to 40 percent of the taxes, and the rest of us paid 6070. Today, corporations pay about 13 percent of taxes. It’s time to move the balance back and take some of the burden off the individual taxpayer who’s trying to make ends meet.

And as a final goal, we’ll simplify the tax system so that a majority of Americans can pay their income taxes without wasting hours filling out forms.

Candidate Review - Tax Reform - General Wesley Clark

I always seem to want to through an extra E into Clark's name. Anyway today we are looking at what the Democratic Candidates plan to do about the Bush tax Cuts.

This is from a speech Clark gave in Nashua, NH on January 5, 2004.

"The week I announced my candidacy, I said that reforming America's tax system would be one of my top priorities. And I promised that I would create a new system with real tax reform that was simpler, fairer, more progressive, and more pro-growth and I'd do it all without increasing the deficit one dime.

My sweeping tax reform plan meets every one of these values. It's called "Families First." Because that's exactly what it does. It will overhaul our tax system so that all Americans pay their fair share. It will reduce poverty. It will encourage families to work and save, so we can be a richer, more prosperous nation. And it will do all this while protecting our most pressing priorities - education, health care, and national security.

First, as I said before, families of four making under $50,000 a year will stop paying income taxes altogether. They will literally not owe a single penny in income taxes to the United States government.

. . . Second, my tax reform plan will give a tax cut to all taxpaying families with children making under $100,000, because all working families are being squeezed by George W. Bush's economy.

Third, my tax reform plan will reward work by building on the Earned Income Tax Credit -- helping millions of America's hardest-pressed families. It will help these families go to work by paying for childcare, transportation, and other work-related expenses. As a result, hundreds of thousands of children will be lifted out of poverty.

Finally, my plan will simplify the tax process, eliminating dozens of pages of forms and boiling hundreds of pages of the tax code down to one easy-to-use form. With this new system, you can figure out whether or not you need to pay taxes just by filling out three lines.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

On College Course X

I think I expressed myself inelegantly this morning. Having a very busy day today and a very busy week this week (but hopefully not a busy month this month. Time will tell.). But I did want to follow up on something.

A fun game by some, (particularly Rush Limbaugh, although he's far from the only offender) is to pick a course out of a college catalog and talk about how ridiculous. This discussion usually involves a few misconceptions, that I'd like to point out. Let's pick a random class that seems like it would be a waste of time; Images of Women in American Sitcoms; From Lucy to Roseanne. Actually that sounds like an interesting class.

First sarcastic criticism. "Yep, that's what the world needs, more experts on Roles for Females in Sitcoms. I heard just the other day that IBM was looking to hire a top specialist in the field of Sitcom Actress Studies." Of course, that's kind of absurd, which is the whole point. Nobody expects to get a job as, strictly speaking, a Sitcom Actress Studies. They might, if they are interested in the subject, write some books on the subject while teaching at a college (so in that sense they could make some money), but they are hardly going to entering corporate America with just that under their belt. However, they might have that and a half dozen accounting/business management courses under their belt.

Second sarcastic criticism. "I remember back when kids used to study Shakespeare or Milton. Now it's just sitcoms. What a waste!" First of all I appreciate this criticism on some level; the fault is when the person assumes it's an either or situation. A student has the option to take both Female Sitcom Roles and Shakespeare, and it's not very common that Shakespeare is being squeezed out by pop culture studies. But I can appreciate that getting students to take Shakespeare is a bit like getting kids to eat Brussels sprouts; it helps if there's nothing else on the plate.

On the other hand Female Sitcom Roles have more to say about our current society. Watching Lucy, or Mary Tyler Moore, or Diane Chambers, or Elaine or Marge Simpson can reveal, if one watches with a critical eye, the changing ways we look at women in America. While I don't want to devalue Shakespeare, I also don't want to devalue other knowledge.

I have more to say on the subject, but will have to hold off. Candidate review tomorrow, as we focus on the candidates favorite Ice Cream Flavors.

Mike S. Adams and Provocation

Mike S. Adams teaches at UNC Wilmington in the Socialogy Criminology dept. Apparently in talking about free speech he brings up some examples of hateful free speech from both the left and the right. A fellow faculty member (a grad student, Adams is careful to point out) heard him doing this and complained to her students. So far so good.

He then spends a few paragraphs ripping into this professor for teaching a class called "Queer Theory."

. . . The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of having a course in “queer theory.” I’m sure that the course isn’t just about promoting gay politics. I’m sure that the professor and the students spend a lot of time talking about their feelings. And I’m sure that it’s a must for people who actually want to become “queer theorists” after they graduate.

Let’s face it; we really do have a shortage of “queer theorists.” In fact, I’ve never met one who didn’t teach at a university.

Ha ha ha. But, of course, what Mr. Adams and we all know is that nobody goes to school to become a Queer Theorist. A class in Queer Theory is part of a communication or sociology or history or english program. One class as part of that program, not the entire thing. Now a history professor might decide that he wants to specialize on the Gay Community or an english professor might specialize on Images of Homosexuality in Literature. Nothing wrong with that, per se. Everybody's got to study something. But to paint a picture of UNC Wilmington cranking out "Queer Theorists" is just nonsensical.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Brent Bozell and Dan Rather

For those who don't know, Dan Rather claims there is no media bias, which is probably not exactly the truth. (The media probably is biased liberal on many social issues and biased conservative on many economic issues. Also they are sensitive to being called Liberal so they play softball with President Bush while reaming Democratic Presidential candidates like Al Gore or Howard Dean.) Brent Bozell claims that there is vast media bias. Brent Bozell offered to donate $1 million dollars to a charity of Rather's choice if an independent media research company proved Liberal Media Bias. Bozell's latest article is all about this grand-standing stunt (kind of reminds one of David Horowitz and his stunts on campus).

But Bozell makes an interesting admission a little bit into the article. "In an interview with Jane Hall in the most recent Columbia Journalism Review, Brokaw suggests there is no such thing as liberal media bias ... and then asserts that liberal bias is an "obligation" of journalism. Journalists should "represent the views of those who are underrepresented in the social context, or the political context, and to make sure that they're not overlooked, and that their wrongs get the bright light of journalistic sunshine."

He's not talking about pro-lifers. He's not talking about tax cutters. He's talking about the "little guy" and the journalist's noble quest to better his world. Try to put that puzzle together. There is no liberal agenda. There is only a journalistic agenda to extol the virtues of the liberal impulse.

So in other words, concern about the poor or the ill or the disenfranchised is naturally a Liberal impulse. Conservatives (well, Brent Bozell anyway) are willing to concede that any attention paid to the poor and needy in our society will have to come from liberal impulses, as they either aren't interested or they believe that being aware of the poor and the ignored are better off if nobody pays attention to them.

Bear in mind that Dan Rather wields no power. He can't pass a law. He can't enforce a law. He can't pass judgement in any legal sense. All he can do is talk on his news program and bring stories to light as he sees fit.

He then proves Dan Rathers Liberal Bias by proving that Dan Rather is a Liberal (by quoting him in several contexts where he is speaking as an individual and not when he is behind his news desk. That's not really the same thing, unless Brent Bozell thinks there's something wrong with an American being a Liberal, which presumably he does.

Salon and Donald Trump

I really like Salon Magazine. It's not as great as it used to be; but we live in a time of lowered expectations and I have no doubt they are doing the best they can. What they usually have is pretty great writing, such as this article on Donald Trump and his latest television show, by Heather Havrilesky. The article includes a description of one of the contestents, who is waiting to see if he will be booted from the show.

"Sam is feeling desperate, so he sets about demonstrating the curious side effects of severe narcissism, trotting out his delusions of grandeur for the bemusement of the other two.

"I want to be the president of a Trump organization. I can't do it today. I can't do it today. You know what I'm doing right now? I'm like this," Sam says. He gets on his hands and knees as Troy and David cringe visibly. "Today I'm crawling. Tomorrow, I'm gonna be like this [halfway up]. Next week, I'm gonna be like this [standing]. And in a couple of weeks, I'm gonna stand up there, just like he does, and I'm gonna be promoted to the president of his organization."

While Sam is tragic and pathetic in his own way, his outburst mostly hints that he's at least a little sharper than the other two. This is television, after all, and anyone who's willing to embody gritty determination in a demented, melodramatic way is sure to stick around for a while. Most of all, Sam is signaling that he belongs in the club. After all, plenty of America's wealthiest businessmen are narcissists and delusional jackasses, and Sam may be exactly the flavor of freak show that makes it in this crazy, mixed-up world.

Anyway go check out Salon--even if you have to use the day pass commercial thingy.

That Darned Media Bias

Yep. Once again we are upset at the clear Media Bias. Take the latest front page at Right there is a picture of Howard Dean with the headline. "Fresh Assault."

Now we like the "Fresh Assault" headline; makes Dean look like an assaulter which he clearly is (for those more innocent of my readers, Dean said some bad, mean, nasty, hurtful things about President Bush). But the picture doesn't make him look nearly crazy enough.

Stay with me. I'm just spitting out an idea here, but why don't you have his eyes a bright glowing red, as if they were the gateways to Hell itself. Now, it might be hard to find a photo that looks exactly like that, but maybe you could play around with Photoshop.

For those of you with some notion of "photo integrity," consider this. The red glowing eyes, making Dean look evil, will convey a deeper truth, and so it's all justified.

Anyway hop to it. Remember making any Liberal look even slightly less than insane or evil is biased against Conservatives.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

American Culture

David Limbaugh is up in arms about the immigration bill, which leads me to believe, although I haven't spent any time studying, that it must be ok. In particular he's up in arms about the damage unrestricted immigration could do to an "American Culture."

"But beneath the slick packaging of "multiculturalism" and "diversity" we find that what they really stand for is the denunciation of Western civilization and America. All civilizations are equally wonderful in the world cultural mosaic -- except those arising out of Western civilization, especially America.

If the multiculturalists had their druthers, what remains of a unique American culture would probably be eradicated, since it is viewed as bigoted and evil.
" A bit of hyperbole on Limbaugh's part, to be sure. But let's examine the underlying premise.

What is American culture?

Is it our food? And if so what food do you mean. I mean, Apple Pie and Hamburgers to be sure. But what about Pizza with Goat Cheese, invented in California (near as I can tell). Is that part of a distinctive American Culture? How about the Bagel? How about Spaghetti with Meatballs? Or the ubiquitous Taco Platter or Sweet and Sour Pork?

Is it our music? And which parts? George Gershwin? Leonard Cohen? Chuck Berry? Rogers and Hammerstein? Bob Dylan? Miles Davis? Chuck D? Eddie Vedder? The Dust Brothers? Duke Ellington? Jimi Hendrix? George Clinton? Moby? Which of them reflect a distinctly American culture? (And for a moment, let me say that it is nice to note that 2/3 of what makes distincitive American Music comes from the African American community, if not more.)

Is it our literature? Little Women? The Naked Lunch? Huckleberry Finn? Stranger in a Strange Land? The Sound and the Fury? On the Road? What counts as American and what doesn't?

Of course you might go back to reverence for our national documents; reverence for the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence and so on. But it doesn't take much time to see that those who are being attacked by Limbaugh quote from these documents as much as he does; perhaps more.

Frankly when you boil it all down; Mr. Limbaugh either wants to see immigrants and minorities copying white middle class culture as much as possible (which means you can drop your Goat Cheese Pizza, your DJ Shadow, and your Naked Lunch), or something else. Could it be that by a specifically American culture, Mr. Limbaugh means a politically conservative culture? Immigrants are welcome if we thought they would vote for President Bush. But since we think they might fall under the influence of evil "Multiculturalists" (or Liberals, to be more clear), than it's best to keep them out.

Of course, I could be wrong.

And Even More Paul O'Neill

This time from Paul Krugman, leading to speculation that their might be a League of Pauls somewhere. If so I'm not a member of it. Back to Mr. Krugman, who comments on some of the juicier bits of the book.

"Ron Suskind's new book "The Price of Loyalty" is based largely on interviews with and materials supplied by Mr. O'Neill. It portrays an administration in which political considerations — satisfying "the base" — trump policy analysis on every issue, from tax cuts to international trade policy and global warming. The money quote may be Dick Cheney's blithe declaration that "Reagan proved deficits don't matter." But there are many other revelations.

One is that Mr. O'Neill and Alan Greenspan knew that it was a mistake to lock in huge tax cuts based on questionable projections of future surpluses. In May 2001 Mr. Greenspan gloomily told Mr. O'Neill that because the first Bush tax cut didn't include triggers — it went forward regardless of how the budget turned out — it was "irresponsible fiscal policy." This was a time when critics of the tax cut were ridiculed for saying exactly the same thing.

Another is that Mr. Bush, who declared in the 2000 campaign that "the vast majority of my tax cuts go to the bottom end of the spectrum," knew that this wasn't true. He worried that eliminating taxes on dividends would benefit only "top-rate people," asking his advisers, "Didn't we already give them a break at the top?

The problem is that we have two different groups looking at these facts. One side believes that accusations they made months ago are now justified (which seems to be the case). The other side believes that the deceptions of the administration don't matter or must not have happened. If the Bush administration stretched the truth a bit, it was in the service of a higher goal, and at any rate, they certainly believed what they were saying. And if you question how we got to war, you must prefer the Iraqi people be suffering under Saddam Hussein's rule.

More Paul O'Neill

Well, you can clear your minds about Paul O'Neill. Bruce Bartlett, doing the kind of in-depth detective work that most of only dream about, has interviewed Cesar Conda, Dick Cheney's policy advisor, and it turns out Paul O'Neill is in the wrong. Oh, and apparently the former head of the Council of Economic Advisors also disagrees wth Paul O'Neill. So two administration insiders confirm that Paul O'Neil is a liar.

"Although the books cites a transcript of this meeting provided by Mr. O'Neill, participants in the meeting tell me that no such statements were ever made. Former Council of Economic Advisers Chairman R. Glenn Hubbard states flatly, "The president NEVER made any of the distributional comments referred to in the interview." Cesar Conda, Vice President Dick Cheney's domestic policy adviser, also told me that the president never said anything about giving money to rich people. Referring to his own notes of the meeting, Conda said that the discussion was about extending depreciation rules that were due to expire, not about reducing income tax rates."

So that has to be a load off of all of our minds. Unless, for some reason, these two men might have fudged the truth.

Monday, January 12, 2004

Paul O'Niell, Tom Tomorrow and the Right Wing Punditbots

I haven't had much time to cover the Paul O'Niell saga, but for those who don't know, Paul O'Niell alleges in his new book that the Bush Adminstration was planning to invade Iraq before September 11th.

Already, of course, he is being attacked pundit bots. Apparently one of the attacks being hurled around is that everybody knew President Bush was planning on attacking Iraq. Well, Tom Tomorrow has some typically trenchent comments on this idea--go read them.

Robert Novak vs. Richard Gephardt

Doesn't that sound like the lamest pay per view wrestling match ever?

Anyway Robert Novak does a little play by play of the Gephardt Campaign, which seems to be gaining momentum in Iowa. Of particular note is the following passage.

"Gephardt on the campaign trail could not be more different than Dean. He gives no hint that Sept. 11, 2001, ever happened. He didn't mention terrorism or the Iraq war in Carroll, at a previous stop at Cronk's Cafe in Denison or the night before at the Bluffs Area Family Center in Sergeant Bluff. Nor did anybody ask him about the war during question periods. He does not mention his votes to authorize the war and to finance the occupation.

That silence is not an effort to evade overwhelmingly antiwar sentiment in the pacifist Midwest, charmed by Dean's antiwar rhetoric. Polling data indicates that most Iowans support the war, and that includes many Democrats (such as the scrupulously neutral new state party chairman, Gordon Fischer). To Gephardt, the war never has been foremost in the minds of Iowans. "Politics is all local and personal," he told me after his Carroll appearance, "and people want answers to their problems.

Gephardt might be right; people might really not care about Terrorist threat, and be mostly focused on local domestic issues. Among Iowa Democrats.

But I don't think that attitude persists across the nation, which is where the General Election while be fought.

Sunday, January 11, 2004

New Quote

As is traditional, we have a new quote and a new Quotes Page.

Saturday, January 10, 2004

Your Weekly Rush

Well, Rush thinks that Conservatives are pissed off at President Bush. He brings up the old bugaboo of the Education Bill, passed a long time . . . well why don't I just let Rush tell it.

"Take the president's education bill. It spends more than any on education, yet the administration has seen states "sitting on billions of federal dollars" according to AP. Furthermore, "Two Democrats who helped secure bipartisan support for the law - Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts and Rep. George Miller of California - accused the administration of false claims and broken promises." So Bush enrages his supporters while trying to buy support from Democrats, and they're still out there calling him a heartless jerk who hates children."

Yep. Well Rush stretches the truth a bit. The truth is that President Bush's budget starved his own program; that is why Seanaters Kennedy and Miller were upset.

On the other hand, Rush had this cheerful news.

"Conservatives are not interested in the Republican Party or a "big tent." Conservatives are interested in the country, the Constitution, limited government, personal liberty, low taxes, a strong military and national security. Conservatives believe that they are the loyal supporters who worked, voted and contributed money for Bush, yet ever since his inauguration they've seen him ignoring them and reaching out to his enemies. They think Bush cares more about pleasing his political foes than his friends. They feel taken for granted."

I hear there's this libertarian party, maybe these dissapointed Conservatives should look at that. Or, even better, maybe they should force President Bush into putting some of their more extreme suggestions into his platform (this is a long shot. Karl Rove knows that the Conservatives are always going to support President Bush, because he's the only game in town, essentially).

Still, it is nice to see Rush encouraging his followers to be discouraged with President Bush.

Friday, January 09, 2004

Candidate Review - The War in Iraq - Summary

Here you go. Any suggestions on what we can do for the next go around, e-mail me.

Candidate Review - The War in Iraq - General Wesley Clark

This is from a speech made in South Carolina on November 6, 2003.

"Let me be clear: there has been some real progress in Iraq. Iraqis have a better future with Saddam Hussein out of power. In many areas, life is improving. It is inspiring to see brave Iraqis working with Americans to rebuild their country. But seven months after the fall of Saddam; violence is growing, and the enemy's morale and momentum is increasing with each deadly attack.

Saddam Hussein did pose a national security challenge. There is no dispute about that. He was in violation of UN Security Council resolutions. If he didn't still have weapons of mass destruction, he was trying to acquire them. He remained hostile to his neighbors. But it was clear then and it is even clearer today that Saddam Hussein posed no imminent threat to the region or the world.

I have always believed that before initiating military action, crucial tests must be met: For example, every diplomatic option should be explored and exhausted. We must do everything possible to gain international and domestic support. And there must be a realistic post-war plan.

The Bush Administration failed every one of these tests. Instead of basing life and death decisions on hard-headed realism, they were guided by wishful thinking. They were convinced that if only we could get rid of Saddam, democracy would bloom in Iraq and across the Middle East.

And here's Clark's strategy in Iraq.

"A new and realistic strategy for Iraq should be guided by the following principles. First, we must end the American monopoly on the occupation and reconstruction. Then we must develop the right force mix to fight and win a guerrilla war. Finally, we must give Iraqis a greater stake in our success.

. . .This new international effort should be launched immediately. The world is waiting for our leadership. They know success is critical for them, too. And we mustn't cast them aside any longer. They should have a seat at the table. But fixing the Administration's missteps won't be easy. It will require diplomacy at the highest levels. And I will call a summit of leaders from Europe, the United Nations, Japan, and the Arab World to launch this new international project.

. . . First off, we want to distribute our resources properly. This requires US forces to run an agile, intelligence-driven counter-insurgency campaign, while Iraqi forces and our allies perform other necessary tasks. When it comes to our force levels, it's possible that some may need to be added initially to create the right mix of capabilities. You cannot measure success by a reduction in forces, and you can't declare failure by an increase in forces. It's better to do the job right so we can succeed and then bring our troops home.

. . .Iraqis will be more likely to meet the security challenge if we give them a greater stake in our success. That means establishing a new sovereign government in Iraq right away. There has been a false debate between the French, who recommended turning all government functions over to Iraqis now - and the Bush Administration, which insists on waiting until a constitution is written and elections are held.

The French are wrong: we cannot transfer full authority to Iraqis before they are ready. But the administration is also wrong: we can give the Iraqis a much bigger sense of ownership over their country and move more quickly towards a government that answers to its people.

Candidate Review - The War in Iraq - Former Governer Howard Dean

From a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, June 25, 2003. Not that any of you are having a hard time remembering Dean's stance on the war.

"Last October, four of the major contenders for the Democratic nomination supported the President's preemptive strike resolution five months before we went to war without, as we now realize, knowing the facts.

I stood up against this administration and even when 70% of the American people supported the war, I believed that the evidence was not there and I refused to change my view. As it turned out, I was right. No Democrat can beat George Bush without the same willingness that John F. Kennedy showed in 1962. A President must be tough, patient, and willing to take a course of action based on evidence, and not ideology.

I question the judgment of those who led us into this conflict this unfinished conflict that has made us, on balance, not more secure, but less. Although we may have won the war, we are failing to win the peace.

I believed then and I believe now that removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq was a just cause. But not every just cause requires that we go to war, especially with inadequate planning and without maximum support.

And from his big foriegn policy speech of December 15, 2003.

"America's interests will be best served by acting with dispatch to work as partners with free Iraqis to help them build a stable, self-governing nation, not by prolonging our term as Iraq's ruler.

To succeed we also need urgently to remove the label "made in America" from the Iraqi transition. We need to make the reconstruction a truly international project, one that integrates NATO, the United Nations, and other members of the international community, and that reduces the burden on America and our troops.