Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Thosethingswesay adventure...

...Your faithful blogger has scored... a press pass to the Republican National Convention on Thursday, for the primetime hours, which means that I'll be there for Dubya's speech, will take notes and will snarkily blog about it when I get back home. If you wach on TV, I'll be the drunk one. The drunk one laughing. At Bush.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Bloomberg's New York -- Leaves a Lot Out

So, Mayor Bloomberg blew it when he opened his mouth at the Republican National Convention, telling delegates that he and Governor Pataki had laid the "tombstone" rather than the "cornerstone" at Ground Zero. But, grim though it was, it was hardly Bloomie's major gaffe.

Bloomberg treated the Republicans to a sanitized history of New York, telling tales of a young Theodore Roosevelt (not mentioning his greatest accomplishment -- using government regulations to curtail out of control monopoly corporations) and mentioning that the Bill of Rights was written here, but not mentioning that our fair city gave a warm (though sometimes raucous and downright dangerous) home to the 20th century civil rights movement, the labor movement and the gay rights movement. You'd think our guests would like to know that.

He mentioned that New York is headquarters to more major corporations than any other city in the country without pointing out that a good number of those Benedict Arnolds fled to New Jersey after 9-11, leaving the city with a sky-high unemployment rate. Well, that kind of stuff would spoil the party, wouldn't it?

Also glad to see Bloomberg be so supportive of Bush. I guess Bloomberg forgot how reluctant the Feds were to release money to the city post 9-11. I guess Bloomberg doesn't mind that the cost of city services went up for all New Yorkers in the form of increased utility bills due to the rising commodity prices that were the inevitable result of Bush's foreign policy and the hike in subway and bus fares after the Feds wouldn't kick in enough to support New York's public transportation agencies. I guess as New York's mayor, Bloomberg doesn't feel at all odd about palling around with a President who's done nothing for this city.

Hastert slanders Soros: Or, Explaining capitalism to supposed capitalists.

I'm sure House Speaker Dennis Hastert considers himself a capitalist. But, he's not a bright one. According to the conservative Washington Times, Hastert said the following about billionaire hedge fund manager George Soros:

"You know, I don't know where George Soros gets his money," Hastert said on Fox News Sunday. "I don't know where -- if it comes overseas or from drug groups or where it comes from."

By drug groups, Hastert means illegal drug cartels. See, because George Soros believes that we need to legalize drug groups. Capitalism lesson #1 is that drug cartels would hate for the U.S. to legalize drugs. They would all be put out of business by major multinational companies like Altria!

Hastert's angry at Soros because Soros is a big backer of Moveon.org and other groups seeking to get Bush out of office. Still, Hasert asks a good question and so we move onto Capitalism lesson #2: Where does George Soros get his money?

He works for it. Soros is one of the most successful hedge fund managers of all time. A hedge fund is an unregulated investment vehicle that invests money on behalf of wealthy individuals and institutions like public pension plans. I believe that Soros has, in his largest fund, something like $12 billion under management. He is paid 1% of that per year to make decisions about that money. So, gets $1.2 million a year just for that. But since this is a hedge fund, Soros also receives 20% of the profits he makes for his investors. The market was up about 23% in 2003. Let's say Soros didn't do quite so well, let's say he trailed the market and brought in a 20% return in 2003. For that, Soros would have been paid $480 million. For one year of work.

Does a man who makes half a billion dollars a year need to take money from drug cartels? Eh, no. Does Dennis Hastert understand capitalism? Eh, no.

The Mullets Take Manhattan

Hey, Republicans... Brooks Brothers = New York City. Brooks & Dunn? Not so much. Get with the program folks!

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Thosethingswesay... Right Again!

Okay, go down past the Bush-527 stuff to my post on Moqtada Sadr in Iraq, where I recommended not killing the guy and trying to make a leader out of him.

This, from Slate's "Today's Papers" August 28th, 2004:

"The NYT notes that Sadr agreed to help prep for the country's first national elections in January, and speculates that the U.S. decision to let him walk away from murder charges was "based on the hope that the young leader, who commands a large following in Iraq's Shiite slums, could be coaxed into the political mainstream."

If anyone wants to you, know, pay me for my wonkery... I'll gladly accept.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

2 Steps Ahead of the Wall Street Journal!

Take a gander at the post below this one and you'll see that I criticized President Bush for either not reading or understanding the McCain-Feingold political finance reform measure that he signed.

Today, the Wall Street Journal chimes in, missing the obvious angle that if Bush thinks McCain-Feingold eliminated soft money from politics then he didn't understand what he signed, and instead implying that the President is a hypocrite for signing the bill and then complaining about it later. By the way, the Journal is right that there's a free speech issue at stake here. I know that some of us would love to silence the Swift Boat Liars who are attacking Kerry, but there's a higher issue at stake here: private citizens have the right to express themselves at all times. We can't muzzle people's political opinions in the name of "taking money out of politics."

Anyway, here's what the Wall Street Journal had to say, two days after Thosethingswesay brought the issue to light:

Too Bad He Signed It
25 August 2004
The Wall Street Journal

"President Bush didn't tell the full story on Monday when he denounced TV ads by such "527s" as the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. But not because he didn't agree to the Kerry campaign's demand that he repudiate the specific Swift Boat ads. Our gripe is that Mr. Bush assailed the very campaign-finance system that he helped create.

"I don't think we ought to have 527s," Mr. Bush said, referring to the independent political fund-raising groups that have become such an important part of this election season. "And I hope my opponent joins me in saying, condemning those activities of the 527s. It's the -- I think they're bad for the system."

Not so fast, Mr. President. One reason 527s are so prominent now is because Mr. Bush made the mistake of signing the McCain-Feingold campaign finance "reform" that barred big donations to political parties. So 527s have become the new alternative vehicle that Americans passionate about politics are using to exercise their First Amendment rights to free speech. The difference is that now the campaigns can't control how that money is spent.

If Mr. Bush wanted the two major parties to better control their campaign messages, he could have vetoed McCain-Feingold. Some of us urged him to do so, but his political advisers whispered not to worry, the Supreme Court will take care of it. Well, Sandra Day O'Connor failed too, but in any event since when are Presidents supposed to pass the buck to judges?

In our view, this was among the worst moments of Mr. Bush's term. Having helped to midwife the current campaign-finance system, it ill behooves him to blame others for the way this world works. "

Monday, August 23, 2004

Bush Didn't Understand McCain-Feingold!

McCain-Feingold is the election finance legislation that President George Bush signed and that added regulations ending certain "soft" money donations for use by parties in political campaigns. It is also the law that created the infamous "527" loophole that allows for people to set up political non-profits that can run issue ads during campaigns, so long as those non-profits don't coordinate with any candidate's campaign.

The loophole exists because we have something called "Freedom of Speech" which is considered an important right (more important, even, than the right to own guns!)

But, whatever you think of 527s... Bush, criticized for not being too bright, didn't understand McCain-Feingold when he signed it! Here's the proof, from the President's [press conference today:

"QUESTION: But why won't you denounce the charges that your supporters are making against Kerry?

BUSH: I'm denouncing all the stuff being on TV, all the 527s. That's what I've said.

I said this kind of unregulated soft money is wrong for the process. And I asked Senator Kerry to join me in getting rid of all that kind of soft money, not only on TV, but to use for other purposes as well.

I, frankly, thought we'd gotten rid of that when I signed the McCain-Feingold bill. I thought we were going to once and for all get rid of a system where people could just pour tons of money in and not be held to account for the advertising.

And so, I'm disappointed with all those kinds of ads."

Mr. President... you see... you have to read the bills before you sign them into law! Or, at least, get some one to read them and explain them to you, like Condi does with your newspapers in the morning.

Moqtada Sadr

Moqtada Sadr is the new bogeyman in Iraq. As Saddam awaits trial, our forces have had Sadr and his ragtag militia surrounded in Najaf's holiest shrine. Sadr is a religious extremist and a apocalyptic type -- some accounts have him and his followers believing that his rise to power leads to a return of certain biblical and Koranic prophets, the end times and all that blah, blah, blah. Charismatic religious extremists are always dangerous, but especially in a war zone where they can raise armies of hopeless youths willing to die for a bit of hope.

Or, is he more than that?

From Slate's "Today's Papers": Even as Sadr's forces fought with American troops, the papers note that he was able to convince kidnappers to free American journalist Micah Garen and his Iraqi translator, both of whom had been held since August 13. They are now in U.S. custody and were unharmed.

Think about that -- think about all the kidnappings and beheadings of foreigners in Iraq and how we and the Iraqis have been able to do nothing about them. And yet Sadr, himself under the threat of death by U.S. and Iraqi provisional government forces has the influence to get a hostage freed. Maybe we need this guy.

I'll say that again. Maybe we need this guy. Maybe killing him would be a big mistake and not just because it would martyr him and inflame his followers. Maybe we need him because he has legitimate influence over the militants in Iraq.

In a situation like this, you don't want to go around rewarding every psycho who can put a militia together. But, it's also important to recognize that some people who have that ability and who can demonstrate influence over the hearts and minds of the populace during times of war need to be brought into the fold of power. They need to be elevated to a position of responsibility within the new government. I think it's at least possible that, should Sadr be granted some influence that he would lead his followers in a less radical way because he and his people would no longer be hopeless and they would no longer feel disenfranchised. Is Sadr, in the end, a fiery talker with a more practical mind? I think we need to test this out. It would certainly lend our enterprise more credibility if we brought an independent mind to some sort of power in the new government. And, it would take the fighters from Najah, at the moment revolutionaries, and allign their interests with the interests of Iraq's new government, turning them from rebels into members of the establishment. Turning them, indeed, from potential guerilla fighters and kidnappers into people who will feel responsible for stopping guerilla attacks and kidnappings. And, they wouldn't need machine guns to end the violence. They might have the clout to use words with the most extreme hold-outs in this ongoing war.

I might be 100% wrong in this. But I have a feeling that demonizing or ostracizing this guy is a bad idea and that killing him would be the worst.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

In Defense of 527s

If you're a Kerry supporter, it's hard to like 527 organizations right now. 527 Groups are basically associations of people who spend money getting their voices heard during an election cycle. They're not impeded by campaign finance laws, so long as they don't coordinate their activities with the campaigns. The veterans who have been lying about Kerry's Viet Nam record are a 527 organization, called Swift Boat Veterans For Truth.

Bush has been asked, repeatedly, to condemn the message of this group. Bush has, so far, refused, preferring instead to talk about the issue of 527s generally and to call for their abolition. Basically, he's dodging the question so that his supporters will be free to attack Kerry's war record without Bush having to do it. And, Bush, of course, can't attack Kerry's war record because... well, we all know why by now -- he's a draft dodger!

But, even though the Swift Baot Veterans, funded by two Texas real estate tycoons who also serve (alongside Enron's Kenneth Lay) as trustee's of George Bush 41s Presidential library, are attacking my candidate at the moment, I think it's a mistake to take out our anger on 527s in general.

There's a higher principle at stake than electoral politics -- freedom of speecgh trumps all, in my view. But, for freedom of speech to be protected, it has to cut evenly. The Swift Boat Veterans have the right to question Kerry's war record, even if they're wrong. Kerry's supporters have a responsibility to refute the Swift Boat Vets. By the same token, I have the right to call our current President a hypocritical draft dodger. And I'll gladly entertain debate on that topic.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Nader Haters

I'll be ticked off at anyone who votes for Nader instead of Kerry this time. It's not that I think Kerry's perfect, but, let's face it, Nader would make a lousy President. There's no reason to vote for him. At the same time, this New York Times story ticks me off:

Nader fights for a fighting chance

Democrats mount major campaign to keep him off ballots
WASHINGTON Ralph Nader's efforts to get his name on ballots in important swing states as an independent candidate for president are becoming mired in legal challenges and charges of fraud by Democrats who have mounted an extensive campaign to keep him from becoming a factor in this year's election.

It's just not appropriate to fight this way. Tell people that they're throwing away their votes, if you must. Tell tham that Nader would be a lousy President and would be completely unable to deal with either party in congress. Make positive arguments for Kerry. Heck, Democrats, try courting Nader voters instead of shunning them! But don't resort to the anti-democratic tactic of trying to keep him off the ballot or of trying to invalidate the will of people who ahve signed petitions so that he can run. Nader didn't ruin the 2000 election. Gore ruined it by ignoring the liberal base of the Democratic party and by choosing a running mate who should probably just be honest and switch to the Republican party.

Nader will probably not be as big a factor this time around. A lot of people learned their lessons and have been chastened by Bush's four years in office. Also, Nader is running without the support of the Green party, making this look like an ego-driven campaign.

But Kerry's real key to victory is going to be turnout. Can Kerry mobilize non-voters to go to the polls in November? If he can energize apathetic Democrats then Nader won't matter. In 2000, Gore lost a race that he should have won. Nader didn't beat Gore. Gore beat Gore. Let's not forget that Gore lost his home state and that wasn't Nader's fault. It's up to Kerry not to make the same mistakes.

I hope that the 2000 elections didn't teach us the wrong lessons. Long-term, this 2 party system must be abolished. In our fervor to defeat Bush, we shouldn't condone the actions of Democratic politicos who are trying to preserve the 2-party status quo.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Grunge is out!

The New York Times, our paper of record, says that grunge fashion is out. By which they mean punk fashion. By which they mean seductive preppy fashion. Actually, they used the word "grunge" to mean everything in their article, not realizing that the style had become a cliche, oh, I don't know, a gazillion years ago. But, here's the really alarming quotation:

"Michael Wood, the vice president of Teenage Research Unlimited in Northbrook, Ill., said the young people he surveys say they are simply sick of what is in their closets. "They're notoriously fickle," Mr. Wood said, "and they've moved on to something new. The last several years, necklines and waists were going lower and lower and showing more and more skin, and they realized you can't go any lower or show any more. The pendulum swung.""

It's Bush's fault! It's Bush's fault. Let me set the record straight: Ladies, you CAN go lower and show more. I'm absolutely sure of it! I only hope that John Kerry wins the election and shows us the way. There IS more. Let's have it!*

* The opinions expressed in this blog entry do not represent the opinions of the married blogger, if his wife is reading. Though she CAN show more. Hopefully Kerry will show her the way! But, uh, he better not get near my wife cuz I'd waste his sucka ass.

Friday, August 13, 2004

New Jersey's Guv: Classy, Brave, but Troubling

Yesterday, New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey resigned with the announcement "My truth is that I am a gay American." Then, the married governor admitted to having an affair with another man, and criticized himself for his actions. Reaction has been universally positive, but I'm a bit troubled by it.

For one thing, let's be clear -- McGreevey didn't resign because he's gay. And he didn't resign because he had an affair. He seemingly resigned because he faces a sexual harassment suit from a man he had an affair with, a man who worked for McGreevey at the time as a homeland security advisor. I wish he had said that. I wish he had said he didn't want to put his state through the circus of a sexual harassment trial.

Instead, he gave the implication that being gay and having an affair made him unfit for office. I think McGreevey apologized too much yesterday. Because unless the forthcoming sexual harassment allegations are true, the guy really had nothing to apologize for.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Remember the old war rhetoric...

As our troops engage in house-to-house combat in Najaf and have surrounded insurgents within one of the region's holiest mosques, I just have to ask you all: Do you remember when this was, "not a war against the Iraqi people?" Because I'll bet the Iraqi people don't.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Powell Not Attending Republican Convention

Rewritten from AP/MSNBC! We make up what they won't tell you!

Colin Powell will skip GOP convention
The Associated Press
Updated: 10:42 a.m. ET Aug. 10, 2004

WASHINGTON - Secretary of State Colin Powell, a Republican centrist who is popular with moderate voters, intends to skip the GOP convention in New York that will nominate President Bush for a second term.

“The secretary plans to wash his hair that night,” State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli said Tuesday. He drew attention to Powell’s remarks last week at a convention of minority journalists that he was obliged as secretary not to take part in “parochial debate with a bunch of idiots who got us into a quagmire in Iraq even though I kept telling them not to.”

The Republicans gather for the four-day convention beginning Aug. 30. Powell said the whole thing seemed "Kind of gay. Not that there's anything wrong with that."

With Bush in a close race against Democratic nominee John Kerry, Powell’s stature with both Republicans and Democrats who favor a cautious approach to world problems could be an asset to the president. But, actually, it won't be since Bush has ignored Powell's advice for four years now.

In fact, Powell has defended Bush’s foreign policy in interviews and speeches, further destroying his credibility and sense of self worth.

Powell told the Unity: Journalists of Color Convention last Thursday that Bush took his advice to “not act unilaterally” and "told him to shove it up his ass."

Yet Powell also acknowledged, “The intelligence community apparently got it wrong on stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. I do not expect huge stockpiles to be found. And, in fact, I never did. I only agreed to say I did in the hopes that Bush would let me, an actual soldier with comabt experience, run the war instead of thatr idiot Rumsfeld. I was totally duped.”

He said Bush officials knew that if “the United Nations ultimately did not act, and we didn’t solve it diplomatically, we knew then that it might be necessary for us to solve it through the use of military force. Only problem is, I didn't know we were talking about Iraq. I thought we were talking about the 2000 election. Guess I got that coup wrong!”

Powell’s differences with Bush and his senior advisers who are more conservative occasionally is an issue, "I hate those lame-brains," Powell said. Powell favors abortion rights, affirmative action and not going to war with every oil producing country in the world.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

How to Better Spend $87 Billion

In July, the economy added 90% fewer jobs than economists predicted. But, what would have happened had we not gone to Iraq ans instead used a pool of $87 billion to put unemployed Americans to work?

That money could have hired 87,000 people at the salary of $1 million a year. That's more than double the amount of jobs the economy added in July.

He could have created 870,000 jobs that pay $100,000 per year.

He could have created 1.74 million jobs at $50,000 a year.

Or, if he wanted to be stingy and pay only the average US wage of $33,252.09, he could have created 2.6 million new jobs.

Instead, Bush attacked Iraq.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Swift Boat Veterans Attacking Kerry

As a bunch of Viet Nam Swift Boat veterans promote their new Kerry-bashing book Unfit for Command (published by an ultra right winger publishing house called Regnery) we're going to hear all sorts of false things about the 4 time medal winner. We're going to hear that he shot an unarmed kid in the jungle, that he lied to get his purple hearts, that he spent the entire war putting his men at risk so that he could someday run for office as a "war hero."

It's all bunk. It's mostly already been debunked. But we will hear it, and hear it and hear it.

The Kerry campaign will probably ignore this. Partly, its because they have to save money for the real fight after the Republican National Convention. Partly it's because you don't stoop to argue with a bunch of nobodies, no matter what they say.

The risk is that the bunk claims of the swift boat veterans will worm into voter's minds. It's amazing, of course, that Kerry is facing a guy who used his connections to get cushy National Guard assignments that he didn't show up for and that it's Kerry's military record that's being questioned. I mean, it's not like the Democrats can assemble a bunch of veterans who will say that Bush was a grandstanding liar in Viet Nam. Cuz Bush, though he supported the war, refused to fight in it and used the power of his Daddy to make sure that he didn't have to go.

Honestly, military service means nothing to me as a voter. But Bush's Viet Nam position is untenable. You don't support a war you won't fight in. Clinton didn't go to Viet Nam. But then, Clinton didn't believe in the war. Here's Bush's position on Viet Nam, plain and simple: Bush thought that we had to fight the war to contain Communism in Asia. And by "we" he meant people who aren't him.

So who's really "Unfit For Command?"

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Which Al-Qaeda Is it?

On one hand, our "war time" President wants us to believe that America is safer today than it was three years, or a decade ago.

On the other hand, he wants us to jump out of our shoes whenever his folks find new, 3-year-old intelligence.

How long are we going to let Bush have it both ways? Either the war in Afghanistan disrupted Al-Qaeda's communications, money transfer systems and ability to recruit, train and organize personnel or it didn't.

Is Al-Qaeda like the mafia after the 1960s -- still dangerous but a shell of its former self, or is it still an organized, trained, international ring of terrorists powerful enough to be treated with the same status as an enemy nation? If the answer is the latter, then Bush blew it in Afghanistan. If it's the former, then we need to return to some sense of normalcy and realize we're dealing with something that's more an issue for law enforcement than it is for the military.

Bush seems to want things both ways. He wants us to feel safer but still in danger.

Is he doing this on purpose? Or is it, as I suspect, that he and his people don't really know what Al-Qaeda's capabilities are, post-Afghanistan, to develop a coherent policy.

Postscript: Both Bush and Kerry were wrong to give into the 9-11 commission about the creation of an Intelligence Czar. Don't forget that we went to war in Iraq because the White House pressured the CIA to deliver convenient intelligence about Saddam's Weapons of Mass Destruction. This only further increases the White House's ability to effect the quality of the intelligence gathered and reported.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Oh, wait, Ridge has a side to the old Terror Intelligence Story...

According to the Associated Press today, Ridge has responded to criticism that the intelligence leading to he code Orange in New York and Washington D.C. was three to four years old. Ridge says the intelligence was updated in January!

See, so it's only, like 6-7 months old, depending on when they did their work... back in freaking January!

Thanks, Tom. Thanks a lot. Call me in another six months, okay? Actually, I kind of hope you'll be packing up your office in six months. But I definitely look forward to seeing you on Larry King or something. Ciao, Sunshine.

Terror Threat in Full Effect

"It's serious business," Bush said. "I mean, we wouldn't be, you know, contacting authorities at the local level unless something was real."

Yesterday, the Feds called for condition orange in New York City and Washington.

Turn to day two, and the above quote from George Bush, explaining why we raised the alert. Turns out that most of the threat information was years old. As in pre-9-11 old. Sure, the more cautious warn us, Al-Qaeda will sometimes case a jointy for years before blowing it up.

But, as a typically unnamed law enforcement type told the Washington Post today: "There is nothing right now that we're hearing that is new," said one senior law enforcement official who was briefed on the alert. "Why did we go to this level? . . . I still don't know that."

Because it seems to me that if this is how we're going to handle security we might as well just claim condition red at every building or attraction you've ever heard of. As our folks go through captured Al-Qaeda files and interrogate prisoners (who might be lying just to tell their captors what they want to hear) we're going to find out what we've known all along which is that Al-Qaeda probably has a wish list of that includes every famous building, national monument, theme park and major shopping mall in the U.S.

So the real question is, what are their capabilities? Everything I've read says that without a supportive government in Afghanistan, with a lot of senior members dead or incapacitated and with communication between the surviving (and hiding) higher ups and their drones in the field disrupted, that 2004 has brought us a very different Al-Qaeda than we knew 3 years ago. It's now made up of more independent, smaller groups who, though still able to cause harm, do not have the resrouces or abilities that the more organized, pre 9-11 group did. Al-Qaeda today is like the Mafia after the Feds clamped down in the 60s and 70s. Still dangerous, still out there, but not at all as influential as what it was.

Will there ever be another terrorist attack on US soil? Sure. Always are. This time around, I'd say we're back to a place where it's as likely that the terrorist is a whacked out American as they are a wily foreigner. If you want to keep me safe, fix the domestic economy because another Tim McVeigh is probably a bigger threat than an Islamofascist at the moment.

But let's please stop with all the propaganda tricks learned in the Cold War. Our current President says he's a War time President. In order to do that, he needs to convince the nation that it's at war -- not overseas, but right here. Scrambling soldiers and people's minds is his technique. He wants to stoke a mostly irrational fear of nebulous forces arrayed against us and then give us the impression that he's doing something. Geez, you almost expect Bush to put up a big sign outside the White House reading: 2 Years and 335 Days since our last Terrorist Attack!

Monday, August 02, 2004

Eliminate the IRS?

Drudge reports today that House Speaker Dennis Hastert wants to eliminate the IRS and replace the income tax with a value added tax on purchases. Basically, we'd get a national sales tax that I'm guessing would be somewhere around 20% of purchases. Hastert makes some decent points -- it's not fair that we have such a complicated tax code that people are pretty much required to hire lawyers and accountants just to file an accurate return. It's not fair that the IRS scrutinizes those returns and then makes it the tax payer's responsibility to be accurate. Certainly, we need a simpler system and I'm not sure what that would be. One could even argue that the current tax code constitutes an unfair subsidy for the entire accounting industry.

But, for all Hastert's talk of wanting to make things simpler on everyday people, I doubt that's his real motivation here. Sales taxes are the most regressive taxes out there. It means you pay an extra 20% to buy a carton of milk whether you're living just above the poverty line or living large as a millionaire. It says that whether you slave away as a waitress or sit back and live off your investment income that you should be equally responsible for funding the government. What Hastert really wants to do is to raise taxes on the poor. Those who are paying 15% a year, or are paying nothing and claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit would suddenly find themselves paying 20% of their income a year. Rich folks, paying 35% in the top bracket, would get a tax cut.

But, that's not all. If you live paycheck to paycheck, meaning that you're basically spending whatever you take in, you'll basically be paying 20% on every dollar you make. But if you make enough where you can sock money away, you won't pay anything on the money you put into banks or the stock market. Say you make $1,000 a week and spend it all. You'd lose $200 of that to taxes. Say you make $1,500 a week and spend $1,000. You'd also lose $200 to taxes. The $500 you put away wouldn't be taxed at all.

Hastert will no doubt spin his elimination of the IRS idea as an idea for the little guy and the IRS is so unpopular, the little guy might well believe it. But don't. This is a giveaway to the rich, no doubt about it.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

New Mexico's Republican Thought Police

I'm from Albuquerque and most of this blog's readers, so far, hail from the same locale. None of us will be surprised then, to see that the newest Bush-Cheney anti-protest initiative took place outside of our fair city, in the town that relocated witnesses made and Intel took over -- Rio Rancho.

According to the Albuququerque Journal (July 31st) people who wanted to see Vice President Dick Cheney speak at the Rio Rancho Mid-High School had to sign loyalty oaths saying that they would endorse George Bush for Re-election. No big deal, say the New Mexico Republicans. Here's what they told the Journal:

"The argument that you're an American and you have a right to see the vice president— you can when he comes to New Mexico on an official visit," Shi said. "On this visit, he's Dick Cheney, a candidate for vice president and he happens to also be the vice president."
Shi said Republicans in Massachussetts were not given passes to the Democratic National Convention in Boston to hear John Kerry accept the Democratic presidential nomination, even though Kerry represents them in the U.S. Senate.
"It's just like the convention," Shi said.

I can accept that Cheney plays two roles at the moment -- he's Vice President and a candidate. But, there's no way that this is like the Democratic National Convention. See, the Democrats rented an arena for a private function. When the Republicans come to New York, they'll be renting Madison Square Garden for a private function. When you pay to rent the arena you get certain privileges like deciding on the guest list.

Dick decided to campaign in the auditorium of a public high school. If New Mexico tax payers have to subsidize a venue for Dick Cheney's use, then they certainly have the right to show up and jeer the old coot. If Dick wants to have a private party, he can rent the Albuquerque Convention Center. I actually can't think of a more Republican argument -- if you want to control access to something, then pay for it. Bush and Cheney have more than enough money.