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This is What Democracy Looks Like
Today's Note From a Madman
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
It appears that terrorists attacked India today. As of the time I am writing this, 160 people have lost their lives. We all pray and wich the people of India the best and hope that those who are responsible are caught and dealt with accordingly. I feel for the people of India as I felt for the people of Spain and England after their dates with terrorist disaster. This has simply got to stop.
"We condemn thoroughly this terrible terrorist incident,"
-U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
Way to make a stand there, Condi. Name me one American who doesn't condemn terrorists.
On the way home from work today, I turned on my XM Satellite Radio and accidentally tuned to Fox News Radio. The topic was "gay retirement communities".
If these are the people who will lead the world, then we truly are not safe.
Need I say anything more?
Bush's Billions (as a Negative)
I gotta start with this pretty funny Bush joke (which was sent to me by many Madman readers):
Donald Rumsfeld is giving the president his daily briefing. He concludes by saying: "Yesterday, 3 Brazilian soldiers were killed."
"OH NO!" the President exclaims. "That's terrible!"
His staff sits stunned at this display of emotion, nervously watching as the President sits, head in hands.
Finally, the President looks up and asks, "How many is a brazillion?"
Earlier this year, the White House estimated that the budget deficit will be $423 billion. That's a lot of money. Today, President "G"lobal "W"arming Bush is going to come on the air and tell us all that the updated figure is a mere $300 billion, or about one year's cost (in dollars, not in the lives of the Children of America) of his war for his "base" of "haves and have-mores".
Only $300 billion? The "G"reed "O"ver "P"eople party-led congress and senate ought to give themselves a raise. Oh... That's right... They already did.
What GW is sure to leave out, however, is that the budget deficit last year was about the same amount ($318 billion).
The "good news", as it will be presented by Bush, is that corporations are paying more taxes, as are the wealthiest of Americans (A.K.A. Bush's base of "haves and have-mores", as mentioned above). The bad news is that these corporations and "have-mores" only pay taxes quarterly (unlike the rest of us who have our wages garnished to pay more than our fair share). These numbers tend to be less stable and a less reliable source of revenue. so when the deficit numbers magically rise in a month or two, will we see a GW press conference where he states, "Whoops! I was wrong."?
Remember, boys and girls, there was a BUDGET SURPLUS in 2001 when GW took the reigns of government from a FISCALLY RESPONSIBLE BILL CLINTON. Clinton's budget surplus translated to a projected ten year surplus of almost $6 trillion. These tax and spend Republicans have a lot of chutzpah, don't they?
"You've still got triple-digit deficits for as far as the eye can see."
-House Budget Committee member Rep. John Spratt (R-SC)
I can hear the neo-cons now: "How dare those nay-saying Democrats tell the truth when Bush is basking on the glow of a slightly less-red spreadsheet."
"The current so-called revenue surge is merely restoring revenues to where they were half a decade ago,"
-Robert Greenstein, executive director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
Bush will no doubt say that this is the beginning of his halving the budget deficit by 2009, the year he's due to depart DC.
It's easy to make yourself look good when you have no place to go but up. Look at the unemployment numbers, for example. According to the Bushites and Fox News. the 4.7 unemployment rate means that 95.3 percent of Americans are working. The real numbers show that, of all working age Americans, only 62,9 percent are actually working as compared to 65.1 percent at the same time during the Clinton years. at the same time, the poverty numbers have skyrocketed. Showing us all a record $423 billion deficit, and then taking credit for "only" creating a $300 billion deficit is, simply, deceitful, and par for the course for the Bush administration.
Let's remember that even at a Bush $300 budget deficit is a net loss well in excess of half a trillion dollars when one takes into account a $260 billion budget surplus left to him by President Clinton.
The Bush tax breaks for his "base of haves and have-mores" and his economic policies are bankrupting the American middle class, the heart and soul of the American economy.
How much is a "brazillian"? We'll soon find out, in
One Rethuglican on Taxation - "Junior" Allen
2006: Senator George Allen, Jr. Voted To End Tax Credits for Lower Income Families Saving For Retirement. Allen voted to end retirement saver's tax credits that benefited more than 140,200 Virginians, who saved $26 million through the program. The Saver's Credit allows lower-income families to deduct up to 50% of the contributions they put into retirement plans. [H.R. 4279, 5/11/06, #118; IRS Data, October 2005; Kansas City Star, 4/3/05]
2006: Allen Voted to End a Tax Break for Teachers. The Allen vote also ended an educator expense deduction that benefited more than 90,000 Virginia teachers in 2003, saving them $21.9 million. The provision allowed teachers to deduct to $250 of out-of-pocket expenses they pay for books and classroom supplies. [H.R. 4279, 5/11/06, #118; IRS Data, October 2005; IRS Tax Tip]
2005: Allen Voted Against Extending The Middle Class Tax Cuts That Expire In 2005, By Altering Other Tax Provisions. In 2005, Allen voted against waiving the Budget Act to consider the Conrad amendment that would extend only the tax cuts that expire in 2005, by offsetting the cost by altering other tax provisions. Sixty Votes required to waive the Budget Act. [S 2020, Vote 330, 11/17/05, Failed 44-55, D:41-2, R:2-53, I:1-0]
2001: When Offered the Chance to Speed Up Marriage Penalty Relief, Allen Voted "No." "Allen's top priorities in the 2000 election were an education tax credit, the elimination of the estate tax and the elimination of the so-called marriage penalty-a quirk in the tax code under which many people pay more taxes as married couples than they would if they had stayed single. Yet, when offered a chance to speed up the phase-in of marriage penalty relief, Allen voted no." [Newport Daily Press, 5/20/01]
Whenever Rethuglicans talk about tax reform, run the other way as fast as you can. With Rethuglicans it's not all about tax reform but it is all warping tax policy to aid the corporatists and plutocrats.
A Gaseous State
I was watching the Thirty Something Democrats group on C-Span. That group consists of Kendrick Meeks (D-FL), Tim Ryan (D-OH), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL and William Delahunt (D-MA ... okay he is not exactly a 30 something ...). Kendrick Meeks raised an interesting point. At Mobil gas station, you can purchase gas, potato chips, soda, etc... with your Mobil credit card but not but E85 fuel (Ethanol mixed with gas).Why not? Mobil claims that E85 is not a Mobil product so you can't use the credit card. Well, duh? Are potato chips and soda, Mobil products?
Clearly, Mobil is discouraging consumers from buying E85 fuel - these same consumers subsidize Mobil with tax breaks for investment in alternative energy. What a farce! When are we going to learn that the corporatists will take, take and take some more. When the taxpayers won't give anymore, they blackmail us by threatening to move jobs offshore or raising prices. I say enough is enough. It is time to stop this piracy.
Today's Stupid Quote
"We've had a low-grade civil war going on (in Iraq) for some time,"
-Conservative NBC news anchor Brian Williams, quoting NBC news analyst and former general Barry McCafferty
As I had written in Madman (March 19, 2006 - http://www.nationalview.org/Newsletter06/newsletter_031906.htm) ."What in God's name does THAT mean?"
Iraq is in a Civil war and the United States, under the leadership (or lack thereof) of "G"lobal "W"arming Bush, the Children of America, our sons, daughters, wives, husbands, mothers and fathers are the common target.
"When did the US Civil War become an 'All-Out' civil war? How many had to die before Abraham Lincoln took it seriously? (That was a rhetorical question.)"
-Madman, March 19, 2006
The Right Wing Main stream Media, and don't kid yourself that GE-owned NBC and Mr. Williams aren't a part of it, are still saying that there is no full-scale civil war in Iraq, just a "low-grade" one. It's simply a lie.
As a nation, we either need to get out of Iraq or, at the very least, pick a side. After all, even "low-grade civil wars" need a victor. That is, unless, those "low-grade civil war" supporting war profiteers (Halliburton, Blackwater, Bush Sr.'s Carlyle Group, etc) can still make a buck or two (or a few hundred billion), then its time to "stay the course."
In fact, just about all of the Founders were Free Masons. The philosophy of the Masons influenced them considerably. The Great Seal and Dollar Bill are chock full of Masonic symbols. It is ridiculous to believe that the Founders advocated any religion in particular since America was a refuge from religious persecution. The Founders wanted a strong separation between Church and State - they put that in the Constitution.
It is a myth that baby boomers in the 1960's drove religion out of government as it was never there in the first place! This myth was used by the religious right to justify merging religion with government. There is nothing more dangerous than that.
Personally, I have no problems with my representatives being religious or deriving inspiration from religion. I do have a problem when their policies are based on religious dogma. Our constitution is most certainly not based on the Bible or any religious text. I won't tolerate any attempt to warp it in that way.
THE LAVENDER TUBE: THE ROCKETS RED GLARE
by Victoria A. Brownworth
copyright c 2006 San Francisco Bay Area Reporter, Inc.
So there we were on Independence Day watching Bush at Ford's Theatre on the tube. Our beloved kept screaming, "Turn him off–you're ruining my Fourth!" and "I'll show you fireworks if you keep him on!"
And we did turn the Ford Theatre event off, but not before listening to Tom Selleck (how can such a smart, funny and handsome guy be a Republican?) read the Gettysburg Address, which is, after the Declaration of Independence, the most moving document of American history. Three hankies, definitely.
Behind Selleck as he read was a screen with Lincoln's photo and an actual copy of the handwritten address (no speech writer for Lincoln). And then the camera panned to Bush, who sat next to the placidly bovine Laura with his classic look of quizzical stupidity.
If this had been an episode of *The Simpsons* there would have been a thought balloon over his head with something inane in it. Like a Gettysburger.
After the recitation of the Gettysburg Address, Bush got up on stage with a comic who does Bush imitations.
Dare we say it? *Where is John Wilkes Booth when you need him?*
So the Fourth came and went and now it's almost Bastille Day and in between there was the solemn memorializing of July 7th and the terrorist attacks in London and we are left wondering: Where exactly is the American news media in all of this? Where are the in-depth reports on the escalating wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? Shouldn't that have been a topic for the Fourth, and if not the Fourth, then certainly the anniversary of 7/7?
There's a curious and disturbing void when it comes to just where the TV media is on the war in Iraq and the wars in Afghanistan. Shouldn't our TV news be reporting the numbers every night? Shouldn't the American people *know* that more than 2,600 American soldiers have been killed, more than 19,000 have been severely injured (Walter Reed Medical Center refers to it as "polytrauma"–amputations *and* blindness, third and fourth degree burns *and* head injuries, and so forth) and approximately 100,000 Iraqis have been killed and three times as many injured?
Or does telling that truth spoil the fireworks and concerts and holiday sales?
There was a little flurry over on *Meet the Press* the other morning when Andrea Mitchell sat in for vacationing Tim Russert. Mitchell can't seem to get with the program over there. She still thinks–must be her several decades as a reporter–that the show is about information, not spin. (We're kind of amazed that they still put her in the guest slot, since she's always the same: hard-hitting reporter looking for the real story. But perhaps her seniority trumps logic with the powers that be. We can't imagine Russert, who had a brain transplant somewhere around the second year of the Bush Administration, likes having his conservative sinecure shaken up, however.)
Anyway, there was Mitchell trying to get some answers about Iraq, terrorism and the Supreme Court ruling prohibiting military tribunals for Guantanamo detainees from Sen Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
When Russert is there, the conservatives never have to defend themselves. When Mitchell takes the helm, it's a different ship altogether. So there was McConnell, spouting the tired canard that "The most important thing [is] we haven't been attacked again here since 9/11. We've been on offense. We've invaded Afghanistan, invaded Iraq, there are democratic governments now in both places....But these are the same kinds of people who attacked us here in the U.S. They've not been able to do that again because the president made the fundamentally correct decision to get on offense, and we've gone after these people where they are, somewhere else, fighting them in places like Kabul and Baghdad so we don't have to have them again in Washington and New York." (And that worked well for Tony Blair and the Brits, did it not? Just ask the guy who got both his legs blown off and lost an eye on 7/7 while simply going to work in London. He just got out of hospital on July 6th–after a *year.*)
So there is Mitchell, doing what Russert did prior to his brain transplant, quoting McConnell from April 2003: "American success in Iraq showed that 'arm-chair generals and New York Times reporters' were wrong in their assessments of how difficult the war would be," and that rebuilding Iraq will be much easier than rebuilding Afghanistan because of Iraq's well-educated population and the oil to finance reconstruction. "Iraq has the potential to be a jewel in the Middle East."
Mitchell asked him if perhaps he'd gotten that one wrong and McConnell went directly to the Rove playbook and blamed the Democrats and their wrangling over *leaving Iraq.*
What? Think you missed a graf or two? That's because it *didn't make sense.*
Fortunately, Mitchell turned to Schumer (who reminded everyone that 45 of the Democrats voted to set a timetable to withdraw from Iraq) and asked him about the rebuilding of Iraq. Schumer told her, "The Democratic Party is united in holding the President's feet to the fire on oversight." He went on to say Americans want an end to the war.
The *piece de resistance,* however came when he said Americans "respect the fact that Democrats do have divisions and are debating this, and not just marching in lockstep to whatever the President does, because they're not happy with what the President is doing."
Don't expect to see Mitchell next Sunday.
Meanwhile, over on ABC, *Nightline's* Terry Moran was at Guantanamo.
Now we like horror movies and horror TV as much as the next person, but we have to say we never saw anything as creepy/eerie as the Dr. Strangelove report Moran was able to garner.
Moran wasn't the problem; Moran was tough and insightful and obviously creeped-out by the lack of answers as well as the actual answers (he could barely contain his revulsion when the Army doc who wouldn't let his name be used told Moran about why force feeding is necessary and explained that he'd had it done himself to be sure it wasn't unpleasant. Gee, we had tube feeding while in the hospital for intestinal surgery and we can say for certain that it's unpleasant and that's when they *like* you and you're *paying for it.*)
There's a huge, state-of-the-art hospital at Guantanamo, but there's no one in it. [Insert collective shudder here.] Kind of made us involuntarily think of the tooth-drilling scene in *Marathon Man.*
So our friends over at TalkingPointsMemo.com wanted to make their own point on the Guantanamo issue. It might seem minor, but you also might want to call your local TV news stations every time you hear this stated incorrectly: as TPM notes: *Describing those held at Guantanamo as "detainees" or "enemy combatants" is no longer accurate. The Supreme Court's Hamdan decision declared them to be prisoners of war, entitled to the protections of the Geneva Conventions, until such time as a properly constituted tribunal concludes otherwise.*
This is where language–and accurate reporting (most people get their news from TV, after all)–matters. In simple terms: Everyone at Guatanamo Bay is a POW. So when you hear reporters refer to the Guantanamo inmates as anything other than POWs, they're pulling a Tim Russert and spouting the Bush Administration's propaganda. And remember–the Supreme Court isn't some lefty liberal gang of "activist judges." They are the hand-picked scions of the arch-conservative vector running this country. *They* said the Guantanamo inmates were POWs. Which means they have to be protected under the Geneva Conventions. Which makes Moran's report all the creepier and scarier.
Just remember, folks, these are POWs being tortured in your name.
Much as we loved Moran's reporting from Guantanamo (he was there for a week and every single scrap of anything he did, spoke about, looked at, etc, had to be cleared first. Why is that, given this is a POW camp?), we were more than a little shocked by the bias in his reporting on the incursion by Israel into Gaza.
Linking the 30th anniversary of Entebbe and the slaughter of the Israeli athletes at Munich to the strafing of Gaza over the kidnapping of a 19-year-old soldier by *Syrian* Hamas radicals makes as much sense as linking 9/11 to the invasion of Iraq.
Oops. We weren't supposed to say that out loud, were we?
And speaking of cynical realities, are we the only ones who noticed that the nanosecond North Korea started tossing (they don't seem to be very adept at launching) missiles in our direction, *suddenly* the national news was splashed with revelations about how terrorists had planned to but were foiled in blowing up the tunnels to New York? (The plot was allegedly foiled months ago, yet we are just learning about it now.) Pardon our cynicism in seeing a connection.
On a far lighter note, if you haven't gotten addicted to two new summer shows–*America's Got Talent* and *Windfall*–what's wrong with you? *AGT*is one of the most mesmerizing reality shows *ever.* The talented are beyond talented and the untalented are incredibly hilarious.
As for *Windfall,* for those who have missed a good prime-time soap with sex and glamour and intrigue, this is it. We've been hooked since episode one.
Finally, a sad note: On July 3rd, *As the World Turns* veteran Benjamin Hendrickson killed himself with a single gunshot to the head in his New York home. His body was not discovered until July 7th, due to the holiday.
A Julliard grad who starred on Broadway in *The Elephant Man* and other plays, Hendrickson portrayed chief of detectives Hal Munson for 21 years. Hendrickson was a superb and nuanced actor. He had been suffering from depression since the 2003 death of his mother from cancer. It is believed the current storyline in which his on-screen daughter Jennifer died of a sudden illness was too stressful for him and exacerbated his depression exponentially.
We've watched Munson on *ATWT* since 1989. He epitomized the craggy, care-worn, tough-yet-emotional cop of noir films and hard-boiled detective stories. It's difficult to imagine *ATWT* could replace the stalwart actor in the role that was so often a pivot for the show. We suggest the writers have Munson take his life as Hendrickson did–fitting tribute to his longevity on *ATWT* and an opportunity to do what *ATWT* has done with so many other important social issues (like the current queer storyline involving Luke): examine it, in this instance depression and its impact.
In response to Victoria's article on the Gaza strip, let me say what I have been saying for years: Let the Palestinians stop the bombings for six months; Let both sides sit down, like Sadat and Begin did in 1979 to talk; Let the Arab World recognize the right of Israel and Jews to exist; Let the Israelis not engage in any attacks while all of this is going on; then let's see what happens. -NG
In response to, "These guys (the Bushies) are idiots!", Pat Thompson writes:
Truer words were never spoken. They are also evil liars, interested only in power and piling up money for themselves and those who hired them. They are just doing the job they were paid to do, and will be paid handsomely for the rest of their lives. Keeping us in fear, so that the slim majority of people will let their fear and desire for security trump their true self interest in keeping a true democracy and a government that really protects the people and the nation. It's really all about making sure their "bosses", the corporations who run this world, make money. War is good business.
And in response to, "And now, thanks to the identification of the target (the Holland Tunnel), the terrorists will have to find another target," Pat Thompson writes:
Luckily New York City has its own intelligence in Europe and other places. Imagine that, a city in the US which has to defend itself. The federal government cares nothing about it, since they don't win elections there.
And in response to, "Bernie Sanders, the obvious best choice for senate in Vermont," Pat Thompson writes:
Yes he is. Let's all send him $20. The people of Vermont are much smarter than in most places. They have two excellent Senators. I hope since it is such a small state geographically, Sanders won't have to take any rides on Wellstone Airlines.
In response to, "Is this what PNAC had in mind all along?", Rhian writes:
Yes, and another world war is inevitable. The only thing we don't know is where and when it will start. If it's the middle east, we Americans will have some really tough months, till alternative fuel cars are trotted onto the market, en masse, as if the finger of God had written the designs just to save lucky us.
Of course, if Americans cannot buy middle east oil, their war might not last long enough to involve the whole world, because you cannot sell sand, and they will run out of funds to fight.
Saudi's have been operating in oil markets long enough to know this.
His royal (I'm so ronry), majesty Pying ill Pyong, might be the trigger. Japan the gun.
I'm still betting that China is going to try to take Taiwan, and the US will have to move in, and all hell is going to break loose, with draft of males and females, and volunteers welcome to age 65. Nukes incoming, (China has them)
Tibet will shake the Chinese bugs out of her skirts and rise up to fight with the US, to re-establish independence. It's hard to believe that after fat man and little boy, Japan will be on the list of our allies.
In response to, "He was definitely NOT a "theist", Robert Scardapane writes:
I know Jefferson was a deist! I mis-spelled the word but explained the concept correctly. I stand by my statement that America was not founded as a "Christian nation". The religious right, specifically the dominionists, have spun this myth for a long time now. In fact, they want our constitution (and presumably Bill of Rights) to be subjugated to a "Christian Biblical Constitution" - whatever that means. This is a both a dangerous merging of religion with government and a warping of religion itself. The author Umberto Eco believes this is the stronger signal of fascism on the rise in America. That is why I write about it.
In response to, "Actually, the United States of America was founded by Christians who separated themselves from Catholicism and it's intolerance of the Protestant movement, " Robert Chapman retorts:
Actually, Rhian, the US of A was founded by mercantilists sick of the British Imperial Trade system. Your contention is a historical revisionism.
The Framers of the Constitution explicitly rejected the ideal of founding a Christian Nation by voiding the religious establishment laws on the books in seven of the newly independent States.
And in response to Rhian, Billie M. Spaight writes::
No kidding, so help me God, I do NOT want to live in any kind of theocracy! No one religion should take precedence in a nation founded on the pluralist principle of freedom of religion. There is absolutely NO need whatsoever to have ANY official religion. If people want God, they can find God wherever they please in America and that is a bedrock principle. Take that away and America not American anymore. It's just another two-bit theocracy.
We say we don't like the rulership of Iran because it is run by religious fanatics. We don't like the Taliban for the same reason. Well, I don't want any ayatollahs running my country either--even if one calls them pastors or priests.
I believe in God, but that is a private thing and I think RELIGION should STAY privatized.
To create a theocracy is actually evil because it is forcing other people into a mold. And if one says that other religions are OK, why should one be dominant?
We are losing our ground. We are losing what we are. Instead of growing as a healthy nation, we are becoming a cancer that is metastasizing with ugliness, waste, and violence. The Big Government is getting off businesses' back and into our bodies and minds. Let the Goverment get BACK on TOP of the businesses and leave the rest of us alone.
In response to Robert Chapman's article on Hillary Clinton, Billie M. Spaight writes:
Chapman, you are out of your gourd--completely. There is nothing we woman would like better than a truly liberated woman. And that means one who doesn't have to hang on the coat-tails of a disgusting philanderer like Slick Willie. Hillary's values are elitist and that is what people resent.
-She showed how little she cared for mothers and families by supporting that atrocious welfare reform.
-She showed how little she cared for people with disabilities by deeming hearing aids inappropriate and medically unnecessary for medical coverage in her health plan.
-She showed her utter disdain for humanity by supporting the war--and by continuing to support the war--in Iraq.
-She showed her complete phoniness by engaging in cookie baking to pander to voters.
-She showed her total lack of feminism by NOT kicking Slick Willie where he deserved it and not getting divorced. That "stand by your man" b.s. was worthy of Phyllis Schafly.
They say "politics makes strange bedfellows." Well, I for one want to know what she has been doing hanging around with Newt Gingrich. Her taste in tadpoles is a bit froggy to me. Or should it be FOGGY?
I could go on, but the point is this--she is losing support because of her POLICIES--NOT because we women resent her independence. We wish she WAS independent enough and strong enough to stand up for the values that matter to US. I don't care if she sounds "strident" or any of that garbage. What I care about is that she is an opportunist and a creep. Why should I like her any better than most of the men in politics? She isn't superior to them.
If she runs against, John McCain, maybe I will cross party lines for the first time in my life and vote Republican. If she gets elected, I don't know WHAT I'm going to do. She's THAT bad.
And Rhian writes:
Good theory, Mr. Chapman. Problem is, women basically hate each other.
You may, or may not, be asking yourself, why there are always long lines at the public bathrooms for 'girls.'
The reason is simple. When a woman walks into a restroom and sees that other women are in line for it too, they deliberately take longer. Some of them will stand in locking restrooms with only one commode doing make-up for up to 20 minutes, knowing full well, women are lined up. Some will read on toilets, knowing women are waiting.
Women behind counters, selling something, will cater for hours to a single man trying to pick out a bottle of perfume for a wife, while 30 women come and go, helping themselves, or just giving up on the clerk.
Waitresses knock themselves out for men patrons, ignoring women, whether they are with the guy or alone at a table.
A woman who has a man on her arm, has more status then those who do not. The trophy husbands have no clue, thinking it is the other way around.
Hillary has not appreciated her trophy publically. She did not become Jackie O. who all women hated and therefore emulated the most, in those days. Jackie O (who technically was not an O then) paraded her cheating trophy around with the best style, despite her rage at the women Kennedy trifled with.
The only reason women are not slugging it out with each other constantly is because they don't want to mess up their hair, nails, clothes and latest cosmetic injection or lift.
They will slug it out, but only if something slippery is involved, (to eliminate the possibility of actual damage) bikinis can be donned for show and men will watch.
Women are (toward each other) spiteful, selfish, traitorous, and petty.
All women know that if Hillary were president, that she would do something vicious that will hurt all women. No one knows what, just that she will, because we all do, like showing the pics of the 'not up to snuff' kitchen, or putting on make-up for 20 minutes, while 20 other women wait for the toilet.
Notice to all guys who accidently read this. You are commanded to go into instant denial of the secrets you have just learned. Otherwise the world will be far too scary a place for you, you gorgeous hunks you. Can I get you something? Are you comfy?
In closing out the Automated Tax discussion, Lew Warden writes:
Well, Noah, I can see you either haven’t bothered to analyze the dynamics of the APTTax or you have little knowledge of economics, how money flows thru the domestic and global monetary systems, and how the financial elites, whether directly or through their corporations, for profit or charitable, use their money to control government to further their own and not the people’s interests.
Nor did you consider the floor of $400, which I propose to assure that no burden whatsoever should fall on people with marginal incomes, or the immunity from taxation the financial elites enjoy by reason of their virtually limitless market speculative devices and their lending money to government by investing in tax free bonds, which has become a major source of income for the operation of governments at all levels. At one time the federal government could limit the burden of repaying such loans by controlling inflation, but the new device of I-bonds, to which the Bush administration turned to stimulate its borrowing ability, has closed that classic escape hatch. And the state and municipal governments, which are incredibly loaded with debt, never did have that power.
When my law school classmate was Secretary of the Treasury, I would tease him for his solution to the problem of the huge pool of uncontrolled dollars – many of which were counterfeit – which was to taking the lid off of interest rates, i.e., abolishing the old 10% max on penalty of usury charges (which never did apply to most lending businesses. I would twit him, pointing out that it was only paper, of no more intrinsic value than cowry shells, and that increasing the market for foreign investors or outright transfers of capital would have no effect on marshalling those dollars because such transfers were entirely electronic or via bank letters of credit. No one brings in trunks full of cash to be checked by Customs. Besides, I said, the counterfeiters are saving you the cost of printing your paper. Speaking of paper, weren’t those pictures CBS circulated about those bales of cash being tossed around like footballs and transported by ordinary trucks impressive? Like the bales and bales of US cash Saddam Hussein had stacked up.
The whole world monetary economy is a house of cards, held in precarious position by the world’s central banks only because a crash by the United States would would cause the whole structure to collapse. Which is probably why China is propping us up by buying dollars and extending us huge trade credits.
So, since it is only money, a means of exchange, why not tax its movement at the many points of transfer, a currency tax, as it has sometimes been called, for the privilege of using the government-protected medium of exchange? As such, contrary to your contention, this tax is totally progressive because the more money you have the more money exchange opportunities you will have. Unless you speak thusly just to toss around Liberal buzz words to confuse the matter and impress your followers.
Of course the Democrats have been playing this game for years, making loud noises about soaking the rich even as they take the rich folk’s money.. In truth, the corporations and financial elites contribute heavily to both major parities, and, for all your complaining, you never seem to want for enough money to put on the same vacuous kind and every bit as effective propaganda campaigns as the Republicans. Yourelected officials find the rich and their foundations every bit as much of a very valuable source of personal income and political power as do the Republicans. In other words, your own leaders have sold you down the river for all your and their prating about poor people and the common man. Why you persist in buying their nonsense escapes me. The past 20-30 years have ample proven that you are the loser in the political game because your leaders, as is the case with our Republican leaders, have sold out to the financial elites. Read Bill Greider’s books. He’s just as intense a Liberal as you are, but he knows the money game and how Washington works. You apparently don’t.
I like old Tom Jefferson. He was just about as skilled a word-smith as JFK’s speech writer (whose name escapes me for the moment). I quote him freely. (See The Democratic/Republican Coalition section of my Howard Beale Memorial Society website.) But what your quote has to do with the question of the APTTax in particular, or tax policy in general, escapes me entirely. Are you contending that Jefferson actually had a tax policy that has any application at all to the funding of government at our levels of operation?
What kind of a welfare program, or social security program, or medical care program, or even a national defense program did Jefferson have that required tax moneys to support? As I recall the various Congresses we had at the time of our revolution, had a terrible time raising money. Passing the hat just didn’t work and they really had no way of enforcing any kind of a tax except those on imports, levied upon ships at the time of off-loading.. But taxing imports and praising farmers for their independence – as if they had any choice, does not a tax policy make. Perhaps you can explain your intention more clearly?
And what on earth impelled you to lump my proposal with Bush’s absurd tax program? I have constantly criticized Bush’s domestic policies and certainly didn’t vote for him in either race. Or were you just tarring a proposal you don’t understand by the old “guilt-by-association” ploy?
How can you call a proposal to except the transaction tax from purchases for the necessaries of life below a floor of, as I suggested $400 per transaction, a tax on the poor? That’s just emotional cant. I thought you were above that.
The progressive income tax hasn’t worked. The rich are too powerful. They own too many politicians. The only way you can stop them from exercising that power is with a gun. Are you prepared to go Maoist? We now have a thoroughly entrenched oligarchy and the only peaceful way you can displace it is by a tax system that has near universal enthusiastic appeal. I defy you to come up with a program for raising the kind of money most people want government to spend than this deceptively simply little money maker. What money merchant can possibly object to a mere one quarter of one percent as the government’s bit?
Sure people can transfer their money overseas and buy products, but as long as they are US citizens they must pay. Pay for he transfer, pay for the importation of the product, and, no matter where they live, pay for the money they spend in the us. And if you are afraid of having a rush to transfer all accounts to offshore markets, well, you just make that illegal and impose huge penalties for tax evasion, just like they do today. Only today, government doesn’t really know when or how money, legal or otherwise, gets transferred to foreign accounts until it is already gone.
This tax will make all financial transactions transparent – the computer is far more readily monitored than anything the IRS or the feds have yet devised to penetrate illegal financial activities today. Economists will pore over the data so as to see and understand how the economy is functioning, and by making slight tweakings on the percentile imposed, can much more readily control the economy to keep it working smoothly, rather than the ineffectual devices used by the Fed today. The dismal science can be come an exact science, not absurd exercises in self interest like the Laffler curve, the trickle down and refund taxes to the rich theories.
Directly levied consumption taxes on selected products in the amounts required to substantially contribute to the revenues needed, may be “progressive,” but they sure do negatively affect sales. Thus, the so-called Fair Tax – the only fairness of which is its name-- which is being touted as substitute for the income tax, would be ruinous because, to be effective, the percentages would have to be well over 30 percent. Just imagine how tacking a 30% tax on top of the 7% tax California imposes would affect the sales of Cadillac, Lincoln, Mercedes, and all the other high end automobile selling for $40K to $60K and up. Let’s see, ($40K x .37) + $40K + license and you’re looking at over $55K for that new car. Now that’s a real deal breaker. Not good for business.
Robert asks what good will this tax do for the Democratic Party? Well, for openers, it surely would win the next election hands down and keep the Democrats in power for the next couple of decades. And it would make a lot of unhappy money merchants, although they really wouldn’t be hurt all that badly; they just would find themselves paying a goodly piece of the cost of government and, rather clearly, would lose their strangle hold on our politicians. And whatever the folks earned from their daily labors would be all theirs to spend. A full paycheck and a full lunch box. What else do you want? Egg in your beer?
Well, enough. I suspect I’m talking to a wall. It’s the old social inertial problem: the Devil you know is preferable to the Devil you don’t. Dems are comfortable screaming at Bush. I remember when I graduated from Cal, lo those many ears ago. I went around the various union halls in Oakland, talking to the officials. My pitch was simple: “Why don’t you guys wise up and stop going on strike for higher wages? You’re people go off work for several months, lose a lot of pay, and then, when they get their pay raises, the cost of living just goes up and then you have to do it all over again. Why don’t you just bargain for stock in the company? It may only be paper now, but in 20 years you’ll end up owning the company.”
Their reply: “Our guys are interested in pork chops. (Food on the table.) We don’t want to become involved in company management.” Well, I suspected, they really meant that they, the union officials, were comfortable with their own little kingdoms, and felt, possibly correctly, that they just didn’t know enough to get involved in management problems. And so, when the pressure came on a couple of decades later, the fat cats started driving the unions out of business and the era of unbridled globalism began. Which was all quite foreseeable – including the folly of JFK’s and then LBJ’s war in Vietnam to rescue the Democratic Party from JFK’s Bay of Pigs disaster. Politics, politics. Nothing matters except getting re-elected, remaining in power, each protecting our own little piece of turf.
If you want to see something really pitiful, get the TV movie DVD, “Path to War” where LBJ blames he Vietnam disaster on McNamara and the Kennedys, and McNamara’s apologia, “The Fog of War,” where McNamara blames the whole mess on “our” (meaning his and his administrations” lack of knowledge of Vietnam, especially its 1000+ year history of struggle to keep the Chinese at bay. Like everyone else was ignorant, too. Like he never heard of Tito. Like the no one in the 50s and 60s realized that Communism was not monolithic and primed to break up because of its own internal stresses. The most graphic shots were of McNamara’s haggard face and dead eyes as he realized his responsibility for millions of lost lives. One of the most powerful political statements I have ever seen or heard. No Liberal should avoid studying and knowing the ‘50s and ‘60s like the back of his hand. Thus does vaulting ambition o’er leap itself and fall upon the other. Of course most Republicans – but not the Eisenhower Republicans – were yapping for military action and the support of corrupt and decaying regimes to stop the Communist expansion..
It’s a bad thing when the politicians of both major parties start cheering in unison. I’m all for divided power, such as a Republican executive, a Democrat Supreme Court and lesser bench, and an evenly divided Senate and House with vigorous independent thinkers strongly represented in both parties. But it isn’t going to happen, not with the cheering sections driving both parties. Political movements under stress always end up dominated by their extremes. Both parties are basically cannibalistic, devouring their moderates, and when they are gone, each other, screaming their old slogans at each other. Unless people like you and your friends wake up, the oligarchs are going to continue to rule this land and we’ll go the way of Rome, only a lot faster.
I’ll leave you with this thought, Noah. I worked hard for Stevenson on his first run for the presidency, but I was sorely disappointed in his lack of a program. He had a reputation for being the great intellectual, but in fact he was just an inept brayer of a few slogans. No wonder the Soviets laughed at him when he postured inanely in the UN on the Cuban Missile Crisis. “”What is your answer? I’m prepared to wait until hell freezes over!” Yeah, like we’re still waiting for the Soviets to-take those missiles and nuclear war-heads out of Cuba. My brother, who was career Air Force and worked in the Pentagon in Air Force Intelligence dring that period, said that with reasonable maintenance, the missile systems could remain fujnctonal for many years. Which undoubtedly is why we’ve been kissing Castro’s ass for lo these many years. But, Oh, I forgot. You think Castro and Che Guevarra are heroes.
Whatever, for a party that is supposed to be run by intellectuals and is so widely and passionately represented in academia, the Democrats have been remarkably shy on coming up with solutions or new ideas on how to deal with the many problems we have been laboring under for a half century. It’s just the same old same old all over again. And in anyone stands in our way, out comes the Red Queen squalling “Off with their heads! Off with their heads!”
So, there. I feel much better now. J Have a good night.
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