A little more than six months after April 15th is a second tax day when I get to teach all about the tax system to our children. It’s called the Daddy Tax.
I, having done nothing to earn the candy my children bring home Halloween night, extract from them a candy toll. I alone determine how much I take and what I want–over much protest, it goes without saying. But they have no recourse, no authority to appeal to. Besides, the tax goes to feed the hungry: me–sometime late tomorrow morning when I’m feeling a bit famished before lunch. I can tell I’m having an effect, since my seven year old protested that it wasn’t fair because I did this last year too. “Yes,” I responded. I also added that every year it will get worse.
When they’re older I think I’ll teach them about the Laffer Curve. I’ll raise the Daddy Tax rate so high that they decide that it’s just not worth it to Trick or Treat for very long since I’m just going to confiscate most of what they earn anyway.
Someone calling himself “Scarecrow” at the liberal blog Firedoglake offers his prescription for Democrats during the primary:
[N]ever repeat the talking points by which your opponents beat up on your own party . . .
An interesting idea since it means that you cede to the other party the full effect of their attacks in a shorter period of time closer to the general election. A better plan is bring to light your own party’s candidates’ shortcomings now and thus inocculate your team from the adverse impact of inevitabe attacks later.
Is there anyone, for example, who thinks that had John McCain brought George Bush’s DUI arrest to national attention during the primary, that the charge would have had virtually zero effect on election day? Of course not. The longer you can draw out discussion of the negative charge, the less its effect.
From Hillary Clinton’s own past there is a prime example: her husband’s affair with Ms. Lewinsky. In early 1998, before a year’s worth of pounding press on the subject dulled American’s senses, Dick Morris conducted an internal poll that discovered that if the charges were true, a majority of American’s wanted Bill Clinton to resign. Within twelve months that had changed, but that’s because by then he had been inocculated by repeated (ad nauseum) exposure to the charge of adultury with an intern and perjury to cover it up.
Scarecrow can try to protect Ms. Clinton from such attacks during the primary, but if he only had a brain, he’d welcome them now instead of later.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich is complaining about the President’s mental health since, according to Kucinich, George W. Bush “does not seem to understand his words have real impact.”
That’s rich. One could question the state of Kucinich’s mental health since he seems to be of the delusional belief that his words do have impact.
The Tennessean concludes a story about the near invincibility of Tennessee incumbent congressmen with this short paragraph:
The lack of competition is not new in Tennessee, where the last incumbent to lose was Republican Bill Brock, who lost his Senate seat to Democrat Jim Sasser in 1976, when the Watergate scandal swept many Republicans from office.
Only that’s not true. Jim Sasser, himself three terms later was evicted from office. A commenter to the Tennessean article rewrote that paragraph this way:
The lack of competition is not new in Tennessee, where the last incumbent to lose was Democrat Jim Sasser, who lost his Senate seat to Republican Bill Frist, M.D. in 1994, when the Hillary Clinton universal healthcare debacle swept many Democrats from office.
Even substituting the word “plan” for “debacle,” would this paragraph make it into print?
This brings up two questions: Why did writer Bill Theobald and Gannett’s editors not know or catch the much more recent truth? And if they had not made the historical error, would they have been as willing to point out the early failed Clinton policies that led to the ’94 Republican landslide? Somehow I don’t think so.
There is an interesting juxtaposition of the aforementioned story with this one about State Representative Rob Briley’s refusal to step down after charges of drunken driving and evading police and admissions of his struggle with a psychological problem and alcoholism. Should Rep. Briley both run and win his seat again in 2008–something that is very possible in gerrymandered Tennessee–it would be a serious indictment of both a corrupt system and of us, Tennessee’s voters.
| Category: Culture
| Posted at: Tuesday, 23 October 2007
This evening I attended an event hosted by the Nashville chapter of the Republican Jewish Coalition. Former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer was the speaker. He is a wonderfully charming man, as you would expect of someone who held such a position.
In a conversation before the event, one friend of mine said, “I didn’t know that there were so many Jewish Republicans in Nashville.” A woman remarked back to him, I didn’t know there were so many Jewish people in Nashville.” My reaction was a bit different; I wondered why there weren’t even more people there.
For the record, I’m not Jewish. Also for the record, there were about 75 people there, no more than 10 of whom were goys like me.
But my question for the blogosphere is this:
Why aren’t there more Jewish Republicans?*
Oh . . . one other question: Why was the Nashville City Paper the only Nashville media outlet that apparently saw fit to cover a Nashville event featuring such a prestigious political figure? (Please correct me if I missed any other media present.)
*NOTE: Save the partisan oneupsmanship for somebody else’s blog. It’s a serious question, for which I hope there are serious responses on all sides.
| Category: Economy
| Posted at: Thursday, 18 October 2007
Nearly half of Americans are completely and utterly wrong. The economy is not in a recession by any measure. Not even close. However, a CNN poll says 46% of Americans think we are. Why?
I can think of three reasons:
The educational: Americans don’t know what the word “recession” means.
The conspiratorial: The media has done such a good job at painting a bad economic picture that people believe it.
The political: In spite of knowing that we’re not in a recession, poll respondents with an anti-Bush sentiment claim that we are just because they can’t admit to anything going right while Bush is President.
What do you think?
| Category: Iraq
| Posted at: Tuesday, 16 October 2007
It’s not The Onion, but it could be. Glenn Reynolds links to perhaps the most “search for the grey lining in every silver cloud” story ever written:
“As violence falls in Iraq, cemetery workers feel the pinch”
Imagine that in your town there are two well-established gas stations. Also imagine that your community was growing at a quick pace, so quick, that a willing entrepreneuer proposed building a third gas station on the side of town where much of the recent growth was occurring. Now also imagine that once all the zoning and permits were in order for this third gas station, that the two existing ones sued to prevent the third from being built because they would “lose” money to the new competition.
Hard to imagine? Not really, if we’re talking about hospitals instead of gas stations.
That’s what’s happening in Williamson County right now. Tennessee is one of about 25 states requiring a Certificate Of Need to build a hospital–even a privately financed hospital. That is, the government, not investors, determines whether there is enough demand to justify a new hospital. Even worse, a board, which by law includes a member selected by the Tennessee Hospital Association, determines whether or not there is “need”.
Going back to our gas station example, that would be akin to requiring the new gas station owner to get permission to operate from a board including members from the town’s “gas station association”–made up of operators of the town’s existing gas stations.
Supporters of CON requirements argue that limiting the overbuilding of hospitals keeps costs down. Really? Apparently they contend that the laws of supply and demand apply to all items except health care. I don’t think so.
In Williamson County HCA has decided to make an investment in Spring Hill while two competitors are trying desperately to keep them out. HCA should be able to profit or lose based on its own business decisions–not on the whims of governmentally enforced anti-competive practices erected by their competition.
Those who justify the CON’s anti-competitives practices are just part of an aptly named “con” job.
Frank Rich once complained that disagreement with the Bush administration had become tantamount to treason. Rich must have been recently released from Bush’s gulags because now he’s back to complaining that the Iraq War’s remaining supporters are nazis.
Rich apparently doesn’t appreciate the irony that his hyperbolic comparisons of America in 2007 to totalitarian regimes are undermined by the very fact that he is still free to write his drivel on the nation’s second most widely read editorial page.
Frank Rich’s other irony is that, in spite of the President’s “gestapo tactics” the only wall between him and his readers over the last six years was built not by Bush, but by his employer: The New York Times.
As we receive word that Tennessean Al Gore has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, we should keep in mind the rather inauspicious pedigree that the prize has. Here are just a few of the nearly 80 individual winners of the Peace Prize since WWI:
1920: Woodrow Wilson, for founding the League of Nations, which the United States wouldn’t ratify, and which ultimately, and spectacularly failed in 1939.
1925 Sir Austen Chamberlain, for his part in negotiating the Locarno Treaty a “trust without verification” treaty which protected Belgium and France from German invasion–well, at least until Germany decided to actually mount an invasion.
1925 Charles Dawes, for his part on the Allied Reparations Commission which levied a penalty of 132 million marks on Germany for its role in WWI. The payment, which amounts to over $10 trillion in today’s dollars, contributed to Germany’s anti-Allied animosity which Hitler was able to stoke in his rise to power.
1926 Aristide Briand, for negotiating the Briand-Kellogg Treaty which made war illegal.
1926 Gustav Stresemann, for his role in the Locarno Treaty.
1929 Frank Kellogg, the American half of the team that brought the world the Briand-Kellogg Treaty. He should have stuck to cereal.
1931 Nicholas Butler, the President of Columbia University, for his role in promoting the Briand-Kellogg Treaty, proving for the first time that when academia and peace movements are marching hand-in-hand, it’s time to increase military spending.
1935 Carl von Ossietzky, a leader of the German peace movement during the years of the Weimar Republic. By the time of his death in a nazi concentration camp in 1938, it was apparent that peace wasn’t catching on in Germany.
1953 General George C. Marshall, for formulating the Marshall Plan–which, since it paid a war’s aggressors instead of punishing them, was the exact opposite approach as the failed Dawes Plan. Interestingly, this is the only instance of a Peace Prize being awarded to a victorious war time leader who negotiated from a position of strength. Also, interestingly, it’s one of the few Peace Prizes awarded to someone for efforts that brought actual generations-long peace.
1962 Linus Pauling, for his efforts to end nuclear weapons testing. Not including the five countries which already had nuclear weapons at the time, no less than four new nations have developed (and at least two more have tested) their own nuclear arsenal.
1964 Martin Luther King, campaigner for civil rights.
1973 Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho, for their negotiation of the treaty ending U.S. involvement in Vietnam. North Vietnam violated their end of the treaty and rolled up American ally South Vietnam two years later. The Communist victory in Southeast Asia, coupled with the lack of any American response emboldened Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge in neighboring Cambodia to murder a million of his countrymen.
1975 Andrei Sakharov, Soviet dissident.
1978 Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin for negotiating a treaty between Egypt and Israel, only the second-longest surviving peace treaty commemorated by the Nobel Prize.
1979 Mother Teresa, for her work in the poorest sections of Calcutta.
1983 Lech Walesa, who organized a Polish shipbuilders union that stood up to the Eastern Bloc. Along with Reagan, Thatcher, and Pope John Paul II, Walesa is probably the man most responsible for the breakup of Soviet control over Eastern Europe in the 1980s.
1990 Mikhail Gorbachev, for his role in the breakup of the Soviet Union. Curiously, neither Lady Thatcher, President Reagan, nor Pope John Paul II have received their Nobel Award for also contributing significantly to this accomplishment.
1994 Yasser Arafat, Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, for creating peace between Israel and Palestine. Arafat, the leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organization–a terrorist group responsible for, among other atrocities, the bombing of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics–stomped on that peace when he initiated the second intifada less than a decade after being recognized as a peacemaker.
1997 Jody Williams for her “International Campaign to Ban Landmines”
2001 Kofi Annan, for . . . hell, I don’t know what for.
2002 Jimmy Carter, not for the one thing he actually accomplished while President–negotiating a treaty between Egypt and Israel–and not for the one thing for which we truly should be thankful–his advancement of Habitat for Humanity–but for being a royal pain in America’s butt during the time just before the Iraq War.
2005 Mohamed ElBaradei and his International Atomic Energy Agency. North Korea celebrated the Nobel Prize announcement with its own announcement–that it had joined the nuclear club.
The irony that the Nobel Peace Prize is named for dynamite’s inventor, continues to this day. It can be truthfully said, that with just a few notable exceptions, Al Gore joins very mediocre company. In fact, the history of the Nobel Prize is to award attempts at peace rather than actual peace itself. While striving for peace is a noble goal, too many of the awarded attempts have led to even greater bloodshed than that which they were intended to prevent.
Given that history, Al Gore deserves the award.
Some have taken me to task for the “mediocre” moniker. No, Mother Teresa and Rev. Martin Luther King, along with Gen. Marshall, Dr. Schweizer, and Lech Walesa are not themselves mediocre. They are instead the exceptional standouts.
Their excellence raises a very lackluster stew of remaining recipients to the level of mediocrity.
MSNBC notes that for politicians the NPP has often served as a “jump the shark” moment.
“The list of previous American winners is dominated by politicians and statesmen whose careers in public office had ended or were soon to end: Jimmy Carter in 2002, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in 1973, former Secretary of State George Marshall in 1953, and Vice President Charles G. Dawes in 1925.”