How did I get in this handbasket?

Sunday, August 29, 2004

It's Official: The best way to punish tax dodgers: Cut their taxes.

When he first said it, I thought he screwed-up. When he said it again, I was flummoxed. Now it is clear this is an OFFICIAL policy stance.


I really don't know what to say...

Unicyclist has been keeping track of this too:

Although [Kerry] has repeatedly insisted he will roll back Bush's tax
cut only for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans, Bush insisted, "you
know who 'the rich' is. They got accountants. It means you pay."

Bush said high taxes on the rich are a failed strategy because "the
really rich people figure out how to dodge taxes anyway."

"People need to be aware of this talk out of Washington, D.C. that says,
oh, don't worry, we're just going to tax the rich. That's not the way it
works in the tax code. The big rich dodge taxes, anyway."

"... you know how the tax code works. When they say, 'tax the rich,'
those are the folks who have got the accountants to see to it they don't
pay tax, so guess who gets stuck with the bill? You're going to get
stuck with the bill."

"You know what else I think when they say, tax the rich? Most rich
people are able to avoid taxes...."

Allow me to point out the obvious: Many of these quotes refer to the Whitehouse's own website.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Foghat Tells Bush, "What's this 'we' shit, white man."

Contrary to reports claiming 1970s band, Foghat, is backing the Republicans, actual band members say otherwise.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Now there's some quick thinkin' by our leader.

Ok, I don't really have time to post, so I'll spare you my usual long-winded spew, but I simply could not resist pointing this out.

On April 13, 2004 during a press conference Mr. Bush and a reporter had this well documented exchange:

Q Thank you, Mr. President. In the last campaign, you were asked a question about the biggest mistake you'd made in your life, and you used to like to joke that it was trading Sammy Sosa. You've looked back before 9/11 for what mistakes might have been made. After 9/11, what would your biggest mistake be, would you say, and what lessons have you learned from it?

THE PRESIDENT: I wish you would have given me this written question ahead of time, so I could plan for it. (Laughter.) John, I'm sure historians will look back and say, gosh, he could have done it better this way, or that way. You know, I just -- I'm sure something will pop into my head here in the midst of this press conference, with all the pressure of trying to come up with an answer, but it hadn't yet.

Well, now it is 4 months and weeks later, and he finally has come up with something.

In what The New York Times said was the US president's first acknowledgement on the issue, Bush said he made a "miscalculation of what the conditions would be" in postwar Iraq.

That's right, folks: He's been plugging away at this question for 136 days and he finally has an answer for us! You'll notice that he wished he could have had "this written question ahead of time." Apparently, If he was going to give an answer to that question on April 13, 2004, the reporter would have had to submit the question on November 29, 2003.

Man, this guy is dumb like a sack of wet mice....

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

I couldn't have said it better...

....than this.

Sorry for the lack of post. A bit swamped, I'll get back to it this weekend - promise.


Wednesday, August 18, 2004

If you read nothing else today.... this. It is perhaps one of the best posts about the situation in Iraq I have read. It is all the better as it is from a boots-on-the-ground source who can speak to the nature of events infinitely better than an armchair carper like myself.

It breaks my heart that we - all of us, as citizens, taxpayers, and complicit consumers of media - have allowed this to happen to our sons and daughters especially ones as honorable as this commentator.

But more, there is tremendous shame at the immeasurable damage done to that ineffable spirit of our nation, not our zeitgeist, but that image of ourselves as a nation that we aspire to. We aspire to be the nation our 'mythology' says we are. Our national mythology says we are for freedom, truth, justice, opportunity, equality, tolerance, and helping out the underdog. And, while no we are no unassailable paragon of virtue - in the grand sweep of humanity, especially the abattoir of the 20th century, we have achieved those aims better than most.

This is not mere sloganeering either - the French have their "Liberte, Fraternite, Egalite," but when you really exhort the French to what makes France so great you really get "Linguistic Superiority, Xenophobia, and really quite excellent cuisine." Theirs is a tagline, ours is us, at our core, as we really want to be, and be perceived.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964, was passed primarily because activists, protesters, and people of conscience frequently appealed to our mythology. By this I mean they appealed to our conception of ourselves as a nation - that all men are created equal - and pointed out that in America it simply was not so. When said often enough, loudly enough, the country knew it had to "put up, or shut up." We had to honor that "promissory note to which every American was to fall heir," that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of, or we had to eventually admit we were not who we said we were.

Americans, simply cannot do this.

Think about that for a second. We would rather reshape the nation than reshape how we think of ourselves. I'm not saying we do so quickly, but when we can no longer deny our shortcomings, we do not accept them - we actually change.

We, like all nations, peoples, and cultures - especially when strong - have done horrible unconscionable things in our history.; things no one can really defend. Sometimes we can look back and as explanation (but not excuse) and say it was: a short-lived lapse in national character; or a tiny event in the maelstrom of Cold War brinkmanship-by-proxy; or our part in a overarching culture that was bigoted, ignorant and unevolved, sometimes we have no explanation at all.

But this. This war (technically not a war, just manifest evidence of the sheer cravenness of those that claim to represent us), this war brings us to a place we have not been before. We are a powerful nation - perhaps the most powerful - and we have attacked, unprovoked, a vastly weaker nation that posed no real threat to us.

We are now an Aggressor Nation.

We have entered the realm of Nations tread by The Soviet Union. Germany of 1914-1918 & 1933-1945, Serbia, or most ironically, Iraq circa 1991. People know Germany as an entirely different country now - but the spectre of their aggression haunts them like Banquo's ghost - just in the back of the world's consciousness. George W. Bush has taken us to this Godforsaken landscape. He has harmed this nation in a way no terrorist could - he has made us less than we are and hope to be.

As profoundly unhappy as I am about what we as a nation are doing and where we are going, I still admire the sheer awesome power of our mythology and how when appealed to, often inspires us as a nation to do The Right Thing. I also pray that it will get us out of the mess we are in now.

Friday, August 13, 2004


So here in the City of cities the iPod has established itself firmly in the realm of ubiquitous gadget. For a while there was definate market segmentation along socio-economic lines (lots in Williamsburg, fewer on the uptown end of the 2/3 line). But after the introduction of the iPod mini, you can't swing a dead cat without it getting all tangled up in those white earbud headphones.

What's the deal? Thank you for asking, non-existent reader, I have some theories.

Basically, New Yorkers need headphones, we've been deep in this need for a long time, and the iPod is the best thing to go with them since we went portable with our 8 million respective soundtracks. We need hours or days of music, spoken word, what-have-you, at our fingertips for the same reason we donned the 'phones in the first place:

Some of our fellow citizens are stone-cold insane.

Whether they have a loud, unflagging, and intrusive relationship with Jesus or "insert-deity-here" (but usually Jesus), or wish to share their side of an argument with whatever seraphim or nephalim happen to be tap-dancing morse-code on their corpus calossum - these reality-challenged folks must be silenced. At least from a personal subjective frame-of-reference. That means drowning them out. Enter headphones, blah blah blah, electronics evolution, which brings us to current day, and the iPod reigns supreme.

I know you are thinking, "Well, we have crazy people here in (San Francisco, Rockridge, Berkeley, St. Louis, Wichita, L.A., wherever)." Yes, you do, but:

1) You guys (especially in L.A.) are always in your cars, so you never have to deal with them - in fact cars are just big headphones on wheels that suck up gas. We ride with our crazy people on mass transit. That (and ~$1.33 if you get 30 day Unlimited Metrocard) is the price we pay for whizzing underneath the bustling streets of Gotham while the suckers sweat it out in traffic above. (Note subway over bus preference here.)

Which begs the question, "Why are your crazies on public transit, ours seem to just sit around?" Which brings us to:

2) New Yorkers are a people on the move, and that applies double for those with a DSM IV diagnosis on their resume. Uptown for some lithium, Downtown for a tinfoil beanie to defend against the Soviet mind-control satellites, Westside for a new Bible to beat, or Eastside for someone who may not have heard about this Jesus fellow.

But, as with so many things, the "why"s just pale when the solution is so good.

So iPod, we thank you - Now, is there anything you can do about these crazy-ass motherfuckers?

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Oh My God, He said it AGAIN!

In an earlier post, I pointed out that Bush implied that the rich weasel out of paying their fair share of taxes.

Now, Bush just bluntly admits it.

Bush also said high taxes on the rich are a failed strategy because "the really rich people figure out how to dodge taxes anyway."

Holy crap! How is this even a little okay? Kos sums it just about as I would:

Here's a better idea -- tax those most able to pay for it, close loopholes, increase penalties for tax cheats, and strengthen enforcement. That way, Bush's friends won't be able to dodgetaxes.

But whatever. Abolish the speed limit because people speed anyway. Abolish drug laws because people do drugs anyway. Eliminate murder statutes because people kill people anyway.

Damn that man says stupid things!

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Finally Bush Tells the Truth!

George W. Bush, speaking at his signing of the Dept. of Defense Appropriations Bill ($418 Billion) said,

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we," Bush said. "They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."

Wow, he finally admitted it! Some have been ascribing this quote to the President misspeaking, but I think for once he's laying it on the line. Perhaps it is a slip, but one of those delicious Freudian ones that reveal the true feelings of the speaker.

I also think he has been far more successful at harming our country and our people than the terrorists have been.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Veep Gives Bush a Run for His Money on the Laziness Index

Kos serves up this delicious tidbit:
Donna Brazille hits it OUT OF THE PARK
by JeffLieber
Wed Aug 4th, 2004 at 17:31:49 GMT

(From the diaries -- kos)

I'm waiting on the transcript, but a moment ago Donna Brazille killed the "John Kerry was an indistinguished as a Senator" meme.

In the "rapid fire" section of Crossfire she said the following to a Republican Strategist...

"Dick Cheney was in the house for over a decade. How many bills did he pass?"

The Republican Strategist paused, looked physically ill, then tried to change the subject by saying "Well, he was aknowledged as a leader."

There was laughter in the crowd.

But Brazille didn't let him go. She leaned forward and very calmly told the truth.

"2 bills".

2 bills for Cheney. 57 for Kerry.

Code blue! Code Blue!

Um... never mind... play taps, 'cause the meme is dead.

What can I say, while I have lamented Kerry's less than feverishly impassioned legislative record, Dick
Cheney's simply leaves me agog. What was he doing all that time?

Monday, August 02, 2004

It depends on what the meaning of "is," is....

Okay, so a friend of mine just made a very good point about how we talk about wealth in this country, which given my last two posts, is highly germane. Actually, he said something like, "I think [someone] should install bombs in the heads of democrats that will detonate when they talk about wealth in terms of percentages, I mean who really knows what that means?

Perhaps this is why republicans have such an easy time talking about (nevermind actually passing) their tax-cut-for-the-rich schemes without raising the public ire. For some completely unfathomable reason, many Americans think they are or are just about to become rich. I'm not talking about in comparison to Bangladeshis (pretty much everyone is rich compared to Bangladeshis), I mean in comparison to other Americans. This really flies in the face of some of their own experience. How can you barely afford college and health insurance and consider yourself among the "rich?" Actual rich people do not have these as problems. Really - does anyone think Bill Gates, Paris Hilton, or Dick Cheney have EVER said, "Gee, I'm really concerned about making the payments on my health insurance." or, "We were doing all right until my daughter got sick, the medical bills creamed us, and we lost our house." Well I, for one cannot imagine it.

So, as a public service, let's let's really explore what rich is:

These numbers are 1998-2001 numbers and actually show a bit less of a split between those at the very top and the rest of us.


(4th & 5th lowest quintiles)

(3rd lowest quintile)

(2nd lowest quintile)

(top quintile sub-divided thus:)

Now keep in mind that net worth is your assets minus your liabilities; so if you own a $300.000 house which you still owe $200,000 on that contributes a net $100,000 to your net worth. If you keep this in mind, how many Americans have huge outstanding mortgages, (or student loans, massive credit card debt,etc.) that net worth threshold is pretty hard to reach.

But this is another way of saying what we've been saying all along: "rich" is a relative term, by necessity and definition it is rare. How rare? The numbers above show 80% of American households make less than an average $97,000 per year. Only one in ten households make more that $135,000. That includes Bill Gates and the like. Bill Gates can rest assured any tax increase at the top will affect him, and he well may fight it - that is predictable (selfish and shortsighted, but predictable). If anyone can afford to pay a bit more in taxes it is the Bill Gateses of this country - it will change their lifestyle or spending habits not at all. At some later post, I will get into why the rich actually use more government services and should pay higher dues than the not rich.

For the rest of us: I know you work hard, you bust your ass to provide for yourself and your family. You are proud how how you have struggled to get where you are. That a handful of others may have more - some through not a drop of sweat of their own - does not demean your efforts one bit. Be honest with yourself, look around, do you really think you make more money that 98% percent of all Americans? Is paying your bills that easy? Do you have $6 Million or so - in the clear - or earn about $500,000 per year?

So, when someone talks about raising taxes on, oh say, the top 2% of Americans before your hackles go up, take a deep breath, and count to somewhere around $6,000,000 or $500,000 per year, whichever you reach first.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

You know how the rich is......

More gems of wisdom from our illustrious leader:

WASHINGTON, July 31 /PRNewswire/ -- The following are remarks by President Bush:
Canton Memorial Civic Center

Canton, Ohio
11:04 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: He said he's only going to raise the tax on the so-called rich. But you know how the rich is, they've got accountants. That means you pay. That means your small business pays. It means the farmers and ranchers pay. That's the wrong medicine for this economy, and we're not going to let him prescribe it. (Applause.)

Okay, aside from the number and verb not agreeing (and before you get all up in my face about "the rich" can be referred to as a singular class, take a look at how Georgie uses "they've" to indicate his intent on number) Der Fuhrer drops another cognitive logic bomb in there.

You see, 'the rich," they have accountants. Implying that the rich weasel out of paying their taxes regardless of their marginal tax rate.

Whoa, did I just hear him right? I thought he always said the rich pay a disproportionate share of the taxes - that's why he cuts their taxes.

I suppose he could close some of those loopholes that the rich and their scheming nefarious accountants use to avoid taxes...but....nah that's crazy talk.....

But wait - there's more....this logic bomb has multiple warheads.

First he refers to "the rich" as the "so-called rich". Wait, which is it Mr. Bush? Are they rich or only so-called rich? Are you saying that the top 2% of income earners (those supposedly targeted by the Kerry tax plan with which Mr. Bush takes issue.) are only the "so-called rich?" If the top 2% aren't really rich then who is?

Which gets us to our next point:

He uses the third person pronoun they to refer to "the rich." He does, however, seem to know that "they" employ "accountants." (Accountants are now bad, see. We know this as regular Farmers and Ranchers 'cause of Enron, Tyco, MCI, etc. scandals - not that Bush isn't friends with Enron CEO Ken Lay, but nevermind that now, we talking to farmers and ranchers here.)

I suspect Mr. Bush knows about "the rich" using "accountants" because by most measures of the word he is rich. At least I think (and maybe a few farmers and ranchers would too) that a net worth of $9,634,088 to $26,593,000 does, in fact, qualify him as rich. Actually, it puts in in the top 1%-2%. Hey! Doesn't that mean that Kerry's tax plan would raise his....

So, I guess that means he just admitted to us all that he weasels out of paying his fair share of taxes and shifted the burden onto all of us. And he doesn't want his taxes raised.

Okay, thanks for playing everyone!

Bush Administration's Bright Economic Present

So here's a delightful bit o' news ( from those that (mis) lead us:

Several senior Homeland Security officials told The Associated Press that Ridge has indicated in recent weeks he probably will resign after the election, even if Bush wins. They spoke only on condition of anonymity, citing the delicate nature of describing private conversations with their boss.

Ridge, 58, has explained to colleagues that he needs to earn money to comfortably put his two children, Tommy Jr. and Lesley, through college, officials said. Both are now teenagers. Ridge earns $175,700 a year as a Cabinet secretary.

So, according to a Cabinet Level member of the Bush Administration, $175,700 per year (assuming no spousal or investment income - not bloody likely) is woefully insufficient to send two kids to college.

Hmmm.....let me try that another way....George Bush is trying to convince us the economy is recovering and things are getting better for all Americans when being in the top 5% of income earners is not sufficient to "comfortably put...two children... through college."

Well, I'm sold. Four more years of Bush, and maybe college will be out of reach for the Top 1% of earners.