Friday, October 31, 2008

Tax cuts (continued)

I just read some more tax cut nonsense at and I wanted to remind people that this tax cut nonsense is a fake issue that the Republicans have been championing for years. It's great for those making millions of dollars and it hurt those making tens of thousands of dollars. In exchange for their new yacht your children lose their after school programs or the bridges go without vital repairs.

I tried to explain my biggest issue with tax cuts in this election cycle at and we'll see if the comments show up, but just in case they don't here they are:

The problem with all this nonsense about “wealthy people getting taxcuts and creating jobs” is that just because a big corporation or a wealthy individual has some extra money is no guarantee that they will invest in labor (american) or infrastructure. Given the downturn in the economy they might realize that no one in the bottom 95% of workers can afford their goods so they won’t need to hire any more employees or expand any operations. If the 95% gets more money back though, they will spend it on essential goods and services and boost the national economy. Companies expand because there is a demand for their goods or services, not just because they got a tax cut.

Monday, October 27, 2008

What Robert Carroll and the WSJ don't understand about Health Care

This morning's WSJ article about Senator McCain's health care plan was dripping with so much ignorance and misinformation it almost made me cry. Carroll's main argument is that McCain's plan will reduce health care costs by encouraging people to purchase less expensive medical coverage. His comparison to home or auto insurance and his question of "Do these cover routine spending on cleaning the gutters or tuning up a car?" completely misses the point that health care is cheapest when preventative care is encouraged and provided. By covering only catastrophic incidents many people will opt out of seeking regular medical care that will ultimately reduce the overall costs of health care. The problem with health care costs aren't the actual care that Americans receive but the endless paperwork and insurance company make-work that is absent from most other industrialized countries, allowing them to spend less and live longer. To propose reducing health care costs by reducing plan coverage would be like saying you can have a car for less money but it doesn't come with an engine or wheels.

On top of this dismissal of preventative care, Carroll misses the mark on how the disappearance of employer provided health care will work in this country. One of the biggest obstacles to obtaining health care as an individual is the insurance companies' tireless efforts to screen out any risk. Individual insurance lacks the "market power" of an employer plan which leaves buyers more at the mercy of the insurance companies. An insurance company is not going to give people better care or lower costs out of the goodness of their corporate hearts so the collective bargaining power of a whole company can help ensure quality affordable coverage.

Dr. Carroll's comparison of the current tax subsidies versus the ones proposed by Senator McCain is flawed because he is comparing McCain's proposed plan (which he already noted would have higher deductibles and less coverage) against the current system. Therefore not only will people under McCain's plan be taxed on their employer provided health care benefits, they will also be paying larger sums out of pocket for care, which for many Americans will mean forgoing treatment they think they can live without. This is a horrific way to reduce health care costs.

I don't kow if Dr. Carroll simply didn't think of these issues or if he is cynically attempting to fool the readers of the WSJ but his analysis is fundamentally flawed. Senator McCain's health care proposal in the long run will reduce coverage, increase the price paid by consumers and force many companies to stop offering health insurance to employees, leaving many Americans with chronic illnesses or other health problems uninsurable. If you believe the GOP claims that they will force the insurance companies to insure the riskiest Americans then you clearly have not listened to anything they've said about the invisible hand of the market.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Hannity's America (a place I would never want to live)

Sean Hannity's America is a terrifying place.  Let's ignore for a moment the fact that his Sunday night show's theme music is Martina McBride's "Independence Day" which for anyone who hasn't heard it is about a little girl who's mother is beaten to death by her father on July 4th.  Let's ignore that he is a shameless partisan hack that makes Tucker Carlson seem as impartial as a PBS news anchor.  Let's even ignore his fixation on any negative Obama news story that made him talk about Jeremiah Wright for months after the rest of the MSM did and his continued attempt to bring down Obama by talking about William Ayers every chance he gets.

Tonight he spent his entire broadcast going through a top ten reasons why he won't be voting for Barack Obama come November 4th.  He could have condensed all of his make-believe reaons that he went over in the show into a 30 second add and saved us all a lot of time.  Here's your real number one reason for not voting Obama: "My name is Sean Hannity and I work for Fox News."  

If associations are so important to you Sean why not mention Senator McCain's longtime connections to convicted criminals like G. Gordon Liddy?  That's why we as a nation typically shun the idea of guilt by association because throughout your life, especially a public life, you are bound to meet and work with a huge number of people.  One of the bigges travesties of all the Obama guilt by association nonsense has been the lack of defense of the people and organizations that he is criticized for knowing.  

Beginning with Pastor Wright, the outrage at his remarks were exageratted.  His sermons were honest and if they were hurtful to white Americans like Sean it was because of the truths they exposed.  Then came the Rezko nonsense.  Everyone who had anything to do with politics in Chicago and Illinois came into contact with Rezko or someone like him.  Now it's Bill Ayers, who did what he did because of his opposition to the murder of 2 million south east asians during the Vietnam war. 

So let's move off of this garbage and take a look at the issues.  Yes Sean, your taxes will go up if Obama's plan goes through, but 95% of your viewers will see more of their money stay in their wallets, which will in turn allow them to spend that money on your crappy books.  If those making less than $200,000 get to keep more of their money then they get to purchase more consumer goods which help those that produce the goods.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Register a corpse or disenfranchise a voter?

I think this is a fundamental question in light of all the ACORN trashing over their alleged fake voter registrations. The problem with accusing ACORN of committing voter fraud is that none of those fake voters like Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck have voted. Unless there is some information that has yet to surface about a vast left wing conspiracy to send people to the polls impersonating the dead and the fictional, I don't see how any fraud will be committed.

On the other hand there is the very real danger of voter disenfranchisement. According to the Brennen Institute's report hundreds of thousands of legitimate voters will be or have been purged from voter rolls due to problems as insignificant as typos, some of which are made by government employees.

So you need to ask yourself, what's worse? Registering Popeye the sailor as a voter in Delaware or disenfranchising real voters? Which one does more damage to democracy? For me, the anology is whether it's worse to have a guilty person go free or an innocent person in jail.

UPDATE: for more on ACORN and GOP allegations of voter fraud check out TUCKER: Mickey won't show up on Election Day

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Not my Congress

For months now we've been inundated by the news networks with grim statistics for Congress and America's approval of their job performance.  Night after night anchors and pundits, usually in an attempt to make Bush's abysmal approval ratings look a little better, made mention that Congress' approval rating was even lower.  How could this be?  Doesn't Congress enjoy a near 90% re-election rate?  Well, it's the nature of the question.

Think about it in terms the current President can understand.  If I ask you, after watching a news report about a school shooting, teenage girls showing explicit photos of theselves on mySpace or kids caught vandalizing street signs, "are American children out of control?" chances are you'll answer yes.  If I then ask you if your children are out of control, you'll more likely to answer no.  Why?  Because the first question lets you express your opinions about other people's children and not your own.  You have no responsibility for them, you did not raise them.  Similarly when you ask about Congress as a whole, you didn't elect most Congressmen, just your own.  Sharing opinion polls on Congress, without showing a poll next to it asking those same respondents about their own representatives is pointless because it does not show any useful information.

As Campebell Brown showed tonight when asked if Congressmen should be re-elected this year over 50% answered no.  When asked if their own Congressman should be re-elected the answer was more than 50%...YES!  So showing some statistics that Congress' approval rating is down around 11% does not in any way suggest that much will change in Washington.  For this reason Campbell gets another big props from PutridPundits.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Some interviewers don't really want their questions answered

One of Sean Hannity's greatest skills is to rant his monologue while making it appear to be a question.  I'm not entirely sure why he does this so often.  I used to think he just did it to people who might serve him up a smack down and it was his way to run the clock out, but he even does it to people like Karl Rove so I'm at a loss.

It could just be that his massive ego requires him to fill up more than half the air time on the show, or, as I am starting to believe, it is so that he spew out a bunch of non-sequitors to communicate something to his audience.  Tonight he was talking with Karl abouthow McCain can win the necessary 270.  When they discussed Pennsylvania Sean once again brought up the comments Senator Obama made back during the primaries about the folks who cling to guns and religion.  He spent about 20 seconds rehashing this comment and then finished it up with asking how, after hearing something like that, could the people of PA ever vote for him.

Ed Rendell did a decent job of stuffing it back at Sean and before Sean could do his typical interruption Rendell shut him up by pointing out he hadn't interrupted Karl Rove.

Chris Matthews

Now for some levity.  Tonight on HARDBALL with Chris Matthews, Chris made a comment about winning Republican presidential tickets.  According to Chris the Republicans have not won an election since 1928 without a Nixon or a Bush on the ticket.  Where he goofed was when he made a comment to the viewers telling them to use that iformation later on the evening with their friends assuring them that no one would know it.  What makes that so true is the sad fact that nobody watches MSNBC so, likely, they would not have seen the segment.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pat Buchanan

I spent a few minutes trying to think of a catchy title for this post...something like "Pat Buchanan - Moron" but with more pazazz.  Finally, I just decided that his name was enough and would convey the intended message.  Pat Buchanan, who ran an abysmal campaign for the Republican Presidential nomination in '96 and then his joke of an attempt at the Oval Office in 2000 by snagging the Reform Party ticket at the federal campaign money that Ross Perot earned with his '96 showing.

Tonight I watched him try and defend Sarah Palin's remarks about the role of the Vice President.  She was asked about how she saw the role of Vice President and she blabbered on about presiding over the senate and crafting legislation.  Sorry Sarah, but maybe you should read the Constitution, or watch an old School House Rock special because if you did either of those things you would know that the job of Vice President, despite what Cheney would have you believe, is to succeed the President should he be unable to carry out his office, and to break ties in the senate.

It was great to see Chris Matthews chew him up and just keep telling him how wrong he was.  Pat tried to make excuses for Palin by saying she was talking to 2nd or 3rd graders.  While Matthews pointed out that she in fact made those remarks during a tv news interview, the idea that it's ok to misinform children about the way our government functions is even worse in a way.  Children growing up today are horrifically underinformed as it is and they do not need a candidate for Vice President adding to that lack of knowledge.  Sorry Pat, the jig is up.  You can only hack so much for your side before you do something ridiculous like defend Sarah Palin's idiotic remarks.

Tax cuts tax cuts tax cuts

I am sick to death of all the focus on bloody tax cuts! Obviously, if i was earning the kind of money that the top 1% of America earns my views might be a little different since I'd be looking at millions upon millions of saving from a President McCain over a President Obama. But I do not make millions of dollars. I do not make hundreds of thousands or even a hundred thousand. So my potential "tax cut" (read unpaved roads and collapsing bridges) is likely to be a modest sum no matter who is elected. What's amazing is that this puts me in the same boat as most Americans but for some reason this great majority of the country is so easily motivated by a few hundred to a few thousand dollars that they'd give up countless investments towards their and their children's health and education, for a new Chinese TV from Wal-mart.

Let's be honest, things like the Economic Stimulus package that dropped 600-1200 bucks in the laps of all American workers was not a stimulus to the American economy but rather, a giant hand-out to the Chinese economy that produces all the crap Americans spent their checks on. The same goes for tax cuts for the vast majority of Americans. We don't need a $600 check because a $600, or even a $6000 check is not going to mean the difference between sinking and swimming in this day and age. On the other hand, taking that money and investing it into our communities, whether it be through infrastructure improvements like roads and bridges, or hiring more teachers, or creating after-school programs would all create jobs here in America and improve the standard of living of the country as a whole.

What's the point of chanting some assinine phrase like "united we stand" if at the same time we are unwilling to help our fellow countrymen. What possible excuses can we make for America's embarssingly poor statistics on infant mortality? How can we the majority sit back and say "thank you" for a thousand dollar tax cut while people like Richard Fuld of Lehman Brothers receive millions?

Someone once asked me why not have a flat tax? Why should you be taxed at a higher rate just because you earn more? Well so far my best reasoning behind progressive taxes are the following:
1) The rich have far more control over how tax dollars are spent
This may come as a surprise to some people who have never watched the news or read an article, but the rich of this country have a far louder voice than the poor in determining how the nation's treasury is spent. Not only is a $200,000/year salary seen as poor by Senate standards but the rich, through expensive fundraisers and the lobbying system have a framework to get their concerns voiced in Washington with a far greater level of efficacy than anyone earning the nation's median income.
2) The rich benefit to far greater extent from the nations spending
Since they have more control over how the country spends its money it is little surprise that they benefit from that spending to a greater degree than average citizens. Owners of large corporations can lobby politicians to receive government contracts and subsidies. American corporations benefit greatly from America's presence overseas as they gain access to new markets and consumers. Were it not for America's military superiority (an enormous amount of our annual spending) American corporations would not be able to set up shop so freely throughout the world and rake in so many profits.

These are just 2 reasons for maintaining the progressive tax structure but there are many more. For these reasons I am asking the American people to please stop voting based on a tax cut. It's not helping you. The American people have received more tax cuts over the last 8 years than they did in the previous 8. What has happened in that time? The national debt has balooned from $5 trillion to "ten toushand billion" dollars as the British would say. The economy is in crisis and people are feeling poorer than they have in ages. STOP ASKING FOR TAX CUTS! THEY AREN'T HELPING! The only people who benefit from tax cuts are those making hundreds of thousands of dollars or more. Are you?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Thank you Campbell Brown

Apparently CNN Election Center's Campbell Brown is the only news anchor with the decency and the courage to denounce the ignorant claims that are still being made about Senator Obama's race and religion, namely, the allegations that the Illinois senator is a muslim and most recently, that he is an arab.  While McCain did correct his thinking impaired supporter and say that his opponent was not an Arab, he followed up by explaining that Obama was a "decent family man." 
While the news outlets were quick to show the exchange they were even quicker to point out how McCain denounced these comments.  What most of them failed to do was denounce the idea that being an Arab or a Muslim is itself a negative  trait.  This racism in the country and the media cannot stand if America is to live up to its founding principles.
So congratulations Campbell Brown.  Keep up the good work, at least one MSM anchor is.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Overt and Covert Racism

After far too much complacency by all parties involved I was thrilled to see Representative John Lewis' remarks last week about the tone of the McCain/Palin rallies and their campaign. The most upsetting thing about his remarks is the response they have received by McCain's camp and most of the media. At the same time that images like the Obama bucks are making their way into GOP publications and website the McCain campaign has the audacity to act the injured victim in this and denounce the honest words of John Lewis as "shocking and beyond the pale."

The facts are these:
1) McCain cannot win this election without a strong turnout at the polls by the ugliest aspects of America, namely the racists and biggots of this country that are too ignorant and hateful to help themselves and their country move forward.
2) For every action Senator McCain takes to "rein in the hateful element at his rallies" Governor Palin gives as many if not more speeches that stir up that sentiment he is purportedly disagreeing with.
3) McCain's "denouncements" have not even denounced the racist tenor of his supporters. Case in point, when the slow witted woman in the red shirt stuttered through her idiotic comment about Senator Obama, John McCain's response was that Obama was not an arab and was in fact a decent man. He failed to address to more serious problem with his supporters and their overwhelming belief that arabs are not decent people and are, due to their ethnicity, horrible dangerous people who do not love their families.

So given these facts the climate of this campaign will only get worse and America should be ashamed of itself for treating 3.5 million of its citizens (who are of Arab descent) with this kind of hatred and distrust. It seems to me that if you're going to go after Senator Obama for having a fundraiser at Bill Ayers' house or for serving together on a board dedicated to reforming education then perhaps you should make sure that your own supporters don't own a bunch of white sheets and hoods.
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