Ronald Reagan is still dead!

Am I Against "Conservatives"?

Thanks to Digby (Dibgy! Dibgy! Dibgy!) I found this Mike Finley piece:
"But my enemy is not conservatism (which is rooted in wariness of human nature) but corporate radicalism (rooted in laissez-faire, let-it-rip economics) - what was called fascism just before Hitler confused the term - government that works hand in glove with select large corporations, with amassed wealth. Our current government is 'fascist' in the 1920s Italian sense of the word. It is a radical form of assisting the wealthy to increase and maintain economic power. This is not a good thing. It seeks to undermine democracy and turn the nation into a 'market' and nothing more.

Billionaires, who understand the danger of wealth imbalance to society's fabric -- oppose this regime - Gates, Buffett, Allen, Soros, McCartney. 'Mere' millionaires, who are still glorying in their tax reductions, love it.

Evangelical Christians, whom I love (I voted for two of them, Clinton once and Carter twice), have sold their virtue to the radical elements of the fascist neo-conservative movement. In return for a couple of dinky maneuvers - anti-gay marriage amendment (which will fail), and anti-partial birth abortion law (which has already been declared unconstitutional) - they get in bed with the devil. I say shame on them - they are hiding behind their innocence, which is a form of abdication of responsibility.

If the devil is alive today (and I believe he is) wouldn't he tempt people every possible way? Including manipulating them to "vote for virtue" and keep the money class on top? Honesty: will one rich family forswear an abortion for their pregnant 14 year old daughter? No. The law is only for the poor and middle classes to obey. This is why I oppose it. My wife works in a poverty clinic, and it seems very wrong to her that our country wants to only allow the wealthy to get abortions."
(Digby found it through Avedon Carol.)

Bridging the Gap on Health Care

This is important:

From SEIU's Fight For The Future Blog:

Bridging the Gap on Health Care
Before you finish reading this blog post, five more people will have lost their health care coverage. Nationwide, 44 million people have no health insurance, and 80 percent of those without coverage come from working families.

Under President Bush, 4 million more Americans lost their coverage, average health care costs have gone up nearly 50 percent, and premiums have gone up more than three times faster than average wages.

For many, these statistics are appalling, but not surprising, because we have seen our friends and family struggle with too little health care. We understand their fear of losing it altogether. Or we ourselves have fought for better coverage at the bargaining table, or have had to walk the picket line for it.

But the bottom line is nobody should have to choose between paying the bills and getting prescription drugs. And nobody should have to forgo treatment because they won’t be able to put food on the table.

It’s a national problem. We need a national solution.
It’s going to take a national action to help achieve it.

[. . .] On Saturday, June 19th, tens of thousands of people -- those who have health insurance and those who don't, those who fear losing coverage and those who have too little -- will join together across the country to bridge the gap in health care.

From the Golden Gate Bridge to the Brooklyn Bridge, I’m asking you to be a part of a national action to call for quality, affordable, health care for all!

The national Day of Action is sponsored by Rock the Vote, Jobs with Justice, and SEIU’s own Americans for Health Care. Each of us has an important role to play -- Let’s build a movement and bridge the gap.

To find an event near you, or to start your own event, go to:
June 19 is next Saturday.

Host a Kerry House Party!

Digby! Digby! Digby!

Continuing my occasional Digby! Dibgy! Digby! series, we have this today:
"The stench of defeat is starting to rise off of him. I watched it happen to Carter and Senior. People keep a little distance. They don't look him in the eye. The winner's gloss is replaced by a sheen of desperation. He's got trouble. You can smell it."


Mathew Gross: Going Negative

Mathew Gross: Going Negative:
"It's not just the hollowness of Bush's 'uniter, not a divider' rhetoric that we're dealing with any longer; it's the reality that only through division can he win."
Bush's toxic negativity is poisoning the public environment. It sets us against each other, and is a recipe for an unmanagable country after the election - if there even is one. Watch your backs.

Researcher's Haiku

How long do birds live?
Go look on the internet
Everything is there


Ad Sale

No BlogAds ads right now, so ads are cheap for a while. Got something you want to sell to thousands to informed, influential readers like yourself? Click on "Advertise at Seeing the Forest" over on the right.

A True Honor

I am honored, I say, HONORED to be mentioned in a piece that contains this line:
"I should add that if Capitol Hill Blue really can be trusted, Rove has much bigger problems than being called an idiot by a GOP consultant, which is really like being called smelly by a wart hog with a bowel control problem."
My name anywhere near that line ranks WAY up there in my lifetime achievements list.

Not Calming Down

Rebels Launch an Array of Attacks Across Iraq.

Once Again, Democrats Not Invited

GOP Leaders Eulogize The 40th President.

This was a "state funeral." But only Republicans were invited. And some ex-heads of state from other countries. Presidents Carter and Clinton, for example, were excluded. So ex-heads of foreign states attend a STATE FUNERAL, held in the US CAPITAL ROTUNDA, but not former Presidents of the United States, which has been the tradition until now. Yet barely a mention in the press.

Compare the Democrats' response to this nasty snub with the way Paul Wellstone's funeral was handled. The Republicans used that as a political stunt, and took back the Senate as a result. But the Democrats don't even mention what the Republicans have done here -- thereby ACCEPTING being excluded from the life of the country! ACCEPTING the Right's politicization and division of everything in American life. Well they are supposed to represent ME, and are failing me by accepting that the Republicans exclude me and the rest of my half of the country from participating in America.

They are being clear about this, it is THEIR country, not OUR country. Democrats are NOT invited to participate in America anymore.

Update - another story, "CLINTON FURIOUS AT REAGAN SNUB"


Pandagon: Killing the Middle

Ezra at Pandagon has chimed in on the discussion (continued in the post below this one) of how to deal with the Right, and the comments are many and interesting. Go read, and join in - leave a comment there and/or here.

Not Getting the Point

Matthew Yglesias responds to the Matt Stoller post I pointed to (twice) yesterday. (Which is similar to this scary piece I wrote yesterday.) He doesn't seem to get the point. I left this comment:
Your post misses his point and makes his point at the same time. You're talking about "the merits of pragmatic compromise" and wishing you could have good-faith debates on issues with these guys, while they're creeping up on you carrying a noose.
Matt left a coment too,
This attitude is what I'm pointing at. The passive voice 'are given sufficiently solid defeats...' implies a certain reticence in realizing that WE are the ones who must administer the defeats. Moreover, the question is not just of electoral defeats, but of punishment. If you accept that this is essentially a criminal gang running a fraudulent political apparatus based on increasing their amount of power and institutionalizing the placement of certain monied classes above the law, then electoral defeats don't begin to address the political problem that we must deal with. Well, they begin to, but only just.

My question is still as follows: When Kerry takes office (let's assume), what happens to the people who have run this government, and run it ignoring law and moral probity? Do they get off like the Iran-Contra people did? Do they get off like the Clinton haters did? After all, these are the same people who from Watergate onward have sought to subvert US legality in pursuit of illiberal objectives. They have committed electoral fraud, financial fraud, intelligence fraud, and torture. This is not hyperbole, but reality. So how do you deal with criminal actions at the highest levels of power?

Sending them back to their proverbial ranches in Texas doesn't involve enough handcuffs for my taste.
(Matt uses more words than me.)

Richard and Thomas - what do YOU think we should do with them after the election? (Assuming your boy Ralph doesn't siphon off enough votes and get Bush back in.)

A Beautiful Comment

Over at The Smirking Chimp they posted my "Country in Crisis" piece, and someone left this comment:
"Remember that great scene from Jackie Brown, with Jackson and de Niro in the van? That's the situation on a global scale now: the rest of the world is sitting next to America and asking, in Samuel L. Jackson's voice, "What happened to you man? Your ass used to be so beautiful!" And America, like De Niro, has no answer."

Reagan Picture on Money

The wingnuts are proposing that Reagan's picture replace Hamilton's on the $10 bill.

I'm thinking it would be MUCH more appropriate to put Reagan's picture on T-Bills! After all, he printed about $4 TRILLION of them, didn't he?

Why THAT ad?

Take a look at the Right Wing Conspiracy ad (on the right there...) that Google for some reason puts at this site. Huh?

Update - Now it's Reagan ads.

One commenter points out that this could be construed as "incentivising" people to click on the ads. Don't click on the ads, because then the right-wing advertisers have to pay Seeing the Forest for the clicks.


Another Must-Read

The Choice This Year Is Between Empire and Democracy:
"When Attorney General William Wirt delivered Thomas Jefferson's eulogy on October 19, 1826 in the Hall of the U.S. House of Representatives, he noted how Jefferson believed in democracy, national humility, and abhorred empire. Jefferson well understood, Wirt noted, the danger of past empires as well as the dangerous possibility of a future president who may seize more power than the Constitution intended.
'The successful warrior, who had desolated whole empires for his own aggrandizement,' Wirt wrote about such a dangerous leader, 'the successful usurper of his country's rights and liberties, may have their hours of swelling pride, in which they may look back with a barbarous joy upon the triumph of their talents, and feast upon the adulation of the sycophants that surround them.'
In the next paragraph, however, Wirt cited Jefferson's certain knowledge that those who seek empire will not only see their nation's downfall, but their own internal spiritual destruction as well. '...but, night and silence come; and conscience takes her turn. The bloody field rises upon the startled imagination. The shades of the slaughtered innocent stalk in terrific procession before the couch. The agonizing cry of countless widows and orphans invades the ear. The bloody dagger of the assassin plays, in airy terror, before the vision.'
Empire, Jefferson believed, always ended in disaster, as the nations oppressed by empire invariably rebel. As Wirt summarized Jefferson's sentiments: 'Violated liberty lifts her avenging lance, and a down-trodden nation rises before them, in all the majesty of its wrath.'
Which brings us to today. The battle of the election of 2004 - from local races to the presidency - is fundamentally a battle of visions: Empire versus Democracy. "
There's more. Go read.

skippy on ashcroft

skippy, on ashcroft's contempt of congress today, in you'll just have to trust us, we hate torture.

Worse and Worse - Country in Crisis

In Salon.com | The Reagan legacy, Rick Perlstein writes:
"It is a quirk of American culture that each generation of nonconservatives sees the right-wingers of its own generation as the scary ones, then chooses to remember the right-wingers of the last generation as sort of cuddly. In 1964, observers horrified by Barry Goldwater pined for the sensible Robert Taft, the conservative leader of the 1950s. When Reagan was president, liberals spoke fondly of sweet old Goldwater."
I think Republican administrations actually have been worse each time, moving farther and farther to the right as well as into greater illegalities. I think this reflects the extent to which their party has been increasingly taken over by this far-right, post-Bircher, Scaife-funded, fanatical cult-like corporate/Christian/libertarian "movement conservatism."

Nixon had to resign for things that Reagan picked up and did from day 1 without apology. Reagan, of course, instructed underlings to violate the law and lie to Congress about it. Bush I used parts of the government to obstruct the Iran/Contra investigations, then pardoned several criminals who had worked for him. And Iran/Contra -- and avoiding the mistakes that led to exposure -- was the model for the current Bush's first day in office - with this Bush this proudly hiring convicted (but pardoned by Dad) felons!

Elected Democrats and moderate Republicans keep letting far-Right conspirators off the hook, and failing to expose the true nature of their activities to the public. Perhaps this is because they honestly did not and do not recognize them for what they are. Some of Nixon's cronies went to jail -- none of Reagan/Bush I's. Worse, the Carter and Clinton administrations did not ask for a full accounting of the transgressions -- political and financial -- of the prior administrations. In a way, this signaled to the public to expect such activities as part of "business as usual." By allowing the Right to publicly get away with an "everybody does it" excuse, the legitimacy of our democratic form of government was eroded.

I believe that had Clinton recognized that the Republican Party has truly changed into a dangerous revolutionary movement intent on overthrowing our form of government, and taken action, purged the government of far-right ideologues and begun an investigation into his predecessor's political crimes as well as how money was siphoned out of the Treasury under Reagan and Bush, he would not have gone through the impeachment, and we would not be facing the national and international disaster we face now.

I think it is hard now to avoid seeing the true nature of the group that has taken over the Republican Party. The record is certainly clear, their intentions are clear, their activities are clear, and it's time to take a stand. After seizing control of the country by the narrowest of margins in 2000 the Republicans have illegally excluded Democrats and the public from almost all aspects of management of the government. They have positioned ideological agents throughout the departments, agencies and the courts. In one of their first acts in power they allowed companies like Enron to "harvest" the people of California and Oregon, and appointed FERC members would not do their job to stop this. Their tax cuts, that went to only a few, have bankrupted the country and spent our Social Security retirement money. They have handed out our country's natural resources, and given the right to pollute our air and water for profit to a few rich cronies. They have launched aggressive war in an imperialistic scheme to bring the Middle East's oil supplies under their control.

And they increasingly poison the public environment with lies. They are intentionally dividing the country right down the middle. Matt Stoller writes about what they are telling the public in their presidential campaign,
"In other words, even if a Democrat wins an election, it's just a prelude till his negatives can be driven up and a political castration opportunity appears.

That this is happening without much comment reveals cracks in the foundation of the American political system. It's breaking down.

Legitimacy is the key to governance. If an authoritarian government isn't seen as legitimate, it must act incredibly harshly to sustain its rule, or it will fall. The legitimacy of a liberal democracy goes further than this; it relies on an acknowledgement that the opposition has a right to exist, and even, to oppose. When this assumption breaks down, when the loyal opposition finds itself considered treasonous, a slew of terrifying events is set in motion, and ultimately, liberal democracy fights back, or liberal democracy falls. We are in the midst of seeing this struggle play out."
In The War at Home, John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton write,
The Republican party's hard right - "movement conservatives," as they like to call themselves - hold views and long-term objectives that are considerably to the right of mainstream public opinion, but they had managed to maneuver themselves into a position of control over nearly every branch of the American government. As we will explore, politics for them is not a debate. It is, quite literally, a "war by other means."

During the 2000 presidential and congressional elections, every Republican member of the U.S. Congress received a free pamphlet, compliments of Congressman Tom DeLay, the party's majority whip. Written by conservative activist David Horowitz, the pamphlet was called The Art of Political War: How Republicans Can Fight to Win. It came with an endorsement on the cover by Karl Rove, the senior advisor to then-candidate George W. Bush. According to Rove, The Art of Political War was "a perfect pocket guide to winning on the political battlefield from an experienced warrior." In addition to DeLay's gift to members of Congress, the Heritage Foundation, one of the leading conservative think tanks in Washington, found Horowitz's advice so impressive that it sent another 2,300 copies to conservative activists around the country.

True to its title, The Art of Political War argues that "Politics is war conducted by other means. In political warfare you do not fight just to prevail in an argument, but to destroy the enemy's fighting ability. ... In political wars, the aggressor usually prevails." Moreover, "Politics is a war of position. In war there are two sides: friends and enemies. Your task is to define yourself as the friend of as large a constituency as possible compatible with your principles, while defining your opponent as the enemy whenever you can. The act of defining combatants is analogous to the military concept of choosing the terrain of battle. Choose the terrain that makes the fight as easy for you as possible."
We have to realize that we are dealing with an organized revolutionary conspiracy to seize power, enrich the few, and subject us to an ideological/theocratic/imperialist dictatorship. They often describe THEMSELVES as being modeled on the old Communist Party and their methods for infiltrating and seizing power.
"You cannot cripple an opponent by outwitting him in a political debate," he explains in The Art of Political War. "You can do it only by following Lenin's injunction: 'In political conflicts, the goal is not to refute your opponent's argument, but to wipe him from the face of the earth.'"
This is an emergency and we must recognize it as such. These people will go to all costs to succeed, including fomenting civil war.

If Kerry does win this election AND take office, he has his work cut out for him -- there are some things to take care of right away -- if he expects to also govern the country. We simply MUST expose widely the Right's anti-democracy agenda. Crimes have been committed and this is not an occasion for a healing amnesty. We have to stop them once and for all. We need a complete financial accounting for the entire four years of Bush. Every single recipient of rigged no-bid contracts, tax break in exchange for "contributions", or any other corrupt activities should be prosecuted and put in jail to ensure that this does not happen should another right-wing administration take office.

Further, we need to implement SYSTEMIC changes to prevent anything like the "conservative movement" from happening again. This crisis has exposed the vulnerability of our system.

Let's look at it this way for a minute. Suppose that the intentions of the Bush people are entirely on the up-and-up. But looking at the way they have eroded accountability, oversight, and constitutional protections, suppose some OTHER people, with less-than-honorable intentions, examine these openings and see this as an opportunity to step in and seize power. The mechanisms for this are all in place, including the mechanisms to squash opposition and dissent. The Patriot Act, for example, allows the government to spy on anyone the President designates as an "enemy." And new technologies enable comprehensive tracking of a person's every action. We already have a precedent of Congress looking the other way and avoiding their oversight responsibilities no matter how extreme the transgression. We already have the precedent of the Justice Department covering up instead of investigating crimes. We already have the precedent of the Courts overruling law in favor of ideology.

Stauber and Rampton again,
The likelihood that those powers will be abused has increased, moreover, as the conservative movement accuses its ideological adversaries of "treason," "terrorism" and "un-Americanism," threatening long-standing traditions of tolerance and diversity.
It is time for those who think this is the OLD Republican Party to take their head out of the sand and see that things have changed. Turn on the radio and listen to Limbaugh or Hannity for ten minutes -- yes they ARE the mainstream of the Republican Party now -- and you'll KNOW that the country is crisis.

Purpose of Iran/Contra

I'm tired of hearing the Right apply noble (to them) intentions to the Iran/Contra perpetators. The COVER STORY was that they used the money to supply the Contras. Whatever else it was, this was a typical corrupt right-wing scheme to grab the money and run.

Lawrence Walsh was the independent investigator for the Iran/Contra case. His final report is available here. It is well worth browsing.

On Ollie North:
North stood trial beginning in February 1989 on 12 counts. On May 4, 1989, he was found guilty of three counts, including aiding and abetting obstruction of Congress, shredding and altering official documents, and accepting an illegal gratuity from Secord.

[. . .]

Count Ten: Receipt of an illegal gratuity, charging North with accepting a home-security system paid for by Secord, in exchange for official acts performed by North.

Count Eleven: Conversion of traveler's checks, charging that North from April 1985 to July 1986 personally used $4,300 in traveler's checks from approximately $90,000 in checks given to him by Calero for hostage-release and contra-related expenses.
Remember, these were the things they could PROVE. But their motivation for bringing financial enrichment charges was the pattern they saw of diversions of cash for private use. Of $16 million, only $3.8 million made it to the Contras. And this does not count another $10 million that the Sultan of Brunei wired to North's operation, but was diverted to another Swiss account. The cover story for that was that someone transposed two numbers on the wire transfer and the money "disappeared."

General Richard Secord was Ollie North's partner-in-crime. From Walsh's report:
One of Secord's central purposes in establishing and carrying out the operations of the Enterprise was the accumulation of untaxed wealth in secret overseas accounts. Testimony and records obtained from the Enterprise's Swiss financial manager, Willard Zucker, show that Secord personally received at least $2 million from his participation in the Enterprise during 1985 and 1986, that he set up secret accounts to conceal his untaxed income, and that he later lied and encouraged others to lie to keep it concealed.

Secord was indicted in March 1988 for conspiring with North, Vice Adm. John M. Poindexter and Hakim to defraud the U.S. Government of money and services, and for theft of Government property. After the trials were severed and the main conspiracy counts dropped due to problems with classified information, the Grand Jury in April 1989 charged Secord with nine additional felonies as a result of his false testimony before Congress in 1987.

Secord pleaded guilty on November 8, 1989, to the felony charge of lying to Congress about illegal gratuities he provided to North.1 Secord entered his plea five days before he was to be tried on 12 felony charges. As part of his plea, Secord promised to cooperate in the pending trials and ongoing investigation of Independent Counsel.
I remember Secord testifying that he bought a Ferrari...

An Update

I forgot to mention 100,000 killed in Guatemala in the post "Gaddafi Regrets Reagan Died Without Facing Trial".

Talk vs Action

Tired of hearing right-wing lies about how Clinton didn't do anything to stop terrorism?

Take a look at this:
"However, Clarke says Clinton chose not to attack Iran but ordered an 'intelligence operation' that seemed to have worked.
'Following the intelligence operation, and perhaps because of it and the serious U.S. threats, among other reasons, Iran ceased terrorism against the U.S.,' Clarke wrote. 'War with Iran was averted.'"
So Clinton actually DID something, AND KEPT QUIET ABOUT IT, even now, because it was a classified intelligence operation. He has chosen the good of the country over the good of his political party.

Compare that to the current administration's treatment of classified intelligence, AND their success against terrorism. Remember, 9/11 occurred ON HIS WATCH.

What He Says

What he says here.

More coming. I've been thinking about this for some time, and working on a piece for weeks. Great minds think alike. Or maybe it's that the obvious becomes obvious.

Even if Kerry wins, we have a huge fight on our hands, and we'd better all realize it!

Watch your backs.



A comment to a post below reminded me of one of my favorite Reagan facts.


Number of letters: 6 6 6


And, lest we forget, after he left office a group of rich supporters BOUGHT HIM A RESIDENCE, and it was at 666 St. Cloud Road. Nancy had the address changed to 668.

Speaking of rich supporters, Reagan had what was called a "kitchen cabinet." Not long after his election one of the members of this group was found ... orgy scene ... model killed with baseball bat ... oh, just read about it here.


Headlines over at Drudge:

HITCHENS: 'A cruel and stupid lizard'...

RALL: 'I'm sure he's turning crispy brown right about now'...
I report, you decide. (Maybe Hitchens isn't as bad as all that after all...)

Randi Rhodes just said, "He lived long enough to not be our worst president ever."

I remember that Reagan's first week in office involved taking down the solar panels that President Carter had installed on the White House roof, and pardoning the FBI agents who had been convicted of illegal activities involving spying on, intimidating and breaking into the houses of Nixon's political opponents.

Update - More memories -- When Reagan was inaugurated President the TV showed a split screen, with the hostages that the Iranian government was holding being released about ten minutes after he was sworn in -- just about the right amount of time for someone now working officially for the President of the United States to sign something with the full authority of the U.S. Government. And we started shipping weapons to Iran about two weeks later.

Wingnut Letter

Got this in the e-mail today:
You are a nut and belong in a nuthouse.... obviously you don't know anything about business or economics. Look at the historical tax rates and compare it to recessions and depressions here in the US. By overtaxing the people, it only creates less investment. God where did you go to school and how can someone be this dumb in a land like America. If I as a businessman have more money not taxable, DUH, I spend it on investments which hire more people who get paychecks and guess what idiot..... they then pay more taxes. Take you anti liberal, anti American left wing communist thought to another country. We have had enough of you and the garbage you throw out. Academically if you cannot understand maybe the joke below will give you some foresight.

Sometimes Politicians can exclaim; "It's just a tax cut for the rich!", and it is just accepted to be fact. But what does that really mean? Just in case you are not completely clear on this issue, we hope the following will help.

Tax Cuts - A Simple Lesson In Economics

This is how the cookie crumbles. Please read it carefully.

Let's put tax cuts in terms everyone can understand. Suppose that every day, ten men go out for dinner. The bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1.
The sixth would pay $3.
The seventh $7.
The eighth $12.
The ninth $18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

So, that's what they decided to do.

The ten men ate dinner in the restaurant every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve. "Since you are all such good customers," he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily meal by $20." So, now dinner for the ten only cost $80. The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes.

So, the first four men were unaffected. They would still eat for free. But what about the other six, the paying customers? How could they divvy up the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his 'fair share'?

The six men realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being 'PAID' to eat their meal.

So, the restaurant owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.

And so:
The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).
The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33% savings).
The seventh now paid $5 instead of $7 (28% savings).
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to eat for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.

"I only got a dollar out of the $20," declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man "but he got $10!"

"Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man. "I only saved a dollar, too. It's unfair that he got ten times more than me!"

"That's true!!" shouted the seventh man. "Why should he get $10 back when I got only $2? The wealthy get all the breaks!"

"Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison. "We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!"

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn't show up for dinner, so the nine sat down and ate without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn't have enough money between all of them for
even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they
just may not show up at the table anymore. There are lots of good restaurants in Europe and the Caribbean.
OK, violating the first rule of Seeing the Forest, I'm going to go through the trees.

"obviously you don't know anything about business" He's right. Oh, wait, I did run a corporation for over ten years, and was recently VP Marketing and Sales for a tech company. But he is right, except for that.

"Look at the historical tax rates and compare it to recessions and depressions here in the US." Well, I have, and, obviously, he hasn't, because he would discover that higher tax rates at the top coincides with periods of high GNP growth. Probably that is because we have a consumer economy, and more money in the hands of consumers means higher growth. And putting more of the tax burden on corporations and the rich means more money in the hands of average people. Remember, in 1993 Clinton RAISED taxes on the rich while cutting them on the low end. What followed was the greatest economic expansion in our history. And Bush CUT taxes on the rich while raising them on everyone else by cutting services, and what followed has been a long period of zero or slow job growth and massive concentration of wealth to the top few percent.

If I as a businessman have more money not taxable, DUH, I spend it on investments which hire more people who get paychecks and guess what idiot..... they then pay more taxes. Actually these businessMEN ship the money to bank accounts in the Cayman Islands, lay off their workers and hire in lawless countries where they only have to pay a dime a day. Smart businessWOMEN invest when there is DEMAND, and do so regardless of the taxes. And, even if they DON'T have a ton of cash they GO GET IT when there is demand. And, by the way, taxes are not a cost. Costs are deducted.

As for his "joke" I have a math degree, and clearly he doesn't. But aside from that, his line "Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they
just may not show up at the table anymore" implies that the rich will just leave the country after taking what they can get from it. Now THAT'S a patriotic joke.

But let's just sum it up in simple terms. In the 20's we cut taxes on the rich and corproations, wealth became concentrated and we had the depression. Then we raised taxes on the rich and came out of the depression. Clinton raised taxes on the rich and we had the greatest economic and job expansion in our history. Bush cut taxes on the rich, no jobs and massive debt.

Update - I received the following after informing the writer that I had responded on the blog
:"I believe Cuba and China are still communist... you may want to move.."

Oh, I'll Vote for Bush, Then

Reagan died, so I guess I'll vote for Bush instead, then.

(In case you don't get it, that is the official Bush/CHeney 04 website you're looking at. Their website might only look like this for a few days...)


Gaddafi Regrets Reagan Died Without Facing Trial

I report, you decide.

Yahoo! News - Gaddafi Regrets Reagan Died Without Facing Trial:
"Muammar Gaddafi said Sunday he regretted that former U.S. President Ronald Reagan had died without ever being tried for 1986 air strikes that killed dozens of people, including the Libyan leader's adopted daughter."
Approx. 70,000 Nicaraguan civilians and an untold number of Central American death squad victims expressed their agreement.

Update - And 100,000 killed in Guatemala.

Bush losing it, bigtime...

[Read this, NOW. This is NOT fiction - this is a real reporter with deep ties to those on Capitol Hill. After you're done, forward it on to all your friends who are still considering whether to vote for Bush. Scary does not begin to describe the situation when this man holds the keys to the nuclear football. Oh, my, God. -Thomas]

Bush's Erratic Behavior Worries White House Aides
Publisher, Capitol Hill Blue
Jun 4, 2004, 06:15

President George W. Bush’s increasingly erratic behavior and wide mood swings has the halls of the West Wing buzzing lately as aides privately express growing concern over their leader’s state of mind.

In meetings with top aides and administration officials, the President goes from quoting the Bible in one breath to obscene tantrums against the media, Democrats and others that he classifies as “enemies of the state.”

Worried White House aides paint a portrait of a man on the edge, increasingly wary of those who disagree with him and paranoid of a public that no longer trusts his policies in Iraq or at home.

[... continued at link above ...]

--Thomas Leavitt

This is one of my favorite quotes...

"The Greens are the only constituency in America whom the Democrats believe they can convince by insult." --Sam Smith, in Greening the Golden Triangle (courtesy of CounterPunch)

Few things more true have ever been said.

For the curious, Sam Smith is the editor of the Progressive Review. This article is mandatory reading for Democrats seriously interested in understanding where the hell Greens are coming from.

If you're wondering what prompted me to post this little gem, read on...

In response to my posting re: pro-Kerry or anti-Bush, I received an email that started off thusly: "Longing for Nader or Kucinich is infantile."

Not quite what I'd expect from someone attempting to seriously persuade me to their point of view. Seriously folks, and here I address my friends in the Democratic Party: Albert Einstein said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. You're spent four years roundly berating every Green in sight, and what has it gotten you? Not much, so far as I can see... Nader still pulls 7% in the polls, and any Greens or Nader supporters (the two are not synonymous, by the way) that the tactic would've been effective with have long since been persuaded. It's time for a different strategy folks.

... here's another great quote:

"...the Democrats have spent the last decade in a masochistic effort to convince people that they were really just nicer Republicans, expanding the prison population and undermining social democracy to prove it. They should not be surprised if those whom they convinced included many Greens."

Now, clearly, a lot of you (judging by the tenor of the comments left here) are highly dissatisfied with this strategy, even if you haven't come to the conclusion that the solution is to abandon it for the Green Party.

The responses to my pro-Kerry or anti-Bush posting (21 comments and counting - I obviously hit a button) back me up on this: y'all are a lot more anti-Bush than you are pro-Kerry.

Unfortunately, anti-Bushism is hardly a sustainable ideology.

Which brings me to the primary point of this posting: how do we move beyond ABBA, and beyond Kerry's politics of triangulation, to facilitate the creation of a vision for a successful and sustainable progressive politics that has a snowball's chance in hell of making an impact on the American political system?

Much as I admire and respect Nader and Kucinich, clearly, they haven't come up with the right formula. It seemed for a moment like Dean had a handle on this (despite my reservations about his politics, I was fascinated enough by the Dean phenomenon to devote a category exclusively to him on my blog), but obviously something went wrong. Not to mention that, after the fact, it seems that the major validation of his approach, the ability to very quickly raise large sums of money over the Internet via appeals to the grassroots, wasn't that hard for Kerry to emulate once he became the clear front-runner.

I read a very thoughtful post-Iowa analysis by a no longer starry eyed Dean volunteer ("Losing My Religion", by Katy Bulter, in Salon) that explores the subject of why Dean failed, and which may offer some lessons for our movement as well. Kerry's victory in Iowa was not an accident, as this article makes clear... Dean appears to have failed to connect, in a very fatal way, with a substantial number of the voters in Iowa and New Hampshire. The next candidate to come along can't afford to make that same mistake.

NOTE: I'm a Green (and have always been one, ever since I first registered to vote in 1990), so that tells you a little bit about what *I* think the solution is (it's called a "forklift upgrade" by us folks in the tech industry), but I'm curious to hear what YOU have to say on the subject. :)

Again: the question for discussion is, how do we go beyond ABBA to create a sustainable vision for a succesful more or less left of center politics in this country?

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

--Thomas Leavitt