Switch and Bait

A physician I know received a call from Tom Delay's fundraisers, asking if she wants to be "an advisor." This is a well-known scam (and here) -- what they're really doing is tricking people into giving campaign contributions.

I'm writing because one of the things they mentioned is that the Republicans want to increase Medicare reimbursement to physicians! But in fact, the Republicans have been CUTTING (more here) Medicare reimbursements!

ANYway, what got me thinking about this is I just read this at RuminateThis:
BUSH CLAIM: "We'll have time to look at it and determine whether or not our grid needs to be modernized. I happen to think it does, and have said so all along."

BUSH FACT: In June of 2001, Bush opposed and the congressional GOP voted down legislation to provide $350 million worth of loans to modernize the nation's power grid because of known weaknesses in reliability and capacity.
They just lie. Get used to it. Go read the rest, and then the BuzzFlash analysis.

OUCH! Kerry WAY Out Of Touch With Base!

Back when I was a Kerry supporter, and before Dean had set up his weblog (or even a campaign office with more than 2 people) I was concerned that the Kerry campaign was not really in touch with the thinking of most of the regular Democrats I was hearing from, and reading, here on the Internet. This was back when you and I were reading GREAT pieces like this (so good -- read it again! "When I want to vote for a warmongering corporate slave, I always vote Republican."), and wondering where the Democrat leadership was, and why they were so damned out of touch with the rest of us.

So I called the Kerry campaign office, said I had an online weblog that lots of people read, and asked if there was anyone there who was regularly reading weblogs or sites like BuzzFlash. Their reaction is part of why I am now a Dean supporter. The person who answered sort of scoffed, didn't really know what a weblog was, said they would ask around if anyone had heard of BuzzFlash, and no one never called back. I tried a second time, same reaction. (My decision to support Dean happened later, when I went to a Kerry fundraiser and met him. The evening confirmed that he was not the guy we needed leading the fight against the Bush machine at this time.)

Anyway, this from an Iowa union event yesterday:
DesMoinesRegister.com | News: 'The Dean campaign is saying you're kind of stealing their thunder on this on-line petition,' Dave Price, a reporter for Des Moines-based WHO-TV 13, to which Kerry responded with a smirk: 'Well, the last person I heard who claimed he had invented the Internet didn't do so well.'

The response earned restrained yucks from the gaggle of reporters. But Dean's staff hadn't said they invented on-line petition drives, and Kerry didn't refute that Dean's drive started first."
OK, Kerry is repeating the lie that Gore said he invented the Internet, AND saying that Gore "didn't do so well." How far out of touch with regular Democrats, and everything happening on the Internet, do you have to be to repeat THAT tired old widely-refuted smear, or to talk as if Gore lost? And what the hell is Kerry - a Democrat - doing repeating the "invented the Internet" line at all, even if it were actually true?

This might seem like a little thing, but to people like me who have lived with the online evolution of people's thinking since the 2000 election, this is utterly inexcusable. This demonstrates why we need someone like Howard Dean who is IN touch, and not someone who, unfortunately, appears to have become a Washington-insulated, out-of-touch insider.

(I was already supporting Dean, but he REALLY grabbed me when he said, "What I want to know is, why are so many Democrats supporting a $350 billion tax cut when we have a huge deficit?")

Who's Calling The Shots?

In case you are wondering why the U.S. would do something as stupid as this, maybe it has something to do with this. A lot of the people behind the right's network of think tanks and advocacy organizations were associated with this.

More later.


Breaking New Ground

The California Governor recall breaks new ground in Republican tactics. Before this recall, Republicans depended on the public forgetting something that happened in the past. For example, when thinking about how to deal with President Bush's lies we're supposed to forget that the Republicans impeached President Clinton because "he lied." We're supposed to forget the impassioned speeches about violating the public trust, and the necessity that a President always be honest and truthful, etc. etc. etc. ad nauseum.

In these kind of situations, the Republicans depend on one thing protecting them from the public mind making an association between what was done then and what is done now -- they depend on time separation to cause people to forget what happened when the shoe was on the other foot. And, obviously, they get away with it.

But now they are breaking new ground. Now they're trying to recall Governor Davis, because the state has a large budget deficit, at the same time as Bush has caused massive, massive budget deficits. They are demonizing, vilifying and ridiculing Governor Davis AT THE SAME TIME as they are holding up Bush as a great leader.

To take this even further - Davis isn't the one responsible for the deficits! Republicans are! Much of the situation was caused by energy companies -- companies associated with the Bush administration and protected in their actions by Bush appointees -- illegally manipulating energy markets. And the rest of the situation is cause by Bush's handling of the economy, and state Republicans refusing to allow revenue to be raised.

Microsoft Abandons Outlook Express

Microsoft is going to stop giving away an e-mail client.

Let's see if I have this right. There was a market for e-mail clients. (In fact, there once was a thriving software industry.) Then Microsoft started giving theirs away with their operating system. The other competitors are gone and Eudora is free, so now Microsoft is moving to PAID e-mail, with HotMail, MSN and the paid full version of Outlook.

A profitable business model, if you can get away with it.


ExxonMobil Money - What It Funds

Doing some research... Came across this. (Warning: PDF file.)

I got there after finding this.

Fair and balanced -- I report, You decide.

Suddenly Lots of Terrorism Stories and Fears

Is it just me, or are there suddenly, like in the last two weeks, lots of stories about potenital terrorism?


Texas Air National Guard George W Bush Action Figure.

$20,000 bonus to official who agreed on nuke claim

A comment at Atrios led me to this story, WorldNetDaily: $20,000 bonus to official who agreed on nuke claim.
Thomas Rider, as acting director of Energy's intelligence office, overruled senior intelligence officers on his staff in voting for the position at a National Foreign Intelligence Board meeting at CIA headquarters last September.

His officers argued at a pre-briefing at Energy headquarters that there was no hard evidence to support the alarming Iraq nuclear charge, and asked to join State Department's dissenting opinion, Energy officials say.

Rider ordered them to "shut up and sit down," according to sources familiar with the meeting.
The White House bribed an intelligence chief to agree that there were nukes in Iraq. This should be the biggest story in the news. But, of course, it won't be.


Today We Face Another 'Watergate'

Yesterday I wrote about the new Iran Contra,
There is no branch of government that will investigate these, and other, obviously illegal activities. There is no branch of government interested in enforcing the law. It is all about the interests of The Party now.
Today I read Sam Dash's piece Today We Face Another 'Watergate':
"Each of the branches must have the leadership and the courage to do its job. For, if the Congress and the courts are passive in the face of a president's assertion of excessive power, and the people are uninformed of the danger, the country can once again face the loss of precious constitutional freedoms."
He must be brilliant! (He agrees with me.)

Listen, I know that most of the people reading this are too young to understand what Watergate was, and how serious it was, and what it exposed about the Repubican Party. Well, it WAS serious. People rightly saw what Nixon and the Republicans did as threatening democracy itself.

And then, Reagan just picked up where Nixon left off, as if nothing ever happened. Later, Iran/Contra was vastly more serious than Watergate because it involved making war on other countries. And the things going on today are vastly more serious than that. In fact, Bush has HIRED (scroll to "Since") the people who committed the Iran/Contra crimes! Think about what that MEANS!

The crimes routinely committed by the White House - and ignored by the Congress and the press - today are much, much worse than those that utterly shocked the nation in the 70's.

Update - More here:
Poindexter was appointed National Security Adviser in 1985 under President Reagan. He was forced to resign less than a year later and was convicted of conspiracy, lying to Congress, obstructing a congressional inquiry, defrauding the government and destroying evidence in the Iran-Contra scandal. A federal appeals court overturned the convictions because Poindexter had been granted immunity in his testimony before Congress.

Although Poindexter is not a convicted felon, it remains true that he lied to Congress, the American people and falsified and destroyed evidence. Yet the Bush administration chose this man to run DARPA.
That the Bush administration hires this man says all you really need to know about the Bush administration's intentions.

Update - Link fixed.

The Thom Hartmann Radio Program

I'm listening to The Thom Hartmann Radio Program, and I just have to recommend that people listen. You can listen over the Internet, even with a dial-up connection. He's talking about energy right now, but he covers a variety of issues. I have friends that listen to ieAmericaRadio on the Internet all day.


Voting Machines Petition

BlackBoxVoting.org has a petition to Jimmy Carter to become an advocate for voting machines with a voter-verified paper trail.

A Progressive Look At Dean

At the Guerrilla News Network.

Thanks to the unofficial Dean blog.

Voting Machines

Jolted Over Electronic Voting (washingtonpost.com)
The report has brought square into the mainstream an obscure but increasingly nasty debate between about 900 computer scientists, who warn that these machines are untrustworthy, and state and local election officials and machine manufacturers, who insist that they are reliable.
Right. The election officials know more than the computer scientists about the computers. Right.

Here's an idea. Let's just make it known that in any district that holds an election without voter-verified paper backups, we'll sue, and claim that the election was fixed, and require them to prove it wasn't. And since they can't prove it without paper backups, they will have to hold the elections over again, and over again, until they put in systems with paper backups so we can all rest assured that OUR votes were counted and not The Party's votes.

I mean, it's really so simple. Without a voter-verified paper backup there is no way to know if the votes are recorded correctly. Period. And if we don't have any way to be sure our votes are correctly recorded, why should we trust the results? Someone ALWAYS tries to rig elections! Is this a difficult concept to understand?

And the voting machine companies would make more money if they sold add-ons that print voter-verifiable paper trails. So why are they fighting this so hard? That certainly makes me suspicious! And one suspicious voter is too many. So it's settled. Right?

But How Would It Work In Theory?

An article in Minnesota Law & Politics, The Conscience of an (ex-)Conservative, A blow-by-blow report of a dissolution of a political, is very interesting. Philip Gold has been in the "conservative movement" since the days of Goldwater, and has left. He writes,
"The proximate cause of my recent departure from Discovery Institute, Seattle's main conservative think tank, was my opposition to President Bush's Iraq war. But I also left because I could no longer abide the purposes of the movement. Over the last several years, I've become sadly convinced that American conservatism has grown, for lack of a better word, malign."
"And there was always a darker side to this particular force -- segregationists, Birchers, militias, homophobes and male supremacists (words I do not use lightly), plus the 'Christ died so we could tell you what to do' brigades."
and my favorite,
...libertarians, a pert little faction composed mostly of people who, when told about something going on in the world, reply, "Yes, but how would it work in theory?"
This is an absolutely wonderful piece, and brings to mind why I refuse to call the current right wingnuts "conservatives." Please read it, there is much more.

Thanks to Media Transparency.

Thanks, Ralph

What did you expect, Ralph? You broke the coalition, Ralph. You divided and they conqured, Ralph. There's a reason Solidarity is such a widely used word among those fighting the moneyed interests, Ralph. There's a reason pepole say we need to "band together" to fight the power, Ralph.

Now we know what happens when we don't stick together, Ralph.

Iran-Contra, Amplified

Story here.

There is no branch of government that will investigate these, and other, obviously illegal activities. There is no branch of government interested in enforcing the law. It is all about the interests of The Party now.


Stimulate This

Does cutting interest or tax rates actually stimulate the economy? They're supposed to make it more favorable for businesses and investors to borrow and invest, which then "stimulates investment."

Let me offer an alternative viewpoint -- I think that having something worth investing in "stimulates investment" and it DOESN'T MATTER what the tax and interest situation is!

My experience from business is that if you have a hot product or service that people want, you won't have any trouble finding investment capital NO MATTER WHAT the tax or interest rates might be. And if you don't have a product or service that people want, people are not going to invest NO MATTER WHAT the tax or interest rates might be.

What cutting tax rates for certain kinds of investment accomplishes is that it moves money into that kind of investment AND OUT OF other kinds of investment. It upsets the balance of a marketplace. For example, if you cut tax rates for capital gains, it changes the ROI calculation -- so you might want to move money out of interest-bearing or rent-producing investments, and into equities. Cutting interest rates makes it cheaper to borrow money, thereby increasing your debt. Neither affects the value or wisdom of the investment.

I think the effect of cutting interest and certain tax rates might be worse than just ineffective -- I think the current housing price bubble is about to demonstrate that cutting interest rates too low encourages people to pay too much, and get themselves in a lot of trouble. I think we also learned in the 80's that tax favoritism can cause similar trouble, when Reagan's accelerated depreciation tax deduction encouraged the investments that led to the S&L bailout.

One place where cutting interest rates has an effect is by reducing the incomes of retired people trying to live off of their savings, and lowering the growth rate in savings accounts of people trying to save for their retirement. Reducing consumer demand, certainly hurts the economy.

Cutting taxes for the rich does nothing to stimulate consumer demand. The idea that cutting taxes "creates jobs" or "stimulates the economy" is a trick. It is a lie. It is false. It is the result of decades of messaging blasted at us from the right's think tanks, repeated endlessly until people just accept it as "conventional wisdom" without thinking about it.

The resulting reduction in government revenue forces spending cuts -- which means laying people off or cutting back what is spent on goods which results in laying people off. And the tax cuts cause government borrowing, which increases our debt, which means we all must pay higher taxes to cover the interest on that debt forever or pay extra taxes to pay down that debt. And THAT spending does NOT increase jobs in any way. Worse, what we're doing is borrowing money to give money to rich people, who use the money to buy government bonds -- loaning the money back to the government! Think about the circular logic of this. We're borrowing money from rich people to GIVE THE MONEY WE BORROW FROM THE RICH BACK TO THE RICH! And forever after paying them interest on the money we borrowed from them! It's like giving your house to someone, then borrowing the money from them to pay for the house you gave them! Since Reagan this tax cut process has shifted our economy to an economy where most of us work harder and harder just to pay taxes that go out as interest payments to the rich! (And don't forget that the money we're giving to the rich is OUR SOCIAL SECURITY MONEY! Jeeze, don't even get me started on that!)

It seems to me that this idea that cutting tax and interest rates is good for investment comes from an "investor class" viewpoint. "I'm an investor, and I'm certainly a wiser and better type of person than my stupid employees, so it is certainly better to give me breaks for what I do for a living, and not the stupid workers." And look how it plays out -- more and more money flowing from the people who work to the people who collect interest.

I Got Yer Stimulation Right Here - I Been Keepin' It Wam Fa Ya

Well here's a "consumer class" viewpoint: If you have customers breaking down your door, trying to give you their money because they want to purchase what you offer, only an idiot is going to pass up the opportunity to get a piece of your business. If they have to borrow at 20%, and they're going to make 50% by owning a piece of your business, they're going to borrow at 20%. If they're going to have to pay 40% taxes on the profits they make from owning a piece of your business, they're going to jump at the chance! And if they don't think they're going to make money by owning a piece of your business they're not going to do it, even if the tax rate is 0%, and they're not going to borrow money to put into your business, even at 1% interest.

This investor class way of thinking is ideologically driven, not based on scientific analysis. Science says that theories should be DEscriptive rather than PREscriptive. They're supposed to explain what happens instead of say "great things would happen if only people would do so-and-so like they are supposed to."

History demonstrates that regular people having more money to spend stimulates the economy, and concentrating income at the top hurts the economy. Policies that reduce the share of the wealth held by people at the top, and distribute that money among the people at the bottom and in the middle boosts the economy. Times of higher tax rates at the top have been more prosperous. Times when unions are stronger, resulting in wages being higher are better economic times. Periods after minimum wage increases have been better economically than periods when the minimum wage is lower. And all the crap you have been told over and over about lower wages being better for businesses, and giving tax cuts to the rich being better for the economy, and giving special breaks to investors helping the economy -- it's crap, and just crap, and they're telling you to believe them rather than what you can see in front of your face.


Previously in Voodo Economics I wrote about how tax cuts for the rich "take money out of the economy." In Stimulation I wrote about how giving money to the rich does not create jobs - customers with money to spend creates jobs. In Taxing Businesses I pointed out that taxes are not a cost. Profits are taxed, so businesses can not pass taxes on to their customers.

Later let's talk about whether increasing the minimum wage "costs jobs" or actually increases demand -- more customers with money to spend -- which INCREASES jobs?