Friday, May 19, 2006

Can't stop us now

Last night I watch the much ballyhooed Wes Clark, Jr. Interview. [Warning: video] And it is everything it was cracked up to me.

I remember back in February of 2004 when Clark's own hired guns whispered that Clark was withdrawing to kill the candidacy after he only won one state on Super Tuesday. By the way, he did a lot better than Edwards or Dean at that point, but some how Clark wasn't allowed to continue. Even then Wes Jr. was vivid, saying lots of bad things about the ex-Clinton ex-Gore ex-Graham staffers. And rightfully so, those clowns did nothing for Clark but make him look worse.

Clark made two big mistakes, one that lead to the other: getting in so late and as a result skipping Iowa. Iowa proved to be wide open and receptive to the kind of candidate Clark was.

Even though Wes Jr. can't imagine his dad running again, one has to wonder why else he was in Iowa last weekend. Is he running for VP instead, given that his son thinking that it will be a Hillary vs. Gore or Warner race? Is he running for Secretary of State? No he is running for president.

And it looks like if he follows his heart and his son's advice, it will be a great show. No more DC consultants, just the unvarnished truth. If junior had his way, Democrats would be winners because they would swing back hard. Someone has to call BS and someone has to speak truth to the system.

Americans are desperate for two things from their leaders (beyond actual leadership): honesty and togetherness. Clark believes in both and can achieve both. Watching his son's 45 minute slaying of Democrats and Republicans made me think of all the Rage Against the Machine songs I loved in high school.

I didn't care for the Marxist messaging as much as the power of the music. Some people will call Wes Jr. (and maybe his dad) angry or crazy or unstable. But there is good reason to be angry and those coward politicians are too big a bullies to actually address Wes Jr.'s points.

Perhaps Wes Jr. was a bit crass and vulgar, but he has tapped into his and many others ritegous indignation, their rage against the [political] machine.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

quote of the day

Speaker Dennis Hastert, ex-wrestling coach, definding the 72 billion tax cut that went overwhelmly to the wealthy:
"Well, folks, if you earn $40,000 a year and have a family of two, you don't pay any taxes. So you probably, if you don't pay any taxes, you are not going to get a big tax cut."

[H/T AmericaBlog]
Um no, my family of two earns less than $40K, and we pay payroll taxes (Medicare/Medicaid, FICA, etc.), property taxes, taxes (or "fees" in Republican speak) on our cable/heating/cooling/electricty, gas tax, state taxes, and capital gains taxes. We might get a rebate back from the Federal Government from our income tax, but we still pay taxes Mr. Speaker.

Everywhere you turn, working families are being nickel and dimed by taxes and fees, both at the state/local level and the federal. State taxes and fees have gone up under Bush because he is cutting aid to the states and piling up unfunded mandates (NCLB and national security amoung the cheif culprets).

I will say it again, Republican Congresses under George W. Bush have raised your taxes. The net effect of all of their actions has been tax increases for the working and the poor while the ultra-rich have gotten a massive reduction in taxes. It isn't fair and it isn't American. Talk about class-warfare.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

story of the day

sloppy cut-and-paste job dooms regressive flat tax.
"We screwed up," [Tax Commissioner Pam] Hendrickson said prior to a Revenue and Taxation Interim Committee hearing.
"In laypersons' terms, the economist 'cut and pasted' the numbers from the wrong spreadsheets. The magnitude of the error, however, is unacceptable," she told legislators.

Who's head will roll for this silly mistake? I know I am not a detail-oriented person at times, but when you are doing something as important as calculating the cost of your boss' key campaign pledge, better double check before you send it off to the legislature.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

quote of the day

Goes to Ed Kilgore, a extrodinary writer and thinker over the DLC. "But when it comes to the House GOP, which is getting even more revved up in its nativism, his "come let us reason together" rhetoric last night was the functional equivalent of offering an olive branch to a wood chipper. He's falling between two stools, heavily."

Maybe I am just easily charmed by folksy Southern sayings but I just love the olive branch to a wood chipper visual.

tax reform is code for

In Utah, like in Washington, "tax reform" is code for making the tax code more regressive. That is, the burden of the tax base is shifted down to the middle class or lower-middle class, loopholes for big business and super-rich are Mack Truck sized, and the results are eventual cuts in popular social programs.

Utah's Governor Huntsman is trying to help out his fellow billioniares with his flat tax proposal. Thankfully, at least three versions so far have been killed. The latest idea? "Huntsman and some House members are already floating a "dual track" tax-reform scheme that would allow taxpayers to choose to file under either the existing tax code, with its myriad deductions and credits, or a flat tax of 4.8 percent with no deductions."

For me, tax reform means making the tax simplier and fairer. More simple by combining tax credits and deductions and having someone who speaks English write the forms. It shouldn't take an econ major to fill out the worksheet for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), or someone at H&R Block. Taxes should be clear enough that unless you have secret bank accounts, you could easily do your taxes without tax prep firms. [Sorry Accounting friends] By more fair, I mean that everyone pay a share proportional to what they can afford and how it hurts them. That means eliminating the cap on payroll taxes, so Bill Gates pays the same percentage as tomato pickers in California. It also means thinking about getting rid of payroll taxes all together and just raising income taxes and capital gains taxes accordingly. It means thinking about John Edwards' proposal to make capital gains tax equal to your income tax level. It means keeping the Paris Hilton Tax (aka Estate Tax) for those who don't one a family farm or small business.

That's a progressive tax reform proposal I would like to see, no more of these no billioniare left behind bills.

Monday, May 15, 2006

can you hear me now?

I went up to my parents house for Mother's Day. Sadly, my father wasn't much help as far as dinner etc. went, but that isn't that surprising. What surprised me was that he didn't think the latest NSA eavesdropping scandal was a big deal. Maybe it was because he listened to the erroneous media reports that say they are only collecting the number and length of calls (billions and billions of them). Or maybe because he was swayed by that sham Washington Post snap poll, which has been refuted by the USA TODAY one which asks more accurate questions and get a totally different result (51% disapproval of the program over 60% want an investigation and oversight). The establishment media really tried to kill the story on Washington Week, my saying it was no big deal and it will actually hurt Democrats (BOOO! Go away oversight, or probing minds!)

Meanwhile, there were lots of stories this weekend how about pissed off (and rightfully so) the LDS Church is about the media coverage of Warren Jeffs. Appearantly, the media can't tell the difference between a small break-away sect and a mainstream religion of millions of Americans. There are lots of people out East that still think LDS folks have plural wifes, even though the practice has been baned since 1890. The images on channels like CNN Headline News use the FBI most wanted picture of FLDS leader Warren Jeffs with the Salt Lake Temple superimposed in the background. This isn't just lazy, it is dishonest misleading and bigoted. The President of the LDS Church used to work in their PR department, so he knows how bad this looks and he and his team are trying to scream as loud as they can about this crap.

I say, welcome to the party, LDS Church. The media have been oversimplfying to the point of misleading the public for a long time, and their main whipping boy has been the out of power party (the Democrats since 1994). It seems now the leaders of the LDS Church have been good about clearing up the media and social myth that a Good Mormon can't be a Good Democrat, so maybe they will help bring attention to the braindead East-Coast Establishment, too-many-cocktail-weenies Traditional Media.