Archive

  • Where To Now?

    This Business Week editorial is about the best thing I've yet read on Bush's upcoming tax reform ( italics mine): one of the mandates President Bush gave to the tax panel was that its recommendations should raise about the same $2 trillion that the feds currently collect annually. T hat means any changes will shift, not lift, the tax burden . So there will be winners and losers aplenty. Should we eliminate all taxes on capital assets like stocks or bonds, stimulating investment but giving the wealthy a windfall? Will Americans accept an easy-to-understand flat tax or consumption levy if the cost is the end of deductions for state and local taxes or home mortgage interest? And which business taxes may have to be increased by $600 billion over the next decade so the unpopular alternative minimum tax for individuals can be eliminated? Such tough choices are sure to elicit howls of protest from the public and business, each eager to protect existing tax preferences. That's why the Bush...
  • The Peace Army

    Shakespeare's Sister has a good post on the McCain-Bayh bill that'd allow military recruits to fulfill part of their service obligations in the Peace Corps. Apparently, the program was popped into the Defense Bill from a couple years ago and, well, funny thing, no one ever informed the Peace Corps. Whoops. I'm a little conflicted on the program, to tell you the truth. On the one hand, it seems like a good idea to give recruits exhausted from the army a chance to wipe the blood from their hands and do some humanitarian work. Nevertheless, I've got to come down against it for three reasons. 1) As Shakes said, it'll break down the traditional barrier between Peace Corps and military, potentially making Peace Corps volunteers targets overseas. That's got to be avoided at all costs. 2) I fear it'll become nothing more than a way to trick uncertain kids into signing up for the army. Even now, they're told that it'll be a breeze, they'll be out in a couple years with thousands of dollars for...
  • Immigrants and Health Care

    Great post over at the Health Law Prof's blog summarizing a recent American Journal of Public Health article on immigrant usage of our health system. We've all heard, I'm sure, that our rise in health costs and the difference between us and other societies is our enormous immigrant population, which is to say that the goddamn Mexicans keep stealing over the border solely so they can get sick and charge it to America's Express card. So is it true? Well, no. Immigrants receive an average of $1,139 worth of care per year, compared with $2,564 for non-immigrants. Immigrants, both legal and illegal, consumed 8% of our nation's health care, when they make up 10% of our nation's population. That means they're underconsuming health care, not using an excess amount of it. Health care costs for poor immigrant children are 84 percent less than those for native born kids. 84%! Immigrants, on average, receive half the health care that native born Americans get, saving the system hundreds of...
  • Torture

    The Washington Post has an extraordinary five-page report on torture today. In this case, it's not just the crime, but the cover-up: Iraqi Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush was being stubborn with his American captors, and a series of intense beatings and creative interrogation tactics were not enough to break his will. On the morning of Nov. 26, 2003, a U.S. Army interrogator and a military guard grabbed a green sleeping bag, stuffed Mowhoush inside, wrapped him in an electrical cord, laid him on the floor and began to go to work. Again. It was inside the sleeping bag that the 56-year-old detainee took his last breath through broken ribs, lying on the floor beneath a U.S. soldier in Interrogation Room 6 in the western Iraqi desert. Two days before, a secret CIA-sponsored group of Iraqi paramilitaries, working with Army interrogators, had beaten Mowhoush nearly senseless, using fists, a club and a rubber hose, according to classified documents. ... Hours after Mowhoush's death in U.S...
  • "Hard Work"

    A bit too hard, it seems. When President Bush kept repeating how tough his job was during the primaries, maybe we should have relieved him of it. Instead, he's decided to blow it off for a bit: President Bush is getting the kind of break most Americans can only dream of — nearly five weeks away from the office, loaded with vacation time. The president departed Tuesday for his longest stretch yet away from the White House, arriving at his Crawford ranch in the evening for a stretch of clearing brush, visiting with family and friends, and tending to some outside-the-Beltway politics. By historical standards, it is the longest presidential retreat in at least 36 years. The August getaway is Bush's 49th trip to his cherished ranch since taking office and the 319th day that Bush has spent, entirely or partially, in Crawford — nearly 20 percent of his presidency to date, according to Mark Knoller, a CBS Radio reporter known for keeping better records of the president's travel than the White...
  • Bleed 'Em

    Good comment by Hunter , and one that Democrats should take pretty seriously: A 70% Republican district was turned into an edge-of-your-seat race -- I'd have liked to win the thing outright too, but realistically, these results are fantastic. Make them battle for every seat, in every state. Use our grassroots to bleed the Republican money machine. Every once in awhile, I jump back on my kick about the Republican's sustained and multifront effort to cut off most sources of Democratic cash. As summary, they've: They've tried to revise McCain-Feingold to kill 527's, thereby cutting off our soft money and our issue groups; Tried to institute "paycheck protection" for unions, which'd force them to get permission from each and every union member to use any part of their dues for political organizing. Ever heard of this done against corporations? Attempted tort reform, which'd bleed the lawyers. Used the "K" Street Project to systematically exclude Democrats from lobbying firms and freeze...
  • Adrian!

    It should be no shocker to hear Paul Hackett fell a bit short in his congressional bid last night. No, what should make you short of breath and leave the children open-mouthed in awe is that he only lost by 4%. 4%! In a district that generally goes Republican by 65%-75%, we lost by 4%! For the GOP, that's a chill wind blowing. At this point, it's unclear whether Paul Hackett is a bellwether, an isolated superstar, or both. It may be that Coingate and the Republican Majority's arrogance have given Ohioans a nasty case of voter remorse or Paul Hackett himself was such an attractive option that they almost overcame their natural biases. In any case, he'll be a helluva force for 2006. Remember in Rocky, where Rocky didn't beat Apollo Creed, but went 15 rounds when no one ever has? Remember what a victory that was? This was a total victory. And don't mistake it for anything less. Paul Hackett is Rocky.
  • And Liberality For All

    Matt has the best comment I've seen on the hilarious-yet-deranged conservacomic series that us liberals have spent the last two days chortling over: I think this sort of thing actually tells us something important about contemporary politics. It's rather odd to see persecution fantasies coming from the right at a moment when Republicans control the House of Representatives, the Senate, the Executive Branch, the judiciary, most statehouses, and most state legislatures. And yet a right-wing persecution complex is evident to even a casual consumer of right-wing media. To hear the conservative blogs, magazines, and radio shows tell it, despite total conservative domination of the political system a coalition of liberal reporters, academics, and Hollywood stars manage to be the real governing force in America. Matt goes on to write that, crazy as this all seems, it's not that crazy. Very little on the Republican agenda has been passed, and even less of the conservative wish list items have...
  • Score One for the Well-Off

    Whether you're comfortable with America's gaping income inequality or not, I think we can all agree that this really shouldn't be happening: People whose net worth is over $70,000, the median in the United States, are 30 percent less likely than poorer people to feel pain at the end of their lives, a difference that persists even when controlling for age and severity of illness, a new study shows. The findings, which appear in the August issue of The Journal of Palliative Medicine, used information on more than 2,600 adults over 70 who died from 1993 to 1998. The researchers interviewed proxies, usually surviving spouses, to gather information about pain, depression, delirium and difficulties in breathing or eating at life's end. Wealth was a strong predictor of how many different types of discomfort an older adult suffered, with those whose net worth was over $70,000 having a 9 percent lower risk of experiencing multiple symptoms. There's much in life that I think is perfectly...
  • What It's About

    This bit from RedState.org is fairly illustrative of what the election in Ohio-02 will turn on: Hackett is a far left Democrat using his experience in the military to beat up the President and the war. According to Hackett, Bush saying "Bring 'em on!" was "the most incredibly stupid comment I've ever heard a president of the United States make." If you live in Ohio's 2nd Congressional District, remember to go vote today. Be sure to vote for Jean Schmidt. So what will today's election be about? Paul Hackett. Republicans know Schmidt is, in her better moments, an empty suit. There's no appeal to voting for her, no reason to line up with her. But against Hackett? Against a Democrat? Now we're talking. Democrats, of course, feel the same way, except that the candidate they're voting for is the one they're genuinely moved by. In this race, Schmidt barely even exists. It's Democratic war hero Paul Hackett or not Democratic war hero Paul Hackett.

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