Happy Tax Freedom Day–And Don’t Forget To Blame Bill Clinton

Today has been proclaimed Tax Freedom Day, the day on which Americans have earned enough to pay their federal, state, and local taxes and we can start keeping the money. I wonder if Hallmark sells a card.

Does this mean I don’t have to pay those second, third, and fourth quarterly estimates that my accountant set up? Ok, I realize that’s now how it works–after all I did keep some of the profits from the first quarter. It only feels like I sent it all to the government this soon after April 15.

It’s not hard to understand that this is purely a symbolic holiday with no real signficance. Even on this day I found a blog which follows the Republican 12th Commandment–Blame Bill Clinton For Everything as Tax Freedom Day is described as being based upon “misleading figures whose significance is cloaked in Clintonian wording.”

Bill Richardson, An Honest Man

Bill Richardson has risked criticism for naming Justice ‘Whizzer’ White when asked to name his “model Supreme Court justice” during the Democratic debate. White was one of two dissenting votes in Roe v. Wade, with Richardson apparently unaware of this. When asked about this answer, Richardson responded:

Mr. Richardson said he chose Justice White as his first answer because he was an all-America football player who was nominated by President Kennedy, who was Mr. Richardson’s hero.

“I was thinking really fast — I didn’t know, was he dead or alive,” Mr. Richardson said yesterday. “I don’t regret what I said. I make mistakes.”

After six years of George Bush denying all his mistakes, I find this honest response rather refreshing. I can understand how a candidate could have difficulty answering a question such as this when they have little time to think during a debate. I would expect him to do better if he had time to research and consider his answer, and consider his actual views on abortion rights to be far more important than how he answered this question during the debate. Still, after this and a couple other minor gaffes during the debates, Richardson is going to have to do better if he expects to mount a competitive campaign.

Carl Bernstein Attacks Clinton To The Excitement of Conservatives

Carl Bernstein of Watergate fame has written a biography which is being reported as being critical of Hillary Clinton:

Drawing on a trove of private papers from Hillary Clinton’s best friend, the legendary Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein is to publish a hard-hitting and intimate portrait of the 2008 presidential candidate, which will reveal a number of “discrepancies” in her official story.

Bernstein, who was played by Dustin Hoffman in the film All the President’s Men, has spent eight years researching the unauthorised 640-page biography, A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“Bernstein reaches conclusions that stand in opposition to what Senator Clinton has said in the past and has written in the past,” said Paul Bogaards, a spokesman for Knopf, which publishes the book on June 19.

With the thoroughness for which he is famous, Bernstein spoke to more than 200 of Clinton’s friends, colleagues and adversaries. He stops short of accusing the New York senator of blatantly lying about her past, but has unearthed examples of where she has played fast and loose with the facts about her “personal and political life”, according to Knopf.

The book could revive the explosive charge, made earlier this year by David Geffen, a former Clinton donor and Hollywood mogul, that “the Clintons lie with such ease, it’s troubling”.

Carl Bernstein is doing the Democrats a favor in releasing this now, while Democrats still have a chance to reconsider whether they really want Hillary Clinton heading their party. It is far better for this to come out while there is still a chance to chose a better candidate.
As Ed Morrissey notes, having such a book come from Carl Bernstein, and not Regency Press, will make it difficult for Hillary to blame this one on the “vast right-wing conspiracy.”

I sure can’t blame the conservatives for being excited by this news, but the excitement might have knocked a few screws loose in John Hawkins. He comments on his story with a theory as absurd as his his recent list of the differences between liberals and conservatives which I recently responded to.

Hawkins believes that all the “scandalous claims” about George Bush “were accepted as conventional wisdom, not because they’re true…but because they were repeated over and over again without being refuted.” He claims that George Bush never fought back, and the conventional wisdom about George Bush represents  “a case study that shows you why nice guys finish last in politics.” I’m not surprised that a conservative writer such as this is oblivious to Bush’s record and actions which caused him to be repudiated by the bulk of the country, but could anyone really be so oblivious to the operations of the Bush White House to claim they did not fight back. Bush has run a dishonest, excessively partisan White House on the level of Richard Nixon’s, which has fought both hard and dirty in attacking their enemies and presenting a false view of George Bush. At least, while they failed to convince the bulk of the country, they sure have conned John Hawkins.

Clinton and Obama Gain Support From Former GOP Businessmen Who Reject Bush Policies

The New York Sun reports that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars from people who contributed to George Bush in the past. There are several possible explanations. Many who run businesses which are affected by government actions routinely contribute to both parties or now see the Democrats as the probable winners. Some might even be contributing to a Democrat that they think would make a weaker candidate and improve the chances for a Republican victory. Others are actually rejecting the GOP as a sign of how the parties have been realigning in recent years:

One donor to Mr. Obama professing sincere disillusionment with Mr. Bush is an investment banker from Chicago, John Canning of Madison Dearborn Partners. “It’s not an isolated trend. It appears to be a significant wave,” he said. “I know lots of my friends in this business are disenchanted and are definitely looking for something different.”

In 2004, Mr. Canning was a Bush Pioneer, meaning he pledged to raise $100,000 for the president’s re-election. However, he told the Sun that his support for Mr. Bush was already fading at that time. “I was probably unenthusiastic, but not as strongly as I am now,” Mr. Canning said. He said he ended up not voting at all. “It wasn’t like I thought Kerry was a good deal.”

Mr. Canning, whose defection to Mr. Obama was reported by Bloomberg News, said he was a big fan of Mr. Bush in 2000. However, he said he later fell out with the president and other Republicans over a dispute involving a brain-injured Florida woman, Terry Schiavo, as well as subjects like global warming, stem cell research and diplomatic relations with Iran and Syria. “A lot of these issues didn’t exist when Bush first ran,” the banker said. “How do you support a guy when he shows the door to everything you believe in?”

The Republican move to the far right is causing a realignment in the parties as an increasing number of former Republicans are voting Democratic in opposition to recent GOP policies. Businessmen typically have voted Republican primarily because of GOP promises of lower taxes. While some, such as Dick DeVos of Amway, who ran for Governor of Michigan in 2004, have been long-time advocates of the agenda of the religious right, many long-time Republican businessmen are not advocates of the conservative social agenda. Others are turning away from the Republicans after seeing their inability to govern effectively. A growing number recognize that Republican economic policies are bad for the economy, and in the long term decrease their wealth. Even traditional Democratic policies such as universal heath care are gaining interest among businessmen, as they see the cost of health care as a major problem when competing internationally.

Just over two years after Republicans were speaking of a permanent majority, Democrats are in a position to develop their own majority. This depends upon whether they can maintain the support of professionals and businessmen who are disenchanted with Republican policies. Republicans will continue to attempt to get our votes by painting Democrats as “socialists” who are hostile to the affluent, and who will raise taxes to confiscatory levels. To keep the Republicans from returning to power, Democrats must prove that this is not true in the policies they promote.

Mars Warming; Right Wing Still Hostile to Science

The Times of London reports that Mars is getting warmer. As is noted in the report, the mechanism is different from the causes of climate change on the earth. The story is of interest to those interested in science, but it is irrelevant to the question of climate change on earth. Of course that won’t change how the right wing responds, with Memeorandum showing that several right wing blogs are latching on to this story. Using these climate changes on Mars to dispute theories of climate change on earth is comparable to those who spent the winter arguing against global warming because it was cold outside.

Science works by objectively analyzing the data to devise theories based upon the evidence. Those who follow the scientific method have determined that the mechanisms for warming on Mars and the earth are entirely different, and global warming represents the consensus of scientific thought. Conservatives, who reject the scientific consensus on global warming practice science backwards. They devise their conclusion first, and then search out evidence which can be twisted to verify their views.

These tend to be the same people who claim that intelligent design is a valid alternative to evolution, that abstinence-based education is of effective, that the Swift Boat Liars are anything more than partisans inventing smears, and that Saddam threatened us with WMD before the war. The right wing will not be able to make meaningful intellectual contributions, and will not be able to govern effectively, as long as they practice their flat earth philosophy. (more…)

Teresa Heinz Kerry Visits Liberal Values For A Discussion of Women’s Health and The Environment

Teresa Heinz Kerry joins Liberal Values today on her blog tour. I wish I could say that the above picture was taken as I personally discussed these issues with Teresa, but actually it was taken when she was campaigning in Michigan shortly before the Iowa caucus. At the time, the conventional wisdom was that John Kerry just might manage to pull into second place, keeping his long-shot chances at the nomination alive. I don’t know if it was just optimism for her husband, or if Teresa really knew something, but she did sound hopeful for a first place victory in Iowa. John Kerry did go on to win the Iowa caucus, to win the nomination, and to beat the odds in coming as close as he did to an incumbent President during war time.

Teresa and John Kerry have used the time since the election to promote some of their long-standing interests, including the environment. This includes their recent book, This Moment on Earth, as well as Teresa’s work on women’s health and the environment. Teresa Heinz Kerry and the Heinz Endowments recently sponsored a conference on Women’s Health and the Environment in Pittsburgh. Starting about a week before the conference, Teresa has been on this blog tour. Participating blogs submitted written questions to Teresa at the onset of the tour. These questions were written during the recent conservative attack on those who discuss climate change after Al Gore won his Oscar. Teresa’s responses to my questions follow : (more…)

Condoleezza Rice’s Memory Problem

Condoleezza Rice has a tough time remembering all those warnings she received about bin Laden before 9/11, and every time they come up she claims this is something new to her. Think Progress reports that  Condoleezza Rice, appearing on Face the Nation today, was asked about George Tenet’s recommendations from two months before the 9/11 attack. Tenet had advised, “We need to consider immediate action inside Afghanistan now. We need to move to the offensive.”

Rice replied, “The idea of launching preemptive strikes into Afghanistan in July of 2001, this is a new fact.” She subsequently said, “I don’t know what we were supposed to preemptively strike in Afghanistan. Perhaps somebody can ask that.”

This isn’t the first time Rice lied about receiving such recommendations. Mahablog provides evidence that Rice had received these warnings from Tenet before, and was caught lying about it. Rice also lied about warnings received from others. In a column in the Washington Post on March 22, 2004, Condoleezza Rice wrote:

The al Qaeda terrorist network posed a threat to the United States for almost a decade before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Throughout that period — during the eight years of the Clinton administration and the first eight months of the Bush administration prior to Sept. 11 — the U.S. government worked hard to counter the al Qaeda threat.

During the transition, President-elect Bush’s national security team was briefed on the Clinton administration’s efforts to deal with al Qaeda. The seriousness of the threat was well understood by the president and his national security principals. In response to my request for a presidential initiative, the counterterrorism team, which we had held over from the Clinton administration, suggested several ideas, some of which had been around since 1998 but had not been adopted. No al Qaeda plan was turned over to the new administration.

Documents obtained from the National Security Archive previously showed that these statements from Rice were untrue. The documents include a January 25, 2001, memo from counterterrorism coordinator Richard Clarke to national security advisor Condoleezza Rice and “Tab A December 2000 Paper: Strategy for Eliminating the Threat from the Jihadist Networks of al-Qida: Status and Prospects,” These documents, along with the testimony of Richard Clarke, contradict the claims of Condoleezza Rice that “No al Qaeda plan was turned over to the new administration.”

Rice was warned about the dangers from al Qaeda by both Tenet and Clark. She admits, “the seriousness of the threat was well understood” but did nothing and pretends that she never received advice to take action.  After ignoring such advice, and failing to continue the policy of the Clinton administration of going after bin Laden, Rice has repeatedly made these false claims that these are new ideas she had never heard of before. Something is seriously wrong with her memory, or her ability to speak the truth.

Teresa Heinz Kerry’s Blog Tour On Its Way to Liberal Values

Later today we will have our interview with Teresa Heinz Kerry as part of her blog tour on women’s health and the environment. While waiting, you can catch up with her previous stops:

4/14 Culture Kitchen
4/15 Light Up The Darkness
4/16 Democracy Cell Project
4/17 A Dem Fine Woman
4/18 Big Green Purse
4/19 John Kerry Is My Hero
4/20 The Democratic Daily
4/21 Post Carbon Institute
4/22 The Unofficial Kerry Blog
4/23 Culture Kitchen
4/24 We Love John Kerry
4/25 Violet Voices
4/26 Cocking A Snook
4/27 VB Dems
4/28 Tough Enough

Karl Rove, Atheist?

Karl Rove has helped George Bush rule by pandering to the religious right for support. Their use of wedge issues, such as placing votes on Constitutional amendments on the ballots in several states in 2004, might have made the difference in getting out enough of the fundamentalist vote to give Bush his victory.

We know that Rove believes in hardball politics and doing whatever it takes to win. Whether Rove, and even Bush, believe in the policies they pursue is a different question. We get one clue as to Rove’s views on religion in this interview with Christopher Hutchins in New York Magazine:

Has anyone in the Bush administration confided in you about being an atheist?
Well, I don’t talk that much to them—maybe people think I do. I know something which is known to few but is not a secret. Karl Rove is not a believer, and he doesn’t shout it from the rooftops, but when asked, he answers quite honestly. I think the way he puts it is, “I’m not fortunate enough to be a person of faith.”

What must Bush make of that?
I think it’s false to say that the president acts as if he believes he has God’s instructions. Compared to Jimmy Carter, he’s nowhere. He’s a Methodist, having joined his wife’s church in the end. He also claims that Jesus got him off the demon drink. He doesn’t believe it. His wife said, “If you don’t stop, I’m leaving and I’m taking the kids.” You can say that you got help from Jesus if you want, but that’s just a polite way of putting it in Texas.

For Karl Rove, power is the ultimate religion.

David Brooks Predicts More Losses For The “Grim Old Party”

David Brooks calls the Republicans the Grim Old Party, and warns, “it will take a few more crushing defeats before Republicans tear down the self-imposed walls that confine them.”

The Republicans suffered one unpleasant event in November 2006, and they are headed toward an even nastier one in 2008. The Democrats have opened up a wide advantage in party identification and are crushing the G.O.P. among voters under 30.

Moreover, there has been a clear shift, in poll after poll, away from Republican positions on social issues and on attitudes toward government. Democratic approaches are favored on almost all domestic, tax and fiscal issues, and even on foreign affairs.

The public, in short, wants change.

And yet the Republicans refuse to offer that. On Capitol Hill, there is a strange passivity in Republican ranks. Republicans are privately disgusted with how President Bush has led their party and the nation, but they don’t publicly offer any alternatives. They just follow sullenly along. They privately believe the country needs new approaches to the war against Islamic extremism, but they don’t offer them. They try to block Democratic initiatives, but they don’t offer the country any new ways to think about the G.O.P.

They are like people quietly marching to their doom.

And at the presidential level, things are even worse. The party is blessed with a series of charismatic candidates who are not orthodox Republicans. But the pressures of the campaign are such that these candidates have had to repress anything that might make them interesting. Instead of offering something new, each of them has been going around pretending to be the second coming of George Allen — a bland, orthodox candidate who will not challenge any of the party’s customs or prejudices.

Mitt Romney created an interesting health care reform, but he’s suppressing that in an effort to pretend to be George Allen. Rudy Giuliani has an unusual profile that won him a majority of votes on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, of all places, but he’s suppressing that to be George Allen. John McCain has a record on taxes and spending that suggests he really could take on entitlements. But at least until last week, he suppressed that in order not to offend the George Allen vote.