Imagine A President Who Could Write Books

James Boyce imagines if we had a President who not only reads books but could actually write one:

John and Teresa Kerry have written a book on the environment with words and everything. And it’s a really good book called “This Moment On Earth” and showcases their passion for the environment and also includes stories from people across the country who are helping save our planet.

It got me thinking.

Do you think George Bush has read any books lately? Do you think he has perhaps started reading newspapers?

And you know how ex-Presidents usually get huge advances to write their memoirs? Will George Bush get a book deal you think? How? Not only is he obviously incapable of writing, co-writing or even having someone else ghost-write a book, if he doesn’t read any books, who will proofread the manuscript? Cheney? Laura?

Hmm.

Anyway, there are two things I really like about “This Moment On Earth.” One is that, John Kerry really truly does keep forging ahead unlike any other person I know – he has taken his lumps, but he keeps fighting. Second, is that this is really good book (#1 non fiction and #12 overall right now over at Amazon) and it’s by, about, and most importantly for the environment.

If ability to write was the major criteria for picking a candidate, assuming things don’t change enough for John Kerry to get back into the race, this would give Barack Obama an edge. Kerry obviously saw something in Obama when he asked him to present the keynote address at the 2004 convention, although I bet he didn’t see Obama running for President this soon after getting into the Senate.

Edwards Tests at 50:50

I don’t want to be too hard on Edwards here as it is understandable that a politician will try to find strong points to stress in an interview, but I couldn’t help  but chuckle a bit on this one as quoted by The Los Angeles Times:

Presidential candidate John Edwards said Monday that he is the strongest general election candidate in the Democratic field because he’s won in the South and his chief rivals have not been tested there…

“I think in the case of most of the other (Democratic) candidates, they’re just not tested, not at all,” said the former North Carolina senator.

Edwards did get elected to the Senate from a southern state–one time. He then was unable to carry his own state in 2004, and was widely believed to be unable to win if he had tried to keep his Senate seat.

I also see this as attempting to follow the Carter and Bill Clinton paths when the country has changed. The south currently belongs to the Republicans and the real strategy is to limit them to those electoral votes. Democrats will win if they can solidify their hold over the north and midwest (such as picking up Ohio), win in Florida, and/or make further gains in the west.

If I was Bill Richardson, I’d be all over Edwards on this one. Not only has Richardson been tested in a battleground state, he is also qualified to be President.

Questioning Patriotism on Tax Day

We have the silliest blog debate of the year started thanks to Matt Stoller of MyDD. Matt is proud to pay his taxes, and ties it to patriotism. Many of his points are valid. To some degree, we do get what we pay for, shared money spent by government can be a more efficient way in which to achieve mutual goals than by having each individual keep all their money and spending it as they see fit. On some areas all but the most extreme libertarian would agree. It is more efficient to have a national government handle defense from foreign enemies than for each individual to try to pay for their own protection. On many other areas, such as health care, there is room for honest disagreement as to the role of government.

I also agree with Stoller in his criticism of Grover Norquist. A policy which simply says to cut taxes no matter what is irresponsible and nonsensical as I discussed a couple of days ago. Even many conservatives are bothered by Norquist’s pledges not to ever raise taxes. Policies from many conservative groups seem to be little more than means to justify cheating on their taxes while claiming to be following a coherent political philosophy.

Where Stoller runs into trouble, leaving himself open to criticism from multiple conservative blogs, is the implication that all those who oppose our current tax rates and tax structure are unpatriotic. He writes, “I suppose, if you hate democracy, as the right-wing does, then taxes are the price for paying for something you really don’t want.”

It is not surprising that many conservative bloggers object to the claim that they are unpatriotic and hate democracy. There are many valid arguments that many on the right fail to respect democracy as they support the authoritarian policies of the Bush administration, but their complaints about taxation are not a good example. Powerline replies to Stoller by noting that advocating different policies is consistent with democracy:

Conservatives argue for all sorts of things when it comes to taxes: lower marginal tax rates, lower capital gains taxes (or none), a flat tax, the replacement of the federal income tax with a national sales tax, etc. But I know of no conservative who argues for no taxation. Nor can Stoller show any relationship between current levels of taxation and democracy. We’d be no less democratic if our representatives voted to cut our tax rates in half or institute a flat tax. Thus, it’s hardly anti-democratic for conservatives to advocate such measures or to regret, especially on “tax day,” that they have not been adopted.

Blue Crab Boulevard replies to Stoller with, “Ah, yes. Don’t ever question the patriotism of the left, but anyone who questions the tax code is unpatriotic, un-American and against democracy.” On this point Gaius is right. Just as it is wrong for conservatives to call us unpatriotic for opposing the war or for wanting to place checks on the power of government, conservatives are justified in complaining about being called unpatriotic for calling for lower taxes. We can argue that they are irresponsible in allowing for huge deficits and for not showing a responsible plan for what is to be cut, but that does not mean they are not patriotic.

One other point to Matt, if he wants the Democrats to keep the support of professionals such as myself who helped the Democrats take control of Congress. Don’t call taxes a “tiny burden” if you want to be taken seriously by those of us whose federal income taxes are in the tens of thousands of dollars. You’ll be far more successful by showing the benefits to the country of paying taxes at the levels you advocate than by writing off the taxes as a “tiny burden” and questioning the patriotism of those who complain.