Higher Taxes Under Republicans

I’ve often noted that the traditional battle lines between Republicans and Democrats have been redrawn. In the past Republicans might have represented the interests of the upper middle class, but in recent years Republican policies have begun to benefit only the wealthy, at the expense of both the middle and upper middles classes. The New York Times provides another example of this in an editorial today:

One of President Bush’s be-very-afraid lines this campaign season is that Democrats, if elected, will raise taxes. What he doesn’t say is that if you are one of tens of millions of Americans who make between $75,000 and $500,000 a year, your taxes are already scheduled to rise starting next year — because of laws that Mr. Bush championed and other actions he failed to take.

The higher taxes stem from the alternative minimum tax, a levy that is supposed to snare multimillionaires who would otherwise get away with using excessive tax shelters to wipe out their tax bills. But these days, the alternative tax is snaring many upper-middle-income filers.

Mr. Bush set the trap in 2001 — and in 2003, 2004 and 2006. In each of those years, he flogged for new tax cuts without requiring corresponding long-term changes in the existing rules for the alternative tax. It was well known that failure to update the alternative tax would create perverse interactions with the new tax cuts, causing filers’ tax bills to drop because of the cuts, only to shoot back up again from the alternative levy.

Those with taxable incomes over $500,000 will benefit from reelecting Republicans if taxes are their only concern, but for the rest of us there is no longer a benefit in voting Republican to save on tax dollars.

ACLU Drops Constitutional Challenge to Patriot Act Following Improvements in Act

Since the 9/11 attacks The American Civil Liberties Union has been working to keep the country safe from terrorism while maintaining our civil liberties, understanding that it would be a victory for terrorism if we abandoned the principles this nation was founded upon. There has been a partial victory in reducing the violations of civil liberties in the Patriot Act, leading the ACLU to drop their lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the act:

The ACLU said it was withdrawing the lawsuit filed more than three years ago because of “improvements to the law.” The Justice Department argued last month that amendments approved by Congress in March 2006 had corrected any constitutional flaws in the Patriot Act.

“While the reauthorized Patriot Act is far from perfect, we succeeded in stemming the damage from some of the Bush administration’s most reckless policies,” Ann Beeson, associate legal director of the ACLU in New York, said in a written statement…

The ACLU argued that Section 215, which allows theFBI access to any “tangible things” such as books and documents through an order from a secret court, does not require investigators to show probable cause. It asked that the Justice Department be barred from using the provision…

[U.S. District Judge Denise Page] Hood ruled on Oct. 3 that the ACLU’s clients had shown they were harmed by the anti-terrorism law adopted after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and that the lawsuit could proceed. But the ruling came after the law had been amended, prompting the ACLU to drop its case.

The ACLU said it would continue to monitor how the government applied Section 215 and would remain ready to defend any individual, business or organization receiving demands for information under the provision.

The group also said it is continuing its legal fight against a more frequently used provision of the Patriot Act that authorizes national security letters. Such letters allow the executive branch of government to obtain records about people in terrorism and espionage investigations without a judge’s approval or a grand jury subpoena.

Ron Suskind: The President Understands More About The Mistakes Than He Lets On

Spiegel Online interviewed Ron Suskind on the use of torture. Here’s a portion:

SPIEGEL ONLINE: With all your access to high-level sources, have you come across anyone who still thinks it is a good idea for the US to torture people?

Suskind: No. Most of the folks involved say that we made mistakes at the start. The president wants to keep all options open because he never wants his hands tied in any fashion, as he says, because he doesn’t know what’s ahead. But those involved in the interrogation protocol, I think are more or less in concert in saying that, in our panic in the early days, we made some mistakes.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Because they could have gotten information through normal interrogations …

Suskind: … yes, and without paying this terrific price, namely: America’s moral standing. We poured plenteous gasoline on the fires of jihadist recruitment.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: So the average interrogator at a Black Site understands more about the mistakes made than the president?

Suskind: The president understands more about the mistakes than he lets on. He knows what the most-skilled interrogators know too. He gets briefed, and he was deeply involved in this process from the beginning. The president loves to talk to operators.

Posted in George Bush, Terrorism. Tags: . No Comments »

The Party of Fiscal Responsibility

This graph demonstrates which party has really been the party of fiscal responsibility in recent years. Despite the Republican claims of “tax and spend” Democrats, if your goal is lower taxes long term, as well as to prevent erosion of your savings due to inflation, stay away from those Republicans. Their irresponsible spending can only lead to either higher taxes down the road or worse disasters.

Update: I’m not sure why someone would link to this post in 2009, especially since the graph is no longer available. As there is suddenly some traffic to this old post in March, 2009 I’ll point out two more recent posts on the topic:

A Historian Looks At Republican Support For BigGovernment
The Party of Big Government

Saddam Verdict Moved Closer to Midterm Elections

Iraq has moved back the planned date to announce the verdict in Saddam’s case, conviently moving it even closer to the midterm elections:

The U.S.-backed court was due to announce on Monday a final date for verdicts on Saddam and seven of his former top lieutenants for crimes against humanity, a charge which carries a maximum penalty of death by hanging.

But the court said it needed more time to review testimony. Chief prosecutor Jaafar al-Moussawi said the Iraqi High Tribunal could announce a verdict when it reconvenes on November 5.

“Right now they are checking some testimonies and details. If they finish by then, then they will definitely announce the verdict on November 5,” he told Reuters.

Posted in Iraq, Politics. Tags: . No Comments »

Downing Steet Paper: Military Action in Iraq and Afghanistan Served as Recruiting Sergeant For Terrorist Groups

George Bush claims that we must fight the terrorists in Iraq so that we don’t have to fight them here, but in reality it is the fighting in Iraq which is fueling the threat of terrorism. In public Tony Blair might repeat Bush’s lines, but in private they know better. The Telegraph reports on a classified paper from Downing Street (emphasis mine):

Tony Blair’s claim that there is no link between Britain’s foreign policy and terrorist attacks in this country is blown apart by a secret cabinet memo revealed today.

A classified paper written by senior Downing Street officials says that everything Britain does overseas for the next decade must have the ultimate aim of reducing “terror activity, especially that in or directed against the UK”.

The memo, circulated in recent weeks to ministers and security chiefs and seen by The Sunday Telegraph, outlines an extraordinary “wish list” of how the Government would like world troublespots to look in 10 years’ time. It also signals a drive to reduce Britain’s military commitments around the globe.

It admits that, in an ideal world, “the Muslim would not perceive the UK and its foreign policies as hostile” – effectively accepting the argument that Britain’s military action in Iraq and Afghanistan has served as a recruiting sergeant for Islamist terrorist groups. Publicly, Mr Blair has resisted this line fiercely. During his final speech as leader to Labour’s annual conference last month, he described such claims as “enemy propaganda”.

Hugo Chávez and American Voting Machines

I’ve long been concerned that efforts to develop an accurate and secure voting system has turned into a partisan issue, with each side concentrating on accusations that the other is stealing elections as opposed to a bipartisan search for a real solution. Diebold CEO Walden O’Dell’s statement that he was “committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year” justifiably concerned Democrats. We now have an unexpected party mixed into this–Hugo Chávez.

The New York Times reports on this story (first reported by the Miami Herald):

The federal government is investigating the takeover last year of a leading American manufacturer of electronic voting systems by a small software company that has been linked to the leftist Venezuelan government of President Hugo Chávez.

The inquiry is focusing on the Venezuelan owners of the software company, the Smartmatic Corporation, and is trying to determine whether the government in Caracas has any control or influence over the firm’s operations, government officials and others familiar with the investigation said.

The inquiry on the eve of the midterm elections is being conducted by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or Cfius, the same panel of 12 government agencies that reviewed the abortive attempt by a company in Dubai to take over operations at six American ports earlier this year.

So far there is no evidence that Chávez has been attempting to influence elections, but the political ramifications of this are interesting. While I see the potential for manipulation of election results by Hugo Chávez to be as alarming as manipulation by Diebold, will those on the far right who claim that Chávez is an ally of Democrats inflame the issue by raising charges of election fraud by the left? While the chances are small, maybe this will help create a consensus by reasonable people on the left and right, as well as in the middle, to concentrate on the real issue of maintaining the integrity of election results as opposed to the current partisan bickering.

More Analysis From Rush Limbaugh

Did Clinton Save America From God’s Wrath?

Bible Belt Blogger presents a convincing case for how Bill Clinton saved America from God’s wrath.

Bush and Cheney Keep Clean

Before 2001 I would have never believed that we’d have a situation where I’d side with one political party over the other on every issue but Bush and Cheney have been remarkable for their ability to be wrong on, to put it briefly, everything. Until now. The New York Times reports on an issue where I must side with Bush and Cheney over Bill Richardson and Howard Dean–the use of Purell to clean hands after shaking hands with crowds of people.

For once George Bush’s simple explanation is actually true: “Good stuff, keeps you from getting colds.” Physician and Senator Tom Coburn explains in more detail that, “Every time you’re with big groups of people, you’re going to be exposed to rhinoviruses, adenoviruses and the viruses that cause gastroenteritis.”

It’s safe to assume that if George Bush says something, Howard Dean can be counted upon to say the opposite, which makes Dean correct virtually every time, except on this issue. According to Dean, “If you’ve had children, you’re immune to everything.” Bill Richardson holds the Guinness Book of World Records for shaking the most hands over an eight-hour period–13,392, at the New Mexico State Fair in 2002. He refuses to use Purell, saying “It’s condescending to the voters.”

Despite the positions of Dean and Richardson, Purell is increasingly popular among politicians. Bill Clinton started using Purell after being chastised by doctors for eating a pie with his hands when their was no fork available after shaking dozens of hands. Purell wasn’t an issue in the 2000 election as both Gore and Lieberman promoted its use. Donald Trump was also a supporter when he considered entering politics:

“One of the curses of American society is the simple act of shaking hands,” Mr. Trump wrote in his book “Comeback.” “I happen to be a clean-hands freak.”

Other cited as supporting the use of Purell include John McCain, Bob Dole, Harry Reid, and Barack O’Bama.