Sunday, October 17, 2004

Weekend Roundup

Election to be scrutinized for irregularities. That's a headline in the LATimes- not about Afghanistan, and not about Iraq, but about the US. We guess with elections it's once stolen, twice shy.

Kofi Annan says the Iraq war has not made the world any safer. We had a sneaking suspicion, but were confused by all the claims to the contrary coming out of the WH. Of course, Kofi reads the paper a little more often, so we figure he probably has a better handle on these things.

So as Dubya plans to keep the "tax-breaks-for-the-lower-and-middle-class-even-though-they-
only-actually-get-14%-of-the-money-and-people-in-the-top-10%-get-53%
-of-the-money," we have often wondered how he would pay for all the regime changin' going on. You can only cut Head Start and the No Child Left Behind Act so many times. And it will only yield up so much. To put it into perspective: the costs about entire US public school system are about $50 billion a year. The Iraq war alone (ie not including Afghanistan) so far has a price tag of $120 billion. So if he shut down the entire public school system, there would still be $70 billion shortage for paying to get a really embarassing picture of Saddam. How's he gonna pay for that since no one making above $150K will be ponying up? Well, there's been a lot of discussion of a federal sales tax. The list of reasons why we think this would be a stunningly bad and unjust idea is too long to ennumerate. The top couple of reasons look like this: 1) the Federal Government (and society) recognize that there are people who are living in dire poverty, and who cannot pay taxes and eat. These people do not have their meager incomes taxed. A federal sales tax would, in effect, tax those society has deemed so poor as to be untaxable. This will take food our of the mouths of children. 2) Did you like your extra $200 from Dubya last year? Do you like it so much that you would rather pay $3000 back? A very interesting breakdown of what this tax would mean in the NYTimes today.

You know that medicare drug card that Dubya's always pushing? The AMA says there should be negotiating over the price paid for the drugs. We agree.

Everybody running for prez wants you to be scared.

We hope San Francisco can work out the hitch on instant run-offs in elections. We'd like to see this go national. It's on our list with Get Rid of the Frigging Electoral College and No Voting Machines Without A Paper Trail.

Speaking of dodgy voting practices and the useless electoral college, some of the supreme court clerks who worked the Election Theft 2000 have started talking. Seems they are saying that 5-4 ruling that out Dubya in office instead of the guy who won the popular vote was sixteen different kinds of partisan manipulation. We're shocked. Oh, so shocked.

What we really are shocked about is that Jeb Bush ignored advice to throw out the tainted "felon" lists for this year's election. Yes, the same disenfranchisement tactics are in play as were in 2000. Not exactly a surprise since Katherine Harris, partisan hack extraordinaire still has her job. But really, this gets the weekend Shameless Award. Of course, the Justice Department will probably be too busy being overwhelmed by complaints about voting machines to pay much attention.

Illegal to screen protestors. Now they just have to point out that it's illegal to bar citizens from public campaign rallies.

GOP dollars in 527s overtakes the Dems. Funny that. Looks like more Not So Swift Grudgeholders on a television near you.

You'll be delighted to know that $700,000 of your tax money went to a PR firm to rate media coverage of the No Child Left Behind Act. Well, we're sure glad those spendthrift liberals aren't in office!

Karl Rove had to give closed testimony in the Valerie Plame (the CIA officer who was outed by Robert Novak) case. We find this whole case baffling-- so far two reporters have been held in contempt for not revealing their sources (NYTimes' Judith Miller and Time's Matt Cooper). Cooper later revealed that he'd spoken with Scooter Libbey. We don't feel huge sympathy for Miller, who played a role in hyping the WMD story for the administration and has refused to apologize for her inaccurate "reporting", however, not feeling a lot of sympathy does not preclude us from feeling more than a triffle concerned. People are being charged and held in contempt for refusing the reveal sources. Scaring reporters who might have an important story that implicates people in power, and scaring people who might want to act as anonymous sources, is a really efficient way of shutting down dissent. Furthermore, Miller did some investigation on the story- but never reported it. So why the hell is Novak walking free when he outed Valerie Plame in print? Stinks like three day old fish to us.

Oh yeah, and Dubya's buddy Vladimir Putin is really making some democratic inroads. In a dictatorial kind of way. "The Kremlin is increasing its stranglehold over political debate in Russia by getting pro-presidential deputies to introduce laws making it harder for smaller political parties to register." Next he'll propose an electoral college. Of course the Russians were one of two (the Israelis being the other) countries whose citizens were polled on American election preferences who chose Bush. The other eight had an average 68% giving the nod to Kerry. But who needs England, Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Spain, Mexico and France? It's only our closest neighbors and some of our closest allies.

Estimates of 70,000 dead in Sudan. Okay, it's been called a genocide- a step up from the Rwandan disaster. Can we do something now? If you're interested in helping, Oxfam is doing work there.

Speaking of doing something-- anyone remember Haiti? Nice work on the coup, Mr. Prez, and glad to see you following the long tradition of interference rather than assistance. They could use some help that doesn't involve overthrowing their troubled but elected president. The hurricanes hit even harder than the extra-legal activities. Again, if you're interested, World Vision is at work trying to clean up the mess.


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