I'd Guess You'd Say I'm Not an Undecided Voter

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I thought it a win for Kerry in a well-contested match, but I have developed a powerful and probably distorting allergy to Bush, that can be summed up with the sentence, "I guess you'd say I'm a good steward of the land." (And it has nothing to do with his environmental policy.) The longer I watch the man talk, the more I want it to end.

Bad points for Kerry:
* You really should know what year the WTC was first attacked.
* Enough already with the we're-gonna-woo-the-allies shtick. We got the idea already, and we still don't know how anti-Americanism will suddenly vanish as a strategic problem under a Democratic presidency.
* Maybe answer a question now and then, instead of, say, getting all huffy about a single usage of the word "liberal."
* Um, what exactly does "equal pay for women" have to do with the Constitution again?

Bad points for Bush:
* A little strong on the stimulants.
* Responded to pragmatic question about Iran by pointing out what speechwriter wrote for him two years ago.
* Ridiculous responses to Canadian pharmaceutical question (including Bill Clinton did it too!!).
* "In this war we live in," "might be from a Third World," "we're doing the best we possibly can," "like you I'm concerned about the deficit," "you can run but you can't hide," "green eyeshades."

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  1. Matt,
    Good stuff, but I think you’re wrong with the “Bill Clinton did it too …” stuff. I think it resonates with many voters. (Although, it is juvenile.)

    For anyone thinking that a vote for Kerry is a vote for change, you’re only slightly right, and many of the changes won’t be for the better. Many of the Bush policies that people complain about are Clinton era policies or basic extensions of Clinton era policies. A good example is the Patriot Act. Most of it is just rehashed from Clinton’s 1996 terrorism act. Kerry will appoint many of the Clinton people if he becomes president, and they’ll likely continue these same policies.

  2. Why was Bush shouting at the audience? Getting so angry at a townhall style debate, when it’s regular folks asking you the questions, looks bad.
    Someone had clearly told Bush to stop grimacing when Kerry hit him. So Bush grinded his teeth instead. Yippee. I’m guessing the man’s terrible at poker.

  3. Sounds like my choice to watch something else (my new 10th Anniversary edition of Clerks) was a good one. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Clerks

    Heh – great movie. I won cheap front-row tickets to see “Avenue Q” tonight, and therefore did not get to see the debate, boo hoo.

  5. No, the “Bill Clinton did it too” will not go over well. Simply because he said that so many times. It was Clinton’s fault. It was the general’s fault. It was the dot-com-boom’s fault. My dog ate the win-the-peace plan, etc. etc.

    Slight win to Kerry. He indicted Bush on his incredible failures, but, once again, he did not go far enough. Hopefully at the next debate he will enumerate Bush’s failures, point by point, item by item.

    Kerry looked and acted presidential, Bush did not. Interrupting that nice Charlie Gibson, indeed.

    The questions were incredibly weak; Gibson and the audience should be sent to Siberia.

  6. The questions were pretty good, I thought.

    They were certainly much better than the things Bush usually hears:

    “President Bush, why would anyone vote for Kerry, when they could vote for you, and you’re the risen Christ?”

  7. Patrick,

    The bonus material makes the $20.00 forked out well worth it. You learn interesting things like the fact that Kevin Smith apparently liked to jerk off to the porn videos in that video store he managed, and the guy who plays “Jay” (Jason Mewes) is exactly like the character he plays in the films, etc.

  8. Patrick,

    Thirty-seven?!?!

  9. Went to my daughter’s basketball game instead. My wife asked me if I wanted to stay home and watch the debates, and I said are you nuts?

    We didn’t play good defense throughout the whole game, and that put us in like a 10 point hole we never could seem to come out of, although we did try to come back in the last five minutes. I thought during that last part we really did play some good defense, but we have absolutely got to stop broadcasting our passes, the other team was too alert for that, and were picking them off one by one. More problems: not boxing out, not fighting for the rebounds, back to the drawing board coach! We’ll get em next time.

  10. Oh and I have that same allergy to Bush you’ve got Matt, it feels like a ball peen hammer breaking a milk bottle every time he vomits up one or another of his talking points. It’s not even funny any more to watch him misunderconstrue the language. It’s just pathetic, that’s all.

  11. They were certainly much better than the things Bush usually hears:

    Yes, but I want to hear adversarial questions that leave no room for canned spiels. I saw things like that at a website that proposed questions for the debates, but I haven’t heard anything of their calibre so far.

  12. I think they should both be given space on factcheck.org and forced to blog it out!

  13. Does anyone have any information on the history of these agreements between the parties where they set strict conditions on the format and content of the debates?

    As for what’s wrong with them now:

    Here is a transcript of an npr broadcast from which I learned that Walter Cronkite called CPD-sponsored debates an ‘unconscionable fraud.’

    I’m putting the whole thing in here because it blows the nuts off of this bullshit so-called “debate”

    Commentary
    Connie Rice: Top 10 Secrets They Don’t Want You to Know About the Debates

    The Tavis Smiley Show, September 29, 2004

    After weeks of political wrangling, Sen. John Kerry and President Bush will square off for the first of three key presidential debates. Both camps have agreed to an elaborate, 32-page contract that spells out everything from the size of the dressing rooms to permitted camera angles.

    But the controversy over the debates threatens to overshadow the events themselves. Some citizen groups complain that the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) isn’t as non-partisan as it should be, and that Kerry and Bush won’t be pressed on urban issues. Commentator Connie Rice says that’s just the tip of the iceberg, and she’s got another Top 10 list — this time: Top 10 Secrets They Don’t Want You to Know About the Debates.

    (10.) They aren’t debates!

    “A debate is a head-to-head, spontaneous, structured argument over the merits of an issue,” Rice says. “Under the ridiculous 32-page contract that reads like the rules for the Miss America Pageant, there will be no candidate-to-candidate questions, no rebuttal to your opponent’s points, no cross questions or cross answers, no rebuttals, no follow-up questions — that’s not a debate, that’s a news conference.”

    (9.) The debates were hijacked from the truly independent League of Women Voters in 1986.

    “The League of Women Voters ran these debates with an iron hand as open, transparent, non-partisan events from 1976 to 1984,” Rice says. “The men running the major campaigns ended their control when the League defiantly included John Anderson and Ross Perot, and used tough moderators and formats the parties didn’t like. The parties snatched the debates from the League and formed the Commission on Presidential Debates — the CPD — in 1986.”

    (8.) The “independent and non-partisan” Commission on Presidential Debates is neither independent nor non-partisan.

    “CPD should stand for ‘Cloaking-device for Party Deceptions’ — it is not an independent commission on anything. The CPD is under the total control of the Republican and Democratic parties and by definition bipartisan, not non-partisan. Walter Cronkite called CPD-sponsored debates an ‘unconscionable fraud.'”

    (7.) The secretly negotiated debate contract bars Kerry and Bush from any and all other debates for the entire campaign.

    “Under what I call the Debate Suppression and Monopolization Clause of the contract, it is illegal for the candidates to debate each other anywhere else during the campaign,” Rice says. “We need a new criminal law for reckless endangerment of democracy.”

    (6.) The debate contract effectively excludes all other serious presidential candidates from participating in the debates.

    “This is what I call the Obstruction of Democratic Debate Rule, which sets an impossibly high threshold for third-party candidates… Where are we, Russia? Isn’t Vladimir Putin wiping out democracy in Russia by excluding all opposing candidates from the airwaves during his re-election campaigns? Most new ideas come from third parties — they should be in the debates.”

    (5.) All members of the studio audience must be certified as “soft” supporters of Bush and Kerry, under selection procedures they approve.

    “It’s not enough to rig the debate — they have to rig the audience, too? The contract reads: ‘The debate will take place before a live audience of between 100 and 150 persons who… describe themselves as likely voters who are soft Bush supporters or soft Kerry supporters.’ We should crash this charade and jump up in the middle to declare ourselves hard opponents of this Kabuki dance.”

    (4.) These “soft” audience members must “observe in silence.”

    “Soft and silent… In what I’m calling the Silence of the Lambs Clause of this absurd contract, the audience may not move, speak, gesture, cough or otherwise show that they are alive and thinking.”

    (3.) The “extended discussion” portion of the debate cannot exceed 30 seconds.

    “Other than the stupidity of the debate contract, what topic do you know that can be extendedly discussed in 30 seconds?”

    (2.) Important issues are locked out by the CPD debate rules and party control.

    “Really important but sticky or tough issues get axed, because the parties control the questions and topics,” Rice says. “For example, in 2000, Gore and Bush mentioned the following issues zero times: Child poverty, the drug war, homelessness, working-class families, NAFTA, prisons, corporate crime and corporate welfare.”

    (1.) Fortune 100 corporations are the main funders of the CPD-sponsored debates, and the CPD’s co-chairs are corporate lobbyists.

    The CPD is run by Frank Fahrenkopf, a pharmaceutical industry lobbyist, and Paul Kirk, a top gambling lobbyist,” Rice says. “And the biggest muliti-national corporations write the checks that fund the CPD — Phillip Morris, Anheuser-Busch and dozens more. The audience may have to be silent and motionless, but the corporate sponsors can have banners, beer tents, Budweiser girls handing out pamphlets protesting beer taxes — a corporate-sponsored circus to go along with the Kabuki Debates. Could we get a more fitting description of our democracy?”

    on the web:

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4052162

  14. we still don’t know how anti-Americanism will suddenly vanish as a strategic problem under a Democratic presidency.

    There’s a new magazine in town. Give it a look.

    Anti-am?ricanisme! crieront certains. Ils se trompent. Nous aimons l’Am?rique. Ses espaces fascinants, sa riche culture, son ?nergie in?puisable, son esprit d’entreprise. Europ?ens, nous nous reconnaissons des valeurs communes avec ce grand peuple.

    Though I haven’t had time to read it all (it came out just yesterday), it looks (to me) more anti-Bush than anti-American. Just as almost all European “anti-Americanism” is, in fact, anti-Bushism.

    So. As long as Kerry is not Bush-lite, and if Kerry wins in November, anti-Americanism “will suddenly vanish” in Europe some time in January 2005.

    And with it will vanish l’Empire. Which is why I’m going to wait a month before I decide whether to subscribe to it or not.

  15. Jason,

    Thirty-seven?!?!

    Er… what?

  16. Just for the non-French speakers among us:

    Anti-am?ricanisme! crieront certains. Ils se trompent. Nous aimons l’Am?rique. Ses espaces fascinants, sa riche culture, son ?nergie in?puisable, son esprit d’entreprise. Europ?ens, nous nous reconnaissons des valeurs communes avec ce grand peuple.

    roughly translates:

    Anti-Americanism! they scream. They are mistaken. We like America. Its fascinating spaces, rich culture, inexhaustible energy, business spirit. As Europeans, we recognize common values we share with this grand people.

  17. Patrick,

    Remember, the main character’s girlfriend sucked thirty-seven dicks? ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. I’m surprised that an anarchist would understand French. It’s got so many rules!

    Tcho, mek.

  19. I’m not the Antichrist!

  20. thirty-seven dicks

    Simultaneously?

    Dick Cheney, Dick Cabot, Dick van Dyke, Dick Burton…

    I’m not the Antichrist!

    Oh, sorry. I got you confused with Ruthless. It was the “R” which threw me.

  21. Clerks was sooo funny! I love when the girlfriend screws the dead guy. Kevin Smith is such a weirdo.

    I really hope anti-Americanism doesn’t disappear if Kerry wins. I really love to hate the French, as well as many other Europeans (and Canadians). But I don’t have to worry, anti-Americanism has a long history. It did not begin with Bush–it just got worse. It goes way, way back. Hell, one of the few reasons that I dislike Bush less than Kerry is that so much of the world hates him. It makes me feel for the guy. I mean, he’s so in over his head.

    Okay, maybe I’m the weirdo.

  22. Don’t forget Dick Armey and Dick Gephardt (a couple of serious dicks), and remember: Dick van Dyke counts as two!

  23. The beginning of the debate was heated. Did anyone else hope that they’d come to blows? I know it’s highly unlikely that such a thing could happen, but I would have paid good money to see that. Maybe I’m so cynical about government at this point in my life, that I’m being atavistic, but a good brawl between two guys fighting to be chieftain would have been satisfying to me.

  24. Bill,

    Them two pussies fighting would be more comical than anything else.

    But bring it on anyway! Better than the shit on Pay-Per-View.

    Specially if Bush just up and bit Kerry’s ear plum off!

    Hell YEAH!

  25. Dick van Dyke counts as two!

    Dykes are not famous for their dicks.

  26. Thanks for the enthusiasm, RandyAyn. Bush doing a Tyson would be priceless!

  27. we still don’t know how anti-Americanism will suddenly vanish as a strategic problem under a Democratic presidency.

    Whatever one’s political persuasion, anyone living abroad can tell you that anti-Americanism will certainly lessen once Bush is thrown out of the White House. Anti-Americanism has grown exponentially since Bush came into office, and since he launched that “crusade” against a country with a crappy army and a lot of oil (facts well noted here in Mexico).

    Mexicans, generally friendly towards Americans, now see us as potential enemies. After 9-11, Canadians claimed they were Americans, because they got better treatment. Since the Iraq invasion, Americans started claiming to be Canadians. Bush, and the Bushistas, have been a disaster for our prestige and reputation. I don’t think much of Kerry, but certainly hope he beats the crap out of that cokehead, pseudo-cowboy.

    My only half-joking theory is that Bush’s Florida victory was engineered by Fidel Castro. Latin American countries were turning towards pro-corporate, capitalist, pro-U.S. leaders until Bush came into office. Now the leadership is coming from the left (which I don’t see as all that bad, really). Bush — all by himself — has made “American business” suspect and any leader who associates himself with Bushismo is in trouble. Even Vincente Fox, here in Mexico (and from a party as close as you can get to the U.S. Republicans and still be a Mexican political party), has taken great care to distance himself from Bush.

    I’m not bothering to vote, first of all because I’m a Texas resident (and there is just no way my state’s electoral votes are going to be for anyone but Bush), and secondly, because both candidates are corporatists, with nothing to recommend them to Latin America. Still, Kerry’s election will improve relationships.

  28. Yeah, but with DvanD you get a real one and a strapon!

    Actually, no shit, did you know that Dick van Dyke’s real name is Dick van Doubledong? (Fucker’s Swedish)

    Seriously.

  29. 1) I actually did a google search, trusting you as I did. How embarrassing.

    B) The “van” would lead me to believe he’s Dutch, not Swedish.

    iii) There is no “iii”. I just wanted to do that.

    ?) I hope these last posts won’t be censored. imho, The level of debate here is far higher than what I’m hearing on the BBC right now.

  30. Mexile,

    You and so many others don’t get it. Bush is only partially responsible for the grief America is getting. The rest is the result of the MSM’s bias against Republicans and conservatives in general. (I can see this and I’m neither a Republican nor a conservative.) And I mean the MSM of the America, Europe, and the rest of the world. I can’t wait for 20 years to pass so that I can laugh in everyone’s faces. Iraqis will have freedom and a burgeoning society and all you fuckers wanted to keep them enslaved to Saddam. Call me a freak for thinking Arabs are as human as I am. Say I’m a dirty imperialist for thinking that freedom is for everyone, and that Iraq is a good place to start. Fuck the WMD and all the rest. I’m for killing all dictators; all leaders who oppress their people. If Mexico was run by a brutal dictator, you’d be screaming like a baby for the US to help them. But I suppose that you’re just a fucking racist bastard who hates Arabs.

    Now, I know that my statements above are full of opinion, invective, and fallacy, but hey, I want to start some shit.

  31. I’m for killing all dictators; all leaders who oppress their people.

    GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENT-ELECT: If this were a dictatorship, it’d be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I’m the dictator. CNN

  32. “We like America.”

    Yeah, well, anti-Americanism might magically disappear with a Kerry victory but I think anti-Frenchism has taken root pretty firmly over here by now.

  33. Mexile, I hate to disappoint you, but this isn’t cheguevara.com.

  34. Anti-Americanism will disappear because it never existed. What the world has is a bad case of Anti-Bushism, and a bushectomy will cure it.

  35. NB – L’Empire is not a French magazine. It’s Swiss.

  36. “I thought it a win for Kerry in a well-contested match, but I have developed a powerful and probably distorting allergy to Bush,…”

    Matt Welch, at least you know what your problem is! Do us a favor and stick to some other topics until the election. After that, you can either cry or gloat depending on the results:-)

  37. ‘Clerks’ sucked dick.

  38. I can’t wait for 20 years to pass so that I can laugh in everyone’s faces. Iraqis will have freedom and a burgeoning society and all you fuckers wanted to keep them enslaved to Saddam. Call me a freak for thinking Arabs are as human as I am.

    Shorter Bill: “I’m gonna give those Iraqi motherfuckers freedom if I have to bomb every last house in Iraq to do it!!”

    You’re a real humanitarian, Bill. Can’t say as I wanted Saddam Hussein — or any dictator — kept in power, but if I were living under a dictator, I wouldn’t consider shooting my mom, blowing up my office, destroying my apartment and making my city unliveable a particularly reasonable solution.

  39. Matt Welch,
    At least you can admit that your Bush hatred is emotional and not based on any rational reasons. But why should I read anything from someone who votes for the biggest proponent of government regulation in 2000, while collecting paychecks from a magazine that champions free markets. Had you been awake this morning to see Nader on CSPAN, you’d hopefully regret your 2000 vote or honorably resign from Reason.

  40. Seems like you could wad up all the substance of Bush’s answers and fit them comfortably between your cheek and gum. He just said the same things as usual, only louder. It was funny to catch the “clever” one liners no doubt thought up and rehearsed many times that he tried to wedge into places that didn’t necessarily fit because he REALLY wanted to use them – i.e. “you can run but you can’t hide.” – followed by a pleading look to the audience for laughs that didn’t come. You could almost see him thinking: “C’mon, that fits there. Doesn’t it??”.

    btw, I’m not a Kerry supporter, just appalled that a guy like Bush can actually get elected President of this great country.

  41. The problem here has been stated before; nothing will change. Kerry will not have much of a choice, he will have to continue Iraq. Now on everything else, what is he going to do? He does not seem to have hard answers. His hard core supporters seem to think he has some sort of magical powers that will erase eveything in 4 years. This guy is a load of shit. Bush is not much better, but at least will outline some specifics.
    I love how Kerry blames shit on Bush that he knows damn well is not linked to any president. Kerry is a moron, and Edwards is an ambulance chaser, niether will improve the country. And I cannot fathom looking at the man-tanned horse face for 4 years.
    Bush will win, he appeals to the working man in the midwest, he is infinitley more human and easier to understand than Kerry, who will not let you forget for a minute where he is from and what you owe him.

  42. John, You nailed it. Kerry has no problem having no convictions, because we OWE him the presidency. I fault the parents for raising such a self-centered bastard. If he was in it for country and not himself, he would at least occasionally hold a consistant position on an issue. He’s a walking contradiction, Iraq, tort reform, abortion, Isreal’s fence, you name it, he’s been on both sides of it.

  43. raymond,

    I used to listen to the BBC overnight too. Do they still have Judy Swallow? You know, her maiden name is actually Spit. Nah, I’m just kidding!

    Hey what the fuck happened while I was sleeping? We were getting into a really substantive debate about things that really mattered, like Bush biting Kerry’s ear off, or the etymology of Dick van Dyke. Then I get up and log back on and FUCK! These people are back to talking about the goddam election of all things!

    Shit people, listen: Come November 2nd, one of these privelege-addled hair-gel-secreting Silver Spoons is going to be our next president!

    Gaze square into the horror of that, and honestly tell me you’d wouldn’t rather be talking about Clerks or Dick van Dyke with a strapon.

  44. Bill,

    Yes, anti-Americanism has a long pedigree, as does your equally vile anti-Europeanism.

  45. Matt – The virus has spread to Portland. By the halfway point, my husband was mimicking Bush’s neck-thrusts and head-bobs and wishing it would all just stop. (Personally, I find Bush’s Alfred E. Newman, lip-licking stare more disconcerting.) Last night’s debate was an utter waste of everyone’s time; we learned nothing, the condidates were equally annoying and rhetorical, and there was none of the bloodsport of the previous two. The only slamdunk I’d call is Bush being constitutionally unable to admit he’s made even one mistake… and then Kerry’s fails to put it in the basket!

  46. Matt – The virus has spread to Portland. By the halfway point, my husband was mimicking Bush’s neck-thrusts and head-bobs and wishing it would all just stop. (Personally, I find Bush’s Alfred E. Newman, lip-licking stare more disconcerting.) Last night’s debate was an utter waste of everyone’s time; we learned nothing, the condidates were equally annoying and rhetorical, and there was none of the bloodsport of the previous two. The only slamdunk I’d call is Bush being constitutionally unable to admit he’s made even one mistake… and then Kerry’s fails to put it in the basket!

  47. “Yes, anti-Americanism has a long pedigree, as does your equally vile anti-Europeanism.”

    Jason,

    “Vile anti-europeanism” is an oxymoron. ๐Ÿ˜›

  48. Bush, speaking about the draft during last night’s debate:

    And therefore it’ll be more likely… we’ll be more likely to be able to keep people in an all-volunteer army

    Now it seems to me that those “more likely”s leave the door to a draft a bit ajar. It seems to me that they reveal the duplicity of the “there will never be a draft” part of Bush’s answer.

    Someone here once said: “If you think there could be a draft, you don’t know the American people.” Well, I’d like to say to him, “If you don’t think there could be a draft, you don’t know Bush, Rumsfeld, and Cheney.”

    Two other comments. At times, Bush’s left eye was twitching. But the camera very quickly cut away. And, was he wearing lifts in his shoes? He seemed taller than during the first debate.

    (Sorry, Randy, but the possibility of a draft is important to me.)

  49. I forgive you raymond.

    OK, let’s get it going: Possibility of a draft under Bush vs. Kerry.

    my 2 cents: we’re not going to have enough soldiers, just to do all the things we’ve already explicitly or implicitly committed to, so I think either one of them will have to reinstate. After, of course, the de-escalating verbiage to the contrary:

    “We will never reinstate the draft!”

    “We will do everything in our power to avoid having to reinstate the draft.”

    “We are still committed to avoiding reinstatement of the draft.”

    “Our intention is to view reinstatement of the draft as a last option.”

    “And therefore it’ll be more likely… we’ll be more likely to be able to keep people in an all-volunteer army”

    “Though reinstatement of the draft seems inevitable, we do not want to have to pursue that option.”

    “After cafeful consideration of the grave and growing danger to the country and our own lack of manpower to confront the menace, we have come to the conclusion that there is no other option, except to reinstate the draft.”

    “Leviathan Wants You!”

  50. I rewatched that debate on a late night replay on MSNBC. I payed close attention because I am stuck in a Holiday Inn in Spokane, WA.

    I would estimate that both Bush and Kerry missed the spirit of over half the questions, including the final question naming 3 mistakes you made and what you did to correct them. An excellent question to end the debates and all those yahoos could talk about was whether Iraq was a mistake. IMO, Bush is desparate, he quickly twisted his answer into defending the invasion of Iraq. I know what his defense is, I just want to know if ever made a mistake and what he did to correct it, thats all. Is he human or a guy who never owns up to responsibility? Bush’s answer opened the door for Kerry to continue pounding on Iraq. I was waiting for something more substantial from Kerry, such as he made the mistake of voting for the Patriot Act and when elected president, he will completely reform it or do away with it.

    This debate wasn’t a tie, both candidates lost!

  51. Do I wanna President who:

    1) Selects a political neophyte as a running mate whose ability to run the country would be highly questionable.

    2) Went off to fight a war, in his youth, complete with arrangements for a personal photographer to “document” what a brave soldier he was (or was planning to be!).

    3) Came back from the war and sought out high-visibility opportunities to slam it and the men that fought with him – laying the foundation for a political career that would begin in Doveland (Mass.) – hmmmm, seems a bit “calculating” right from the get go.

    4) Has a record over decades that he seeks to downplay.

    5) Seeks to re-cast himself for the present moment, and even switches positions with that moment (http://media1.streamtoyou.com/rnc/100104v1.wmv ).

    6) Minimizes the contributions of other nations to help this country fight in Iraq – calling their help, “window dressing.”

    7) Backs off his initial opposition to the Bush Tax Cuts across the board, re-casts what he “has always said” about just taxing those arrogant, rich old b*astards (many of whom have worked hard to achieve “the American Dream” – no doubt; not having had the privilege and wealth that Kerry grew up with). Sidethought: Has Kerry ever run a business? Has he ever had to meet payrolls?

    Do I want a President who’s more interested in America being “Respected in the World,” than in embracing the manner in which the world has changed permanently after 9/11/01?

    No, thank you.

  52. Bill:

    “Iraqis will have freedom”

    and

    “If Mexico was run by a brutal dictator, you’d be screaming like a baby for the US to help them”

    Bill, the problem wth your little theory is that Iraqis (or the majority of them anyway) are screeming for the US to get the fuck out of their country. Don’t flater yourself, the US isn’t in it for democracy or freedom for the Iraqis.

  53. Daar Fisher:

    I ratify your post in its entirety. Until the election is over I’ll be spending reduced time at this board. On domestic matters I usually concur with my fellow libertarians, but since my voting is now dictated by foreign policy concerns, I find too much from Reason writers to be disturbing, and even absurd. So, I’m hanging with hawk ‘tarians like Glenn Reynolds or Charles Johnson at LGF. Even a few straighforwardly conservative sites.

    Thank God the Aussies voted common sense, in an unexpected landslide. Now we in the U.S. must do the same on 11/2.

    Then I can return to agreeing with libertarians on drug policy, gay marriage & etc.

  54. I accidently clicked on Daar’s “flip flop” link, and this is what I heard there (and on the night)–>

    KERRY:?

    The president always has the right, and always has had the right, for preemptive strike.?That was a great doctrine throughout the Cold War.?And it was always one of the things we argued about with respect to arms control.

    No president, through all of American history, has ever ceded, and nor would I, the right to preempt in any way necessary to protect the United States of America.?

    But if and when you do it, Jim, you have to do it in a way that passes the test, that passes the global test where your countrymen, your people understand fully why you’re doing what you’re doing and you can prove to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons.

    Here we have our own secretary of state who has had to apologize to the world for the presentation he made to the United Nations.

    While I disagree with the first two paragraphs (I am a firm believer in non-violence), I’d like to direct your attention to the third.

    Why would anyone object to a president who wants his countrymen to “understand fully why you’re doing what you’re doing”? Is that evidence of wishy-washiness? Or does the true leader just lie to the people? Is that what you’re advocating? Would you really prefer a president who is not accountable and who does not truthfully inform the people? I’d really like to know.

    And what’s wrong with proving “to the world that you did (note the “did”. He’s not suggesting we get anyone’s permission) it for legitimate reasons”? Or does the true leader just do what he wants on the world stage, with no justification? Does the true leader just lie to his allies? Ought we to be surprised when people consider that arrogance?

    On domestic matters I usually concur with my fellow libertarians, but since my voting is now dictated by foreign policy concerns, I find too much from Reason writers to be disturbing, and even absurd.

    I hope you are being distrurbed by opinions with which you don’t agree. Just because you don’t agree with them doesn’t mean they’re absurd, though.

  55. Daar-

    Do I wanna President who:

    1) Is a political neophyte (governor of Texas? c’mon), who has demonstrated gross incompetence in running the country for 4 years.

    2) Used his daddy’s connections to avoid going off to fight a war in his youth, then reneged on his commitment to avoid fighting the war and instead pursued “youthful indiscretions”.

    3) Once the war and the drinking and drugging were over, “found” Jesus and began a staggering series of failed business ventures.

    4) Has a record of failed policy decisions over 4 years which he refuses to acknowledge or attempts to blame on others (his staff, his generals, Bill Clinton, terrah-ists).

    5) Is stubbornly and pridefully incapable of re-structuring his policies in light of new evidence or shifting circumstances (a trait shared by the captain of the Titanic, among others).

    6) Attempts to describe a disintegrating cabal of yes-countries as a “coalition” and minimizes the tremendous burdens and risks shouldered by U.S./British troops and taxpayers alone by repeatedly mentioning the contributions of Poland.

    7) Continues to pursue aggressive tax-cuts for those who need them the least, in the face of mounting evidence and shocking statistics demonstrating the economy’s hellbent path towards bankruptcy.

    Do I want a President who shamelessly continues to use the nation’s pain and anger over 9/11/01 as political capital, even as his policies increase the chances of another devastating attack?

    No, thank you.

  56. Daar:

    Do I wanna President who:

    1) Selects a political neophyte as a running mate whose ability to run the country would be highly questionable.

    Poppa Bush, Dan Quayle, nuff said.

    2) Went off to fight a war, in his youth, complete with arrangements for a personal photographer to “document” what a brave soldier he was (or was planning to be!).

    Draft Dodgers: Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, nuff said

    3) Came back from the war and sought out high-visibility opportunities to slam it and the men that fought with him – laying the foundation for a political career that would begin in Doveland (Mass.) – hmmmm, seems a bit “calculating” right from the get go.

    During a time when W can’t even remember what happened, he was so pickled on coke and booze.

    4) Has a record over decades that he seeks to downplay.

    Like Cheney.

    5) Seeks to re-cast himself for the present moment, and even switches positions with that moment (http://media1.streamtoyou.com/rnc/100104v1.wmv ).

    Like Bush hasn’t switched the reasons he lead us into war in Iraq! (You remember: 1) Imminent nuclear threat! 2) WMD stockpiles 3) Active WMD program 4) Coulda, mighta given info on WMD to terrorists! and oh yeah 5) Brutal Dictator! 6) CIA Puppet government gonna spread DEE MOCK RACY throughout the Middle East! Bullshit!

    6) Minimizes the contributions of other nations to help this country fight in Iraq – calling their help, “window dressing.”

    It was. And they’re mostly bailing out now.

    7) Backs off his initial opposition to the Bush Tax Cuts across the board, re-casts what he “has always said” about just taxing those arrogant, rich old b*astards (many of whom have worked hard to achieve “the American Dream” – no doubt; not having had the privilege and wealth that Kerry grew up with). Sidethought: Has Kerry ever run a business? Has he ever had to meet payrolls?

    Bush has increased discretionary spending at a pace which makes Bill Clinton look Amish. Fiscal conservatives are bailing on him big time, and their protest vote, combined with the bump in the voting rate for Dems will probably put that blowhard Kerry in there, despite what the polls say.

    These so-called “tax cuts” are nothing more than an expensive loan against a swelling Leviathan of debt. You’d be far better to go out and take a cash advance on one of your higher-interest credit cards.

    Do I want a President who’s more interested in America being “Respected in the World,” than in embracing the manner in which the world has changed permanently after 9/11/01?

    You want a President, not either one of these Privileged Pussies. Wake up. They’re both Bad News.

    No, thank you.

    Thanks.

  57. Max,
    Your ugly envy of successful people is evident with your comment about people who don’t “need” tax cuts. It is not your money, Max, it is theirs, they earned it and should be free to keep the same percentage of it as you get to. You damn Democrats need to keep your filthy hands off of the money that the intelligent people use to keep this economy rolling.

  58. Hank,

    Don’t you get it?

    Bush and Kerry are both reaching into your back pocket, taking your money out, and putting it back in with a bill for the interest.

    It’s pathetic that you see that as a benefit.

    If either Bush or Kerry respected successful people, then they would be honest about our situation, provide leadership to cut the goddam spending and actually let us keep what we earn.

    Bush needs to keep his filthy hands off my wallet just the same as Kerry.

  59. raymond,

    “I hope you are being distrurbed by opinions with which you don’t agree. Just because you don’t agree with them doesn’t mean they’re absurd, though.”

    A-Fucking-Men!

    Can I get the entire congregation to say Amen!

    Mona,

    Don’t let the door hit you on the ass as you exit. We’ll remember your sunny smile and your aversion to the absurd. Thanks for the memories!

  60. Randyayn,
    You just don’t understand. First of all, the idea that Bush is more into your wallet than any alternative president would be is just plain wrong.

    Second, you have apparently forgotton about the recession and the shrinking economy. Without the across the board tax cuts, the deficit was going to get worse. When companies can’t sell product, they can’t fund the government like before. The deficit is a spending problem, and I don’t excuse the GOP’s contribution to it, but do you really believe the Dems would control spending more?

  61. How about we compromise, and ease the tax burden on rich, intelligent, hard-working, job-producing people like (say) Bill Gates and Donald Trump; and tax the shit out of rich, unintelligent, hardly-working, unproductive people like (say) George W. Bush and John Kerry? Just sayin’.

  62. do you really believe the Dems would control spending more?

    Er, they did circa 1992-2000. If the House and Senate remain under Republican control, as seems likely, what’s the problem?

  63. Hank,

    So you’re looking for less “more into your wallet” than the other “more into your wallet?”

    Whew!

    And this is the guy who invented “Reardon Steel?”

    Hank, yes you are “excusing the GOP’s contibution” to this gargantuan deficit, by failing to realize that Bush is profligate. A drunken sailor looking for whores. Chargin ’em up on your Visa card, by the way.

    I’ll tell you straight: I look forward to a day where “they can’t fund the government like before.”

    But unlike you I realize that that day won’t come under Bush or Kerry.

  64. My favorite part of the debate was when Kerry pointed at the camera and pledged that he would not raise taxes for anyone making under $200,000 a year.

    My second favorite part of the debate was when Kerry said he was going to cut the deficit in half in four years.

    My third favorite part was his proposed trillions in spending.

    My final favorite part was how he kept insisting on giving a tax cut to the middle classes.

    So he’s going to give the bottom 99% a tax cut, the top 1% a tax raise (but only to pre-Bush levels), spend trillions, AND cut the deficit in half.

    WOWZA JOHN!

  65. RandyAyn,
    You must have missed the numerous articles in the NY Times suggesting that the real GOP plan was to put government in such a crunch that eventually some programs would have to be eliminated. I am usually suspect of anything I read in that rag, but this was a story I’d like to believe. Maybe we can agree about the lower funding issue, but I’m sure we differ in which programs we’d cut. Which non-defense spending would you like to see cancelled? the Dept. of Ed? Climate research? seniors drugs? Gotta cut something.

  66. Hank,

    “Starve Leviathan” they call it. Economy collapses, and Gawwwwwly that’ll make people take notice of that pesky gargantuan deficit!

    As if massive unemployment, inflation, and market collapse is a desirable position from which to begin to address our debt.

    It’s like me sitting in front of a dumpster trying to figure out how I can regain the house, car, furnishings, and other personal belongings I lost because I couldn’t pay my bills.

    I’m in a really good position to do that looking for not-so-stale hamburgers behind McDonald’s

    Whew!

  67. Market collapse and unemployment were what we were facing post Sept. 11. The doomsday you fear was quickly becoming a reality, BEFORE Bush acted to let us keep a little more of our money. America responded and I’d say we averted a disaster. The deficit is going to cost us, but at least we’re still alive, and employed to deal with it.

  68. “if you’re a mom and you’re pregnant and you get killed…”

    Bush was obviously told to use the second person for hypotheticals in order to sound more folksy and intimate, but a pregnant woman getting murdered is really more of a third person situation.

    Bush’s dumbest moment of the night was definitely when he explained without a trace of irony that he wants judges who allow “under god” in public sdhools because what matters is the Constitution and not personal opinion, and then followed up by taking a bold stand against the Dred Scott decision.

    I didn’t see the first debate but how much worse could Bush have been? Kerry had a couple of awkward answers but I didn’t think it was at all close. But I’m also not exactly an undecided voter.

  69. But Hank, that’s just it: “a little more of our money” is all either of these two goofy bastards are ever going to give us.

    Like I mug you, take your wallet, then toss you back a fiver, and your supposed to be grateful!

    But Bush is going to toss me back a Hamilton instead of a Lincoln! He’s the bestest mugger!

    Let me ask you this: “Why should we be allowed to keep just a little more of our money instead of “our goddam money?”

    When you were working 18-22 hour days, falling asleep at your desk, getting back up, slapping yourself to stay awake, forcing yourself to continue, doing it all over again month after month, because you had a dream for a new ultra-light super-strong metal, did you do all that just so you could keep “a little more of your money?”

    Did you?

  70. What I meant, mona, was that all the really interesting ideas disturb. They do not comfort.

  71. Eddie Beaulac,
    I didn’t see the debate; what are Kerry’s trillions in proposed spending?

    Hank Reardon,
    Oh c’mon… you’re trying to tell me that extra $300 a year I get has saved the economy from “disaster”? That’s like 1.5% of the taxes I pay every year. You know what I do with it? I stick it in the bank, rather that using it to *consume* as Bush wants. I don’t have any debt, but I imagine a lot of Americans who do (i.e. most people) use it to take a tiny chink out of their credit card debt. As soon as Bush (or Kerry???) makes meaningful spending cuts which will allow *meaningful* tax cuts, *then* I’ll be willing to believe the tax cuts will help the economy.

  72. RandyAyn, Maybe it’s the beer, but I’m starting to like the way you sound. Government’s problems aren’t really my problems, mostly the poor and the politicians will suffer when we stop collecting taxes. Sure, I may need to switch brands of caviar, but I’ll still be getting by.

  73. Patrick, If you’re paying $20,000 a year in taxes I can assure you you’re tax cut was more than $300. Why don’t you look at the history and stop spouting off with bullshit. Kennedy cut taxes, gov revenues went up, Reagan cut taxes, gov revenues went up, Bush cut taxes, economy responds with growth, you consficationists insist on ignoring history, and looking like embiciles while you do it.

  74. Hank,

    God, caviar’s yucky! How can you eat that stuff… But then again I like bleu cheese!

    I think it’s really only the politicians and bureaucrats that will suffer when we get rid of 80% of the federal bureaucracies, end the drug war, stop subsidizing corporations, farmers, lobbyists, et al.

    Imagine a world where you suddenly are paying a minimal national sales tax, maybe 6-7% of your income, instead of the nearly half share them bastards are intubating you for now. No cushy offices and vehicles for tax inspectors, because guess what! There’s nothing to inspect!

    Imagine we have completely ended once and for all this disastrous drug war which has cost so much of our productive potential, treasure and freedom!

    Think of the nascent hemp industry and the myriad small business ventures made possible by its widespread adoption as a source for fuel, fiber, food. Methanol cracking plants. Super paper that lasts a hundred years. Inexhaustible supply of protein and omega essential fatty acids. Complete replacement of the supertoxic cotton industry. No more paper-based dioxins in our streams.

    I’d put hundreds of poor people to work farming pot for legal consumption, and at an attractive wage! Then we’d process it and ship it to our cafes, where yet more previously poor people would prepare and serve it along with food, beverages, and perhaps a song or two.

    Imagine paying off your house, and having money to start whatever small business you prefer, without fear of losing all you have if it fails. Think of the sense of accomplishment you’ll feel when profits start rolling in, be it a metallurgical facility or home-based bumper sticker machine.

    You can do it! We can all do it. We’ve just got to get these leeches off our skin, and tell them we don’t want what they’re selling anymore.

    It’s coming, no doubt. The way we’re going now will force it to come.

    Help me make that happen sooner rather than later Hank.

  75. Hank Reardon,
    I can show you my paystubs if you want. After the tax cut I had an extra $14 every two weeks. Times 24 is $336 (so I exaggerated slightly).
    But I see where you’re coming from… “deficits don’t matter”, right? Your hero George W. Bush has socked us with a multi-trillion dollar drug plan, but it doesn’t matter as long as “revenues go up” — nowhere near up enough to pay for this, but who cares right now?

  76. RandyAyn, Maybe it’s the herb, but you’re sounding even better now. However, hemp, pot and all the other goodies that we can industrialize still won’t save us from the rampant spending if we can’t cut some programs. Sorry to sound a sober note in the midst of this warm body feeling, but we occasionally have to face semi-reality.

  77. Patrick, Didn’t you also receive a $300 check in addition to your bi-weekly adjustment? My family saved a couple of grand, and off of a smaller yearly tax bill.

    RandyAyn, I was kidding about the caviar, and I always choose blue cheese, there’s hope for us yet!

  78. Patrick, sorry, I think the $300 check was in 2002 or 2003, my bad.

  79. Hank,

    When we stop collecting taxes, and the govt defaults on its loans (ie savings bond and treasury bond redemptions, social security, etc) the entire US (and possibly global) economy will collapse.

    It’s easy to say, oh well, we’ll just refuse to pay off the debt, until you consider to whom the debt is owed — US citizens.

  80. Crimethink, Maybe we can pay off the loans first, then eliminate taxes, will we be ok then?

  81. Yes that will work, but if that’s your goal, “starving Leviathan” is going to make paying off the debt take A LOT longer.

  82. Well said, Hank.

    OK, here’s a few executive branch bureaucracies to stifle (in category, alphabetical order):

    Executive Agencies:

    Department of Agriculture (USDA) – Total elimination

    Department of Commerce – Privatize PTO, Bureau of Census, NTIS, eliminate everything else.

    Department of Education – Privatize NLE (National Library of Education), eliminate everything else.

    Department of Energy – Privatize Los Alamos National Laboratory, eliminate everything else.

    Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) – Privatize NIH (National Institutes of Health, NLM (National Library of Medicine, CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), eliminate everything else.

    Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – Privatize Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, move Federal Law Enforcement Training Center to Department of Justice, keep everything else, but refocus that agency on immediate primary threats like al Qaeda and other forms of in-country terrorism

    Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)- Privatize Ginnie Mae, Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control, transfer authority over Public and Indian Housing Agencies to local tribal leaders, eliminate everything else.

    Department of the Interior (DOI) – Privatize Minerals Management Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Reclamation, transfer control over Fish and Wildlife Service as well as Geological Survey to universities and non-governmental organizations. Eliminate everything else.

    Department of Justice (DOJ) – Eliminate ATF, DEA, radically reorganize FBI, Privatize Federal Bureau of Prisons, Office of Justice Programs, move United States Marshals Service to DHS

    Department of Labor (DOL)- Privatize Bureau of Labor statistics, eliminate everything else.

    Department of State (DOS) – Privatize Department of State Library, analyze current staffing levels for efficiencies.

    Department of Transportation (DOT) – Privatize FAA, National Transportation Library, eliminate Bureau of Transportation Stastics.

    Department of the Treasury – Eliminate Alcohol and TObacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), eliminate Executive Office for Asset Forteiture, eliminate Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, eliminate IRS, Privatize the rest after careful reevaluation.

    Department of Veteran Affairs – eliminate, and use savings to partially fund better hospitals for those members of the armed services who have given of their health and well-being in service to our country.

    Independent Agencies To Kill or Privatize (P – Privatize, otherwise kill):

    Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP)
    American Battle Monuments Commission
    Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC)
    Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)
    Corporation for National Service
    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
    Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
    Farm Credit Administration (FCA)
    Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
    Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) (P)
    Federal Election Commission (FEC)
    Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)
    Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA)
    Federal Maritime Commission
    Federal Reserve System, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (P)
    Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board (FRTIB)
    Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
    General Services Administration (GSA) (P)
    Federal Consumer Information Center (Pueblo, CO)
    Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)
    International Boundary and Water Commission
    International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB)
    Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB)
    National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) (P)
    National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) (P)
    National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC)
    National Commission on Libraries and Information Science (NCLIS) (P)
    National Council on Disability
    National Credit Union Administration (NCUA)
    National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)
    National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)
    National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC)
    National Mediation Board (NMB)
    National Railroad Passenger Corporation (AMTRAK)
    National Science Foundation (NSF) (P, combine with NASA)
    National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)
    Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) (P)
    US Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board (NWTRB) (P)
    Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
    Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO)
    Office of Personnel Management (OPM)
    Office of Special Counsel (OSC)
    Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC)
    Peace Corps
    Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation
    Postal Rate Commission
    Railroad Retirement Board (RRB)
    Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
    Selective Service System (SSS)
    Small Business Administration (SBA)
    Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)
    Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)
    United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
    United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA)
    United States International Trade Commission (USITC)
    Dataweb (Import/export data) (P)
    United States Office of Government Ethics (OGE).
    United States Postal Service (USPS) (P)
    United States Trade and Development Agency
    Voice of America (VOA)

    Quasi-Official Agencies to Privatize:

    Smithsonian Institution (SI)

    Independent Agencies to Radically Reform:

    Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
    Social Security Administration (SSA) (P after extensive reevaluation)

    and that’s just the Executive Branch!

  83. It’s easy to say, oh well, we’ll just refuse to pay off the debt, until you consider to whom the debt is owed — US citizen.

    Not quite. You might find these few sentences from The Economist enlightening:

    China’s foreign-exchange reserves have more than doubled since early 2002 to over $480 billion, most of it in American government securities.

    …The Chinese government invests a large chunk of its export earnings in Treasury bonds, helping to finance America’s current-account deficit. This keeps American interest rates low and so supports consumer spending. In essence, China is buying dollar assets to ensure that Americans can afford to keep buying its exports. The return on Treasury bonds is lower than the returns at home in China, but… the Chinese government is prepared to pay that price to ensure export-led growth.

    In 2003 China and the rest of Asia financed over half of America’s budget- and current-account deficits.

    …America’s current-account deficit reflects insufficient saving by households and an excessive budget deficit.

    …Asia’s buying of Treasury bonds, with little regard for risk and return, is keeping yields artificially low, which makes pruning the budget seem less urgent. At the same time low interest rates prolong America’s unhealthy consumer spending and borrowing binge. (Economist, October 2, 2004)

    Of course, it’s not only Asian countries which hold Treasury bonds. Lots of European countries (and pension funds, I suppose) do, too.

    But what I think is particularly interesting about this state of affairs is that it is not Bush who should take credit for the present lack-of-recession in the US, but rather the Chinese. In other words, every time Bush opens his mouth on his economic successes, he’s lying.

    It looks pretty obvious to me that outsourcing is with us (ie, you) to stay, no matter who wins in November. Any reduction in outsourcing will be cosmetic and will hit poorer economies, not China. Who pays the piper calls the tune.

    China has no incentive, really, to ameliorate its human-rights practices. Americans will continue to buy buy buy with no regard for political prisoners, slave labour, etc. Why would China change what works for her?

    And finally and on a slightly different subject – and this really struck me, for some reason – the price of scrap metal is rising dramatically because of increasing Chinese demand. (I heard that from Dan Rather last week.) (It’s not only oil that they’re sucking up.)

    I seem to recall having learned that one of the causes of Japan’s going to war against the US was Roosevelt’s embargo on scrap metal and oil.

    Nothing is simple. (Except Bush.)

  84. The Railroad Retirement Board? are you kidding? How could we possibly continue to exist without it?

  85. RandyAyn
    Preach on brother! A national sales tax of 6 to 7%. Cool.
    Eliminate the drug war, the IRS, Corporate Welfare, Pork Barrel stuff, Welfare, the DEA, part of the FBI, and some other stuff that I haven’t thought of.

    All that money would go back into the economy and make everyone’s earning potential rise. So the Economy would be significantly stronger.

    But we have a faily expensive military. About a trillion a year I think. Would we be able to continue to afford it?

    I really don’t want the French to be the Superpower.

  86. Damn, I forgot Satans helper the ATF.

    OK while writing my post RandyAyn posted the complete list. Or a good list.

    I typed my last post as a response to the caviar and blue cheeses post

  87. Now, I know you and Dagny are partial to the railroads Hank, but…

  88. My feelings for Dagny aside, I’m against passenger trains. Airplanes can go any of 360 degrees of direction after taking off, trains only go where the politicians tell you to go.

  89. Yeah, and you know, I could’ve either privatized or eliminated Amtrak, so I just eliminated it.

    Kind of like feng shui in your home. If you can’t think of any use you’d have for a cluttering item, pitch it!

    Of course we’ve already laid all the track for it, so let’s throw it to the market, see how it fares. If it survives, somebody will be making money off it, if not then it’s just another bullshit subsidy going bye-bye. See ya!

  90. kwais,

    Where did you hear the figure of 1 trillion? The last thing I saw was the 1040 instruction booklet with the following numbers for FY2002 (Oct. 2001-Sep. 2002):

    38% for Social Security, medicare, and other retirement benefits.
    21% for social programs, e.g. Medicaid, food stamps, health research and public health programs, etc.
    20% for national defense, veterans, and foreign affairs.
    10% for physical, human, and community development.
    8% for interest payments on the debt.
    3% for law enforcement and general government.

    About 3% of the 20% of the national defense and foreign affairs spending went to veterans affairs, foreign aid, and embassy maintenance, leaving about 17% to equip, modernize, and pay our armed forces, and to fund other national defense activities. Outlays that year amounted to about 2.1 trillion, which means the defense budget was about 360 billion. If that is correct, then the national government leeching 4% of the national economy (instead of the approximately 20% it now does) should more than pay for the military. Also, if the stories are still true about $350.00 hammers, there might be a way to cut the costs somewhat without reducing effectiveness. I remember the story of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, and what a boondoggle that is/was.

    Granted, I don’t know how much to trust the IRS on this figure, but I really don’t want to actually look at the budget produced by Congress.

  91. I don’t really know where I got the trillion dollar figure. I think it might have been a liberal talk show. I know I have heard it more than once. From the same show I heard that the military was until recently more than half of all spending by the Govt.

    So I guess I was misinformed. I will have to research the matter more.

    I don’t know the full story of the 350$ hammer. I do know the military does end up spending more for some stuff than I think they should be worth. Some of that has to do with the fact that the military wants stuff that is unique, some of it has to do with the fact that there is some idiot that gives specifications that really don’t matter, that make the item more expensive, yet not work any better.

    Also the pentagon must account for spending, yet there are many endeavors that can’t be publicized. So someone has to write up an accounting thing for programs that can’t be known. Mostly they are more creative than a $350 dollar hammer though.

  92. raymond writes: “I seem to recall having learned that one of the causes of Japan’s going to war against the US was Roosevelt’s embargo on scrap metal and oil.”

    Let us say, arguendo, that this is true. That justified the killing at Pearl Harbor?

  93. Let us say, arguendo, that this is true. That justified the killing at Pearl Harbor?

    WHAT?

    What the heck are you talking about???

    My point is: Countries go to war over (have gone to war over) scrap metal. My larger point is; The economic situation today is far more complicated than “tax cut”. Far more complicated, and potentially dangerous.

    “Justified killing”??? ME???? Somebody who thinks that the right to Life is unalienable???

    I’m taken aback. Seriously.

  94. kwais,

    My father also threw out that “half of government spending is military” line several years ago, so I’m pretty sure that belief is pretty widely held, especially in liberal circles. I hope your research on the matter turns up better information. I also hope you inform us if you find anything interesting. Thanks for your time.

  95. RandyAyn

    Excellent list. I’d only disagree on one point and that’s on privatizing prisons. If we should have learned anything from the false “privatisations” that occurred thru the 80s and 90s it’s how much potential for corruption or just plain bad policy there is. Think of the “prison-industrial complex” that has developed in the states and how it has led to ever more crimilizing of non-criminal behavior. Besides, with the end of the Drug War and the end of Federal usurpation of the Criminal Code the Bureau of Prisons would become a tiny agency. I mean, how many traitors, counterfeiters and military offenders can we have at any given time. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I consider the prison system to be a legitimate govt function. Now as to whether certain functions can be contracted out to lower costs is another question. The whole issue of how criminals should be treated is another question and has been for a couple of centuries now.

    As for $350 hammers, they exist for the same reason as $50 bandages in hospital bills. Contracts require that certain fixed and variable costs are distibuted to each item in the contract according in ways that are not related in any way to the actual cost of the item.

  96. I’m voting for Johnny Knoxville. Jackass for president!

  97. Isaac,

    I understand what you’re saying with regards to prison privatization.

    My original thought was that once the vice “crimes” were eliminated we’d have so few federal prisoners that we could farm out major chunks of the general services, infrastructure, and operations to private contractors, subject to stringent public and congressional oversight.

    Completely transparent operations will then be necessary, with all areas monitored, all interactions between inmates and guards recorded and reviewed to ensure no abuses are taking place. Inmate-on-inmate physical and sexual violence must lead to quarrantining of the offending individual so as to create a nonviolent, non-threatening environment, which is our duty under the Constitution to those whom we incarcerate.

    There is massive and widespread abuse and mistreatment of prisoners in our prisons today, a situation which is both Constitutionally and morally abhorrent. The Constitution calls solely for deprivation of liberty, a very severe penalty, as punishment for crimes. Not what amounts to torture and terrorization of many inmates today.

    I think a far-ranging and careful debate about our prison system is long overdue.

  98. I think a far-ranging and careful debate about our prison system is long overdue.

    I agree wholeheartedly. And I think the debate should include the question of whether the state has the valid power to _punish_.

    ——–

    mona

    ps –

    Let us say, arguendo, that this is true.

    I have done a google search, and this BBC page seems to me a site acceptable for citing. (One has to be careful when choosing one’s sources. There is so much garbage on the Net. Things pretending to be other things. “Tax Cuts – A Simple Lesson In Economics”, attributed to a real live economist, for example. / People are so gullible. Which is why libertarianism will never work. / At least you didn’t accept my surmising as fact.)

  99. Why do so few people appreciate the Bush Doctrine? Why does the Bush administation fail to make the point that leadership began after the obvious 9/11 response. The starkest difference between Kerry and Bush is this Doctrine…good article on this on http://www.LogicTimes.com. Leadership – using the transforming power of liberty to expose the lie of fascist Islam – begins in Iraq.

  100. As you may all be aware, there is a flap about what was under Bush’s jacket. In some British newspapers and on some British news programmes, that it’s some sort of “helping device” is accepted as fact.

    In _my_ opinion it’s a remote-control receiver – like the kind you find on those toy cars. Probably a BlueTooth device.

    Dan: Leadership – using the transforming power of liberty to expose the lie of fascist Islam – begins in Iraq.

    Just curious (so I know how seriously to take you)… Do you believe that Islam is by its nature “fascist”, or that there is a _strain_ of Islam which is?

    Do you feel confident that the present events in Iraq are evidence of “the transforming power of liberty”?

    If you do, do you consider death to be the ultimate liberation from suffering? Are you a Buddhist?

  101. “The Railroad Retirement Board? are you kidding? How could we possibly continue to exist without it?”

    Hank, Railroad Retirement is the railroad industry’s Social Security. We don’t pay into SS at all, it all goes into railroad retirement.

  102. If anyone but Bush means Kerry, I’m not buying just yet. He’s a disgrace as a viable candidate and the Democrats shouldn’t be rewarded for stupidity.

  103. May I inject the word ‘penis’ into this debate?

  104. raymond
    “China has no incentive, really, to ameliorate its human-rights practices. Americans will continue to buy buy buy with no regard for political prisoners, slave labour, etc. Why would China change what works for her?”

    This reminds me of a clip I saw on pbs the other day. Gary Nolan was touring campuses before the LNC. In one stop he was asked what the Libertarian Party would do about human rights abuses in China. (paraphrasing) “Nothing, if you want to do something buy a rifle and a plane ticket.” What can be done? Economic sanctions only hurt the same people that beg your empathy. The question is what have you done, raymond?

  105. Steven Crane,
    Since ya’ll rise up early in the morning and work all the live-long day, I guess it is ok to have a executive branch office to make sure your pension isn’t squandered, unlike the rest of us.

  106. Not my fault, yo… RRB predates Social Security by many years.

    It also takes more out of the paycheck than Social Security.

  107. Economic sanctions only hurt the same people that beg your empathy.

    Whether I feel anything for people whose fundamental rights are violated is irrelevant.

    If we sit by while this goes on, if we accept it, any argument we make in favour of our own rights as fundamental and universal is hollow. And if we _benefit_ from this violation, we become accomplices in it.

    Every time I buy something, I’m making a political statement. If I buy goods I know are made by slave labour (because they’re cheaper, for example), I am sanctioning and strengthening slavery with my own labour.

    What can be done?

    Nowadays it’s almost impossible to know where every part of something has been made and under what conditions. A computer which is “made in Ireland” probably has parts which have passed through and been worked on in 20 different countries.

    I am opposed to government economic sanctions except as an act of war (meaning, self-defense). I do think that informing the people of human-rights violations and commercial implications is a valid job for a government. (Which is one reason I’m so angry with the Bush administration. They have made anything they say about human rights sound hypocritical.)

    So what can be done? I suppose we can refuse to buy goods with a “made in China” label. I suppose we can work for Amnesty International. (The Chinese government seems very concerned not to lose face.) I suppose we can demand that our own governments speak loudly and clearly and… not hypocritically.

    The question is what have you done

    I don’t think that’s an appropriate question to answer here.

  108. “I think a far-ranging and careful debate about our prison system is long overdue.”

    Indeed.

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