Democratic Party

Mike Gravel, Reasonoid

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The New Hampshire Democratic Party was kind enough to let me cover some of their Midterm Convention, which the Union Leader's Gerry Raynor recaps here. Quick impressions:

– Hillary Clinton's money has been spent on hiring approximately 10,000 athletic, purposeful-looking college students (or recent grads) and training them in the ways of handing out merch. Are you feeling a little warm? Here comes a Hillary volunteer with a Hillary Fan. Do you want a Hillary sign? Here comes a small army of volunteers criss-crossing the auditorium to hand you one, so numerous they block out the sun fluorescent lights.

– (Frontrunning) U.S. Senate candidate Katrina Swett's slogan is—seriously—"Make Your Senator Swett." Raise your hand if you've ever wanted to watch a senator sweat.

– The Swett slogan makes more sense when you realize how the NH Dems are gunning for Sen. John Sununu. Most speakers (including Joe Biden and both Democratic congresspeople) made a reference to Sununu's impending defeat. Current and once-removed party chairs Ray Buckley and Kathy Sullivan tried to convince me that Sununu doesn't deserve libertarian votes (Buckley minimized his impact on the 2005-2006 PATRIOT Act revisions) and that he won his seat via dirty tricks, in the form of Republican phone jamming attacks on Democratic phone banks. At the same time, Sullivan didn't seem confident that the current Democratic candidates could beat Sununu, and is urging former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen to seek a rematch.

– When Sen. Mike Gravel heard what magazine I was from, here's how he responded:

I knew Gravel supports a consumption tax, but I blurted out "flat tax." This "ambushing candidates with a video camera" business is harder than it looks. But the response was worth it this time. Answering me, Gravel grabbed my arm to make it absolutely clear what he thinks of the flat tax.

By the way, all the videos I tape and upload will be available on this YouTube channel.

NEXT: Liveblogging Tomorrow's Debate

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  1. I’m always happy to listen to a Senator tell me how he’s going to abolish the IRS. Unfortunately I don’t think the Fair Tax is practical. I like his ‘get the fuck out now’ position on Iraq. And wouldn’t at all mind seeing term limits return to the national debate (oh happy times, when we can afford to squabble over term limits).

    But then there’s health care. The Senator’s embracing of single payer can elicit only one response from a Reason reader: Oh dear sweet Zeus, NO! Not just no, FUCK NO! Go back to the Arctic Circle Senator.

    Which makes one wonder, has he ever actually read Reason? Or is he just blowing sunshine up our skirt?

  2. Abolishing the IRS makes for nice rhetoric, but who does he think will collect a national sales tax?

  3. It sounded to me like he said, “I’m for the fair, green tax.”

    Google saith: “Green Tax policy is basically to ‘Tax Bads, Not Goods’. In other words, tax activities that harm the environment, and use the revenue to create incentives for activities that help the environment.” (from Vt Business for Social Responsibility site)

    I don’t like the sound of that. No sir.

  4. It doesn’t help the Fair tax when supposedly educated writers keep confusing it with the flat tax.

    A sales tax can be collected by the states. But I would keep the IRS to terrorize those that would cheat the system.

  5. Fair Tax will be even worse than the income tax in terms of using tax collection for social engineering if exceptions to the normal rate are commonplace. Our masters in Washington will charge us for every decision we make based on how moral they think it. Bibles will be tax free, porn will be marked up 300%, but porn printed on recycled paper will only be twice as expensive.

    I never understand why the flat tax is billed as simpler — if you aren’t a seasonal worker or something, I would think the majority of complexity comes from all the rules about how you calculate your taxable income, not the rather simple formula for how much tax you pay on that income.

  6. As complex as a national sales tax may get, you at least wouldn’t need to spend a few days every spring figuring out how much you have to pay.

  7. Warty,
    It would be worse. There would be nothing to stop Congress from complicating a sales tax every bit as much as the income tax is now. I doubt it would take more than five years for the thing to reach 10,000 pages. perilisk’s musings are right on point. What this means is you would have to spend a several hours each week calculating how to make purchases for tax considerations.

    Many businessmen are claiming this is already the case in the corporate world. That more money is spent on tax and regulatory considerations over every proposed project than on everything else. In other words, “Does this make sense from a tax perspective?” is of greater importance than “Does this make sense from a return on investment perspective?”

  8. Which makes one wonder, has he ever actually read Reason? Or is he just blowing sunshine up our skirt?

    There’s more to Reason than one single policy position that doesn’t even get covered more than a few times a year. The political coverage alone makes it worthwhile for a whole range of opinions.

    Besides, even if it made arguments against single-payer insurance on every other page, some people don’t like living in an echo chamber.

  9. So, does a mere subscription make you a Reasonoid?

  10. If you’re going to make Swett jokes, you might as well go all the way and mention that her husband is named Dick. Seriously. And he ran for Senate with that name.

  11. perilisk: Well put. Once you’ve made the decision to tax income, you’re already demanding a definition of “income”; and besides, by focusing the state on income, the state is going to ponder on “how much is too much” and “how it was earned”.

    I don’t think the Feds are the people to make this decision.

    How about this: a federal poll tax, with the states in charge of collection. Once the state of Texas (say) is told how much it owes to the Feds, then it’s up to Texas to come up with the money. Texas could, if it wanted, continue with its sales tax and send the required cash to DC. Contrariwise California could raise it through property and income taxes and then… send the cash to DC.

  12. Grotius | June 3, 2007, 11:09am | #
    So, does a mere subscription make you a Reasonoid?

    I dont think so. I read a number of magazines that I might not share the (stated or unstated) “editorial opinion” of. But getting different POVs is always useful.

    I think it’s funny how direct-to-consumer junkmail targeting uses things like magazine subscriptions to ‘psychographically profile’ potential consumers. Because of my reading list, I get the strangest mix of political junkmail. I think in one day I got something from the Marijuana Policy Alliance (?? how did they know!??! – the movies in my netflix queue?) the National Parents’ Resource Institute for Drug Education (anti-drug)… also, a ‘survivalist’ (read: gun nut) catalogue, and the carlos casteneda foundation… (hippy communitarians?)…

    I sometimes kind of want to call Axciom (DTC data provider) and actually buy my own profile from them to figure out what the fuck is going on.

  13. First, if I were a candidate, I’d probably say “Oh, I love your magazine!” to just about any reporter.

    But, assuming he is sincere, I think we need to invite Mike Gravel to the next Hit and Run gathering.

    Face it, that would be one fun gathering!

  14. David, seriously, are you really THAT new to politics that you think that the Hillary is uniquely putting together what everyone in the biz knows as a “field program?”

    Every single major candidate with more than a million in the bank will have exactly the same sort of program in each of the major states: hiring cheap labor to canvass, phone call, and push lawn signs.

  15. What’s this discussion about a fair tax? Are fairs currently tax exempt? If so, the state fair and county fair organizations must have a pretty effective lobby.

  16. Many businessmen are claiming this is already the case in the corporate world. That more money is spent on tax and regulatory considerations over every proposed project than on everything else. In other words, “Does this make sense from a tax perspective?” is of greater importance than “Does this make sense from a return on investment perspective?”

    I think there’s a lot of truth to this.

  17. He must not have read your coverage of the first Dem debate where you said you could hear his brain rattling around inside his head.

    Keep on speaking truth to power, Weigel!

  18. The first thing to do about taxes is repeal the 16th amendment. Originally federal taxes were paid by each state. How they came up with their share was their business. The 16th made individual taxes possible.

  19. There would be nothing to stop Congress from complicating a sales tax every bit as much as the income tax is now.

    Bingo. Here in Texas, as in most states, only a computer can keep track of what is and isn’t taxed. And what size containers of many items are and are not taxed. You also need one to figure out what rate to charge depending on which city you’re selling something in. And then there’s the annual “Tax Free Weekend” where going back to school items are exempt. Only the list of things you need for school changes every year, and you don’t have to be going to school to take advantage of it. And… Oh, you get the idea.

    I doubt it would take more than five years for the thing to reach 10,000 pages.

    Five years? You’re a raging optimist. I doubt Congress can write a tax bill in less than 10,000 pages.

  20. Swett…her husband is named Dick….And he ran for Senate with that name.

    Yeah, and Hillary ran with her name: Clinton. And won.

    This has nothing to do with anything. Just passing through. Carry on.

  21. Anyone else looking forward to Lil Bush on comedy central?

    I watched the pilots on the internet. Here’s two examples of the high comedy you can expect…

    -Lil Bush eats a brownie, then points to it and says “You’re doin a heck of a job, brownie”

    -Lil Bush’s father tries to give him advice and he says “I don’t need to listen to you, I listen to a higher father”

    And so on. The producers are so brave, I hope they don’t get sent to Gitmo.

  22. we used to have a state representative (to the state house of reps) named Dick Locke.

    They’d make a great unity ticket: Dick Swett and Dick Locke in ’08!

  23. Chalupa-

    Do you (or anyone else) know whatever happened to “Thats My Bush”? Did 9/11 kick it off the air or what?

  24. The show was only intended to run for one season; production costs to do that type of sitcom (laugh-track, on stage, multiple actors etc.) is really expensive for a cable network.

  25. I watched the pilots on the internet. Here’s two examples of the high comedy you can expect…

    -Lil Bush eats a brownie, then points to it and says “You’re doin a heck of a job, brownie”

    -Lil Bush’s father tries to give him advice and he says “I don’t need to listen to you, I listen to a higher father”

    And so on. The producers are so brave, I hope they don’t get sent to Gitmo.
    Are you using sarcasm? Because those jokes aren’t that great.
    I also am annoyed that Jeb is being protrayed as mentally retarded…it doesn’t show a lot of insight on the writer’s part.

  26. So does a lack of an endorsment from Reason mean that Gravel is going to threaten to cancel his subscription?

  27. Is the girl in the picture Thompson’s wife, because if she is…holy shit.

    http://bp1.blogger.com/_VUnrehGQOGU/Rl4I_2-umFI/AAAAAAAAAPw/ZMht6ZN6okA/s1600-h/thompson.jpg

  28. David, seriously, are you really THAT new to politics that you think that the Hillary is uniquely putting together what everyone in the biz knows as a “field program?”

    Of course not. It’s just that Hillary’s is by far the biggest and most well-appointed in New Hampshire. At the site of the debate tonight Hillary staffers buzzed around in golf carts while everyone else trudged across the Saint Anselm campus. Yesterday the Hillary volunteers had identical Home Depot-brand utility belts to carry all of their buttons and swag.

    Keep on speaking truth to power, Weigel!
    I detect sarcasm. Honestly, what would be the point of nailing down Gravel and asking “Are you crazy?” When I approached him he said how was a reason reader and liked Nick Gillespie (this was right before I snapped the camera on), so I wanted to follow that up.

  29. I like the idea of a President who’s already beat a Federal felony indictment No. 71-1026, United States v. Gravel

    Stemming from his reading the Pentagon papers into the congressional record, held protected under the Speech and Debate clause.

  30. So; is Gravel the most libertarian of this lot? He did say that Reason is “a good-no great magazine”. I’m just kinda cautious cuz one time I was talking with former Denver liberal Democrat congressperson, Pat Schroeder, and she said that she recognized my voice from talk radio and that she always enjoyed my commentary. I told her that I appreciate but that it quite surprised me cuz I’m a libertarian Republican and that there just wasn’t much at all on which we agree. She said “Why no, you’re really wonderful”. Politicians are such masterful schmoozer/bs artists.

  31. “This “ambushing candidates with a video camera” business is harder than it looks. But the response was worth it this time.”

    If Weigel fills the void left by Stuttering John Melendez, I’ll become a huge fan overnight.

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