The SanityPrompt

This blog represents some small and occasional efforts to add a note of sanity to discussions of politics and policy. This blog best viewed with Internet Explorer @ 1024x768

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Yet Another Example of What Is Wrong with Progressives & Liberals

Bloomberg's Word Choice Still Under Fire - Yahoo! News:

"NEW YORK - Four days after the city's transit strike ended, Mayor Michael Bloomberg was still coming under fire for his use of the word 'thuggishly' to describe the actions of the leaders of a union that is mostly minority.

'Michael Bloomberg, don't be nasty and mean,' attorney Norman Siegel said Monday, standing on the steps of City Hall. 'Be positive. Together, we can improve race relations in New York.'

The civil rights attorney noted that more than 70 percent of the Transport Workers Union's 33,000 members are "of color." And while he didn't believe Bloomberg's use of the word was in itself racist, Siegel said, "The perception out there is that it is racist. And the reaction has enormous racial overtones."

Bloomberg used the word Dec. 20 during a briefing on the first day of the three-day strike that forced millions of riders to spend extra hours commuting. The mayor complained that union leaders had "thuggishly turned their backs on New York City and disgraced the noble concept of public service."

Some criticized him for using the word, saying it was racist in the context of a mostly minority union. A Bloomberg spokesman said it was wrong to bring race into the situation."

It's not only wrong but it's misdirected. In typical fashion liberals make the issue one of race when this is really about economics and economic power and race is just incidental. It is not that race and thug are often paired which should concern liberals but that union and thuggish are often paired. This is the stereotype that Bloomberg was playing to. And this stereotype does more to weaken the interests of working people than do racial allusions. If they cannot organize for their economic advancement and employ one of the few tools available to them to exert some kind of economic influence, their ability to extract fair value from their labor is dimished. While liberals play into the hands of economic power by agreeing that the essential conlicts in society are between races, they prevent any kind of alliance across racial lines within a progressive labor movement that might promote the interests of working people everywhere.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Immigration Boogeyman

Democrats are awaiting the Republican's Rovian divisive pitch in 2006 with all the uncertainty of a batter in the box facing Mariano Rivera. You know they only know how to throw one pitch and by now it's clear that the Right will be targeting immigration. The first hints were there in the Colorado campaign over C&D when opponent Caldara trotted out, three weeks out from Election Day, when things looked bleak, the weak line that cutting benefits for immigrants could save more money than C would raise. In 2006 the Right will have an anti-immigrant initiative on the ballot. And while Bush is tacking left with his guest worker program, he has left room to tack right should he need to and start bashing illegal immigrants. Peggy Noonan recently raised the colors of the flag in a WSJ opinion piece so shot through with holes and shoddy intellectual parsings it would simply be an embarrassment if not for the potency of her anti-elitist rhetoric.

WSJ - OpinionJournal - Peggy Noonan

Here is what is true of my immigrants and of the immigrants of America's past:

They fought for citizenship. They earned it. They waited in line. They passed the tests. They had to get permission to come. They got money that was hard-earned and bought a ticket. They had to get through Ellis Island or the port of Boston or Philadelphia, get questioned and eyeballed by a bureaucrat with a badge, and get the nod to take their first step on American soil. Then they had to find the A&S.

They knew citizenship was not something cheaply held but something bestowed by a great nation.

Did the fact that they had to earn it make joining America even more precious?

Yes. Of course.

We all know it is so often so different now. Perhaps a million illegal immigrants come into the United States each year, joining the 10 million or 20 million already here--nobody seems to know the number. Our borders are less borders than lines you cross if you want to. When you watch videotape of some of the illegal border crossings on a show like Lou Dobbs's--who is not a senator or congressman but a media star and probably the premier anti-illegal-immigration voice in the country--what you absorb is a sense of anarchy, an utter collapse of authority.

It's not good. It does not bode well.

The questions I bring to the subject are not about the flow of capital, the imminence of globalism, or the implications of uncontrolled immigration on the size and cost of the welfare state. They just have to do with what it is to be human.

What does it mean that your first act on entering a country--your first act on that soil--is the breaking of that country's laws? What does it suggest to you when that country does nothing about your lawbreaking because it cannot, or chooses not to? What does that tell you? Will that make you a better future citizen, or worse? More respecting of the rule of law in your new home, or less?

If you assume or come to believe that that nation will not enforce its own laws for reasons that are essentially cynical, that have to do with the needs of big business or the needs of politicians, will that assumption or belief make you more or less likely to be moved by that country, proud of that country, eager to ally yourself with it emotionally, psychologically and spiritually?

When you don't earn something or suffer to get it, do you value it less highly? If you value it less highly, will you bother to know it, understand it, study it? Will you bother truly to become part of it? When you are allowed to join a nation for free, as it were, and without the commitment of years of above-board effort, do you experience your joining that country as a blessing or as a successful con? If the latter, what was the first lesson America taught you?

These are questions that I think are behind a lot of the more passionate opposition to illegal immigration.

There are people who want to return to the old ways and rescue some of the old attitudes. There are groups that seek to restore border integrity. But they are denigrated by many, even the president, who has called them vigilantes. The New Yorker this week carries a mildly snotty piece by a writer named Daniel Kurtz-Phelan in which he interviews members of a group of would-be Minutemen who seek to watch the borders with Mexico and Canada. They are "running freelance patrols"; they are xenophobic; they dismiss critics as "communists" and "child molesters."

How nice to be patronized by young men whose place is so secure they have two last names. How nice to be looked down on for caring.

And they do care, that's the thing. And pay a price for caring. They worry in part that what is happening on our borders can damage our country by eroding the sense of won citizenship that leads to the mutual investment and mutual respect--the togetherness, if that isn't too corny--that all nations need to operate in the world, and that our nation will especially need in the coming world.

This is what I fear about our elites in government and media, who will decide our immigration policy. It is that they will ignore the human questions and focus instead, as they have in the past, only on economic questions (we need the workers) and political ones (we need the Latino vote). They think that's the big picture. It's not. What goes on in the human heart is the big picture.

Again: What does it mean when your first act is to break the laws of your new country? What does it mean when you know you are implicitly supported in lawbreaking by that nation's ruling elite? What does it mean when you know your new country doesn't even enforce its own laws? What does it mean when you don't even have to become an American once you join America?

Our elites are lucky people. They were born in a suburb, went to Yale, and run the world from a desk. Which means this great question, immigration, is going to be decided by people who don't know what it is to sleep on a bench. Who don't know what it is to earn your space, your place. Who don't know what it is to grieve the old country and embrace the new country. Who don't know what it is to feel you're a little on the outside and have to earn your way in to the inside. Who think it was without a cost, because it was without cost for them.
The problem with our elites as they make our immigration policy is not that they have compassion and open-mindedness. It is that they are unknowing and empty-headed. They don't know, most of them, what others had to earn, and how much they, and their descendents, prize it and want to protect it.

You just have to marvel at this piece of troglodytism masquerading as intelligent populism. Noonan gives voices to the erroneous notion that the immigrants of our parents' and grandparents’ generations all earned their citizenship, got here legally, and have some halo of sanctity for their struggles while today's immigrants waltz across the border in Mercedes. She promenades the notion that today, unlike our glorious past, immigrants have no allegiance to the US and come and go as they please. That they have it so easy.

All of this glosses over the regular stories of individuals who die in the desert from heat and thirst trying to make it here, of families bundled into the back of baking semis. It ignores that families are often separated as they try for better lives for themselves. That some travel up through Central America by foot, plodding towards the modern version of freedom’s shores. Would Noonan’s beloved, law-abiding Irish ancestors have waited patiently in Ireland had they not been separated from the US by 3000 miles of ocean? I think not. Previous generations haven’t immigrated illegally because of a thing called distance, geography and technology. In 1900 it was pretty hard to sneak into New York Harbor in a boat. This notion that those who came before valued it more highly while today Mexicans come and go with impunity and little allegiance or interest in America is simply fasle. In fact, as John Whiteclay Chambers showed in a 1992 book, immigrants 100 years ago often made the return trip home within 5 years of arriving here and came only for short term work. It’s nice to think that everyone who came here fell in love with the place and never intended to go back but large proportions of them did go home.

Noonan implies that we are so together now. That they are, by contrast, so different. In other words, they are so Latino. Noonan ignores those illegal immigrants from Asia and Eastern Europe. If this isn’t a not so subtle way of playing the race card I don’t know how much clearer she would have to be. Maybe she should shout “Hey they are brown non English speakers don’t forget. Note how she claims to not be interested in economics or facts or statistics. Rather she is concerned “with what it is to be human.” The baldness of the prejudice quite takes your breath away doesn’t it? Could she have more explicitly suggested that these waves of illegal immigrants are somewhat less than human and therefore exempt from our humane consideration?

Oh yes, things are so different now, as Noonan says. But are they? Only if you note that the difference lies in the origin of these people. Otherwise things aren’t different at all. There is little evidence to suggest that Hispanic immigrants have endured less hardships, have had it easier, have been more indifferent to civic obligation, have been less American than previous generations of immigrants. My grandfather spoke little English and spent most of his life speaking in Yiddish. Maybe Noonan would throw him in the less than human category too since he wasn’t a native English speaker. I don’t know. But the ridicule she heaps on a New Yorker reporter for having two last names pretty much lets you in on what she is up to.

Noonan is playing on the worst kinds or prejudice against all of the enemies of the white working class. She is tapping the economic resentments of the so-called Reagan Democrats -- the less educated working class people who have seen a diminishment in their standard of living (in part due to globalization rather than immigration) and who struggle now to make ends meet and sustain the lifestyles and cultural dominance they enjoyed after the Second World War. These are the folks who feel the prosperity of the 90s passed them by or has long since left them. The poor New Yorker reporter may have a hyphenated name for a lot of reasons but Noonan goes out of her way to draw lines between us and all the thems out there – those effete liberal snobs with two names and an education sufficient to insulate them from the vagaries of the global economy or to actually improve their lot. Those poor dust covered brown folk who stumble across a desert trying to make a better life for themselves and their families. Yes, they may be breaking our laws but at least have the decency to recognize the sacrifices they are making, the hardships they endure, and their hope for a better life, which they happen to share with all of us.
Republicans know that there is a large swath of their base simmering in resentment at their lot in life. At the rise of homosexuals in prominence in American society. At the rise of previously unseen and unheard from minority groups. At the decline of the white male and the rise of the female in the work force. At the deterioration in economic opportunity, political, and social influence that has attended all of these changes for a large segment of Americans. At the same time that their economic prospects have eroded they have watched other groups rise in the social strata. The immigration question taps that resentiment (yes I meant to spell it that way) and suggests that you have a solution to those problems. That you are on their side.

But their problems have little to do with immigration and a lot to do with global integration – which we as a nation and the Republican Party in particular have been championing for some time now. And few Republican policies are aimed at doing anything to redress the economic plight of this voting block. The Democratic failure to articulate an agenda that these people could believe might help them has left them open to choosing the candidates that best tap their current resentments and anger. Clinton in ’92. Bush in ’04.Immigration is a serious and complex issue, but we aren't going to make good policy if we rely on cheap arguments and error filled (and often misleading) claims to advocate for one side or another. Those like Noonan, Congressman Tom Tancredo and, in our state legislature, Representative Welker are the ones who would like you to think this issue is an easy one. But for the nation to make progress on the policy side we need to do a number of things.

First we need to be honest about who wins and loses because of illegal immigration and have an honest accounting of the public and social costs and benefits. This means we will have to decide if we want to pay more for our agricultural produce in order to achieve reduced immigration. More to get houses built and sidewalks paved. Then we need to decide if we want a wall between us and Mexico. Yes an actual wall which one proposal on the table and is not unprecedented in history nor an ineffective solution. We will also need to decide if we want to spend more on enforcement and if we will be willing to raise taxes to do that. Finally, we need to dedicate ourselves to greater social and economic justice throughout Latin America and Asia. Unless those people enjoy freedom, freedom to start businesses, to bargain collectively, to stand up to the oligarchic powers which control their societies, oppress and exploit them and their poverty, there will always be millions willing to come to America. And we will have an immigration issue.

Lock Him Up and Throw Away the Key

It seems to me that life has become cheaper, nastier, shorter and more brutish in the last 5 years. first we have human behavior after New Orleans. We have our reprehensible behavior towards suspects in the war on terror and suspected 'enemies of the state.' We have more poor people. More people without health care. Now folks are hoarding flu medicines and can you blame them? Why should they think that any kind of organized and reasonable response to a crisis will be forthcoming from our revenue starved and incompetently run government. Still, in spite of this I read the article below and say "what do you mean he's not a monster?"

Drivers told cops of run-ins with road-rage murder suspect
By Amy Herdy Denver Post Staff Writer

Looking back, Michael Clark realizes things could have turned out in a more frightening way.

On July 5, Clark was driving south on E-470 when a man in a pickup truck tailgated him and then nearly hit his car, blaring his truck's horn and extending his middle finger at Clark, who was left shaking and angry.

"I've been driving for 30 years, and this was one of the most aggressive drivers I'd ever seen," Clark, 46, who is in the Air Force, recalled of that afternoon. He immediately called 911, wrote down the truck's license plate and reported the incident.

Later, Clark discovered that State Patrol officers identified the driver of the truck as Parker resident Jason Benjamin Reynolds, 32, a heavy-equipment operator charged with murder in a Nov. 8 road-rage incident on E-470 that killed two people.

In the past two years, records show, Reynolds has been reported to law enforcement in seven other incidents of alleged aggression and violence, with most stemming from his actions while he was behind the wheel of either his Ford pickup or Jeep Wrangler.

"He's pretty scary," Clark said. "The guy needs to be removed from society for a while."

On Wednesday, the day he was due to be sentenced for a July reckless-driving charge in Douglas County, Reynolds instead stood in an Arapahoe County courtroom, charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of vehicular homicide in the Nov. 8 deaths of Greg Boss, 35, of Lone Tree and Kelvin Norman, 50, of Highlands Ranch.

Reynolds is being held without bond. Both he and his family were in shock over the murder charges, said his attorney, Michael Steinberg.

"He is stunned. His family is stunned," Steinberg said, adding that the media has wrongly depicted his client as someone without a conscience.

"He is someone who cares very deeply about the other individuals and the families involved," he said. "He's being portrayed as a monster, and he's not."

Family members of the deceased men declined to comment.

The arrest affidavit in the case quotes a witness saying that Reynolds was driving his Jeep Wrangler southbound on E-470 shortly after 5 p.m. when he began to tailgate Norman before passing him and then swerving back in front of him, slamming on his brakes. Reynolds later told investigators his boot became jammed on his brake pedal while changing gears. He claimed that Norman intentionally rammed him.
According to the witness, Norman swerved to avoid Reynolds and then lost control of his Toyota 4Runner, which hit the rear of Reynolds' Jeep before it flipped and landed upside down in the northbound lanes on top of a Ford Explorer driven by Boss, who died in the collision.

Norman, who was wearing a seat belt, was "explosively ejected" by the force of the impact, which also decapitated and dismembered him, the report said.

A tow-truck driver called after the accident, Joseph Wentz, 35, described Reynolds' demeanor at the scene as "very aggressive and almost heartless."

"His response to the fact that the man in the 4Runner had died was, 'I hope it doesn't seem mean, but he got what he deserved and what he had coming,"' the arrest affidavit shows.

One investigator noted that during his interview at the scene, Reynolds "seemed irritated and his attitude was indifferent to the deceased drivers of the other vehicles."

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

"We are making them powerful over there so we don't have to fight them here

The Shia will walk away from Friday with the lion's share of control over the Iraqi government. The two most powerful Shia political parties, the ones that will come out of this with the big wins, are the Dawa Party and the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, which is known by the initials SCIRI. Both were founded and funded by Iran in the 1980s. Both have a history of spectacular violence against the United States and other nations. "These guys are murderers," says former CIA agent Bob Baer, who dealt with Dawa during the 1980s. "They were the core element that blew up our embassy in Beirut in 1983."
Paul Mulshine, writing last week for the New Jersey Star-Ledger, encapsulates this amazing turn of events. "What would you call someone who wants to hand over control of Iraq to a group of terrorists that first made its reputation by blowing up a couple of American embassies?" wrote Mulshine. "I'd call him President Bush. The group is called the Dawa party. In the early 1980s, Dawa terrorists bombed our embassies in Kuwait and in Lebanon. They were universally recognized as vicious America-hating, Iranian-supported terrorists. Now they're part of the coalition that is expected to win control of the new Iraqi parliament in Thursday's elections."
"The other coalition partners aren't much better," continued Mulshine. "The sanest group on the Shi'a side is the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. A 1984 Washington Post story portrayed the group, known by its initials SCIRI, as 'a kind of parent organization for four operational terrorist groups.' SCIRI was founded in Iran a couple of years earlier by the Ayatollah Khomeini with the goal of taking control of Iraq. Now, they're about to do so, courtesy of George W. Bush."
A walk through history serves to remind those afflicted with short attention spans of who exactly is about to take control of Iraq.
A story from US News and World Report dated December 26, 1983, titled "The New Face of Mideast Terrorism" describes the bombing of the American embassy in Kuwait: "The terrorist who detonated the truckload of explosives at the US Embassy in Kuwait was identified as a 25-year-old Iraqi belonging to an outlawed Moslem unit, the Iranian Dawa Group."
A story from the Associated Press dated February 11, 1984, titled "Trial of Bomb Blast Defendants Opens" describes the trial of 21 people charged with bombing American and French embassies: "Of the other defendants, 17 are Iraqis; two, Lebanese, three, Kuwaitis and two are stateless. Most of them said they belonged to Al-Dawa (Islamic Call) Party, an Iraqi movement of Shiite Moslem fanatics who are pro-Iranian."
A story from the Associated Press dated December 27, 1986, titled "Five Groups Claim Responsibility, Iraq Accuses Iran" describes the attempted hijacking of an Iraqi jetliner that resulted in the deaths of over 60 people: "The hijackers acted in cooperation with the Dawa party of pro-Iranian Iraqi Shiites."
A sharp indictment of SCIRI and its ties to Iran and terrorism can be found, of all places, within the pages of the report put forth by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. This commission, put together to investigate the events of and leading up to September 11, heard expert testimony from Mark Gasiorowski, professor of Political Science and Director of International Studies at Louisiana State University.
In his testimony, Gasiorowski stated, "From the early 1980s until about 1996, Iran was directly involved in a wide variety of terrorist activities. It provided extensive support to Islamist terrorist groups such as Hezbollah (in Lebanon), Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), the Afghan Northern Alliance and its precursors." Gasiorowski goes on to state that Iran continues to support several terrorist groups, and includes SCIRI among them. "They are most strongly committed to Hezbollah and SCIRI," said Gasiorowski, "with which they have worked closely for over 20 years."
Excellent. It seems the best path to electoral victory in Iraq, besides kissing babies and avoiding assassins, involves a long history of terrorism and extreme violence against the United States. Former CIA agent Bob Baer stated in Mulshine's article, "So now we have a Shia terrorist state. Was this worth $6 billion a month?"
Almost certainly, we will hear apologists for both the Bush administration and the invasion downplay the incredible terrorist histories of the groups about to take over the Iraqi government. "Sure they were terrorists," we will hear, "but they're OK now." In other words, they are terrorists, but they are our terrorists.

What Did Bush Know and When Did He Know It?

Oh no not this again.

Bob Novak Says President Knows Leak Source - Yahoo! News
By PETE YOST, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - Columnist Bob Novak, who first published the identity of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame, says he is confident that President Bush knows who leaked Plame's name.

Novak said that "I'd be amazed" if the president didn't know the source's identity and that the public should "bug the president as to whether he should reveal who the source is."

Novak's remarks, reported in the Raleigh, N.C., News & Observer, came during a question and answer session Tuesday after a speech sponsored by the John Locke Foundation, a conservative think tank.

Keep in mind that Bush is (and Cheney too) purported to have told Fitzgerald that he doesn't know who the source of the leak is. The key here becomes when did Bush learn what Novak says he knows. If it's before he went to the grand jury then it's Clinton redux, only this time it's a national security investigation rather than a sexual harassment investigation that provides the context for perjury.

Thank God for Ahmadinejad

By rights the Iranians aren't Arabs but Persians, nevertheless I think that Abba Eban's old adage still holds -- only it should be broadened here: "the Palestinians Arabs/Persians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity."

Iran's Ahmadinejad says Holocaust a myth Reuters (via Yahoo! News):

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Wednesday that the Holocaust was a myth, ramping up his rhetoric and triggering a fresh wave of international condemnation.

Ahmadinejad, a former Revolutionary Guardsman who was elected president in June, said in October Israel must be "wiped off the map," provoking a diplomatic storm and stoking fears about Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Washington accuses Tehran of seeking nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear program is only for generating electricity.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the Holocaust remarks could weigh on European Union efforts to resolve the dispute over Iran's nuclear program.

The wonderful thing about nutjobs like Ahmadinejad is that they help pull back the shroud of obscurity around which Arabs have learned to wrap all their statemnents about Israel and Palestine. They appeal to European sympathies and support by saying that they merely want "their" land back and that is all. But you will rarely find an Arab politician explicitly say that their interests are limited to the lands of the West Bank and Gaza. This usefully serves the European's purposes of saying that the Arab position is quite reasonable, while allowing the Arab politicians to turn and wink at the Arab street, who fully understand that "our land" encompasses all of Israel.

There are three positions one can take on the settlement of the Palestinian problem or Israeli question -- choose whatever represents how you look at the situation. There can be two nations that live side by side and coexist peacefully. There can be a single nation ruled by whatever kind of pluralistic system can manage this mess of various cultures and ethnicities that often hate each other. Or the Palestinians can drive the Jews out of the land (and into the sea if you wish) to go live elsewhere.

Most Europeans wonder why the solution cannot be the second, although they seem to forget that there is nothing in their history that suggests that a multi-cultural nation can live in peace without eventually finding reason to start slaughtering one or another of its own ethnic groups. In fact, the only model of such a system that has so far worked for a sustainable amount of time is found here on our shores and our own history highlights how difficult this task really is. The Arab street really wants the last option while a few Arab moderates can envision the first option but cannot see how they are going to accomplish this within the current situation.

Of course, a fourth view not presented above might be called the Likud view which might be called the greater Israel view which would argue that there is already a Palestinian nation called Jordan and that all of the historic Biblical territories should be incorporated into Israel's boundaries. It is the limited reality of this idea that is causing the political fissures in Israeli politics we see today.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

A Few Bad Apples?

If you don't think that the secret CIA prisons story, Abu Ghraib, Gitmo, rendition and all the other related stories of torture and abuse being connected to America aren't together one of the greatest threats to our national security and the most significant issue to damage our national name you have your head so deep in the sand you think that kicking being delivered to your posterior is another Ostrich coming up to say hi.

U.S. Envoy Says Detainee Abuse Was Worse Than Described - New York Times:

"RAMADI, Iraq, Dec. 13 - The American ambassador in Iraq said today that more than 100 detainees had been abused in two Iraqi detention facilities, more than had been previously disclosed"

What is also clear is that this idea that Abu Ghraib was just the work of a few bad eggs or rotten appples is a bunch of bull. The policies related to abuse came from the highest levels of government, are at best condoned by Rummy and Cheney, and if there were excesses that came from soldiers and others getting carried away, well what do expect? You start rolling a boulder down the hill and sooner or later its going to jump the fence and start crushing things.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Historians Say...

It had to come to this. That a reporter would take the rules of media treatment of subjects so far as to suggest that everything is subject to interpretation.

Iran's president questions Holocaust - Yahoo! News

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday expressed doubt the Holocaust took place and suggested the Jewish state of Israel be moved to Europe.

Historians say six million Jews were killed at the hands of Germany's 1933-1945 Nazi regime. Ahmadinejad's remarks drew swift rebukes from Israel and Washington.

Historians might say that the Civil War was fought over economic reasons. They might say that the German people had a willingness to do Hitler's work. But historians don't say it is Monday when it is Monday or that the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. These are facts and they speak for themselves.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Where Have You Gone Joe Leiberman?

A Party Turns It's Lonely eyes to You. Boo Hoo Hoo

Daily Kos: Feel the Joementum

by kos
Wed Dec 07, 2005 at 10:07:05 AM PDT
People get emails:

From: Sherry Brown
To: 'Sherry Brown'
Sent: Tue Dec 06 21:31:36 2005
Subject: Sorry for the blast email....

But the Courant is doing an online poll in which we have just fallen behind between Lowell Weicker and Joe Lieberman. We've been ahead all day, but one of the internet bloggers got hold of it and is promoting it among the extreme lefties.

Go to the Main Page - see Joe's picture and then there is a link "Weicker - the antiwar candidate?" click onto that page - scroll down - right hand side there is a poll.

Let's turn it around!!! Thanks. (and please note that I did NOT ask you for money, which may be a first)

It's kind of funny talking about "extreme lefties" voting for Weicker, a former Republican. It's also kind of funny hearing talk about "extreme lefties" coming from a Democrat.

Update: The poll can be found on this page.

I would take Weicker in the Senate over Leiberman. How about you?

Joe Leiberman Hikes Up His Pants and Jumps in the Deep End

Courtesy of AMERICAblog: Because a great nation deserves the truth

Lieberman, whom the Bush administration has praised repeatedly for his war stance, defended the president. "It's time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge he'll be commander-in-chief for three more years," the senator said. "We undermine the president's credibility at our nation's peril."

...The war debate, Lieberman said, is being too poisoned by partisanship....

"We can't tolerate the kind of division that current exists in our country," the senator said. "Why are we fighting among those who have the same goals?"

Excuse me? The public's poor opinion of the war in Iraq is a product of Democratic whinging? The acrimony of Washington is driven by Democratic political posturing? What side is this guy on and who is he appealing to? Or has he just lost the plot? I have to say I have never quite understood his pom pom enthusiasm for the war in Iraq. I could understand if he felt that once there we need to prosecute it right. But his position all along has been a bit shaky and even today he quite can't admit he has been sold a bill of faulty goods by the Administration. Democrats haven't undermined the Administration's credibility. The Administration has. Ask Tucker Carlson or David Brooks, even they will agree to this.

Is It Any Wonder?

Check out how cynical our society is becoming. On MSN's tax advice page today we have this gem of an idea.

A last trick -- and it's legal!Here’s one trick I’ll bet you don’t know. I call it the Schnepper-Malagoli Charitable Tax Grab. Rent your home to any charitable organization during the year -- up to 14 days total -- and pay zero tax on the rental income. (Internal Revenue Code Section 280A (g), for those of you who feel compelled to look it up.)

Say your church, synagogue or any recognized charity rents your home for a board meeting. They pay you $500. That money is completely tax-free. Then, without any compulsion or prearrangement, you contribute $600 to this same charity. If you’re only in the 25% bracket, you save $150 in tax. The result: With the $500 tax-free rental income, you’ve got a total of $650 more in your pocket, less the $600 contribution, which gives you a grand total of $50 and your favorite charity $100.

One meeting per month (12 is less than 14 days) and you’ve “made” $600, while the charity is up $1,200! Was it intended when Congress drafted the tax code? Clearly, no. Is it completely within the clear wording of the code? Absolutely, yes! Just because it’s a loophole doesn’t mean you can’t legally do it. And, there’s nothing wrong with doing well while you’re doing good.

The key here is the phrase "without any compulsion or prearrangement." The whole deal of cycling money through your charity to reduce your tax bill rests on a tacit understanding between you and your church or synagogue or whatever. But unless you belong to some kind of Congregation of the ESP, I don't quite know how you are going to arrange for a rental fee of $500 a day for use of your home and a kick back of $600. Are taxes that onerous? They pay for relief efforts in the Gulf. They pay for our troops over seas. They build our roads. They maintain our public health. They fund important scientific research. The list goes on. But here we have someone counseling us to enter into fraud with a charitable institution. It's only fraud of course if the agreements are explicit. But how else would you arrange this? And anyway, who would belong to a church with this kind of cynicism?

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Barnett's Future

One rumor emanating from Betsy Hoffman's departure is that Governor Owens and Coach Barnett friend and confidant on the Regents, Pete Steinhauer cut a deal that Barnett could stay if Hoffman were to go. Well, in the wake of CU's 70-3 drubbing at the hands of Texas today, I wonder if we can make the argument that, "forget the scandals, the guy can't coach." Barnett has a great coaching record, but for that matter so do a number of others who clearly overstayed their welcome. After too long, players tune a coach out. If Colorado aspires to football eminence and wants that to be a rpiority (not that I think this should be in college), then performance dictates that they need a coaching change.

$300,000 Is a High Price to Pay for the Myth of Shared Governance

Faculty Council Chair Rod Muth has been forced to retract the eminently reasonable suggestion that, since it appears that Hank Brown is likely to become the permanent President of CU, perhaps we could save our institution the $300,000 set aside for the search and spend it somewhere else. Is this the kind of fiscal sensibility that passage of C & D wrought?

CU faculty chief drops idea of halting president search

The leader of the University of Colorado's Faculty Council retreated Thursday from a proposal to suspend the presidential search and stick with interim president Hank Brown. Rod Muth didn't even present his idea to the 39-member council, which voted instead to remind regents not to stray from a search that involves all levels of the campus community.

Faculty were outraged last spring when regents appointed Brown to take over for the resigning Betsy Hoffman without campus input. A 12-member committee that includes administrators, professors and a student is searching for CU's permanent president.

A month ago, Muth told regents the $300,000 presidential search is a charade that will end up with Brown as president. He criticized regents for excluding faculty in the past but said they should save money by postponing the presidential search. He suggested resuming the search after Brown, 65, announces how long he would stay.

I believe in shared governance and in fact I study it for a living. But let's call a spade a spade. It's currently a fiction here so why pay a professional search firm $300,000 (a ridiculous notion to begin with) to find a replacement for Betsy Hoffman?

The Regents do what they want in regards to leadership selection so let's dispense with the notion that our input contributes anything to the process. The only group benefitting from the search process is the consulting firm we will hire and pay a quarter of a million dollars to sift through all the resumes that come in and give us five of the most outstanding ones. That's a line of work I need to get into.

Why such a search should cost more than the price of an ad in the Chronicle of Higher Education is completely beyond me. It's not like we need to be secretive about our search. And a search committee could certainly find a way to provide candidates confidentiality. And it is doubtful that we will need to approach candidates because they were not aware the job was open. But given that Muth is right and the outcome seems predetermined, why pretend that spending this money gives any honor to the notion of shared governance? If anything -- it makes even more of a mockery of it. Better to vote a motion of disapproval of the Regent's first actions, dispense with the search firm, evaluate Brown as a permanent candidate and pass along to the Regents a recommendation up or down on the idea of Brown remaining as permanent President rather than merely acting.