Monday, June 23, 2008

Swift Boat Veterans Still An Issue

The Swift Boat issue refuses to go away, probably because of Obama's decision to refuse Federal campaign funding, as the NYT reports. The Swift Boat 527 probably played a big role in defeating Kerry in 2004, and Obama doesn't want to get caught in the same bind, without money to challenge whatever the Republican dirty-tricksters come up with to attack him.

It still rankles me as a Vietnam veteran that Kerry's service in Vietnam was used against him. He may not have been the best example of a veteran, but at least he went, unlike George Bush, Dick Cheney, Bill Clinton, and many other leading politicians. Ironically, Al Gore also served in Vietnam; so, clearly this country hates veterans. It can kiss up to veterans now, because without the draft no one is in danger of going to Iraq or Afghanistan unless they volunteer. But McCain's opposition to the new, improved GI Bill of Rights shows that caring about veterans is not widespread.

I can only conclude that Swift Boat veterans are unpatriotic, America haters. It's probably an over generalization, but the image of a whole group of veterans has been sullied as far as I am concerned.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Anschutz Like Plato's Unjust Man

In the Republic, one of Socrates' students, Thrasymachus, argues that the "unjust" person is more successful:

"My most simple Socrates, you must see that a just man always comes off worst than an unjust. Take first, the case of commercial dealing, when a just and an unjust man are partners. At the dissolution of the partnership you will never find the just man with more than the unjust, but always less. Then in politics, where there are taxes to pay, out of equal incomes the just man pays more, the unjust less; where there is money to be got, the just man gets nothing, the unjust much. Then, again, when they are in office, the just man, apart from other losses, ruins his own business by neglect, while his justice prevents his making a profit out of the public; and in addition he incurs the dislike of his kinsfolk and acquaintances by refusing to be unjust for their advantage. With the unjust man it is the opposite in every particular."

But Socrates, like the Bible, doesn't think that acting unjustly works out in the end.

Not only does Anschutz not pay taxes, as noted previously, but he spoiled the retirement of many Qwest workers, who had spent most of their careers working for US West, by destroying the value of Qwest stock, which many of the retirees held.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Rich Don't Pay Taxes

The Bush tax cuts greatly reduced the taxes that the rich have to pay, but apparently not enough. Phil Anschutz is in trouble with IRS for some tax scheme that avoids his recognizing a taxable gain (and then having to pay taxes on it) for years and years, according to a number of papers, including the Rocky Mountain News.

The rich who balk at paying taxes are mostly Republicans. Rich Democrats, like Warren Buffett, tend to say the rich should pay more taxes. Thus, it's the Republicans who object to paying for government, including things like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the soldiers fighting them. No armor for troops if it means you have to share your private jet!

People will argue we have to reduce American taxes because we are competing for business headquarters with other countries, like the Cayman Islands, who have lower taxes. It's a race to the bottom. I say, let them go. If Anschutz wants to move to the Canary Islands, good riddance to him and his filthy money. He can go join (Clinton Democrat) Marc Rich in Switzerland, but don't let him come back here to stay at some luxury vacation home or spa. He's scum, a traitor. We don't need people like him. It will be a tough adjustment for America to lose wealthy freeloaders like Anschutz, but while we're having a recession, let's bite the bullet and take on a little more misery to clean up the country.

I have been down on the New York Wall Street types for living large off of America without paying their fair share, and now it turns out that one of the worst offenders is right here in Colorado.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Hooray for the Supreme Court Decision on Guantanamo

Just a note to mention how great it is that the Supreme Court recognized the Constitutional right of habeas corpus for detainees in Guantanamo. If the US is to remain a great country, it must maintain a respectable legal system. I believe that the restraints on habeas corpus and the idea of having some kind of kangaroo courts in Cuba, rather than real civil trials in the US were due to cowardice on the part of the administration. Sure, trials will test the US, perhaps slightly increase the risk of further terrorist attacks, but that's what freedom is all about. Draft-dodgers Bush and Cheney were so frightened by 9/11 that they lost all respect for law, if they had any earlier. Thank goodness for the courage of a slight majority on the Supreme Court!

Wall Street v. Europe

Interesting that with all the talk on Wall Street about the benefits of globalization (for Wall Street, not for jobs on Main Street), one of the reasons that the stock market is supposed to be up today is because Ireland rejected the new EU constitution, which will throw the EU into a stew. So, Wall Street's attitude on this seems to be, "Europe's loss is our gain." I think that is ironically a shortsighted view. Wall Street should welcome a stronger, more unified Europe, but on the other hand should be more concerned about outsourcing American jobs to overseas firms.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Speaking Out on Guantanamo

Most of the news outlets covered the beginning of the trials (or whatever they are) of accused terrorists at Guantanamo. I think they are kangaroo courts. This administration does not like the legal system; it wants to appoint non-activist judges who will allow the administration to do anything it wants, like hold Communist-era show trials without legal protections like habeas corpus that have been part of the Anglo-American legal system for hundreds of years. For all the money that the administration has spent in Guantanamo to build jail cells, courtrooms, develop special judicial-style proceedings with military lawyers, etc., it could easily have held the trials in normal American courts for less money. Of course, the administration would not do that because it wants a guaranteed guilty verdict, no matter what, and in a real trial there is no guarantee of a guilty verdict.

I thought one of the most moving statements was by Navy Commander Suzanne Lachelier on the PBS Newshour. She said:

I think the American people, if they watched, and if they knew what was going on, if they understood the ramifications in the long term to our Constitution, to their Constitution, I think they would be ashamed.

I wear the uniform with pride. I am proud to be a member of the U.S. Navy, but I don't think these proceedings make for a proud day for any member of the service.
I hope that decent government officials, like Sen. Lindsey Graham and Def. Sec. Robert Gates, will protect her from retribution by evil people in the administration, like V.P. Dick Cheney and President Bush.

Obama Encourages Israel to Attack Iran

A day after Obama gave a "pandering" speech to AIPAC, according to the Washington Post, Israel announced that an attack on Iran appeared unavoidable, according to Reuters. One of the most important things Obama said was that Jerusalem should remain the capital of Israel and be undivided. This is a declaration that, if serious, probably makes moot (and impossible) future negotiations on peace in the Middle East. Jerusalem is a war spoil not granted to Israel by the UN, and if the Arabs have no part in Jerusalem, it's unlikely they'll negotiate about how to divide up the West Bank and Gaza.

Col. Patrick Lang points out regarding Hillary's pandering speech that some of her hawkish campaign advisers, who probably lost her the primary by advising her to vote for pro-Israeli positions versus Iraq and Iraq, were probably sitting in the audience at AIPAC. On the Daily Show, Jon Stewart made fun of all of the candidates, particularly excoriating McCain for bragging that he took Sen. Joe Lieberman to Israel. Stewart said that you don't need to take your own Jew to Israel; there are already plenty there. Helena Cobban points out that the LA Times missed one of Obama's most significant statements by confusing what he said about Jerusalem.

My only hope is that Obama was not entirely sincere when he spoke to AIPAC. He had appear strong, because as he said at the beginning of his speech, the Jewish community suspects him of being a (closet?) Muslim and weak on Israel. If he gets to be President, he can always say that the situation has changed since he spoke to AIPAC, but will he?

Senate Seconds Scott McClellan

The Senate Intelligence Committee has issued a report basically reiterating what Scott McClellan says in his new book, What Happened, according to the Washington Post. The report says that Bush inflated the threat posed to the US by Iraq's supposed WMD. Did he give them the courage finally to issue their report? Is anybody surprised? Why isn't somebody -- Bush or Cheney, for example -- in trouble?

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Obama Driven from Church

Barack Obama's having to leave his church is a bad sign for religious freedom in the US. People should be free to attend the church of their choice. Obama is a special case because he is running for president, but not that special. Admittedly, the US is not like the old Soviet Union where people were persecuted for going to church, or like a country that has an established religion connected to the government, like the situation that drove the Pilgrims and the Puritans to the US centuries ago, or like the Nazi persecution of the Jews, although that was more racial than religious.

What Obama's experience shows is that you have to be a member of a pretty bland, mainstream, widely accepted church if you don't want to be persecuted for your religion. While Obama's pastor may have been controversial, the United Church of Christ is not. And most recently, Obama was criticized because of what a visiting Roman Catholic priest said in his church. America says, "Don't you dare try to listen to other points of views. Don't you dare try to understand other religions. We'll crucify you."

It's hard to tell how much this religious hatred emanated from the Clinton campaign, how much from Republicans and their proxies like Fox News, how much from the evangelical right, and how much from news media that just wanted a story. But the end result was that Obama was not free to attend the church of his choice, and that's sad for America.