Friday, May 23, 2003

Some instructive reading in the Wall Street Journal today concerning Bush’s latest multi-billion dollar tax cut package.
The lead story makes the point that the tax cut “will likely provide a significant boost to the tepid U.S. economy, but at a potentially significant long-term cost.”
So short-term gain and long-term pain. So what exactly does that mean?
“It should boost consumer incomes and thus spending, encourage business investment and could lift stock prices...” but at the cost of “... driving up deficits and therefore long-term interest rates, and widening the gap between rich and poor.”

So Bush is willing to sacrifice the long-term health of our country in order to gain a temporary short-term boost to help with his re-election effort.

But there is more... The $350 billion price tag on the tax package is really an illusion pieced together with smoke and mirror accounting gimmicks...

“The true price tag would balloon to more than $800 billion if various temporary provisions are extended...”

The article goes on to spell out in very blatant terms about Bush’s true intentions for the tax cut...

“Mr. Bush is particularly eager to lift the economy and investors’ spirits before he has to face the voters in November 2004 — and avoid the election result his father suffered after winning a war with Iraq but letting the economy slide.”

Ah, but the difference here is that the economy has already slid long before the most recent Iraq war. Bush lied about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein (his elusive weapons of mass destruction and non-existent nukes) in order to distract the public’s attention away from the economic mess on the homefront. His first big tax cut a year ago failed to provide any economic relief or job growth and instead served to sap away the budget surplus built up over the Clinton years and return the nation to huge deficits and a mounting debt burden.

A separate story on the front the the WSJ today makes this intriguing statement...

“As a former business executive, (Bush’s) instincts told him the economy needed some aid and he resolved to give it the largest dose possible.”

They failed to mention that Bush, the former business executive, ran each and every one of his companies into the ground and had to be bailed out each time by his Daddy’s wealthy friends. Please note that these wealthy friends did not bail out George’s companies necessarily, just George himself.
And now the process is repeating itself. Bush has effectively run the nation’s economy into the ground and now these same wealthy individuals are trying to bail him out - not by helping the country, but by helping Bush. Bush just the other day raised another $22 million at a campaign fund raiser.

By the way, aren’t Bush’s instincts a little dull if he is just now figuring out that the economy needs some aid?

There is more good stuff inside the WSJ today... In particular an article headlined “Get Ready for Era of Budget Deficits”

“The compromise 2003 tax bill would usher in a new era of federal budget deficits as far as the eye can see - especially if politicians, as expected, ultimately refuse to go along with an accounting gimmick that calls on key provisions to expire after a few years.”
“Even without the proposed tax cut, the Treasury’s ledgers would have been written in red ink through at least 2007, according to government estimates, thanks to the slowing economy, the war against terrorism and the first two tax cuts under President Bush.”

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

The Texas Department of Public Safety is not helping its reputation with this latest news of document and records destruction. The DPS has apparently destroyed all of its records
of its actions in trying to hunt down Democratic lawmakers who broke the Texas House quorum last week by absconding to Ardmore, Okla.

This is an incredible story. The DPS would seem to have ripped a page straight out of the Enron/Arthur Andersen playbook here. The only question is whether the agency did it on its own, as is being claimed, or were there behind-the-scenes political machinations involved? I suspect the latter and I want to know whether Tom Delay or Tom Craddick’s fingerprints are on this mess. I don’t like the fact that are state funded law enforcement agency was turned into a politcal tool by the Texas Republican Party last week and it outrageous that someone thinks they can just sweep it all away by pulling off some cheap Nixonian coverup operation now.

Josh Marshall has a good column this week in The Hill about Tom Delay’s involvement in trying to sic federal agents on the Killer D’s who screwed up his political powerplay last week.

There is a new book out that purports to list the Top 500 Country songs called "Heartaches By The Number" by David Cantwell and Bill Friskics-Warren. It looks to be very entertaining and interesting with the authors contributing essays for each of their chosen songs. But what caught my attention is that the book gives a nod to Bing Crosby for his influence on Country music:

"One of the looming presences in the book is Bing Crosby, rarely identified with country but actually one of the genre's most important practitioners.
"He's one of the heroes of the book," Cantwell says. "He was a huge influence on any number of country singers, and he also listened to country music. ... He played a big part in popularizing country songs." Crosby is represented by two tunes -- "Pistol Packin' Mama" (his version of the Al Dexter hit, which reshaped the song considerably) and "Don't Fence Me In" (written by, of all people, the urbane Cole Porter)"

Always good to see Bing getting some long overdue credit now and then. As with Bob Hope, this year is also the 100th anniversary of his birth, but I doubt there will be any TV specials to commemorate that fact, unfortunately.


Tuesday, May 20, 2003

So who serves as the “Voice of the Left” today (see post below)? When liberal commentators started to fade off of the TV screens during the 1990s it was largely attributed to the simple give and take of political power shifting. While the Democrats remained in power through President Clinton, the right wing commentators would take the forefront in the media to harp at and criticize the administration. But now that Bush has been in office for more than two years, the liberal commentators have not come back. In fact, the number of conservative commentators just continues to multiply. Fox News has become the leading cable news channel by offering a steady stream of Republican propaganda and right-wing commentary without even the pretense of trying to be fair or balanced. CNN has abandoned most commentary shows in an effort to avoid being labled “liberal.” Even, the old workhorse “Crossfire” has been cut back and stuck in a poorly watched time slot so as to attract as little notice as possible. I haven’t watched the show in a while, but I believe it is currently one of the only shows where you can hear an unapologetic liberal voice -- James Carville or Paul Begala -- balanced of course by two or three conservative voices. And over at MSNBC, the lone liberal commentator Phil Donohue saw his show canned in favor of a slew of new shows for right-wing talkers including Dan Savage and Joe Scarborough.
The best chance for hearing a liberal perspective on TV these days resides with PBS (which Newt Gingrich and the Republican’s in Congress failed to shut down a few years ago) especially with Bill Moyers’ NOW program. But like CNN, PBS and its radio counterpart NPR have felt pressure to “balance” every liberal voice with a conservative one - something that the other networks and radio shows fail to do in reverse.
For people looking for a left perspective today one is practically forced to turn to the Internet where you can track a few liberal columnists at major newspapers like Paul Krugman and Frank Rich at the New York Times, E.J. Dionne at the Washington Post, Robert Scheer at the Los Angeles Times and Molly Ivins at the Fort Worth Star Telegram. Another powerful voice from the left is Michael Kinsley, the former editor of the online Slate Magazine, whose columns appear regularly in Slate and the WashPo.
Next, one must turn to the blogosphere to find leading voices from the left. Joshua Marshall has become very influential with his Talking Points blog as has Eric Alertman’s Altercation hosted by Then there is the anonymous Atrios who runs the Eschaton blog. Also, look for Joe Conason’s regular journal entries at the online Salon magazine.
It is a pretty thin list today, especially when compared to the number of folks lining up to pontificate the right-wing perspective over the corporate-controlled airwaves.
One problem for the left today is the continuing scourge that is Ralph Nader and the Green Party which drove a split through the Democratic Party and handed the presidency to George W. Bush during the 2000 election. A number of left leaders became caught up in the Nader charade including Michael Moore, Jim Hightower and to some extent even Molly Ivins. Today, some though not all of these people have returned to their senses. But it still remains to be seen whether the left can rally around a Democratic candidate be it Howard Dean, John Kerry or someone else.

The Faint, Fading Voice of the Left
Tuesday May 20, 8:41 am ET
By Thane Peterson

Here's a quiz for you: Name the best-known and most influential conservative commentators in America? Rush Limbaugh? George F. Will? Bill O'Reilly? Now, quick, who are their liberal counterparts?

If you can't think of any, you're not alone. Conservatives love to rant that liberals dominate the news media. Trouble is, it's just not true. In fact, I'd argue that the biggest problem with America's public discourse today is that the left is barely represented at all on mainstream TV and radio talk shows and in major newspapers and magazines.
Read the rest here.