Friday, August 13, 2004

Shifting the tax burden

Here is a news story obviously written by some liberal reporter at the Washington Post...

Tax Burden Shifts to the Middle

“Since 2001, President Bush's tax cuts have shifted federal tax payments from the richest Americans to a wide swath of middle-class families, the Congressional Budget Office has found, a conclusion likely to roil the presidential election campaign.

The CBO study, due to be released today, found that the wealthiest 20 percent, whose incomes averaged $182,700 in 2001, saw their share of federal taxes drop from 64.4 percent of total tax payments in 2001 to 63.5 percent this year. The top 1 percent, earning $1.1 million, saw their share fall to 20.1 percent of the total, from 22.2 percent.

Over that same period, taxpayers with incomes from around $51,500 to around $75,600 saw their share of federal tax payments increase. Households earning around $75,600 saw their tax burden jump the most, from 18.7 percent of all taxes to 19.5 percent.”

It is nice to know that my share of the tax burden has gone up at the same time that the country has accumulated a record budget deficit and our troops are tied down in a bloody and expensive war in the Middle East with no end in sight.
Four more years of George Bush gets scarier and scarier all the time.

Journalists and Pro Wrestlers

Ken Rodriguez, a sports writer who took over the metro column at the Express-News when Rick Casey left, today slanders all journalists by comparing them to pro wrestlers. Rodriguez claims that the media is finally revealing that it has a leftist bias and compares it to wrestlers admitting that their matches are fake and scripted.

That is quite a slap in the face from a fellow journalist who really should know better. I’ve been a journalist now for 14 years and I obviously have liberal political beliefs, but that does not mean that I am incapable of being professional in my work and writing news stories that are free of bias and opinion. I have worked in some very conservative communities for most of my career - Kerrville, Lubbock - and have never once been accused of being biased in my reporting. But obviously Rodriguez doesn’t believe this is possible. Maybe as a sports writer he is incapable of writing about a game between two teams without making it clear to the reader which of the two teams he favors. But most good reporters are capable of doing just that.

To make his case, Rodriguez points to the New York Times’ as one example. Well, yes, the NYT should be viewed as a “liberal” paper in the same way that the Wall Street Journal is viewed as a “conservative” paper. But that pertains mainly to the editorial pages and should not (and in most cases does not) make a difference for the straight news reporting which is excellent for both papers.

He also points us to a study by the American Society of Newspaper Editors that showed that most journalists are more liberal than their readers. But the study does not say that the work performed by these reporters is biased. To the contrary, most liberal journalists go out of their way to avoid even the slightest hint of liberal bias (and will even add a helping of conservative bias) to avoid the scolding they would recieve from right-wing “watchdog” groups that constantly attack the media for being too liberal.

But the most interesting thing about Rodriguez’ column is who he taps to support his claim not just that reporters tend to be liberal, but that their output is biased and untrustworthy (like the phony pro wrestlers) - He looks to the conservative editorial page at the Dallas Morning News, conservative Washington Post columnist Robert J. Samuelson and Charles Krauthammer, another conservative Washington Post columnist.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

An OK film and a great film

Finally got around to seeing "Matrix Revolutions" (the third one) last week. I bought it on DVD a while back (used from Hollywood Video where I get most of my movies these days).
It wasn't as bad as I had feared, but I can see why it was such a disappointment after the first two films. Some of my biggest gripes would spoil the movie for anyone who hasn't seen it, so I will just say that when it was all over you wondered what the point of all that fighting was. How many times do we need to watch Neo and Agent Smith slam into one another at super speed?

More recently we just finished watching "Master and Commander" and that was a very good film. Definitely deserving of the Best Picture nomination that it received. Russell Crowe continues to impress with just about every film he does. Although I still think his best role was in "LA Confidential."

By the way, both films had actors who were in "Lord of the Rings." Hugo Weaving plays Agent Smith in Matrix and is also Elrond in the Rings trilogy. Billy Boyd, who played Pippin in LOTR, was one of the sailors in "Master and Commander."

The authority to wage war

I like Adam Felber's take on this charge that Kerry is supposedly flip-flopping by defending his vote to give Bush the authorization needed to wage war in Iraq.

"Let's imagine that I have a son, a little nine year-old boy. Let's name him Thaddeus, too, because there's no harm in giving imaginary kids humiliating-but-undeniably-cute names.

So one summer afternoon, little Thad comes scampering into the house, trailed by the unmistakable sound of an ice cream truck's melody. "Dad," says Thad, "Can I get some some ice cream?"

"Why, of course, Thad," I say, remembering my youth and wanting only the best for young Thaddeus. He charges outside, yelling, "Ice cream! Ice cream!" I smile fondly at his retreating form...

Outside, young Thaddeus grabs a baseball bat, a sturdy Louisville Slugger, runs to the ice cream truck, and assaults the ice cream man. He beats him bloody, renders him unconscious, and ties him up in the back of the truck. Thad takes the ice cream truck for a 2 hour, reckless joyride, knocking over road-signs, terrorizing the neighborhood, squashing Mrs. Abram's dog, and traumatizing several local children for life. Thad finally runs the truck over a cliff, jumping out just in time before it plummets 200 feet onto a rocky beach, sending the ice cream man and all his tempting confections to a fiery doom.

Twenty minutes later, Thaddeus comes home, munching happily on a Chocolate Swirl-Kone with sprinkles. Immediately, I lay into him, lecturing him sternly, grounding him, and venting my extreme disapproval. Thad looks at me squarely and protests, "But Dad, you said I could get ice cream."

I'm nonplussed. He's got a point. Am I a flip-flopper?"

By saying that he still would have voted to give Bush the authority to wage war even knowing what we know today, Kerry is paying Bush an undeserved compliment. He is not saying that he would have supported going to war. Just that he still believes the president should have that as an option if he deems it necessary. Kerry was willing to give Bush that authority, but Bush misused it.

I said at the time that Bush was actually aiding the U.N. inspectors by threatening force against Saddam. Unfortunately, Bush had an itchy trigger finger and failed to play to diplomacy game the way his father did. Now we are paying the price.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

That's all I have to say about that...

OK, I've read about all I can stomach of this sniping about Kerry's war record.
I think it is sad that Kerry tells his story, has it backed up by all the formal military documentation that was signed by his superior officers, and it is corraborated by all the veterans who served with him on his boat and were closest to the action, and yet his political detractors still claim that he is lying.
They question the severity of his wounds that led to two of his Purple Hearts (I take it that they begrudgingly grant that he earned his second Purple Heart). But Kerry could have lost both legs and an arm like Max Cleland did and that still would not have stopped them from denigrating his service to his country.

They say that his first wound was just a scratch, but I would think that having a piece of shrapnel lodged in your arm would sting just a bit more than that. They also have someone coming forward claiming that he was the one who treated the wound even though his name is not on the medical records. That individual, Dr. Letson, says it was his assistant who signed the paperwork. But that does not make sense to have one person treat the wound and another person sign the paperwork. I don't believe him.

They claim that Kerry does not deserve either his Silver Star or his Bronze Star. In the case of the Silver Star they claim that Kerry chased down a wounded Viet Cong and shot him in the back to earn the commendation. Yet the documents make no reference to Kerry shooting anyone and instead cite his heroism in charging his boat directly at a group of Viet Cong that had ambushed them. Kerry did jump off the boat and shoot a Viet Cong who was carrying a rocket launcher and thus could have killed every man on his boat.

In questioning the Bronze Star incident they claim that there was no enemy fire when Kerry retrieved Jim Rassman who had fallen over board after the boat was struck by a mine. But that charge is in stark contrast to what Rassman says. He says he was ducking under water to dodge bullets until Kerry came to fish him out. Kerry's critics would have us believe someone who was several hundred yards away who 30-plus years later now claims that there was no enemy firing at Rassman.

I've read a lot of nitpicking on right-wing web sites that quite frankly disgust me at this point. These people have no right to be questioning these awards 30 years later when all they have is the foggy recollections of people who were not anywhere near the action as it occurred and now have a political agenda that they are serving.

They whine that Kerry hasn't released all of his military records when there are reams of paperwork available on his website at It is an impressively complete collection. I wish I had that much documentation on my father's service in Vietnam but I quite frankly don't know where the paperwork is or if it still exists, if it ever did. We have seen how much trouble Bush has had pulling together all of his National Guard paperwork.

And then there is this nonsense about Kerry lying about going into Cambodia around Christmas of 1968. It is well documented today that we had troops and intelligence people going into Cambodia back then even though it was not admitted at the time. It would make no sense for Kerry to make up a story like that and the fact that there is no official record of such action is not proof that it did not happen.

When Kerry came back from Vietnam he joined a group of veterans who were lobbying against the war. This is the main reason that most of the Swift Boat Vets for Bush are participating in this smear campaign. I suppose they think that if you feel that a war that is slaughtering thousands of your fellow soldiers is wrong and bad policy the best thing to do is to keep your mouth shut. I admire Kerry for standing up for what he believed was right in the face of such lock-step opposition. Kerry was a moderating influence on the protest group and eventually quit when they became too radical. The worst that can be said about Kerry is that he gave voice to some allegations of wartime atrocities that painted with too broad a brush. Kerry has admitted that he would have voiced these things differently if he had it to do over. I can forgive him for that. Others obviously can't.

The final word is that Kerry volunteered to go to Vietnam while George Bush used family connections to secure a spot in the Texas National Guard. There is evidence that Bush failed to show up for at least five months of his service in 1972 and did not take his flight physical that year which resulted in his being grounded - thus wasting all of the military training that had gone into teaching him to fly. But Bush supporters are willing to forgive him for that, which is fine.
We should look at what these two individuals will do for our country during the next four years and not obsess so much with what they did in the distant past.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Truth or Smear

This website has one of the best point-by-point rundowns of all the allegations raised by the Swift Boat Vets for Bush. is another good place to go for a thorough examination of the charges and countercharges.

I've just started reading through it all and will post more when I have time.