Thanks to my soon-to-be father in law for this one, via email forward:
Dear Internal Revenue Service:
Enclosed you will find my 2005 tax return showing that I owe $3,407.00 in taxes. Please note the attached article from the USA Today newspaper; dated 12 November, wherein you will see the Pentagon (Department of Defense) is paying $171.50 per hammer and NASA has paid $600.00 per toilet seat.
I am enclosing four (4) toilet seats (valued @ $2,400) and six (6) hammers valued @ $1,029), which I secured at Home Depot, bringing my total remittance to $3,429.00. Please apply the overpayment of $22.00 to the "Presidential Election Fund," as noted on my return. You can do this inexpensively by sending them one (1) 1.5" Phillips Head screw (see aforementioned article from USA Today newspaper detailing how H.U.D. pays $22.00 each for 1.5" Phillips Head Screws). One screw is enclosed for your convenience.
It has been a pleasure to pay my tax bill this year, and I look forward to paying it again next year.
Santorum today to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "I had absolutely nothing to do--never met, never talked, never coordinated, never did anything -- with Grover Norquist and the -- quote -- K Street Project."
Santorum on June 28th, 2005, after being introduced by Grover Norquist: "Thank you Grover, and I appreciate your help and support on this and many other issues..."
Enough already with the Constitution worship. Yes, Alito, that means you too
Felix Rohatyn, former ambassador to France, has an op/ed in yesterday's NYT noting that during his term, the most striking disagreement he heard about between Europe and the U.S. was on the subject of the death penalty. He notes that all European countries have abolished it (good for them).
He also brings up the case last year in which the U.S. Supreme Court abolished the DP for juveniles, with Justice Kennedy citing Europe in his majority opinion. Scalia and Thomas were outraged that the U.S. would demeen itself by looking to other countries as guidance.
Silly Justice Kennedy... how outrageous to think that modern people in another country could be more relevant today than our God-like 200 year old document.
"That our understanding of the Constitution does change from time to time has been settled since John Marshall breathed life into its text," Justice John Paul Stevens wrote last year, concurring with Justice Kennedy. Taking the views of 450 million Europeans into account is not a sign of weakness on our part, nor is it a commitment to change our views. It is simply recognition that the laws of our most important allies, our biggest foreign investors, foreign employers, foreign customers and trading partners are worthy of our attention. That is a sign of enlightenment.
My favorite television show is going caput. I am deeply saddened. West Wing was, for the most part, incredibly well written, pertinent, and intelligent. It didn't dumb down subjects for the sake of the viewer. There were many many times when I had to watch a dialogue sequence 3-4 times before understanding the policy or political nugget being discussed.
I really would have liked to see Alan Alda's character, the Republican CA governor, win the election, and at least a year of "Republican" West Wing. Who knows... the ratings might have soared, with people clamoring to see how a smart Republican president acts.
I fully support this idea, of the show being reborn on iTunes. Wish it would happen. In fact, I think some shows in the future will find a home in "on-demand". But it's just too early.
Democrats: - Some people are joining me on the Al Gore bandwagon. For those of you new to the rankings, I debuted them with Al Gore atop the Democratic list. I've moved him down over the last year as he has denied any interest in running again. But I've kept him fairly high, because I think this could be an excellent strategy whereby he allows himself to be "drafted" into the race. Arianna Huffington thinks it will be Al vs. Hillary. Throw Mark Warner and John Edwards in that mix, and I think that's your likely final four. In light of his recent speech, I'm knocking Gore up from 11:1 to 10:1.
Republicans: - Trying to figure out Condi Rice's spot in my rankings has consistently befuddled me. Yes, she would jump to the top 2 or 3 if she was running... she has what a lot of people think is necessary in the first woman President: foreign experience and a non-nonsense attitude. But she has been SOOO insistent that she is not AT ALL interested in running. And she's not a politician, so she really shouldn't yet have mastered the obfuscation routine. Laura Bush says she'd be a good President (would she really just say that?). And now Dick Morris has a book out called Condi vs. Hillary: The Next Great Presidential Race. So I'm upping Condi from 25:1 to 18:1. - John McCain is making some inroads with his party's right wing, which is exactly the constituency he needs to court to win the nomination. Accordingly, I'm upping him from 7:2 to 3:1.
The House "has been run like a plantation, and you know what I'm talking about," said Clinton, D-N.Y. "It has been run in a way so that nobody with a contrary view has had a chance to present legislation, to make an argument, to be heard."
"We have a culture of corruption, we have cronyism, we have incompetence," she said. "I predict to you that this administration will go down in history as one of the worst that has ever governed our country."
Last night I watched a History Channel show on the American presidents from 1945-1977 (part of a series spanning the whole list). They started talking about Nixon. About how paranoid he was about his enemies, and how he was upset by the leaking problems within his own adiministration. How he deliberately misled the public with his "secret plan" to end the Vietnam war, while actually increasing its scope to Cambodia and Laos. How he didn't tolerate dissent and couldn't believe it when the country disagreed with things he did.
While watching I thought quite honestly to myself... who will history regard as a worse President - Bush or Nixon? Right now, I'd say Nixon by a nose. But Bush still has 3 years.
Democrats must make raising the minimum wage a central part of their platform
As DonkeyRising points out, raising the minimum wage is an INCREDIBLY popular position... 83% were in favor in a November Gallup poll (93% of Dems, 80% of Indys, 73% of Republicans). The Democratic Party would be so foolish not to make this issue (and potentially a broader effort to tackle poverty) a main part of their platform. It's been on the backburner for awhile... let's throw it out there. It speaks to what we believe in... a minimum standard of living for everyone who works.
This is such a depressing commentary of the state of healthcare in the U.S.:
They [a NYC diabetes center focussing every-day maintenance and complication avoidance] did not shut down because they had failed their patients. They closed because they had failed to make money. They were victims of the byzantine world of American health care, in which the real profit is made not by controlling chronic diseases like diabetes but by treating their many complications.
We don't prevent obesity, we perform costly gastric bypass surgeries.
We don't discourage smoking, we expensively treat the lung cancers in the patients final years.
Iraq War: 2,200 soldiers killed. 30,000+ civilians killed. And now $1-2 TRILLION !!!
Nobel prize winning Columbia Economist (and Amherst grad) Joseph Stiglitz, andHarvard budget expert Linda Blimes are publishing a report calculating the full cost of the Iraq war in dollars, and the number is staggering: $1-2 trillion, up to 10x more than the Bush Administration said before the war (when a Bush adviser said it could cost $200 billion, the White House called that much too high).
And this report is based on CONSERVATIVE estimates. And only the U.S. costs (not counting Iraq, the UK, etc.)
The study, which expands on traditional estimates by including such costs as lifetime disability and healthcare for troops injured in the conflict as well as the impact on the American economy, concludes that the U.S. Government is continuing to grossly underestimate the cost of the war.
Again, let me explain why I bring this up... I want George Bush's legacy to be that he royally screwed this up, because he really did. We must learn from his mistakes as commander in chief, and vow to never repeat them.
Watched some of the Alito hearings yesterday. Looks like the most interesting questioning is going to be from Feinstein and Schumer, but it's unlikely that Alito's going to answer any of the important questions at all. Roberts solidified the recent precedent of not answering in detail any questions on issues that might come before him on the court, and Alito will try to use that as well. Schumer says he can't, because he's already opined in writing on things like his personal view on abortion. But doubt that will go anywhere.
The senate approval process is broken, in my opinion. This man will become one of the most important officials in government, but yet we can't really find out much about how he thinks.
Two Williams professors argue persuasively in an editorial in todays Times that the 22nd Amendment, which limits a president to 2 terms, should be repealed.
The Amendment was passed only in 1951 as a Republican response to FDR's electoral success... most people probably think this was part of the original Constituion. In fact, as the authors point out, George Washington and Alexander Hamilton both argued against term limits.
I've written about this once before I think. Term limits are inherently undemocratic... they assume that voters can't decide for themselves whether someone has been uncorrupted. That's a debatable issue.
If it were up to me, I think I would vote to get rid of them.
As some of you know, President Kennedy's assasination is a little side interest of mine. Like many people, I'd like to know who the hell was responsible.
A new German film asserts that Cuba paid Lee Harvey Oswald to assasinate President Kennedy. Not having seen it, some of the story seems plausible.
An interesting side of this is the increasing way people seem to be using movies to argue a point (eg. Farenheit 9/11). Many people who wouldn't read a book or an article (and definitely not 2 books or articles offering different viewpoints) would be willing to see a movie, and perhaps have it influence their opinion. Democrat types, closer to Hollywood, probably stand to benefit from the emergence of this form of political influence media.
Ariel Sharon's illness, and possible death, will be much the opposite of Yasser Arafat's death two years ago. While Arafat's death allowed for the Palestinian government to begin negotiations and make some compromises, therefore providing a huge boost to the peace process, it's quite possible that Sharon's exit from the government of Israel will seriously stall the move toward peaceful coexistance.
Assuming Sharon cannot run in the March elections, it's likely to be a 3-way race between Labor's Amir Peretz (who would probably work with Palestine, but has little credibility as of yet), Likud's Benjamin Netanyahu (who would almost definitely stop concessions to Palestinians and maybe even reverse some of Sharon's progress), and Sharon's deputy Ehud Olmert (nobody knows what he thinks independently).
It's amazing to think of Ariel Sharon, former hard-line military general, as the best chance Israel/Palestine have for peace, but I'm afraid that's likely the case.
Now, some GOP strategists fear that the fallout from his case could affect the party's efforts to keep control in the November midterm elections.
As I posted yesterday, I definitely agree with this part of the WaPo article:
In the post-Abramoff era, what once was accepted as business as usual may be seen as questionable or worse.
It will be very interesting to see if we notice any difference in how Congress operates in the first half of this new year, since basically all congressional staff members will be instructed by their elected boss to be EXTREMELY careful of contact with lobbyists, even legitimate contact (though I hate the lobbying industry... really is any of it necessary?).