Mostly rational politics, with occasional rants about how a few crazy Republicans are ruining the country.
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Thursday, January 31, 2008
Michael Kinsley gets it exactly right on the last page of last Friday's issue of TIME on how stupid the fiscal stimulus package is. Read the article.
The stimulus plan agreed upon by Bush and the House Democrats is all wrong for the economy. Kinsley likens the plan to curing a hangover by having another drink: we've been borrowing from foreigners to finance out of control consumption, and now because the economy is softening we should borrow even more to keep domestic consumption up? If we do this we just kick the problem down the road.
The ultimate problem that we must face - now or later, and the later we let it slip the worse the recession will be - is that we are operating with an unsustainable budget deficit combined with runaway consumer spending.
My solution: We need to raise taxes on many people but especially the wealthy; raise and impose taxes (and reduce tax breaks) on adverse behaviors like carbon pollution, driving, oil refining; shift the tax structure from taxing labor to taxing consumption (adding a small progressively-structured VAT would work wonders); and have government invest in infrastructure (Mike Huckabee is right on this point). These things will get us on the path to solving the twin problems - reduce our borrowing from foreign governments and individuals, and reign in consumer spending - while relying on good old government spending to create new jobs in infrastructure and green technology.
For each candidate, here's a list of the people I respect that have endorsed, or are working for, that candidate. I've excluded those with obvious biases (like the NY congressional delegation for Hillary, and Illinois's for Obama)
Obama Ted Kennedy John Kerry Tom Daschle Deval Patrick Patrick Leahy Tim Kaine Kathleen Sebelius Toni Morrison Paul Volcker *new*
Hillary Clinton Diane Feinstein Daniel Inouye Evan Bayh Jennifer Granholm Debbie Stabenow
"My fellow Americans, I am sick and tired of not being president," said Clinton, introducing his wife at a "Hillary '08" rally. "For seven agonizing years, I have sat idly by as others experienced the joys of campaigning, debating, and interacting with the people of this great nation, and I simply cannot take it anymore. I have to be president again. I have to."
"From signing healthcare reform legislation, to working with politicians from across the aisle, to brokering international peace treaties with foreign dignitaries, I goddamn love being president," Clinton said. "For too long has this nation been deprived of a Bill Clinton presidency, and for too long have I been deprived of being president. Now I get to experience all these wonderful things again myself."
I like Hillary Clinton - think she's extremely smart and capable, a terrific senator who'd probably make a good President. And I liked Bill Clinton in office, and like even more what he's been doing out of office.
But lately, these two seem to be demonstrating exactly what it is that I, and I think others, can't stand about them. They - particularly Bill - seem to have an unshakeable sense of entitlement to Hillary becoming President, or at least the Democratic nominee. Mainly in their on-the-trail press conferences and one-on-one interviews - the kind you see on Hardball w/ Matthews and Countdown w/ Olbermann - they just seem to be dripping with content over Obama's supposed arrogance.
Bill especially seems to have no qualms with dragging down the discourse and levelling personal attacks - something that is unattractive in any political spouse but especially so in a former President. But Hillary too, in the South Carolina debate referring to Obama's relationship with a "slum-lord in inner city Chicago", demonstrated a willingness to engage in whatever kind of personal attack is necessary to win. Obama's no saint, but he doesn't take things to this level.
Hillary could lose the general election by doing this same thing against McCain. Let's avoid that scenario.
Senator Edwards, have you or any members of your family ever worked in a factory or other kind of manufacturing facility? Parent? Grandparent? If so, can you please tell us whether this had any effect on your political philosophy? You have 30 seconds.
Mayor Giuliani, can you think of any single event in your professional life, perhaps during your tenure as mayor, that demonstrated your leadership or shaped your worldview? Also, do any of the policy challenges we now face remind you at all of Word War II? If so, how?
Governor Romney, a two-parter. First, is there any political figure—a former president maybe—whom you believe embodied the principles of conservatism? If so, do you share any similarities? Second, do you have any misgivings about the state of government in Washington? Would you describe it as very functional, reasonably functional, or something else?
Senator Obama, do you happen to know how many of the candidates on stage opposed the invasion of Iraq? What were your own feelings at the time, if you can remember? Also, is there any one word—faith or optimism or something like that—that you feel captures the spirit of your campaign? Take a moment, if you need to.
Senator Clinton, is there any one thing that you feel might be missing from Barack Obama’s resume as a presidential candidate, any particular weakness that you might have detected in his qualifications for the job? Also, can you tell us on which day, after assuming the presidency, that you might actually be ready to lead? Day three? Day four? Please be specific.
Governor Huckabee, without prying into your personal beliefs, is there any particular creed or faith that guides your decision-making? And are there any books, historical texts or parchment scrolls that have been particularly relevant to your life? Please be brief.
This is a question for all the Democrats on the panel: Many voters feel that President Bush has enhanced the country’s reputation and been a force for good in the world. Do you agree or disagree? How would you rate him compared to, say, Franklin Roosevelt or Harry Truman?
Senator McCain, one of the concerns people often express about Washington is that it’s awash in campaign money. Have you noticed this problem, and, as a senator, have you taken any steps at all to address it? Also, can you please clarify, once and for all, your position on Iraq? Would you have any objection to withdrawing some troops before the mission is complete?
Finally, I’d pose this question to all the candidates: Do you or do you not support our troops? Please explain.
In today's WSJ, he writes a long article explaining why Hillary won New Hampshire, and making a not-so-subtle argument for her candidacy over Obama's.
I don't think Rove has an honest/fair bone in his body, so I'm viewing this totally cynically... that he is trying to influence the race because he relishes the general election fight against Hillary, and he's scared of same against Obama.
After last night, which feels to me like the culmination of what started in the summer of 2003, all the hope we put into Howard Dean and the ability of America to be rational and progressive, and with a new candidate, whose upbringing and demographics - international, young, mixed race - exemplify the future of America, and who has now shown at least twice his ability to deliver a transformational speech, and demonstrated that the movement is finally ripe and being executed upon (not evaporating for fear of losing in 2004), it is now clear to me.
Barack Obama is what we need in a President.
His shortcomings don't matter... they can be made up for with advisors. He has what a President must: presence, leadership, honesty, judgment, trustworthiness, an inspiring voice. All the things that Bush lacks that makes us reviled around the world.
So, John Edwards should run a poverty non-profit, or maybe be secretary of Labor. Hillary Clinton and Chris Dodd should stay in the Senate and be kickass legislators. Bill Richardson should be a governor. Joe Biden, I think, should be Vice President.
I'm starting to think my McCain tying Huckabee in Iowa call is just a little too aggressive... I think I'll redistribute 3 points from McCain to Huckabee, so now my GOP prediction looks like this. Still, I think the stories will be Romney's dominance, Huckabee's fade, and McCain's surprise. Then McCain will get some momentum coming out of New Hampshire. Ultimately, however, I still think Romney will win. Republican: Romney 32 Huckabee 23 McCain 17 Thompson 11 Paul 9 Giuliani 8