Friday, June 29, 2007

There They Go Again, Vol. XX458

Talk Radio, controlled by conservatives, is teh good.

The Internets, not controlled by anybody, but heavily populated by dirty, pinko, latte-sipping, hippies, is bringing an end to civilization as we know it.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Knowing Dick

I don't mean to take anything away from the otherwise excellent four-part Washington Post expose on Vice, but there were a couple of items that stood out from part three that seemed a little under-whelming to me.

In Tuesday's "Dominating Budget Decisions" segment, the post writers relate this account from the halls of the WH:

Perhaps more important than Cheney's influence in pushing policies is his power to stop them before they reach the Oval Office.

When Edward P. Lazear, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, broached the idea of limiting the popular mortgage tax deduction, he said he quickly dropped it after Cheney told him it would never fly with Congress. "He's a big timesaver for us in that he takes off the table a lot of things he knows aren't going to go anywhere," Lazear said.

Does anyone see the problem here? Any sixth-grader could tell you that fiddling with the "popular" mortgage tax deduction was gonna be a non-starter. I wouldn't credit Dick too much with having stifled that idea before it reached the President.

Then there's this matter of Vice chairing something called the budget review board, which, according to the Post writers, was--

....a panel the Bush administration created to set spending priorities and serve as arbiter when Cabinet members appeal decisions by White House budget officials. The White House has portrayed the board as a device to keep Bush from wasting time on petty disagreements, but previous administrations have seldom seen Cabinet-level disputes in that light. Cheney's leadership of the panel gives him direct and indirect power over the federal budget -- and over those who must live within it. [Read then-OMB Director Joshua Bolten's memo about the review board.]

At first glance this sounds pretty impressive, particularly that bit about arbitering budget disputes between cabinet heads and WH staff.

But then just a few paragraphs down we read

Cheney shared conservative trepidations about the president's signature education initiative, the No Child Left Behind Act, which gave the federal government more control over K-12 education. He has griped privately to confidants, such as economist and CNBC host Lawrence Kudlow, about the administration's failure to control spending. And in robust internal White House discussions, he raised concerns about the cost of the administration's decision to expand Medicare to include a new multibillion-dollar drug entitlement, but bowed to the political reality that the president had to fulfill a campaign promise.

So, while Vice has been chairing this budget review board, and serving as the administration's conservative conscience on spending matters, the administration has still managed to let spending spiral and enacted an expensive new drug entitlement to boot along the way.

Finally, let's think about taxes, particularly the president's tax cut packages. The Post writers are eager to give Dick a lot of credit for the president's tax policies, especially since Vice really wanted both a capital gains cut and a special write-off for business investment.

Says the Post writers--

Bush sided with Cheney on the dividends tax but thought it would be better to eliminate it altogether. The president was cooler on the capital gains tax, according to Conda and others. And having campaigned on a platform of compassionate conservatism, he expressed doubts about giving another income tax break to the wealthiest Americans, particularly because they would benefit the most from the elimination of the dividends tax, Hubbard said.

Hey, number 1, Bush campaigned on tax cuts and knew tax cuts would go to the highest income folks, so the Post writers inserting, and apparently buying, this line about Bush being cautious about proving more tax cuts for the rich doesn't ring true. Number 2, the Bush administration entered office with a budget surplus and given both the 2000 recession and the economic effects of 9/11, weren't likely to be directed off course from their tax cutting goals in any event. With or without Cheney, Bush was going to favor a tax cutting policy. And the signature item of the tax cuts were first, the income tax cuts, and second, the inheritence tax cut. The dividend and capital gains cuts, while important, were peripheral in the overall scheme of things.

3 Signs

the apocalypse is upon us:

1. CNN's Paula Zahn show at 8 pm includes a countdown clock to Paris Hilton's Larry King appearance at 9 pm
2. CNN's Larry King plays host to Paris Hilton for a full hour from 9-10
3. at 10 pm CNN's Anderson Cooper plays host to an expert panel convened to discuss Paris Hilton's Larry King appearance during the prior hour and to discuss all things Paris Hilton

I can understand number two somewhat, but numbers 1 and 3 make me remember fondly the days of Ted Turner, Frank Sesno and Bernard Shaw.

Dealing with Ann Coulter

As some of you may have noticed, Tweety had his favorite guest, Ann Coulter, on Hardball the other night. Only this time, Elizabeth Edwards called in to confront Coulter and her hateful comments regarding the Edwards' deceased son and Coulter's expression of support for Edwards' assassination.

This is of course all in addition to Coulter's "Edwards is a faggot" slur at a conservative hatefest (when was that--just a few months ago??) which resulted in Coulter's "column" being dropped from some newspapers and coming in for some, very limited, criticism by her conservative peers, who were mostly offended that Coulter may be dragging the conservative movement down into the slime with her. Not to mention that the "Edwards is a faggot" slur was supposed to be evidence that, at last, Coulter had really, really gone too far this time, really, and that this would surely result, really, in her not getting the usual slew of bookings in the future by respectful media outlets who had finally tired of her antics and had seen the light. Well.

But there is one angle it seems to me that has been curiously underplayed by liberals in the Ann Coulter culture wars; namely that Coulter passes herself off as a Christian, yet continues to say, and bases her entire faux fame on, deliriously hateful comments towards all sorts of people, and is by all visible evidence, completely devoid of any principle--in other words, while she passes herself off as a "Christian" her antics, words and behavior are anything but.

So, instead of asking Coulter to please stop her public displays of vulgarity and hate (although in Elizabeth Edwards' case, it was probably the right approach to start off with), why not take her at her word that she cares a great deal about the Christian faith and confront her with the words of the One she professes to follow, and the vast discrepancy between the admonitions of her faith and how she treats others, particularly those she disagrees with? Are her words and actions really Christian? She claims to want to advance the interests and values of Christianity, but what about Ann Coulter--and her legion of supporters--is Christian?

That would be my approach. And since I'm unlikely to be invited on any shows opposite Coulter, it is what I would recommend to Democratic bloggers, pundits and politicians who might have the opportunity to do so.