Robbing Peter

This just about gave me an ulcer:

Senate Republicans, struggling to make more room for President Bush’s cherished tax cut plan in their annual budget, yesterday settled on an unusual and controversial solution: raise taxes elsewhere.

Under White House pressure to include at least a bare-bones version of Bush’s bid to eliminate the tax on corporate dividends, Finance Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (Iowa) and fellow committee Republicans broke from their no-new-taxes orthodoxy to propose tax increases on Americans living abroad, companies sheltering income overseas and others. All told, committee members approved more than 30 tax increases or other revenue raisers to help fund their tax cuts in other areas, including dividends.

Is it really this hard, guys? Although I am in favor of getting rid of tax shelters, there are other ways to balance the budget (not that you are really trying). All together now:


Bill Bennett, One More Time

I have written about the Bennett gambling fiasco here, here, and here. I shouldn’t have wasted my time, and instead should have just directed you to Arthur Silber’s joint, because he says everything I wanted to the way I wanted to.

So when the question of hypocrisy is raised in connection with the recent revelations, most people are viewing the issue precisely backwards. It obviously isn’t the case that Bennett railed against the evils of gambling, while privately gambling away millions of dollars. What is notable is that Bennett did not rail against the “private” behavior of gambling — while at the same time, he did rail against the sins of drug use, the strong inadvisability (in his view) of legal recognition of same-sex marriage, and other similar “sins.” And the point is simply this: if you proceed from a consistent recognition of individual rights, there is no principled method by which to distinguish among these various behaviors — and, again, unless someone violates the rights of others, these behaviors should be outside the bounds of governmental concern altogether.

But it is Bennett himself who advocates government intrusion into what ought to be private concerns. Because he has no principled approach to these matters, however, he advocates governmental regulation of those behaviors he personally views as “wrong,” while exempting those behaviors of which he approves. And we now find out that he also exempts those behaviors that he himself engages in. As someone might say: how convenient.

Just beautiful. Go read the whole thing and hit his tip jar.

C’mon Andy

I am not sure what Andrew Sullivan is thinking about in this defense of Bill Bennett’s gambling:

What, I ask myself, has he conceivably done wrong? He has done nothing illegal. He has done nothing hypocritical. Only in the minds of a few religious fanatics, has he done anything immoral. This invasion of his privacy and attempted smearing of his character have been perpetrated for transparently political reasons and are yet another sign of how our culture is making it increasingly difficult for any actual living, breathing, fallible human being to function in public life, without profound personal costs. Is it relevant that Bennett is a “moralizer”? Not in the slightest. He hasn’t moralized against the alleged “vice” he has engaged in; in fact, the record shows the opposite. Yes, he has hob-nobbed with the likes of James Dobson and other theocrats.

Andy- Why don’t you ask him what he thinks about anal sex between consenting adults? Or oral sex? Or simply dressing in drag? I bet you won’t like his position. Josh Marshall gets it, though:

Now, two key points have been made in B(2)’s defense. One is that he didn’t lose so much money as to endanger the well-being of his family. Or, as Bennett himself said, that he can ‘handle it.’ (Isn’t this what we hear from recreational drug users, who hold down jobs and have intact families?)…

The other point made in Bennett’s defense is that he may have been an offensive sermonizer on all sorts of vices, but this is the one vice he left alone. So you can hardly charge him with hypocrisy. To me it’s seems just the opposite. Bennett goes off on every ‘vice’ there is, save the one he seems to indulge. That seems very much like cutting himself the break he cuts no one else.

Why doesn’t Bennett just shut up and let us all choose our own vices? That seems to make more sense…

As Atrios puts it (You have no idea how much this probably hurts both of us to agree on something):

The defense that Bennett never condemned gambling, so therefore he can’t be a hypocrite, is silly. Bennett didn’t just tell us we must obey Bill’s 10 commandments, he told us that we should all be a bunch of moralizing assholes and that we should apply social pressure to things we consider bad – doubly so for people in public life.

I don’t think that drinking, smoking, gambling, and eating are for most people such a big deal. Clearly, nor does Bill Bennett. I also don’t think homosexuality is a bad thing, I think decent people (and not so decent ones including many of Bennett’s pals) get divorced, and once in awhile people get a blowjob. But, Mr. Virtue is the one who has argued we should bring back the Scarlet Letters for things we disapprove of. When he made that argument he wasn’t saying it was for things that he disapproved of, but as Kinsley points out he argued that we must “enter judgments on a whole range of behaviors and attitudes.”


Jerry Falwell, Jim Baker, and now Bob Bennett- whenever someone spends all his time trying to tell you how to live your life, you know they are full of it:

Some of Bennetts losses have been substantial. According to one casino source, on July 12 of last year, Bennett lost $340,000 at Caesars Boardwalk Regency in Atlantic City, and on April 5 and 6 of 2003 he lost more than $500,000 at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Some casino estimates put his total losses over the past decade at more than $8 million. Theres a term in the trade for his kind of gambler, says a casino source who has witnessed Bennett at the high-limit slots in the wee hours. We call them losers.

Maybe this will shred his credibility and he will shut up about things he knows nothign about- like sensible drug policies.

Santorum, Pt. 2

By now, unless you live in a cavem you have probably heard that Rick Santorum was intentionally misquoted, and in a manner that is quite appalling (although not perhaps as apalling as Santorum’s views on homosexuality).

Here is the quote as it first appeared:

“If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual (gay) sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything.”

Now here is the actual quote:

“If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything.”

Despite what some might want to think- that is a big difference, and it was absolutely irresponsible for the AP to report the quote in the first manner. If you think I am exxagerating how awful this addition was, try these sentences I am making up on for size and tell me if you see a difference:

“I don’t like many people.”

Compare that to:

“I don’t like many (black) people.”

or “I don’t like many (gay) people.”

Big difference. Regardless, though, Santorum is not off the hook. He clearly has some Cro Magnon views on sexuality (as discussed by Sullivan and Scalzi) and some frighteningly paternalistic viewpoints regarding the role of government and individual liberty.

Sometimes I think these guys are actively trying to get me to vote for Democrats.

*** UPDATE ***

The Diabloggers have a great entry on the Santorum affair even though they call me stupid for initially not noticing the inserted (gay) in my first post). Oh well- they were right, I was stupid.