Question for the Day

I should have asked this yesterday, but, that is just things go. Here is the question for the day:

Are tax rates a moral issue?








Axis of Evil?

Al Qaeda and Iran:

Iranian officials Thursday told a U.N. representative that Iran has several unnamed al Qaeda operatives in custody, CNN has learned.

The acknowledgment comes as Washington has intensified its accusations that al Qaeda terrorists are inside Iran — something Tehran had previously denied.

U.S. officials said the key question is whether the al Qaeda operatives in custody are allowed to communicate and receive visitors.








The Long and Winding Road, Pt. 2

The Ny Times is reporting that both the abysmally named Palestinian Authority and Ariel Sharon are both in favor of pursuing the Bush road map to peace in the Middle East.

One of the things that has perplexed me in the past few weeks were all the calls that the so-called ‘road map’ has all but been scrapped because of the recent terrorism. This seems to me to be a silly way to view the peace plan, which has a series of steps that should be acted upon when certain conditions are met. The very first of those is:

In Phase I. the Palestinians immediately undertake an unconditional cessation of violence according to the steps outlined below; such action should be accompanied by supportive measures undertaken by Israel. Palestinians and Israelis resume security cooperation based on the Tenet work plan to end violence, terrorism, and incitement through restructured and effective Palestinian security services.

If these conditions are not met, and an argument could be made that recent events have certainly showed that they may not have been, this does not mean you throw the entire plan out. Instead, it would seem, you shelve the plan until those conditions have been met, and then you proceed forward. Let me try an example:

A college student wants to become a doctor, and one of the preconditions is to take a microbiology course. The student fails the course- should he/she simply scrap the plan to become a doctor? Most of us would simply put that plan on hold, and then take the microbiology course again. Once that condition has met, then we would move forward with the rest of the plan.

Another problem with this sniping about what many view as the stillborn plan is the bizarre perception that plans always proceed according to, well, planning. They don’t. This won’t. I think it is safe to say that reports of the road map’s demise may have been premature.








Prediction

After watching the Democrat candidates for a couple of months, I have decided that Gephardt or Dean are the ones who stand the best chance of winning the nomination. Balloon Juice readers will note that this is a complete reversal for me regarding Gephardt, who months ago I said was completely unelectable. I still think he is unelectable, but he looks better than the rest of the Democrats out there, and he seems to have the Unions wrapped up, as well as securing the endorsements of everyone who matters in Congress.

Dean seems to have a shot because he is strident and angry, and he appeals to the fringe elements of the Democrat party who are just bitter and angry. That counts, for now.








Good For Him… And You

Send Gov. Bob Ehrlich (R- MD) a few bucks and a thank you:

Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. yesterday became the nation’s first Republican governor to sign into law a measure that relaxes criminal punishment for seriously ill people who use marijuana to relieve pain and other symptoms.








The Green Old Party

Interesting article on the environment in the GOP in the Times this morning:

As Christie Whitman, the most prominent suburban woman in the Bush administration, steps down at E.P.A., the coverage primarily concerns the issues on which she was overruled. This ignores some of her significant achievements the “brownfields” legislation that will return thousands of derelict urban sites to productive use, and the decision to reduce the pollutants from diesel fuels. Yet again a Republican administration is widely seen as unfriendly to the environment, and its E.P.A. administrator as a casualty of neglect.

There are political strategists within the party who say it doesn’t matter, that environmentalists won’t credit a Republican administration no matter how green, and certainly won’t vote for one. That may well be true. Nevertheless, there are many good reasons for the Bush team to give the environment a higher priority.

I was under the impression that Bush had kept many of the policies of the Clinton era, had upheld the GE dredging of the Hudson, and had actually done a number of pro-environment actions, including the Diesel Fuel emission restrictions which was hailed as one of the most significant new pieces of pro-environment regulation in years . The only thing I remember getting short shrift were CAFE standards, and I thought that was a congressional action.

Does anyone have an objective rundown of what has and has not been done environmentally by this administration?








Michigan Blog Party

Details here.








Another Bush Victory

UN sanctions on Iraq have ended:

The United States and Britain won an international mandate today to occupy and rebuild Iraq, as the Security Council voted to end nearly 13 years of sanctions. It was a significant diplomatic victory for the Bush administration, as France, Germany and Russia, the principal opponents of the American-led war, lined up in support of the measure.

The resolution passed by a 14-to-0 vote this morning while the chair set aside for Syria, the lone Arab nation on the Council, remained empty. This afternoon, the Syrian charg d’affaires, Fayssal Mekdad, said at a later Council meeting that his government would have voted for the measure had it more time to deliberate.








In Their Own Words

On Hardball, while discussing new gun laws to help fight terrorism (stop giggling), Chris Matthews and Frank Lautenberg had this exchange (paraphrased- I will correct when the transcript is up):

Matthews: “What do you do when these gun laws to stop terrorists from getting guns might keep a guy who just wants to hunt from getting a rifle?”

Lautenberg: “That is just a chance we have to take.”

Aye carumba.








And Now For Something Completely Different

IN MLB, if a pitcher throws the ball, it hits the ground and then hits the batter, what is this?

Does the batter get a base? Is it a wild pitch?








One More Try at This

Trying to get a straight answer on this issue is turning out to be impossible. I am going to try one more time.

You are sitting at a table, contemplating creating a fictional government. You are not at war, you have no budgetary needs, there are no starving children, welfare moms, bone thin elderly waiting on a social security check, uninsured sick, or anything of the sort. You are in a fictional world creating a fictional government. There are no rich, there are no poor, EVERYONE makes exactly the same amount of money. You ask yourself this question:

How much of my fictional citizen’s income do I think it is acceptable to take every year in the form of taxes. At what level of taxation would I say to myself, “X% is too much, it would be immoral to take that % from any individual.”

We’ll try this and see where we get.








Norah Vincent is Sorry

No one, not even the most vile partisan hack, would succumb to the temptation to sully Memorial Day with political agitprop over the conflict in Iraq. At least you would think that. You would be wrong. I don’t have the energy for a full frontal fisking, so I will just post her remarks and then respond the best I can:

We will and should say thank you a million times over to our veterans, as well as to those now serving overseas.

But in light of recent disasters like the one currently devolving in Iraq a country that, all the experts agree, is teetering on the brink either of all-out anarchy or civil war instead of just expressing the usual perfunctory gratitude, maybe we should also be saying we’re sorry. It seems the least we can do. So here goes.

To all the servicemen and -women, alive, dead or injured in Iraq, we send out the following apology: We’re sorry that you planned and executed your military strategy so remarkably well, only to find that the barnacles in Washington hadn’t quite perfected their post-bellum game plan.

We’re sorry that our airlifted bureaucrats dropped the ball in the end zone after you endured blinding sandstorms, infernal heat, gaptoothed supply lines, the cowardly tactics of the enemy and the loquacious menace of embedded journalists and after you made such remarkably quick work of Saddam Hussein’s chimeric Republican Guard and craven regular army.

We’re sorry they hustled you into peacekeeping in an impossibly chaotic capital roiling with more than two decades’ worth of repressed rage and sectarian hate a mission that you were neither trained nor empowered to perform, but for which they nonetheless held you responsible even while they arrogantly denied you the proffered assistance of the United Nations and our erstwhile Security Council opponents France and Germany.

Norah Vincent, you sorry hack, this one is for you:

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Tell Em Dean

Dean Esmay on Democrat whining about Republican fundraising:

So. We’ll get to hear more handwringing from the whiners of the Left about how much more money Bush has than his Democratic challengers. But while you’re listening to this pathetic whining–and make no mistake, you’ll hear lots more of it over the next year or so—just remember: Democrats set the game up this way, and Bush handed them the rope by which they hung themselves.

It is truly deserving of unbridled contempt.








C’Mon Democrats

Alright Democrats, you are dropping the ball. Yesterday, I asked you to tell me what level of taxation is enough for you to call off the nasty rhetoric. We only had a few responses. So, we will try this one more time:

At what level of taxation will Democrats agree the rich are no longer greedy? Answers should be a percentage, rather than “when the budget is balanced and our needs are met.” Should a person making a million dollars be forced to give 5 out of every 10 dollars he/she earns to federal, state, and local government?

6 out of 10? When will you stop calling them greedy- just give me a number, please.

Once you have figured out what percentage of their income is enough to stop calling them greedy, then tell me what level of taxation would just be downright unfair and immoral. I am curious.








The War on Your Neighbors

Via TalkLeft, this absolutely disgusting devlopment:

Tomorrow the House will mark up a bill to allow the National Drug Control Office and Drug Czar John Walters to spend what could amount to up to a billion of our taxpaying dollars on advertising to fight state marijuana ballot initiatives.

Never mind the fact that we have record deficits, your government has decided to spend a billion dollars to fight the political will of the people. Absolutely unbelievable.