Getting rid of the IRS?

Finally, something Bush wants to do that I agree with. If you take a step back for a split second and think about this it makes so much sense. Eliminate the IRS and replace it with a national sales tax.

All of a sudden, the problem of what future generations owe in Social Security and Medicare wonÂ’t be so daunting anymore. The answer is to grow the economy, and the key to doing that is making sure we have a tax system that attracts capital and builds incentives to keep it here instead of forcing it out to other nations.

Imagine if you make $40,000 a year. The IRS takes 30% of that. The sales tax would probably be proportional maybe even a little less (since the IRS wouldn’t be sucking up funds to run itself). But what makes this great is that I don’t have to ever fill out another 1040-ES ever again. And that, my friends, is reason to rejoice.

Run For Your Lives! The Gays Won!

All joking aside, yesterday was a major victory for those of us who think the federal government has no right to tell us who we can and cannot live and share our life with. Afterall, the pesky marriage licenses at the center of this debate were first issued to prevent interracial marriages.

Historically, all the states in America had laws outlawing the marriage of blacks and whites. In the mid-1800’s, certain states began allowing interracial marriages or miscegenation as long as those marrying received a license from the state.

The reality is that this is not a federal issue. It’s a state issue and should remain such. For instance, gay marriage would be perfectly acceptable to the majority of the people in California, but most likely not in Wyoming. It was for this reason why more than a few, including my favorite John McCain, broke ranks and voted against the proposed ammendment. The feds already allow states to ignore marriage licenses from other states so why does it matter that “civil unions” are legal in New Jersey? Wyoming and the many other backward thinking states can just ignore such licenses issued by New Jersey.

I don’t so much view this as a victory for gays as I do see it as a victory for privacy and states rights.

New Bush Policy: You're fired!

A new Bush plicy is starting to be used throughout government and it’s been properly licensed from The Donald. People in government who speak out against Bush policies or are critical of actions taken by the White House are being either forced out of office our outright fired for their criticisms. Just ask former U.S. Park Police Chief Teresa Chambers who was fired recently for criticising a lack of funding and support for our Nation’s parks.

“The American people should be afraid of this kind of silencing of professionals in any field,” she said. “We should be very concerned as American citizens that people who are experts in their field either can’t speak up, or, as we’re seeing now in the parks service, won’t speak up.”

National Park Service officials said Chambers broke rules barring public comment about budget discussions and prohibiting lobbying by someone in her position.

Shouldn’t she be the one lobbying for more funding if she sees a glaring lack of it? This makes no sense and appears, at least to me, to be politically motivated. Personally, I’d like to know ahead of time from the people in charge that we need more funding, more officers, etc. I’d also like it if they weren’t fired for telling me such things.

Viable Alternative

Ever since Bush’s crappy foreign policy, horrible stance on the environment and the consisten eroding of my rights made me mad I’ve been shopping for a political party to register as and vote for. Easy you say. Wrong. Both Democrats and Republicans play to special interests, generally abuse the government and, overall, suck. So who do you vote for?

You vote for a viable alternative.

The Libertarian Party is an interesting hybrid of the Democratic and Republic platform, most of which are common sense. The end result is a great platform that includes all sorts of things I agree with and a few I don’t.

  1. They would eliminate the income tax. How? By drastically reducing the size of the federal government. This includes ending military welfare to defend countries like Japan and NOT bailing out failing industries.
  2. They promote the legalization of drugs as a way to both reduce crime and reduce tax burden (no war on drugs means we don’t have to pay for tons of DEA agents).
  3. Privatize the running, control and operations of federally protected lands to such environmental groups as the Nature Conservancy.
  4. Abolish foreign aid.
  5. Abolish Social Security. I like this idea the more I think about it. Let ME invest my money how I see fit – I don’t need the government’s help.
  6. They aggressively believe in freedom of speech, which includes staunch support for the free and unrestricted use of cryptography and censorship.
  7. Abolish the current welfare system.

All of the above makes a ton of sense to me. Who better to run our nation’s parks than the tree hugging hippies? How better to get rid of the violence the drug trade produces than to make it legal? The running theme throughout the entire platform is that the people who vote Libertarian do so because we trust people to run their own lives. It’s a party that promotes responsibility.

They have a great ad on their site that says the following.

I’m George W. Bush and you can trust ME to run your life.

I’m John Kerry and you can trust ME to run your life.

I’m Ralph Nader and you can trust ME to run your life.

I’m Michael Badnarik and I trust YOU to run your own life.

Classic. So this year I’m voting for the Libertarian Party and I highly suggest you look into it as a viable alternative.

9/11 Panel Raises Cheney's Bet and Calls

The 9/11 commission is standing next to their findings that al Qaeda and Iraq had only limited connections. Cheney and Bush have both insisted, publicly, that Iraq and al Qaeda had a working relationship and that “we don’t know” if they were involved in 9/11.

“After examining available transcripts of [Vice President Dick Cheney’s] public remarks, the 9/11 commission believes it has access to the same information the vice president has seen regarding contacts between al Qaeda and Iraq prior to the 9/11 attacks,” the commission said in a written statement.

That statement comes in the wake of an interview Cheney gave last month on CNBC. During that interview, Cheney said “we don’t know” whether Iraq was involved in the attacks. Asked whether he had information the panel did not, the vice president said, “Probably.”

After Cheney’s statement on CNBC, the commission asked the vice president to come forward with any additional information he could provide about any ties between al Qaeda and Iraq.

I’ve got a couple of questions …

  1. Why does the VP have more information on 9/11 than the 9/11 commission?
  2. If it would clear the air with regards to apparent contradictions between what the 9/11 commission found and what the Bush administration said leading up to the war in Iraq as well as comments made since the commission’s report, then why wouldn’t the administration give the commission said information?

The answer to that could be as easy as they don’t have any more information and are simply trying to confuse the public with doublespeak. I hope this isn’t the case, since there are over 3000 families out there that deserve to know all the facts.

Fahrenheit 9/11 Review

I saw the movie Fahrenheit 9/11 on opening night. Why? Because that’s what tree hugging hippies do on a Friday night in Ann Arbor, MI. How was it? Well, that’s hard to say. First of all, the content is not ground breaking for anyone who has actually been paying attention and connecting the dots for themselves over the last few years.

There are two things that more does a great job of; breaking down the facts into small digestible pieces and showing the real consequences of our actions in Iraq. He makes a few arguments about Bush & Co. and the war in Iraq and mulches them into small bite size chunks. His arguments are as follows.

  1. The Bin Laden family and other high level Saudis were allowed to leave the country right after 9/11 without being questioned. Moore’s argument is a valid one here; if you committed a crime the police would surely want to question your entire family as soon as possible.
  2. Moore asserts that the close connections between the Bush family and the Saudi royal family is the reason they were allowed to leave. This is a plausible argument, but is certainly leaning towards conspiracy theory.
  3. The reasons given to us for war, which, at the time the President made his case, were weapons of mass destruction, were lies. The fact that Iraq had no WMD is well known and currently there is much debate on links between Iraq and al Qaeda.
  4. Bush is evil and stupid. I think you can only be one or the other, but I could be wrong. Moore does use a lot of gratuitous Bush snickering clips, etc., which don’t add to his argument and really are only there for laughs

Nothing really ground breaking here for those of you who actually watch the news and read once in a while, but what makes this movie so powerful is the fact that it breaks down the lies behind us going to war and the consequences of us going into Iraq (if you don’t like seeing the results of our military actions then this movie is not for you).

Now all of the GOP’s out there are condemning this movie, but what makes me so angry is that, in their blind allegiance to the party, they ignore the following facts.

  1. Bush said the main reason for invading Iraq was that is posed an immediate threat and possessed WMD’s (he even had sattelite photos!). We now know they did not, in fact, pose a threat or possess WMD’s. Some make the assertion that the WMD’s were smuggled out to another country leading up to the war. If that was, in fact, the case then Bush HAS NOT MADE US SAFER; he’s merely shifted where the WMD’s are located.
  2. Once it was clear there were no WMD’s the GOP started to shift the reasons for war. First it was the much contested Iraq-al Qaeda link and then it was “we’ve liberated them!” and now they espouse the virtues of having a Democratic state in the Middle East. First off, your party’s leaders are trying to justify a war while ignoring the fact they either lied about the WMD’s or screwed up the efforts to secure those WMD’s. Second, the terrorist links are vague at best. Finally, did anyone ever think to liberate Iranians or N. Koreans? Do they even want Deomcracy?

NOTE: The following list of scenes I liked a lot contains spoilers.

  1. I find it disgusting at how the patrons of the conference for war contractors talk about how much they are helping the country, etc. These vultures profit from the horrors of wars. There is a great clip about a soldier who makes $3k/mo. and is assigned to guard the oil fields where guys driving 2.5 miles and back make three times that a month.
  2. The look on the Senator’s face when Moore asks him if he’d like to sign up his son to the armed forces to figh in Iraq is simply classic.
  3. I didn’t like looking at the scenes of dead bodies and blown up babies, but I’m glad that millions of people out there are going to finally see what we’ve put the Iraqis through.

So, in short, the movie doesn’t bring any major new information to the forefront, but does break down the misdeads of the Iraq war and Bush & Co. quite well.

White House says

Recent media reports have been saying that there is a lot of double speak coming out of the White House concerning the Iraq/al Qaeda link. These are the facts as we currently know them.

  1. Whitehouse says there is no direct link between Iraq and al Qaeda concerning 9/11 specificallyYou’re right, if you’re talking specifically about the September 11th attacks, we never made that claim.
  2. 9/11 panel sees no link between Iraq, al-Qaidathe commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks reported Wednesday that Osama bin Laden met with a top Iraqi official in 1994 but found “no credible evidence” of a link between Iraq and al-Qaida in attacks against the United States.
  3. Cheney blasts media on al Qaeda-Iraq linkVice President Dick Cheney said Thursday the evidence is “overwhelming” that al Qaeda had a relationship with Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq, and he said media reports suggesting that the 9/11 commission has reached a contradictory conclusion were “irresponsible.”

As much as I hate to say this the reality is that the White House is right. They, as far as I can find, never said Saddam and al Qaeda worked together to pull off 9/11. What they are saying is that along the way Iraq and al Qaeda did have contacts with each other. The commission even says this.

… the commission also found that bin Laden did “explore possible cooperation with Iraq.”

But man, the White House really, really sucks at making their case. I’ve laid out an intelligent argument showing that the media (and bloggers) are basically jumping the gun to make fun of the White House on this one. Here is what Bush said (this is classic Bush here).

“The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al Qaeda [is] because there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda,” the president said.

Oh, OK that clears things up. Thanks for all of the interesting information supporting your claim. This is the kind of retarded logic the White House uses all the time. It’s the “just trust us” mentality. That’s not good enough for me. I’m happy to give you the benefit of the doubt, which is what I’m doing now, but you gotta give me something to work with! So, you’re wondering how everyone got confused? Before reading the following quote please re-read what the 9/11 commission said about the Iraq/al Qaeda link.

In his CNBC interview, Cheney went a bit further. Asked if Iraq was involved in 9/11, he said, “We don’t know.”

Oh, OK that clears things up. Sometimes I think this administration uses this sort of inter-contradiction with known facts, previous statements and other cabinet members just to confuse everyone and leave everyone scratching their heads.

UPDATE: It looks like Andrew Sullivan agrees with me [via Instapundit]. And you thought I only read leftist blogs!

UPDATE: Oh, so maybe they did vaguely say Iraq had a part in 9/11 [via Stephen VanDyke]. Bush wrote a letter to Congress in March of 2003 saying the following.

[A]cting pursuant to the Constitution and [the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002] is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.

Of course this can be taken either way. The White House could be saying that even communication with al Qaeda was aiding the terrorist attacks. It’s not the smoking gun that I’d like to see though.

Privatizing Social Security

Ask any Republican if we should privatize Social Security and you’ll get a resounding “YES!”. Meanwhile, ask any Democrat and you’ll get a resounding “NO!”. As usual, the reality is somewhere in between. Many reports have indicated that the current Social Security system will no longer be solvent in about 40 years (solvent means “profitable” – in other words we would be paying out more in Social Security than we took in). You can blame this on all the horney WWII vets.

It was after viewing this AARP “tutorial” on Social Security that I had what some might call a stroke of genius. I simply call it a stroke of common sense. Here are the pro’s and con’s of Privatizing Social Security as I see them currently.

Pros

  1. Depending on how you invest your Social Security you could realize strong gains by investing in the stock market.
  2. This would be a major victory for the stock market, in general, as a substantial sum of money would be infused into the market in a relatively short period of time. This, however, is a short term victory.
Cons

  1. Privatizing Social Security means you have absolutely NO guarantee that your money will be safe. Your money, once put into the stock market, will no longer be insured by the government.
  2. There is an enormous risk of corporate abuse. Companies could throw all the fees they wanted at transactions, etc. (ie. exactly what they do with your current IRA’s, etc.)

As you can see there are a couple of pro’s and con’s to each. I don’t think privatizing will fix the problem of us paying less in that we pay out. Here is how I think Social Security should be set up now.

  1. Make Social Security optional. If I want to be in total control of my retirement then let me be.
  2. Have two avenues for Social Security: a.) Government Bonds (pros: simple, insured; cons: very little/slow growth) b.) Privatized Account (pros: potential for high growth, flexibility in investment choices; cons: corporate fees, not insured, could lose your ass)
  3. Make sure all Social Security benefits paid for by employers cannot be invested in private accounts. This way if you do lose your ass in the stock market you still have something.

I think this structure could appeal to all sides (including Libertarians: see #1). The problem is that no one is willing to budge on this – each side wants all or nothing. Sad.

Bad Week For Bush

And it’s only Monday! And I doubted those who said Bush and his cronies were over-achievers. At any rate here are some great stories coming out this week.

  1. The State Department to Correct Terror ReportThe State Department said on Thursday its report that the number of international “terrorist” attacks fell last year was wrong and in fact had risen sharply.
  2. Cheney helped Haliburton land no-bid contractPentagon officials have acknowledged that Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff and other Bush administration political appointees were involved in a controversial decision to pay Halliburton Inc. to plan for the postwar recovery of Iraq’s oil sector … The decision, overruling the recommendations of an Army lawyer, eventually resulted in the award of a $7 billion no-bid contract to Halliburton …
  3. Bush Rejects calls from Ronald Reagan’s family to relax stem-cell research restrictionsThe White House rejected calls Monday from Ronald Reagan’s family and others to relax President Bush’s restrictions on stem-cell research in pursuit of potential cures for illnesses.
  4. Bush pays tribute to Clinton In a rare election-year political truce, US President George W. Bush warmly paid tribute to Bill Clinton and even plugged his forthcoming memoirs at his formal White House portrait unveiling.

So, as expected, it appears that Cheney DID use his influence as VP to get Haliburton the fishy no-bid contract. Some will say that Haliburton had received no-bid contracts under the Clinton administration, to which I say this: Clinton nor Gore were never closely connected at any time with Haliburton. I’m not mad that a company out there got a no-bid contract from the government, which happens often, what I’m mad about is that it appears the VP of the United States used his office and influence to secure a no-bid contract for a company in which he was formerly CEO.

My favorite is that on top of all the bad press this administration has been getting lately Bush had to pay tribute to Clinton (the GOP’s version of the anti-christ) during the unveiling of the former President’s White House portraits. Ouch.