Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for August 1st through August 2nd:
- Political Animal – Any Way You Slice It, Romney’s Tax Plan Is Regressive –
To put it simply, you can’t simultaneously reduce income tax rates across the board while further reducing taxation on investment income (not to mention abolishing taxation of inheritances) and then find anything like enough high-income “tax loopholes” to maintain the wealthiest Americans’ current share of the overall federal tax burden. And that is a problem separate from the virtual certainty that Romney’s tax proposals would enormously expand the federal budget deficit, and/or that the kind of effort (cf., the Ryan Budget) to reduce deficits he has shown he would support would have a devastating effect on the financial bottom line for low-to-moderate income Americans.
- Oh, And He’ll Confiscate All Your Guns While He’s At It – Lawyers, Guns & Money : Lawyers, Guns & Money –
Shorter Verbatim Crazy Stanley Kurtz: “President Obama is not a fan of America’s suburbs. Indeed, he intends to abolish them.”
His “evidence” for this is…Christ, you don’t want to know.
- If You Worry About Civic Inequality, You Should Also Worry About Economic Inequality – The Demos Blog – PolicyShop –
Equality is a funny thing in America. For the most part, Americans don't fret that much about economic inequality and yet are said to believe deeply in civic equality — the idea that everyone should have an equal say in our democracy and be treated the same under the law, no matter how high or mighty they are.
We tend to think it's okay that Bill Gates has a bazillion dollars. But we don't think he should be able to buy politicians or buy his way out of trouble with fancy lawyers.
What's weird, though, is how many Americans — or, more worrisome, elite leaders — don't get a simple fact of life: Economic inequality always translates into civic inequality. People with lots of money can (and do) use that money to buy political influence and special treatment under the law.
While this fact might seem intuitive and has been an often repeated idea in American politics since Theodore Roosevelt took on the outsized power of the trusts over a century ago, it remains a contested proposition. So contested, in fact, that the Russell Sage Foundation was moved to hand out a small fortune in grant money to scholars exploring the link between economic and political inequality.
- Gore Vidal on the Media and the American People | The Progressive –
Gore Vidal is a gold mine of quips and zingers. And his vast knowledge of literature and history—particularly American—makes for an impressive figure. His razor-sharp tongue lacerates the powerful. He does it with aplomb, saying, “Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.” He has a wry sense of noblesse oblige: “There is no human problem which could not be solved if people would simply do as I advise.”
Now eighty, he lives in the Hollywood hills in a modest mansion with immodest artwork. I felt I was entering a museum of Renaissance art. A stern painting of the Emperor Constantine was looking down upon us as we sat in his majestic living room. A Buddha statue from Thailand stood nearby. But all was not somber. He had a Bush doll with a 9/11 bill sticking out of it on a table behind us.
His aristocratic pedigree is evident not just in his artistic sophistication but also in his locution. In a war of words, few can contend with Vidal.
- What Mitt Romney’s Gaffes Tell Us | The Progressive –
"The writing is on the wall.
Romney's thoughtless and inconsistent embrace of Republican free-market canards, combined with his dismissal of the struggles of the economically disadvantaged as somehow due to their inherent inferiority tells you all you need to know about how his administration would govern."
- The Ugly American: Mitt Romney’s Disastrous Overseas Excursion – The Daily Beast –
"Mitt’s golden gaffes in London manifest not only his incapacity abroad, but his lack of sound instinct—of the qualities that are the bedrock of the hardest presidential decisions. Michael Kingsley famously defined a gaffe as “when a politician tells the truth – some obvious truth he isn't supposed to say." And Romney, in his gaffes over the past week and all through his long years of campaigning, has exposed his true self as superficial, cynical—unprepared to respond wisely and well to tests to political leadership. If he fumbled to predictable questions in London, imagine how he would do in the sudden perilous challenges of the presidency.
He has traveled overseas and played the part of “The Ugly American.” In the novel of that title, the real ugly American was a hero, an unhandsome engineer who actually bothered to understand the Asian nation he was trying to help as it faced a Communist insurgency. But the phrase has come to stand for something else described in the novel—a typology of arrogance and obliviousness that fits Mitt the malaprop: he’s a tightly wound, but conspicuously out-of-touch—a caricature of those Americans the book describes who “go to a foreign country…[and] are loud and ostentatious. Perhaps they’re frightened and defensive; or maybe they’re not properly trained and make mistakes out of ignorance.”
Whatever the cause, there is reason to think that Romney is not ready on day one—or day three hundred—for the demand of leading America in a complicated and dangerous world. There’s more than a chance that, with his gifts of misjudgment, he would be dangerous in the White House. "
- From the Archive: We Are the Patriots | Common Dreams –
"I belong to a minority that is now one of the smallest in the country and, with every day, grows smaller. I am a veteran of World War II. And I can recall thinking, when I got out of the Army in 1946, Well, that's that. We won. And those who come after us will never need do this again. Then came the two mad wars of imperial vanity–Korea and Vietnam. They were bitter for us, not to mention for the so-called enemy. Next we were enrolled in a perpetual war against what seemed to be the enemy-of-the-month club. This war kept major revenues going to military procurement and secret police, while withholding money from us, the taxpayers, with our petty concerns for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
But no matter how corrupt our system became over the last century–and I lived through three-quarters of it–we still held on to the Constitution and, above all, to the Bill of Rights. No matter how bad things got, I never once believed that I would see a great part of the nation–of we the people, unconsulted and unrepresented in a matter of war and peace–demonstrating in such numbers against an arbitrary and secret government, preparing and conducting wars for us, or at least for an army recruited from the unemployed to fight in. Sensibly, they now leave much of the fighting to the uneducated, to the excluded.
During Vietnam Bush fled to the Texas Air National Guard. Cheney, when asked why he avoided service in Vietnam, replied, "I had other priorities." Well, so did 12 million of us sixty years ago. Priorities that 290,000 were never able to fulfill."
- Mitt Romney: Richer Means Superior | Common Dreams –
"What he leaves unsaid is what is obvious in his mind, "The richer guy is obviously the better guy."
The fact that Mitt might have had some advantages being the son of multi-millionaire governor and Israel might have had some advantages in getting $3 billion a year from the US and having a sovereign country is irrelevant to Romney. Richer equals better. Period. Who cares what the circumstances are? Mitt's always about the bottom line.
Romney's deeply offensive comments about the Palestinians probably won't hurt him in the election at all. There is no group in America you can insult with more impunity than Palestinians and Arabs. That doesn't hurt your electoral chances, it might even help. But what does hurt is the overwhelming sense you get from Romney that he is looking down his nose at you. This son of a bitch actually thinks he's better than the rest of us because he was born to a mega-rich dad, figured out how to cheat the system at Bain and hid away so much of his money abroad (tax avoidance was an enormous contributor to his fortune – do you have any idea how much more you save up if you pay 10% in taxes a year rather than 35%). Now, that doesn't sit so well.
Who wants to have a beer with a guy who thinks he'd rather be having a Chardonnay with one of his equals? To Mitt, we're all Palestinians."
- Has Romney Learned Anything from the Bush Years? –
"The Washington Post's Ezra Klein asks an important question about Mitt Romney's policy platform: Has he actually learned anything from the failures of the Bush administration? The answer, so far, is no.
This can’t be emphasized enough; far from offering a plan to deal with the short-term problems in the economy—namely, the lack of adequate demand—Romney is proposing a set of policies that are identical to those offered by George W. Bush. Indeed, with Paul Ryan's budget plan, the Republican Party has committed itself to reliving the Bush administration, with larger tax cuts, fewer regulations, and a greater willingness to cater to corporate concerns.
The chief challenge for the Obama campaign is pointing this out to the public. Most Americans have a low opinion of the Bush administration, and still blame President Bush for the state of the economy. If Obama can tie Romney to the previous administration, it will be a huge blow to the former Massachusetts governor."
- Gore Vidal’s Best Quotes: Sex, Politics, and More – The Daily Beast –
"Any American who is prepared to run for president should automatically by definition be disqualified from ever doing so."
"Democracy is supposed to give you the feeling of choice like, Painkiller X and Painkiller Y. But they're both just aspirin."
"Fifty percent of people won't vote, and fifty percent don't read newspapers. I hope it's the same fifty percent."
"Apparently, a democracy is a place where numerous elections are held at great cost without issues and with interchangeable candidates."
"Every four years the naive half who vote are encouraged to believe that if we can elect a really nice man or woman President everything will be all right. But it won't be."
"As the age of television progresses the Reagans will be the rule, not the exception. To be perfect for television is all a President has to be these days.""