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November 15, 2005

I Admit It: Bush Was Right

After changing his mind a few times President Bush informed us this war thing was all about bringing democracy to a place that sorely wanted it. Sure, at first I hoped he was talking about Florida and Ohio, but as it turns out he was talking about Iraq.

Among the wondrous improvements Mr. Bush has told us he brought to Iraq was a higher degree of equality among the sexes. Again, I scoffed. I thought that taking women out of the rape rooms and replacing them with men sort of missed the point about rape. But I was premature. It turns out Mr. Bush has indeed brought a greater degree of equality among the sexes, and that’s not easy. After all, the new grand and glorious Iraqi social code guarantees a constitutional theocracy, and women usually don’t make out too well under that form of government.

But I was wrong. George W. Bush has indeed brought a greater degree of sexual equality to Iraq. Let’s face it: before our invasion, the idea of a woman strapping a belt of explosives around her waist and walking with her husband into a hotel wedding celebration and blowing everybody up to, well, some sort of kingdom come was completely unheard of in Iraq. It simply was not done.

Sure, the woman’s bomb didn’t work. But that’s not the fault of President Bush. This is a great victory for Fundamentalist Islamic Iraqi women, and some day Sajida Mubarak Atrous al-Rishawi will get her proper respect as the Susan B. Anthony of her generation. They’ll probably stamp her likeness on their dollar coins in her honor, just as we did here in the United States of America.

It’s a shame that Mr. Bush has dropped this line of reason in favor of preaching from the Ann Coulter hymnal. He should stop and savor the sweet smell of success.

Posted by Mike Gold at November 15, 2005 06:23 PM

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Well, from the lack of response it would appear that pointing out Bush's obvious flaws has run its course as a topic for lively conversation.

So, let's turn our attention to what the Democrats should start doing right now to regain some balance in the federal government.

Kerry, who is obviously going to try for the nomination again, seems to be pursuing the same losing strategy he tried in 2004: Wait for the other Democrats to make the bold statements, see what plays well in Peoria, and then run on a platform of "At least we're not as bad as the Republicans." This may seem like a safe and prudent course, but it allows the Republicans to define the debate and forces the Democratic candidate to spend more time qualifying his statements than proposing clearly defined ideas that the swing voters gravitate toward.

I've spent some time on other blogs complaining about our voluntarily under-informed electorate, but I forget that most people simply have more important, immediate concerns than which party controls the White House. Either way, the one tactic the Democrats must adopt from the Republican playbook is this: Keep it simple.

Some Kerry supporters rave about his attention to detail. Jimmy Carter supporters had similar praise for their man. IMHO, Carter's outward appearance of indecision or lack of focus was as much a part of his undoing as the Iran hostage crisis.

By 2008, Iraq may well be a non-issue. Even if it isn't, it would appear that most mainstream candidates would view anything that hints of defeatism as too risky.

So I think the Democrats should focus on one non-terrorist related issue that clearly sets them apart from the Republicans: national healthcare. Real Canadian/European style "socialized" medicine.

Posted by: Rick Oliver at November 19, 2005 12:56 PM

The Democrats have no new ideas, Rick.

Did you watch the fake debate with Alan Alda and Jimmy Smits?
First, I think they had the casting backwards on that. I think Smits would make a more convincing Republican than Alda. It was kinda like watching k.d. lang do a romantic scene George Michaels. Yeah, they looked the part, but I just wasn't feeling it.

Unfortunately, I didn't get to watch the whole thing, but from what I did see, Smits did what most Dems are currently doing. Republicans offer an idea and the Democrats shoot it down, but can offer nothing of their own to solve the problems.

I've said it before. Want my vote? Tell me what you're going to do different from the guy in power, don't just tell me it will be different BECAUSE you're in power.

Posted by: eclark1849 at November 23, 2005 06:20 PM

The Republicans have no new ideas either; they just do a much better job of recycling the old ones. They also do a much better job of hiding the fact that what they actually do is often the exact opposite of what they say and what they profess to believe in. People take it as a given that the Republicans are the party of less government and lower taxes, when in fact the current Republicans running the government are clearly in favor of more federal government interference in our lives, and their policies must eventually lead to higher taxes or federal bankruptcy.

You cannot invade and occupy a hostile country using an all-volunteer military designed for surgical strike tactics. And you cannot indefinitely postpone payment for that war with loans from China. But reinstating the draft and raising taxes aren't in the playbooks of either party.

The war in Iraq may be a distant memory in the minds of the electorate come November, 2008, but the "play now, pay later" philosophy seems to permeate all the policies of both parties.

Neither party is willing to acknowledge that the party is over. We cannot survive as a nation or as a species without starting to make some sacrifices that may cause some inconvenience. But for the last half century, personal sacrifice and inconvenience have not played well with the American public.

So the Republicans continue to tell the voters that they CAN have their cake and eat it too, despite the fact that most of the voters won't even get any cake with which to make the choice, while the Democrats boldy counter with, "We think so too -- but our cake will be better."

At this point, the candidate from either party that says, "Here are my ideas -- but they ain't cheap, and everybody has to pony up" is the guy that will get my vote.

Posted by: Rick Oliver at November 25, 2005 01:03 PM

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I can find reams of the stuff you just wrote all over the Internet.

And yet, all any Democrat who's currently planning to run of r office has promised is more of the same, but "things will be better because we're in charge".

Look, I ain't Rush Limbaugh, but I ain't Ted Kennedy either. If the Dems want me to vote for them, I don't want to hear what the Republicans are doing wrong. I want to hear what they're planning to do right.

So we can evidently expect much higher taxes than what we're paying now. Taxes will have to go up in order to pay for that massive new bureaucrecy you're going to need to run that spanking new social medical care you envision. ( Although, you obviously know you've lost those conservatives that as you say want less government already)

And of course Democrats aren't going to reinstate the draft. They've done their level best to make the army over into a job-corp program. And any new dollar directed to the military instantly kills someone on one of the hundreds of redundant welfare programs we have.

Of course we can't touch those social programs because we'll look heartless and our poll numbers will go down.

As I write this, there's a a news report that some government department has just suggested that we tax hybrid cars for using less gas so we don't lose anymore tax money. Although this time it's a suggestion by a federal agency, I've heard the same suggestion from state senators this summer.

See? That's the problem with bureaucracy. It's self-sustaining.

Ummm, If Mike doesn't mind, I'd like to diverge from the current topic a bit and ask a question of my own.

A few years ago I proposed to our state legislature that we no longer allow students to drop out of high school, UNLESS they turn 18 before they graduate OR they can pass a GED program first.

I'm wondering what you think of this proposal, because i might try again.

Posted by: eclark1849 at November 25, 2005 01:55 PM

Ah, I see. You can read "reams of that stuff," but do you? Because if you did, you would know that your taxes are going to go up eventually as a result of the irresponsible policies of the current administration, and you might also discover that it's quite possible that tax increases to pay for national health care would actually be less than the health insurance premiums most of us pay now.

But let's put aside the net cost difference. Let's consider the fact that our beloved giant corporations, like Walmart, are already foisting their workers off on the overextended Medicaid "safety net" and complaining that they can't compete if they have to provide health plans for their workers. Other companies simply outsource their jobs to other countries that already have national health care or are too poor to provide much in the way of health care services of any kind. Among its litany of woes, GM complains that it spends $1,500 per domestically manufactured car in worker health insurance premiums.

But, hey, it's my "choice" to pay $9K a year to insure my family, and I wouldn't have a "choice" anymore with national health care. So it must be bad, right? Fuck the 40 million Americans without health insurance. There must be something wrong with them if they can't take care of themselves. Social programs are bad. I don't need them. Why should you?

The world is actually far more complicated than "government bad, private enterprise good." As I recall, you even argued in favor of the role of the FCC in regulating the airwaves and against "unfettered" free enterprise. So please spare me the Cato Institute dogma.

What is it, exactly, about government "social" programs that make them so inherently flawed, Earl?

Do you think the government has a monopoly on bureaucracy? It's the incredibly byzantine bureaucracy of the insurance companies that is driving up the cost of health care in this country. I spent several years working for one of the largest and best known health insurance carriers. This is one area where I'll take government incompetence over corporate indifference any day.

Posted by: Rick Oliver at November 25, 2005 04:57 PM

Rick, my taxes are going to go up regardless of whichever administration is in power. But I am getting more money back under Bush. How much is irrevelevant, but if you don't want a refund, you're not required to accept it. Of course that's the thing about liberals isn't it. Everybody but you isn't paying their fair share.

As for WalMart, well by George, I think you've hit the nail on the head. They're not paying enough. We need to make them pay health insurance for their employees. Of course that will make the cost of everything at Walmart go up. Now Mom and pop can compete against the super giant store. Of course WalMart will have to let some people go as they lose budiness back to Mom and Pop stores and those people will lose their health care coverage....

I never said social programs were bad or inherently flawed. That's just something you made up to try and make your point.

Nor did I say that governments have a monopoly on bureaucracy. I never even used the word monopoly, but I guess when you're on a roll why let little things like "facts" and the "truth" get in your way?

I DID say that bureaucracy is self-sustaining and if you WANT me to say so I WILL say that bureaucracy is the inherent flaw of all social programs. For one thing a full one third to fifty percent of the budget is eaten up by administrative costs alone. Another 10 percent is just pure waste. Most social programs are encouraged to spend ALL the money in their budget so that they can Justify the INCREASES they ask for in the next fiscal year.

Posted by: eclark1849 at November 25, 2005 07:19 PM


I will often make points that aren't rebuttals of your direct quotes, because I often feel the issues are somewhat larger and more complicated than your statements. I will also sometimes extrapolate from your statements. I like to think we're having an intelligent and maybe even productive debate. If I were restricted to refuting direct quotes, I wouldn't have much reason to talk to you at all, since you tend to speak in generalities (as do I).

But since this time you provided some numbers to refute, let's refute them: Medicaid and Medicare do not spend anywhere near "one third to fifty percent" on administrative costs. Most estimates are, in fact, in the 3% to 5% range. In contrast, estimates for private insurance range from 10% to 25%. Even among those strongly opposed to government programs, I couldn't find any source willing to claim that the "true" government health care administrative costs were more than 27%, which you may note is still below your low end claim. Nobody comes anywhere near your 60% figure (50% administrative + 10% "pure waste").

And your argument about the inherent flaw coming from social programs being encouraged to spend their entire budget is entirely specious because most (if not all) government agencies operate the same way, and the DoD is probably the prime offender in this category. In fact, many corporations have a very similar budget model.

The primary difference, of course, is that corporations are supposed to turn a profit, while government programs have no such obligation. But, as above, that's true for ALL government programs.

Now, I know you didn't SAY you were opposed to all governmnet programs, but perhaps you could see how one might extrapolate that from your arguments. And I know you didn't SAY that Medicaid and/or Medicare spend 33-50% on administrative costs; you said that "social" programs do -- but I don't think it's unreasonable to assume you implicitly included them in this category.

Finally, you're pathetic refund check from George Bush was a thinly disguised loan. What part of eight trillion dollar deficit do you not understand?

Posted by: Rick Oliver at November 26, 2005 12:29 PM

And a note about Wal-Mart:

To counter their bad press, Wal-Mart hired a bunch of economists to evaluate Wal-Mart's impact on local economies. The results were, unfortunately, somewhat less than flattering. While the presence of Walmart did decrease expenditures on welfare, "total payroll wages per person declined by almost 5 percent where Wal-Mart stores are located due to the company's low wages," and "Wal-Mart increased Medicaid costs an average of $898 per worker."

These are the results of studies commissioned by Wal-Mart, not some group of left wing labor socialists.

Of course, if we got rid of Medicaid, we wouldn't have to worry about some of those pesky hidden costs in the "cheap" products you buy at Wal-Mart.

And yes, Earl, I know you didn't SAY we should get rid of Medicaid, although you did mention "hundreds of redundant welfare programs" without mentioning any specifics.

And I didn't SAY that Wal-Mart should be forced to provide health benefits to all its employees. But I will say this: The business model followed by Wal-Mart (and many other retailers and other industries that maximize use of low-wage, part-time workers) is forcing a growing proportion of our work force to either rely on government subsidized health programs or go without adequate health care.

If this is such a great business model, then let's extend it to every business, and we can all get Medicaid...or die trying.

Posted by: Rick Oliver at November 27, 2005 11:37 AM

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