Tax Fairness

Who’s right on the issue of paying a fair share of taxes:

a) Sharpton
b) Huffington
c) Cheney
d) Bush
e) a & b

Sharpton Speech to Building & Const. Trades–April 9, 2003: “And the hypocrisy of saying it is an honor for young men and women to risk their lives in the military, but it’s a burden for the rich to pay their fair share of taxes back home. ”

August 5, 2002 – Holding Dick Cheney “Accountable”: “Of course, Cheney’s reluctance to talk to reporters is understandable, given what has been coming to light about his heretofore highly touted tenure at Halliburton, including the questionable accounting, the offshore subsidiaries, and the revelation that the company did business with Iran, Libya, and — despite Cheney’s denials — Iraq. Call this his ‘Axis of Profits.’

Let’s start by looking at the problem of the vice president and Halliburton. During the number two’s time as the company’s number one, the number of Halliburton subsidiaries registered in tax-friendly locations ballooned from nine in 1995 to 44 in 1999. The result? A dramatic drop in Halliburton’s federal taxes, which fell from $302 million in 1998 to less than zero — to wit, an $85 million rebate — in 1999.

But, to be fair, under Cheney, Halliburton did end up giving a little something back to America — in the form of $2 million worth of fines for consistently overbilling the Pentagon. In one case they charged $750,000 for work that actually cost them only $125,000. Despite all this, the company has continued to be awarded massive government contracts, including a new 10-year deal with the Army that, unlike any comparable arrangement, comes with no lid on potential costs. I guess it really does help to have friends — and ex-CEOs — in very high places. “

O’Reilly a Registered Fair and Balance Republican

Interesting reading about the guy at FOX who was a registered Republican while claiming to be unbiased an a no-spin kind of guy. Here are some “Fair and Balanced” comments from the Left about the hypocrite:

Oh Really O’Reilly: “COSMOS LEFT believes FOX talk show host Bill O’Reilly has emerged as one of the most dangerous individuals in this country. There are other bourgeois pundits more personally obnoxious than O’Reilly–Hannity, Colter, Limbaugh–but none of these cretins pretends to be working class heroes. O’Reilly does claim to speak for workers, as fascist demagogues usually do.”

Bush in 30 Seconds Makes Reality Check

Hey, I thought you’d get a kick out of this one. I sent an email to a guy at the local CBS affiliate in Minneapolis, WCCO, about this whole Moveon.org Bush In 30 Seconds Child’s Play Superbowl Commercial issue and said it might make for a good “Reality Check” segment on their nightly news. He got back to me within hours and actually agreed (pretty impressive considering he’s owned by CBS). Well, the segment ran tonight on the CBS affiliate in the 15th largest TV market in the USA!

A simple email can go a long ways.

It isn’t online yet, but will be soon at:

http://wcco.com/realitycheckvideo/

The Bill of No Rights

Check out The Bill of No Rights. This appears to be written by a person who gets their news from FOX and believes every stereotype Rush Limbaugh espouses (whether they’re accurate or not). Let’s break it down:

“WE, the sensible people of the United States, . . .

Assumes he’s smarter than your average American.

. . . in an attempt to help everyone get along, restore some semblance of justice, . . .

Restore justice by removing rights? Jailing people without charges? Having parts of the Patriot Act ruled unconstitutional? See the hypocrisy?

. . . avoid any more riots, keep our nation safe, promote positive behavior, and secure the blessings of debt free liberty, . . .

Debt free? Excuse me, but George W. Bush, along with the Republican controlled House and Senate have run up the biggest debt in the history of the United States. Positive behavior? Such a as using loopholes to name racist federal judges against opposition such as Justice Pickering? Keep our nation safe? By attacking countries that DIDN’T attack us? By not capturing the guy responsible for attacking us? By underfunding homeland security? By not inspecting shipping containers?

. . .to ourselves and our great-great-great-grandchildren, hereby try one more time to ordain and establish some common sense guidelines for the terminally whiny, guilt ridden, delusional, and other liberal, bed wetters.

Without making a single point, the writer has to sink to grade school insults and ridiculous generalizations. Sad.

Article I You do not have the right to a new car, big screen TV or any other form of wealth. More power to you if you can legally acquire them, but no one is guaranteeing anything.

How about, “You do not have a right to a government bailout for your failed business investments. It’s not the governments responsibility to create an uneven playing field for your corporation. Grow up and start believing in free markets and start competing. It’s both unethical and illegal to do business with countries named Rouge States by our country. This means no off-shore subsidiaries in the Caymans and no giving arms to Iran for hostages.

Maybe you’re talking about people eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit:
The EITC is available only to low-income tax filing units (individuals or families) with earnings. While the EITC is primarily for parents, there is a small credit for low-income workers who are not parents. For all EITC recipients, the size of the credit initially rises with earnings, reaches a plateau, and then diminishes with each additional dollar earned. The maximum credit for a working family with two children was $3,756 in tax year 1998. Families with two children and incomes between $9,390 and $12,260 could claim this maximum credit and families with two children and incomes up to $30,095 were eligible for some EITC benefit.

That doesn’t sound like new car big screen TV crowd to me. And people have to work to receive the credit. Didn’t Limbaugh explain this?

Article II You do not have the right to never be offended. This country is based on freedom, and that means freedom for everyone – not just you! You may leave the room, turn the channel, express a different opinion, etc., but the world is full of idiots, and probably always will be.

Agreed, so get used to being offended when you’re called on the floor for making idiotic statements, racially divisive comments, or taking hypocritical actions.

Article III You do not have the right to be free from harm. If you stick a screwdriver in your eye, learn to be more careful, do not expect the tool manufacturer to make you and all your relatives independently wealthy.

Wrong. If companies knowingly make a product that’s harmful, they should be held accountable for their actions. This includes former CEOs of companies like Enron. If they destroy people’s lives, they need to pay for their behavior. Donating money to political parties should not exempt you from liability.

Article IV You do not have the right to free food and housing. Americans are the most charitable people to be found, and will gladly help anyone in need, but we are quickly growing weary of subsidizing generation after generation of professional couch potatoes who achieve nothing more than the creation of another generation of professional couch potatoes.

Sounds great, but it’s a commonly misunderstood issue by Dittoheads. “The total assets of America’s 34,000 foundations (not annual income from their endowments) add up to around 10 percent of the total government expenditures for social welfare and related domestic programs.” [Big Lies by Joe Conason p.177] Charities alone don’t cut it.

Additionally, corporations do not have a right to tax-free real estate or the right to avoiding paying taxes through accounting loopholes. Avoiding paying your fair share of taxes is an unethical way to create personal wealth.

Article V You do not have the right to free health care. That would be nice, but from the looks of public housing, we’re just not interested in public health care.

Government healthcare seems to be just fine for our elected officials. Why not the rest of us? It could be done for the cost of an unnecessary war in the Middle East. At the very least, we should find a way to provide healthcare to minors. It’s far from Christian to hear conservatives rail against providing basic healthcare to children.

Article VI You do not have the right to physically harm other people. If you kidnap, rape, intentionally maim, or kill someone, don’t be surprised if the rest of us want to see you fry in the electric chair.

The death penalty does not prevent crime and costs more than simply throwing someone in jail for the rest of their life. It’s also become glaring obvious that there are serious problems with our justice system, where some deathrow inmates have been acquitted of crimes. Do you feel comfortable killing an innocent person?

Additionally, you do not have the right to kill thousands of people including over 500 of our service people in order to capture one man who happened to live above a lot of oil but posed no threat to our country.

Article VII You do not have the right to the possessions of others. If you rob, cheat or coerce away the goods or services of other citizens, don’t be surprised if the rest of us get together and lock you away in a place where you still won’t have the right to a big screen color TV or a life of leisure.

Corporate thievery dwarfs the crimes done by petty thieves. Wake up and start demanding corporate accountability.

Article VIII You don’t have the right to demand that our children risk their lives in foreign wars to soothe your aching conscience. We hate oppressive governments and won’t lift a finger to stop you from going to fight if you’d like. However, we do not enjoy parenting the entire world and do not want to spend so much of our time battling each and every little tyrant with a military uniform and a funny hat.

Agreed. So why has George W. Bush invaded two countries and has troops in more countries around the world than ever before? I guess George and Dick Cheney need to soothe their cronies aching wallets.

Article IX You don’t have the right to a job. All of us sure want all of you to have one, and will gladly help you along in hard times, but we expect you to take advantage of the opportunities of education and vocational training laid before you to make yourself useful.

Unless you happen to be the son of an influential person. Then you don’t need training, just a name. And don’t worry about getting into college. Oh, you’re not a legacy? Well, if you can’t take advantage of Affirmative Action for rich white folks, good luck to you.

Article X You do not have the right to happiness. Being an American means that you have the right to pursue happiness – which by the way, is a lot easier if you are unencumbered by an overabundance of idiotic laws created by those of you who were confused by the Bill of Rights.

People are generally happy if they are healthy. Being able to trust they’re not being killed by the water they drink and the air they breath doesn’t hurt. And having some confidence that their employer (who likely boasts about being a proud patriotic company) isn’t trying to export their job wouldn’t hurt either.

If you agree, I strongly urge you to forward this to as many people as you can. No, you don’t have to, and nothing tragic will befall you should you not forward it. I just think it is about time common sense is allowed to flourish – call it the age of reason revisited.

Or send a link to this rebuttal.

Back-Dating Torture Justifications

Is there anything scarier than hearing the Attorney General of the United States looking for justifications for government action after the fact? Does he apply the same rules to police? Can they arrest anyone at any time without prior justification, then trump up a justification for the arrest after the fact? Hmmm, that sounds a lot like what’s happening in Guantanamo Bay at Camp X-Ray right now where hundreds of people are being held without being charged with a crime.

I’d prefer to see this country in the hands of an Attorney General intersted in upholding the constitution rather than trying to dismantle it through the Patriot Act (which thankfully is now starting to be ruled as unconstitutional).

Yahoo! News – Ashcroft: War Justified Even Without WMD:
VIENNA, Austria – Even if weapons of mass destruction are never found in Iraq (news – web sites), the U.S.-led war was justified because it eliminated the threat that Saddam Hussein (news – web sites) might again resort to “evil chemistry and evil biology,” Attorney General John Ashcroft (news – web sites) said Monday.

Analyzing Bush’s 2004 State of the Union

Check out this Report on Bush’s 2004 State of the Union.

Solid point by point analysis of the speech. It’s a shame we don’t have a president with a better sense of his role as President. It’s certainly not to enrich his father’s business partners.

How does he find time to invade two countries, cut social security benefits to the benefit of pharmaceutical companies, run the country much further into debt while demanding permanent tax cuts, while also taking on important presidential issues like steroid use in pro sports? And why does he think the country needs a constitutional amendment to discriminate against people who happen to love someone of the same sex? Is he too stupid to realize the courts in this country are designed to protect people in the minority on an issue? Based on his logic (if the majority of Americans favor discriminating against gays) we would also continue to live in a segregated society. Jim Crow rules would still be in effect. We’re desperately in need of a change.

Iraq Casualty Stats

I don’t know how anyone could see anything good in the following stats:

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/story.jsp?story=482947

232: Number of American combat deaths in Iraq between May 2003 and January 2004

501: Number of American servicemen to die in Iraq from the beginning of the war – so far

0: Number of American combat deaths in Germany after the Nazi surrender to the Allies in May 1945

0: Number of coffins of dead soldiers returning home from Iraq that the Bush administration has allowed to be photographed

0: Number of funerals or memorials that President Bush has attended for soldiers killed in Iraq

100: Number of fund-raisers attended by Bush or Vice-President Dick Cheney in 2003

13: Number of meetings between Bush and Tony Blair since he became President

10 million: Estimated number of people worldwide who took to the streets in opposition to the invasion of Iraq, setting an all-time record for simultaneous protest

2: Number of nations that Bush has attacked and taken over since coming into the White House

9.2: Average number of American soldiers wounded in Iraq each day since the invasion in March last year

1.6: Average number of American soldiers killed in Iraq per day since hostilities began

16,000: Approximate number of Iraqis killed since the start of war

10,000: Approximate number of Iraqi cililians killed since the beginning of the conflict

$100 billion: Estimated cost of the war in Iraq to American citizens by the end of 2003

$13 billion: Amount other countries have committed towards rebuilding Iraq (much of it in loans) as of 24 October

36%: Increase in the number of desertions from the US army since 1999

92%: Percentage of Iraq’s urban areas that had access to drinkable water a year ago

60%: Percentage of Iraq’s urban areas that have access to drinkable water today

32%: Percentage of the bombs dropped on Iraq this year that were not precision-guided

1983: The year in which Donald Rumsfeld gave Saddam Hussein a pair of golden spurs

45%: Percentage of Americans who believed in early March 2003 that Saddam Hussein was involved in the 11 September attacks on the US

$127 billion: Amount of US budget surplus in the year that Bush became President in 2001

$374 billion: Amount of US budget deficit in the fiscal year for 2003

1st: This year’s deficit is on course to be the biggest in United States history

$1.58 billion: Average amount by which the US national debt increases each day

$23,920: Amount of each US citizen’s share of the national debt as of 19 January 2004

1st: The record for the most bankruptcies filed in a single year (1.57 million) was set in 2002

10: Number of solo press conferences that Bush has held since beginning his term. His father had managed 61 at this point in his administration, and Bill Clinton 33

1st: Rank of the US worldwide in terms of greenhouse gas emissions per capita

$113 million: Total sum raised by the Bush-Cheney 2000 campaign, setting a record in American electoral history

$130 million: Amount raised for Bush’s re-election campaign so far

$200m: Amount that the Bush-Cheney campaign is expected to raise in 2004

$40m: Amount that Howard Dean, the top fund-raiser among the nine Democratic presidential hopefuls, amassed in 2003

28: Number of days holiday that Bush took last August, the second longest holiday of any president in US history (Recordholder: Richard Nixon)

13: Number of vacation days the average American worker receives each year

3: Number of children convicted of capital offences executed in the US in 2002. America is only country openly to acknowledge executing children

1st: As Governor of Texas, George Bush executed more prisoners (152) than any governor in modern US history

2.4 million: Number of Americans who have lost their jobs during the three years of the Bush administration

221,000: Number of jobs per month created since Bush’s tax cuts took effect. He promised the measure would add 306,000

Bush’s Policies vs Political Theater

This is a tough one. I don’t think George W. Bush has known many African Americans in his lifetime outside of the baseball players on the Texas Rangers. Personally, I don’t think he thinks enough to be an outright bigot, but his policies (that are likely constructed by others) certainly do nothing to help people of dark skin tones get ahead in the US.

Yahoo! News – Hundreds Protest As Bush Visits MLK Tomb: ” Top Stories – AP

Hundreds Protest As Bush Visits MLK Tomb
2 hours, 4 minutes ago

By DEB RIECHMANN, Associated Press Writer
ATLANTA – …

The president’s critics dismissed his visit to the grave as a symbolic gesture that only underscored shortcomings in the administration’s relationship with blacks.

Back in Washington, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus (news – web sites), said not one policy decision made by the Bush administration — from the war in Iraq (news – web sites) to the economy, from education to the environment — has mirrored King’s dream. “The president needs to be more embracing of elected African American officials and the entire African American community every day of the year, not just on January 15th,” he said.

Brazil Reciprocating American Visa Policies

It turns out that reciprocating ridiculous American travel policy issues can be a real bitch for arrogant American Airlines pilots. ah_brazil2000 really broke it down well:

Re: I wonder how many US tourists overst
by: ah_brazil2000 01/14/04 02:37 pm
Msg: 2 of 2335
14 recommendations

Grog

probably very few. But remember that Brazil is taking this procedure not to combat illegal imigrants, but as a gold rule in diplomacy called reciprocity.

As I understand, the US-visit program was put on place not to combat ilegal imigrants, but to combat terrorism. Now I ask: How many brazilians have conducted terror acts in US? How many were accused?

I have the answers to these questions. NONE. Now, how many from England or Germany? A few, but US is not checking on them.

Also by reciprocity, Brazil was supposed to charge US$100.00 per visa, as USA does charge in Brazil. Incredible, but we do not charge that from US citizens.

Another question. What would happen if I make an “obscene gesture” when I go through customs in US? The american pilot should be arrested as any other that does not obey the local law.

The deal here is not about ilegal imigrants.

Yahoo! News – U.S. Pilot Held in Brazil in Fingerprinting Spat: “U.S. Pilot Held in Brazil in Fingerprinting Spat

By Todd Benson
SAO PAULO, Brazil (Reuters) – An American Airlines pilot was arrested at Sao Paulo International Airport on Wednesday after making an obscene gesture while being photographed by Brazilian (news – web sites) immigration officers, police said.

The pilot, Dale Robin Hirsch, raised his middle finger at police while undergoing recently introduced Brazilian security measures that require U.S. citizens to be fingerprinted and photographed upon entering the South American country. ”