Thursday, July 15, 2004

One last post before I go on vacation.

Kerry is promising tax breaks for everything imaginable, even Internet access. He is going to pay for this by rolling back the Bush tax breaks on the wealthy. He defines "wealthy" as anyone making $200,000 per year or more.

I don't know where he got this figure. I suspect that he pulled a large number out of thin air. It is more than most people make, but is it what we think of when someone says "wealthy"? Unless you could the value of their home, someone making $200,000 might not even be a millionare.

Kerry's wife is wealthy by any standards you can think of. She is worth a half billion dollars. Assuming that our entry level person can bank every cent he makes, it would take him five years to be worth a million dollars. At that rate, it would take 2,500 years before you were worth as much as Teresa. If you had started when Caesar was alive, you would still would not be there.

There just aren't enough multi-millionares to pay for everything so the definition of wealth gets stretched.

A few years ago Democrats were pushing the idea that anyone in the top 10% must be rich. After all, they said, how could you not be rich when you were making more than 90% of the population. Sometimes this was stretched to the top 20% with the same reasoning.

At this point, the Democrats are talking about people making $80,000 - $100,000 total household income. To put this in perspective, the average salary for teachers in Ohio is $45,000 so two teachers would have a household income that put them among the wealthy.

Funny thing, you don't see many teachers rubbing shoulders with Paris Hilton in Palm Beach. Teachers are usually portrayed as being underpaid.

Kerry also talkes a lot about balancing the budget. The recovering economy will help with this no matter which way the election goes but somehow Kerry will have to raise enough money to balance the budget and pay for his tax breaks. My bet is that his $200,000 limit will slide and he will start raising taxes on that two-teacher household.

The Left has started taking a close look at Fahrenheit 9/11. I don't agree with much of what these people think but they have interesting points about F911. Robert Jensen thinks that it's a conservative movie that ends with an endorsement of one of the central lies of the United States.

But it is a serious mistake to believe that these wars can be explained by focusing so exclusively on the Bush administration and ignoring clear trends in U.S. foreign and military policy. In short, these wars are not a sharp departure from the past but instead should be seen as an intensification of longstanding policies, affected by the confluence of this particular administration's ideology and the opportunities created by the events of 9/11.

It is highly unlikely that policymakers would go to war for a single pipeline, but even if that were plausible it is clear that both Democrats and Republicans alike have been mixed up in that particular scheme.

It is certainly true that the Bush family and its cronies have a relationship with Saudi Arabia that has led officials to overlook Saudi human-rights abuses and the support that many Saudis give to movements such as al Qaeda. That is true of the Bushes, just as it was of the Clinton administration and, in fact, every post-World War II president. Ever since FDR cut a deal with the House of Saud giving U.S. support in exchange for cooperation on the flow of oil and oil profits, U.S. administrations have been playing ball with the Saudis. The relationship is sometimes tense but has continued through ups and downs, with both sides getting at least part of what they need from the other. Concentrating on Bush family business connections ignores that history and encourages viewers to see the problem as specific to Bush. Would a Gore administration have treated the Saudis differently after 9/11? There's no reason to think so, and Moore offers no evidence or argument why it would have.

But that's only part of the story of U.S. policy in the Middle East, in which the Saudis play a role but are not the only players. The United States cuts deals with other governments in the region that are willing to support the U.S. aim of control over those energy resources. The Saudis are crucial in that system, but not alone. Egypt, Jordan and the other Gulf emirates have played a role, as did Iran under the Shah. As does, crucially, Israel. But there is no mention of Israel in the film. To raise questions about U.S. policy in the Middle East without addressing the role of Israel as a U.S. proxy is, to say the least, a significant omission. It's unclear whether Moore actually backs Israeli crimes and U.S. support for them, or simply doesn't understand the issue. also raises the question of Israel.

Huh? Here are some questions for Moore: If Bush is so “in the pocket” of Saudi Arabia, why is he Ariel Sharon’s strongest backer? Why, when he had Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah down at the Texas ranch a few years ago, did he flip off the Saudi’s peace plan? And most important, why did he invade Iraq—since Saudi Arabia was strongly opposed to the U.S. invasion of Iraq? Why did he launch his Iraqi adventure over Saudi objections, with many of his advisers chortling that Saudi Arabia would be “next”? Why did he stock his administration with militant neocon crusaders who see Saudi Arabia as the main enemy? Why, Michael?

And more for Moore. Yes, Bush 41 and his advisers—the Carlyle Group-linked James Baker, et al.—were (and are) connected to Saudi Arabia. Did Moore notice that Baker, along with Brent Scowcroft, and other former advisers to Bush 41 (including Colin Powell) were against the Iraq adventure? And that there were reports that Bush 41 himself thought it was a stupid idea? I can’t believe that Moore can be so stupid. So I can only conclude that he produced this movie the way he did on purpose. Then I read that he didn’t bother inviting Ralph Nader to the Washington, D.C., premiere of the film, and (according to The Washington Post ), Nader called Moore “fat.” Well. Moore is fatheaded.

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