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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Tuesday Excerpts

These are mostly a couple of days old . . . but I'm behind.

Gretchen Schuldt:
Let's get this straight. County Executive Scott Walker thinks that the Connector’s $300 million estimated price tag is too high, but he thinks that a $6 billion or $8 billion or $10 billion plan -- whatever it is now -- to build bigger freeways is "economic development."
John Conyers:
That was back when Congress did something called "oversight." You know, in our tri-partite system of government, when Congress actually acted like a co-equal branch. The Republican Congress decided to be a rubber stamp for President Bush instead. [. . .]

Oversight should not be a partisan undertaking. As we saw in the late 90's, when oversight is used out of anger or spite, or to gain partisan advantage, the American people express their strong disapproval.

Personally, I have had enough partisanship for the last six years to last a lifetime and I think we need to bring the American people back together.

But we also need to serve their interests. Congressional oversight is part of that. It is a check and balance, designed to protect the American people from too much power being concentrated in too few hands.
Steve Gilliard:
We divide history into neat segments which do not exist in real life. The New Deal made the fleets and armies possible. Berlin's skies turned black filled with airmen saved by government relief and flew in planes build by a government ready to do large things and ask for great sacrifices.

When Grover Norquist talks about drowning the government and the conservatives talk of small government, they forget that it was large government which saved Europe from communism after WWII, the one that fought the Korean War. They want a large government to wage war, but a small one to run America and the two do not mesh.

We have an army taking autistics and gang members because there is no way Bush can ask for national service, even voluntary national service, from the majority of Americans. Most of those in the service want out when their enlistments end. The former NCO's and Officers on the blog are horrified by this.

But after 9/11, Bush asked for nothing. Not to save gas, not to enlist, nothing. So the burden fell on the willing and they are tired. Tired of war, tired of begging for food, tired of seeing their friends horrifically wounded. Once, military service was a way up and out for the working poor, a way to see the world. Most military jobs involve transportation or other kinds of service, only 10 percent, the stuff they show on TV, involves killing, and only a few are members of the elite Special Operators. But Iraq is so dangerous that any job can involve risk, and parents do not want their children taking that risk.

Bush has demanded nothing, and he gets nothing.
Tim Rock:
I am proud to be a flaming liberal. While taxes may be a wee high, I am not sorry to pay my fair share and help ensure government functions, roads are smooth and people in need are given a helping hand. In regards to a helping hand: Pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps is a favorite conservative phrase these days. Apply it to Halliburton and its greedy brethren and I’ll listen.
Kevin Drum:
The idle rich beneficiaries of the estate tax repeal are pretty obvious — you need to inherit an estate worth several million dollars before you even start to think about paying estate taxes — but the investment tax cuts are a little more subtle. Thus the handy chart on the right, which shows exactly who's favored by the GOP's cherished investment tax cuts. You can click for a more detailed explanation, but why bother? As you can see, the bars on the chart barely even register for anyone making less than a million bucks a year. That's the tax cut the GOP is making its highest priority.
Glenn Greenwald, reminding us that Bush is not a liberal:
A liberal is not merely someone who advocates increased government spending or new government programs, but instead, is someone who does so in order to achieve specific goals and ends. For that reason, to describe a president as "liberal," it is woefully inadequate to simply demonstrate increased federal spending and increased federal power. One has to know the goals and ends of this expansion.

George Bush has drastically expanded the reach, scope and power of the federal government (something which is un-conservative, at least in theory), but that power has been applied in plainly un-liberal ways, and towards decidedly un-liberal ends. For instance, his administration has run roughshod over federalism and states' rights principles and has sought to expand the scope of the Commerce Clause in order to increase the scope of federal power at the expense of the states (clearly the opposite of the crux of small-government conservatism), but has done so in order to achieve goals which are the opposite of liberalism.

The administration has wielded inflated theories of federal power in order: (a) to interfere in a state court probate proceeding so as to dictate the outcome of an individual's end-of-life decisions; (b) to prevent states from allowing their terminally ill citizens to opt for physician-assisted suicide; (c) to override state law allowing sick people and their doctors to turn to medical marijuana; (d) to federalize laws governing marriage (traditionally the exclusive province of the states) in order to ban same-sex marriages; (e) to empower the FDA to override objective scientific inquiry with religious convictions so as to ban the use of safe and effective pharmaceutical products and nullify scientific consensus on moral grounds; (f) to spend more money and increase law enforcement powers in order to combat adult pornography and gambling; (g) to fund new federal programs to teach Americans about abstinence, promote religious-based teachings, and proselytize about other favored moral concepts; and (h) to increase the power of the Department of Education to regulate and control the nation's public schools through reliance on standardized tests.

These are all instances in which the Bush administration has expanded the reach of federal power and increased domestic federal spending -- often by intruding into areas historically reserved for the states. That conduct is the antithesis of the belief of small-government conservatives in federalism, states' rights and restrained federal power. And yet, in no sense could any of these efforts to expand federal power be described as anything resembling "liberalism."
Barbara O'Brien
According to Howard Fineman on Countdown, the White House thinks the Hayden confirmation hearings will help them. The NSA spy program will be front and center, and the Bushies think that’s a winner for them. More dissociative thinking?

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