Thursday, September 02, 2004

Day 4: After Yesterday's Doom, It's Mourning in America Again

At first I thought this might be a difficult entry to write. You can't win unless your positive, Bush strategists have kept telling the media. After the two horsement of the Apocalypse gave incredibly angry speeches yesterday, tonight was supposed to optimistic. That's why I titled this column "It's Mourning in America Again," a play on Reagan's famous 1984 propaganda video. It was Mourning in American Again --- the RNC's video tried to invoke the optimistic feel of the 1984 Reagan video with this lines like "He restored our nation's [optimism], this man did [after 911]." But, of course, it was after 911. After he blew it big time. And, anyway, Rudi Guiliani's leadership was a whole lot memorable after 911 --- after reading "My Pet Goat," Bush is best remember for going into hiding for three days, while Guiliani faced the media with lines from Winston Churchill. (True, after the Senate sang "God Bless America" on the steps of capital, Bush did briefly show himself.)

I have to say I liked Guiliani much better when he was quote from Winston Churchill right after 911 (when I was still living in the greater NYC area) then a few nights back when he engaged in Euro-bashing quoted one of Hitler's favorite lines (one that happened to be shared by Nietzsche and Bush).

The eurobashing, which I pointed out in my earlier blog entries on those days, has already come to haunt the Administration. Arnold's anti-UN diatribe was brought up in the UN Security Council, and the Administration was forced to distance itself from Arnold's comments.

So it was "Mourning Again" in American tonight, with an attempt to put an optimistic face on the dismay failure of the last four years, and distract from the Two Horsement of the Apocalypse who gave their angry speeches yesterday, as well as the angry but peaceful anti-Bush demostrators 500,000 who marched Sunday.

So, as they might say of Mao, Strong Leader Bush spoke tonight! Great Leader Bush gave LOOOOOOOOOOONG speech! Great Leader put me to sleep!

It was a very liberal speech, almost appropriate for a Democratic candidate. He wants to spend on education so that every child can go to college. And he wants to lower insurance premiums on small businesses. And cut insurance premiums on Oby/YGNS (He pronounced it "Obie Y-G-Ns." Many of them are quite wealthy. They are definitely in Bush's base, and they do pay very high insurance premiums, it's true. But mainly he spoke to Democratic values and how he would advance a liberal social agenda.

The right-wingers were kept locked away all week. Where was Trentt Lott, Tom Delay, Frist, Jessie Helms, & Friends? No where to be seen. To right wing and not ready for prime time. So we had nice moderates like Arnold and Guiliani that even moderates like me like (and sometimes supported) when they stood for responsible government (unlike Bush) and weren't supporting Bush or engaging in ultra-nationalistic Euro bashing or quoting from Hitler.

True, he did say he'd cut federal spending, so it's not clear how he's going to help all these children get more Pell grants and help more than 25% go to College. (There are only so many professors and so many college slots, you know. If you want to send more children to college, someone has to pay for all those children, and with million jobs Bush has erased while in office it is going to have to be the federal government.)

He wants to increase payouts to state governments, but the largest deficits in history and Great Leader Bush only talking about more tax cuts, it is not clear how he would accomplish that.

Of course, he didn't mention he mainly wants to cut federal spending on social programs. He plans to increase military spending further, of course. He has to reward Cheney's friends at Halliburton, and he's got several more countries on his axis-of-evil hit list left to go. And he's got years of Iraq rebuilding to pay for, money that has already been committed (and its billions and billions and billions) but not yet made it into the federal budget.

So he's going to increase military spending, payouts to the states, and spend on all sorts of social programs. But he wants to cut taxes and cut federal spending, or so he says. (He said that four years ago, but massively increased federal spending while cutting taxes with disasterous results.) Lovely.

OK, so this wasn't very realistic of Great Leader Bush.

But he express great enthusiasm for his one great passion: regressive taxation. Tax the poor. Relieve the rich. "Some people call you the rich; I call you my base" as he says. He said he wants "tax simplification," which is Bush code for regressive taxation.

If you're in the middle class, chances are you get a W-2. It's easy for Uncle Sam to tax you. He knows exactly what you made.

If you're a businessman (and, for tax reasons, even guys like doctors and lawyers present themselves as businessowners when dealing with the IRS, so this the upper class we're talking about) it gets more complicated. The IRS wants to encourage businesses while taxing them fairly.

Thing is, it's hard to do. Ever heard of depreciation? Was that Lexus your company (which you control) bought necessary to impress clients, or was it a luxury? (Yeah, and the tax code is complicated. If you leased that Lexus, you reportedly can deduct the full lease expense of whatever you used for business. But if you bought it outright, anything above a used junker is considered a "luxury car" and can't be deducted. Go Figure.)

But mainly the tax code is complicated because it keeps responding to crooks trying to use rules that were originally written to try to tax people fairly. Take off-shore accounts. The IRS really can't stop people from investing in businesses off-shore. Trouble is, some of these are really tax shelters, like Roth IRAs for the super-rich.

They do get taxed when the money gets brought back into the country. So, some accountants came up with wild ideas. Like lease swaps. No, you're not bringing the money back into the country. Your off-shore "company" (bank account, really) has used its money to lease a sewer system somewhere in Europe, which, in turn, leased it back to you.

Actually, a bank leased the sewer system (using your off-shore money), and then had it leased back, and now it wants to use that money to give you a low-interest loan (backed by the sewer system in Europe). See, you're not really bringing your money back into the country. You're getting a loan from a bank (which, in theory, would be tax free).

Well, of course, the IRS figured that one out (widely reported in media). And so the tax rules got ever more complicated to deal with the latest scam. (And the guys that tried it ended up paying huge fines, despite having been advised to do this by the largest accounting firms in the world, because it was obviously a tax scam.)

Strong Leader Bush wants to do away with all of these complicated rules. Don't you feel sorry for all these rich folks hiring the most expensive tax lawyers around to come with these lease-swaps, and then still having to pay their fair share, because the IRS code just wasn't on their side?

Your taxes are probably pretty simple. Maybe they get complicated if you own a home (depreciation, see, but it's pretty simple in reality). But mainly you get a W2, and the government pretty much knows exactly how much to tax you.

But these rich folks have a nightmare trying to get around these tax rules. Legal advice on tax loopholes is very expensive, and sometimes unsound. And, keep in mind, they are doing it for the good of the country. The more money in their pocket, the more servants, private security, &c, they can hire and make work more efficiently (i.e., harder) than those nice unioned government jobs.

The super rich make millions because they are thousands of times more productive than you are, so they should get to keep more of taxes than you do, so they have an incentive to work harder when po' folk like yourself don't need one. Right. Sure.

But this is what Strong Leader Bush feels needs to be done.

I was going to say a few words about the protests.

PBS reported that three demonstrators were arrested from inside the hall during Bush's speech. (Lord knows how they got inside the hall. They had to sign loyalty oaths and were carefully screened. Democrats evened warned those planning to attend Republican events to be carefully about political messages on underwear, since even that was supposedly being inspected by extra-tight security.)

PBS reported that "Bush was never aware of what was going on. He didn't even pause."

Not true. I have it all on video.

The delegates were told to cheer Bush loudly if there were any protestors, so that security could remove the protestors without the TV audience (hopefully) knowing.

Twice Bush was interrupted ad odd times by "4 More Years" and had to stop and pause. TV cameras then zoomed in on a terrified elderly lady being rapidly forced marched by goons out of the hall.

Bush clearly noticed, because convention delegates were all looking at the protestors.

And it clearly affected him. After the first disruption, there was a long pause while degates shouted and TV cameras followed the protestor being carried out. When the crowd quieted and Bush was allowed to continue, he looked momentarily shaken. He smiled uneasily at people in the crowd before continuing. He began stumbling over his words, like "Afgan.... free Afganistan."

Moments later, there was a second disruption, as delegates again felt the need to drown out Bush to also drown out a protestor.

Bush contined. "...by members of both parties including...."

And then a third disruption followed as the delegates disrupted Bush with their loud chanting. Bush's faced changed in recognition of what was happening, and he stopped speaking. The disruption lasted long enough for the TV cameras to see it. All the delegates were looking at the protestor being led out.

As the crowd quieted down, he repeated his entire sentence (since it would have been forgotten by the TV audience by now. "...members of both parties...." Yes, members of both parties were in the audience tonight.

PBS' denial that Bush was affected by the protests inside the hall was clearly false. I don't the reasoning. It struck me as being similar to the old classic movie, in which a priest persuades a fearless condemned criminal to feign fear in the electric chair, so that his cult persona of "strong leader" amongst young juvenile delinquents will not lead any more to the dark side. "Say it isn't so" a delinquent challenges a newspaper report. "It was so.... He was a coward" the reporter responds.

That was sort of the line coming from PBS. The protestors never even affected the President. Bush was "never aware", the reporter insisted, of that elderly lady being whisked out the door like a terrified animal. The demonstrators were completely foiled, so don't try this, all you out there at home.

I don't know what that usually Democratic-leaning reporter was afraid of. Perhaps they feel the audience will be alarmed by the protestor's tactics, and vote (God forbid) Bush in four another four years.

But when a preponderous of evidence (ignored and whitewashed by a media with a realistic understanding of the dangerous of political instability in a dangerous world) suggests Bush operatives stole that election in Florida in 2000. In an era where theft of Presidential elections occurs, and this is covered up by the corporate media, this type of (peaceful) protest becomes one of the few remaining avenues of political discourse.

Those protestors sacrificed themselves to show America and the world the real Bush. One who will not help those who can't afford to send their children to college. One who will not increase outlays to the states, but will only increase the flow of money going to his cronies at Halliburton, and only (noticeably) reduce the taxes of "the rich [his] base." And one who has been disasterous for democracy, for our economy here at home (erasing 1 million jobs), persuading a neglient foreign policy responsible for 911, and a neglient foreign policy in its wake that his diminished American's standing in the eyes of the world while enriching Cheney and his friends at Halliburton.

But, who knows? Perhaps those weren't even real protestors. According to PBS, delegates were told not to enter the aisles during Bush's speech for security reasons.

The poor, frightened old lady might not have sacrified herself to show the true nature of America after all.

She might just have had a bladder control problem, and made the mistake of entering the aisle against instructions at a time when Republicans were most paranoid. The resulting disruption was caused by the Republican crowd just following orders to yell "4 more years" if the security detail grabbed anyone.

I've only seen the video of them being whisked out (with the crowd faced and chanting at them, disrupting the President), so I can only go by the PBS reported who claimed that some seemed to have been whisked away merely for entering the aisle. This is the same reporter who claimed Bush did not see the disruptions, nor pause his speech because of them, something the video show is patently untrue.

Who knows? "Say it wasn't so." Say it wasn't so about Florida as well.

The media in this country, largely, have been saying it wasn't so, largely out of fear, these four years. And we paid the price for that stolen election in blood, ash, and tears on 911.

God forgive those Florida Republicans, for they knew not what they did.