Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Unfair Tax

I just went to the Fair Tax site, since I had not heard of the term until reading about the most recent Republican debate. Mike Huckabee and Alan Keyes want to eliminate the IRS and the 16th Amendment and establish a national sales tax. There are many fallacies to this idea, and I promise to blog about them later, but I just wanted to point out that I checked out the Fair Tax Calculator to estimate all the glorious tax savings that could be mine if only we'd get rid of those progressive taxes. I'd end up paying $2,700 more if the "Fair Tax" was enabled and income tax was repealed. And I'd be willing to bet that people poorer than me would pay an even higher percentage of their income with the "Fair Tax" in place. But then, poor people don't vote in Republican primaries.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Mitt Loves Everyone - Except Atheists

Mitt Romney made a speech today that highlighted Mitt Romney's most honed skill: being two-faced about something. Ordinarily candidates aren't given much airtime nationally when they make campaign speeches, but this one was less about cheering for the candidate's platform and more about the candidate's faith and governance. It was set up to be a grand speech about religious freedom in America, but the message that came off was that you'd better believe in Jesus and God if you really want any freedom in America. (transcript here).

Here are some Romney quotes that keep God out of the hands of the government:

- I do not define my candidacy by my religion.
- A person should not be elected because of his faith nor should he be rejected because of his faith.
- Let me assure you that no authorities of my church, or of any other church for that matter, will ever exert influence on presidential decisions. Their authority is theirs, within the province of church affairs, and it ends where the affairs of the nation begin.
- I will put no doctrine of any church above the plain duties of the office and the sovereign authority of the law.
- A president must serve only the common cause of the people of the United States.
- Religious tolerance would be a shallow principle indeed if it were reserved only for faiths with which we agree.
- We separate church and state affairs in this country, and for good reason. No religion should dictate to the state nor should the state interfere with the free practice of religion.
- We face no greater danger today than theocratic tyranny.

Now here are the Romney quotes that put God firmly in control of your tax dollars:

- Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom.
- I believe that every faith I have encountered draws its adherents closer to God.
- We are a nation 'Under God' and in God, we do indeed trust.
- In recent years, the notion of the separation of church and state has been taken by some well beyond its original meaning. They seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God. Religion is seen as merely a private affair with no place in public life. It is as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America - the religion of secularism. They are wrong.
- We should acknowledge the Creator as did the Founders - in ceremony and word. He should remain on our currency, in our pledge, in the teaching of our history, and during the holiday season, nativity scenes and menorahs should be welcome in our public places.
- We believe that every single human being is a child of God.
- Any believer in religious freedom, any person who has knelt in prayer to the Almighty, has a friend and ally in me.
- And so it is for hundreds of millions of our countrymen: We do not insist on a single strain of religion — rather, we welcome our nation's symphony of faith.

Great. What about those of us who don't believe God exists? I guess we should just move to a country less consumed by theocratic tyranny.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Huckabee's Run Is No Surprise

The media shouldn't be at all surprised about the surgence of Mike Huckabee in many polls, including in Iowa, where this poll says he's leading all Republican candidates. The first indications of this surge was after the Iowa straw poll back in August, and even though it's a made-up contest where candidates get to give money to people to vote for them and the richest guy in the race won, it seemed to mean a lot to Huckabee. But even besides this, the media should have recognized that voters at large and especially Iowa Republicans dislike four things in candidates: being a senator, being a putz, being a bullshitter, and being a New Yorker / New Englander.

For some reason, there are always several members of the U.S. Senate who believe that being a U.S. Senator is a stepping stone to the presidency. You senators in this presidential race are only fooling yourselves. The only person to ascend to the office of the President directly from being a member of the Senate since Warren G. Harding was John F. Kennedy, and, well, as the Lloyd Bentsen famously said, you're no Jack Kennedy. Fortunately for Mike Huckabee, he happens to be a governor.

No one likes a putz, which is the reason Bill Richardson is slipping in polls. Being a putz is hard to define, but being overweight and tongue tied in debates are two key indicators. Fortunately for Mike Huckabee, he is perhaps best known for getting his lard butt in shape through diet and exercise, and no longer carries any visible putz-like qualities. Huckabee is certainly less putzy than Fred Thompson, which is the other candidate most like him in his views.

Being a bull-shitter may work for some, but its usually best to save all your best bullshitting for when you have already achieved the highest office you're gunning for. This will hurt Mitt Romney when the primaries come around, and it may even hurt Rudy Giuliani, one of our generations finest bullshitters (and I mean that mostly as a compliment). Fortunately for Mike Huckabee, he is viewed as a straight-talker, even though somebody else already stole that idea for their bus.

Lastly, New Yorkers and New Englanders are always viewed more scrutinizingly by Republicans and Independents. It's generally the opinion of the rest of the country that those guys are obnoxious, a viewpoint reinforced by ESPN's incessant coverage of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry and the existence of Ben Affleck. It's why John Kerry lost the last election (we didn't realize how much of a putz he was until we thought about it later), it's why Michael Dukakis never stood a chance, and it's why Hillary Clinton won't win the general election. Okay, that and the bullshitting thing. Iowa Republicans have been looking for a candidate with flyover country cred, but without being too twangy (Thompson) or Strangeloveian (Tom Tancredo). And now, as John Madden would say, boom! Mike Huckabee hits the hole and keeps his feet moving!