December 1 2004
TAX SIMPLIFICATION: Two of the major tax reform
ideas floating around Republican circles are a National
Sales Tax or some kind of Flat Tax. Last night on Special
Hume interviewed Ken Kies on the pros and cons of a
National Sales Tax. Without getting into specifics, my quick
take is a National Sales Tax proposal, seriously pushed
by President Bush and Congress, would be a political disaster
let's keep in mind that if the President does propose serious
tax reform, every business and interest group that will
lose their special tax breaks are going to fight the proposed
changes tooth and nail. This is along with the entire accounting
and legal industries, which have zero interest in seeing
the nation's tax laws simplified. And then on top of all
this opposition, I wouldn't hold my breath that the mainstream
media will provide fair and honest coverage of the tax reform
these entrenched interests (not to mention the Democrats
in Congress) the President needs to make sure that any proposed
reform has as much broad-based support as possible. A National
Sales Tax is such a radical change with so many different
avenues from where it can be legitimately attacked, that
whatever its benefits, it should be a complete nonstarter
from a political standpoint.
the other hand, a flat tax with ONE and only ONE deduction
for your home would vastly improve the current federal income
tax and with serious support from the President could get
through Congress. I don't know what allowing for a deduction
for your home mortgage does to the numbers and what rate
would be needed to make the plan revenue neutral. But not
allowing the home ownership deduction would make the reform
extremely vulnerable politically, and could be a fatal stumbling
block towards getting any plan passed.
tax reform and simplification would be a major accomplishment
for the President, and more importantly, would be an enormous
boost for the American economy. A National Sales Tax isn't
going to happen for a lot of reasons, the first being it
is probably bad
tax policy. But a Flat Tax or a considerably simplified
income tax are very real possibilities, and well worth expenditures
of President Bush's political capital. J.
McIntyre 9:47 am Link
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November 30 2004
THE STATE OF THE JIHAD: From Reuters
- Al Qaeda's deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahri said in a
videotape broadcast Monday al Qaeda would continue to
attack the United States until Washington changed its
policies toward the Muslim world.
are a nation of patience and we will continue fighting
you (United States) until the last hour," Zawahri
said in the tape which was aired by Arab satellite television
Zawahri is Osama bin Laden's right hand man and has been
pictured traveling with the al Qaeda leader through Afghanistan.
He is on the FBI's list of its 22 "most wanted terrorists."
a Sept. 9 video-taped message he ridiculed U.S.
forces which he said were "hiding in their trenches"
talk coming from a guy who now lives in a cave. His boss
lives in a cave, too. Neither can show their face in public
and have to communicate to their troops using a handy cam.
Two-thirds of Zawahri's fellow al-Qaeda leaders and henchmen
are either dead or in prison and one of his most prominent
terrorist colleagues, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, high-tailed
it out of Fallujah just in the nick of time and is now on
the lam in Iraq.
and gentlemen, the state of the jihad is not well. Last
week as Zarqawi was making his retreat from Fallujah, he
slammed Sunni clerics for their lack of support:
have let us down in the darkest circumstances and handed
us over to the enemy. ... You have quit supporting the
mujahedeen. Hundreds of thousands of the nation's sons
are being slaughtered at the hands of the infidels because
of your silence. You (the Sunni clerics) left the mujahadeen
to face the strongest power in the world. Are your hearts
not shaken by the scenes of your brothers being surrounded
and hurt by your enemy?''
has posted a letter from a Saudi Islamist condemning
his fellow Muslims who "shirk jihad" and ridiculing
them as women:
who shirk Jihad: I am saying to you what Ibn Al-Jawzi
said to the people of his time: 'Oh people: the millstone
of war is turning round and the call for Jihad was made
and the gates of heaven have opened. And so, if you are
not among the knights of war, then let your women grind
the millstone of war and you go and makeup your eyes,
you women with beards and turbans!'
this public browbeating of fellow Muslims suggests the enthusiasm
for terrorism, death and jihad isn't as great as the bad
guys had hoped.
U.S. forces in Iraq have been extremely effective in answering
the jihadists' prayers for martyrdom.
Iraqi troops are being
the day, and the effort to postpone January elections
in Iraq has thankfully not
there is much more work to be done on the battlefield as
well as in the boardrooms and classrooms of Iraq and beyond.
But the progress being made is significant. More importantly,
it marginalizes the terrorists and diminishes the attractiveness
and influence of future calls for jihad.
what continued success could look like a year from now:
the first freely elected government in Iraqi history, significantly
reduced U.S. troop levels in Iraq, Israeli withdrawal from
Gaza and movement toward settling the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict with Arafat now out of the way. Where exactly would
this leave Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahri and their
grievances of the oppression of Muslims? Same cave. Same
handy cam. But with far fewer followers and far less influence.
- T. Bevan 10:30 am Link
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November 29 2004
WILSON, WAR, AND DEMOCRACY: Eighty-seven
years ago President
Woodrow Wilson delivered these words to a Joint Session
of Congress asking for a declaration of war:
is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people
into war, into the most terrible and disastrous of all
wars, civilization itself seeming to be in the balance.
But the right is more precious than peace, and we shall
fight for the things which we have always carried nearest
our hearts, for democracy, for the right of those who
submit to authority to have a voice in their own governments,
for the rights and liberties of small nations, for a universal
dominion of right by such a concert of free peoples as
shall bring peace and safety to all nations and make the
world itself at last free. To such a task we dedicate
our lives and our fortunes, everything that we are and
everything that we have, with the pride of those who know
that the day has come when America is privileged to spend
her blood and her might for the principles that gave her
birth and happiness and the peace which she has treasured.
God helping her, she can do no other."
remarkable how poignant these words sound today. What's
even more remarkable - not to mention ironic - is that Wilson's
words now reflect a belief held by many Republicans (especially
the current occupant of the White House) and eschewed by
Davis Hanson's column Friday before last got me wondering
just how much of this historical flip-flop is due to September
11 and how much of it is based on partisanship. You will
not find a more forceful, articulate and passionate defender
of the War in Iraq than Hanson. But would he be as unequivocal
in his support of the war and the way it's been waged if
it was the product of a Democratic President? Would any
of us who supported the war from the beginning and still
support it now be feeling differently today if a Democrat
had been the one who led us into it?
would Democrats who initially supported the War in Iraq
(like Ken Pollack, Joe Biden and Thomas Friedman, to name
a few) have turned so quickly against its prosecution were
a Democratic administration in office instead of a Republican
one? Would they still be arguing that the U.S. effort in
Iraq is a quagmire borne of total incompetence or would
they be focusing on the significant progress that has been
made and the drive toward free, fair elections?
know the answer to these questions. Clearly there are factions
within each party (peaceniks on the left and paleos on the
right) who would be against the War in Iraq under all but
the most dire of circumstances. The rest (myself included)
are open to persuasion and affected to various degrees by
personally, based on the same evidence and arguments given
at the time, I would have supported a Clinton, Gore, or
Kerry administration taking the same action in Iraq. If
I'm being honest, however, I probably would have been more
critical of a few of the administration's decisions like
the one to not crush the insurgents in Fallujah back in
problem is that it's difficult for me to conceive any scenario
(except in response to a catastrohpic attack) under in which
a Democratic President would have led the drive to invade
Iraq. Most Democrats see that as a good thing, especially
with the clarity of hindsight. It's not.
primary justification for invading Iraq was that the regime
represented a real and growing threat to U.S. national security
which could no longer be tolerated after September 11. While
the global intelligence upon which the decision was based
turned out to be incomplete and in many cases wrong, the
motives underlying the decision to take action were not.
is the Bush administration's overarching policy vision that
has evolved in the aftermath of September 11 (of which Iraq
has now become a central part) that the spread of democracy
is deeply entwined with America's (and the world's) long
term security interests. And while that doesn't mean the
U.S. will run around the globe trying to impose democracy
everywhere at the point of the gun, the President has also
made clear that force may be required - and used - under
the appropriate circumstances.
simplistically, President Bush has firmly embraced the idea
that freedom leads to peace. Clearly Woodrow Wilson, who
had spent years keeping America neutral in the face of German
aggression, had something similar in mind on the eve of
war in 1917 when he suggested to Congress that "such
a concert of free peoples as shall bring peace and safety
to all nations and make the world itself at last free."
not surprising that many Democrats were against the invasion
of Iraq and that more and more have turned against it as
time, costs, and casualties have worn on. What is surprising
is their continuing lack of enthusiasm in recognizing that
50 million people have been liberated in the last three
years, their calculated indifference toward the recent elections
in Afghanistan and their inability to wholeheartedly get
behind supporting freedom and success in Iraq.
Democrats' reaction to the Bush administration's policies
exist in three parts. One part is procedural (our acting
'unilaterally'), one part is political (not wanting to credit
your opponent), and one part is decidedly personal (a hatred
of George W. Bush).
together, however, the unfortunate reality is that by their
reaction the Democrats have not only lost ground to Bush
on the issue of national security, they've also ceded the
ground of championing democracy and human rights around
the globe. Lastly, and perhaps most ironically, in the process
they've placed themselves on the side of the status quo
of tyranny and oppression doled out by the likes of the
Taliban and Saddam Hussein. I'm not sure that 's a legacy
Woodrow Wilson would be proud of. - T. Bevan
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