The Four Corners
Putting it all together from all ends of the globe and political spectrum, then delivering it to your desktop wrapped up in a pretty but not dainty bow.
T4C approved sites
Friday, June 06, 2003
Terror alert! Code periwinkle! Today's rant du jour is on the Department of Homeland Security's idiotic color coded terror alert system. There are many reasons why the whole thing should be scrapped:
The City of Charlotte, North Carolina and surrounding Mecklenburg County ignored the pre-war orange alert until the war in Iraq actually began. And now Arizona's homeland security director, Frank Navarrete, with the support of Governor Janet Napolitano, has indicated his state will make its own assessment of terrorist threats before following any future federal alerts.
"It creates incredible problems: overtime, financial, functional," Navarrete told the Arizona Republic. "It's not quite to the point where it creates havoc, but it's quite disruptive." And it's not just a matter of cost and chaos for government officials, either. "We have to be mindful," said Navarette, "that if we continue to do this and nothing happens, that it loses its impact with the citizenry. It becomes a 'here we go again' mentality."
"The real issue here," concludes Cohen, "is not whether the color code system is good or bad; it's whether we're moving in the right direction to effectively protect our nation from future acts of terrorism. As it stands today, we are nowhere near where we need to be. And 20 months after the attacks, that's a shame."
It sure is a shame. As the New Dem Daily says, "Let's cut off the orange lights and get serious about homeland security."
Thursday, June 05, 2003
Mickey Kaus finally got his wish Kaus, the Slate blogger whose obsession with New York Times Executive Editor Howell Raines has gotten way out of hand, must be dancing in the streets today.
Why? AP just announced that Raines and Managing Editor Gerald Boyd resigned today in the wake of the Jayson Blair (and Rick Bragg) scandal.
Finally! I was getting sick and tired of every other Kausfiles post being on the bias and bad decision making of Raines, whose smug attitude has made him a prime target when people found out about the Blair scandal (who was a protege of Raines')
The witch hunt, then is finally over I hope, and David Letterman can stop making those lame New York Times jokes and Kaus can go back to writing good posts. [Mickey, I am so sorry that you never got that big job at the Times or whatever, but let go already!]
According to AP, "Raines became executive editor just days before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The following April, the Times received a record seven Pulitzer Prizes -- five for its coverage of the terrorist attacks and another for the war in Afghanistan.
"'They have made enormous contributions during their tenure," [NYT Owner and Publisher Arthur] Sulzberger said, 'including an extraordinary seven Pulitzer Prizes in 2002 and another this year. I appreciate all of their efforts in continuing the legacy of our great newspaper.'
"Raines had been editor of the editorial page for eight years and previously headed the newspaper's bureaus in Washington and London when he was named executive editor to replace the retiring Lelyveld.
"He won a Pulitzer Prize for feature writing in 1992 for a memoir he wrote for The New York Times Magazine about his childhood friendship in Alabama with his family's black housekeeper."
So he couldn't have been all that bad of a writer and manager, right? Oh well, hat's off to you [Raines] for finally taking one for the team. Maybe now the New York Times can return to being the newspaper that publishes "All the news that's fit to print."
Wednesday, June 04, 2003
Correction: George W. Bush is going to raise your taxes After receiving some offline critique from some of the Corners, I wish to amend and supplement my controversial contention on the George W. Bush tax hike for the middle class and attempt to exclude the lower classes from his tax cut package. A Bush lie is noted by Boston Globe reporter Derrick Z. Jackson, "When President George W. Bush signed the $350 billion tax cut a week ago, he declared: 'The Jobs and Growth Act reduces federal income taxes across the board.... We have passed a bold package of tax relief ... that reaches every single corner of America.' " "Bush said that," Jackson notes, "even as he swept millions of the working poor and lower middle class into a dusty pile in his conscience."
Today, the Washington Post has full-fledged article on the increasing relative burden of the middle class under Bush's tax plans. Respected reporters Dana Milbank and Jonathan Weisman conclude that "With the biggest gains going to the wealthiest and to low-income taxpayers, those in the middle inevitably get a higher tax burden because they don't qualify for the targeted tax breaks that go to the poor or the investment-related tax breaks that go to the wealthy."
"It's hard to get a lot of progressivity at the very top," claims R. Glenn Hubbard, the architect of Bush's most recent tax cut proposal and a former chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, who has been banished to K street-- a veritable Siberia in the White House, where proximity to the president equals power.
By slashing taxes on dividends, capital gains and inheritances, the cuts ensure that tax burdens will no longer rise consistently with income, as they would with a perfectly "progressive" system. "But," Hubbard added, "we've very much retained progressivity overall because so much money was dumped into the bottom rates."
I guess he sees tax credits like the EITC (earned income tax credit) as welfare and not what it really is, rewarding working families and helping them out of poverty.
I suppose as well that the Post missed out on the AMT (alternative minimum tax) debate because it is too wonky and not sexy enough to discuss, even though it is a direct tax hike of over a thousand dollars for middle class Americans. It starts, shockingly enough, in 2005-- one year after Bush's supposed reelection. Six years after that, nearly a third of all taxpayers will see higher taxes as a direct result of Bush's tax policy.
After first making the excuse that families that don't pay federal taxes shouldn't get tax credits, Republicans are quickly retreating into the arms of Arkansas Democrat Blanche Lincoln's legislation that would provide the $1,000 child tax credit to minimum wage families.
First they made the excuse that it was Voinovich's fault for insisting on the $350 billion number, which they had no problem gimmicking other tax breaks for the middle class, poor and wealthy alike, with Senator (and powerful Finance Committee Chairman) Grassley offering another budget busting $90 billion bill that would require 60 votes for, since it would go over the Republican "budget" set for the upcoming fiscal year.
But Lincoln's bill is a mere $3.5 billion (exactly a tenth of the Bush "jobs and growth package") and paid for mostly by (gasp) closing loopholes on corporations who seek the shelter of Bermuda's shores to avoid taxes.