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McCain is a “Redistributor” too

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McCain has been tossing out the term “redistributor” to describe Sen. Obama, as if Obama is a socialist. At least, that’s the implicit connection he’s trying to make. But it’s far from true.

Newsweek’s Andrew Romano, in his column, writes:

Conservatives are eagerly pushing the charge–online, at rallies and in my inbox–that “Barack the Redistributor” is a secret communist, Marxist or socialist. (Today, the right is misreading as evidence of his pinko ways a 2001 interview in which Obama complains that progressive activists once wrongly wanted the Supreme Court to “ente[r] into the issues of redistribution of wealth.”) Now, I understand the appeal of this line of attack, which provides voters with a familiar, 20th-century bogeyman to fear. But characterizing Obama’s plan to tax the nation’s top earners at 39 percent instead of 36 percent as socialist is absurd. Dwight Eisenhower taxed top earners at 91 percent. Richard Nixon taxed them at more than 50 percent. Even Ronald Reagan didn’t lower the top marginal rate to less than 50 percent until the last two years of his second term. Were these Republicans secret socialists, too?

Romano’s column concludes:

Deep down, I suspect McCain knows that Obama isn’t really a socialist. Why? Because he once sounded a lot like his rival on taxes. During the 2000 campaign, for example, a young woman asked McCain why her father, a doctor, should be “penalized” by being “in a huge tax bracket.” McCain replied that “wealthy people can afford more” and that “the very wealthy, because they can afford tax lawyers and all kinds of loopholes, really don’t pay nearly as much as you think they do.” “Look, here’s what I really believe,” he added. “That when you are–when you reach a certain level of comfort, there’s nothing wrong with paying somewhat more.” He soon backed up his words with action. After Bush was elected, McCain told Congress that he was disappointed by the president’s plan to “cut the top tax rate of 39.6 percent to 36 percent.” When it came time for a vote, the Arizonan stood on the Senate floor and announced that “I cannot in good conscience support a tax cut in which so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate among us, at the expense of middle-class Americans who most need tax relief.” Unless McCain was a socialist in 2000 and 2001, Obama isn’t a socialist now.

John McCain understands and even promotes a progressive tax policy that taxes higher wager earners more than lower wage earners. The same thing Obama believes. The bogeyman title is nothing more than an attempt to scare the voting populace.


Written by Valerie Curl

November 3, 2008 at 4:34 PM

Wealth Redistribution – Standard practice in U.S. government policy

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In the latest issue of Newsweek, Jacob Weisberg’s article, Spread The Wealth? What’s New?, refutes McCain’s statements that Barack Obama “believes in redistributing wealth.”

Redistribution has a “from” side (taxation) and a “to” side (spending). On the “from” side, the notion that government should use taxation to increase rather than decrease equality is hardly Marxist. In “The Wealth of Nations,” Adam Smith [the father of modern economics] begins his section on taxation with the following maxim: “The subjects of every state ought to contribute towards the support of the government, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities.” To ask otherwise, Smith writes, would be obviously unfair.

Until the 20th century, the bulk of government revenues came from tariffs, which are regressive, meaning that they redistribute income away from the poor. The progressive principle was enshrined in American practice with the arrival of the federal income and inheritance taxes. The champion of these policies? None other than John McCain’s hero, Teddy Roosevelt. We got progressive income taxes with the passage of the 16th Amendment in 1913. The federal estate tax we have today came in 1916.

McCain is a consistent adherent to his hero’s principles. Unlike George W. Bush, McCain supports the retention of an estate tax (he favors reducing it to 15 percent on estates above $5 million). McCain opposes the flat tax, which would repudiate progressivity (though with a $46,000 exemption, it would still redistribute income). Some of us still remember the John McCain who opposed Bush’s 2001 tax cut, saying it was unfairly tilted toward the rich.

Weisberg goes on to write:

Curiously, the most prominent proponents of more-aggressive wealth redistribution have been Robin Hoods of the right. Milton Friedman is considered the father of the negative income tax, a 1960s-era proposal to simply give cash to the poor. Richard Nixon pitched a version of this plan in 1973. The idea was that writing checks would be preferable to more bureaucratic programs like welfare. Our most explicit redistributive program today is probably the earned-income tax credit, which supplements the incomes of people who work but don’t earn enough to escape poverty on their own. Gerald Ford signed this bill into law and Ronald Reagan greatly expanded it.

McCain has long-favored the EITC, calling it “a much-needed tax credit for working Americans.” McCain doesn’t support the repeal of Social Security or Medicare, or a raft of other wealth-spreading programs like food stamps. And he’s got redistributive measures of his own invention, too, such as a tax credit to help people with lower incomes buy health insurance.

Weisberg ends his article by writing:

There’s little in Obama’s background or writings to suggest he favors more-ambitious redistributive policies. His most expensive new social program is an expansion of health-care coverage that would not create a universal entitlement (as many Democrats want to do) and which has been credibly priced at less, or only slightly more, than McCain’s plan. There’s little reason to think that Obama would depart from the bipartisan consensus that has favored federal spending at approximately the same level for the past 40 years.

What has changed in that period is the way the market has distributed wealth. Since the 1970s, income inequality in the United States has increased dramatically. Obama, like a lot of fellow liberals, would like to find ways to reverse that trend without diminishing overall economic growth. The old John McCain worried about that problem, too. We may see that guy again, after the election.

Written by Valerie Curl

November 3, 2008 at 4:31 PM

Sleasy attack ad by Republican Trust Committee

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Since I live in the San Francisco area–a very blue area–I didn’t think I’d be seeing any Republican attack ads. They’d pretty much be a waste of money.

But I was wrong. I’ve seen the latest sleasy, disgusting ad several times today.

I wonder if the Republican Trust Committee, a 501(c)3, would like to see, say, MoveOn.org produce a nice attack ad about Sarah Palin’s preacher and church, using this video, for example. Remember it?

Or maybe an ad based on this video:

and this one:

Or perhaps just use this one:

Written by Valerie Curl

November 3, 2008 at 4:29 PM

Pollster describes “undecides”

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This morning, a pollster said that the “undecideds” are mostly white, middle class, older women who supported Hillary Clinton.

How they can be undecided is beyond me. If they supported Hillary, why don’t they support Obama? Do they honestly believe the McCain-Palin pronouncement that Obama is a socialist? If so, then Hillary must be a socialist too. His policies and ideas are almost exactly like hers.

McCain’s are not. His plans and polices will mimic Bush’s first term.

McCain will continue Bush’s economic policies even though many high-ranking Republicans say those policies were wrong. McCain will also continue Bush’s foreign policy…and carry it further. He sides completely with the Neo-Cons that got us into Iraq and advocated a policy of invasion of other Middle East countries to make them pro-American.

As many who know McCain well have stated, he is not a reflective thinker. He doesn’t think through the pros and cons and consequences of his actions. He’s a gambler. If elected President, he’ll be gambling with our lives, our futures, our children. That’s not what I want from my President. I don’t want someone gambling with my children’s futures.

Obama, like Hillary, is reflective, weighs the consequences, and doesn’t speak rashly.

It would be a huge mistake for those white, middle class, older women to break for McCain. If they hate the results of the Bush Administration, they won’t like McCain’s any better. It will be even worse.

Written by Valerie Curl

November 2, 2008 at 9:32 PM

UNCOMMITTED VOTERS: Is John McCain Right for America?

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John McCain continually speaks of his foreign policy experience and of how he is ready on Day One to lead our Country. However, other foreign policy experts have different points of view.

In John McCain’s Foreign Policy paper, published in Foreign Affairs Magazine, John McCain wrote:

As president, I will increase the size of the U.S. Army and the Marine Corps from the currently planned level of roughly 750,000 troops to 900,000 troops. Enhancing recruitment will require more resources and will take time, but it must be done as soon as possible.
I will create an Army Advisory Corps with 20,000 soldiers to partner with militaries abroad, and I will increase the number of U.S. personnel available to engage in Special Forces operations, civil affairs activities, military policing, and military intelligence. We also need a nonmilitary deployable police force to train foreign forces and help maintain law and order in places threatened by state collapse.
We should go further by linking democratic nations in one common organization: a worldwide League of Democracies.
We need a new Western approach to this revanchist Russia. We should start by ensuring that the G-8, the group of eight highly industrialized states, becomes again a club of leading market democracies: it should include Brazil and India but exclude Russia.

The latest issue of Foreign Affairs, Charles A. Kupchan, Professor of International Affairs at Georgetown University and a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, contradicts Sen. McCain:

Nonetheless, the next occupant of the White House should shelve the idea of establishing a league of democracies. Such a club is not needed to secure cooperation among liberal democracies — they are already regular partners — and it would draw new lines between democracies and nondemocracies, thus compromising their relations just when adapting the international system to the rise of illiberal powers is becoming a paramount challenge. Contrary to the expectations of its advocates, moreover, a league would expose the limits of the West’s power and appeal, revealing the constraints on solidarity among democracies, eroding the legitimacy of the West, and arresting the global spread of democracy. With its marginal upsides and dramatic downsides, establishing a league of democracies would not be a wise investment for the next president, whose time and political capital will be severely taxed by an economic downturn at home and abroad and by conflict in the Middle East.

But perhaps the most telling confirmation of John McCain’s errant foreign policy comes from his long time friend and Senate colleague, Chuck Hagel.

In the latest issue of New Yorker Magazine, Connie Bruck wrote a long article explaining Republican Senator Chuck Hagel’s refusal to endorse his long time friend John McCain. Hagel, a social conservative Senator from Nebraska and decorated Vietnam Vet, is giving up his seat in the Senate this year. The following are excerpts from that article.

After September 11, 2001, differences in Hagel’s and McCain’s views on foreign policy became sharper, and more consequential. Hagel, a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, is an ardent internationalist—“All of us are touched by every event that unfolds in every corner of the world,” he often says. An advocate for a strong military, he also believes that military force should be the last tool of statecraft. McCain has an almost religious belief in American exceptionalism and the merits of using military force to protect the nation’s interests and promote its values. (“Whatever sacrifices you must bear,” he told young men and women at the U.S. Naval Academy, in October, 2001, “you will know a happiness far more sublime than pleasure.”) In the months after the September 11th attacks, he became an enthusiastic promoter of war in Iraq. In early January, 2002, as warplanes took off for Afghanistan, McCain stood on the flight bridge of the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt, an aircraft carrier in the Arabian Sea, and yelled, “Next up, Baghdad!” Hagel, who was on the trip with the same congressional delegation, told a reporter, “I think it would be wrong, very shortsighted, and very dangerous for the United States to unilaterally move on Iraq.”

Hagel has frequently described the Administration’s “war on terror” as ill-conceived sloganeering and has argued that, in addition to fighting terrorism, we must fight the poverty and despair that enable terrorism to flourish. In a committee hearing in early 2007, he denounced the Bush Administration’s proposed “surge” strategy, which McCain strongly supported, as “the most dangerous foreign-policy blunder in this country since Vietnam.”

From 2004 on, McCain, in his desire to win the nomination, had embraced Bush’s policies ever more zealously, while Hagel had become the Administration’s most severe Republican critic. Although he has frequently voted with his party on domestic policy, his views on foreign policy represent a bold departure from those of the Administration, and his willingness to take Bush to task publicly has alienated many Republicans. In some ways, Hagel is far more of a maverick than McCain has ever been, and his endorsement would likely sway independents whose votes McCain probably needs in order to win.

Hagel said of their meeting in June, “It never was an interview kind of thing—‘John, let me get these things straight.’ ” Rather, he explained, “I wanted to understand, too, as we talked through these things, where he was going. . . . We talked about Iraq, and he and I disagree on this.” They also discussed McCain’s argument that Senator Barack Obama, the Democratic Presidential nominee, was wrong to pursue direct engagement with Iranian leaders. “And I said, ‘I don’t think he is. It’s what I’ve been saying, actually longer than Obama.’ I remember telling John—I said, ‘John, if you don’t engage Iran, where do you think this is going to go? We’re going to be in another war!’ ” (Hagel has been calling for direct, unconditional talks with Iran since 2001.)

Hagel says that he told McCain that he believed the election would be close, and he warned against waging a vicious campaign of the kind that had defeated McCain in 2000. “Once you win, then you’re going to have to govern,” Hagel told his friend. “The Democrats are going to add to their numbers, probably significantly, in the House and the Senate. You’re going to be faced with a strong Democratic Congress. You are going to have to bring some consensus here, and the first thing you are going to have to do is reach out to the Congress—Democrat and Republican.”

After the meeting, which Hagel says was amicable, any possibility that he might endorse McCain seemed to disappear.

Hagel’s unwillingness to endorse McCain is generally perceived to be a result of their ongoing disagreements over the Iraq war. But he told me that the gulf between them is much deeper: “In good conscience, I could not enthusiastically—honestly—go out and endorse him and support him when we so fundamentally disagree on the future course of our foreign policy and our role in the world.”

Hagel, citing McCain’s repeated calls for Russia to be expelled from the Group of Eight, the association of major industrial democracies, said, “You’re not going to isolate Russia—that’s completely crazy!” He told me that McCain’s approach to Russia was one of the reasons that he could not endorse him.

Critics have suggested that McCain’s League of Democracies could diminish the role of the United Nations. When I mentioned this to Hagel, he said, “What is the point of the United Nations? The whole point, as anyone who has taken any history knows, was to bring all nations of the world together in some kind of imperfect body, a forum that allows all governments of the world, regardless of what kinds of government, to work through their problems—versus attacking each other and going to war. Now, in John’s League of Democracies, does that mean Saudi Arabia is out? Does that mean our friend King Abdullah in Jordan is out? It would be only democracies. Well, we’ve got a lot of allies and relationships that are pretty important to us, and to our interests, who would be out of that club. And the way John would probably see China and Russia, they wouldn’t be in it, either. So it would be an interesting Book-of-the-Month Club.

“But in order to solve problems you’ve got to have all the players at the table,” Hagel went on, his voice rising. “How are you going to fix the problems in Pakistan, Afghanistan—the problems we’ve got with poverty, proliferation, terrorism, wars—when the largest segments of society in the world today are not at the table?” He paused, then added, more calmly, “The United Nations, as I’ve said many times, is imperfect. We’ve got NATO, multilateral institutions, multilateral-development banks, the World Trade Organization—all have flaws, that’s true. But if you didn’t have them what would you have? A world completely out of control, with no structure, no order, no boundaries.”

Hagel and McCain’s greatest disagreement remains the Iraq war. McCain has made the surge a keystone of his campaign, citing it as proof that the American military is winning. Hagel, like Obama and Jack Reed, says that it is unclear which factors have contributed most to the reduction in violence in Iraq. The addition of thirty thousand troops doubtless helped, he said. But so did the Anbar Awakening, in which Sunni tribal leaders decided to fight Islamic militants affiliated with Al Qaeda instead of the Americans; the decision by the Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr to order his militias to stand down; and the introduction of improved intelligence systems. “The surge is one of the great misunderstood tactical situations that we’ve had in modern times,” Hagel said. “Most of the press does not get it. What is the point of bringing the violence down? Why are we investing the lives of eleven hundred Americans killed, thousands wounded, tens of billions of dollars of additional money, undermining our interests around the world?” The strategic goal, of course, was to establish enough peace and security to enable a political reconciliation among the Iraqis. On that score, Hagel argued, there has been “very limited progress.” And if the Iraqis don’t reach an agreement on sharing the country’s oil reserves, he continued, “then they will have civil war, and they may have civil war, regardless.” In any case, he pointed out, “We still have more troops there than we had before the surge.”

I was speaking with Hagel in early October, shortly before the second Presidential debate. He mentioned that Obama had just called him, and among the many things they discussed was Afghanistan. “Here we are, in a situation where we all agree that the mountain range between Afghanistan and Pakistan represents the biggest threat to our security and the world’s security, where the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and terrorist groups are reconstituting,” Hagel said. “Pakistan is right on the brink. Yet we do not have enough force structure to put into the location that represents the greatest threat to our security. Why is that? Because of a fatal, fatal error”—the decision to go into Iraq and then to commit an even greater number of troops in the surge. “It has consumed our capacity to deal with anything else in the world. It won’t be until sometime next year that you’re going to be able to give more troops to General McKiernan”—the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan—“whom poor Governor Palin in her debate kept referring to as General McClellan.” Hagel chuckled, and added that that war “was a while back.”

While John McCain continues to promote his foreign policy experience and knowledge, consensus is growing among foreign policy experts that John McCain’s ideas are wrong-headed and detrimental to America’s interests abroad. Like Chuck Hagel, foreign policy experts are speaking out, stating that John McCain’s ideas will lead this country into even more conflicts and warfare…as well as the complete loss of goodwill amongst our leading allies and increase the threat towards our strategic Middle East allies, such as Israel.

Written by Valerie Curl

October 31, 2008 at 8:07 PM

JEWISH VOTERS: John McCain’s foreign policy will harm Israel.

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McCain’s foreign policy plans will put Israel right in the cross hairs of increased animosity towards the United States and increase Israel’s vulnerability.

Sen. McCain’s plan for foreign policy as stated in Foreign Affairs Magazine calls for increased conflict with Russia, a necessary ally in negotiations with Iran, and increased hostility with Iran.

But let’s step back a bit.

Because of the Iraqi war, the government of Iraq is controlled by Shiites. These same Shiites have close ties to Iran, even though they are Iraqi nationalists, as most of them sought shelter in Iran during the reign of Saddam Hussein. Iran also has close ties to Syria and to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

As a result, Iran has built a Shia arc of influence, stretching from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean. Moreover, Hamas will eagerly fall in line with this Iranian arc of influence if it suits their goals.

I doubt anyone can dispute this argument.

So, what should the U.S. do to counteract this arc of influence? That is the main question facing U.S. Middle East foreign policy today, because not only is Israel threatened, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Dubai, and all the other Sunni countries are threatened as well.

According to John McCain, he would not sit down with Iran unless they gave up their nuclear ambitions altogether. He has advocated bombing Iran. Moreover, he has called for the exclusion of Russia from the G8. Each of these tactics would lead to disaster.

First of all, Iran will not give up their nuclear ambitions just because we want them to do so in order to negotiate with the U.S. John McCain continues to exaggerate the world primacy of the U.S. by suggesting Iran submit to U.S. rules before negotiating the very thing the U.S. wants to negotiate. Not only does this policy make no strategic or tactical sense, but Iran doesn’t need the U.S.

Asking Iran to throw away their only bargaining chip before sitting down is like asking a poker player to throw away half his hand before deciding which hand wins. The only way to lure Iran to the negotiating table is to offer them something they need and want in exchange for their nuclear ambitions. It must be remembered, too, that Ahmadinejad, for all his bluster, does not run the country. He, in fact, has little authority—and perhaps no authority–when it comes to foreign policy.

Second, if the U.S. or Israel bombed Iran, it could very well lead to a backlash amongst all Middle Eastern nations…and certainly amongst the Iranian arc of influence. While the U.S. might be outside of the strategic bombing ability of Iran, Israel is not. And Israel would be Iran’s first target. Moreover, the rest of the Middle East just might sit by while Israel is destroyed. Or they might join with Iran to complete the destruction of Israel. No one knows with any certainty how the many Muslim countries will react and what they will deem as in their self-interest. The U.S. cannot take that risk.

Third, Russia has great influence within Iran. Far more than the U.S. currently has. We need Russia to assist in our negotiations with Iran on the nuclear issue. Throwing Russia out of the G8 would further insult the Russians. The Russian people already feel they were humiliated by the U.S. following the breakdown of their empire. Thus, Putin’s unparalleled popularity. If the U.S. further insults Russia by excluding it from the G8 as McCain advocates, there is no chance whatsoever that Russia will assist the U.S. and our allies in containing Iran’s nuclear ambitions. On the contrary, Russia may find it in their self-interest to assist Iran in any or all of its nuclear ambitions. And that would be devastating to Israel as well as to all the Sunni Muslim countries.

So, no matter what McCain says about his having been tested in foreign affairs and his stated knowledge of that field, his strategies are wrong-headed. His ideas would lead the world into further conflict and would most definitely harm Israel.

Google CEO and Martha Stewart endorse Obama

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Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt, and Martha Stewart endorsed Sen. Obama for President.

Schmidt has joined the Obama campaign in Florida, campaigning for him because he believes Obama will be better for technology, business, and the economy.

Martha Stewart endorsed Obama on Fox News this week, stating that his economic policies are better for the Middle Class than Sen. McCain’s. She added that she doesn’t mind paying more in taxes if the Middle Class gets a tax break because the Middle Class needs the tax break more than she does.

Obviously, the Republican Party (and Fox News) is highly upset and is trying to discredit these two highly successful business executives. But, I for one, am having a hard time believing the Republicans since these two individuals have created enormous business empires. I figure they must know a thing or two about economics and business to have achieved what they have.

Rumor exists that many more Silicon Valley CEOs support Obama over McCain. They can’t all be wrong on business and the economy!

Written by Valerie Curl

October 31, 2008 at 7:27 PM

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