Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

That’s Nice

Washington — The White House quickly backpedaled Thursday on Pentagon plans to cut the combat pay of the 157,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan after disclosure of the idea quickly became a political embarrassment.

The Pentagon’s support for the idea of rolling back “imminent danger pay” by $75 a month and “family separation allowances” for the American forces by $150 a month collapsed after a story in some editions of The Chronicle Thursday generated intense criticism from military families, veterans groups and Democratic candidates seeking to unseat President Bush in 2004.


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Be Angry Bear for a Week Contest Update

We have our first contest winner, an economist specializing in macroeconomics and international trade. But there’s still room for more. Get those entries in soon.


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God in The Courtroom, Not in Tax Policy

One Alabaman, Chief Justice Roy Moore, refuses to take a Ten Commandments display out of a state courthouse, saying

“We have a federal judge saying we can’t recognize who God is, yet that’s the basis of our justice system. They have the audacity to come into our court and say we have to remove the foundation of our law, which is the Ten Commandments…I have no intention of removing the monument. This I cannot and will not do.”

The smart money is on Judge Moore announcing in the near future that he’s either writing a book or running for statewide office.

Meanwhile, Alabama’s Republican Governor, Bob Riley, is using appeals to Christian notions of fairness and justice in an attempt to garner support for his plan to deal with Alabama’s $675m deficit by simultaneously increasing taxes and making the state’s tax system less regressive. Needless to say, The Christian Coalition of Alabama opposes Riley’s plan. (For the full Alabama tax story, go here).


The two issues may be more closely related than they appear. The same story says that Moore said that the state has spent $125 million defending the monument’s place! I don’t see how that’s possible, but that’s what the Fox News story says.

UPDATE: To clarify, the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court is an elected position, so my prediction that Moore will be “running for statewide office” is not particularly bold. What I mean is running for the Senate or the Governor’s office.

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Eleven Through Fifteen

Again, I reiterate that this list is not ordered. While tomorrow’s list-makers will be the least “worst”, those in spots 1-15 on my list are just plain terrible and I didn’t try to make any distinctions based on the degree of loathsomeness.

11. Timothy McVeigh, terrorist–For killing 168 Americans.

12. Herbert Hoover: Not everyone who gets a town (or many towns shanties) named after them is admirable. First, he signed the Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act. Really, If I can’t count on Republicans to at least back free trade then what are they good for? Hoover unwisely decided that the best solution to the burgeoning Great Depression was to sit back and let the business cycle proceed without intervention. I could forgive that, but signing the Hawley-Smoot Act was the height of folly.

13. Richard Mellon Scaife: Cooky billionaire who funds just about every institute or institution that annoys me-from bribing Arkansan Troopers to funding AEI, Heritage, Hoover, Cato (actually, I like Cato. They generally have a line and they stick to it, criticizing politicians who cross their philosophy, with little concern for the ramifications. Contrast that the AEI economists’ basic silence on Bush II’s expansion of Big Government), Free Congress Foundation, the American Spectator, and a host of conservative institutions and investigations. Amazingly enough, he’s the glue that gives credence to Hillary Clinton’s vast right wing conspiracy.

14. Strom Thurmond: The longest filibuster in Senate history (1957, just over 24 hours) trying, thankfully in vain, to block passage of the 1957 Civil Rights Act. Thurmond “Blue Slipped” black and pro-civil rights judicial nominees. But most of all, he makes the list for making me feel like a jackass for being from the South. Here’s a clip from his party’s platform back when he ran for president:

We stand for the segregation of the races and the racial integrity of each race; the constitutional right to choose one’s associates; to accept private employment without governmental interference, and to earn one’s living in any lawful way. We oppose the elimination of segregation, the repeal of miscegenation statutes, the control of private employment by Federal bureaucrats called for by the misnamed civil rights program. We favor home-rule, local self-government and a minimum interference with individual rights.

We oppose and condemn the action of the Democratic Convention in sponsoring a civil rights program calling for the elimination of segregation, social equality by Federal fiat, regulations of private employment practices, voting and local law enforcement.

We affirm that the effective enforcement of such a program would be utterly destructive to the social, economic and political life of the Southern people, and of other localities in which there may be differences in race, creed or national origin in appreciable numbers.

15. Andrew Jackson. For signing the Indian Removal Act of 1830: This act lead directly to the marches along the path called the Trail of Tears: Between 1838-39, 14,000 were marched 1,200 miles through Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, and Arkansas…about 4,000 died on that trail.


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If He Wasn’t Going to Run Before…

this should do the trick:

After all, his likely candidacy is all about ego, not about getting any policy he could possibly support enacted.


P.S. I like Conason’s take:

The San Francisco Examiner reports that Nader “hurled the pie back, striking a bystander,” which serves as a perfect metaphor for Naderite politics).

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Rice Watch Day 24

Rice recently made a direct analogy between the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s and the current efforts to create a self-governing and democratic Iraq (“The view was wrong in 1963 in Birmingham, and it is wrong in 2003 in Baghdad and in the rest of the Middle East”). The Wyeth Wire gives a little historical context to Rice’s views on the intersection between the military and civil rights.


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Interest Rates, Deficits, and Unemployment Likely to Rise

Do I have some exciting new data or theory to back up this claim? No. It just seems to be the natural consequence of every gathering like this:

Treasury Secretary John Snow, Commerce Secretary Don Evans, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, budget director Joshua Bolten, Bush’s top economic advisor Stephen Friedman, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card and others will put their heads together with Bush at his ranch in Crawford, Texas.


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Great Line of the Day

From TBogg:

As I have said before, some people choose abstinence, others have it thrust upon them.

Get the context here. And while you’re there, scroll up to this post for a brief sojourn into the surreal.


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Six Through Ten

6. Benedict Arnold. This, from his actual letter to the British, is truly low, and readily explains his inclusion in my twenty worst list:

“On the 13th Instant I addressed a letter / to you expressing my Sentiments and expectations, viz, that / the following Preliminaries be settled previous to cooperating. – / First, that S[ir]. Henry secure to me my property, valued at ten thou- / sand pounds Sterling, to be paid to me or my Heirs in case of / Loss; and, as soon as that happens [strike out] shall happen, —- hundred / pounds per annum to be secured to me for life, in lieu of the / pay and emoluments I give up, for my Services as they shall / deserve – If I point out a plan of cooperation by which S[ir}. H[enry]. / shall possess himself of West Point, the Garrison, etc. etc. etc. twenty / thousand pounds Sterling I think will be a cheap purchase for / an object of so much importance.”

7. John Edgar Hoover. Hey, I’ve got no problem with the women’s clothes or the gayness… But his creating a dossier of left-wingers, about ½ a million of them, ranks J. Edgar Hoover pretty low in the annals of American history. Heck, even Harry Truman wrote this about him:

We want to Gestapo or Secret Police. FBI is tending in that direction. They are dabbling in sex life scandals and plain blackmail when they should be catching criminals. They also have a habit of sneering at local law enforcement officers. This must stop. Cooperation is what we must have.

8. John C. Calhoun-Theorist of the States’ Rights point of view, which in turn was a causal factor in the road to the Civil War. Advocate of Slavery, and should the institution be threatened, War. From his 1949 Address:

To convince them that you are, you must prove by your acts that you hold all other questions subordinate to it. If you become united, and prove yourselves in earnest, the North will be brought to a pause, and to a calculation of consequences; and that may lead to a change of measures, and the adoption of a course of policy that may quietly and peaceably terminate this long conflict between the two sections. If it should not, nothing would remain for you but to stand up immovably in defence of rights, involving your all–your property, prosperity, equality, liberty, and safety.

9. Aldrich Ames: Besides revealing the names of every U.S. spy in the Soviet Union, Ames derailed CIA covert operations and put dozens of CIA officers at risk. In return for his treason, the KGB paid him more than $2 million and kept another $2 million earmarked for him in a Moscow bank, making him the highest paid spy in the world. There is no doubt that his greed and perfidy lead to the deaths of many Americans.

10. Julius Rosenberg (not Ethel–most research indicates that while she was a Communist Party member, she had no idea that her husband, Julius, was giving what nuclear secrets he had to the Soviet Union).


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Rice Watch Day Twenty-Two

From a must-read piece in today’s Washington Post (Depiction of Threat Outgrew Supporting Evidence):

Answering questions Thursday before the National Association of Black Journalists, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice said she is “certain to this day that this regime was a threat, that it was pursuing a nuclear weapon, that it had biological and chemical weapons, that it had used them.” White House officials referred all questions of detail to Tenet.


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