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Friday, May 02, 2003
Neil Cavuto: "Common Sense", or Nonsense?
Tony AdragnaSo, I'm not a fan of FOX News Channel, and never have been. But, I do appreciate the lack of feigned objectivity. And the commentary — WOW! — it doesn't get any better for somebody who, like me, enjoys bad demagoguery as much as good argument.
Demagoguery at the "fair and balanced" FNC? Certainly. Just look at Neil Cavuto's May 1st Common Sense
Have you ever heard something that just so ticks you off, you have to respond?Yes, Neil: see below.
Well, I have.Bad start, Neil — you can't remember "who" said "what", so how are we to judge for ourselves on the record of what was actually said?
Irresponsible? To whom? To you? Because you can't spend the money? Or to us, because we can? Why is it reckless to give people their money back, but okay for you to keep it?Classic straw man argumentation — instead of quotage, we get rhetorical questions making worst-read suggestions of what the "Senator" said, and the response follows
You were shameless and phony then. You're shameless and phony now.Problem is that we still don't know exactly "who" said "what". There are several different arguments against Mr. Bush's tax plan, ranging from the "class warfare" opposition to elimination of dividend & estate taxes, to plain 'ol vanilla fiscal discipline. Which argument did the "Senator" make?
The "fiscal discipline" argument is that on which it's easier to make the case for "irresponsibility". Cavuto knows — he mighta been born at night, but not last night — that the argument is against structural deficits. The GOP's unseriousness at addressing how to pay for more government — the "less government" mantra plays well to the crowd, but is disingenuouss — while taking in less revenue, truly is irresponsible. Cavuto's argument to give his hypothetical single mother a break doesn't seem to care about the out year effect on that mother's children — intergenerational debt.
We're not just talking about the need for more government revenue to cover spending in the out years — i.e. the looming Social Security system funding needs vis a vis baby boomers — but current growth in government spending related to homeland security, defense, and foreign affairs [while we're at it, let's not forget airline bailouts, terrorism insurance bailouts, etc.].
As for "boondoggle-spending" & "class warfare", there's some validity to Cavuto's criticism. The GOP has argued for some reductions in spending on social welfare programs, and liberals & progressives have argued that tax cuts are irresponsible in light of current conditions — those programs need the revenue more than shareholders need a tax break. I agree with Cavuto that some of those programs are boondoggles — not just in the sense of wasteful, but also insofar as they perversely work to keep people dependent upon welfare — and ought be reduced out of existence. There's where Cavuto's hypothetical single mother ought object to the government taking her money.
But liberals & progressives aren't the only folks who favour boondoggle-spending — the Department of Homeland Security comes to mind. And how 'bout funding the type of law enforcement that we get from the FBI, DEA, BATF — don't even get me started on funding to enforce provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act — boondoggles all!
And I've got to admit that in the tax fairness context, I'm a liberal partisan in this "class warfare".
These questions of how much government, what its priorities should be, and how to fund it are all valid matters of political debate. Mr. Cavuto's demagogic straw man argumentation is worse than unhelpful — it's counteproductive.
Wednesday, April 30, 2003
Iraq Sanctions Watch (cont.): НЕТ Means Äà
Tony AdragnaFor those who don't know the Cyrillic alphabet [that includes moi] the above transliterates "Nyet Means Da" [Do I need to translate, too? Maybe for the French - ed But, don't they get it? Yes, they do, but you know the French: If you don't say it in French, they'll pretend they don't understand - ed Oh, I give up! Oughtn't you get to the point of today's entry -ed Of course, thanks!]
Instapundit points to a Mark Steyn piece which notes a bit of Russian disingenuousness
Got that? Last month, the Russians were opposed to war on the grounds that there was no proof Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. This month, the Russians are opposed to lifting sanctions on the grounds that there's no proof Iraq doesn't have weapons of mass destruction.Last night's AP report of Putin's position makes clear how farcical this is. Putin says he's about countering the "one member" seen as calling upon the "whole community [...] to serve [its] interests." But, what's this really about?
In my opinion, it's less about concerns over the threat of "U.S. hegemony" than about resisting the call to effective international cooperation. After all, what the U.S. has called the community of nations to do is live up to its obligations — that should be recognized as in the whole community's interest. At the United Nations last September, Mr. Bush made very clear that the international community has a choice: Join us in making the world a better place for everybody, or stand against us in the same old game of international power politics.
Mr. Putin is making a play at egging the U.S. president's face
[...] Putin said the U.S.-led coalition based its war in Iraq on the belief that Baghdad had such weapons and said the issue must be clarified before sanctions can end...These questions ought be read as rhetorical — the plan is to make the U.S. lose face so that we'll be more amenable to a return of status quo ante fecklessness. The UN needs reforming, not strengthening! The role assigned has long been abandoned in favour of playing the bumbling fool — such a character can only be "central" in a comedy.
But there's actually nothing funny 'bout what the UN is up to. Tragic is more like it. Take, for instance, what the UN Economic and Social Council did yesterday
Cuba was reelected without opposition today to the United Nations' top human rights body, prompting a fierce response by the Bush administration.This is the type of body that Putin wants "strengthened"? Well, of course, since it's the same body that gave Russia a pass, too.
See, the opposition to lifting sanctions isn't about containing the U.S. pursuit of U.S. interests. It is about making sure that U.S. calls to concerted action on common interests don't get in the way of pursuing parochial interests. It's about the Russians et al dictating to the "whole community" that nothing will happen unless those parochial interests are secured — completely the opposite of Putin's declared goal.
At this point you'd think that I'm now more concerned 'bout the fate of our proposal to lift sanctions on Iraq. But, this is another of those counterintuituve moments where what to most looks like reason to despair, is actually a ray of hope. No, I haven't lost my mind — "No" really does mean "Yes" at the end of diplomacy with Russia. It's when the Russians are saying "Yes" that you've got to watch you back...
Correction: Somehow I originally copied the wrong Russian word from my cheat sheet - 'tis fix-ed now
Tuesday, April 29, 2003
Citigroup Takes $400MM Slap on the Wrist,