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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Inescapable Eunuchs

Forget that old adage about not being able to escape death and taxes - in India, the inevitables are death and eunuchs:
They are India's new tax collectors. Dancing and singing to the beat of drums, about 20 eunuchs in bright saris began going from shop to shop, asking the owners to pay overdue municipal taxes in Patna, the capital of Bihar, one of India's most impoverished and lawless states.
That was just to set your mind in the proper stance of confusion, shared by liberals who seem a bit puzzled about the Democratic plan of action. Yes, we all know it is for prospective Democratic presidential 2008 candidates to hold lots of investigative hearings about the evils of Bush. But what else? Kinsley(who read the plan, Stan):
Fairness is one of the three qualities that need to be restored to American public life after six years of George W. Bush and 12 years of French-Revolution-turned-French-farce on Capitol Hill. The other two are honesty and competence.

Honesty is not just therapeutic. Fiscal honesty is a practical necessity. "New Direction" quite rightly denounces the staggering fiscal irresponsibility of Republican leaders, and duly promises "pay as you go" spending. But in the entire document there is not one explicit revenue raiser to balance the many specific and enormous new spending programs and tax credits.
...
Apparently and unfortunately, President Bush is right that the Democrats have no "plan for victory." ... For national security in general, the Democrats' plan is so according-to-type that you cringe with embarrassment: It's mostly about new cash benefits for veterans. Regarding Iraq specifically, the Democrats' plan has two parts. First, they want Iraqis to "assum[e] primary responsibility for securing and governing their country." Then they want "responsible redeployment" (great euphemism) of American forces.

Older readers may recognize this formula. It's Vietnamization—the Nixon-Kissinger plan for extracting us from a previous mistake. But Vietnamization was not a plan for victory. It was a plan for what was called "peace with honor" and is now known as "defeat."
Minor technical difficulty, that. While scheduling investigations, the Dems now seem to be referring to the Baker-Hamilton commission for guidance on Iraq. You might want to read about that. The Democratic plan seems to be to get the Bush administration to declare defeat, as far as I can see, and then hold hearings about it. Reuters:
Democratic Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, who would chair the Senate Foreign Relations Committee if Democrats control the Senate, urged a "radical change in course" in Iraq.

"More troops or less troops won't solve the problem. We need a political solution in Iraq that will allow our forces to leave responsibly, with our interests intact and without trading dictator for chaos," he said in a statement.
(Eh, and we also need world peace, gas at 25 cents a gallon, the cure for cancer, and an end to the common cold, but how do you intend to achieve all that? These are mutually exclusive possibilities, bub.)
Democrats, long stonewalled by Bush and now possessing the power to subpoena witnesses, will quickly launch aggressive public hearings on U.S. foreign policy, including "waste, fraud and abuse" in Iraq reconstruction contracts and failures that have led to a Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan, said Rep. Tom Lantos, who is expected to chair the House International Relations Committee.

Promoting dialogue with America's enemies and improved ties with other countries are also high on their foreign policy agenda.

Biden and Lantos favor direct U.S. talks, largely eschewed by Bush, with North Korea and Iran over their nuclear programs. But Biden has promised to introduce legislation that would hold Pyongyang responsible if it transfers nuclear technology to radical groups and congressional support for Iran sanctions has been bipartisan.
Ahh! The drumbeat calls for "multi-lateralism" have now turned into drumbeat calls of "let's make Bush take responsibility for everything". If you are running for President and need face time on weekend news shows, a nice hot investigation with juicy tidbits emerging weekly is indispensable.

Recognizing the setting up of the Pelosi patsy when she saw it,
Eleanor Clift wrote a nice article in which she managed to contradict herself multiple times while trying to clarify strategy for the "Pelosi years":
Democrats will be on probation for the next two years to show they can govern. If the Democrats want to retain the majority they just won, they’ll have to behave better than the GOP.

The impetus for a change of course in Iraq will almost certainly come from the Republicans, who will not want to endure another bloodletting in two years if the war is not resolved. Why should Democrats shoulder the burden of solving Bush’s war when they’ve been left out of everything else?
Got it. Dems must govern, but they shouldn't on Iraq. Clift observes that there is no real unanamity within the Democratic House:
This is not a majority made from cookie-cutter liberals. These are men and women winning in districts that were drawn for Republicans. Some are pro-life, some pro-gun, some sound so Republican they might be in the other party if it weren’t for President Bush and the Iraq war. It will take all of Pelosi’s skills as a manager and disciplinarian to forge a coalition out of these philosophical disparities.
So Pelosi is supposed to sacrifice the one commonality (the war) in order to concentrate on ... what? Clift writes that the moderate Republicans are out, and appears to be hoping that the Republicans swing to the conservative wing (thus no cooperation with the other party in the House) and proceeds to observe of the Democrats in the House:
...they'll have to balance the demands of the antiwar left with the more moderate voices that helped them win control of the chamber. Pelosi has already warned her colleagues against rash moves, like trying to impeach the president, and told them they'll need to work with the White House.
OK, work with White House on everything but Iraq war? Clift here seques into a discussion of the Republican Congress and Clinton:
Divided government can work. It will take a change of attitude on Bush’s part, which he may not be willing to make. Clinton was just two years into his presidency; Bush is two years shy of leaving office. Clinton’s personality was also more amenable to compromise. He wanted everybody to like him, unlike Bush, who can’t bear to admit a mistake, is unwilling to engage in intellectual give and take, and seems resigned to his status as a lonely figure backing an unpopular war.

In the end, Gingrich proved a useful foil for Clinton, who reinvigorated his presidency at Gingrich’s expense.
Panic! Clift does not like the turn this is taking.... so she ends the article with:
[Pelosi's] job is to put Bush on the spot, just like the voters. ...
I believe Clift meant to write "just like the voters put Bush on the spot", but of course the voters actually put the Dems on the spot, which is the theme of the beginning of Clift's article. That's correct. They did, and that is the Democratic problem. The Dems promised that they could do it better, and now a hopeful nation is watching and waiting.

I don't like Pelosi. IMO, she is either dumb as a rock or an unscrupulous liar (she insists that there is a Social Security trust fund, for example), and either way, I think this makes her unfit to hold the Speaker's position. But I do now feel sorry for her, because the Dems have concentrated for years on saying that everything the Republicans are doing is wrong. In that pursuit, they have promised a payload that they cannot deliver, and now the 2008 Democratic presidential hopefuls are going to pursue their own goals at the expense of forming a workable agenda.

I think Clift knows this, and is worried, because Clift's starting point in this article is false. The challenge for the Dems is not to govern with the other party. The challenge for the Dems is to come up with a successful domestic agenda now that they have control of both House and Senate. Worse yet, events which the Dems did not create (nor the Republicans, some things just happen) are going to make their lives harder. The most pressing of these is the upcoming recession. The obvious fiscal contradictions in the Democratic "plan", become even more of a barrier when you look at the economic trends. Raising taxes going into a recession is a classic mistake, yet this is what the Dems have been promising to do for years. Now they must do something.

Issues with broad-based support in the country on which they could act on are the minimum wage (not very significant, but a good issue), controlling immigration (a major problem for them, which could really irk their base), protectionist trade policies (going to be difficult to implement considering various treaties), and taxes. They will certainly raise estate taxes and taxes on high-income earners, which will work well for the Dem base but alienate Independents. Then there are the minor stuff which they will do quietly, such as weaken Sarbanes-Oxley (Rangel and Barney Frank and Pelosi have recently discussed this), which is totally contrary to their message.

This is why I feel that something innovative is needed, and I think they should consider the eunuch tax-collector approach. It is multi-cultural, it is creative, it will probably be quite inexpensive if they come in on H1B visas, and most of the voting population would cheer loudly while watching eunuchs in colorful saris chasing fleeing pharmaceutical executives.

Admit it, you would enjoy this too. It would catch the American people's imagination. Also - and this is very, very important - the Dems must keep the media firmly aboard their ship, especially when they are planning to make it easier for Enronish executives to do Enronish things and do not wish this mentioned on the national news. Imagine Katie Couric's interviews! Imagine the evening news footage! The Dems need Hollywood, too, and I think the sari'd, swaying eunuch tax collectors would make a wonderful reality show, sort of a cross between a Trump-like competition (how much did you collect today?) and a "Queer Eye for the Tax-Evading Guy" style/talent show.

I truly think this is the Dem's best opportunity to recapture the heart and soul of the American people at the moment, and I offer this modest proposal up in the spirit of true bipartisanship.


Comments:
About Impeachment....
Sometimes reprimanding a child (President) doesn't make the family (Washington) a happy place. But you still have to do it so the child and his siblings (future presidents) learns about accountability. Holding government officials accountable for their actions strengthens our democracy. Letting lawlessness stand weakens it.
 
I don't like Pelosi. IMO, she is either dumb as a rock or an unscrupulous liar...

Bay Area. Berkely. Sixties.
Need I say more?

...(she insists that there is a Social Security trust fund, for example)

My parents also BE-LEEVED (after they retired to a Nevada border town). I remember getting my throat ripped out on a visit when I was dumb enough to say otherwise. They KNEW it was THEIR Trust Fund With THEIR Money in THEIR Account and DON'T YOU DARE Tell Us ANYTHING Different!!!!!

(i.e. "IT HAS TO BE! IT HAS TO! IT HAS TO! IT HAS TO!")
 
They've got themselves in an unenviable position I think. They've burned enough bridges over partisanship that I don't think they can expect any cooperation from the Republicans and we'll see another do nothing congress (nothing can get done without 60 Senators) and I don't think they can afford to invoke that option now.

I think the intelligent ones will try to stop any sort of impeachment movement, there is no there there. Just because you don't like the policy, doesn't mean it was illegal. There was a decent amount of bipartisan agreement over most of it until one party figured out they could take political advantage of disagreement. It's going to be sorta difficult to impeach one the president for doing something you gave him the authority to do.
 
Tommy:

The Coup has succeeded.
Now comes the Cleansing.

All For the Common Good, and in all Righteousness.

"Am I not merciful?
AM! I! NOT! MERCIFUL!?"
-- Caesar Commodus, Gladiator
 
Causal - I realize that you may believe that Bush, Cheney and his nefarious cohorts may have done anything from crashing planes into the WTC or perhaps violating law with the NSA programs. However, the NSA program thing is extremely up in the air, according to the courts. There is nothing Bush has not done that has not also been done by previous Presidents, barring fantasy accusations of remote-controlled attacks on the WTC.

Anyway, it doesn't matter what you believe, or what I believe. What matters is if the proper margin of votes will be reached to pass impeachment which has to happen in both the House and Senate. Somehow, I don't think there are 60 votes in the Senate.

I totally agree that neither presidents or congressmen should be above the law. I personally would love to see the congressmen who banded together to claim last summer that a court-ordered subpoena could not be executed against one of their offices solemnly debate impeaching Bush; I think the country could use a good laugh right about now.

Could you get real for just a moment?
 
Tommy - they are not hearing you!

Headless, I understand about your parents. It is very, very frightening for older people to realize that they are this exposed.

It was bipartisan malfeasance, too. Both parties are hip-deep in this. I wonder how long they will be able to pretend they don't know?
 
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