False Memory Syndrome

I wrote a comment at Blue Oregon about the Liz Kimmerly/Progressive Democrats of America/Steve Novick flap that apparently annoyed Kari Chisholm:

Posted by: darrelplant | Jan 22, 2008 10:58:43 PM

Between this kind of crap, the sporadic red-baiting that Kari seems to have no problem with, and Blue Oregon’s lust over the past couple of years for a sales tax, I might as well just read a GOP blog.

Kari responded — but about the sales tax, not the red-baiting — and I tried to post a further response which may or may not make it through the BO comment spam filter.

Kari writes:

I haven’t the foggiest clue what you’re talking about when you say BlueOregon has a lust for a sales tax. BlueOregon itself, of course, has no opinions. It’s just a bunch of files on a server. Maye you’re talking about the broader community that hands out here ’round the water cooler.

(Personally, I hate the sales tax. But maybe that’s just the point – I definitely don’t control what people say here.)

Kari, are you claiming that you don’t even control what you say here? That seems preposterous.

  1. On 19 December 2007, Jeff Alworth posted “Time for a Sales Tax?” in which he repeated the false claim that a sales tax isn’t necessarily regressive. He pointed to the Oregon Economics blog as an authority on that (following up, of course, on Rep. Scott Bruun’s op-ed). I was able to provide actual non-theoretical data showing that not only are sales taxes regressive, but that they aren’t even a stabilizing influence on the revenue stream.
  2. On 21 October 2007, “Let’s talk about taxes” was posted, discussing Ted Kulongoski’s and Kurt Schrader’s mentions of a sales tax. In this discussion, you were at least somewhat understanding of the problems of a sales tax, but continued to try to find ways to make it palatable, despite your burning hatred.
  3. “Create sales tax and reduce income taxes?” was posted on 1 February 2007 without editorial comment. Far from saying that you hated the idea, Kari, you wrote “I’m not sure about this one. Will have to dig in and think about it.”
  4. On 11 May 2006, “Tax Reform” mentioned an Oregonian op-ed calling for a sales tax (in conjunction with cuts in out “very high” income tax). Your first comment, Kari, was to defend the proposal’s per capita credit that you claimed would have a progressive effect. Again, there’s no evidence in that or further comments of your “hate” for a sales tax.
  5. An unsigned post on 12 April 2006 titled “Time for a Sales Tax?” calls Oregon a state “where not having a sales tax is a cultural value” before it mentions Ben Westlund and Ted Kulongoski’s support for it. Jeff very vigorously defended the concept of a sales tax on that discussion and you tried to split the difference between Kulongoski’s “consumption tax” and a sales tax.

In mitigation, there have been a couple of Chuck Sheketoff posts (for instance, the one disputing item 1) but there are many, many other comments and several other posts I didn’t include here in which you and Jeff stick up for the idea of a sales tax. I don’t have the time to dig them up this morning, but I could get around to it later. In discussions, I can’t remember either of you ever taking the opposite position.

So I guess by “Blue Oregon” I’m referring to you and Jeff — you know, two of the three names listed as “Editors” on the right side of the page. I didn’t mistake a “bunch of files on a server” as Blue Oregon, they’re just there as evidence that your “hate” for a sales tax is apparently the weakest form of hate known to humankind.

Ferret Love

Twenty-odd years ago back when I was a young man working at Himber’s book warehouse in Eugene unpacking box after box of everything from Gödel, Escher, Bach to Sweet Valley High: Double Love, I picked up the habit of reading the back cover copy of nearly everything that I touched, just to inform myself about what was on the market. I had a particular fondness for the copy on romance novels, and when I found a particularly good one, I’d save it for a dramatic reading to my co-workers, which usually got a laugh.

After I moved to Portland and had worked at Powell’s for a while, I ended up in charge of stocking the popular fiction section. I called it the “swastika and bodice” section, because about half of what I stocked was thrillers of some sort, which tended to have visual referents to the Communists or the Nazis on the cover, or they were romance titles. I continued my practice of reading out the covers, and at one point made the suggestion that this could be turned into some sort of event.

Other, more-highly-placed people than myself (I didn’t even do the ordering for the section, which was itself looked down upon because it was, well “popular” fiction) did the organizing, but on the next Valentines Day, there was a packed crowd in the Anne Hughes Coffee Room, where several actresses from the community — and one guy, me — read passages from a variety of bizarre and sultry novels.

None of them, however, had anything about ferrets in them, so far as I’m aware.

At the Movies

Barbara’s comment at the end of Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street: “I don’t suppose there’ll be any of those humorous outtakes during the credits.”

Common Sense

Harvey J. Kaye, author of Thomas Paine and the Promise of America, on Bill Moyers Journal:

HARVEY J. KAYE: And what– and something happened in the Seventies. The liberals and radicals divided themselves, okay? It was breaking up post ’68. I mean, this is my generation we’re talking about. Conservatives were utterly worried that the vast progressive cohorts were going to create some singular movement. Meanwhile, liberal and leftists are falling apart. They’re going at each other like cats and dogs. And liberal politicians watching the rise of the new right pulled back. They run scared. We saw it with, I mean, Carter was the first of the conservative Democrats to my mind.

The Clinton years. I mean, Clinton gave people hope when he ran. He talked about change. What did we get? We got a Democratic party or at least we got a Democratic administration that put more of its political capital into getting NAFTA passed which was a Republican initiative than they did to pass the national health care. So, one can imagine that Americans themselves are wondering, wait a minute. Why do I need– why do I need to lean liberal and democratic? I mean, what’s going on here?

And I ask myself, why amongst the Democratic cohorts say in the Congress and in the Senate we’re not seeing people come forth and saying, okay. We may not be able to get a time table for withdrawal from Iraq. Let’s get a time table for national health care. Let’s ask our Congress, congressional comrades, the Republicans, are they willing to support national health care? We don’t even have to lay out a plan. We just want to have a time table for how we’re going to go about doing it. I ask myself why we don’t hear Democratic candidates say, “We’re Americans. We have nothing to be afraid of with immigration. In fact, why not a new deal on immigration? Why aren’t we investing heavily in incorporating, if you like, people don’t like to use this word, on assimilating all these new immigrants. Why do we view them as a threat? Why are we afraid of the very people who remind us of what we’re about?

Making Gates Happy

From an NPR “Morning Edition” interview with Defense Secretary Robert Gates:

Well, given that, do you assume, just for planning purposes that the administration that follows you will pursue roughly the same policy in Iraq?

Well, first I would say I don’t do politics – [chuckles] – and I certainly will not be here after Jan. 20, 2009. But I was heartened in the debate among the Democratic candidates a few weeks ago, that when asked if they would commit to having all U.S. troops out of Iraq by the end of their first term, the leading candidates all declined to make that commitment.

Question for the Debate

My question for the Las Vegas Democratic Party debate tonight, just in case NBC wins its appeal of the ruling forcing Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s inclusion:

Do you agree with NBC’s decision to exclude Dennis Kucinich from the debate tonight based on his showing in the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primaries, taking into consideration that he was excluded from the debates immediately preceding each of those events and that the results of the polls in New Hampshire have shown they’re not 100% accurate in predicting levels of support?

Here’s the Plan. We Get the Warhead and We Hold the World Ransom for: One. Million. Dollars.

It’s been over four and a half years since New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman compared the need to go to war in Iraq with oral rape in an interview on “Charlie Rose”, with Chuck sitting and and lapping up the pearls of wisdom dripping from Tom’s mouth, but there’s ever so much more in the hour-long interview that strips the curtain from the naked psyche of Friedman.

Take, for instance, this glorious thirty seconds or so, near the end of the interview (beginning at 51:10, if you think you can stomach it). Transcript is mine.

THOMAS FRIEDMAN: I was in Cairo while the war was going on. The American Embassy asked me if I would have a tea one afternoon in Fishawi’s Coffee Shop where uh, um, Naguib Mahfouz used to hang out in the Khan el Khalili market, with a group of opposition —

CHARLIE ROSE: The famous Egyptian novelist.

FRIEDMAN: — journalists. So I met with these opposition journalists and they were all going on and on about um, uh, how bad this war was. And I finally, y’know, said to them: “Look. Maybe we’re going to totally blow it. Maybe we in the United States will make the biggest mess in the Middle East. But what if we don’t? What if,” I said to them [brings index finger to lips], “by the year — let’s pick a number: 2005 — Iraq holds a free and fair election. Jimmy Carter comes over and says this was a free and fair election. Wait a minute! Who else is holding an election in 2005? Egypt’s holding an election in 2005! [ROSE smiles with delight at the story so far.] Now do you think Hosni Mubarak, the president of Egypt could hold an election any less free and fair in Cairo in 2005 if in Baghdad there is a free and fair election? I don’t think so.”

So that’s why what goes on in Baghdad is so important.

2005, eh? Well, we’ll just see about that, Mr. Friedman!

The famous “Suck. On. This.” sequence starts at 5:00. Lots of stuff in-between.

[The alternate title for this post was: “Pissed-Off Egyptian Journalists: 1, Tom Friedman: 0” because they got it right, but then they have to live with the results of Friedman’s disaster and Friedman gets another book contract.]

And They Say There’s No Great Art in Portland

Wrapped Building

Every couple of years, the Oregonian dredges up some relatively recent transplant to Oregon to write an op-ed bemoaning the weather, the laid-back atmosphere, the general lack of culture, the scarcity of ultra-expensive lofts, etc. Well, the latter two items have been taken care of, with the new condo development designed by Christo across from the Lone Fir Cemetery on Morrison Street.

Recount the Debate

The New Hampshire election wrap-up thread at Blue Oregon has devolved into a discussion of the allegations of voting fraud levelled by people who think that the fact that Barack Obama was predicted to win the Democratic primary by a good margin in the pre-election polling and ended up a couple of percentage points behind Hillary Clinton in the actual election means that there was some hanky-panky going on in the Diebold boxes.

Conspiracy theorists are calling for a recount, as is Dennis Kucinich, who’s doing it for — I think — a different reason, although I don’t have any inside info.

Kucinich was excluded from the ABC-sponsored New Hampshire debate on the Saturday before the election even though he scored higher than the included Bill Richardson in ABC’s own poll, because he didn’t make at least a fourth-place finish in Iowa or meet a minimum of 5% in a national poll. (He’s also been disinvited from the NBC debate on 15 January in Las Vegas less than two days after receiving a formal invite.)

Then, of couse, sometime in the three days between the debates and the election, everything changed. At least for Obama.

As for the recount, I doubt it would make a whit of difference. Kucinich himself says he has no expectation that a recount “will significantly affect the number of votes that were cast on my behalf” but that it would help put the rumors to rest.

Now, I don’t work for the Kucinich campaign in any capacity (I suspect that I probably got more on unemployment than I could working for the campaign in any capacity) but I have a little theory about why Kucinich might be making this little stand on vote accountability.

I think he’s pretty sure Obama isn’t going to call for a recount. For one thing Obama has nothing real to gain from a recount since he got the same number of delegates in New Hampshire as Clinton, and the vote would have to be waaaay off in order to gain another convention delegate. Or lose a convention delegate if the count went the other way.

The thing is, if there’s no recount, there has to be an admission that the polls are inaccurate enough that three days before the election everyone assumed Obama was a sure winner even though he ended up in very close second.

I think what we’ll see from the Kucinich camp is a questioning of the method by which he was excluded form the final debate in the first primary state (where he had done a lot of campaigning), based as it was on polls that have now been proven fallible by the election. He won’t make the case that he would have been the winner, but he’ll probably ask whether the polls can accurately gauge his level of support and how that criteria can be used to exclude him from the debates if they can’t even get the winner correct. Arguably, being in the debate might have done something to his numbers in the election, either way.

At least, that’s how I’d frame the argument if it was me.