14 July 2004

Contributing to the common weal

[source, source]

Senator Edwards talks about the need to provide health care for all, but that didn’t stop him from using a clever tax dodge to avoid paying $591,000 into the Medicare system. While making his fortune as a trial lawyer in 1995, he formed what is known as a “subchapter S” corporation, with himself as the sole shareholder.

Instead of taking his $26.9 million in earnings directly in the following four years, he paid himself a salary of $360,000 a year and took the rest as corporate dividends. Since salary is subject to 2.9% Medicare tax but dividends aren’t, that meant he shielded more than 90% of his income. That’s not necessarily illegal, but dodging such a large chunk of employment tax skates perilously close to the line.

Now we know that the Democratic Party definition of “rich” has a cap somewhere below $26.9 million / year. I’ll admit bias in that my income is just a tad less than that.

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Free Trade expansion


The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a free trade agreement with Iraq war ally Australia on Wednesday, despite last-minute concerns the pact could hamper congressional efforts to allow imports of lower-priced medicine.

The House voted 314-109 to pass the United States’ first free trade agreement with a developed country since a 1989 deal with Canada. The Senate Finance Committee also voted 17-4 in favor of the agreement, setting the stage for a possible full Senate vote on Wednesday night.

Excellent news, but I’m wondering why the House is voting on a treaty. Is it just symbolic?

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Would they be willing to go to such a violent, lawless place?


Several members of the House of Representatives have requested the United Nations (news - web sites) to send observers to monitor the November 2 US presidential election to avoid a contentious vote like in 2000, when the outcome was decided by Florida.

Recalling the long, drawn out process in the southern state, nine lawmakers, including four blacks and one Hispanic, sent a letter Thursday to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan asking that the international body “ensure free and fair elections in America,” according to a statement issued by Florida representative Eddie Bernice Johnson, who spearheaded the effort.

So if we have voting problems, the solution isn’t to fix the problems but to invite in “observers” from a haven of dictators and thugs to … well, to do what? I can’t see this as anything other than anti-American propaganda. I’m embarassed to have these people in our government.

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When an official pays out a bribe, he deserves to know it's to a real journalist

[source, source]

AS if crop-destroying monkeys, algal blooms suffocating fish stocks and illegal loggers plundering protected forests were not enough, Indonesia has a new plague - bogus journalists.

The imposters have been invading government offices and companies warning they will expose corruption or other wrongdoing if they are not paid a bribe.

News hounds this week rallied in the Javanese city of Yogyakarta to protest against the proliferation of fraudsters masquerading as working journalists.

I’m not sure this rates up with the monkey, algae and loggers — after all, these aren’t real journalists.

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I hope they meant to do that


China expressed mounting alarm about U.S. support for Taiwan on Tuesday and warned that continued arms sales to the island nation could endanger U.S.-Chinese relations.

China expressed mounting alarm about U.S. support for Taiwan on Tuesday and warned that continued arms sales to the island nation could endanger U.S.-Chinese relations.


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But we meant to do that!


The [UK] government is refusing to negotiate with the European Commission over plans to scrap the UK’s £2bn EU rebate, won by Margaret Thatcher in 1984.


But a British Government spokesman said: “This proposal is not negotiable.

“It is ludicrous and manifestly unfair to suggest doubling the UK’s share of the EU bill while leaving more than £6bn a year flowing into French coffers from farm subsidies.

I don’t see the spokeman’s point — he’s objecting to the very purpose of the EU.

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This is what happens when you don't pace yourself

[source, source]

The Palestinians challenged Israel on Monday to accept the world court’s ruling and destroy the barrier it is building to seal off the West Bank, warning that failure to do so will lead to “practical measures” against its construction.

Somehow, the threat of “practical” measures doesn’t quite measure up to the “psychotic death cult” measures that have been the modus operandi of the Palestinians.

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But they played the "get out of scrutiny" card!


I was listening to Fox just now, and they ran a report on summer camp for Palestinian children, at which instead of making lanyards and leather products, learning to swim or sail, and engaging in various sports, they are learning to sneak past Israeli checkpoints, and the virtues of dying for the Palestinian cause. […]

And then I recalled that people like Human Rights Watch have actually expressed concern about the use of children as soldiers. Surely, thought I, they will have had something to say about this?


Surely, I thought, now we’ll find out about all of this turning young Arab children into Jew-hating killbots.

Imagine my surprise again, to learn that they discuss:

  • Israel holding teenagers in the same prisons with adult men.
  • Israel using youth as informers against Hamas and Islamic Jihad
  • Israel allowing seventeen-year-olds to volunteer for the IDF
  • Arrest and interrogation of children suspected of throwing rocks, by (you guessed it) Israel

[…] as to the Palestinian summer camps […]

There was no evidence that the Palestinian Authority (PA) recruited or used child soldiers. […] During 2002, both Hamas and Islamic Jihad disavowed the use of children after under-18s were involved in suicide bombings and armed attacks on Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip.

Well, I guess that settles it. I mean, if you can’t take the word of models of probity and honesty like Yasser Arafat, and the leadership of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, well, what’s the world coming to?

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Political details

A political fundraiser in New Jersey has been indicted for hiring prostitutes to seduce and provide blackmail material against witnesses in a federal investigation of the fundraiser on other charges. What’s interesting is how much effort Big Media is going to in order to downplay the politicians and parties for which the fundraiser raised funds. CNN buries it in paragraph 13. Others don’t mention it at all. That’s because the politicians include Hillary Clinton, Joe Lieberman, NJ Governor James McGreevey and Senator John Kerry. It’s a pretty mild indictment of those politicians but a big indictment of the reporting on the story in comparison the reporting on legal difficulties for any fundraiser supporting Republicans.

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Are you sure he works for the UN?


[U.N. Mideast envoy Terje] Roed-Larsen painted a grim picture of lawlessness in the Palestinian Authority, its failure to institute critical reforms, and he blamed Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

He lamented that there was “no sign” of the bold leadership needed to tackle Palestinian reform and move toward peace.

“The Palestinian Authority, despite consistent promises by its leadership, has made no progress on its core obligation to take immediate action on the ground to end violence and combat terror, and to reform and reorganize the Palestinian Authority,” he said.

Roed-Larsen said the only explanation is “the lack of political will” to advance toward reform, which is critically needed in the security services.

I’m still waiting for the PA to stop sponsoring terror.

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