We get hundreds and hundreds of e-mails with advice for the debates. All well meaning, some brilliant, but some, like this one, demonstrably shy of the mark:

Bernadette: ‘There is a point on the cost of the Iraq war that I have not heard mentioned in the televised debates and it will hit most Americans this fall and winter. It is the increased cost to heat their homes. And it will be especially hard on people on fixed incomes like senior citizens. The price of home heating oil has risen 101% from a year ago. Over the same one year period natural gas has risen 44%. Granted some of the price increase in oil is due to growing demand from China, but the majority is due to the botched war in Iraq. What if Kerry were to state the cost to heat our homes this winter will double because of Bush’s mess in Iraq? Many people can’t relate to $200 billion in war costs. But tell them it will double their heating costs this winter and they will sit up and take notice. Just a thought.’

☞ Yes, it will be tough on average Americans. But here’s what Bernadette is missing: For Houston energy guys, it’s a BONANZA. If you’re pumping 1 million barrels a day, you’re making an extra $25 million a day. So it all evens out. Don’t you see? On average, everyone’s doing fine in George Bush’s America.

$200,000 and small business Sub-S Corporation

Mark Phariss: ‘Kerry needs to point out that the $200,000 amount is what’s left after all deductions for business expenses – employee salaries, health insurance, rent, etc. It’s what the small business owner really earns, putting him on a par with doctors, lawyers and CEOs of larger businesses. Spend, hire, do whatever to grow your small business. The tax increase could actually become an incentive to hire and spend more, because higher tax rates actually make such expenditures less costly.’

☞ This is the famous ‘900,000 small businesses’ Bush keeps talking about. The whole thing is wildly exaggerated. It includes doctors and lawyers – who are not huge generators of employment no matter how much their after-tax income grows. And as Mark notes, for those few who actually would face a slightly higher tax rate on their income over $200,000, this would actually be a correspondingly slight incentive to spend more to grow their businesses – because the tax deduction for spending becomes more valuable.


From the last debate:

QUESTIONER: Mr. President, if there were a vacancy in the Supreme Court and you had the opportunity to fill that position today, who would you choose and why?

BUSH: I’m not telling.


I really don’t have — haven’t picked anybody yet. Plus, I want them all voting for me.


I would pick somebody who would not allow their personal opinion to get in the way of the law. I would pick somebody who would strictly interpret the Constitution of the United States.

Let me give you a couple of examples, I guess, of the kind of person I wouldn’t pick.

I wouldn’t pick a judge who said that the Pledge of Allegiance couldn’t be said in a school because it had the words under God in it. I think that’s an example of a judge allowing personal opinion to enter into the decision-making process as opposed to a strict interpretation of the Constitution.

Another example would be the Dred Scott case, which is where judges, years ago, said that the Constitution allowed slavery because of personal property rights.

That’s a personal opinion. That’s not what the Constitution says. The Constitution of the United States says we’re all — you know, it doesn’t say that. It doesn’t speak to the equality of America.

And so, I would pick people that would be strict constructionists. We’ve got plenty of lawmakers in Washington, D.C. Legislators make law; judges interpret the Constitution.

And I suspect one of us will have a pick at the end of next year — the next four years. And that’s the kind of judge I’m going to put on there. No litmus test except for how they interpret the Constitution.


In reaction to the President’s reference to the Dred Scott case, Congressman Lewis, once a young aide to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., issued this statement:

I am relieved to hear that George Bush won’t appoint judges who might reinstitute slavery. But unfortunately, we expect more than this from our judges and frankly, we need more than this from George Bush.

George Bush’s Dred Scott comments underscore the fact that when it comes to the African-American community, he is completely out of touch with the issues that concern us. The President’s record is appalling – his administration is the most anti-African American in a generation.

On Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, he announced his opposition to the University of Michigan Affirmative Action program and called it a ‘quota.’ The day after he laid a wreath on Dr. King’s grave, he appointed anti-civil rights judge Charles Pickering, who once described cross burning as a ‘prank.’ A new United States Commission on Civil Rights report finds that ‘President Bush has neither exhibited leadership on pressing civil rights issues, nor taken actions that matched his words.’ And his Vice-President has admitted that he was somehow ‘not aware’ of the AIDS epidemic plaguing African American women.

African Americans can’t afford four more years of George Bush . . . We’re going to vote and we’re going to vote in record numbers.


This is for fun only. Good luck to both candidates tonight. As you watch, try to imagine which one is more likely to make us stronger at home, respected again in the world.


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