The estimable Alan Light: ‘It’s too bad that on the entire Worldwide Web, you can’t find a site devoted to the wearing of hats made out of meat. Oh, wait. You can.’

The equally estimable and considerably less whacked out Paul Johns (as if I am anyone to knock a bit of occasional wackiness): ‘Could you publish this link to a six-point plan to avert war?’

☞ Sure. I can’t imagine it’s not too late, but why not? Or try this one-point plan . . .

From Tom Friedman in last Wednesday’s New York Times: ‘ Despite all the noise, a majority of decent people in the world still hunger for a compromise that forces Saddam to comply, or be exposed, and does not weaken America. So, Mr. President, before you shake the dice on a legitimate but audacious war, please, shake the dice just once on some courageous diplomacy. [Emphasis added.] Pick up where Woodrow Wilson left off: fly to Paris, bring the leaders of France, Russia, China and Britain together, along with the chairman of the Arab League summit, and offer them any reasonable amount of time for more inspections – if they will agree on specific disarmament benchmarks Saddam has to meet and support an automatic U.N. authorization of force if he doesn’t. If France still snubs you, the world will see that you are the one trying to preserve collective security, while France only wants to make mischief. That will be very important to the legitimacy of any war.’

AND NOW FOR THE MONEY SIDE OF THINGS . . .

From Sunday’s New York Times front page: ‘The Bush administration says it is planning major changes in the Medicare program that would make it more difficult for beneficiaries to appeal the denial of benefits . . . In the last year, Medicare beneficiaries and the providers who treated them won more than half the cases – 39,796 of the 77,388 Medicare cases decided by administrative law judges.’

☞ That clearly won’t do. The government has to be able to deny frail old people health care. By eliminating their right to appeal, the taxpayer saves two ways: first, they don’t have to defend their actions in court; second, they don’t have to pay up in the 53% of the cases when they lose. In the real world, you have to make tough choices, and these savings are required to help reduce the tax burden on people making $1 million a year.

From Sunday’s New York Times lead editorial: ‘In a sorry effort to protect President Bush’s tax-cut mania, the Republican leaders of Congress have unveiled proposals for slashing the most basic government programs for years to come … The G.O.P. leaders endorse the next chunk of detaxation despite Congressional findings that two-thirds of the deficits running through the decade will be caused by the Bush tax cuts, not simply the failing economy. [Emphasis added.]  The estimated shortfall of $2.7 trillion could have been an $890 billion surplus but for the Bush proposals, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The president’s next $1.4 trillion cut, geared to the affluent, will average $90,000 a year for millionaires, according to the Tax Policy Center, a research group run by the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute. You would think a sense of embarrassment might strike the Republicans in blessing such a boon for a fortunate minority while taking a cleaver to programs vital for most taxpayers, notably a woeful $12 billion cut in food stamps. But they seem intent on ideology trumping responsibility.”

☞ ‘Tis a grand time to be rich and powerful in America.

 

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