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January 15, 2004

Comments

Wow. Andrew Sullivan? If Instapundit criticises it too then we may actually be living in a sane blogosphere after all.

As time goes on I am more and more convinced that George W. Bush's essential target audience for reelection is people who skim newspaper headlines only and then move on to "Garfield" or the sports page. Is anyone actually really all that happy about the space proposal? Science and space exploration advocates are unhappy because Bush's proposed budget for the thing is laughably small, to the tune of $12 billion over the next 5 years, only 1 billion of which is actually new money (which is just being "creative" if you're the New York Times headline writers, apparently). It's also basically an excuse to replace, not supplement, pre-existing budgets for pure scientific research, and scientists in general aren't particuarly endeared with the Bush administration as it is these days. Fiscal conservatives are going to be pissed because it's another huge government expenditure at a time of spiraling deficits. Liberals would rather see that money go to social programs and assistance for the folks still living here on earth. Conservative hawks point out that hey, we've still got a war on. Was anybody actually "inspired"? I consider myself a pretty big space geek, and this just left a sour taste in my mouth... who else is he winning over but the people who never bother to get any deeper into the issue than the 30-second soundbite on CNN?

Bush just seems to be grasping for something, anything, that might give him the appearance of doing something, while at the same time remains completely unwilling to devote himself whole-heartedly to it for fear of offending one constituency or another, and the result is one big muddled, unhappy mess. The same could be said of many other policies in the news lately -- the marriage thing, or his imigration proposal.

George W. Bush in 2004: He Looks Great! If You Squint Just Right... In the Dark... With Sunglasses On.

The winning moveon.org ad will play well to everyone, I think. It's simple, universal, and good food for thought.

I think all the winning moveon.org ads are excellent, though I agree Child's Pay deserves to be the overall winner. (Hope it plays at the Superbowl.) I like Bring It On, too.

The rightwing "Bush=Nazi" hysteria about the MoveOn ads was absurd: 2 submitted out of 1500 hardly deserves the attention it got. But anything to smear a good anti-Bush project that's clearly had a lot of grassroots support.

The new space proposal gives the democrats a fantastic opportunity for a new advertisment. This is especially true in light of the fact that even the president of the Club for Growth thinks it will cost $500 billion. I've made a sample script, I think it's got potential. Feedback appreciated.

I watched all the contending ads a while back. I don't necessarily agree with all the messages (and particularly dislike the tone of several), but the winner is a...um, winner. It is probably the most thought provoking without being provocative of partisanship. I think it'll appeal widely to fiscal conservatives of all stripes. I also enjoyed the "wake up, America" one, and the one about the kids running for class president, from a humor standpoint.

I asked in another thread a question I keep refining in my head: If I care about fiscal responsibility the most, who's going to deliver it, and how much other garbage (eco-terrorists, religious zealots, etc.) do I accept to get it? You know, Clinton is starting to look like a responsible banker compared to Bush, given the way Bush is tossing these proposals about. Going to Mars would be cool, but how real is that? And why is gov't spending my tax dollars encouraging marriage, an institution I wouldn't have thought needed an ad campaign. What, is there a shortage married people? Quit trying to tell me how to live my life, dang it!

The ad will not be shown, CBS says - no issue ads allowed. They forgot about the war-on-drugs ads they-showed last year...

Time for Bush to tell us what he's going to cut.

Sorry, I must have missed the part where the Democratic contenders reversed their "Bush isn't spending enough on _____ and I'll spend more" positions, outlined their own spending cuts, and repudiated their previous anti-reform positions on Social Security and Medicare.

Thorley, I don't understand your post. My (and Andrew Sullivan's) criticism of Bush is that he's expanding government at an astounding rate and not paying for it. I don't know how the Democrats enter into it.

I'd prefer that Bush not expand government in the first place (I tend to buy the governs best/least argument, recognizing "leasts" may differ). If Bush must radically expand the government, however, he needs to explain how he's going to pay for it. Since tax increases do not seem to be an option, and no one is predicting that we'll grow our way out of the deficit, Bush has to state what fat he intends to cut out of the budget. This is called "leadership" in some circles (and "responsibility" in others).

What pisses me off about this "proposal" from the Shrub is that it's dripping with insincerity. I've seen more genuine enthusiasm from strippers at a bachelor party.

I grew up on Heinlein, Asimov, and Clarke. I'd love to see mankind spread across the solar system in my lifetime. To see Bush, who obviously doesn't care one damned bit about space exploration, turn this into a cheap political ploy is despicable.

enter rant mode...
From the cited article:

Administration officials said their goal was "healthy marriage," not marriage for its own sake.
[snip]
If a gay couple had a child and they were poor, they might be eligible for food stamps or cash assistance."

I'm a registered Republican, but I'm having a really hard time swallowing the party line on this one. I mean, this seems pretty inequitable to me. If your goal (as the quoted seem to be saying) is to help kids "enjoy better physical and mental health," then why restrict some part of the population to only food stamps and cash assistance? Why not extend the programs to whomever wants them? I mean, if you replaced "gay" with "black" in the above quote, most folks'd have a problem with that, right?

And this whole idea of a constitutional amendment scares the hell out of me. Once you start letting special interest groups (yeah, I call the religious right a special interest group) modify the constitution with their idea of proper, America starts falling apart. Hyperbole? Ask yourself if there isn't something you do or enjoy that some group in this country descries as wrong. Think they wouldn't leap at a chance to legislate it away, even though you're hurting no one? I'm a motorcyclist, too, and I've seen it happen.

You really can't let some folks through the front gate. And this guy wonders why:

"We have a hard time understanding why the reserve," said Glenn T. Stanton.

Because of people like me, that's why, Mr. Stanton. I reiterate: quit spending my money telling my how to live.

Okay, rant over. For now.

Er...telling me how to live.

Feel free to tell me how to spell.

Bryguy,

Sharp, funny script. You a copywriter, or just a funny amateur?

Interestingly, the "Child's Play" ad, if slightly retooled, would work equally as well for criticizing Social Security. Some ambitious person should do that.


The kids should pay for it?

What exactly is "it"?

Is there anybody here who thinks that Bush is serious about space research, about the Moon, about Mars? (If so, pull your head out of your tush.)

The key to this plan is the directive for the head of NASA to report directly to the President (currently Bush). The President will be advised by a newly formed Commision to be chaired by the former Secretary of the Air Force.

Warhawks have long wanted the Army/DoD/AirForce to take the reigns of NASA. Now they can do it, under the guise of "revamping" NASA. They pass this proposal, and later let Congress cancel the Moon Base and the trip to Mars... but NASA will now be a tool, a political mechanism, for the President.


The numbers that have been laid out are just plain ludicrous. NASA would need an internal budget of $20 billion to develop and replace the space shuttle by 2015. You want to guess how much it will cost to replace the shuttle in half that time? Boeing and Lockheed Martin were both competing to develop an "orbital space plane" that could possibly replace the shuttle. NASA was to decide the winner this August and give them a 5-10 year, $12 Billion plan to build the craft. And now? The competition has been delayed by the Bush Administration so their science team can consider whether or not to proceed. Of course, Boeing and Lockheed have devoted considerable resources to this project already...

Let's not even think about how much it will cost to develop a major mars trip, in addition to a manned moon base. This won't be possible without doubling NASA's current resources. The average tax payer doesn't want to see that price tag right now.

And thus, Congress cancels the Moon Base, and the trip to Mars. But NASA will continue to report directly to the President, and its priorities will become much more sympathetic to the concerns of the Department of Defense.

Wool. Over. Eyes. Bush does it again, and nobody cares.

Jordan:
Amateur, thanks!


JKC wrote:

What pisses me off about this "proposal" from the Shrub is that it's dripping with insincerity. I've seen more genuine enthusiasm from strippers at a bachelor party.

Much like the insincerity of people who have pilloried Bush for profligate spending and then decided to vote for one of the Democratic contenders who plans to spend even more while opposing any sort of entitlement program reform.Or who have defended their own piece of the pork pie as Andrew Sullivan has done with his cause de jour (AIDS funding in Africa and the Caribbean).

Phil wrote:

Interestingly, the "Child's Play" ad, if slightly retooled, would work equally as well for criticizing Social Security. Some ambitious person should do that.

I agree.

Social Security and Medicare are much bigger issues than the current deficits and the increase in discretionary non-defense/non-homeland security spending. Bush did the wrong thing in supporting a prescription drug benefit for Medicare (which makes that particular problem worse) and it remains to be seen if the “reforms” will mitigate the costs in the long-term.Still he is the only candidate in the race to take and maintain a pro-reform position on Social Security while the eight remaining Dwarves are falling all over each other to defend the status quo.

Von wrote:

Thorley, I don't understand your post. My (and Andrew Sullivan's) criticism of Bush is that he's expanding government at an astounding rate and not paying for it. I don't know how the Democrats enter into it.

Easy Von, since you declared a while ago your intention to support either Kerry or Edwards – both of whom have said they want to spend even more than Bush (and voted for most if not pretty much all of the spending to date), have outlined no spending cuts of their own, and have taken a hard-left anti-reform position on federal entitlements it puts the different critics in their proper respective light

It is one thing to say you are concerned about spending and you will (a) vote for the candidate who is the best or least worst on the issue or (b) not vote at all as a matter of some principal. It is another to use the other guy for a partisan punching bag while then supporting a candidate who is even worse on the issue as you and others have done.

Don’t get me wrong though, the issue is not so much the hypocrisy of Democrats and Democrat-leaning voters who (rightfully) condemn the growth in federal spending while Bush is President. The issue is rather that their own candidates are just as bad or worse (see above), in which case voting for any of the Democratic nominees while citing concerns over spending is simply insanity or insincerity.

Easy Von, since you declared a while ago your intention to support either Kerry or Edwards

That's correct, of course -- I have said that, based on present information, I'd choose Lieberman, Edwards, Clark, or Kerry (arranged in that order) over Bush (and Bush over Dean, Gephardt, and the rest).

It is one thing to say you are concerned about spending and you will (a) vote for the candidate who is the best or least worst on the issue or (b) not vote at all as a matter of some principal. It is another to use the other guy for a partisan punching bag while then supporting a candidate who is even worse on the issue as you and others have done.

I've come to the conclusion that Bush may very well be the worst on the issue of deficits -- he simply hasn't shown any willingness to confront them. Even Dean -- a candidate I don't support -- would be better. This isn't a case of beating up on Bush to that a worse alternative might win. This is a case of beating up on Bush because, on this issue, he is the worst.

Now, you may believe that Bush has a secret plan to fight the deficit. And you may be right -- maybe he does. But you'll excuse me if I wait until he actually sees it.

Von wrote:

That's correct, of course -- I have said that, based on present information, I'd choose Lieberman, Edwards, Clark, or Kerry (arranged in that order) over Bush (and Bush over Dean, Gephardt, and the rest).

And it should be pointed out that each of the candidates Von has said he preferred to Bush has (a) repudiated any form of entitlement reform (while Bush has stated his support for it) and (b) has called for even larger increases in spending than Bush while (c) to date not outlining any spending cuts.

I've come to the conclusion that Bush may very well be the worst on the issue of deficits -- he simply hasn't shown any willingness to confront them. Even Dean -- a candidate I don't support -- would be better. This isn't a case of beating up on Bush to that a worse alternative might win. This is a case of beating up on Bush because, on this issue, he is the worst.

And your evidence for this is what exactly given that Dean and Company have each called for larger increases in spending, are campaigning against any form of entitlement reform, and have called for even larger spending increases than the one’s Bush enacted?

Now, you may believe that Bush has a secret plan to fight the deficit. And you may be right -- maybe he does. But you'll excuse me if I wait until he actually sees it.

Whereas Von apparently believes that Messirs Lieberman, Edwards, Clark, Kerry, Dean, and Gephardt – each of whom has called for larger spending increases than Bush, opposes entitlement reform, and have to date not outlined any spending cuts of their own – has a “secret plan to fight the deficit.” I take it then that you have seen the plan. ;)


And it should be pointed out that each of the candidates Von has said he preferred to Bush has (a) repudiated any form of entitlement reform (while Bush has stated his support for it) and (b) has called for even larger increases in spending than Bush while (c) to date not outlining any spending cuts.

And it should also be pointed out that (a)* and (b) are, as far as I can tell, false. If you have evidence to the contrary, please provide it. As for (c), this very well may be true.

And your evidence for this is what exactly given that Dean and Company have each called for larger increases in spending, are campaigning against any form of entitlement reform, and have called for even larger spending increases than the one’s Bush enacted?

I haven't seen any calls for increases in spending that are larger than Bush's increases. Again, if you have evidence to the contrary, please provide it. I have seen calls to repeal certain of -- and in some cases, all of** -- the Bush tax cuts, with the stated goal of reducing the deficit.

von

*Of course, your reference to entitlements is a red herring, because Andrew's and my outrage is directed to Bush's huge increases in non-entitlement spending. But, heck, if that's the windmill you wish to joust, don't let me stand in your way. ;)

**I tend to disapprove of repealing all of Bush's tax cuts, it should be noted.

Von wrote:

And it should also be pointed out that (a)* and (b) are, as far as I can tell, false. If you have evidence to the contrary, please provide it. As for (c), this very well may be true.

I have a hard time believing that you didn’t bother to look into this but if you check out the stated positions of
Dean,
Edwards,
Gephardt,
Kerry,
Clark, and
Liberman.
and contrast them with that of
President Bush, it is clear that Bush is the only candidate to support any sort of entitlement reform to reduce the unfunded liabilities of Social Security.

All of the other major presidential candidates have disavowed any proposals to reduce the program’s unfunded liability either by raising the retirement age (which Bush has said he would not rule out), letting younger workers opt out even partially (thereby reducing the program’s unfunded liability by stopping the digging of the hole), COLA adjustment or means-testing. It is clear that electing anyone other than Bush would only set back the cause of entitlement reform by at least 4-8 years, by which time the baby-boom generation would begin retiring and the problem will but much more difficult to rectify.

I haven't seen any calls for increases in spending that are larger than Bush's increases.

An important point needs to be made, none of the major Democratic contenders have called for rolling back any of the spending increases. Kerry, Edwards, and Lieberman whom you said you support voted for most if not all of it or have voted for greater spending-something you conveniently omitted when referring to it as “Bush’s increases.”

What we have seen instead is the call for new spending over and above what Bush has agreed to (and at least three of your guys have voted for or tried to vote for greater amounts) such as new health care entitlements, education spending, grants to the States, and the like from most if not all of the Democratic challengers.

Again, if you have evidence to the contrary, please provide it. I have seen calls to repeal certain of -- and in some cases, all of** -- the Bush tax cuts, with the stated goal of reducing the deficit.

Certainly, the National Taxpayer’s Union just released a study on the new spending proposals of each of the remaining Democratic candidates and their effects on the deficit after their respective repeals for any or all of Bush’s tax cuts (if any) have been taken into effect. When taking them into account the Democratic candidates would add the following amounts (above and beyond Bush) to the deficit:

Gephardt $368.76 Billion

Kerry $265.11 Billion

Dean $222.9 Billion

Clark $220.66 Billion

Edwards $199.48 Billion

Lieberman $169.55 Billion


Of course, your reference to entitlements is a red herring, because Andrew's and my outrage is directed to Bush's huge increases in non-entitlement spending.

Actually, it is not, if you go back to the Andrew Sullivan article you linked, Sullivan makes the rather absurd conclusion that only a Democratic candidate could bring fiscal responsibility to the table. You cannot make any credible claims about the fiscal state of the federal budget (and deficit) while ignoring the impact of entitlement spending. Your and Sullivan’s attempt to focus merely on the lesser area of discretionary spending (and even here Bush is a better candidate) is watching the tail and ignoring the dog.

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