Hope Daschled?

 Business, Corruption, Politics, Presidency  Comments Off on Hope Daschled?
Feb 052009

OK, I couldn’t resist that one.  But the real question is…does anyone in Washington bother to pay their taxes? Having just filed mine, and seeing just how much I paid, this all sets me back on my heels a bit. Apparently even the guy picked to head the Treasury Dept. (including the IRS) has problems being clear about the tax code.

Then there was the Daschle debacle.  It appears that Tom Daschle’s unusual strengths as both an elder statesman of the Senate and a serious policy wonk meant that he, more than anyone, might have been able to push through some reform. But I found his apologies and explanations completely unsatisfactory. He paid the unpaid taxes the week before he was nominated, so his claim that he had paid the taxes as soon as the “mistake” was realized falls flat. He paid the taxes when he realized that he was going to get caught. There’s a difference, and it makes your apology less than sincere.

Now it appears that Hilda Solis, President Obama’s choice to head the Department of Labor, has some issues. Apparently, Solis’ husband had $6,400 in tax liens against his business for many years, liens he paid only yesterday. She was not a partner or officer in the businesses, so frankly this shouldn’t count against her, but if it was uncovered weeks ago in the vetting process, it should have been disclosed much earlier.

Everyone gave John McCain a well deserved hard time over the lack of vetting of Sarah Palin, but Obama’s team isn’t doing much better so far.

The Anthrax Questions

 Congress, Crime, Politics, Presidency, Society, War  Comments Off on The Anthrax Questions
Aug 032008

Glenn Greenwald has an excellent article up at Salon.com discussing the unresolved issues around the 2001 anthrax incident. As everyone knows Bruce Ivins committed suicide earlier this week as a Grand Jury prepared to indict him in connection with the anthrax incident. Ivins had been a top anthrax researcher at a U.S. Government research facility for 18 years. So seven years after the incident, and after having to pay a settlement to one falsely accused researcher, we’re to believe the government had an airtight case against Ivins witnessed by his apparent suicide.

I’m sorry that the current government has brought me to the point that I can rarely believe the official version of events, but I am not buying that this is the end of the story.

Greenwald makes an excellent point about the importance of the anthrax attacks.

One could make a persuasive case that they were actually more consequential. The 9/11 attacks were obviously traumatic for the country, but in the absence of the anthrax attacks, 9/11 could easily have been perceived as a single, isolated event. It was really the anthrax letters — with the first one sent on September 18, just one week after 9/11 — that severely ratcheted up the fear levels and created the climate that would dominate in this country for the next several years after. It was anthrax — sent directly into the heart of the country’s elite political and media institutions, to then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD), Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT), NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw, and other leading media outlets — that created the impression that social order itself was genuinely threatened by Islamic radicalism.

I have to agree with Greenwald that it was the anthrax letters that really cemented the whole idea that we were under siege right in heartland. This pushed it over the top for Americans, and began laying the groundwork for going into Iraq.

There are just way too many coincidences that played out in the wake of these attacks for me to believe that our friend Dick Cheney didn’t have something to do with hammering home the need for us to attack Iraq. I won’t get into a discussion of the official story of the 9/11 attacks here, but you have to remember that New York is viewed by most of America as a unique place. Certainly it would be a target, as would Washington. However, anthrax, sent in the mail, could go just anywhere…millions could be exposed for the cost of small mass mailing. Most Americans, while appalled, disgusted, and saddened to our core by the 9/11 attacks quickly began to feel like it was an isolated attack on high value targets, and most of us don’t live near high value targets. The attacks had to continue, and they had to strike at home.    

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