Why women get late-term abortions, and how we all force them to.

Reality check.

You are a woman working 60 hours a week between two jobs to provide for your two young children.  You make about $400 a week, but have almost nothing left between child care, rent, food, gas for the car.

You get pregnant and find out 7 weeks into your pregnancy.  The clock starts now.  In your state, you have 13 weeks (91 days) to come up with $1000 to pay for the abortion you need in order to keep the jobs that keep your family fed and housed.

Maybe add another part-time job?  An extra 10 hours on top of the 60 you are already doing?  That would bring in $72 a week, which will still leave you $100 short by the time you hit the deadline.  Besides, who would watch the kids?  You are already exhausted on your one day off as it is.  This isn't going to work.

Okay, plan b - cut out some expenses.  You could get rid of your dog and save a couple hundred bucks on dog food.  The kids might be sad, but it's better than getting evicted.  You could stop paying auto liability insurance and hope for the best, saving you another $300.  Only $500 to go.  Maybe switch to one meal a day?  That would surely save a few hundred dollars over the next 91 miserable days.

It all sounds so hopeless.  Because it is.  But it doesn't have to be.  We make it so, willfully, as a society.  You make it so.

I very rarely see anyone bringing up the most obvious target of these new abortion laws - poor, young single women.  For them, the state is not going to help them pay for their abortion, and nor will anyone else in their life.  They are working hard, and an unplanned pregnancy is the utter derailment of a slow, steady crawl out of a dismal situation.  And it is so because we allow it to be.

Look, conservatives, I'll make you a deal: Pay for women's abortions anytime leading up to the 20 week mark, and I'll agree it should be limited to 20 weeks.  Any interest?  What is your solution?

Islam-Bashing is for Losers: "New" Atheism, or Same-Old Racism?

Great scientist, bashes Muslims too much.
Reposted from

Anyone getting tired of these "new atheists" and their penchant for Islam-bashing? I am, and that's without having the slightest regard for modern-day Islam (or any religion.) In many ways I'd be their fellow traveler (science, rationality, progress), but this persistent Islam-bashing is bullshit.

Yes, all religions are metaphysical bullshit. But if you come from a predominately Christian country, known for oppressing Muslims (looking at you, US and UK) , and especially if you're a white male from said country, singling out Muslims for special contempt looks a little suspicious. As do the fans of that kind of attitude:

  • White males, particularly the Internet-savvy, self-styled "libertarian"ones
  • White "atheists" (especially the superior, obnoxious ones)
  • Right wingers, Christians
  • Neocons
  • White millennials (because they know fuck-all about religion, racism or geopolitics, and because they're 20)
  • etc.
Something of a rogue's gallery, is my point. Strange bedfellows.

Not that there's anything inherently wrong with bashing religion (I do it all the time). Pointing out the ridiculousness, the destructiveness, of Islam - or any religion - is great. But othering Muslims and appealing to Islamophobia isn't.

Here's the thing. You don't have to explicitly assert that a whole group of people are inferior, you just have to use the right language.

"These Muslims", huh?

Here's another "New Atheist", Sam Harris, from his "In Defense of Profiling" article: "We should profile Muslims, or anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Muslim, and we should be honest about it." (As a mixed-ancestry - black/white - person of color who could "conceivably" look "Muslim", I speak for many when I say we get profiled enough, fuck you very much, white man. How's that for honesty, Sam?)

In the above examples, switch "Muslims" with "Blacks", "Jews", "Gays" (using the nice terms), etc. You get the idea. Where have we seen this kind of language before? Oh yeah, throughout the entire history of oppression.

Dawkins and Harris are using othering language, and they know it. If they don't, they're strikingly ignorant for people of their intellect.

And they must know that this kind of Muslim-bashing isn't the same as Christian-bashing. Christians aren't the ones being profiled at airports or intimidated by the NYPD. Christians aren't exactly an oppressed minority here in the States (more like an oppressive majority), and if they live in fear, it's only fear of the bullshit they make up in their own heads. When bashing, these things ought to be taken into account.

Could have missed it, but haven't seen any of these guys acknowledge what significantly contributed to the rise of militaristic, radical Islam in the first place: colonialism and imperialism, primarily by (surprise!) the UK and US. If Islam is to blame, then certainly Christianity is, too. More importantly, our (Anglo) nations share  direct culpability. Maybe we should take responsibility, instead of acting self-righteous and throwing temper tantrums.

You know, like Jesus said, deal with the huge plank in our own eye before we worry about the speck in someone else's. I'm not saying that Islam's issues are a speck, but I'm definitely saying that we have a plank, and if we don't acknowledge and deal with it, we have no right to be taken seriously. Hypocrites never should be.

Please, New Atheists, stop piling on. And remember that you're privileged white people talking about predominately black and brown people. People whose countries we invade. People our countries oppress, occupy, and kill in greater numbers than any terrorist could dream of.

I agree that Islam, - like most, or all, religions - is bullshit, and destructive, but your strident preoccupation with bashing Muslims looks a lot more like racism than enlightenment.

Original post here.

In which Michael Medved explains to me how feelings trump facts, and tells me to get a life.

Joy of joys, Michael finally confronted one of my e-mails on the air!  Here's what I wrote to him, and I'll let him speak for himself.  :)


You repeatedly cite the talking point that fewer people are working since President Obama took office, or that the reason the "real unemployment" is worse than the unemployment reported by the BLS has to do with labor participation.  You blame Obama for this. The problem is that the decline in labor participation rate was predicted in 2002 (Age-adjusted labor force participation rates, 1960–2045) and 2006 (A new look at long-term labor force projections to 2050)

The large majority of the labor participation rate decline is demographics, not due to the recession and recovery.  In the 2002 projection, they projected 66.8 percent in 2005, 65.9% in 2010, and 64.6% in 2015.  In reality, we had 65.8% in 2005 and 64.8% in 2010.  While we're a little off from those projections, they aren't far, and given that those predictions never envisioned a financial crisis like we experienced, there is no reason to believe President Obama has had much, if anything to do with it.

The gravity of the baby boomers is going to eventually drive the labor force participation rate to 60% in 2040, and there is nothing any politician can do about it.

"President Obama has no responsibility for the fact that people have a sense that things have gone wrong in this country?  President Obama has no responsibility for the fact that families are hurting?  That's the basic reality.

And the attempt by the administration and its apologists to try to use numbers and statistics to convince the American people of stuff that they know from their own experience... That simply isn't going to work." --Michael Medved

It was a valiant effort, Michael, but I think you lost this round.

Crushing disappointment, and a challenge accepted!

Dear Michael,

As I pressed play today, I was hopeful that of all people in the conservative entertainment establishment, you would resist the temptation to smear the President.  Initially, I was happy; it seemed like you wouldn't go there.  But then, in the second hour, you went there:
Michael Medved: What he was talking about was the President's comment, which has now become notorious, that somehow if you built a business, you didn't really build it.  Implying that the business really belonged to the Federal government.  Implying that everything belongs to the Federal government.  Implying that because you can't do things truly on your own because somebody is involved with you, then the community owns any property that you generated.
This is why we can't have nice things.  You spent a lot of time teasing out what you think the President is implying, but your listeners would be better served if you had just read the speech, or listened to it, or read the paragraphs surrounding that paragraph.  Had you done that, you would see that the President is clear:  Business can only be successful when there is a government to build the infrastructure and services to support it.  All that nonsense you said is just nonsense, Michael, and I know you know better than this. 

You didn't spend much time on it, so I suppose you were just saying it to appease whoever wanted you to be "on message".  Next time, read the context before misleading your listeners.  

Michael Medved: Let me cite the Tax Policy Center which is from the Brookings Institution.  It's a liberal source.  They have here a table, table T12-0039.  Romney tax plan based on current law.  Right?  If Romney's changes come into practice, every single quintile of the populace would pay less in taxes.  That's what they have written down here.   Now, is there any basis at all for suggesting that Romney wants to increase taxes on those earning below 40,000?  Absolutely not.  It's just a Democratic partisan smear.  And I would challenge anyone, by the way.  Come forward with some proof for this stupid smear.

Oh, I'm actually happy you misinformed everyone about this, because it's something you say every single day.  About how wonderful the world will be when we simplify the tax code, cutting out loopholes and carveouts and doo-dads, etc., etc.  Lower the rates, broaden the base, simply everything!

So first, I am going to point out where you misled your audience.  You read the subtitle of the table, but skipped the title.  Why would that be?  Oh yeah, it demolished your point.  The title of that table is:

Romney Tax Plan Without Unspecified Base Broadeners

Oh, where is the Romney Tax Plan With Specified Base Broadeners?  It doesn't exist, because Romney hasn't specified them.  The Ryan plan didn't specify them, either.  

But there's a logical reason you are wrong, as well.  You pointed out that every single quintile pays less taxes under the Romney plan.  But if that were true, then the Romney plan would fail to increase revenue.  In fact, it would increase the deficit by $900 billion dollars.  Someone has to pay more than what is on that table to make up the $900 billion difference before we would break even.  But who?

There are hundreds of tax expenditures.  Pew has a pretty cool database that you can browse at your leisure.  Let's focus on the top ten, though.

Do you think we could get rid of the tax deduction for employer-sponsored health insurance?  How about the mortgage interest deduction?  Get rid of 401ks?  If we declared only those three as sacrosanct, and got rid of everything else, we would increase the deficit by $100 billion.  Immediately.  

According to a 2012 Congressional Research Service report, it is not realistic to expect that any more than $150 billion in tax expenditures could be stripped from the tax code.  This would allow us to reduce the top tax rate by about 2 percentage points, for it to remain revenue neutral.

So the question is:  How proportionately are tax expenditures distributed?  If they overwhelmingly go to the poor and middle class, than Ed Schultz was wrong, and you were right in your argument with him.  But if they overwhelmingly go to the rich...  Nah, it couldn't be:

Everyone would see an increase in their taxes, in every quintile.  That was the point, remember?


Roland Lindsey
Bellevue, WA

Lies, damned lies, statistics, and Michael Medved

Dear Michael,

The 7/17/12 show was a marked improvement over the day before.  It was good to see you mention the issues with the McClatchy/Marist polls, and how it differs with with another poll on the same subject.  For some, you are the only source of information they have, and it's good to see you tried set the record straight.  

But then, you could resist, could you?
Michael Medved:  Here's a poll that was taken earlier this month, and they said, "Do you think raising taxes on income over $250,000 would help the economy, hurt the economy, or not make a difference?"  Well, 48% thought it would either make no difference or hurt the economy.  44% said it would help.  So, it shows a much more close divide.
Michael, you know that your statistical breakdown was misleading.  And your opinion of how close the divide was just plain dishonest.  How do I know that?

The results of the poll were linked in my previous message to you.  The poll broke down like this:

Hurt the economy:  22%
Help the economy:  44%
No difference:  24%

You said, "48% thought it would either make no difference or hurt the economy.  44% said it would help."

You could have also said, "68% thought it would either make no difference or help the economy.  22% said it would hurt."

But you didn't say that.  You could have also just said the individual numbers, and let people make up their minds.  But you didn't do that, either.  Instead, you lumped together two numbers to make it look more evenly split.  

How do you defend that?

Roland Lindsey
Bellevue, WA

Michael's Big Day o' Misinformation - Taxes and Economy

You began the second hour of the show with a McClatchy/Marist poll.    It sharply conflicts with other recent polls on the subject, and when you look at the survey question, you can see why.  
"Which statement comes closer to your view?  Congress should extend the tax cuts only for the middle class, but not for the top 2%, that is, households earning $250,000 or more or Congress should extend the tax cuts for everyone, including the top 2%, that is, households earning $250,000 or more."
This question is a little difficult to grapple with, but based on the construction of the first alternative, a respondent could believe they are choosing between tax cuts for households making $250,000 or more, or tax cuts for everyone.  43% chose the first option, while 52% chose the second. Compare that to these other polls: 

Wall Street Journal - 68% of respondents saw phasing out the Bush Tax cuts for those making more than $250,000 was mostly or totally acceptable.

Pew Forum - 44% of respondents saw raising taxes on those making $250,000 would be beneficial to the economy, vs. 22% who thought it would harm the economy.

Both the WSJ and Pew polls show a 2-1 support for phasing out the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy.  The McClatchy/Marist poll is an outlier, and probably because of the poll question.

Michael Medved:  Where is the support for what it is that Senator Patty Murray and other leading Democrats want to do?  What they want to do is literally raise taxes on everyone and then, after January, when they hope the President will come back re-elected, then go ahead and lower taxes again for people earning below a certain level.  But isn't that outrageous? They want the United States to take the fiscal hit.  She's saying it openly. In January, where everyone would, at least for a couple of weeks, have to pay more in taxes.  You think that's a good idea?

On its face, it doesn't sound like a good idea.  However, she explained the logic, which is something that eluded you.  In the speech, she told the story of the Grover Norquist tax pledge, and the story of the super committee.  Since her colleagues were bound by the pledge, any vote to preserve middle class tax rates while letting upper class tax rates expire would be considered a tax increase, and they could never vote for it.  If, however, the taxes sunset as they are scheduled to, any votes would be for tax cuts, even though they have exactly the same effect.  She explained it here:
I also think many Republicans are starting to realize something very important.  On January 1st if we have not gotten a deal, Grover Norquist and his pledge are no longer relevant to this conversation.  A name, by the way, that I heard repeatedly by Republicans over and over in the Super Committee will no longer be a part of this debate.  We will have a new fiscal and political reality.   
If the Bush tax cuts expire, every proposal will be a tax cut proposal, and the pledge will no longer keep Republicans boxed in and unable to compromise.  If middle class families start seeing some money  coming out of their paychecks next year, are Republicans really going to stand up and fight for new tax cuts for the rich?  Are they going to continue opposing the Democrat’s middle class tax cut once the slate is wiped clean?  I think they know that that would be an untenable position and I hope this pushes them to come to the table with real revenue now before being forced to the table if we don’t get to a deal by the new year because, you know what, we really shouldn’t wait.  It’s not good for the economy, it’s not good for the markets, and most importantly, not good for our taxpayers.
They don't want the United States to take the fiscal hit.  They want to let the Bush tax cuts expire for the wealthy, and they want to do it as soon as possible.  Stop misrepresenting their position.  It's dishonest and disgusting.

Caller:  Hi, Michael.  I'm one of those people who does not believe that you should run politics and government based on what the people actually want.  Maybe you should run it on what's right, and we have this huge deficit, so maybe tax cuts aren't the best idea.

Michael Medved: Okay, no one is talking about cutting revenue.  Do you get that?  

Caller:  Yes, but if you take in more money, you are basically going ahead, and you are able to pay your bills more easily.  You can get a better job.

Michael Medved: Wait, I think it's good if the government takes in more money.  But, one of the things that history shows, and I just, I spent a great deal of time actually looking at these figures.  You know what it means when they talk about government revenue, right?  It's how much money actually comes in to the federal government.  Do you know there's no relevance, no connection at all, really between the top marginal tax rate and the revenue stream?  Revenue goes up every year.  It doesn't matter.  It goes up more when we have growth.  You want more revenue for government?  You want more money to pay the bills?  We need a growing economy.

Revenue does not go up every year.  It kills me that you tell these people you "spent a great deal of time looking at these figures", so they trust you.  But that trust is misplaced.  Via the Tax Policy Center

Years revenue changed +/- 1% of GDP since 1970:

1971 -1.7%  (-$4.9 billion) 
1983 -1.7%  (-$17.2 billion)
2002 -1.9%  (-$138 billion)
2009 -1.5%  (-$439 billion)

They don't always go up.  What can we say about tax rates during those times?  1970 was a tax cut year.  1981 was a tax cut year.  2002 was a tax cut year.  2009 was a financial crisis.  That prove enough?

Caller:  Well, what about in Clinton's times, he was in office we had a growing economy.  We had growth.

Michael Medved: We did during Bush, too.  Did you know that revenue went up every year under President Bush?  

No, it didn't.  See above.  I'm pretty sure Bush was President in 2002.  But let's break down the entire term, shall we?

2002  -1.9%  (-$138 billion)
2003  -0.6%  (-$71 billion)
2004  -0.1%  (+$98 billion)
2005  +0.8% (+$273 billion)
2006  +0.9% (+$253 billion)
2007  +0.3% (+$162 billion)
2008  -0.9%  (-$45 billion)
2009  -2.5%  (-$419 billion)

Since almost half the years comport with your statement, shall we say you are almost half-right?  No, we will say you are all wet. In fact, how can you make that claim when the data is widely available? Are you just making this stuff up at this point?  

Caller:  Yeah, but the deficit... What happened to the deficit?

Michael Medved: The deficit started going down.  The deficit went up early in the Bush administration because of a recession which he inherited and because of 9/11.  And then the deficit started going down and it went way down.  When Bush got re-elected in 2004, the deficit was about a third, and I just wrote about this.  It was about a third of what it is today.  

Let's look at what actually happened, and I'll let you judge if your characterization is correct.

2002  $157 billion
2003  $377 billion
2004  $412 billion
2005  $318 billion
2006  $248 billion
2007  $160 billion
2008  $458 billion
2009  $1,412 billion

I'm sorry, Michael, but you are completely misinformed about Bush's fiscal legacy.  It was peaking when he was re-elected.

Caller:  Does that count the wars?

Michael Medved: Yeah.  It counts everything.  The deficit was just not that bad under Bush.  It was bad, it should have been lower.  But you're talking about under President Bush, it was 3.4%  Today, even according to Obama's optimistic projections, it's 8.5%. It'll be more.

In Bush's last year, it was 10.1%.  It was 3.4% in 2004.  But note, there was a conspicuous lack of a financial crisis in 2004.  In Obama's last year, it was 8.7%.

Caller: But in terms of the actual deficit, it grew tremendously under Bush, correct?  The deficit?

Michael Medved: Correct, we had a surplus under Clinton, the last couple of years of Clinton.  But it really, if you take a look at Bush's deficits and his deficit record, and the growth record, every single year revenue went up.  That's the point.  This idea that somehow you raise the top tax rates on the rich, and then you raise revenue.  You raise revenue by lowering the top tax rates on the rich, too, because there's more growth.  That's what we should be talking about is how do you grow the economy, not how you punish people who are successful and already growing the economy.

See refutations above.  Please, I'm begging you, just look at the numbers.  Your statement about how lowering the top tax rates on the rich raises revenue is unsupported by the data.  Read Christina Romer's article on this topic for more info.  Or Bruce Bartlett. Or any reputable analyst.

Michael Medved:  By the way, in Congress, Boehner had agreed to a deal that was about 2-1 [spending cuts to revenue increases] revenue enhancements, 2-1 spending cuts over revenue enhancements.  Between 2-1 and 3-1... The Democrats are refusing to negotiate.  

Actually, this isn't true.  It was 5-1, with $300 billion in revenue, and $1.5 trillion in cuts, but there's a little more to it than that.  The Republican offer of $300 billion in revenue increases was not real.  It was essentially mathematically impossible.  I won't go into fine detail here, it is explained here.  

Michael Medved:  Why, by the way, would this particular economic downturn, which by many measures was not as severe as for instance, the economic downturn at the end of the Carter and the beginning of the Reagan administration... If you take a look at inflation, unemployment, by all those measures, we were worse off in the late 70s.  

If you consider inflation and unemployment "many measures", you are right, it's not as bad as the 70s. If you consider the number that really matters, GDP, then the 70s are nowhere near the financial crisis of 2008-2009.  

In 2008 and 2009, GDP shrunk by 3.8%.  The last time the GDP shrunk that much was 1946, when it contracted by 10.9%.  

Michael Medved:  Did he have a do-nothing Congress for his first full two years or did he have overwhelming Democratic majorities?  

This is an oft-repeated falsehood on your show.  In the Senate of 2009, 60 votes were required to pass any legislation.  Obama had 60 votes, didn't he?  Not quite.  
  • He started with 57 elected Democratic Senators, and 2 Independents.  
  • Senator Kennedy had a seizure on Inauguration Day, and Senator Al Franken had not yet been seated, as there was an epic recount struggle between him and Norm Coleman.  Therefore, Obama was down to 55 Democrats and 2 Independents.
  • Arlen Specter later switched parties and now Obama had 58 Senators, although Ted Kennedy was still home sick.
  • Then Robert Byrd got sick, reducing Obama's count to 57 again.
  • Next, Al Franken was seated, but Robert Byrd and Ted Kennedy were still sick.  Kennedy did manage a vote in June, though.  Mostly, Obama had 58.
  • By July, Robert Byrd had returned, but still no Senator Kennedy.  Obama now had 59.
  • Ted Kennedy died in August 2009, and in September, Paul Kirk was appointed to fill his seat until the special election.  Finally, President Obama had 60 seats in the Senate.  Until February 4th, when Scott Brown was elected.
All told, President Obama had 60 votes in the Senate for 4 months.  Not two years.

Michael Medved: If you look back at the history of past recoveries, we've had very, very bad economic hard times in the past, it's just never taken us this long.  And, the fact that our fiscal situation is so much worse, and fiscal situation meaning our deficit has just gone up 300%. 

1945 called.  He begs to differ with you.  He's on the line with 1930.  They'll hold.

Michael, please stop with the nonsense.  You are continuing to hurt America with what you're doing.  Please stop.


Roland Lindsey
Bellevue, WA

Big day full of misinformation from Mr. Medved - Voter ID edition

Dear Michael,

Today was not a high watermark for solid information.  And I had such high hopes after having only one serious issue on Friday.  I must point out that I am not taking the time here to disagree with you philosophically.  Your show ostensibly exists to provide a forum for reasonable disagreement, and I don't need to battle it out with you here; I can call your show for that.  I do feel compelled to point out intellectual dishonesty, misleading statements, and outright falsehoods.  Your show would be a lot more useful to the country if you would stay factual, and disagree using facts, and not untruths.

On to Monday's corrections...

[After reading an AP story about an organization who sends out pre-filled voter registration forms, including forms with the names of deceased pets]

Michael Medved:  Okay, what about the Democratic claims that there've never been any evidence of voter fraud?  Here it is.  You want to believe that no one who gets this stuff in the mail actually sends it back? Puts on a 44 cent stamp?  And thereby cancels out the vote of some real voter?  A US citizen who's entitled to vote?

Michael Medved:  Here in the state of Washington we have basically all mail-in vote now.

Caller:  Exactly!  And no one would check!  And they're certainly not going to check every vote of every random dog.  So if I was inclined in that direction, I would create; I would be able to vote, another vote.  And this is so wrong.  The vote is absolutely in jeopardy.

Michael Medved:  No doubt, because what's terrible about this is you're obviously a person of conscience.  You told the story.  You declined to get a double registration, but what this does is this kind of system and this kind of sloppiness, unregulated and fraudulent, and frankly disgusting, it gives an advantage to people who are unscrupulous.  In other words, somebody else who isn't you, Brenda, who got a ballot in the mail or a registration form in the mail for a dead dog could easily just send it in.  Boom, they've got two votes.

So there are some things you probably don't understand about the process, but it seems to me you should. 

An organization that sends out voter registration forms is not evidence of voter fraud.  If it was evidence of voter fraud, then there would be an arrest made and the fraudsters would be put into prison, along with the 86 people out of 300 million the Bush Administration convicted in 2007 which I cited in my earlier e-mail.  Saying these mailers are evidence of voter fraud is simply untrue.

But let's say someone does register their dog, Snuffles, in Washington State.  What happens then?  

According to the Secretary of State, the following:
Following the 2004 General Election and the subsequent gubernatorial recounts, both political parties spent a combined total of $6.5 million contesting the election and attempting to prove that fraud occurred during the course of the election. Despite the numerous problems with the election cited by the judge, none were directly linked to voting by mail.

Contrary to allegations made by opponents to vote-by-mail, there have been no substantiated reports of voter coercion, such as a domineering spouse or a corrupt nursing home employee. Voters always have the option of coming to the county elections department to cast their ballots.

Implementation of the statewide voter registration database in 2006 has helped to ensure that only those people eligible to vote receive ballots. The voter registration database is screened daily for duplicate registrations, monthly for deceased voters, and quarterly for felons. The screenings for duplicate registrations are especially important since they contribute to the perception of voting fraud and the assumption that people are voting multiple ballots. In 2006:
  • 39,814 duplicate voter registrations were identified and cancelled accordingly;
  • 40,105 registrations of deceased voters were identified and cancelled accordingly;
  • 4,500 registrations of convicted felons were identified and cancelled accordingly; 
  • 91,954 active and inactive voter registrations were cancelled for a variety of reasons, including:
  • upon the voter’s request;
  • the voter moved and failed to reregister;
  • the voter moved out of state; or
  • the voter had been on inactive status for more than two federal elections, a time period established in federal law.
Verification of Voter Registration Information Driver’s license or state ID numbers as identification are checked against the motor vehicle database for a match of the number, last name, and date of birth. If the number matches but not all of the other fields, election officials review the records to determine if they match.  If the SSN4 is provided, the number is checked against the SSA database through AAMVA. If no match is found, the voter will be notified. If the information remains unverified, the applicant may need to provide identification before voting.
So, unfortunately for Snuffles, his ballot would be disqualified due to lack of state ID or lack of matching Social Security Number.  This reporter did not do their homework, but that's another sad story.

Michael Medved: They [Democrats] get passionate about the idea that increasing numbers of states are requiring voter ID, an ID that would be limited to human beings, not dogs, and limited to people who are alive, and limited to people who are alive and are citizens of the United States and entitled to vote.  What a concept.  Democrats are angry about that idea.

Could you point me to a Democrat elected official who is angry that voting is limited to living citizens?  How about a Liberal pundit?  How about a Communist party member?  You are maliciously misrepresenting their position.  Knock it off.

Michael Medved:  Take a look at any impartial investigation.  Voter fraud is a problem.  I spoke directly in this very hour to a lady who received a mailer from a Demcratic party organization, affiliated with the Democratic party urging her to register her long-dead dog to vote.

Caller:  And you think if the dog showed up, they'd give it a ballot?

Michael Medved:  It's mail-in ballots, Dan, that's the problem.  In other words, no one checks the dog's ID.  This is a deeper problem.

[Caller refers to this story about the Pennsylvania House Republican leader claiming voter ID will let Romney win Pennsylvania

Michael Medved:  And you know why?  Because of the level, Dan, because of the level of voter fraud in Philadelphia.  And if you don't believe there has been huge voter fraud in Philadelphia, and voter intimidation in Philadelphia, of Republicans, you don't know anything about the New Black Panther party case from 2008.

Caller: The one the Bush Justice Department didn't prosecute.  There was no evidence.

Okay, that's not ent; because the case only came up at the very end, the Bush Justice Department ran out of time.  The point about this, Dan, I think everybody in America who is qualified to vote should vote.  No one should stand in his or her way.  But I think the people who are not qualified to vote, including dead people, dogs, minors, and non-citizens should be kept from exercising the franchise and taking away my vote by canceling it out.  This is not a radical thought.

I've already addressed the hypothetical about the dog.  Now on to Philadelphia...  In Pennsylvania, the state has no record of voter fraud, according to their Department of State.  What it does have are six people suing because they cannot get a state ID.  They cannot get a state ID because the state has lost their birth certificates.  Guess they won't be running for President, either.

As for the "New Black Panther Party"; alleged voter intimidation has nothing to do with vote fraud, and voter ID will not solve that problem.  The Justice Department did not drop the case because they "ran out of time."  If that was the case, you would expect the crime rate to dramatically increase just before a new term, because the Justice Department would "run out of time" and drop whatever it was working on.  They filed a suit, and a judge issued an injunction against some of the people involved.  More to the point, the New Black Panther Party repudiated them on their web site, and suspended the Philadelphia chapter. Why doesn't anyone ever mention the fact that they policed their own members? More info here.

In the next post, we'll tackle taxes and President Obama!  Stay tuned... 

Why Mitt Romney won't release his tax returns

Prediction:  Mitt Romney will never release his tax returns.

This Sunday, George Will put his finger on it with this sentence:
"The cost of not releasing the returns are clear.  Therefore, he must have calculated that there are higher costs in releasing them."  -George Will, This Week, 7/15/2012
Those "higher costs" probably involve information that would automatically disqualify him for the Presidency.  

Several have speculated that there would be return years where Mitt Romney paid little, if any taxes.  Others have speculated that more evidence of off-shore accounts and tax-avoidance shenanigans would come to light.  But I don't believe that would prevent Mr. Romney from releasing them.

After all, it would give him an easy opportunity to shed light on what happens for the rich in the tax system.  He could educate Americans, and actually connect with them, over how the tax system needs to be changed to improve equality in the system.  Far from a losing proposition, it could be a big win to release tax returns that show how the rich interact with the government on tax day, with Mitt Romney as the courageous insider who seeks to overturn the status quo.

But that's not why Mitt Romney won't release his taxes.  The question is:  What would cost him the election?

Let's itemize what we already know about Mitt Romney.  
  • He's rich.  
  • He's an effective manager.  
  • He's ambitious.  
  • He ran money all around the world in order to maximize profits.  
  • He's heavily invested in and connected to Goldman Sachs... Uh, oh.
Mitt Romney was probably invested in several of the kinds of products that caused the financial collapse.    Remember credit default swaps?  Collateralized debt obligations?  Derivatives?  Mitt Romney probably had money in some of these vehicles.

In 2008 and 2009, Mitt Romney probably profited from the TARP bailout.  Goldman Sachs has made record profits since the bailout, and there's no reason to believe that Mitt Romney didn't make record profits as well.

There is very little more bi-partisan than hatred of the TARP bailout, and the financial system excesses that led us to the financial crisis.  If Mr. Romney's tax returns show he benefited while the rest of the country suffered, Romney would likely lose in a landslide not seen since 1984.

Only one big lie from Michael Medved today...

...but it's a doozy.

Dear Michael,

Today's show was fairly focused on politics, and not so much on policy, so it was nice to hear subjective analysis, not the stream of misinformation that we have become so accustomed to.  Nevertheless, there was a particularly egregious piece of misinformation today that has been so thoroughly debunked previously, I can only assume you know you are lying when you say it.  

Michael Medved: "The CBO estimates that at least 20 million Americans are going to be thrown off their employer insurance"

I chuckled when I heard this, because I've heard you use the "20 million Americans" line before, but never modified with "at least".  This takes the misinformation to an as yet undiscovered form of misinformation, and worse, you are telling your listeners the CBO says it.  It's one thing to say something is true that you know to be false.  It's another to misrepresent the words of others, especially when you know it is false.

The original CBO projections for the ACA projected the following:

On balance, the number of people obtaining coverage through their 
employer would be about 3 million lower in 2019 under the legislation, 
CBO and JCT estimate.

The current CBO projections for the ACA project the following:
CBO and JCT’s projections of health insurance coverage have also changed since 
last March. Fewer people are now expected to obtain health insurance coverage 
from their employer or in insurance exchanges; more are now expected to obtain 
coverage from Medicaid or CHIP or from nongroup or other sources. More are 
expected to be uninsured. The extent of the changes varies from year to year, but 
in 2016, for example, the ACA is now estimated to reduce the number of people 
receiving health insurance coverage through an employer by an additional 4 
million enrollees relative to the March 2011 projections. 

Here is the entire table for everyone's convenience.  Notice that there is no projection that says "at least 20 million Americans are going to be thrown off their employer insurance."  At most, 5 million will go off their employer coverage.  Realize, some of those people will choose to leave employer coverage, something the CBO notes in their projection.  

So, stop utterly misrepresenting the CBO, Michael.  It's dishonest and disgraceful.

Yours faithfully,

Bellevue, WA

Four big lies from Michael Medved

Second in my ongoing series to set Michael Medved straight!  We've already made some progress - yesterday he corrected the 3.8% surtax on investment issue thing I had in my last post.

Dear Michael, 

I'm going to try to do this as often as I can, because I really hope you will stop spreading misinformation.  I noticed yesterday that you set the record straight on the 3.8% investment income surtax in the ACA.  If only you had done that when Michele Bachmann was on.  :(  But better late than never, I suppose! :)


Michael Medved: "...because I actually think a bill in Louisiana, it would have done something very simple.  It would have barred all ATM cash withdrawals with welfare debit cards that attempt to use the cards in ATM machines in strip clubs or to use those cards to buy liquor or cigarettes. And it would ask people in stores to try to enforce that.  Is that so unreasonable?"

It doesn't sound unreasonable.  Unfortunately, that's not what the bill actually did.  Given your specificity on liquor or cigarettes, I presume you are referring to Louisiana House Bill 95.  That bill reads:

§231.2.1.  Prohibition on use of benefits; exceptions

A.  Notwithstanding any federal law, regulation, or rule to the contrary, the department shall develop and maintain such policies as are necessary to ensure the following:
(1)  That no FITAP assistance is used in any transaction in a gaming establishment or sexually oriented business.
(2)  That no FITAP assistance issued on an electronic benefits transfer card is drawn in the form of cash from an automated teller machine or a retailer.
(3)  That no FITAP assistance is remitted at any retailer for the purchase of any of the following:
(a)  An alcoholic beverage as defined in R.S. 14:93.10(3).
(b)  A tobacco product as defined in R.S. 14:91.6(B).
B.  Nothing in this Subpart shall prohibit the remittance of FITAP assistance for the purpose of obtaining a cashiers check, certified check, or money order

Notice subsection 2.  This bill would have prohibited those on FITAP from getting cash from any ATM machine.  It is not limited to cash machines at strip clubs.  This bill would have meant no cash for any TANF recipient, although they could go buy a money order at a bank, and then trade the money order for cash at a bank.  People on welfare need cash sometimes to take busses, buy food, give their children $5 for their birthday, just like people who aren't on welfare.

Were you just misinformed on this one?  It sounded like you were describing a USA Today article, but that article didn't make the claims you did. 

In Louisiana, a stalled bill would have barred all ATM cash withdrawals with welfare debit cards and use of the cards in strip clubs or to buy liquor or cigarettes.

Michael Medved: "..the message is profoundly dishonest.  You know when he talks about 18 million hard-working American families?  That are going to see their taxes go up under Romney's plan?  It's not that taxes go up. It that you get less of a welfare check.  We have a welfare program that is called the Earned Income Tax Credit, which is not that.  It's a check.  It's sending money to people."

It's actually more than the Earned Income Tax Credit.  It is comprised of three different credits:  

From Politifact:

The American Opportunity Tax Credit raises the maximum education tax credit from $1,800 to $2,500 and it makes the credit partially refundable so low-income people who don’t pay any taxes would still benefit.

The stimulus bill also increased the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income working families from 40 percent to 45 percent. An extension enacted in 2010 increased the maximum credit for families with three or more children from $5,236 to $5,891 in 2011.

The child credit, a tax benefit to offset the cost of raising a child, is a partially refundable credit of up to $1,000 per child. Recent legislation lowered the threshold for qualifying, so that working families with earnings above $3,000 qualify for at least a partial credit.

The Tax Policy Center said Romney’s plan would raise taxes on about 11 percent of  tax filers (or those too poor to file and pay taxes) by an average of about $900 in 2015. With 165 million filers in the U.S., that’s about 18 million people, as Obama said.

As Politifact points out, it is possible to qualify for these credits and still owe taxes, so for those who claim these credits and still owe taxes, this will be a tax increase, not a welfare program.  The commercial stated Romney's tax plan would raise taxes on 18 million people.  It raises taxes on 18 million people.  Therefore, it's not "profoundly dishonest."  If Barack Obama waved a magic wand and removed the home mortgage deduction for people making over $250,000, Republicans would call it a tax increase.  Actually, they would probably call it the largest tax increase in the history of the universe, sadly.  :(

Michael Medved: "The Republican argument is this, Donald.  It is the wrong step, because it won't reduce the deficit.  And by the way, we know this historically. Virtually every time that a tax increase has been passed, the immediate reaction has been increases in spending."

This is untrue.  This has been studied at some length, and Cato found compelling evidence that the opposite is true.  From the Cato study

From the study:

The existing literature uniformly imposes symmetry on revenue effects in expenditure equations. This constraint may bias results toward the conventional tax-spend hypothesis because it is based on simple adherence to a budget constraint. In contrast, the fiscal illusion hypothesis—based on the public’s subjective perceptions of the cost of government spending—is more plausibly associated with asymmetric responses. For example, individuals may be more sensitive to tax increases, seeking to assign blame for those shocks, while tax decreases are more passively accommodated. This may be due to irrationality, but not necessarily. Tax decreases (relative to spending) create future tax liabilities that may or may not be paid during the individual’s lifetime. Tax increases, on the other hand, are realized with certainty. Also, an insensitivity to tax decreases relative to increases is consistent with the loss-aversion hypothesis put forth in the prospect theory of Kahneman and Tversky (1979, 1991).

For advocates of reining in an expanding federal government, the results here do not provide strong support for “starve-the-beast” type of policies. Perhaps counter-intuitively, the findings suggest that tax increases—even temporary—may serve to decrease expenditures by forcing the public to reckon with the cost of government spending. The findings suggest that the electorate has to be clearly presented with the bill to recognize the cost of government, rather than being allowed to run up a tab. 

Bruce Bartlett has also written about this at length:

Unfortunately there is no evidence that the big 1981 tax cut enacted by Reagan did anything whatsoever to restrain spending. Federal outlays rose from 21.7% of GDP in 1980 to 23.5% in 1983, before falling back to 21.3% of GDP by the time he left office.

Rather than view this as refutation of starve the beast theory, however, Republicans concluded that Reagan's true mistake was acquiescing to tax increases almost every year from 1982 to 1988. By the end of his presidency, Reagan signed into law tax increases that took back half the 1981 tax cut. His hand-picked successor, George H.W. Bush, compounded the error, Republicans believe, by supporting a tax increase in 1990.

When Bill Clinton became president in 1993, one of his first acts in office was to push through Congress--with no Republican support--a big tax increase. Starve the beast theory predicted a big increase in spending as a consequence. But in fact, federal outlays fell from 22.1% of GDP in 1992 to 18.2% of GDP by the time Clinton left office.

Although all of evidence of the previous 20 years clearly refuted starve the beast theory, George W. Bush was an enthusiastic supporter, using it to justify liquidation of the budget surpluses he inherited from Clinton on massive tax cuts year after year. Bush called them "a fiscal straightjacket for Congress" that would prevent an increase in spending. Of course nothing of the kind occurred. Spending rose throughout his administration to 20.7% of GDP in 2008.

Michael Medved: "And by the way, nothing about voter suppression?  Why is that?  Because there is no voter suppresion. It's an absurdity.  And the claim that the Legal Defense Fund of the NAACP... They claim that 24% of all African American adults have no form of government ID.  It's ridiculous on its face.  You know that it is.  They know that it is.  And the claim... by the way, if that is true, then the NAACP should drop everything to get people some kind of ID."

Actually, it is true.  The same study found that 8% of white adults did not have some kind of government ID.  There have been several studies on this, and almost all of them found a much larger percentage of blacks without government-issued ID.  You can read about it here at Politifact

That figure came from a national survey taken about six years ago and, far as we could tell, mostly unchallenged since. While other collections of data do not touch on exactly the same point, most indicate that African Americans are less likely than whites to hold varied kinds of government-issued IDs, with percentages of blacks without such ID ranging from nearly 4 percent to more than 26 percent.

From this, we can conclude that voter ID laws will, ipso facto, result in disenfranchisement of a disproportionate number of minorities.  There are many hurdles to overcome for poor and remote citizens before they can get a photo ID.  Texas has 600,000 voters without government ID.  Consider a resident of rural Texas, who lives 176 miles away from the nearest DMV.  This resident is poor, and he does not drive a car.  Last election, he could walk to his local polling location, cast his vote, and get on with his life.  With a voter ID law in place, he will have to come up with $22 for a copy of his birth certificate (this is effectively an illegal poll tax,) send away for it, and then once he has that birth certificate, procure travel for 176 miles and back again, all in a quest to exercise his constitutionally protected right to vote.  

The real question on voter ID laws is - why?  What problem are we trying to solve? What evidence do we have that voter fraud has occurred?  The Bush Justice department led a 5-year investigation intended to clamp down on voter fraud.  By April, 2007, 120 people had been charged, and 86 had been convicted of voter fraud.  Most of those convicted had government-issued ID, but were voting illegally, such as felons who were unaware they were ineligible to vote, or permanent legal residents who were unaware they were ineligible to vote.  

More on this issue here:

So even if the 86 convicted by the 2007 task force disenfranchised 86 others by canceling out rightful votes with fraudulent ones, would that compare to the disenfranchisement of any percentage of 600,000 Texans?  If 1% of Texans could not afford the cost or time it took to get a government ID, 6,000 people would be denied their right to vote, not by shady vote fraudsters, but by the State of Texas.  I don't understand how implementing a system that will guarantee disenfranchisement for thousands is superior to coping with the extremely rare incidence of voter fraud we have today.

I can give you a different motivation for these voter ID laws, Michael.  You have been strident on the issue of appealing to minorities, while many others in the party have been coy on this point.  GOP outreach to minorities is far less now than it was under George W. Bush.  Your argument to Republicans has been - "There is no future for an all white party.  It will go nowhere." I completely agree with you on this.  However, more cynical Republicans are dealing with the problem in another way.  Once they had realized the large percentage of minorities without government ID cards, they saw an easy way to preserve electoral power, and that was by passing laws that create hurdles that affect non-whites disproportionally.

Roland Lindsey
Bellevue, WA