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Rachel Maddow

How is the proposed “Buffet Rule” wrong, No Agenda crowd?

Adam Curry was a guest on the latest TWIT and I thought I’d give No Agenda another try. I grabbed ep. 341 and about midway through, Curry and John C. Dvorak are doing their schtick, calling the proposed “Buffet Rule” a “bad idea” for the middle classes (the current capital gains tax allows the very, very wealthy to pay a much lower percentage of their actual income as taxes than the average middle class family of four, who pay a much higher percentage of their income as taxes, through income tax, sales tax, etc.; this will change, slightly, if a “Buffet Rule” can be implemented, legislating a higher minimum cap gains rate – don’t hold your breath).

A couple of problems with this:

1. This is a fact-free critique of the issue; it’s not enough to simply say something is bad, without any other context. Fine, I get that Curry and Dvorak are speaking to their audience, who agree with them by implication, but compare this to Rachel any night of the week; she lays out a factual case why she thinks a given piece of policy or legislation is a bad idea. You may disagree with her sources, you may disagree with the Rachel Maddow Show’s political bent, but context-free criticism of the Right isn’t what she’s doing.

I wish that were happening on No Agenda, because I want to believe that there can be right-of-center independent media and political critique that argues from facts. They’re missing the ball, here.

Is it that Buffet and other billionaires pay more in raw dollars than the (shrinking) middle class? Fine, but flaws in that argument have been dissected by Robert Reich (among others) already. Is it – as both Curry and Dvorak contend, eventually – that the middle class will get “screwed” if cap gains taxes are raised? How? I’m a new listener. Don’t assume everyone coming to the show already agrees with you. Tell me how.

2. They’re both essentially arguing that the subsequent critiques made in favor of changing cap gains are flawed arguments — yes, under capitalism, a theoretical ‘wealthy individual’ opens a factory that employs people, but the roads that they use to move goods from point A to point B are built and maintained on the public’s dime; those same factories get publicly funded fire and police protection; those same factories get the benefit of a literate workforce that can read, write and do basic arithmetic necessary to their work (we’re talking about the bare minimum functional education one needs to be a picker at an Amazon fulfillment, center, say, and not someone who’s paying their own way for an advanced degree at a private university), again all on the public’s dime. 

But the profit taken by the factory owner from that enterprise should be taxed at a lower rate than the wages paid to the workers? Apparently, in the minds of the No Agenda hosts and fanbase, any change to the status quo on cap gains is the most ridiculous idea they’ve ever heard.


Mother Jones Mojoblog on the administration’s gun control efforts

From Mojo: 

The Tucson massacre has prompted gun-control advocates to promote several measures to regulate certain firearms or ammo. But it has not moved the Obama White House to propose any such initiatives. And the White House appears to have no plans to do so.

Well, not to ask the obvious question, but why not? 
As Rachel Maddow’s (Jan 13th show, MP3) been saying since the shootings happened, what the NRA has to say on gun control isn’t the last word in anything. 

Michael Steele on Rachel

It’s late, I can’t sleep and I’m re-watching tonight’s Rachel Maddow show. The interview with outgoing RNC chairman Michael Steele is interesting, but Steele seems to be as blind as ever about his mismanagement of the RNC the last two years. Maddow, god love her, is essentially softballing on the finance irregularities the show’s been reporting on for more than a year.

I suppose it’s asking too much for a reflective Steele to allow that it wasn’t just the power brokers in the party with an agenda against him: some of what went wrong were choices he made. Maddow is usually less willing to let that kind of evasiveness slide.

So, rather than asking Steele on the show to discuss issues that – as Maddow’s own reporting points out really beg some explanation – instead we get half the interview on the fact that Steele didn’t appear on the show. Steele laid the blame at unnamed folks within the party who – Steele says – also forbade him from appearing on his “buddy” Bill Maher’s show.

See? Pretend the last two years of red meat tossed at the party’s base didn’t really happen; Steele’s been a closet moderate all along. No, really. He watches Rachel and everything.

Pretend the incredible disappearing chairman didn’t really happen. Did the same minders forbid Steele from being in front of a camera for the whole election cycle? There’s a ton left just barely unsaid that begs a followup, which, atypically we just didn’t get.

Maddow is usually so spot on with this kind of interview. A bit of a disappointment, this, I’m sorry to say.