Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Happy D-Day... And By "D" I Mean Devil

So today is the 62nd anniversary of the Norman stormin' that helped bring down the Nazis. Also, it's 6/6/06. What better way to combine the celebration of these two concurrent events than through a violent day of worship? (And why is the dude in the picture blowing a shofar? Is he secretly Jewish?)

Some New Jerseyites found a better way to commemmorate the day.

Good going, wall builders: you're not stopping illegal immigration, just increasing its death toll. Seriously, though, if people are willing to die to get here, do you think that a wall or stricter enforcement is going to stop them?

Estate tax repeal goes before the Senate this week - the House, unsurprisingly, already approved it. I'm not sure I understand the reasons behind repealing the estate tax beyond the obvious ideological ones. Even then, if we're going to cut taxes, I'd much rather see a cutting of the payroll taxes - you know, the ones that disproportionately affect modest-income Americans. The estate tax affects such a mind-bogglingly small percentage of Americans, and the arguments that Republicans tend to trot out regarding it - that family farms and small businesses often have to be sold to pay the taxes upon the owner's death - is a myth: only 13 family farms would face difficulties due to the estate tax, and they're probably not the most viable ones either. But Sebastian Mallaby argues this case better than I would. Here's the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities's numberful take. And here's Jeff Sessions' (R-AL) argument in favor of the repeal. The Seattle Times chips in as well.

Personally, I find it amusing that people out there are trying to get me to feel sorry for multi-millionaires. Boo-hoo, you have to pay taxes on your inheritance. For me, it seems that if someone gets money or assets that they didn't already have, that money or those assets should be taxed.

And speaking of stupidity, Washington state is cracking down on an activity that threatens to destroy mankind once and for all... online poker. It's now a felony, though one that will, by the state's own admission, be lightly enforced. Which raises two questions: 1) why pass a law that you won't enforce? and 2) exactly who is harmed by online gaming to the extent that would justify a law against it?

We should also remember another momentous event whose anniversary we celebrate today... my hole-in-one (8 years ago).

Ah, Vermont.

North of the border, the Mounties always get their man. The rest of the country seems nonplussed. Unlike, say, here. Seriously, right-wingers, stop saying that you're "protecting" marriage. You're restricting it, or at best defining it. The verb "to protect" implies that some sort of danger exists... and if your union with your spouse is threatened by the existence of committed gay and lesbian couples, you need counseling, not a constitutional amendment.

And a final 21-gun ONAF salute to the brave American, Canadian, and British soldiers that stormed those Norman beaches all those years ago.


Ben said...

In defense of bigots, I must say that the common statement (at least by you and Mike) that gay marriage is no threat to individual straight people's marriages misses the point. You're attacking a straw man. Opponents of gay marriage believe they are "protecting" the definition of marriage. They believe this thing we call "marriage" is, by definition, a union between a man and a woman. So they believe calling a male-male or female-female union "marriage" is calling it something its not. It's like if I say beef is meat from a cow and then there's a movement to say meat from pigs should also be called "beef." That would undermine the meaning of the term beef.

I'm not saying I buy that argument, but that's their argument. Nobody, not even the Fallwell types, is actually saying gay marriage will cause more straight marriages to fail. Like I said, you're bashing a straw man.


On an unrelated note, I love how the Center for American Progress has taken to calling the estate tax "The Paris Hilton Tax"

Mike said...

In point of fact, Ben, I've made that exact same point (sans "straw man" reference) on many occasions, usually bashing myself for treating gay marriage like less of a nuanced issue than it really is. Indeed, that's why I have advocated completely removing the government from what is known as "marriage" and calling all unions between two (or more, because who are we to judge?) people as "civil unions". This allows religions to keep their definition of marriage and (I believe) simplifies the debate to the point where those who would then oppose giving gay couples equal legal rights would be outed as bigots.

The argument Jeff and I tend to raise is more targeted toward the inherent hypocrisy of "protecting" straight marriage with divorce rates and infidelity as high as they are. We're attacking the semantics of the argument. As you say, these people are not protecting the institution (that's pretty hosed anyway the way many people seem to treat it these days), they are protecting the definition. That's the point Jeff's raising, and I concur.

Also, on a more surprising note, I think I'm in favor of abolishing the estate tax. I'd be more in favor of it if there were some way to differentiate between money-grubbing heirs (e.g. Paris Hilton) and poor grieving widows who don't still want to be doing paperwork six months after their husband's death.

Mike said...

It suddenly occurs to me that "Mountie" now takes on an entirely new connotation. Or maybe I shouldn't go there.

Ben said...

Poor grieving mega-rich widows in the richest 5%. They have lawyers for doing that sort of thing. I'm still in favor of the estate tax.