Sunday, March 08, 2009


Let me begin by mentioning how relieved I am that this winter is now essentially over in the Washington, D.C. area. Yesterday, we enjoyed 70 degree weather – and this was only five days after a snowstorm. Meteorologists report that highs in the 30s and below are gone for the winter, and today is expected to hit 72. That means that if you’re not from here, please visit! Washington in the spring is beautiful … and it's especially beautiful when the city is run by a President who actually makes us proud instead of ashamed.

Please now indulge a few announcements, one of which is especially gratifying. This past Thursday, my daughter Hannah released her second CD, “Exhale Your Blues.” Hannah is a gifted singer/songwriter whose first CD, “Last Lights on in Town,” was primarily recorded when she was 15 years old and yet was nominated for a Washington Area Music Award in the category of Best Contemporary Folk Album. Her sound has been compared by music critics to that of Suzanne Vega and Natalie Merchant. I should think it would appeal to a wide range of tastes.

Exhale Your Blues demonstrates significant growth on Hannah’s part, both as a songwriter and a singer. She covers a range of topics, from the drudgery of work, to woman abuse, to euthanasia. And yes – there are a few love songs too, but my personal favorite is an ode to a tree. There’s not a weak song on the album, and if you bite the bullet and buy the CD, I can almost guarantee that you will enjoy it. To purchase Exhale Your Blues, sample some of Hannah’s music, or just learn more about her, go to

Next, I’d like to announce that a new essay is available on my website ( The essay can be found on the “Annual Purim Speeches” page under the name “Purim 2009.” The essay is a slightly bulked up version of a speech I delivered last night in front of 50 people, most of whom were Jewish, which calls for Jews and Muslims to commit themselves to a substantive dialogue. I would ask you to read this essay whether or not you are Jewish or Muslim, and especially if you have had little exposure to Islamic teachings. It’s time that educated people stop indulging their own ignorance when it comes to that religion.

Last, but not least, I would like to recommend an Internet cite that single-handedly eviscerates the GOP charge that Barack is using the U.S. tax system to bring about socialism. Go to – or simply Google “highest tax rates in U.S. history” and go to the first cite. You will find there a list of the top U.S. marginal income tax rates from 1913 to the present.

What that document shows is that: in the year 1950, under Republican President Dwight Eisenhower, the top marginal income tax rate consistently exceeded 90%; in the 1970s, under Republican Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, the top marginal income tax rate equaled or exceeded 70%; and in the 1980s, under Republican icon Ronald Reagan, the top marginal income tax rate equaled or exceeded 50% for a period of six years. The chart also shows that under Democratic President Bill Clinton, the top marginal tax rate was never as high as 40%, and it is precisely that sub-40% rate that Barack Obama is attempting to replicate.

From reading that chart, nobody in their right mind would think of Obama as a socialist – particularly when you take into account that our nation is even more economically polarized than it has been in decades. If any recent presidents were to be viewed as socialists, the better candidates would be Republicans like Eisenhower, Nixon or Ford.

The GOP knows damned well that Obama is no more of a socialist than Ronald “50% marginal tax rate” Reagan. Reagan increased federal spending to build up national defense, and Obama will increase spending to pursue a domestic agenda, but that hardly makes either one “red” (or even “pink”). Rather than witnessing a return to socialism, we’re simply witnessing a return to red-baiting.

Republicans like Rush, and the legions of politicians he controls like a mob-boss, should stop claiming to be disciples of Reagan and instead admit their devotion to Joseph McCarthy. He’s the real face of the modern Republican Party – Limbaugh may be its buttocks, but McCarthy is its face.

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