Monday, February 28, 2005
Moynihan To Privatizers: Stop Lying About My Dad!
Pat Moynihan's daughter tells the privatizers: Stop Lying About My Dad!
In recent months, President Bush has continuously invoked my father, Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, as a purported champion of the White House plan to privatize Social Security. As my father is sadly no longer present to explain his views, I read through his writings to set the record straight. There is a fundamental difference between Sen. Moynihan's view of Social Security and that of the White House. My father was committed to honoring the contract the government made with its citizens.
Call Lieberman NOW
Call Joe Lieberman NOW and tell him to stop this "deal" garbage. He should know full well that any attempts to pretty up the Bush privatization plan will be undone the second they hit the House and Tom DeLay.
Lieberman's Contact Info:
Here's the Webform.
Here are the offices:
706 Hart Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
(202) 224-4041 Voice
(202) 224-9750 Fax
One Constitution Plaza
Hartford, CT 06103
(860) 549-8463 Voice
(800) 225-5605 In CT
(860) 549-8478 Fax
(860) 522-8443 TDD
You know what to do. Provide links like this one to back you up.
Turmoil in Virginia GOP
Betcha this doesn't make the national news -- whereas if it were a Democrat going indy, it'd lead every evening newscast.
Republican Sen. H. Russell Potts announced his independent candidacy for governor yesterday, denying that he is running as a spoiler and pledging to reinstate the car tax. Potts' candidacy could attract similarly moderate Republicans who otherwise would vote for the likely GOP nominee, former Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore, but he said that is not his goal. Democratic Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine also is running in the November general election. "Anybody that knows me knows I'm running to win," Potts, 65, said at a Virginia Capitol news conference. "And we only have to get to 34 percent." Potts supported last year's $1.4 billion tax increase and has used his chairmanship of the Education and Health Committee to help thwart abortion restrictions backed by GOP conservatives. He said the GOP has drifted too far the right for a "middle-of-the-road" state like Virginia but insisted that he is not abandoning the party.He didn't abandon the party -- they abandoned him. Nice to have either a Democrat or a sane Independent picking out new Senators in Virginia, should either George Allen or John Warner be appointed to a BushCo post, or resign before they can be impeached, or be otherwise incapacitated.
The Fifty-State Strategy
The Doctor Is In! And he's winning over Kansans. Next stop: Mississippi! (And to judge from his pre-visit comments, he's already kicking Haley Barbour's ass to the curb.) When Howard Dean said he was going to run a fifty-state strategy, he wasn't blowing smoke.
Another Day, Another Car Bomb In Iraq
But the GOP/Media promised that stuff like this would all stop after the Iraqi elections! (But of course, we won't care so long as it's only Iraqis that die.) Meanwhile, River over at Baghdad Burning is watching helplessly as the freedoms she had under Saddam are taken away from her. A lot of Western feminists are afraid of BushCo's implementing The Handmaid's Tale? It's already happening, in once-secular-ruled Iraq. So let's see: -- Bush said Iraq still had WMD left over from what Reagan and Bush's daddy gave Saddam. That was a lie. -- Bush then said that, well, shucks, at least we shut down Saddam's Abu Ghraib and the rape rooms. That was also a lie -- we just took them over. -- Finally, Bush said that, well, shucks, at least the Iraqi people are now much better off and freer now than they were three years ago. As River shows, that's also a lie. (We're not even counting the tens of thousands of Iraqis who are now dead because of Bush.) Oh, and our armed forces are at full stretch, we're running gobs of red ink, we're going to lose our 1500th dead soldier sometime today, all while Bush's Halliburton buddies profit obscenely. Now, tell me again what was gained from all of this?
Poor widdle BushCo fascists are having hissy fits over that mean Negro picking on them at the Oscars. Boo hoo hoo. My only complaint is that Chris Rock should have known that even the mildest criticism of Holy Bush will be punished, so he shouldn't have bothered with the obvious attempt to placate the righties with favorable mentions of The Passion. But the beginning was dead-on funny -- and true. (This USA Today piece has most of them, but not the best one and the one that pissed off Bush the most:
"A lot of people like to bash Bush – I’m not going to bash Bush tonight. I think Bush is a genius. Cause Bush basically re-applied for his job this year. Now, can you imagine applying for a job, and while you’re applying for the job, there was a movie playing in every theatre in the country that shows how much you suck at that job? It’d be hard to get hired, wouldn’t it?"Somewhere, Michael Moore is laughing his ass off. This just guaranteed another uptick in DVD sales for Fahrenheit 9/11. What's so silly is that the Bush people have apparently forgot the old rule: Don't call attention to things you don't want people to see. Because of BushCo's freak-out, now we'll probably see that bit of Rock's monologue again on the various news shows throughout the day today. Not what BushCo intended, I'm sure. Oh, and the Limbaugh/Hannity crowd are also upset that their efforts to strongarm the Academy backfired. I'm betting that The Aviator would have won if not for the wingnuts' attempts to punish Clint Eastwood for Million Dollar Baby. Awwwww. Schweeeet!
Scratch A Republican, Find A Racist, Part Five
Steven (4.00 / 4) I haven't been able to get my hands on a copy of the book yet, but I'm a big Alt-Hist geek so it's only a matter of time. I've been told by folks on one of the online forums that DC Stephenson as the VP to Lindbergh. We had a big blow up a few years back here in Indiana about having the painting of Gov.Ed Jackson up in the Statehouse gallery featuring all the ex govs. Eventually they had to take down the painting. Many people have forgotten, but in the 1920's the Klan rose again, and they controlled the state government of many states, well out of the South. Indiana, Colorado, Oregon all had governments throughouhly infiltrated by the Klan. In Indiana, the Klan was particularly taliban-like, and without the being discredited by their leaders rape and murder of Madge Oberholtzer (A movement predicated upon protecting the virtue of white women, suffers whe it's leader rapes and kills one.), it's disturbing to think what might have come to pass. The Republican party has tried to pretend that past Klan activity was solely something done by Southern Democrats, yet outside the south the Klan was largely Republican. In Indiana the Klan had signed loyatly oaths from many, many politicians. While I was googling around I also came across some stuff about a group called the Black Legion that comitted attacked "Socialists and Communists", and had a political wing, the Wolverine Republican Club: The Legion targeted blacks, Jews and Catholics with a message of hate but also considered welfare workers and recipients as well as union organizers of all races, colors and creeds to be an enemy. by ManfromMiddletown on Sun Feb 27th, 2005 at 12:08:45 PSTI'd always suspected that the Republicans had stopped being The Party Of Lincoln well before the "Southern Strategy" was officially launched. Nice to have some proof of that.
Sunday, February 27, 2005
Count Chocula And The Law Of Unintended Results
LOGANSPORT, Ind. -- U.S. Rep. Chris Chocola's bar graph showing Social Security's growing red ink over the next 75 years did not have its intended effect at a recent town hall meeting. When Chocola, R-Ind., asked Cass County residents what they thought Washington should do about the fact that the program will not collect enough in taxes to pay out all its promised benefits to retirees, the answers were not what he -- or President Bush -- would like to hear. One man called for rolling back the tax cuts Bush enacted. Several women said the United States should stop spending so much on wars and disaster aid in other countries. Others argued that if U.S. companies stopped moving jobs overseas, there would be more workers paying into the Social Security system. As for Bush's main proposal -- allowing younger workers to divert some of their Social Security taxes into personal investment accounts -- the applause came when Camden resident Pete Wagoner told Chocola: It's the entirely wrong way to go.Blammo. Oh, and while Count Chocula now says he never was for privatization, we know better. Josh Marshall has the goods on him.
Goldberg vs. Cox: The Rematch
Poor Christopher Cox. He must have been getting slagged by constituent phone calls and e-mails after Michelle Goldberg's Salon article on CPAC came out. (You remember that one? Got blogged all over the blogosphere. It featured supremely bizarre quotes by Representative Cox.) I say he must have been getting slagged by his homies, because otherwise he wouldn't have made the fatal mistake of trying to respond to the article. Ms. Goldberg's reply -- complete with a Media Matters cite -- just wipes the floor with him. First Law of Holes, Chris: When you're in one, stop digging.
You're A Blogger, Bob. Get Over It.
If you've been following The Daily Howler lately, you've probably noticed that Bob Somerby, bless his heart, is getting a mite tetchy about those upstart lefty bloggers, some of whom have been moving in on his territory. (And one of those bloggers is associated with the fine media watchdog group Media Matters.) To that end, he's been ripping them up one side and down the other, most recently for their pursuit of two stories: The Bush Orwellian Newspeak Angle, wherein the use of the word "privatization" was banned in favor of first "private accounts", then "personal accounts"; and the Jim "Jeff Gannon" Guckert story. Let's set aside the fact that he's wrong to blow off the Jeff Gannon story. (For one thing, Bob, "Gannon"'s bogus stories were used by right-wing South Dakota operatives to attack the leading South Dakota newspaper and to help bring down Tom Daschle; for another, Gannon/Guckert was one of the shills paid to pimp privatization -- that's how we unmasked him in the first place). And let's ignore the fact that despite Bob's protestations, the words Bush uses to describe privatization DO matter. (See, Bob, the Republicans and their allies have since at least 2002 banned the use of the P-word so that they can claim to be against "privatization" but for "private" or "personal accounts" -- which are the same damned thing as privatization. Why is that so hard for you to figure out? Is it because you didn't think of it?) Let's set all of that aside for a moment. Sit down, Bob, because this is going to shock you. The fact is, Bob, that according to the lights of a lot of people, and the accepted definitions of the blogosphere, You. Are. A. Blogger. Shall I repeat that? You. Are. A. Blogger. You write periodic pieces for your own website. Guess what? That makes you a blogger. Now, according to my definition, you're not, since you don't allow comments on your pieces on your website. The true heart of bloggery, in my opinion, is the interaction between the blogger and the blog's readers. Someone like Atrios can post something at ten o'clock in the morning, get feedback at ten-fifteen that corrects it, and he'll then fix the post at ten-forty-five -- but make it an obvious fix, and credit the commenter who corrected him. But I'm not the rest of the blogosphere, so guess what, Bob? You're a blogger. Get over it.
Spreading Democracy Everywhere
Saturday, February 26, 2005
Did You Know That Radio Free Europe Still Exists?
What's more, it has a website, and pretty decent news articles: This one's on the fact that 2004 was one of the deadliest years for journalists. (Ann Coulter will be cheering that when she hears about it.) This one's about the dollar's losing favor among banks around the world. This one's about China's overtaking the US as the world's biggest consumer of resources. Now if only they'd beam in broadcasts to America.
So Much For Trying To Buy Them Off
Looks like trying to buy off the Iraqi resistance isn't working all that well. Not at all. Four blown pipelines in two weeks, several dead Iraqis and Americans (including an Iraqi anchorwoman for a US-run TV station, and sabotage has blocked access to a major oil shipping port. What was that again about flowers and candy, Ahmad?
The Kids Are Alright
Today's StarTribune has a story on a group of troubled teens at a Minnesota high school and how they came to make an excellent, unflinching film looking at the Iraq war from the soldier's perspective. Meanwhile, in the opinion pages, we find a commentary by a guy who wails that Hunter S. Thompson won't have anyone to follow his path. Wrong, dude. Hunter, who himself was a juvenile delinquent who had a few key teachers helping him, would have approved of these youngsters. The kids -- these kids, at any rate -- are alright.
If You Haven't Done So Already...
...go check out AmericaBlog, the go-to guys on Gannon/GuckertGate.
Bush Holding Secret Talks With Iraqi Resistance Leaders
Per David Ware in Time magazine, courtesy of TruthOut. I'm hoping that this is where many of the billions that have vanished (more on this here, too) during the US occupation have gone, into bribes intended to keep the resistance leaders from shooting too much at us. (This at least would be better than where most of the missing billions probably went, which would be the back pockets of the Bush-approved carpetbaggers that flooded Iraq in the wake of the invasion.) Meanwhile, as even the pro-GOP publication Capitol Hill Blue admits, Bush's Iraq "coalition partners" are running away as fast as they can. This is probably why Bush is suddenly more willing to at least talk to the Iraqi resistance leaders. It's either that or face having to spring a full-blown official draft, as opposed to the current backdoor one, on the American people in time for the 2006 midterms.
The "Seven Years" Lie: The GOP Privatizers' Newest Weapon
Josh Marshall debunks the GOP privatizers' latest bullshit, the "Seven Years" scam. As he says, be prepared to see this crap being flung about on all of the Sabbath Gasbags' shows tomorrow -- so get your letters and comments out to the media now. And remember, this assumes the numbers Josh cites from SSA and the extremely pessimistic projections being used by the Social Security trustees are correct. As Roger Lowenstein noted in a recent New York Times magazine:
... David Langer, an independent actuary who made a study of Social Security's previous projections compared with the actual results in 2003, thinks the ''optimistic'' case is its most accurate. Over a recent 10-year span, the trustees' intermediate guesses turned out to be quite pessimistic. Its optimistic guesses were dead on, and its pessimistic case -- sort of a doomsday situation -- was wildly inaccurate. And, contrary to widespread belief, recent demographic trends have been modestly better (from an actuary's gloomy standpoint) than anticipated. For instance, longevity hasn't increased as much as expected. Partly as a result, since 1997 the agency has pushed back, by 13 years, the date at which it projects its reserves will be exhausted. In other words, as the cries of impending doom started to crescendo, the guardians of the system have grown more optimistic.And as Dr. Irwin Kellner of MarketWatch notes, the trustees' projections predict growth rates over the next seventy-five years to average out to only 1.9% per year -- barely half what they've actually been (3.6%) over the past seventy-five years. (Years that include the Great Depression.) Dr. Kellner goes on to mention that a slightly higher growth rate of 2.7% per year -- still lower than the 3.6% of the last seventy-five years, but far more likely than the trustees' 1.9% -- would guarantee that Social Security would never run out of money, ever. But, as we already know, the privatizers and their legislative allies are allergic to facts, and not above stretching, if not outright breaking, the truth.
Friday, February 25, 2005
Tom Ridge and Home Depot: The Thing Unmentioned
I see that former Secretary of
Symbolism and Scary Poll-Manipulating Propaganda Homeland Security Tom Ridge has been invited by Home Depot to join its board of directors.
Ironically enough, the news does not seem to have done much for Home Depot's stock price:
In trading Thursday, Home Depot shares fell 9 cents to $39.66 on the New York Stock Exchange. The company's stock has traded in a 52-week range of $32.34 to $44.30.What's most interesting about this story is the one thing that none of the articles I've so far seen on it have mentioned: The fact that Home Depot is one of George W. Bush's biggest backers.
Sibel Edmonds Getting Her Day In Court -- Finally
Got this in my e-mail today from the Institute for Public Accuracy:
11:30 a.m. ET -- Wednesday, February 23, 2005 Major Developments in 9/11 Whistleblower Case There are major developments in the case of Sibel Edmonds, a government whistleblower who has stated that prior to 9/11, in April 2001, the U.S. government had information about plans for airplanes to be used on suicide missions in U.S. cities in the coming months. Her statements contradict what administration officials told the 9/11 Commission in public testimony. Edmonds has also charged that the FBI has been compromised in various ways and that her raising these issues led to her dismissal. The Washington Post reports today on a case pertaining to Edmonds brought by the Project On Government Oversight: "The Justice Department has backed away from a court battle over its authority to classify and restrict the discussion of information it has already released, handing a local advocacy group a victory by granting it explicit permission to publish letters written by two senators that contain the contested information."
Alex Rodriguez Is Underpaid
No, not the baseball player. The guy working to save our democracy, by fighting the GOP's minions in Ohio. Help him out. Click here.
This Didn't Surprise Me In The Least
Josh Marshall reports that one of the Social Security Trustees has been bought off by the Bushies. Coming on top of the news that Bush made SSA spend 1.8 million dollars to pimp privatization, this shouldn't surprise anyone. Though really, the trustees have probably been in the privatizers' hip pocket for years. Just consider how unrealistically pessimistic -- and inaccurate -- the trustees' predictions have turned out to be:
... David Langer, an independent actuary who made a study of Social Security's previous projections compared with the actual results in 2003, thinks the ''optimistic'' case is its most accurate. Over a recent 10-year span, the trustees' intermediate guesses turned out to be quite pessimistic. Its optimistic guesses were dead on, and its pessimistic case -- sort of a doomsday situation -- was wildly inaccurate. And, contrary to widespread belief, recent demographic trends have been modestly better (from an actuary's gloomy standpoint) than anticipated. For instance, longevity hasn't increased as much as expected. Partly as a result, since 1997 the agency has pushed back, by 13 years, the date at which it projects its reserves will be exhausted. In other words, as the cries of impending doom started to crescendo, the guardians of the system have grown more optimistic.
Al Franken Plays Political Judo
Good for Al Franken! He's doing political judo, turning a political negative -- the fact that he's obviously Jewish while Norm Coleman is not, in a state with a long history of latent (if not blatant) anti-Semitism -- into a positive: >Feigning astonishment to hear that DFL candidates made gains in 2004 by stressing basic issues like education and health-care, liberal talk-radio host Al Franken blew in from New York City and entertained the DFL House caucus on a surprise visit Thursday. Franken recently took himself out of consideration for a 2006 Senate race but he's been telling his national listeners that he might establish residency in Minnesota soon and might be interested in running against Republican Sen. Norm Coleman in 2008, saying the he would be "the only New York Jew in the race who grew up in Minnesota." Ba-da-bing! The real beauty of this is that even if Franken doesn't run, comments like these will serve to remind the anti-Semitic contingent of the Minnesota Republican voting community that Norm Coleman isn't Irish like they thought he was. I know, I know: A lot of you readers that are shocked that Minnesota, a state with a very liberal reputation, could have been a hotbed of anti-Jewish sentiment in the recent past, and still have enough residual anti-Semitism to influence elections. But believe me, it's so. In 1990, Paul Wellstone challenged Rudy Boschwitz for Boschwitz' Senate seat. Boschwitz had a six-to-one money advantage, and was widely expected to crush the upstart Wellstone. But in the last weeks of the campaign, after having ignored Wellstone publicly for months and when he had a comfortable lead over the Democrat, Boschwitz suddenly pulled a truly stupid move: He, writing both as a Senator and as an observant Jew, wrote a letter to various prominent religiously-observant Minnesota Jews in which he attacked Wellstone for marrying outside the Jewish faith and allegedly not raising his children as Jews. This backfired in two ways. The first one has been well-publicized: Instead of turning the Jewish community against Wellstone, they rallied around him. The second effect was never mentioned in the local media, but it existed nonetheless. See, Rudy Boschwitz, unlike Paul Wellstone, was more outwardly "assimilated" -- that is, he didn't "look like a Jew", while Wellstone did. He habitually wore plaid flannel shirts and jeans for that folksy look that most Minnesotans didn't normally associate with "East Coast" Jews. This enabled him to fool a large chunk of the Minnesota GOP's notoriously racist and anti-Semitic (not to mention stupid) base, which is what got him elected in the first place. But when the letter came out, suddenly a lot of Minnesota Republicans -- including my own dear racist great-aunt -- were saying in shocked tones: "I didn't know Rudy Boschwitz was Jewish!" And quite a few of those voters, normally among the most reliable voters in the Minnesota Republican Party, found themselves staying home on Election Day. These two effects, taken together, erased Boschwitz' double-digit lead and gave it to Wellstone, which gave him the victory. Fast-forward fifteen years, to a similar situation. Norm Coleman is even more "assimilated" than Rudy Boschwitz, and he intends to stay that way. The chief Democratic opponent is a fellow Jew who does not try to hide his Jewishness. But Franken knows that Coleman won't risk invoking the second effect, so Al does it for him. That's political judo.
Thursday, February 24, 2005
Remember The Other Thing For Which ChoicePoint Is Infamous?
Our old friend ChoicePoint is in the news again, this time for selling the personal information of 140,000 people to identity thieves. ChoicePoint's last big "oops" didn't get quite the coverage that this one got, though it was arguably far more serious: Their wrongful blacklisting of hundreds of thousands of eligible Florida voters -- most of whom were Democrats -- threw Florida's electoral votes, and the 2000 election, to George W. Bush. And I have yet to see one major media outlet mention this old scandal in the wake of the new one this week.
Bush Wants Us All To Be In Hock To His Banker And Broker Buddies
In These Times' Susan J. Douglas explains how Bush intends to arrange this -- and how his plan to destroy Social Security is part of this.
TruthOut's "Dead Messengers" Series On Journalists In Iraq
Guess what? CNN's Eason Jordan was a) misinterpreted, and b) very likely right, according to TruthOut's Steve Weissmann. Check it out.
Le Figaro: World Money Markets Ready To Dump Dollar
Thanks to TruthOut, we have an English translation of a Le Figaro article by Philipe Reclus that would otherwise not be read by 99.999% of Americans, but is far more important than anything they would be seeing on the nightly news:
A rumor, refuted several hours later, was enough to raise a fever on the foreign exchange planet. By allowing the idea to gain currency that it could reduce its dollar reserves, the Central Bank of South Korea has just provoked a good shake-up on the foreign exchange markets. In itself, the episode could be considered purely marginal. In the background, the spectacular plunge in the greenback this rumor occasioned resonates like a brutal revelation. For those who were in doubt, it came to say that the period of calm observed in the markets since the beginning of the year was only a parenthesis. A remission. Far from having killed their old demons, trading rooms have, in fact, spent two months with their weapons loaded and at the ready while they waited to understand Bush Administration declarations of intention on the political economic front. The pause is over. The feverishness currency traders have demonstrated the last few days with regard to the dollar confirms the end of the truce. The same phenomenon reveals their doubts about the White House commitment to restore order to an American economy that, with its abysmal budgetary and trade deficits, puts the equilibrium of the entire global economy in danger. [...] This warning shot intervenes at the very moment George W. Bush is visiting Europe. Given their divisions, Europeans, moreover, have few resources and little legitimacy with which to induce their American partner to wrestle down its financial problems. Unless they should demonstrate their own determination to make their own economies more competitive, to be in a better position to confront the great disorder in the currency markets. And to play a full role in the dialogue of the big world economies in which Asia weighs ever more heavily opposite the American giant. On these conditions, Europe will be able to participate in rather than submit to what, on the level of currencies, is also a competition for global leadership.Reclus is wrong about one thing: The billionaire tax cuts have not -- yet -- been made permanent. But everything else he mentions is spot-on.
Scratch A Republican, Find A Liar
I love dealing with lying Republican troll types. They think they're being so clever when they spew lies -- they figure that since Bush never gets called on his lies, they won't, either. More proof of this came to me in the comments thread for a post I did a few days ago. Yes, the "Anonymous" who posted twice in five minutes is the same guy. Poor idiot thought he could fool with that, too. (And no, the comments he "quoted" are not to be found anywhere online except in his posts in that comments thread.) Oh, almost forgot: Sarah McClendon, the lady that Idiot Boy was smearing, would go after Democrats as fiercely as Republicans -- which is how she got a nicely respectful mention on, of all places, FreeRepublic.com, whose denizens normally hate any real journalists.
Out-Of-State Gay Couples Suing To Have 1913 Anti-Race-Mixing Law Overturned
From the Boston Herald:
The Supreme Judicial Court has decided to take up the issue of whether out-of-state same-sex couples should be allowed to come to Massachusetts to be married despite a 1913 state law currently stopping them. The law, which makes it illegal to perform marriages in Massachusetts for couples who cannot legally marry in their own state, was not enforced for many years until the SJC's historic November 2003 Goodridge decision, which said it was unconstitutional in this state to ban gay marriage.What the article doesn't mention is that the 1913 law was originally intended to keep black and white couples from going to Massachusetts to get married, and should have been stricken from the books decades ago. The Republicans under Governor Mitt Romney are using a racist law to uphold homophobia.
Earth to Washington State GOP: Put Up Or Shut Up
These people never give up. They allege that they have "proof" of "1000 voting felons" in the Washington State governor's race. But when challenged to prove their assertions, they suddenly back down. That's the way it always is: Bullies think they're so tough, but when somebody forces them to get real, they run away like the cowards they are.
The War On Grandma
In my fine tradition of stealing from other bloggers rather than creating content of my own, here's Desert Rat's excellent piece on Republican Newspeak as it pertains to Social Security.
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Big Oil To Bush: We Don't Want ANWR Any More
So Bush wants to drill into ANWR -- even though his oil-company buddies now say he shouldn't. And he wants to run up over $10 trillion of new debt so he can destroy Social Security by claiming to "save" it via privatization -- even though when he last tried this stunt as a candidate in 2000, it cut his numbers in retiree-rich Florida so badly that Jeb almost wasn't able to steal the state for him. And he invaded Iraq even though every non-PNAC (and therefore non-Chalabi-duped) military and diplomatic expert was telling him not to do it. I think I see a pattern here.
Big Oil Steps Aside in Battle over Arctic
By Jeff Gerth The New York Times Monday 21 February 2005 Washington - George W. Bush first proposed drilling for oil in a small part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska in 2000, after oil industry experts helped his presidential campaign develop an energy plan. Five years later, he is pushing the proposal again, saying the nation urgently needs to increase domestic production. But if Mr. Bush's drilling plan passes in Congress after what is expected to be a fierce fight, it may prove to be a triumph of politics over geology. Once allied, the administration and the oil industry are now far apart on the issue. The major oil companies are largely uninterested in drilling in the refuge, skeptical about the potential there. Even the plan's most optimistic backers agree that any oil from the refuge would meet only a tiny fraction of America's needs.
BBC: US Overlords Steal $9 Billion from Iraq
Thanks to WSWS for steering me to this BBC story:
Iraq reconstruction funds missing The missing $8.8bn is more than 40% of Iraq's oil revenues Almost $9bn (£4.7bn) of Iraqi oil revenue is missing from a fund set up to reconstruct the country. The BBC's File On 4 programme has learnt that out of over $20bn raised in oil revenues during US-led rule, the use of $8.8bn is unaccounted for. US government auditors criticise the Coalition Provisional Authority for failing to manage the money properly. In one case, auditors say the key to a safe holding millions of dollars was kept in an open backpack in an office. [...] Even allowing for the chaos in the aftermath of war, the auditors still believe the management of the money should have been a great deal tighter. An earlier auditors' report from last year revealed evidence of wholesale carelessness with large amounts of cash. On one occasion, $1.4bn had to be transported to a bank in three helicopters, as it weighed 14 tons, but no deposit slip was obtained when it was paid in. The CPA has also come under attack for failing to prevent widespread fraud. One US company is accused of massively inflating its profits by setting up sham companies to send fake invoices which the coalition paid. Others are alleged to have demanded dubious commissions which then came out of Iraqi funds. Even some Coalition officials are said to have openly demanded bribes of up to $300,000 in cash. File On 4 reporter Gerry Northam explained: "Many Iraqis are angry at the way the Coalition handled funds, particularly the money from their own oil, and especially where inexplicable amounts ended up in the hands of foreign businesses." [...]Gee, this is way more money than was probably involved in the "Oil-for-Food Scandal". I wonder why FOX News (or any other American TV network) hasn't been trumpeting this day and night? Heh. Do I really have to ask?
Make Steve Forbes' Head Explode
popinque - 03:54 pm Pacific Time - Feb 21, 2005 - #1068 of 1119 Want to argue for raising the cap? Demand a flat tax for Social Security. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Beth Meacham - 09:46 am Pacific Time - Feb 22, 2005 - #1087 of 1119 Amazing, isn't it? I do think that Democrats and Progressives could get someplace in the paradigm wars by calling for Social Security to be funded by a true flat tax. Even modify it by calling for a flat tax on all wages. (BOOKMARK) - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - MECowan - 09:49 am Pacific Time - Feb 22, 2005 - #1088 of 1119 =I do think that Democrats and Progressives could get someplace in the paradigm wars by calling for Social Security to be funded by a true flat tax. Even modify it by calling for a flat tax on all wages. = I think calling it a "flat tax" would be brilliant framing. It'd be worth it just to make Steve Forbes' head explode. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Beth Meacham - 09:55 am Pacific Time - Feb 22, 2005 - #1089 of 1119 I think I'd like to see an analysis of what would happen if FICA was reformed to cut taxes to a flat 5% on all wages.I love this idea! (The wingies would never go for it, which is why we should push it.)
NYT on "Passing Private Accounts on to Your Kids"
Under the president's proposal, when you retired, your traditional Social Security retirement benefit would be cut by an amount equal to all the deposits you had made into your private account plus interest. (The interest would be three percentage points higher than the rate of inflation.) The benefit cut would be each person's contribution to repaying the huge debt the Bush administration would take on to "pay for" privatization. But if you died before you retired, you would have already used some of that borrowed money to set up the private account and yet would never have made any contribution to repaying the debt. So in that case, how would the government recoup your share of the amount it had borrowed? Well, it could let your share of the debt go unpaid - in effect bequeathing to your heirs and their fellow citizens ever-higher deficits. Or your spouse could inherit your private account and the benefit cut that went with it. Or the government could take its cut from your private account before the money went to your survivors - a grab that could wipe out your stash. The White House would hotly deny that the last alternative could happen. Nothing freaks out the Bush administration more than the suggestion that the government would ever tap someone's private account - even for money that is owed to the government. It doesn't, however, seem too bothered about gutting your traditional benefits. Go figure.
NYRB: Krugman Hits Another Home Run
Check it out. Yes, it's going up on the sidebar. He debunks a right-wing privatization tome before the wingnuts can add the tome to their arsenal.
You Might Not Be A Journalist If....
Francis Volpe, discussing Gannon/Guckert, channels Jeff Foxworthy:
I'm sure the administration would prefer it not be represented in its future propaganda endeavors by any more HotMilitaryStuds.com. So perhaps they might want to adopt a more thorough screening process of the kind advocated by that noted media critic Jeff Foxworthy: "You might not be a journalist if..." • … all your biggest stories are about you instead of by you. • … you submit White House press releases as original stories. That was typical of Gannon's M.O., although you can't check for yourself anymore — Talon News has scrubbed all of Gannon's "work" off its site. • … you have a secret life. You won't have the secret for long, and a big enough secret might just cost you your career once revealed. Ask Jayson Blair and Jack Kelley. • … you get paid $200 an hour or $1,200 a weekend, the rates listed in Gannon's online escort ads. You certainly wouldn't be a print journalist, I can assure you from experience.
The GOP's Fight Against AARP
So far, AARP seems to be winning. The silly USA Next ad got yanked from the American Spectator's website. That should tell you something. (First off, the "Swift Boat" lie ads were launched not on a tiny right-wing mag, but on mainstream network and cable TV. Second off, they weren't yanked after a day -- they stayed on the air nationwide for months, right up into November. If USA Next can't keep its crappy ads running for twenty-four hours on a privatization-friendly GOP mag's website, you know that they weren't going over well among the target market.) By the way, AARP is mobilizing its membership for the fight -- and some of the members have already taken action on their own.
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
Hey, Joementum! Read This
Josh Marshall wonders about possible deal-cutting Democrats on Social Security. What's the point? Let's imagine that Lindsey Graham and, say, Senator Snoe Snieberman manage to hammer out some sort of compromise bill that even I would find almost reasonable. If there's anything reasonable in it, those reasonable parts won't actually appear in the House version of the bill. So, it'll go to conference, where the White House and DeLay's goons will just turn it into the bill they want. There's no reason for any Democrat to take this course for strategic political purposes. They can win this issue in all 50 states if they have any sense. And, there's no way anything approach sensible will emerge from conference, no matter what lovely deal they manage to strike with Graham in the Senate.Silly and cowed Democrats (as well as some faux-Democrats) say that with the GOP's big leads in the House and Senate that we must compromise. As Atrios points out, compromise and "bipartisanship" gets us diddly. (Look at how Bush is siccing his goon squads after the AARP, even though AARP did him a huge favor last year by backing the Medicare bill.) Better to make sure bad bills don't get on the House or Senate floor in the first place, than to make all sorts of "compromise" changes that DeLay will just undo anyway. And c'mon: This is one issue where for once we have the upper hand from the start, and for very good reasons. Why give that away, when giving it away doesn't help us or America?
Will The Trustees Lie For Bush?
I usually assume that most of my visitors are also Eschaton readers, but just in case this isn't so: Atrios makes a good point here (as usual):
Within a month or so, the SSA Trustees will release their latest annual report on the health and wealth of the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) Trust Funds. Journalists who will be given the unenviable task of sifting through it need to understand that the important question is not actually going to be what the updated report says about the solvency date, but preicsely what inputs into the model changed between 2004 and 2005. Let's imagine that the report offers no change on the solvency date - currently 2042. The important question will be why is there no change? For example, a rather important number is assumed productivity growth. Last year they assumed productivity growth in 2004 would be 2.7%. It was, in fact, 4.1%. All else equal, that would presumably push the solvency date out a bit. With such a number, probably all of the "new information" - that is the actual numbers from 2004 - will also push in the direction of a later solvency date, though not necessarily. So, if the solvency date is either not pushed out farther, or if it remains the same, there's going to be a pretty good chance that the reason is that they've tweaked some of their assumptions. That's the story...Shorter Atrios: Since productivity growth was almost twice what they said it would be (not surprising, since to get the 2042 date in the first place they assumed that the US would be in Great-Depression-like conditions for the next 75 years), this means that the 2042 date will be pushed back -- and if it isn't pushed back, that's proof they're cooking the books to help Bush pitch his gloom-and-doom scenarios.
States And Privatization: Been There, Done That, It Sucks
Their new strategy is "Well, something's gotta be done!!! Why don't you evil do-nothing Democrats get a PLAN before you attack Our Dear Leader?!?!?"
Of course, we have several sensible plans -- the latest one being Minnesota Congressman Martin Sabo's -- but Bush refuses to pay attention to them, because they don't involve destroying Social Security and our benefits.
Meanwhile, the Republicans have been reduced to playing verbal shell games: They refuse to say "privatization", and instead use "personal accounts" or "private accounts". This way, they can falsely claim to be against "privatization" but FOR "personal accounts".
However, too many state governments have tried "personal accounts" already for this gambit to work. Renaming privatization won't make it stink any less.
A Republican Talks Honestly About Howard Dean
His message to the RNC: Be afraid. Be very afraid.
...Dean's appeal doesn't lie primarily in the fact that he's a great speaker (although he is) but in the fact that he's a great listener. Grass-roots activists in both parties have been so starved for attention and support during the past 20 years that they will flock to the first person who promises to listen and do what he can to support them. And that, more than anything else, was the message that Dean took to the party faithful in his campaign for the party chairmanship: He's there for them, not for the insiders, not for the professionals, and certainly not for the consultants. Dean will be there for the hardworking activists who make up the rank and file. Contrast this to the state of the Republican base right now. No less a figure than Rush Limbaugh is warning the president that he faces a mutiny if he and the Republican Congress don't control spending and protect the borders, the two top concerns of the GOP rank and file. In fact, if Republican leadership fails here, the GOP will have bigger problems than Howard Dean. Now more than ever, the Republican Party needs to toss its heavy-handed, top-down management style overboard and rejuvenate its grass-roots parties. Howard Dean already has.But of course, the Republican Party is all about top-down management. They simply cannot do what Howard Dean is doing. They would slit their own throats first. Come to think of it, they're working on doing just that.
GOP's Privatization Strategy: Three-Card Monte With Words
Remember, 'personal accounts' is the current Rove-and-Cato-and-Heritage-Approved euphemism for privatization.
Leave it to a goof like Sen. Norm Coleman (R) of Minnesota not only to use the GOP 'privatization' playbook but to describe it on the record.
Explaining how he dealt with criticism that he supported privatization: "I countered it by being very clear that I supported personal accounts and opposed privatization."
Monday, February 21, 2005
Louise Slaughter Is News -- Except To The Corporate GOP-Run Dailies in Her District
Check it out. You'd think that these papers would care that their elected representative is making history right now. Oops, I forgot -- she's in the wrong party, so they have to ignore her.
Moronic Privatizers Using The Wookie Defense To Attack AARP
The "Swift Boat" liar advisors now working with the GOP privatization astroturf group USA Next have fired their first shot -- and it's the most unintentionally hilarious thing I've seen in ages. Will it work to fool some AARP members into leaving the group? I sincerely doubt it. To judge from the angry comments here, the AARP members are not fooled one bit -- and are already making countermeasures. For one thing, it has nothing to do with Social Security. Nothing. It's as if the USA Next/Swift Boat advisor clowns watched the Wookie Defense on South Park and took it seriously as a propaganda tactic. For another, they floated it in a conservative mag's website, not somewhere where the general public would be likely to see it. This way, they avoid having the "unprepared minds" see their strangeness, but it also means that we have been given a few days' head start on lampooning it and ripping it to shreds. (The first lampoon has already been posted at Kos. It's now been joined by this one, with others to follow.) These right-wing nutjobs are choking to death on their own hubris, and not a moment too soon.
Why I Love Howard Dean, Reason # 3459038450
Because he kicked the Prince of Darkness' butt to the curb in Portland last week:
In his new role as chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Dean has stressed that Democrats are stronger than Republicans on defense. “Defense is a lot broader than swaggering around saying you’re going to kick Saddam’s butt,” Dean said Thursday, drawing cheers from the crowd in this city that overwhelmingly voted Democratic last November. Perle said the war in Iraq was justified based on the intelligence available at the time. “Sometimes the things we have to do are objectionable to others,” he said. Dean also said the Bush administration has ignored the mounting threat in Iran and North Korea. “We picked the low hanging fruit in Iraq and did nothing” about the other, more dangerous regimes, he said.
Venezuela's Chavez: Bush Wants to Kill Me
From the BBC:
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has said he believes the US government is planning to assassinate him. "If they kill me, the name of the person responsible is [President] George Bush," Mr Chavez said.... [...] "If, by the hand of the devil, those perverse plans succeed... forget about Venezuelan oil, Mr Bush, " Mr Chavez said during his weekly TV show... "If you try, you will regret it Comrade Mr Bush." Venezuela is one of the world's leading oil exporters - it sells about 1.5 million barrels a day to the US. Mr Chavez has repeatedly accused the US of backing Venezuela's opposition to oust or even kill him, a charge Washington denies. He has alleged that the White House played part in an April coup in 2002, which briefly removed him from power. Mr Chavez's comments echoed the words of Cuban President Fidel Castro who said last week: "If Chavez is assassinated, the blame will fall on Bush." "I say that as someone who has survived hundreds of the empire's (assassination) plans," Mr Castro added. "Now, I am going to say it. Neither Fidel Castro nor I talk nonsense," Mr Chavez said on Sunday.Everybody knows that the Bush junta -- which has strong ties to the archconservative business interests that control much of Venezuelan society, especially its media -- was behind the April 2002 coup attempt. It was only the popularity of Chavez with the army and the people -- and some ham-handed high-handed dictatorial moves on the part of the would-be coupmeisters -- that kept the coup from succeeding. Chavez is one hell of a lot better for Venezuela than the people who are his main enemies. Which is precisely why they are his main enemies. His land and other reforms have dramatically improved the lot of Venezuela's peasants. Remember the recall attempt last year -- the one that failed miserably? The only reason a recall was possible is because the 1999 Venezuelan constitution -- which Chavez approved and helped write -- has a recall provision written into it. Not the sort of thing you'd expect from somebody who the corporate US media depicts as an anti-democratic dictator.
Bush Sics Swift Boat Liars on AARP: How We Can Fight Back
Got this in my e-mail today from the fine folks over at American Politics Journal:
As you may already know, Bush is bringing back advisers to the old "Swift Boat" liars that scuttled Kerry's campaign to go after AARP -- even though AARP helped Bush last year when he needed his Medicare plan passed! We can use this to our advantage, so long as we act now. If we act now, our letters will set the tone -- and turn back their attacks before they start them. Rapid Response is why Bush is being forced to go to these people in the first place: he never expected to face any major opposition to his privatization plan, and he'd expected it to be signed into law by now! But we beat them to the punch -- and framed the debate before they could. As fans of George Lakoff know, once a frame is set in the public mind, it takes a lot more effort to undo it than it did to plant it. The essential message to your local newspaper and your elected representatives should spell out this point: • George W. Bush is so determined to push through his failed privatization plan that he's sending out the same people who slimed John Kerry with lies and smears last year to do the very same thing now to the AARP -- even though AARP backed his Medicare card plan last year. There are variants that work well with people who follow national politics closely, naming names: • Bush has become so desperate to bring his unpopular privatization plan back from the dead that he's brought back the folks who worked with proven liars and smear artists Jerome Corsi and John O'Neill to do his dirty work for him. If you can dream up some frames of your own, please share them with us (send them to firstname.lastname@example.org; we'll pass 'em on). And back up your words with sources. Here are a few links to use that demonstrate the untrustworthiness of the so-called "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" [sic] -- this gives newspapers the facts to that back your letter, and political staffers will also find these links useful. Right wingers can lie and try to get away with with it, and we know we are better than that: http://mediamatters.org/items/search/200408250002 (this one collects most of the lies) http://mediamatters.org/items/topic/200408060010 http://mediamatters.org/items/topic/200408120005 http://mediamatters.org/items/topic/200409150006 http://mediamatters.org/items/search/200410260001 http://mediamatters.org/items/search/200409160004 http://mediamatters.org/items/search/200408250004 You can contact your congresscritter using the search engine at http://www.house.gov/writerep/ and you can look up your senators' email addresses at http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm You can find local and regional newspapers using the search engine at http://www.newspapers.com/search.htm You can track down state and local political organizations starting with the state links at http://upload.democraticunderground.com/links/pages/State_and_Local/ Surf's up -- have fun!
So, who greased Gannon for entry into the White House?
Sunday, February 20, 2005
Rest In Peace, Hunter
Just got the word that Hunter Thompson killed himself today. Rest in peace, Hunter. I don't know what else to say.
Ask Mistah Kurtz
Howard Kurtz is going to have another online chat Monday (that's tomorrow) at 12 noon Eastern, 9 am Pacific. Here's what I've submitted for a question --
Dear Mr. Kurtz: You have for the past week lamented how lefty bloggers have the nerve to try to get America to care about the fact that a $200-an-hour male prostitute was allowed, under an assumed name, to bypass Secret Service vetting and get into the White House press corp so he could lob softball questions at Bush for two years. You have worried out loud that by publicizing the fact that he is a gay male prostitute with no journalism credentials (Talon News was created AFTER he started getting his infinite day passes) and yet still got to be in the press corps because he was a Republican operative, that his privacy has been invaded. I notice that, when Democratic presidential advisor Dick Morris got caught sucking the toes of a woman not his wife, you were not so concerned about Mr. Morris' privacy: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/local/longterm/tours/scandal/morris.htm And where were your expressions of concern when Canadian journalist Jeffrey Kofman was outed by Matt Drudge as a punishment for being critical of Bush's handling of Iraq? http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1589/is_2003_Sept_2I don't expect a response from him. But feel free to go to Eschaton for some other questions to ask Mistah Kurtz. Let him know we're on to him. It'll make him nervous.
First Jimmy Carter, Now Minnesota Politics Guru: John Hinderaker and Company Just Can't Stop Smearing Their Betters
Check it out, from the Minnesota Politics Guru. He asked the folks at PowerLineBlog this:
Your recent post on the JD Guckert/Jeff Gannon story has to be one of the saddest examples of conservative head-in-sand syndrome I have ever seen. You claim that there are three issues being brought up by liberals: 1) He isn't a "real" journalist, 2) He was a Bush administration plant, and 3) He had something (God knows what) to do with the Valerie Plame story. Of course, you blatantly ignore the most important issue, the one that is easily found on hundreds of blogs covering the story: how did a person using a fake name get access to the White House? If I applied for a pass to the White House using the name "Max Power", I would not get in unless I had some friends high up at the top. A closely-related issue is exactly what the links are between GOPUSA and Talon News. Now, you may think it perfectly acceptable for the President and press secretary to consistently call on a reporter who is working for what is essentially an arm of the Republican Party. If so, it would be nice if you would admit it. That doesn't mean that others aren't allowed to have a problem with that arrangement, however. You also take Americablog to task for "finding nude photos of Gannon and posting them online." He didn't "find" photos taken by some paparazzi at a secret party; he found websites where Guckert (let's use his real name, not his pretend name) posted his own photos. If you posted photos of your family on your web page and I posted a link to these photos, would that make me a low-life "outing" you? Come on. Guckert is not ashamed of these photos, otherwise he would not have put them on the web in the first place. If somebody else finds them and points them out to the world, they are doing nothing wrong. Just one, just once, it would be nice to see a conservative with the ability to find fault with other conservatives. I won't hold my breath, though.A harsh post, but factual, to the point, and blessedly free of the cuss words that I must admit I would have been tempted to use, well, liberally. Here's the oh-so-erudite, reasoned and rational response (NOT!):
You dumb shit, he didn't get access using a fake name, he used his real name. You lefties' concern for White House security is really touching, but you know what, you stupid asshole, I think the Secret Service has it covered. Go crawl back into your hole, you stupid left-wing shithead. And don't bother us anymore. You have to have an IQ over 50 to correspond with us. You don't qualify, you stupid shit.Isn't this lovely? Notice how he uses cuss words as intimidation weapons -- he doesn't bother with logic, and he only makes one attempt at an actual argument, his statement that Guckert got access using his real name. Too bad that this is wrong. See, Ari Fleischer -- the guy who was the Bush White House press secretary when James "Jeff Gannon" Guckert first started showing up at WH presscons -- is on record as saying that he had no idea that "Jeff Gannon" was a pseudonym. This brings up a few possibilities: 1) Ari is lying. This is by no means unlikely -- dissembling was Ari's stock in trade. But let's check out all the options first. 2) PowerLineBlog is lying. This is also by no means unlikely, and for the same reasons as 1). But again, let's check out all the options. 3) Ari is telling the truth, and the Secret Service didn't bother to give him Gannon's real name. This is too scary a possibility to contemplate. 4) Rove told both Ari and the Secret Service that they were to be very, very nice to "Jeff Gannon". This is by far the most likely scenario, simply because it's becoming more and more obvious that neither Ari nor the Secret Service were allowed to vet this guy. Minnesota Politics Guru is by no means the only person that the PowerLineBloggers have viciously and unfairly attacked recently. If you remember, John "Hindrocket" Hinderaker also called Jimmy Carter -- yes, THAT Jimmy Carter -- a traitor last week on the PowerLine blog. Call John H. "Hindrocket" Hinderaker at (612)766-8430 and demand that he apologize, in print and on his blog, to James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, a distinguished veteran and former president, as well as to the proprietor of this fine Minnesota weblog. And yes, this is fair, since Hinderaker posts his daytime phone number -- which also happens to be for his Faegre & Benson law firm office -- on his blog. In fact, it might be nice to make sure that some of F&B's upper echelon -- as well as their clients -- know about this, too.
We Torture Iraqis To Death And Use Their Dead Bodies As Trophies
Report: Iraqi Prisoner Died While Being Tortured Excerpt:An Iraqi whose corpse was photographed with grinning U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib died under CIA interrogation while in a position condemned by human rights groups as torture — suspended by his wrists, with his hands cuffed behind his back. The death of the prisoner, Manadel al-Jamadi, became known last year when the Abu Ghraib prison scandal broke. The U.S. military said back then that the death had been ruled a homicide. But the exact circumstances under which the man died were not disclosed at the time. Al-Jamadi was one of the CIA's "ghost" detainees — prisoners being held secretly by the agency. One Army guard, Sgt. Jeffery Frost, said the prisoner's arms were stretched behind him in a way he had never before seen. Frost told investigators he was surprised al-Jamadi's arms "didn't pop out of their sockets," according to a summary of his interview. Frost and other guards had been summoned to reposition al-Jamadi, who an interrogator said was not cooperating. The interrogator told guards that al-Jamadi was "playing possum" — then they realized he was dead. As the guards released the shackles and lowered al-Jamadi, blood gushed from his mouth "as if a faucet had been turned on,"C'mon, everybody sing:"...And I'm proud to be an American, where we torture kids to death." Think about it - a foreign military invades your country because its leader is a greedy bastard. The foreign military takes you prisoner, but deny to the world that they have you. Navy SEALs punch, kick and strike you with their rifles before handing you over to the CIA. They cuff your hands behind your back and lift you off the ground by your wrists. They beat you until your ribs break, then demand answers you may or may not have. Eventually, God takes pity on you (if you believe in that kind of thing) and lets you die. Then the invaders pose with your dead ass for the amusement of those who couldn't join the fun. C'mon, everybody sing:"...And I'm proud to be an American, where we torture kids to death."
Abortion And The Bible
True or False: The Bible has at least one passage that condemns abortion as being murder in all circumstances. Answer: FALSE. Check this out:
Joyce Cassidy in the Autumn 1989 issue of the "Humanist in Canada" looks at what the Bible itself says about abortion. In fact it says very little. The little is Exodus 21: 22-25 which does not support an anti-abortion stance:-Of course, if you mention this to the really hard cases, they will simply come back at you with "the Devil can quote Scripture as good as anyone." To which you reply: "Does this mean then that all Scripture is wrong, since the Devil can quote it?" (I suggest wearing a bullet-proof vest for this conversation.)"When men strive together and hurt a woman with child, so that there is a miscarriage and yet no harm follows, the one who hurt her shall be fined according to as the woman's husband shall lay upon him, and he shall pay as the judges determine. If any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe."Hence a miscarriage from hurt is punishable only by a paltry fine, but if the mother dies, the penalty is life for life. Hence biblically the life of the unborn child/foetus is certainly accorded nothing like the status of the life of the mother. The Bible is littered with requests for God to burden enemies with death and God-given abortions e.g. in Hosea 9: 11-14, Hosea entreats the Lord to inflict on the Canaanite tribe of Ephraim:- "Ephraim must lead forth his sons to slaughter. Give them O Lord what wilt thou give? Give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts."
Saturday, February 19, 2005
Pharisee Nation: America's Right-Wing 'Christians'
I'm going to see if I can beat Charles to the punch here and post this before he does! Charles sent this to me, with the note that the author has made one error. Seems that the Pharisees weren't the real bad guys in Judea during the time of Christ. The Hasmoneans were the group that actually were the collaborators with the Roman occupation. But other than that, the story is much to the point.
Pharisee Nation American Nation Brainwashed [...] We have become a culture of Pharisees. Instead of practicing an authentic spirituality of compassion, nonviolence, love and peace, we as a collective people have become self-righteous, arrogant, powerful, murderous hypocrites who dominate and kill others in the name of God. The Pharisees supported the brutal Roman rulers and soldiers, and lived off the comforts of the empire by running an elaborate banking system which charged an exorbitant fee for ordinary people just to worship God in the Temple. Since they taught that God was present only in the Temple, they were able to control the entire population. If anyone opposed their power or violated their law, the Pharisees could kill them on the spot, even in the holy sanctuary. Most North American Christians are now becoming more and more like these hypocritical Pharisees. We side with the rulers, the bankers, and the corporate millionaires and billionaires. We run the Pentagon, bless the bombing raids, support executions, make nuclear weapons and seek global domination for America as if that was what the nonviolent Jesus wants. And we dismiss anyone who disagrees with us. We have become a mean, vicious people, what the bible calls “stiff-necked people.” And we do it all with the mistaken belief that we have the blessing of God. In the past, empires persecuted religious groups and threatened them into passivity and silence. Now these so-called Christians run the American empire, and teach a subtle spirituality of empire to back up their power in the name of God. This spirituality of empire insists that violence saves us, might makes right, war is justified, bombing raids are blessed, nuclear weapons offer the only true security from terrorism, and the good news is not love for our enemies, but the elimination of them. The empire is working hard these days to tell the nation--and the churches--what is moral and immoral, sinful and holy. It denounces certain personal behavior as immoral, in order to distract us from the blatant immorality and mortal sin of the U.S. bombing raids which have left 100,000 Iraqis dead, or our ongoing development of thousands of weapons of mass destruction. Our Pharisee rulers would have us believe that our wars and our weapons are holy and blessed by God. In the old days, the early Christians had big words for such behavior, such lies. They were called “blasphemous, idolatrous, heretical, hypocritical and sinful.” Such words and actions were denounced as the betrayal, denial and execution of Jesus all over again in the world’s poor. But the empire needs the church to bless and support its wars, or at least to remain passive and silent. As we Christians go along with the Bush administration and the American empire, we betray Jesus, renounce his teachings, and create a “Church of Christ without Christ,“ as Flannery O’Connor foresaw.
The Funniest Thing I've Read All Day
UK Tory politician and apparent chowderhead Iain Duncan Smith thinks that the Tories can use conservabloggers to take over the UK media. Sorry, IDS, but judging from this example of what passes for your reasoning, I think I know why your party has been dead as a doornail for a decade in the UK. Certain conditions obtain in the US that don't obtain over in your neck of the woods -- here's two of them, just off the top of my head: A lack of a strong and independent public broadcasting system. PBS is at the mercy of whichever party rules Congress, and has in any event never drawn the viewership of the commercial networks. The BBC, on the other hand, is not only the UK's oldest and most trusted broadcaster, it's also funded directly from yearly license fees and need not bow and scrape to whoever the Prime Minister happens to be. No organized right-wing moneybags seeking to undermine the UK media to spread the right-wing message. The worst you can do is Rupert Murdoch, and even he can't be as right-wing in the UK as he is in America.
Disgusting Self-Congratulatory Mode
According to BlogShares, this is an up-and-coming blog with steadily growing traffic. Go me! (And Charles!)
The Oregonian: US Media Kneels Before Right-Wing Bloggers, Ignores Left-Wing Bloggers (Even Though The Lefties Are More Often Correct)
Nice to see a mainstream daily admit what we all know: That the mainstream press is so scared of the Republicans and the right wing in general that it is far more susceptible to pressure from right-wing bloggers than left-wing bloggers. Of course, I expect that the paper will be hammered hard by attacks from right-wingers. Just as Ramesh Ponnuru is being hammered by his fellow conservatives for being so politically incorrect as to say that Howard Dean is right about the GOP's rotten relationship with nonwhites.
Welcome, Right-Wing Racist Jackbooted Thugs!
I see that there's an uptick of readers from Little Green Fascists coming my way. Come on in! Don't be upset over all the facts -- I know you're not used to facts delivered in context, not when you prefer to see them used to justify cutting social services to poor black people so rich white people don't have to pay taxes -- but you'll get over it. Oh, and do you still see yourselves as poor widdle victims of mean lefties and black people? Relax -- you've successfully cowed all the media that you haven't bought outright, as even the editorial staff of a prominent Oregon newspaper admits.
Resign, Brit: The Petition
If right-wing Republican bloggers with ties to the GOP leadership can force CNN to cut loose a guy after these conservabloggers took his comments out of context, then they should have no objection to urging Brit Hume to resign for lying his ass off about FDR: http://www.petitionspot.com/petitions/BritMustResign
Republicans: Pray You Lose In 2008
...because you really don't want to be controlling the White House and both chambers of Congress when this hits the fan:
For President Bush, the budget sent to Congress last week outlines a painful path to meeting his promise to bring down the federal budget deficit by the time he leaves office in 2009. But for the senators and governors already jockeying to succeed him, the numbers released in recent days add up to a budgetary landmine that could blow up just as the next president moves into the Oval Office. Congress and the White House have become adept at passing legislation with hidden long-term price tags, but those huge costs began coming into view in Bush's latest spending plan. Even if Bush succeeds in slashing the deficit in half in four years, as he has pledged, his major policy prescriptions would leave his successor with massive financial commitments that begin rising dramatically the year he relinquishes the White House, according to an analysis of new budget figures. Bush's extensive tax cuts, the new Medicare prescription drug benefit and, if it passes, his plan to redesign Social Security all balloon in cost several years from now. His plan to partially privatize Social Security, for instance, would cost a total of $79.5 billion in the last two budgets that Bush will propose as president and an additional $675 billion in the five years that follow. New Medicare figures likewise show the cost almost twice as high as originally estimated, largely because it mushrooms long after the Bush presidency.You Maoist Republicans are very good at ignoring reality -- that's why you love FOX "News" so much -- but if you keep it up, it's going to bite even your money-insulated-hineys, and bite them HARD:
By the time the next president comes along, some analysts said, not only will there be little if any flexibility for any new initiatives, but the entire four-year term could be spent figuring out how to accommodate the long-range cost of Bush's policies. "That president would have to face a very fundamental decision as to whether he would want to do what was right and be a one-term president or continue to play the same game and push it onto his successor," said Leon E. Panetta, who served as budget director and later White House chief of staff under President Bill Clinton. "That's really the choice that's going to face the next president." The knowledge of what's ahead is hardly lost on some of those eyeing Bush's job. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has been among those raising concerns about the long-term costs of current financial policies. "Hopefully some very difficult decisions will be addressed between now and the time we have a new White House resident so that occupant isn't faced with some very expensive chickens coming home to roost," said John Weaver, a McCain adviser. "There are some things that we can do, but unfortunately in the political world kicking down the road is often seen as leadership."Oh, stick an effing cork in it, John -- if you were really brave, you wouldn't be lying about Social Security.
Maoists For Bush
It's a good thing I went to the Conservative Political Action Conference this year. Otherwise I never would have known that, despite the findings of the authoritative David Kay report and every reputable media outlet on earth, the United States actually discovered weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, vindicating all of George W. Bush's pre-war predictions. The revelation came not from some crank at Free Republic or hustler from Talon News, but from a congressman surrounded by men from the highest echelons of American government. No wonder the attendees all seemed to believe him. The crowd at CPAC's Thursday night banquet, held at D.C.'s Ronald Reagan Building, was full of right-wing stars. Among those seated at the long presidential table at the head of the room were Henry Hyde, chairman of the House International Relations Committee, Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman, Dore Gold, foreign policy advisor to former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and NRA president Kayne Robinson. Vice President Dick Cheney, a regular CPAC speaker, gave the keynote address. California Rep. Chris Cox had the honor of introducing him, and he took the opportunity to mock the Democrats whose hatred of America led them to get Iraq so horribly wrong. "America's Operation Iraqi Freedom is still producing shock and awe, this time among the blame-America-first crowd," he crowed. Then he said, "We continue to discover biological and chemical weapons and facilities to make them inside Iraq." Apparently, most of the hundreds of people in attendance already knew about these remarkable, hitherto-unreported discoveries, because no one gasped at this startling revelation. And why would they? Like comrades celebrating the success of Mao's Great Leap Forward, attendees at CPAC, the oldest and largest right-wing conference in the country, invest their leaders with the power to defy mere reality through force of insistent rhetoric.Maoists For Bush, indeed. These people insulate themselves from the harsh winds of reality with irrationality and gobs of cash. By the way: Chris Cox is also the moron behind the Cox Report, which the GOP wanted to use to push Chinagate (aka "Klintoon and Hitlery have sold us out to the damn squint-eyes!"), but which itself had so many lovingly-done full-color exploded-view illustrations of classified ordnance that it was itself a far bigger security breach than anything Clinton was falsely alleged to have done. (Remember, just like every other crime, security breaches are A-OK, so long as Republicans are the ones that are committing them.) If anyone in the 1980s and 1990s was guilty of giving America's secrets to the Chinese, it was in fact prominent California Republican activist -- and longtime Chinese spy -- Katrina Leung. But the GOP/Media Axis of Evil didn't and still won't dare mention her strong position within California's Republican elite, at least not in connection with the spying.
Friday, February 18, 2005
"Aryan" Hatemonger Really Hispanic; Loses White-Power Customer Base
This is hilarious. A white-supremacist's effort to infect American youth with racism by selling white-power music CDs at the nation's playgrounds has fallen apart:
Bryant Cecchini sat in a room full of white supremacist pamphlets, books and compact discs recently, lamenting what could have been. He projects that the South St. Paul-based Panzerfaust Records company that he helped build into a force in the niche of white-power music could have made almost $1 million this year. Instead, the company is defunct. Things would be different, Cecchini said, if his business partner and neighbor, Anthony Pierpont, hadn't been charged with a low-level drug crime in December. And if the company's clients didn't now believe that Pierpont, who founded Panzerfaust, is of Mexican descent. Cecchini, 33, who once was sentenced to three years and seven months in prison for a stabbing years ago, said he has standards for the people with whom he does business, such as being truthful and refraining from drug use. "And, unfortunately," he added, "you have to be white."Go read the whole thing, while you still can for free. Reality and The Onion just keep intersecting all the time nowadays.
Lefty Bloggers: Bob Somerby Wants YOU!
IN WHICH WE SPEAK TO THE BLOGGERS: How large will those “transition costs” really be? An editorial in this morning’s New York Times offers this assessment:You heard the man. Go and do!NEW YORK TIMES (2/18/05): As the nation's top banker, Mr. Greenspan was on surer ground when discussing the borrowing needed to establish private accounts—an estimated $2 trillion over 10 years, and $4.5 trillion over two decades. He said it would be a risky thing to do.There! Readers will make an obvious assumption—transition costs will top out somewhere near $4.5 trillion. But for the third time in recent weeks, let’s recall what Paul Krugman wrote in the Times just last month:KRUGMAN (1/11/05): Advocates of privatization almost always pretend that all we have to do is borrow a bit of money up front, and then the system will become self-sustaining. The Wehner memo talks of borrowing $1 trillion to $2 trillion ''to cover transition costs.'' Similar numbers have been widely reported in the news media.But that's just the borrowing over the next decade. Privatization would cost an additional $3 trillion in its second decade, $5 trillion in the decade after that and another $5 trillion in the decade after that. By the time privatization started to save money, if it ever did, the federal government would have run up around $15 trillion in extra debt.Uh-oh! According to Krugman, transition costs will actually run “around $15 trillion” in the next four decades! “These numbers are based on a Congressional Budget Office analysis,” the erudite Times scribe quickly said (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 2/17/05).
So which is it? Will transition costs be $4.5 trillion over two decades or $15 trillion over four? Most likely, both figures are generally accurate, with the Times simply using a shorter time frame, the way the Bush Admin likes; this produces a less-troubling number, a number which keeps the eds from getting “pummeled as liberal ideologues, even when they are only seeking the facts.” After all, the long-term transition to private accounts will not be completed in two decades—so why should “transition costs” end at that point? We’ll guess that Krugman’s CBO account is essentially right, and that the Times is just being polite, a trait of so many modern scribes.
By the way, this would be an excellent point for the boys and girls of the liberal web to pursue. Speaking of magical transformations, we note that they stopped discussing “private accounts vs. personal accounts” after Daddy told them it was pointless; now, we’ll suggest that the size of those transition costs could help win the privatization debate. Recent polling made it clear—support for Bush’s plan drops fast when transition costs are described (many citizens know nothing about them). And readers, which number would drive support down faster? Fifteen trillion dollars—or four?
No, they don’t have to say where they heard it; they can pretend that they got it themselves. But if the transition will cost $15 trillion, the public should hear it shouted out every day. And bloggers, don’t wait for those Big Dems to say it! Trust us: You’ll be old and wise, with a pretty white beard, before that glorious day ever comes. As we’ve noted, Major Dems persistently use the budget numbers that favor Bush. If we want a sharper line to emerge, it will have to emerge from the web.
StarTribune On Bush's Fuzzy Math And Gannon/Guckert
Once again, the Strib shows why it's one of the best papers in America. Its editorial staff cuts loose on Bush's bogosity -- both in his budget and in the shills posing as reporters to whom he turns to bail him out of jams. Here's the Strib on Bush's budget:
Every politician resorts to gimmicks now and then, but these gimmicks have consequences. Just three years ago, President Bush promised to balance the federal budget by 2005. Instead, the government will run a deficit of more than $400 billion this year. Two years ago the president promised to cut the deficit in half by 2007. Now his target year is 2009, but the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says that using more realistic assumptions, Bush's fiscal policies mean deficits keep going on forever. Meanwhile, the debt load on future taxpayers keeps going up and up. Bush, of course, won't face reelection when the price for this recklessness comes due. But members of Congress from Minnesota will be asking voters to continue them in office. Those voters are counting on them for more responsible stewardship.Indeed -- which is why Bush is having a tough time getting all but his most loyal (or stupid) vassals to back his plan to destroy Social Security. And here's the Strib on Gannon/Guckert, pointing out that he's not the only paid hack who the Bushies have used to corrupt our discourse:
So the question becomes, just how did this character get White House press credentials, despite supposed post-Sept. 11 security requirements? Bruce Bartlett, a conservative columnist who worked in the Reagan and first Bush administrations, says that "if Gannon was using an alias, the White House staff had to be involved in maintaining his cover." In other words, the White House wanted him at those briefings and wanted him to ask his softball questions, most likely to divert attention when legitimate reporters were getting too pushy. This is part of a pattern by Bush's minions to construct a phony reality in news coverage. Consider: • To promote Bush's Medicare prescription bill, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) paid for phony "newscasts" that were distributed to television stations nationwide. • Columnist Armstrong Williams was paid $240,000 by the Department of Education to promote Bush's No Child Left Behind Act. • Columnists Michael McManus and Maggie Gallagher were paid to "advise HHS on the Bush administration's marriage policies." • Every Bush "town hall" forum during last fall's campaign was carefully limited to supporters who would ask fawning questions. No demonstrators -- indeed, no one wearing an offensive lapel pin -- were allowed in. • The Bush Pentagon launched an Office of Strategic Influence to provide "news" to foreign media. When it became known, it was shut down in embarrassment. The pattern is clear: This administration will do pretty much anything to shape reality to fit its agenda.A-yep. And as the Strib goes on to note, when the Bushies can't buy you off, they try to scare you off:
Another powerful tool in its arsenal is intimidation. This is by far the most vindictive administration since Richard Nixon's. Ask the wrong question or write something the White House doesn't like, and your access is cut off. Unfortunately, too many of the real journalists have gone along meekly. As columnist Michael Kinsley observed, if this White House said two plus two equaled five, there would be no shortage "of media to report both sides of the question."Like I said: One of the best papers in America.
Thursday, February 17, 2005
The Social Security Calculator
Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats have a handy-dandy way for you to find out just how badly Bush's privatization plan will screw you:
DeLay Attacks Bush Tax-Hike Trial Balloon
DeLay had a tough re-election fight in 2004. The last thing he needs is to spend political capital on backing a plan that most Americans, including a non-trivial number of Republicans, don't like and don't want. By using a no-tax-hike stance to oppose Bush's plan to destroy Social Security, he gets to shoot down Bush's scam while still holding on to his right-wing base.
Why The Democrats Must Hold Firm On Social Security
A letter writer in Salon makes the following point:
Unfortunately, Bush has a couple of options overlooked in Farhad Manjoo's article. Either has the potential to shatter both the Democrats' front of solid opposition and the promise of Social Security. First, the president could revert to his well-established M.O.: Dangle a reasonable compromise before the Congress, and once it has been approved by both houses, have a Democrat-free reconciliation process drastically change its terms. Then the GOP leadership insists on a 24-hour passage of the fat, unread markup. The moderate Republicans, as they always have done in such situations, will cheerfully go along. Meanwhile, the back of their party discipline having broken on the original vote, the Democrats will be powerless to mount an effective resistance. Second, the president can push for the most massive of all benefit cuts, on the sophistic grounds that it doesn't cut benefits at all: Index future benefits only to prices, and not to wages. Numerous Republican moderates have floated the idea, few Democrats have specifically rejected it, and explaining why it is the most drastic of benefits cuts, a poisoned gift that keeps on taking, requires careful explanation with math in it. Most Americans are under the impression that SS benefits are purely price-indexed right now and won't feel like they're losing anything. (Bush has mentioned this option, tangentially, in several of his speeches. The risible flounder last week that Bush himself called "muddled" may have explained nothing; but its centerpiece clearly was the elimination of wage indexing.) Bush may spring the second trap a couple of weeks before the vote. He will announce that it constitutes "no reduction in benefits." We will have little time to educate the public, and we'd better have a powerful counterframe ready in advance.Forewarned is forearmed!
-- Royce Buehler
Ridge Met With Bush's Pollsters During 2004 Campaign
Guess who met with GOP pollsters at least twice that we know of during the 2004 campaign? Hint: Rhymes with 'bridge'. Or 'fridge'. Or 'Tom Ridge'. Julius Civitatus, you are hereby vindicated!
MyDD: Santorum Vulnerable, Chafee Finished
With numbers in the upper twenties, you bet Chafee's finished. Switch or die, Lincoln. And Santorum's losing to his likeliest Democratic challenger. 2006 is going to be a very good year, methinks -- knocking on wood.
Bush Now Open To Tax Hike For Social Security
Of course, he wants to do it so he can push his private accounts. What he won't say is that, if saving Social Security was the real goal, a tax hike by itself would do the job. Adding private accounts to the mix would just take more money away from Social Security. But Bush is so in love with the ideology of destroying Social Security that he simply can't help himself.
Salon's Eric Boehlert Is Still On The Gannon/Guckert Case
Today's article by Boehlert mentions the Kos-found revelation that Guckert was at Bush White House press briefings -- and being called on by Bush, something that many actual reporters who've been at the Bush presscons for years never have happen to them -- well before the fake "Talon News" ever existed. So, we have a guy whose skanky history would never have got him past a genuine "hard pass" background check, who not only gets waved into the White House on unlimited day passes, but who is called on by Bush -- and for the first couple of months of this, he doesn't even have a fake news org backing him? And meanwhile, real journalists like Sarah McClendon can't get press passes? Uh-huh.
Gannon/Guckert: Frank Rich And MoDo Weigh In
Here's Rich and here's MoDo. They're both worth reading today. As Dowd says, why is that she, who at least has a long journalism background, couldn't get a pass -- yet Rent Boy got a virtual hard pass for two years? And Rich's sincere props to Olbermann for emulating The Daily Show resonate even more after last night's classic TDS episode. (I'd link to it somehow, but each host site I find keeps crashing due to exceeding their bandwidth limits. So you'll just have to wait for Comedy Central to post it.)
Wednesday, February 16, 2005
A story you should read
Every person who has made rumbling about "Christofascists" or otherwise expressed their anger against Christianity (or religion in general) should read the following article:
Elderly American nun shot down as she read the Bible to her murderers
Tuesday, February 15 , 2005, 15:55 (GMT)
An American nun has been brutally killed in the Amazon rainforest region of Brazil. Dorothy Stang, 73, read Bible passages to her killers moments before she was shot dead, despite being a passionate defender and worker for the area over the past 20 years. Stang had received numerous death threats over the years for her works, and was particularly noted for her great advocacy efforts in the country. ...The merciless killing took place in the Boa Esperanca area, and witnesses reported that the nun, when confronted by the killers, immediately took out her Bible from her bag and began reading out aloud. Allegedly, the killers then paused for a few moments and listened before taking a number of strides back and firing at Stang.
Dorothy Stang was an advocate for the poor against rapacious big money interests. She was here in Jesus' stead.
She did Him proud in showing what faith in God is really about.
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