Monday, January 31, 2005

Bush: Krugman Calls Him What He Is -- A Liar

Thank God it's January and Paul Krugman is back behind a keyboard. His column last week is a must-read. It neatly picks apart President Bush's lies about Social Security and how he plans to bullshit black Americans. Not content to get economist-medievil on his ass, Krugman then gets a bit more personal.
By using blacks' low life expectancy as an argument for privatization, Mr. Bush is in effect taking it as a given that 40 or 50 years from now, large numbers of African-Americans will still be dying before their time.

Is this an example of what Mr. Bush famously called "the soft bigotry of low expectations?" Maybe not: it isn't particularly soft to treat premature black deaths not as a tragedy we must end but as just another way to push your ideological agenda. But bigotry - yes, that sounds like the right word.

Here's a link, but it will only work for another week, so I'm putting the whole column in the comments. If a lawyer from the NYT reads this, well... no one reads this blog, so I'm not realy worried.

Oh, and people on the right love to bash Krugman and say he's shrill and full of it. I'd really like to see the counter-argument to a column like this one. I cannot imagine one.

[UPDATE]: Wait no longer. Jesse at Pandagon finds the Nation Review's Donald Luskin's response and takes it apart 'graph by 'graph. In his column, after practically resorting to "..some of Bush's friends are black" defenses relating to Condi Rice, Luskin accuses Krugman of "playing the race card." Jesse takes that old Republican standard and comes up with the best line of the year so far:
...why is it a crude "race card gotcha" to say that fixing the race-based problem Bush is promoting to the high heavens should be a priority? Bush slammed down the entire race deck, pushed all his race chips into the pot, and is waiting to see if he's going to get race-called. If Democrats are playing the race card, Bush is running the race casino.

Friday, January 28, 2005

War: Iraqi Election Day

The great Charles Pierce puts it in perspective:
Some people are going to vote even though they've been told they will be killed if they do.  Nobody in this 40-percent turnout, sucker-for-the-cheap-wedge-issue, talk-show-babbling country of ours has a right to do anything but admire that, and make sure that the undeniable courage on display doesn't get sold down the river for a three-point bump in some future Gallup Poll.  This war isn't just a monumental blunder.  It's also an ongoing act of betrayal by a bunch of second-rate thinkers who never in their lives have displayed an ounce of the courage that some anonymous woman in Baghdad will evince today.

Cheney: What Not To Wear

Perhaps our immature, inappropriate, costume-loving President is a bad influence on his elders...
Dick Cheney, Dressing Down
Parka, Ski Cap at Odds With Solemnity of Auschwitz Ceremony

At yesterday's gathering of world leaders in southern Poland to mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the United States was represented by Vice President Cheney. The ceremony at the Nazi death camp was outdoors, so those in attendance, such as French President Jacques Chirac and Russian President Vladimir Putin, were wearing dark, formal overcoats and dress shoes or boots. Because it was cold and snowing, they were also wearing gentlemen's hats. In short, they were dressed for the inclement weather as well as the sobriety and dignity of the event.

The vice president, however, was dressed in the kind of attire one typically wears to operate a snow blower.

Cheney stood out in a sea of black-coated world leaders because he was wearing an olive drab parka with a fur-trimmed hood. It is embroidered with his name. It reminded one of the way in which children's clothes are inscribed with their names before they are sent away to camp. And indeed, the vice president looked like an awkward boy amid the well-dressed adults.

Read the whole op-ed, it's a quick read, and some of it is pretty biting/funny. I love it 'cause it makes fun of Cheney, but there is an underlying serious point here. It's just another subtle lack of respect for other countries, an nose-thumbing attitude. A quiet "fuck yourselves", if you will.

Showing up isn't good enough, Dick. Show the proper respect or don't show up at all. You braved the cold and dressed appropriately for your own inaugural ceremony, so we know you own a proper coat...

[UPDATE] From the comments at Daily Kos:
This has to be purposeful

This is somewhat like when Reagan made the first speech of his presidential campaign from Philadelphia, Mississippi, the town in which civil rights workers were murdered, or his subsequent trip to Bitburg, Germany where he laid a wreath at a cemetery noted for its interment of SS officers.

These clowns are very adept at the manipulation of symbols, when it suits their fancy. It is idiotic to suggest they didn't know any better.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Bush: Sociopath or Just a Dumbass?

Yesterday, President "I'm on my way to make a speech, why did you have to tell me about those soldiers?" Georgie had another one of his trademark paranoid / arrogant / idiotic press conferences. I didn't see it, but apparently the Daily Show and Olberman did good jobs dissecting it. And plenty of folks have nice little post-mortems in their blogs...

Daily must-read James Wolcott got it started (everybody links to him) and he wraps it up thusly:
"Comfortable, hell, he's downright enthusiastic about it. He's so cocky now that he can't even fake a semblance of sorrow after hearing news that would have made most presidents turn ashen."

The Rude Pundit is on it like stupid on Douglas Feith.

I knew this topic would rouse Digby from his slumber:
"Somebody, somewhere (Karen?) told Junior that he would sound authoritative if he said... each... sentence... with... equal... emphasis... Hand slapping on podium for emphasis, words clipped and distinct, pissed demeanor, impatient tone. "Have you got that you little bastards? Now go clean your rooms."

He's the Dad who is always mad. So when the press brought up the fact that today had the highest single daily death toll in Iraq thus far, he was irritated. He told America to stop that crying or he'd give them something to cry about, damn it.

Those are pretty much my three favorite blogs these days. Perfect mix of outrage, humor and opinion. You can find plenty of righteous anger at Kos, minutia at TPM or thoughtful querying from Drum or Yglesias. But these guys are five-tool players. Check 'em out

War: Insult to Injury

A short article at about how our beloved Commander in Chief and his bad-ass crew of Pentagon hawks are fucking over our injured troops -- by charging them for their meals at Walter Reed Hospital!
Whether it is the lack of protective armor for troops in the field or, now, wounded troops paying for food, complaints from soldiers have shed an unflattering light on how the military bureaucracy takes care of its troops. And they have prompted accusations that the Pentagon is fighting the Iraq war on the cheap, no matter what the cost to soldiers. The meal charge policy "is an example of a much larger problem relating to the overall cost of the war. It is all an indication of extreme costs they are trying to make up on the backs of these men and women," said Steve Robinson, a retired Army Ranger and the executive director of the National Gulf War Resource Center. "If the war is costing too much, the one place you don't skimp is on soldier and veteran programs. The administration has no problem deficit-spending on the needs of conducting war, and we see no reason not to apply the same methodology to veterans' benefits and soldier care."

Sorry Steve, you forgot that the tax cuts for millionaires are even more important -- out of control war or no...
[...] Soldiers in medical hold are considered outpatients, but they usually live on hospital grounds -- some are put up in nearby hotels if housing on the grounds is full -- and have little choice but to buy food at the Walter Reed chow hall. Even as outpatients, soldiers in medical hold often have serious injuries. Some have been blown up by roadside bombs or crumpled in Humvee wrecks. They have serious head wounds and amputations. Others are struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder after being flown out of Iraq with shellshock. Some soldiers in medical hold are waiting to get processed out of the Army because their wounds are so serious that they will never return to duty. But processing at Walter Reed can take over a year, much to the frustration of the soldiers who would prefer to get outpatient treatment near their homes and families. Soldiers in medical hold also complain they are still expected to line up for daily formations and buy new uniforms even as they struggle with debilitating physical and mental trauma from their service in Iraq. They say being charged for food while they're recovering is one more indignity.

Hey you Republican fucking assholes in charge, "supporting our troops" doesn't mean patting the President on the back and telling him what a great war he's fighting. It isn't appropriating another $80 billion for Halliburton either. It's making sure that they have the weapons, ammo, vehicles and protection they need to stay safe. And after you've exhausted those options and some still get wounded (and they will, since this isn't a video game, George), you better make goddamn sure they when they're learning how to hold a fork with their prosthetic hand, they don't also need to practice counting fucking coins! Speaking of coins -- Hey, Rumsfeld! Pull out that auto-pen of yours and sign some allowances so that soldiers stuck at WRAMH can call their families too! Oh, and when a soldier needs a new uniform with only one arm? He shouldn't be paying for that either!

Tell me again about how you care more about the soldiers than me or anyone else who opposes this fiasco of a War?

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Politics: Can I Have Some More Please?

...And, sadly, the attitude of too many of my colleagues across the aisle is: our President wrong, wrong, or wrong. They defend him. They protect him. And they allow his top administration officials to get away with lying. Lying to Congress, lying to our committees, and lying to the American people. It's wrong. It's immoral. It's un-American. And it has to stop.

It stops by not promoting top administration officials who engage in the practice, who have been instrumental in deceiving congress and the American people, and regrettably that includes Dr. Rice.

[...] I don't like to impugn anyone's integrity, but I really don't like being lied to repeatedly, flagrantly, intentionally. It's wrong. It's undemocratic, it's un-American, and it's dangerous. It is very, very dangerous. And it is occurring far too frequently in this administration. And this Congress, this Senate must demand that it stop now.

That's Sen. Mark Dayton (D-MN) in his floor statement opposing Rice's confirmation. Can I get like forty more of him, please? And kick sellouts like Holy Joe Lieberman to the curb...

[UPDATE]: The Democrat opposition might seem feeble ('cause it was), but, I found this fact surprising however...
The tally, though one-sided at 85-13, was still the largest “no” vote against any secretary of state nominee since 1825.

Politics: A Conservative I Can Live With

[via Altercation] Here's a great op-ed by a real, old-school Conservative, not one of these sycophant, pretend-Conservative jackasses who've hijacked the Republican Party so far to the right a guy like this would be laughed out of Washington...

The NY Times can feel free to hire Paul Craig Roberts to replace Safire.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Bush: Lying His Ass Off Again

Sometimes I feel like a lame-ass blogger for just block-quoting everybody else's stuff. Well, what are you gonna do when I'm too scatter-brained to string a paragraph together these days, and Matthew Yglesias is simply in the zone:

Kevin Drum [link] wonders how the press should cover events wherein the president's main purpose is to say things that are untrue about Social Security in light of the fact that "reporters can't preface every quote from the president with, 'In yet another attempt to deceive the public, George Bush said today....'" For one thing, I don't think it's wise to so quickly write off the notion that news reporters should be writing articles that accurately convey the relevant facts. The two pro-privatization statements quoted in the first three paragraphs of this Los Angeles Times article are patently false. Would it be so terrible if the reporter pointed this out in the lede? But it wouldn't be hard to do better than the press is doing even without going that far. After quoting Bush lying to 27-year-old Josh Wright, saying that Social Security "will be bust by the time it comes for you to retire," the Times gives us this:

But for Alice Froeschle, a retired teacher from Jenks, Okla., Social Security is a "guarantee that workers who retire will not be destitute in their old age." Speaking to a reporter Tuesday at the request of congressional Democrats, Froeschle said the current system was far better than having workers "gamble their retirement away in the stock market."

It's nice of the Times to try and offer some balance, but Froeschle's thoughts on the matter -- while important -- are totally non-responsive to the president's false claims. What if, instead, the Times had written:

But according to the Social Security Administration, if no changes are made workers who retire in 2041, when Wright will turn 65, the program will have enough money to pay full benefits. For workers retiring in 2043 and beyond, there will have to be benefit cuts unless taxes are raised, but guaranteed benefits would still be higher in real terms than those paid today and higher than the ones offered by Bush's proposal. According to the Congressional Budget Office, full benefits can be paid until 2052. Because of its dedicated revenue stream, Social Security can never "go bust" no matter what happens, though benefits may need to become less generous.

That makes it clear that Bush was lying without the reporter needing to do anything as daring as write the sentence "Bush was lying." It also happens to be the truth. Save Froeschle's argument for later in the piece where they start talking about privatization's role in the Bush vision of an ownership society. There are two different debates here: an ideological one between Bush and Froeschle about whether the country should have social insurance or a greater degree of individual risk, and a second debate between Bush and reality about whether or not Social Security is going to go bankrupt. Mixing and matching the two confuses readers and encourages politicians to lie. Eventually, Democrats are going to get sick and tired of losing and realize that if the rules of the game let politicians get away with making things up, that they'd better start making more things up in their public statements.

Don't hold your breath for the press to crack down or the Dems to step up, however, Matt...

[UPDATE:] Aside from his general lying, it all takes place during one the White House's fake-ass "town hall meeting with regular folks". Something President Dumb-Ass keeps exposing for the fraud it is...
THE PRESIDENT: Good, thanks. Well done. (Applause.) Now what about your -- introduce your mom.

MS. STONE: I would like to introduce my mom. This is my mother, Rhoda Stone. And she is grandmother of three, and originally from Helsinki, Finland, and has been here over 40 years.

THE PRESIDENT: Fantastic. Same age as my mother.

MS. STONE: Just turned 80.

Um, Mr. President, is that thing in the back of your jacket just a wire, or a device that lets you see into the future? She didn't tell you how old her mom was yet!

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Bush: WMD Charade Ends With a Whimper

Search for Banned Arms In Iraq Ended Last Month

[Washington Post] The hunt for biological, chemical and nuclear weapons in Iraq has come to an end nearly two years after President Bush ordered U.S. troops to disarm Saddam Hussein. The top CIA weapons hunter is home, and analysts are back at Langley.

In interviews, officials who served with the Iraq Survey Group (ISG) said the violence in Iraq, coupled with a lack of new information, led them to fold up the effort shortly before Christmas.

Four months after Charles A. Duelfer, who led the weapons hunt in 2004, submitted an interim report to Congress that contradicted nearly every prewar assertion about Iraq made by top Bush administration officials, a senior intelligence official said the findings will stand as the ISG's final conclusions and will be published this spring.

President Bush, Vice President Cheney and other top administration officials asserted before the U.S. invasion in March 2003 that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear weapons program, had chemical and biological weapons, and maintained links to al Qaeda affiliates to whom it might give such weapons to use against the United States.

Bush has expressed disappointment that no weapons or weapons programs were found, but the White House has been reluctant to call off the hunt, holding out the possibility that weapons were moved out of Iraq before the war or are well hidden somewhere inside the country. But the intelligence official said that possibility is very small.

Somehow I doubt this will get very much coverage. and isn't it convenient that they went through the motions until after the election and then packed it up in December?

So does this mean Dick Cheney will shut the fuck up with his lies? I thought Rumsfeld "knew where they were!" If there were any real justice in this universe, the impeachment proceeedings would begin forthwith.

[MORE:] Matthew Yglesias has nice little piece on this.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Mac: How Cool Is This?

I just dropped a bundle on a new G5 (arrived today -- I can't wait to get home!), and this would never work for what I need long-term as a designer (though it would run circles around my up-until-tonite G3), but I was recently trying to talk my dad and a co-worker into buying eMacs. But, how cool is the Mac mini? And it's only 500 bucks!

Oh, here's the $99 iPod the world has been waiting for.

Crap! My apple pride and excitement is turning o remorse. These two items were revealed today at MacWorldExpo in San Fran, and I'm getting the sinking feeling of having just bought a computer that is about to be vastly improved by a new version unveiled this week that's twice as cool and fits in my pocket... Damn you, apple!

Politics: Dean Makes It Official

Today on Howard Dean's BlogForAmerica:
I'm Running

As I have traveled across our country, I have talked to thousands of people who are working for change in their own communities about the power of politics to make a difference in their own lives and in the lives of others. Every group I have spoken to, I encouraged them to stand up for what they believe and to get involved in the electoral process—because the only sure way to make difference is to step up and run for office yourself.

Today, I'm announcing my candidacy for the Chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee.

The Democratic Party needs a vibrant, forward-thinking, long-term presence in every single state and we must be willing to contest every race at every level. We will only win when we show up and fight for the issues important to all of us.

Yup, but any jackass running will say that stuff, here's where he separates himself from the establishment pack...
[...] That word—'values'—has lately become a codeword for appeasement of the right-wing fringe. But when political calculations make us soften our opposition to bigotry, or sign on to policies that add to the burden of ordinary Americans, we have abandoned our true values.

We cannot let that happen. And we cannot just mouth the words. Our party must speak plainly and our agenda must clearly reflect the socially progressive, fiscally responsible values that bring our party—and the vast majority of Americans—together.

Others will say that as well, but Dean means it. There are going to be times when individual Democrats will need to support positions I (or Dean) disagree with for regional or constituental reasons. I can live with that, and so will Dean. But if Dean is the leader of the Party those moments of capitulation will be kept way behind the curtain, not front and center, and that's what needs to happen. The public face of the Party needs to be starkly different from the Republicans. Howard Dean will ensure that.

[UPDATE:] Excellent post by Ezra and comment thread at pandagon.

Petition: Social Security

Go sign this petition. It will go to your Congressperson, Senator and it cc's President Bush (who could give a shit about your opinion). The important thing is to make sure that Democrats know where we stand on this issue, and they need to be told in no uncertain terms that we support them if they stand up and oppose this scam OR they will be held accountable if they go along with it.

Bush: The Salvador Option

What category to file this under? War? Politics? Bullshit? All of the above equals (as usual): Bush!

From Newsweek.
What to do about the deepening quagmire of Iraq? The Pentagon’s latest approach is being called "the Salvador option"—and the fact that it is being discussed at all is a measure of just how worried Donald Rumsfeld really is. "What everyone agrees is that we can’t just go on as we are," one senior military officer told NEWSWEEK. "We have to find a way to take the offensive against the insurgents. Right now, we are playing defense. And we are losing." Last November’s operation in Fallujah, most analysts agree, succeeded less in breaking "the back" of the insurgency—as Marine Gen. John Sattler optimistically declared at the time—than in spreading it out.

Now, NEWSWEEK has learned, the Pentagon is intensively debating an option that dates back to a still-secret strategy in the Reagan administration’s battle against the leftist guerrilla insurgency in El Salvador in the early 1980s. Then, faced with a losing war against Salvadoran rebels, the U.S. government funded or supported "nationalist" forces that allegedly included so-called death squads directed to hunt down and kill rebel leaders and sympathizers. Eventually the insurgency was quelled, and many U.S. conservatives consider the policy to have been a success—despite the deaths of innocent civilians and the subsequent Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages scandal.

Following that model, one Pentagon proposal would send Special Forces teams to advise, support and possibly train Iraqi squads [...] to target Sunni insurgents and their sympathizers, even across the border into Syria. It remains unclear, however, whether this would be a policy of assassination or so-called "snatch" operations, in which the targets are sent to secret facilities for interrogation.

[...] most Iraqi people do not actively support the insurgents or provide them with material or logistical help, but at the same time they won’t turn them in. One military source involved in the Pentagon debate agrees that this is the crux of the problem, and he suggests that new offensive operations are needed that would create a fear of aiding the insurgency. "The Sunni population is paying no price for the support it is giving to the terrorists," he said. "From their point of view, it is cost-free. We have to change that equation."

It's only a page, so go read the whole thing.

Where to begin? I guess when guys like Negroponte are brought back in to the fold to make policy and then moved back up the ladder to actually head up our "embassy" in Iraq, solutions like this should come as no surprise.

With these guys in charge, winning hearts and minds is looking more like pouring gasoline on the fire combined with rubbing salt in wounds and kicking Iraqis when they're down. I'm sure rounding up families to be tortured in secret prisons (and make no mistake, if they were willing to torture people in legit military prisons, these "snatch targets" will be tortured in whatever "secret facility" they are shipped to) will be the key to quelling the insurgency. Targeted assassinations seem to be working out well for Israel as well. Will they be relying on the same great intel to find these targets? At this point I almost believe the fucking psychos in this Administration are daring each other to come up with more brazen (and worse) strategies as part of some warped Pentagon drinking game.

The last sentence in the blockquote from the article just spells it all out: They are drawing up plans to punish the civilian population because they can't come up with any other successful military or diplomatic strategy. At what point is this no longer distinguishable from the Nazis terrorizing people into giving up their Jewish neighbors? Now, I know we are not Nazi Germany, but if we actually plan on killing and torturing as a policy how much better do we look to the Sunnis, the Iraqis and others in the Middle East?

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Politics: Worse Than Ashcroft

Yeah, hard to believe I could type those words. But it's true. Gonzales himself may not be worse or do a worse job than Ashcroft, but for any Democrat to support him for confirmation is infinitley worse than confirming Ashcroft.

I don't have the time for the manifesto this topic deserves, so go read for yourself what I would have sourced anyway...

The ad MoveOn is running. It's good.

A great, concise Statement of Opposition.

The ACLU's press release/statement and a pdf of Gonzales' complete judicial record on civil rights/liberties.

Salon on Alberto's horrible job preparing Cliff Notes of Execution Briefings for then-Governor Lazy Dumbass in Texas. The torture memos, and the Democrats rolling over on the Commitee. Readers weigh in as well.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Baseball: Are You Sure George Bush Doesn't Still Own a Baseball Team?

I heard this on NPR this morning, got all outraged, and then forgot about it. The Hall of Fame discussion reminded me of the dumbest sports story of the year (so far).
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Baseball's Angels have a new name, and it's a mouthful: The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

The switch, which will be challenged in court by the city of Anaheim, is intended to help the team market itself to more of Southern California, attract more advertising sponsors and broadcast revenue, the team said Monday.

"We believe that the appeal in the marketplace will be broader," Angels spokesman Tim Mead said.

Biggest bullshit idea in sports marketing I've ever heard. Not to mention it's just plain wrong. The only viable alternative (to me) is to change back to the California Angels, but since the team got the City of Anaheim to pony up $20 million to fix up the stadium a few years ago by agreeing to call the team the Anaheim Angels, Moreno should be shit out of luck. Let's hope the court agrees.

[FOLLOW-UP] I guess the legality of the change is up to interpretation of the contract:
The clause in the 1996 agreement between the Angels and the city of Anaheim is ambiguous and therefore it could be up to the courts to decide whether or not the new name is adequate. In exchange for $20 million in renovations, the team agreed to include Anaheim in their name.

Section 11. Advertising and Sponsorship
(f) Team Name
Tenant will change the name of the team to include the name "Anaheim" therein, such change to be effective no later than the commencement of the 1997 season.

Bullshit. Yes, "Anaheim" is still "included" in the name, but I don't think the sixth word (sure to be left off the uniforms, etc) is what they had in mind. This clearly isn't in the spirit of the agreement. Let's hope the judge is an old-school fan.

Oh, and the Angels had the third-highest attendance last year. They're doing fine without pretending they're in L.A. Change the colors back to blue if you aren't selling enough merchandise. But I don't mean the Mo Vaughn-era cartoon uniforms, I mean the old Nolan Ryan, Rod Carew ones.

BASEBALL: Hall of Fame

The Sports Guy has two good columns. One specifically on Boggs' uninspiring march into the Hall, and the other breaks down the rest of the ballot.

Sigh. Sometimes reading Bill makes me realize I'm a pretty crappy writer...

Politics: Just Say "NO!"

Digby has another good post.
I remember that before the Iraq war vote, millions of Democrats wrote to their Senators begging them not to vote for the resolution. Many of them voted for the resolution anyway, some for regional reasons like Schumer and Clinton and some because of presidential ambitions. (And then there was Joe, true believer.) Ok. It was only a year after 9/11, Bush stood at 75% approval rating, an election was imminent and nobody knew quite how the wind was going to blow. But none of those conditions are currently present. There is absolutely no excuse for Democrats to compromise or preemptively cave on anything of importance. None.

The first thing on the table in this new congress is going to be Alberto Gonzales. He will be confirmed (barring naked pictures of him and Bush in a hammock drinking tequila slammers. And even then... ) But, because of that, the temptation for many Democrats will be to vote with the Republicans on this in hopes of holding a chit or two down the road on something that really matters to them. This is as dumb as it is wrong.

As Matt Yglesias says (regarding social security) today on TAPPED:

It's compelling logic, that is, if you've been living under a rock for the past four years. Democrats have tried this approach several times during the first term, and with only the partial exception of No Child Left Behind, they've gotten screwed each and every time. At some point, you've got to learn the lesson that the White House and the GOP leadership isn't interested in constructive compromise. Ask Charlie Stenholm where his bipartisanship on Social Security got him.

I honestly don't know what it's going to take to teach this to the Democrats in congress. It's as if the Republicans have attached a "kick me" sign to their backs and nobody's told them. We need to tell them in no uncertain terms.

He's right. The Democrats need to start acting like a true opposition party and stop thinking there is any such thing as bipartisanship. I don't remember who came up with this disgusting analogy (I think it was actually a Republican), but it is proving correct. Bipartisanship is like date rape. The Dems keep going on the date thinking the Republicans will behave and they'll have a nice time, and they get fucked every time.

There are going to be issues that the Democrats cannot stop. Gonzales' confirmation as A.G. is probably among the first. But the only hope they have of thwarting his appointment is to actually ask the toughest possible questions and demand the answers. Unless a tough hearing unveils extremely unsavory information (yes, astonishingly that means something more unsavory than his support for torture), Gonzales will be confirmed. There should be no room in the Democratic party for anyone to support his nomination. No electoral reasons. No "voting with the winning side" because a "Nay" is really a protest vote. Goddamn right it's a protest vote, and if you can't cast it, get the fuck on the other side of the aisle.

The same for Social Security "reform" as currently proposed by the Republicans. NO. Across the board. Come up with your own reform package if you must, but in no way should any Democrat support the shit coming down the pike from Bush & Co.

Any Demoocrat on the wrong side of these (and others to come) bellweather issues needs to get tossed over the side. I've got no use for you in the Party and ou should be challenged in the next primary even if it means losing. If we're going to be a minority, at least be a minority with a spine.

Hmm. 2005 is shaping up to be even more angry than last year...

[UPDATE:] I'll definitely be more angry if shit like this comes to pass:
[NY Times] Senator Charles E. Schumer, a New York Democrat on the committee, said in an interview that despite reservations about Mr. Gonzales, he is likely to be confirmed and with broad Democratic support.

Mr. Schumer said the threshold for winning confirmation to a president's cabinet was far lower than for lifetime nominations to the Supreme Court, which have produced intense battles.

"Generally, for an executive branch position the president gets the benefit of the doubt," he said. "The general feeling on the committee is that he has probably met that lowered threshold."

Um, Senator, if you are going to support him in the end, don't bother with the "tough questions." Oppose him or don't. If a guy like Schumer, who was just re-elected with 80% of the vote, can't take a stand, we are truly fucked.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Politics: The Deal With Social Security

I read two good breakdowns of what is really going on with this whole Social Security privatization / "crisis" scam from the Republicans. Matthew Yglesias' is pretty short and sweet [my emphasis added]:
...This is not a Day of Reckoning for Social Security. At best, it's a Day of Reckoning for the General Fund that owes Social Security the money.

Some people of my acquaintance believe that this is a distinction without a difference, since the General Fund is the government and the Social Security Trust Fund is just a different bit of the government. But the two notional entities have different revenue streams -- the SSTF is mostly financed by payroll taxes on the middle class while the GF is mostly financed by income taxes on high earners. When the GF borrowed from the SSTF, America's middle class was lending money to America's rich with an understanding that the money would be repaid with interest. [...] Today, the agents of America's rich in the Republican Party are proposing that the wealthy default on their debt to the middle class. That this proposal exists is the only thing that Social Security must "reckon" with for the next several decades.

The people facing the day of reckoning are the high-income folks who will soon need to start paying their bills. Rather than pony up the cash, they prefer to default. The voters -- and the congress -- shouldn't let them.

It's not that short and sweet, there's more. But that's the juicy part. The comments thread afterwards has some good analogies and points as well.

Josh Marshall has a longer breakdown, but he does a better job blaming the President. Money quote:
After 1980 we started borrowing money big-time to finance our deficits -- in large part because of tax cuts on high-income earners. However you want to slice it, we started spending substantially more than we were taking in in tax revenue.

So where'd we borrow the money?

This is from memory, so I may have the numbers a bit off. But I believe about $4 trillion of that debt was borrowed on the open market -- individual Americans have them in their investment portfolios, or pension funds hold them, or the Chinese, Japanese and the Saudis and others have them in bonds.

But about $3 trillion of those dollars we needed to fund the 1980s and 1990s deficits we managed to borrow closer to home. We borrowed it from the Social Security (and a few other government) trust fund(s).

Almost the entirety of President Bush's Social Security phase-out plan comes down to a simple proposition: finding out how NOT to pay it back.

Now, admittedly, this is an approach that the president is rather familiar with from his own business career at various failed energy companies. But it is, in so many words, a straight up con -- one of vast scale, and one which virtually no one in the media ever frames in just these terms.

Not the media, and sure as hell not the lame-ass Democrats.

Hypocrisy: Christian Right Could Give A Shit About Tsunami

[via Digby]
Christian right's compassion deficit
More than 100,000 dead in south Asia, but it's business as usual at the web sites of America's Christian right organizations

It took President Bush three days to ready himself to go before the television cameras and make a public statement about Sunday's devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck southern Asia. Even though he was late, and much more money will be needed, the president pledged at least $35 million in aid to the victims of the disaster. But, as of December 30, some of the president's major family-values constituents have yet to be heard from: It's business as usual at the web sites of the American Family Association, the Family Research Council, the Christian Coalition, Focus on the Family, Concerned Women for America, and the Coral Ridge Ministries.

These powerful and well-funded political Christian fundamentalist organizations appear to be suffering from a compassion deficit. Organizations which are amazingly quick to organize to fight against same-sex marriage, a woman's right to choose, and embryonic stem cell research are missing in action when it comes to responding to the disaster in southern Asia. None of their web sites are actively soliciting aid for the victims of the earthquake/tsunami.

In fact, there is no mention of the giant earthquake and tsunami that devastated southern Asia. There are no headlines about the dead, injured or the tremendous damage; there are no urgent appeals for donations; there are no phone numbers to call; there are no links to organizations collecting money and providing aid for the victims.

You pretty much can't go online these days with out being asked to help the poor folks in South Asia.'s front page is bumped by an appeal, even one of my printing vendors is soliciting and then matching donations. All in all it seems the entire civilized and compassionate world is rushing to the challenge, except for these pious, holier-than-thou assholes on the religious right. The "American Family Association" is apparently far more worked up about "Gay Ski Week" in Telluride, Colorado.

Events like the death and destruction in South Asia pretty much affirm my lack of belief in what most define as "God." And if I'm wrong, and he exists, I have no shame in saying, "Fine, if this is the way you treat people, I'm glad not to be a party to it." As far as the jackasses who line up behind a God that would do this, could they at least pretend to care? Like our phony-ass President, all the talk of values and morals is a mere tool towards their goals.

Do I need any more reasons to completely reject organized religion?

[UPDATE: Rude Pundit on the [lack of] reaction from the President. And here is the transcript from his idiotic press conference.]

[FURTHER UPDATE: Which Party was the Party of values and "compassionate conservatism"? RNC site vs. DNC site.]