Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Today's Big Tool

John McCain!

Link #1:

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - President Bush and Sen. John McCain put on another showing Tuesday of their good-cop, bad-cop routine on Social Security, trying to prod Democrats into cooperating with rather than opposing the president's drive to create private accounts within the system.

I guess this writer hasn't heard...they're personal accounts, not private accounts! (-snicker-)

McCain, after speaking glowingly of ``the pride I feel in this president,'' had a less conciliatory message for Democrats in Congress, whom he accused of being obstructionist and shortsighted. (emphasis mine)

"Some of our friends who are opposing this idea say, `Oh, you don't have to worry until 2042.' We wait until 2042 when we stop paying people Social Security? That's not what this is all about,'' he said. ``Please urge our Democrat friends to come to the table and sit with us and do this for the greater good of the United States of America. ... This issue isn't shouldn't have anything to do with partisan politics.''

He also aimed some of his "straight talk'' at AARP, the powerful lobby for older citizens that opposes Bush's plan to allow younger workers to divert a portion of their Social Security payroll taxes into personal accounts that could be invested in the stock market in trade for reduced guaranteed benefits.


Does this guy's fawning not make you want to vomit? Especially after all the nasty stuff Bush did to him back in 2000?

Link #2:

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Sen. John McCain said Tuesday the conclusions of a commission investigating intelligence failures on weapons of mass destruction should not lead to new questions about whether the Iraq war was justified.

"America, the world and Iraq is better off for what we did in bringing democracy," McCain said.

The Arizona Republican is a member of a commission formed by President Bush over a year ago after the chief weapons inspector in Iraq, David Kay, resigned saying "we were almost all wrong" about the pre-war estimates that Saddam Hussein possessed banned weapons.

The nine-member panel is to release a final report at the end of the month that is expected to take a critical look at the assessments of weapons programs, particularly in Iraq, Iran and North Korea, by the 15 agencies that comprise the U.S. intelligence community.

McCain, in appearances with Bush at Social Security events in the West the past two days, has been offering a glowing endorsement of the president's second-term push for democracy around the globe. In two states Monday and here on Tuesday, he ticked off changes in Afghanistan, Ukraine, the Middle East and Iraq as proof that Bush "is on the right side of history" and deserves credit for advancing freedom throughout the world.
(emphasis mine)

Ugh. Never forget - McCain may not be a fundie, but ever the good soldier, he tows the party line every time.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Shameful

I haven't covered the Schiavo case at all, on the account that many others are doing a great job already of exposing the Repug hypocrisy. But I came across this at Raw Story - the infamous GOP talking points that so many have been talking about:

This is an important moral issue and the pro-life base will be excited that the Senate is debating this important issue.

This is a great political issue, because Senator Nelson of Florida - has already refused to become a cosponsor and this is a tough issue for Democrats.


Meanwhile, have any of you talked to anyone who would want to be kept alive in the same sad state as Terry Schiavo? I know I haven't, even from the most diehard wingnuts. I know if if were me, I'd want my loved ones to do the right thing - and pull the plug. But we all know this is about much more than that...at least, those of us who read liberal blogs...

Again, the GOP is out of touch.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Waaaah! Waaaah!

Great article by Russell Jacoby at The Nation, about whiny-ass conservatives and their ironic preoccupation with "academic freedom."

Jack Kelly: Racist and sexist?

Either that, or just plain stupid. Read his latest pile of excrement, and pay special attention to his conclusion about shifts in Armed Forces enlistment:

Money for college was the principal reason young people gave for a willingness to enlist, followed by "duty."

Proportionately more blacks and women enlist for the economic benefits, while a higher proportion of white males give duty as a reason for joining up.

So blacks and women who enlisted primarily for the benefits are being replaced by white males who enlist primarily to serve their country. That's not such a bad thing.
(emphasis mine)

Hooray for the dutiful white men! It's about time they took the place of those shiftless, money-grubbing blacks and women! (Sarcasm, anyone?)

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Myopia

I normally don't slag other bloggers, but this was just too much. Powerball, a fundie conservative, writes:

Amid the backdrop of soaring oil and gasoline prices, a sharply divided Senate on Wednesday voted to open the ecologically rich Alaska wildlife refuge to oil drilling, delivering a major energy policy win for President Bush.
The Senate, by a 51-49 vote, rejected an attempt by Democrats and GOP moderates to remove a refuge drilling provision from next year's budget, preventing opponents from using a filibuster — a tactic that has blocked repeated past attempts to open the Alaska refuge to oil companies.

Hey as long as I don't have to pay two bucks a gallon you can drill on top of Mount Rushmare for all I care. Move over caribou, here comes Exxon.
(emphasis mine)

I could snipe about spelling and grammar, but the main point is that, despite what your Dear Leader says, drilling in ANWR won't make a great difference, and I'd be willing to bet that we won't see considerably cheaper gas prices because of it. And is cheaper gas worth damaging the environment? I don't like expensive gas either, but there are many other, better ways to lessen our dependence on foreign oil. This whole brouhaha is more about politics than helping the "common man":

Others who advised Bush on his energy plan said including the refuge was seen as a political maneuver to open the door to more geologically promising prospects off the coasts of California and Florida. Those areas, where tests have found oil, have been blocked for years by federal moratoriums because of political and environmental concerns.

``If you can't do ANWR,'' said Matthew R. Simmons, a Houston investment banker for the energy industry, ``you'll never be able to drill in the promising areas.''

Freaking unbelievable

I'm sure you've already heard about this, but the neocon takeover continues:

President George Bush risked the ire of the international community for the second time in as many weeks yesterday as he nominated his administration's leading neo-conservative hawk, Paul Wolfowitz, to be the head of the World Bank.

Barely eight days after he nominated John Bolton, a hotly anti-United Nations State Department official as US ambassador to the UN, the President's choice of World Bank president seemed virtually guaranteed to raise hackles in diplomatic circles, and among development professionals who believe Mr Wolfowitz ­ currently Deputy Secretary of Defence ­ is unqualified for the job...

Mr Wolfowitz is not only an international lightning rod because of his central role in mounting the Iraq war. The appointment of a conservative ideologue with no direct experience of the financial world is also likely to be unsettling to Tony Blair and Gordon Brown as they seek G8 backing to cancel debts in the world's poorest nations.


Wow. Look here for a list of Wolfie's delusions about Iraq. A few choice excerpts:

Weapons of mass destruction in Iraq: "They've worked at hiding things very, very deliberately. There's no question in my mind that there was something there. There are just too many pieces of evidence, and we'll get to the bottom of it." May 31, 2003.

Rebuilding Iraq: "There's a lot of money to pay for this. It doesn't have to be U.S. taxpayer money. We are dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction and relatively soon." March 27, 2003.


Look on the right side of this blog for the ever-rising cost of the Iraq war, courtesy of the U.S. taxpayer.

Wofie's plan to eradicate poverty: Look for food in Somalia ("It's gotta be in there somewhere!") and kill thousands of poor people ("Well, there's less poverty now, right?").

Spin cycle

Via Raw Story:

When things don't go your way, spin, spin, spin:

President George W. Bush said Tuesday that Italy and other nations will start pulling out of Iraq as Iraqis are able to defend themselves.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has announced that Italy's troops will start withdrawing from Iraq in September, but Bush said the Italian leader had assured him during telephone talks on Tuesday that there was no change of policy.

"He wanted me to know that there was no change in his policy, that in fact, any withdrawals would be done in consultation with allies and would be done, depending upon the ability of the iraqis to defend themselves," Bush told a press conference.

"I think you will find that countries will be anxious to get out when Iraqis have the capacity to defend themselves, and that is the position of the United States."

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

On the ol' homestead

Tim at Chuck Pennacchio's site has some clever coverage of Santorum's residency issues. Check it out - anything to give Ricky a headache...

Monday, March 14, 2005

This is just plain stupid

Believe it or not, I'm not criticizing the Bush Administration this time, just a bunch of morons in Wyoming:

CHEYENNE - As if the hair in your salad wasn't bad enough, a city health inspector here said there had been "several cases" of tongue rings and other facial jewelry found in the food in the city's restaurants.

It was enough to persuade the Governor's Food Safety Council to recommend banning facial jewelry for restaurant workers who prepare food -- perhaps becoming the first state in the country to do so. Katherine Kim of the National Restaurant Association said her organization isn't aware of any other state that banned facial piercings.

But despite his testimony, when contacted by The Associated Press, Jon Cecil of Cheyenne Health Department couldn't cite a single documented case of facial jewelry falling into a restaurant dish.

That's not what he said in a Jan. 25 hearing before the Food Safety Council.

"We've had several cases of old ladies finding tongue rings and rings and whatnot in their food," Cecil testified. "We actually had a lady at one of our finer restaurants in town and ... she found a tongue ring."
(emphasis mine)

Okay, I think I've solved the mystery, Shaggy. Some cranky old lady (sorry if that sounds age-ist) got freaked out over the Subway Sandwich Artist's lip ring and complained. And now a stupid law could be passed that would discriminate against (by and large) young people.

One question: Would the law pertain to ear piercings? I'm sure they're much more common than nose or eyebrow piercings, and just as likely (read: not likely at all) to "fall" into someone's Extreme Fajitas.

At least some people in the area have some common sense:

...Troy Meeks, general manager of the Snake River Bar and Grill in Cheyenne and a 23-year veteran of the restaurant business, said he had never heard of piercings making their way into a customer's food.

"It sounds kind of silly to me," he said.

Cindy Weindling, vice president of the Colorado Restaurant Association, saw little reason to ban facial jewelry.

"I don't see a health hazard," she said. "If it's not a health hazard, why do we need a regulation?"

Global warming? What global warming?

The Guardian features some disturbing photos. I wonder why we haven't seen more of this sort of thing in the American media? Probably too busy running Bush Administration propaganda.

Surprising?

Hardly:

WASHINGTON -- The Homeland Security Department's former independent watchdog says he was twice summoned to then-Secretary Tom Ridge's office last year and asked why his reports criticizing the agency were being sent to Congress and whether they could be presented more favorably to the department.

Ridge "was trying to get me not to give things to Congress and also to try to spin reports in a way most favorable to the department, and I resisted both of those," former Inspector General Clark Kent Ervin said in an interview.


Of course, Ridge denies it. But this administration has a habit of suppressing dissenting points of view in favor of more "friendly" ones.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Schadenfreude

Those darn Americans just won't get in line:

SHREVEPORT, La. Mar 11, 2005 — In state after state along President Bush's Social Security road campaign, hand-picked audiences cheer him, leaving the impression that the nation wholeheartedly backs his ideas for reform.

The reality is different.

While a majority of Americans approve of Bush's handling of terrorism and foreign policy, just 37 percent like his approach to Social Security, an Associated Press poll found.
(emphasis mine)

Sorry to keep harping on this, but I'm lovin' every minute of it! (Gratuitous Loverboy reference)

Note to Democrats: Do not give in!

Light blogging over the weekend - see you Sunday or Monday.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Still out of touch

Link:

Most American voters say the decisive presidential election last week has given them renewed confidence about the nation's electoral system and they're hopeful about the next four years, an Associated Press Poll finds.

At the same time, they feel a sense of urgency about Iraq, their top priority for President Bush to tackle after his re-election, questioning disclosed. Iraq was followed by terrorism among voters' leading concerns...

The poll taken in the days following the election also found that voters want Bush to cut the deficit, which ballooned under his watch, rather than pushing for more tax cuts.

The voters' concerns stood in contrast to the priorities Bush cited after he defeated Democrat John Kerry. Bush pledged to aggressively pursue major changes in Social Security, tax laws and medical malpractice awards. Terrorism was a chief concern both for Bush and many voters in the poll...

More than one-fourth of respondents, 27%, named Iraq as the top priority for Bush's second term, ahead of terrorism, the economy and health care. Only 2% named taxes as a priority in the poll conducted for the AP by Ipsos-Public Affairs.

By more than a 2-1 margin, voters said they preferred that the president balance the budget rather than reduce taxes further.
(All emphasis mine)

Chuck Who?

That's what the PA State Democratic Party seems to be saying about Chuck Pennacchio. Not only is this a big mistake, it's just plain rude:

Pennacchio finds the Party's approach "disrespectful."

"It was very disrespectful, and mostly to the volunteers," Pennacchio said. "We had hundreds of volunteers who have been giving their time and energy. Also, it's disrespectful to the people this campaign represents. We represent working class people, middle class men and women, children, older Americans... Our campaign stands for a better and brighter future."


What does Casey stand for? (silence)

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

I like music!

Yes, I do. I usually post bitter liberal screeds, but I felt like somehting different this time. I'm fairly new to the MP3 blog phenomenon, but Fluxblog is one of my favorites. Visit the site regularly for samples of a vast array of often unheard gems.

Rep. Conyers: U.S. Democracy in trouble

Read here:

In summary, Rep. Conyers expressed concern at what he perceives to be a systematic erosion of due process throughout government. He asserted this departure from the “protection that the government provides people” should be a “wake up call” to those who cherish democracy in the United States...

The second longest ranking member of the House (Conyers was elected first in 1964) says he has great concern for America’s future under a presidency he feels has forgotten everyday Americans.

“We're dealing with a political viewpoint now that is witnessing the steady erosion of the protection that the government provides people in voting, against emergencies, problems in life, unemployment, running out of money, having to go into bankruptcy, or suing in court, where you may be injured far beyond some measly cap of $250,000,” Conyers said.

“It seems like on every front they're trying to frustrate, obfuscate and make it as difficult as possible for citizens to assert their rights,” he added.

Conyers said he believes the American democracy is struggling under the weight of current policies.

“This should be a wake up call to a lot of people who begin to realize that we're moving backwards in terms of democracy,” he said. “We're moving backwards in terms of economic security, we're having many of our rights taken away that we thought we had in the courts. ”


He also weighs in on Graham and Gannon, too. Check it out for yourself; it's a worthwhile read. It's really encouraging to hear at least a few of our elected representatives expressing the same concerns that pound in my fevered brain every single day. Between this and the GAO report, I actually feel a bit of optimism today. Now tomorrow, we'll see.

On a side note: Those who visit this blog, please feel free to leave comments on my posts or my blog and writing in general. I'm always eager to hear what you have to say, even if it's critical.

GAO: Bush plan bad for Social Security

It's all in black and white:

WASHINGTON - (KRT) - Private investment accounts such as those President Bush endorses not only will not save Social Security, but they also could accelerate the retirement system's financial problems, a nonpartisan government official told Congress Wednesday.

The testimony by Comptroller General David Walker, head of the Government Accountability Office - a congressional watchdog agency - encouraged Democrats, who want Bush to drop his proposal for new personal accounts before they negotiate any plan to fix Social Security's long-term solvency shortfall.

But Walker also said that the impact that private accounts would have on Social Security would depend entirely on how they're funded and what other steps are taken - such as pension-benefit cuts or tax increases - to shore up the system's long-term solvency. The GAO chief also said that action is needed soon to address the system's solvency problem before it worsens.

"Social Security does not face an immediate crisis, but it does face a large and growing problem," Walker told the House Ways and Means Committee in its first hearing this year on problems facing the national pension system.
(emphasis added)

Again, more good news for all Americans - that is, unless Democrats get in the mood to cut a compromise deal with Republicans. Why do it? We're right, and they're wrong, end of story. Would Republicans do the same in our position? You're damn right they wouldn't!

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Not so fast, there

The party in Lebanon might have to be put on hold for a while:

BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) - Pro-Syrian protesters gathered in a central Beirut square Tuesday, answering a nationwide call by the militant Shiite Muslim Hezbollah group for a demonstration to counter weeks of massive rallies demanding Syrian forces leave Lebanon.

Loudspeakers blared songs of resistance and organizers handed out Lebanese flags and directed the men and women to separate sections of the square. Black-clad Hezbollah guards handled security, lining the perimeter of the square and taking position on rooftops. Trained dogs sniffed for bombs.

Large cranes hoisted two giant white and red flags bearing Lebanon's cedar tree. On one, the words ``Thank you Syria'' were written in English; on the other, ``No to foreign interference.''
(emphasis added)

Could Bush's heavy-handed tactics be backfiring?

Look, you'll never hear me say that democracy and freedom are bad things. It's ridiculous that wingnuts have so many Americans somehow convinced that liberals/progressives are against these values. But to credit Bush with what's happening in Lebanon? Please. Shouldn't we give the Lebanese their props?

From listening to the right-wing blogosphere and much of the MSM, one would think that the Lebanese people have been cowering in fear, just waiting for the Messiah of Freedom (Bush) to bomb the hell out of Iraq as the "OK" sign for them to speak out. Bullshit.

Atrios has some thoughts on the matter, too.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Down the Memory Hole

Evidently, Santorum's having trouble on the Internet:

Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) has removed a poll on his Web site that didn't go his way,” Roll Call’s Mary Ann Akers will declare in Monday’s Roll Call, RAW STORY can reveal.

The poll, an image of which appears on the website of Democrat Chuck Pennacchio, a Democrat vying against Santorum in the race.

“The question in his online poll asked, ‘Do you support the creation of voluntary Personal Retirement Accounts as a part of Social Security reform?’” Akers

pens. “Answering yes were 9.2 percent of respondents; 90.8 percent clicked ‘No, Social Security should not be reformed to include Personal Retirement Accounts for Individuals.’”

Asked about the results of the poll, a Santorum spokeswoman told Akers the senator switches polls so visitors can register their opinions on various issues. Akers reports she had no comment on what the senator thought of the “overwhelming response opposing personal accounts.”


Nice score on that one from Chuck Pennacchio!

Worse than Ward Churchill?

Way worse. Anti-gay bigots thank God for 9/11: (Via Raw Story)

CLEVELAND - A Topeka, Kansas anti-gay and lesbian group picketed near Truett-McConnell College Saturday in Cleveland, protesting against the Gay-Straight Alliance Club.

Eight demonstrators from Westboro Baptist Church, six adults and two children, held up protest signs on the roadside near the college entrance as a heavy escort of Cleveland Police and State Troopers looked on.

The group was barred from Truett-McConnell grounds because it is private property.

Shirley Phelps-Roper held a bright neon painted sign that read "Thank God for 9-11" and claimed it was her duty to come to Cleveland...

Another protester, Katherine Hockenbarger,claimed the 9-11 attack was divine retribution.

"That was but a small sign of the doom of this nation," she said. "You can't live your life anyway you want to and expect to go to heaven."


Lovely. BTW, I've been meaning to address Churchill's infamous essay for a while now, but have never found enough time to devote to a trenchant analysis. Hopefully soon.

Social Security destroys GOP

Yeah, I know, you thought it would be the other way around. This article from the LA Times shows how Bush's divisive, unpopular stance on Social Security is creating cracks in the GOP's mighty exoskeleton, revealing the soft, gushy stuff inside.

Of Freedom and Reality

The Post Gazette publishes a pretty fair assessment, by Fred Kaplan, of "freedom on the march" in the Middle East.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Hunter S. Thompson murdered?

Some think so - read here. Thompson was evidently working on a 9-11 expose' before his death and warned a friend that he might be killed and the murder made to look like a suicide.

Granted, the site I linked to above is rife with conspiracy theory, but the article itself has pretty legit sources (Toronto Globe and Mail, AP, etc.). I'm extremely skeptical, but intrigued. Will Thompson's unfinished work be published? To be continued...

What book are you?




You're The Giver!

by Lois Lowry

While you grew up with a sheltered childhood, you're pretty sure
everyone around you is even more sheltered. Suddenly, from out of nowhere, you were
tapped on the shoulder and transported to the real world. This made you horrified by
your prior upbringing and now you're tormented by how to reconcile these two lives.
Ultimately, the struggle comes down to that old free will issue. Choose
wisely.



Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Language gone mad

Scrutiny Hooligans breaks down Republican-speak, and it's not pretty:

(Frank) Luntz released a 160 page playbook for the Republican party. It's basically a primer on how to talk if you want to win. It doesn't address ethics, truth, or integrity. It addresses only how to talk. It is sophistry for dummies, and it's what we can expect from the Republican party for the next couple of years.

Read more here.

He's out of touch, he's out of time...

Sorry for the Hall and Oates reference, but it seems that Americans are wary of the Bush agenda:

Americans say President Bush does not share the priorities of most of the country on either domestic or foreign issues, are increasingly resistant to his proposal to revamp Social Security and say they are uneasy with Mr. Bush's ability to make the right decisions about the retirement program, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll...

On Social Security, 51 percent said permitting individuals to invest part of their Social Security taxes in private accounts, the centerpiece of Mr. Bush's plan, was a bad idea, even as a majority said they agreed with Mr. Bush that the program would become insolvent near the middle of the century if nothing was done. The number who thought private accounts were a bad idea jumped to 69 percent if respondents were told that the private accounts would result in a reduction in guaranteed benefits. And 45 percent said Mr. Bush's private account plan would actually weaken the economic underpinnings of the nation's retirement system.

In a sign of the political obstacles confronting the White House, a majority of those surveyed said they would support raising the amount of income subject to Social Security payroll tax above its current ceiling of $90,000, an idea floated by Mr. Bush but shot down by Republican Congressional leaders. Yet there is strong resistance to other options available to Mr. Bush and lawmakers to repair the system, in particular to raising the retirement age or making participation voluntary.

Notwithstanding Mr. Bush's argument that citizens should be given more control over their retirement savings, almost four out of five respondents said it was the government's responsibility to assure a decent standard of living for the elderly.


Hooray! Keep up the fight, Dems - we're winning the Social Security battle (kind of)! Remember what that felt like?

The ratings on Iraq are a mixed bag:

In an apparent reflection of the success of the Iraq elections, 53 percent of those surveyed said that efforts to bring order to Iraq were going very or somewhat well, up from 41 percent a month ago. That is the highest rating on that score since the capture of Mr. Hussein.

Still, 42 percent now say that Mr. Bush would have been better off trying to counter the threat of North Korea before invading Iraq, compared with 45 percent who think Mr. Bush was correct to focus first on Iraq.


But check out the domestic numbers:

Four months after Mr. Bush won a solid re-election over Senator John Kerry, 63 percent of respondents say the president has different priorities on domestic issues than most Americans. Asked to choose among five domestic issues facing the country, respondents rated Social Security third, behind jobs and health care. And nearly 50 percent said Democrats were more likely to make the right decisions about Social Security, compared with 31 percent who said the same thing about Republicans.

What about foreign policy?

And Mr. Bush does not appear to be much more in step with the nation on what the White House has long viewed as his strong suit: 58 percent of respondents said the White House did not share the foreign affairs priorities of most Americans.

Okay, so all this, in a way, is good news: It confirms what many of us already knew. Americans are, at best, ambivalent about the policies of the Bush Administration. So why did Kerry lose? I'm not sure if I'm the most qualified respondent, but I'll say that several factors played into Bush's slim (percentage-wise) victory:

1. The God, Guns and Anti-Gay voters were rallied in full force.
2. For all his faults, Bush is likeable to a lot of people (ugh).
3. Kerry ran a weak campaign and failed to articulate a clear alternative to the Bush Administration.

What do you think?