Monday, January 31, 2005

Heard and Seen

Its easy to forget about the lies told in the run-up to the war in Iraq and all the BS that's happened since. But Eliot Weinberger hasn't forgotten.

(Link found on Wolcott.)

First Amendment, Schmirst Amendment

A new survey of high school students shows that a third of them think the First Amendment goes too far in the rights it guarantees. Really scary.

Why can't they be like we were?
Perfect in every way.
What's the matter with kids today?

More Conservative Claptrap

Those wonderful folks at Regnery Publishing (the creeps who brought you the Swift Boat book and lots of conservative crapola books) have another hit with the "Politically Incorrect Guide to American History" by Professor Thomas Woods.

Its the usual BS of conservative talking points (which are usually disconnected from reality). Oh, and one teeny tiny other thing: the author is a founding member of the Southern nationalist organization, the League of the South.

Eric Muller has all the details.

The League favors 'a return to constitutional republicanism and true federalism, or if that should prove unattainable, secession." According to its own documents, the League recognizes the "legacy of Christianity and the universal sovereignty of the triune God. Most League members are Christians, and we base our movement on Christian principles. Trinitarian Christianity cannot be separated or removed from Southern society or culture without both ceasing to be Southern." And white Southerners at that: "The League seeks to protect the historic Anglo-Celtic core culture of the South because the Scots, Irish, Welsh, and English have given Dixie its unique institutions and civilisation."

Oy. And this book is supposedly selling like hotcakes on college campuses. Double oy.

Iraqi Election

I wonder how many Americans realize what the Iraqi election was actually about. It was not, as we might think in this country, to elect a congress and president. It was to elect a bunch of guys who will come up with a constitution that will be voted on in October. They have no real power.

From the UK Independent:

They have no control over their oil, no authority over the streets of
Baghdad, let alone the rest of the country, no workable army or loyal police
force. Their power is that of the American military and its 150,000 soldiers
whom we could see at the main Baghdad intersections yesterday.

So don't get too excited. Its a long way from a working democracy.

Stuff You Should Read Today

The mixed story of the Iraqi election.

The American media's lockstep cheerleading.

Deja vu, part one.

Deja vu, part two.

And this from Charles Pierce (scroll down in that last link):

You do not own their courage.
The people who stood in line Sunday did not stand in line to make Americans feel good about themselves.
You do not own their courage.
They did not stand in line to justify lies about Saddam and al-Qaeda...They did not stand in line to justify lies about weapons of mass destruction, or to justify the artful dodginess of Ahmad Chalabi...

You do not own their courage.
They did not stand in line in order to justify the dereliction of a kept press. They did not stand in line to make right the wrongs born out of laziness, cowardice, and the easy acceptance of casual lying...They did not stand in line to justify a thousand mistakes that have led to more than a thousand American bodies...

You do not own their courage.
We all should remember that.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Ulterior Motive?

I've been wondering for awhile now if there was an ulterior motive behind the Bush push (all puns intended) on Social Security. Apparently, Kevin Drum was not only wondering this, but coming up with an awfully good prospect.

On the same subject (that is, the whole system is rigged so that the rich get richer and the rest of us don't), you should read this book now that its in paperback: Perfectly Legal : The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich--and Cheat Everybody Else.

Johnston describes in shocking detail the loopholes our government provides the "super rich"--from private individuals to profitable corporations—-to hide their wealth, to defer or evade tax payments, and to pass the bill to law-abiding middle-class Americans. The loss in revenue "imposes a severe cost on honest taxpayers" through reduced services, increased federal debt, and a weight on the middle class that threatens to impede its ability to achieve upward social mobility.

John Edwards

The Washington Post interviews him. Read it.

PS I was surprised to find out that Barak Obama voted for Condi Rice. He had nothing to lose by voting against her. Surprising.

Good Stuff

My friend Julia's art -- if you like it, buy it. I wish I had the money to buy a piece. It's good stuff.

Another One Exposed

A third person has been revealed as taking money from the Bush adminstration to promote one of its policies without revealing that information.

And here's a relevant question:
What does it say about an organization when the guy in charge has to publicly order his employees to stop breaking the law?

And not for the first time. (Thanks to Oliver Willis for the tip.)

No to Gonzales Blogs

The list is here.

Boxer Thanks Bloggers

Over at Daily Kos.

You Can't Buy Class

As Dick Cheney so clearly demonstrated at Auschwitz. Also here.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Star Wars Fan Booted From Line

Too bad. It was amusing.


Kevin Drum writes here about how the Bush administration wants to break the covenant made between the wealthy and the rest of us regarding Social Security.

So this was the implicit bargain in the reforms recommended by Greenspan and signed into law by Reagan: From 1983 to 2018, low- and middle-income earners would pay excess payroll taxes. This allowed income taxes to be kept low, and primarily benefited high earners.

Then, beginning in 2018, instead of raising payroll taxes to pay for baby-boomer retirement benefits, Social Security would begin selling its bonds back to the government.

To pay for those bonds, income taxes would be raised - high earners would begin paying higher income taxes.

In other words, the fact that income taxes will eventually need to be increased in order to cover Social Security benefits was part of the Greenspan/Reagan plan from the start.

And this is what Bush wants to renege on:

...[the] implicit promise that high earners will keep their part of the bargain and begin paying their share of Social Security's costs when the baby boomers retire.


I've said this before and will keep saying it: elections are now about marketing and the Democrats do a piss poor job of it. American consumers are well trained to respond to marketing and the Republicans have done a fantastic job (albeit it in support of horrible causes) of marketing their ideology, which is why they keep winning and we keep losing.

So, what -- in a sentence -- is the Democratic product concept? That's the classic marketing situation that we must address.

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

The Bush administration sends a Holocaust denier to the inauguration of the Ukranian president. Ukraine's new president's father was Auschwitz prisoner number 11367.

A delegation sent by President Bush to Ukraine's presidential inauguration last weekend included a Ukrainian-American activist who has accused Jews of manipulating the Holocaust for their gain and blamed them for Soviet-era atrocities in Ukraine.

"Big money drives the Holocaust industry," Myron B. Kuropas wrote in August 2000.

Worst Bush Bumper Sticker

I hate those oval ones that say "W '04" on them in red and blue on a white background. But the worst ones are the black square stickers that have a large white "W" and in smaller letters underneath "The President." Cults of personality are scary, scary, scary.

Oh Happy Days

Wolcott is so right about this -- Bush's "pain" is so faked and obnoxious. There is some sort of sickness and disconnect with Bush about death, not only in the war but in the Texas executions he's responsible for. Read the post -- its yet another reason to fear this guy and his minions.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Social Security Wedge

Kevin Drum has a good post up about how the Bushies are using Social Security as a classic wedge issue, appealing to special interest groups (seniors, young people, blacks, etc.) as a way of breaking any united front against their insane proposals.


TBOGG takes down the notion of a vast left wing conspiracy:

We don't have a central Vast Left Wing Conspiracy HQ that blast-faxes our daily talking points to us which means that we are forced to think up stuff on our own. As our President might say, "That's hard work". Also we don't have a central organizing Cult of Personality that demands that we focus on "Him" and what would He do or what would be best for Him, and thus forces us to view all other topics as somehow influenced by His magnificent gravitational pull.

Think Blue Wrist Band

Mine came in the mail yesterday. Very cool.


I've never been very interested in the Civil War, which can be problematic now that I live in the south where nearly everyone is obsessed with it. But in this Salon piece from yesterday on secession (being considered by some in blue states), there was this paragraph about Lincoln. I didn't know any of this (yeah, I know, I'm ignorant about the Civil War) and it surprised me:

And if saving the union was Lincoln's sole purpose, then breaking the law appeared to be his method. One wonders what kind of union he hoped in the end to save. As DiLorenzo notes, Lincoln was the first and only president to suspend habeas corpus. He shut down hundreds of newspapers that preached peace or criticized his administration, arrested thousands of political dissenters en masse, censored telegraph communications, used federal troops to intervene in elections, even deported a congressional opponent. Church ministers too felt his heavy hand: They were threatened with imprisonment if they failed to include at the beginning of each service a prayer for Lincoln and the preservation of the union.

According to Edward S. Corwin, writing in 1947 in his book "Total War and the Constitution," Lincoln probably "invented" the war-powers doctrine that has since provided such convenient legal cover for militarist ventures issuing from the White House.

True Conservatives

Good piece here by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, who was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy during 1981-82 and also Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review.

Selections from the piece:

In the ranks of the new conservatives, however, I see and experience much hate. It comes to me in violently worded, ignorant and irrational emails from self-professed conservatives who literally worship George Bush. Even Christians have fallen into idolatry. There appears to be a large number of Americans who are prepared to kill anyone for George Bush.

And more:

There is nothing conservative about these positions. To label them conservative is to make the same error as labeling the 1930s German Brownshirts conservative.

American liberals called the Brownshirts "conservative," because the Brownshirts were obviously not liberal. They were ignorant, violent, delusional, and they worshipped a man of no known distinction. Brownshirts' delusions were protected by an emotional force field. Adulation of power and force prevented Brownshirts from recognizing implications for their country of their reckless doctrines.

Like Brownshirts, the new conservatives take personally any criticism of their leader and his policies. To be a critic is to be an enemy. I went overnight from being an object of conservative adulation to one of derision when I wrote that the US invasion of Iraq was a "strategic blunder."

Gonzales Vote

I wrote to both of my (Repugnicant) Senators yesterday and, while acknowledging (in fairly polite terms) that they are both Bush buttheads, I suggested that they must know they could do better than Alberto Gonzales for AG. Kos (and a bunch of others) think so, too. A vote for Gonzales is a vote for torture.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005


Good post here on who is more corrupt -- today's crop of Repugnicants or the late '80s/early '90s group of Dems. Guess who is the real villain? Starts with an N and rhymes with poot.

The Chinese Own Us

Kos says it (as do others). Precarious footing, eh?

What Would Jesus Do?

From David Corn:

Though there was no official poem for the occasion, impressionist Rich Little, emceeing the Constitution Ball at the Hilton Washington, did provide a bit of inaugural doggerel. The gist of it was: "Let's get together, let bitterness pass, I'll hug your elephant, you kiss my ass!" And the crowd went crazy.

Little said he missed and adored the late President Ronald Reagan and "I wish he was here tonight, but as a matter of fact he is," and he proceeded to impersonate Reagan, saying, "You know, somebody asked me, 'Do you think the war on poverty is over?' I said, 'Yes, the poor lost.' " The crowd went wild.

WWJD, indeed.

Monday, January 24, 2005

The Queen Never Has Any Money With Her Either

Yeah, I know its no big deal that Bush doesn't carry money and thus got caught empty-handed at church, but its an interesting parallel that the queen never has any money in those ugly handbags of hers either.

Did Gonzales Lie About Bush DUI?

Newsweek thinks maybe so.

Its bad enough the guy has demonstrated he knows next to nothing about the law, but now it appears Gonzales helped Bush avoid jury duty in which he'd have to talk about his DUI and now Gonzales is denying he helped Bush.

Remember, a vote for Gonzales is a vote for torture.

Friday, January 21, 2005


Eric Boehlert at Salon says :

"...our favorite TV nugget of the day so far came courtesy of Barbara Walters, who matter-of-factly informed viewers that Laura Bush recently had her hair done by famed New York City stylist Sally Hershberger, who charges $700 for a haircut. Just take a moment to think back to the go-go '90s, and try to imagine what the press' hysterical reaction would have been if word ever leaked out that Hillary Clinton had sat down for a $700 trim."

I'm sure we all remember the SCLM's meltdown over Clinton's $200 haircut on the tarmac at LAX. Which, BTW, did not delay flights (pure conservative urban legend).


I'm a casual fan of sumo. I do read the English version of the Japan Times sumo coverage when there is a basho (every two months). The Tokyo basho is winding up tomorrow and Mongolian grand champion Asashoryu is likely to win. He's 12-0 now. Unfortunately, one cannot find sumo on American TV. ESPN used to carry a one-hour special on each basho but I don't know if they do that anymore. I've heard there is going to be a sumo tour coming to Vegas in March 2006, which I would absolutely love to go to, but I can't find any info on it.

Daily Show Take on Coronation Speech

Of course, Jon Stewart's monologue on the coronation speech on The Daily Show last night was hysterical. Best part was when he played a part of Bush's speech regarding spreading democracy throughout the world and ending tyranny, and Stewart came on and said "offer does not apply in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia..." (he said a bunch of other countries, but I can't recall them). Very, very funny.

Bush's Religious References are Not the Usual

Why Bush's religious references are not like the usual such references we hear from most American politicians:

"Presidents since Roosevelt have commonly spoken as petitioners of God, seeking blessing, favor and guidance. This president positions himself as a prophet, issuing declarations of divine desires for the nation and world."

Bush the Radical

How the liberal UK newspaper The Guardian saw the Bush coronation speech.

"With this radical address, Mr Bush nailed his colours once and for all to the neoconservative mast, committing himself to an activist foreign policy. He went out of his way to reject the more traditional "realist" Republican philosophy associated with his father, which argues that democracy cannot be exported to regions like the Middle East and that US foreign policy should be guided by narrowly defined national self-interest."

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Coronation Day

World Fears New Bush Era.

We should too.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Bulldog Boxer

Kudos to Sen. Barbara Boxer for challenging Condi Rice at her confirmation hearings yesterday. I heard a little bit of the exchange on NPR yesterday and actually laughed out loud at Condi's mock outrage at being called a liar by Boxer. She even had the little hitch in her voice when she whined about her integrity being impuned. As TBOGG puts it, "we all know that Rice lost her integrity cherry back when she called a report titled 'Bin Laden Determined To Strike in US.' a 'historical document'." Read the whole post, its spot on and very funny. John Kerry let her have it too. There's no doubt she'll be confirmed, but let's make her very, very uncomfortable.

Dems Must Not Compromise

The Democrats must be very, very wary of any compromise with the Bush administration on Social Security. These people do not compromise. As Atrios warns: "I caution any Dems about getting suckered into a "bipartisan plan" to "reform" the system which will be magically switcherooed by DeLay's goons on the conference committee."

There is No Crisis

Say it loud and often: There is no crisis in Social Security.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Star Wars

There's a guy who got in line for the next Star Wars movie on January 1 in Seattle (the movie is scheduled to be released in theaters May 19) and he's blogging.

I'm a big fan (actually a bigger fan of LOTR), but there are limits.

A few weeks ago I bought a DVD of the Star Wars Holiday Special on ebay. I tried to watch it a couple of days ago but it was so, so, so bad that I could not stomach more than about 15 minutes of it. I mean, it is beyond camp-y bad – its incredibly, stink-o-rific bad. I’ll try again at some point to finish watching it but I think perhaps life is too short.

More Scary Stuff

David Neiwart on how the fundamentalists have become mainstream and how they are using freedom of religion to attempt to change this country into a theocracy.

This generates from the news stories about the swearing-in of Alabama Supreme Court Justice Tom Parker last Thursday before U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in Washington. New stories quoted Parker as saying "Thomas told him a judge should be evaluated by whether he faithfully upholds his oath to God, not to the people, to the state or to the Constitution."

I know some have discounted this remark, but I find it very frightening. But then I have the experience few in America have had of growing up non-Christian in an overwhelmingly Christian community (albeit more tolerant than I think lots of places are today). So I tend to be a bit paranoid about fundies.

Fool Me Twice

Krugman on Bush's systematic misrepresentation of the Social Security situation. Relates to my previous post about how Bush believes the accountability moment is in the past. (link requires registration)

Sour Krauthammer

Great piece by Wolcott if you, like me, can't stand Krauthammer (our very own Dr Strangelove).

Scary, Scary, Scary

I remember right after the election when many of us were filled with fear about what this administration would do, a writer to the advice column on Salon asked "when do you know when its time to get out?" The answer was "when people start disappearing." I thought when I read that and I still do think that's too late. Because when the sitting president says shit like this, I get very scared:

"President Bush said the public’s decision to reelect him was a ratification of his approach toward Iraq and that there was no reason to hold any administration officials accountable for mistakes or misjudgments in prewar planning or managing the violent aftermath."

Friday, January 14, 2005

Titan Transmissions

Huygens is sending via Cassini the first pictures from Saturn's moon Titan. Amazing. Its the furthest people from Earth have ever landed a spacecraft. The mission is an incredible success. Stuff like this gives me hope for mankind.

BTW, the "spacecraft is named after two astronomers. Saturn is famous for its ring system. Huygens was the first astronomer to correctly identify that the object around Saturn was a ring system. Before Huygens' explanation, astronomers were not clear as to what these things were around the planet. Another astronomer, Cassini, is credited for discovering the famous gap in the rings of Saturn." (from

Ring of Steel

The UK Guardian newspaper reports that the Bush inauguration will make Washington DC into an armed camp surrounded by a ring of steel.

Blogger Council

Hesiod (who I miss since he stopped blogging at Counterspin Central) has a post on American Street today suggesting that bloggers need to take the lead in challenging the party leadership to get some spine.

Tip from Talk Left.

5,500 US Soldiers Desert

According to the UK News Telegraph: "An estimated 5,500 men and women have deserted since the invasion of Iraq, reflecting Washington's growing problems with troop morale."

From Daily "Full Disclosure" Kos.

Think Blue Bracelets

I ordered a bunch this morning.

Tip from Josh Marshall.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Geek Cooking

Love this site -- have I posted this before? Although personally I do not eat okra (or beets).

Pot Calls Kettle...

There's no reason why anyone should care about the NC Ag Commissioner's race, which is still undecided. The Republican challenger is leading the Democratic incumbent but no winner has been declared, mainly because of 4,400 votes that were lost in one county (in an electronic voting machine snafu).

The latest twist is that a state superior court judge has thrown out the (Democratic dominated) State Board of Elections plan for a statewide re-running of the election for ag commissioner. Now, I can't confirm this but the judge appears to be a Republican.

I laughed out loud this morning when I heard on the news that this (assumed) Republican judge said “there comes a time when the passion of partisan politics must give way to the integrity of the electoral process." Coming from a Republican after the 2000 presidential election, this is just too rich.

Not that the Democrats aren't playing politics here. They want this race thrown into the Democratic state legislature. But that statement just killed me. Puh-leeze!

Journalistic Failures

Yes, the CBS crew screwed up on the Bush documents -- although the story was essentially correct that Bush was AWOL.

On the other hand, nearly all of the media screwed up big time on the WMD story -- almost no one challenged the administration's contentions about this which were patently false.

So which is the bigger story? One guess.

Triangle Bloggers Conference

I'm going -- Feb. 12 at UNC. If you're a local blogger, you should, too.

Really Exotic Place

Early tomorrow morning, the space probe Huygens will start descending through the clouds of Saturn's moon Titan. Pretty exciting stuff.

I don't know why, but this reminds me of one of my favorite sci-fi books, Cities in Flight, which I always thought would make a great ongoing series on the Sci Fi Channel. The premise is that a device called a spindizzy allows entire cities to leave Earth and become "Oakies," traveling the galaxy looking for work.

Extra credit: who is Huygens?

Royal Nazi Flap

Prince Harry wears a Nazi uniform to a party -- what was he thinking? But even stranger is that a poll on BBC News asking whether Harry should personally apologize is running 55% AGAINST him doing so. I've always heard the British were notoriously anti-Semitic and there may also be some royal traditions or something I'm not understanding, but this seems completely bizarre to me.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

When Presidents Lie

Eric Alterman wrote a book with this title (which is not exclusively about Bush), but Kevin Drum asks today what the media should do when Bush blatantly lies, as he did yesterday:

Far from his dairy farm in central Utah, 27-year-old Josh Wright stepped onto a stage with President Bush on Tuesday and related the warning his father had given the other day in the barn.

"He looked me in the eye and he said, 'Don't depend on Social Security. You're independent....Don't plan on having Social Security there when you get older.' "

The president looked at Wright approvingly. "At your age," he said, Social Security "will be bust by the time it comes for you to retire."

This is a lie, a blatant lie. So what should the media do?

Matt Yglesias suggests this:

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.
Unfortunately, the media won't do anything about this. Josh Marshall has more.

King Liar

I don't often recommend the Daily Howler, not because I don't love it, but because a lot of times its too long and obscure. But this is a great one on Bush the Great Liar.

We are in so much trouble with our horrible media.

Snipe Hunt Ends

Well the search for WMDs in Iraq is officially over. The hunters and analysts are back in DC after calling off the snipe hunt just before Christmas. What a fiasco. More here (requires registration).

Bush should be impeached for this scandal but nothing will happen because it doesn't involve sex.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Britain's Pension Disaster

This so-called privitization has been tried before and guess what -- it doesn't work.

Key quote: "The National Association of Pension Funds, a group of employers who sponsor the nation’s largest schemes, is urging government not to expect the private sector to shoulder the burden of keeping the nation’s elderly from poverty. Chief executive Christine Farnish notes that it’s “actually cheaper for the state to carry the risk,” adding that in looking for a system that offers the best combination of modest guaranteed retirement benefits delivered at low cost, the U.S. Social Security program seems the best model. “It doesn’t have to make a profit, and it delivers efficiencies of scale that most companies would die for,” she says."

(Aside: same could be said for health care.)

Arrogant Bastards

The Bush administration is telling the city of Washington DC that it will have to cover most of the costs of the inauguration. Unbelievable -- what a bunch of arrogant bastards!

CBS and Rather

Now that the whole thing with CBS and Rather and the authentication of documents is resolved, can we get back to the real issue here -- which is where was Bush in 1972?

Atrios has an excellent post you should definitely read about the whole incident and proof that so-called liberal media get punished for mistakes but conservative media get away with murder.

Monday, January 10, 2005


"How did we get to this point? How did we convince ourselves as a society that raising taxes by a small amount in order to keep Social Security benefits at a barely livable level is literally unthinkable? Someday our children will look back on this era and wonder what kind of madness overtook us."

So sayeth Kevin Drum.

Patriot Act

My paper yesterday printed this letter (below) that I wrote in response to an earlier letter praising the Patriot Act:

When the USA Patriot Act was passed in the confusing period following September 11, 2001, Congress wisely gave itself a chance to reconsider by setting an expiration date of 2005 for the most controversial provisions of the act. The time has now come for this unconstitutional and unnecessary act to expire.

Back in 2001, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) stated that “Congress is about to pass a law that drastically expands government power to invade our privacy, to imprison people without due process, and to punish dissent.” In fact, the ACLU has continued to challenge the government’s possible abuse of the Patriot Act, contrary to Terri Tyson’s implications.

While Ms. Tyson contends that no one has been adversely affected by the Patriot Act, the truth is we’ll never know. The act allows such an unprecedented and unjustified suppression of information that there is no credible way to know how the act is being used. We don’t know if the Patriot Act is being used to search homes without the owner's knowledge (sneak and peek), to spy on emails, tap phones, monitor internet activity, reduce judicial monitoring, and deny due process – all basic rights that were protected before the Patriot Act was passed.

What we do know about the Patriot Act is that it has mainly been used in routine criminal cases, not to fight terrorism. The General Accounting Office found that three-quarters of the cases under the act had been “mis-characterised” by the Ashcroft Justice Department as terrorist connected. The unprecedented secrecy allowed by the Patriot Act means we will never know if it really is an effective anti-terrorism measure or a smokescreen.

The Patriot Act may actually put us at an increased risk of terrorism because it wastes resources. The government can launch extensive and expensive investigations pursuing a hunch (or even advancing a political agenda) with no evidence of wrong-doing. Just look at the case of Brandon Mayfield, a U.S. citizen from Portland, Oregon, whose home was subjected to numerous sneak and peak searches and who was detained without charge and threatened with being put to death when the government mistakenly connected him to the Madrid train station bombing.

There is no way Congress can objectively conclude that the Patriot Act should be extended and the potential for abuse is enormous. Therefore, it should be allowed to expire. As Benjamin Franklin said in 1759: “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither.”

And Now for Something Completely Different

To step aside from politics for a moment, I'm going to rant about Food Network.

I love this channel and have been a devoted watcher since the early days when most of the programs looked like public access. The shows got much better for awhile and top chefs started doing great work. But now, the network has degenerated and has become what I call "All Rachael Ray All the Time."

Now, Rachael has her schtick and more power to her. But she's not a chef. She did not go to culinary school. She has not run a restaurant. She worked at a gourmet market and was doing local TV bits when she was spotted by a Food TV exec on vacation.

In addition to her "30 Minute Meals" series which is tolerable but nothing more, Rachael has two absolutely awful shows "$40 a Day" and what's that other gawd-awful crap "Inside Dish" or something like that. Just awful. And she is on constantly -- you can't turn on Food TV without a Rachael Ray show coming on within an hour.

I really, really cringe when she shows up on shows with such accomplished chefs as Wolfgang Puck, Emeril Lagasse, Mario Batali, etc. Its just offensive. I mean, Wolfgang Puck is one of the top 5 cuisine innovators in America. Rachael Ray couldn't clean the floors in one of his restaurants.

And don't even get me started on Sandra Lee. Soup can cooking. Vile.

Please, Food Network, get rid of these pseudo-chefs (or at least limit their exposure) and schedule more shows from authoritative chefs who might actually have something to teach us.

Now, don't get me wrong -- I love some of the goofier Food TV shows like "Iron Chef" and "Unwrapped." My favorite is "Good Eats" and I like what I call the catering shows like Michael Chiarello and Ina Garten. But give us more "A Cook's Tour" and Jamie Oliver, etc.

And please make Al Roker go away. Please.

The Salvador Option

This is more than I can stomach.

"What to do about the deepening quagmire of Iraq? The Pentagon’s latest approach is being called "the Salvador option" Pentagon proposal would send Special Forces teams to advise, support and possibly train Iraqi squads, most likely hand-picked Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Shiite militiamen, to target Sunni insurgents and their sympathizers, even across the border into Syria, according to military insiders familiar with the discussions. 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. "

Uh, those "targets" are the family members of insurgents.

As Kevin Drum says: "it's unthinkable that we're seriously considering this kind of barbarism as official policy. It's a pretty clear sign that the Pentagon no longer thinks we have much chance of winning in Iraq."

NC Congressman: Get Out of Iraq

I'm surprised by this, but Rep. Howard Coble (R-Greensboro, NC) says "it's time for the United States to consider withdrawing from war-ravaged Iraq."

More here.

The War on Social Security

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo is his usual incredible self on this issue. This is another of his great posts on the Bush war on Social Security.

"The Social Security Trustees estimate that over the next 75 years, the program faces a budget shortfall of $3.7 trillion...But how much will the president's Medicare drug benefit plan cost over the next 75 years?

$8.1 trillion, say the Trustees of that program.

And over the next 75 years how much will the president's 2001 and 2003 tax cuts cost if made permanent, as the president wants?

$11.6 trillion.

So you add that up and you get $3.7 trillion we need to cover Social Security's shortfall and $19.7 trillion we need just to cover the costs of the two major domestic policy initiatives of the president's first term.

And yet Social Security, says the president, is in crisis and destined to chew through the rest of the federal budget."

See how disingenuous Bush is? Argh! He must not get away with this con!!

Friday, January 07, 2005

Stinky Numbers

The preznit's stinky poll numbers with a Monty Python reference included in the headline.


Ian's right.

"Bush, for his measure, has donated $10,000 - which seems gracious only because we can't contemplate his personal wealth: $26 million, and an eventual inheritance ten times that. Bush could find $10K between the naugahyde cushions of his La-Z-Boy if he had the maid look for it. If that's his definition of personal sacrifice for the global good, then by all means, I encourage all of you to send .0004 of your income to tsunami relief as well. For most of you, that's about nine bucks. Get cracking!"

Kerry in Iraq

Greeted warmly by troops.

All You Need to Know About Alberto Gonzales


"(Sen. Patrik) Leahy's file may have been bursting with questions, but for most of Thursday's nearly nine-hour hearing the committee's Democrats wanted an answer to just one question: Does Gonzales think the president has the power to authorize torture by immunizing American personnel from prosecution for it? During the hearing, Leahy called this idea, which comes from the August 2002 document dubbed the "Bybee memo," "the commander-in-chief override." And by hearing's end it was clear that Gonzales believed in it."

Breaking Even

At the end of December 2000, the number of jobs was 132,441,000. It now stands at 132,266,000.

Dr. Atrios

Not the Mafia

But close.

The Bush administration paid a prominent black journalist to promote President Bush's education law and give Education Secretary Rod Paige media time, records show.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Bush's Fantasy World

Oy -- very disturbing.

"There is rising concern amongst senior officials that President Bush does not grasp the increasingly grim reality of the security situation in Iraq because he refuses to listen to that type of information...this “good news only” directive comes from Bush himself; that is, it is not a trap or cocoon thrown around the President ..."

Leaked Memo

Read Josh Marshall's take on the leaked memo that makes it clear that Bush wants to destroy Social Security for ideological reasons, not save it.

More Stupid Grandstanding

Bush doesn't have a health care plan, nor does he care at all about this important issue. But he does want to protect his key constituency, unbridled capitalists, and punish an enemy, tort lawyers (and by extension, us regular folks). Thus his absurd appearance in Illiniois yesterday with a bunch of morons on white coats railing on about malpractice. Why doctors don't see that the problem isn't lawyers but insurance companies is beyond me. More here.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Numbers Con

I've long maintained that every child should have to take two classes before graduating high school (in addition to core curriculum): media criticism and statistics. Here's why: the stupid AP (or asspress as skippy calls them) is wrongly reporting that the (still unseen) Bush proposal on social security would allow workers to invest 4 percent of their payroll taxes in private accounts. WRONG! Its 4 percentage points of the 12.4 percent of payroll taxes (workers pay 6.2%, matched by employers) or about 30 percent. Atrios got first dibs, but read Josh Marshall's piece for more.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Con Game

Must read: Paul Krugman on Bush's bum's rush on Social Security.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Three Must Reads

Josh Marshall on social security: President Bush's con game.

James Wolcott on the Time person of the year farce and on the mess in Iraq or as The Daily Show puts it, the Mess-o-potamia.

Voting in the US

20 Amazing Facts About Voting in the US