Tuesday, May 31, 2005

A Game of Double Bluff

George Monbiot discusses how the developed world keeps poorer nations poor and indebted, in the context of recent WTO talks. UK and EU foreign aid is often offered hand-in-glove with assaults on the client nations's social services, leaving them in greater chaos and in worse shape than before.

New Photos From Abu Ghraib

The stuff that couldn't be released last time around is about to come out, thanks to a federal judge's order. How bad could it be? Take a look at your Congressman's reaction:
The images, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told Congress, depict "acts that can only be described as blatantly sadistic, cruel, and inhuman." After Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) viewed some of them in a classified briefing, he testified that his "stomach gave out."

NBC News reported that they show "American soldiers beating one prisoner almost to death, apparently raping a female prisoner, acting inappropriately with a dead body, and taping Iraqi guards raping young boys."

That last item might seem extreme, but again it's not -news-. Report Mainz (video and site are in German) had a segment revealing that children were routinely arrested and interned last July, and an interview with Sgt. Samuel Provance, a whistleblower formerly stationed at Abu Ghraib. Seymore Hersh, in an address before last year's convention of the ACLU, has flatly stated that the US Government has video of children being sodomized at Abu Ghraib.
Old news or no, there's a great deal of excrement remaining to strike the rotary air impelers. Keep in mind, as always, that 70-90% of the detainees in Iraq are innocent of any wrongdoing whatsoever.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Secretary General's message - Amnesty International

Amnesty International is a tad concerned that the US is building a global prison system completly beyond the reach of international law:

"The USA, as the unrivaled political, military and economic hyper-power, sets the tone for governmental behaviour worldwide. When the most powerful country in the world thumbs its nose at the rule of law and human rights, it grants a licence to others to commit abuse with impunity and audacity.

Examining the "Liberal Media" Claim

FAIR reports what most of us already knew: that 'the media' is economically conservative, while retaining some moderate views on social policies:

When asked about a series of possible economic priorities for the federal government, 56% of journalists saw the need to "reform entitlement programs by slowing the rate of increase in spending for programs like Medicare and Social Security" as "one of the top few" priorities (19% said it should be the single highest priority) (Q#10b). Only 35% of the public felt similarly when polled by Greenberg Research Inc. in November 1996 (just 10% of the public saw this as the single highest priority.).

Happy Memorial Day

In between the burgers and the game, you might consider this:

In exchange for our uniformed young people's willingness to offer the gift of their lives, civilian Americans owe them something important: It is our duty to ensure that they never are called to make that sacrifice unless it is truly necessary for the security of the country. In the case of Iraq, the American public has failed them; we did not prevent the Bush administration from spending their blood in an unnecessary war based on contrived concerns about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Logical Fallacies

For students of rhetoric: a handy index of the logical fallacies.

Friday, May 27, 2005

George's New Nukes

Since I'm seeing this Haaretz article being passed around today, I thought I'd round up some further reading on the subject. The US is producing brand-spanking-new nuclear weapons for the first time since the Cold War ended.
First, a couple of fact sheets, courtesy of the Arms Control Association:

The Bush administration’s more aggressive nuclear force posture sets a dangerous precedent that some states may try to emulate and others may try to counter.

And I find the Chronicle and the Observer were there when it all began:

Reversing a decade of restraint in nuclear weapons policy, Congress agreed to provide more than $6 billion for research, expansion and upgrades in the country's nuclear capabilities.

The Independent has a few words to say about this strategy:

...only fantasy generals on the big screen use macho bombast against their fictional foes.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Today's Cardiovascular Stress Test

Okay, so one more thing about the ridiculous 'Newsweek is killing people' hoopla. A quick side-by side, for interest's sake. On the one hand, the Associated Press:

U.S. officials have substantiated five cases in which military guards or interrogators mishandled the Quran of Muslim prisoners at Guantanamo Bay but found "no credible evidence'' to confirm a prisoner's report that a holy book was flushed in a toilet, the prison's commander said Thursday.

And on the other hand, Fox News:

Gov't: Still No Credible Koran-Flush Claims
Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita said Wednesday there are no credible allegations that U.S. military personnel at Guantanamo Bay threw a Koran down the toilet — despite allegations contained in newly released FBI documents.

Now, why would they choose to emphasize that very particular aspect of the Pentagon's ass-covering?

Majikthise : Viagra For Sex Offenders

Majikthise neatly skewers the latest bit of media fluff:

People are talking about the Viagra for sex offenders "scandal" as if felons were exploiting some kind of loophole. In fact, they're just using the same medical services that everyone is entitled to.

Medicaid covers Viagra for anyone for whom it is medically indicated. You don't have to undergo a criminal record check to get any other kind of medical treatment. Pickpockets can be treated for carpal tunnel, peeping toms for ADD, and embezzelers for dyslexia--and that's exactly how it should be.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Democrats Bend Over, Grab Ankles

Republican base outraged that they had to use lube!
LiberalOasis has a cogent analysis of the Democrat's capitulation. Text of the deal is here(.PDF).

Yes, we saved the filibuster. But what good is saving it if Dems never have the spine to use it when it’s needed to protect the public?

Seven Dems have now proclaimed that it will only be used in “extraordinary circumstances.”

And those same seven have in effect said that Priscilla Owen, Janice Rogers Brown and William Pryor – nominees as radical as they come – are not extraordinary.

Priscilla Owen

A few words about Priscilla Owen, the most controversial of the contentious federal nominees, who will now be headed directly for Senate confirmation. First, consult her bio, and then chose writeups and resources courtesy of NOW , People for the American Way, and Save Our Courts.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Karen's Power Tools

Karen Kenworthy s the author of the popular Power Tools, free programs that make life with Windows a lot easier. She also publishes a free newsletter.

BBC NEWS : : Camp Delta Death Chamber Plan

Given that we've an image problem (curse you, Newsweek!) in the Arab world, you'd expect that building a death chamber in our internment camp would do nothing to help.
Also, this just in.. Godwin's law has been repealed!

The Downing Street Memo

The infamous memo, which can be read here(.HTML) or here(.PDF) contains the minutes of a meeting between Tony Blair and some of his military and intelligence chiefs. The really juicy paragraph's this one:

"C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action."

So, by mid-July 2002, the administration had already decided to invade and occupy Iraq, and it was openly acknowledged both that "the conjunction of terrorism and WMD" would be used to "justify" the war. "(T)he intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."
None of this is news to people who were paying attention - Robert Dreyfuss dissects the stunning media silence on this matter here - but it does make for a nice cardio-vascular stress test, to hold it all in mind while reading Condi's public statements on the matter, from the time in question:
"We're going to seek a peaceful solution to this. We think that one is possible"
"We all want very much to see this resolved in a peaceful way"
"we are still in a diplomatic phase here" while troops were being shifted, plans were being laid while the Towers still smouldered, and deals were being cut that would end in bloodshed, death and terror like the US had never known before.

Swedish Documents Expose Extraordinary Rendition

Curse Newsweek for our growing global image problem!

Sunday, May 22, 2005


Friday, May 20, 2005

Americans Tortured to Death An Afghani They Believed Was Innocent

But remember, they hate us for our freedoms!

Several hours passed before an emergency room doctor finally saw Mr. Dilawar. By then he was dead, his body beginning to stiffen. It would be many months before Army investigators learned a final horrific detail: Most of the interrogators had believed Mr. Dilawar was an innocent man who simply drove his taxi past the American base at the wrong time.

Also from the article:

Nor were the rules of engagement very clear. The platoon had the standard interrogations guide, Army Field Manual 34-52, and an order from the secretary of defense, Donald H. Rumsfeld, to treat prisoners "humanely," and when possible, in accordance with the Geneva Conventions. But with President Bush's final determination in February 2002 that the Conventions did not apply to the conflict with Al Qaeda and that Taliban fighters would not be accorded the rights of prisoners of war, the interrogators believed they "could deviate slightly from the rules," said one of the Utah reservists, Sgt. James A. Leahy.

"There was the Geneva Conventions for enemy prisoners of war, but nothing for terrorists," Sergeant Leahy told Army investigators. And the detainees, senior intelligence officers said, were to be considered terrorists until proved otherwise.

But watch them hang all this on another couple of Sergeants and expect us all to forget about it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Top 10 Filibuster Falsehoods

Media Matters rebuts ten common arguments against Democrats's use of the filibuster:

Falsehood #7: Filibustering judicial nominees is unconstitutional

Another argument made by those supporting the "nuclear option" is that filibustering judicial nominees is unconstitutional. In fact, the Constitution makes no mention of filibusters, but it explicitly empowers the Senate to determine its own rules. Senate rules allow for unlimited debate on any subject, including judicial nominees. Rule XXII of the Standing Rules of the Senate, which governs debate and filibusters, explicitly states that the rules apply to "any measure, motion, [or] other matter pending before the Senate," including judicial nominations. In response to a May 12 question from Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) on the Senate floor, Frist acknowledged that the Constitution does not require an up-or-down vote for all judicial nominees: "To the question, does the Constitution say that every nominee of the President deserves an up-or-down vote, the answer is, no, the language is not there."

Democratic Underground Forums - Stories of Korans Tossed Into Gitmo Toilets as Early as **March 2003**

KrazyKat makes good use of a Lex-Nex account:

The scapegoating of Newsweek by BushCo and its mouthpieces stikes me as far too strained and contrived. So much so that I did a Lexis-Nexis search for similar stories, and came up with hits dating from today back to March 2003. So why the meltdown now, and the damning of Newsweek for printing a story that been traveling through the press for more than two years?

So you(.PDF) see, Newsweek didn't invent this story; it's been reported on for years.

I'm sick of this all already, so I'm going to let John Rogers get in the last word:

-- Osama bin Ladin, Zaquari, and Omar are still strolling around ...
-- the Taliban is making a comeback. The Taliban, a group which after 9/11 which should have been so thoroughly vaporized in such a horrifyingly white-smoting-light-of-righteous-violence that even now a mere random combination of the syllables "Tal"," i", and "ban" should cause grown men to wet themselves at the unspeakable memory of their fate, they apparently have a sign-up sheet going in Pakistan like a fucking office softball team ...
-- Afghanistan's a destabilized hellhole.
-- Iraq, according to even the most optimistic of planners, will chew up American troops for at least five more years ...
-- Iraq is an insurgent war hell because (whether you agreed with the reasons for the original war or not) nobody planned for the occupation, based on the rosy beliefs of a few "government officials" ...
-- We have, demonstrably, statistically, one of the worst health care systems of the industrialized world ...
-- Tax cuts have put this country in the hole to the Chinese ...
-- North Korea and Iran are about to go nuclear ...
-- the government's now declared that pensions are fair game for the corporate fucking-off train, possibly stranding 36 million hard-working day-job Americans ...

... and they've got everyone screaming about Newsweek. That's ... just unspeakably beautiful. It's brilliant. That's Lex Luthor brilliant. It's so magnificently evil, I wish I'd done it, just to be able to say I pulled something like that off. When you manipulate public opinion like that so shamelessly, with such breathless artistry, you should seriously be doing it from inside a giant rampaging robot head. It's the only context that makes any sense.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Administration Played Politics With Terror Warnings

This just in from Captain Obvious: The color-coded 'Terror Alert' system's real use was to frighten and manipulate the American people.

The two most questionable threat escalations came at crucial junctures for Bush. One, in February of 2003, came just as Bush was trying to rally the nation for war in Iraq, and the second, in August of 2004, in advance of Bush's Republican convention, where GOP officials dwelled on the war on terror. (Bush's handling of the war on terror consistently ranks as his highest scoring response in voter surveys.)
But now Ridge concedes he often thought the evidence used to up the terror threats was weak, and that the warnings were raised over his objections. "The Bush administration periodically put the USA on high alert for terrorist attacks even though then-Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge argued there was only flimsy evidence to justify raising the threat level, Ridge now says," reports today's USA Today.

USATODAY : : Agriculture Dept. Paid Journalist For Favorable Stories

The administration's pay for play scheme continues!

Documents released by the Agriculture Department show it paid a freelance writer $9,375 in 2003 to "research and write articles for hunting and fishing magazines describing the benefits of NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service) programs."

The Mandatory Snitch Act

TalkLeft provides a handy intro to "The Safe Access to Drug Treatment & Child Protection Act of 2005":

The bill provides for a two year jail sentence if you observe or come across information about drug distribution near colleges and do not report it to authorities within 24 hours and provide full assistance investigating, apprehending, and prosecuting those involved.

That's two years without you ever having done anything wrong. And it gets worse:

You run out of your Ambien or your pain pills. You ask a friend to bring one over. If you live with kids, even if they aren't home, it's a ten year mandatory minimum. Now reverse it. Your friend is out of pills, you bring her one. She has kids at home. She gets a mandatory ten year sentence, you get away with five.

Text of the bill is here, along with summaries by Drug Policy Alliance and FAMM (.PDF). NORML and DPA have issued action alerts, and here is a collection of letters opposing the bill.

Monday, May 16, 2005

When Government Writes History

The New Republic offers an insider's view of the 9-11 Comission and its report:

The 9/11 Commission was "set up to fail." So says its chairman, former Republican Governor of New Jersey Thomas Kean. "If you want something to fail," he explains, "you take a controversial topic and appoint five people from each party. You make sure they are appointed by the most partisan people from each party--the leaders of the party. And, just to be sure, let's ask the commission to finish the report during the most partisan period of time--the presidential election season."

Sunday, May 15, 2005


An introduction to life in six dimensions As always, there's more information at the 'official site'.

String theory is either a theory of everything - which automatically unites gravity with the other three forces in nature - or a theory of nothing, but finding the correct form of the theory is like searching for a needle in a stupendous haystack

Plus, we may be making them in the laboratory soon!

Now Hiring!

Here's a sector of the job market that's positively booming! Work in Iraq supporting the US Military - without all that pesky oversight, accountability and international red tape - and get paid big! You can double or triple the pay of an average serviceman! No worries about this gravy train coming to an end anytime soon - the saps at home are footing the bill yet again!

South Park Republican Bingo

A wrap-up of current events, and a fun game for the entire family, all in one!

US's Terrorist Comes Home to Roost

As if any further damage could be done to the administration's credibility, now this happens.

The sudden and untimely arrival on U.S. territory of a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) asset and admitted terrorist, Luis Posada Carriles, poses an embarrassing challenge to the credibility of the Bush administration's war on terrorism.

Posada, who in an interview with the New York Times seven years ago admitted to organising a wave of bombings in Cuba in 1997 that killed an Italian tourist and injured 11 others, is best known as the prime suspect in the bombing of a Cubana Airlines flight shortly after it took off from Barbados in October 1976.

The incident, in which all 73 crew members and passengers including teenaged members of Cuba's national fencing team were killed, was the first confirmed mid-air terrorist bombing of a commercial airliner.

Iraqi Elections Only Made Matters Worse

From the There's Still No Good News Department:

The heady, hopeful days surrounding the election seem more distant with each early-morning explosion that rouses Baghdad with the reliability of an alarm clock...
...When the ballots were collected, about 58 percent of eligible voters had made it to the polls. The majority Shiites and the Kurds were by far the biggest vote-getters. Sunnis were left with almost no political representation, renewed U.S. military offensives in their territories and a humiliating reversal of fortune. Insurgent leaders immediately seized on the Sunni disenfranchisement to stir up sectarian emotions.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Halliburton Lands $72 Million in Bonuses

For a job well done!

Sunday Times : : Ireland Faces Big Chill As Ocean Current Slows

A 'big chill'. The Times is awfully blase' about the impending destruction of the seat of Western civilization.

“As the water sank it was replaced by warm water flowing in from the south, which kept the circulation going. If that mechanism is slowing, it will mean less heat reaching Europe.”

Such a change could have a severe impact on Ireland, which lies on the same latitude as Siberia and ought to be much colder.

I could make some remark about global warming being an unproven theory - but I can't find it in me to joke. I need a drink.

Black Hole

Human Rights Watch examines the fates of alleged Islamic militants rendered to Egypt. 61 people are known to have been transferred into Egyptian custody since 1994; the total number is estimated at 150-200. Read the full report here.

“Sending suspects to a country where they are likely to be tortured is strictly prohibited under international law,”

Bolton's Latest Screwup

Bolton's putting ambition ahead of duty, unsurprisingly. Majikthise has commentary.

George W. Bush has said it often enough. The No. 1 security challenge for America post-9/11 is to prevent nuclear weapons from falling into the hands of terrorists or rogue regimes. In a landmark speech at the National Defense University in February 2004, the president called for a toughened Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and other new initiatives...
...But if the NPT needed so much fixing under U.S. leadership, why was the United States so shockingly unprepared when the treaty came up for its five-year review at a major conference in New York this month, in the view of many delegates?...
...Part of the answer, several sources close to the negotiations tell NEWSWEEK, lies with Bolton, the undersecretary of State for arms control. Since last fall Bolton, Bush’s embattled nominee to be America’s ambassador to the United Nations, has aggressively lobbied for a senior job in the second Bush administration. During that time, Bolton did almost no diplomatic groundwork for the NPT conference, these officials say.

Largest Corporate Pension Default in History

United will be allowed to divest itself of $6.6 billion it owes through its pension program. Observers are already noting that this has begun a trend.

In a nutshell, a broadening swath of corporate America is retreating from the safety-net business and is shifting responsibility to employees.

Entire Marine Squad Wiped Out In Iraqi Ambush

The entire 1st Platoon is down for the count with 60% casualties, including the loss of one entire squad. What does a losing fight look like?

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Republican Fillibustering

The Raw Story has compiled a list of current U.S. Senators who've fillibustered judicial nominees. Sen. Larry Craig's done it 13 times!

The Influence of Fools

John Atcheson addresses Why liberals are mad at the mainstream media:

Students of history and those of us of a certain age know this has happened before, and its effects were corrosive. Fifty years ago, responding to the failure of the press to deal with Senator Joe McCarthy’s bullying, Eric Sevareid said:

"Our rigid formulae of so-called objectivity ... have given the lie the same prominence and impact that truth is given; they have elevated the influence of fools to that of wise men; the ignorant to the level of the learned; the evil to the level of the good."

Monday, May 09, 2005

Trade Protectionism

Courtesy of Bradford Plumer, surprisingly, I read an excellent argument in favor of tariffs: "Kicking Away the Ladder: The 'Real' History of Free Trade" (pdf), by Ha-Joon Chang.

...when the United States accorded over 40% average tariff protection to its industries in the late nineteenth century, its per capita income in PPP terms was already about three-fourths that of Britain...

Compared to this, the 71% trade-weighted average tariff rate that India used to have just before the WTO agreement, despite the fact that its per capita income in PPP terms is only about one-fifteenth that of the United States, makes the country look like a champion of free trade. Following the WTO agreement, India cut its trade-weighted average tariff to 32%, bringing it down to the level below which the U.S. average tariff rate never sank between the end of the Civil War and World War II.

US Wastes Billions On Anti-Terror Systems That Do Nothing

$4.5 billion, all told. Of course, we can't burn money on quite the scale close to home as we can thousands of miles away; still it's an impressive amount of government waste. John Stossel will no doubt be all over it.

Beast's Real Mark Devalued to '616'

Which version of the Bible is the inerrant one? Just asking...

Satanists, apocalypse watchers and heavy metal guitarists may have to adjust their demonic numerology after a recently deciphered ancient biblical text revealed that 666 is not the fabled Number of the Beast after all.

A fragment from the oldest surviving copy of the New Testament, dating to the Third century, gives the more mundane 616 as the mark of the Antichrist.

Other items of interest to current fundamentalists:

"It just shows you that when you study something as cryptic and mystic as the Book of Revelation there's an almost unlimited number of interpretations."


Revelation was actually a thinly disguised political tract, with the names of those being criticized changed to numbers to protect the authors and early Christians from reprisals. "It's a very political document," Dr. Aitken said. "It's a critique of the politics and society of the Roman empire, but it's written in coded language and riddles."

RollingStone : : The Quagmire

A peek inside this generation's Vietnam:

Two years after the U.S. invasion, Iraq is perched on the brink of civil war. Months after the election, the new Iraqi government remains hunkered down inside the fortified Green Zone in Baghdad, surviving only because it is defended by thousands of U.S. troops. Iraqi officials hold meetings and press conferences in Alamo-like settings, often punctuated by the sounds of nearby explosions.

An Accountability Moment

As if we expected any better...

House Republicans Wednesday soundly rejected an effort by Democrats to ban the Department of Education from spending money on "covert propaganda."

The House voted 224 to 197 against a measure, championed by Reps. Rosa DeLauro, D-3, and George Miller, D-Calif., aimed at blocking the department from creating sham news stories or hiring columnists to promote policies.

ACSBlog : : Fourth Circuit Holds That Legislative Prayer May Be Restricted To Judeo-Christian Religions

The long slide into theocracy accelerates! Paperwight and Pandragon offer commentary:

The only reason that invocations like this are legal in the first place is because the ministers come from a variety of churches, so the government can't say that they are establishing an official religion. If you can narrow it down to "Judeo-Christian" religions, then why not narrow it down to "Southern Baptist"? Fuck the Constitution--it's in the way of our grand theocracy!

Full text of the opinion here(.PDF) or here(.HTML).

Sunday, May 08, 2005

The Seattle Times : : Bush Hails Capture Of bin Laden General

We caught Al-Qaida's number three man! (Amazingly, just in time for Tony Blair's election campaign..) Er, again. Again. Actually this is the fourth time, but you know, he's a big, mean, nasty top-level terrorist.
Fuck, we mean guy who makes coffee. But... um.. look! Social Security! Lookat the monkey!

Saturday, May 07, 2005

The Observer :: Soldier Lifts Lid On Camp Delta

From the There Is No Good News department:

An American soldier has revealed shocking new details of abuse and sexual torture of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay in the first high-profile whistleblowing account to emerge from inside the top-secret base...
...Saar paints a picture of a base where interrogations of often innocent prisoners have spiralled out of control, doing massive damage to America's image in the Muslim world.

Left, Right, & Wrong

Garret Keizer dissects the debate over 'values' in the current Mother Jones:

WHETHER YOU CHOOSE to call it evil or simply the truth, the widening inequality fostered by the social policies of the right effects the very same "erosion of moral values" from which the right promises to defend us. This is an ancient insight and the one I believe is in the greatest need of restoration. The biblical Book of Deuteronomy forbids the flogging of offenders beyond 40 lashes "lest ... thy brother should seem vile unto thee." Nihilism begins with the spectacle of people who have been so badly flogged by the system that they can inspire only compassion or contempt but never comradeship. You might take a food basket to the doorstep, but you wouldn't think of stepping through the door.

Reuters :: Audits Find Flaws In U.S. Handling Of Iraq Deals

Where's the "Its your money'' rhetoric now?

The United States has carelessly, and possibly fraudulently, handled some Iraqi money meant for rebuilding and poorly managed billions of dollars of U.S.-funded contracts, said U.S. audits released on Wednesday.

NY Times :: Pentagon Analyst Charged With Disclosing Military Secrets

An analyst at the Pentagon's been arrested for being an Israeli agent this week. Wampum supplies some interesting further details about the man.

His other accomplishements have been to transform the support for the Northern Alliance by Iran (and the US) during the Afgan War, and the arrests of Al Quida (sic) cadres (over five hundred, some quite high-level) by Iran into Iran's obstruction of the War on Terror, the transformation of the 4,000 MEK cultists bagged at Camp Ashraf into a "popular resistance organization" (credits shared with Swift Boater Corsi), and turning the Iranian efforts to calm Iraq, which cost Khalil Naimi, the first secretary of the Iranian Embassy his life, and to some benefit to Iran, but not at a cost of hundreds of car-bombed political, para-military and civilian Iraqi casualties plus a sprinkling of American dead and wounded each week, into ... Iranian infiltration and destablization.

So one of the men urging us to overthrow the government of a Middle Eastern country turns out again to be an intelligence asset of another Middle Eastern country.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Crisis On US's Earth

And now for something completely different:

Industries insiders say that the overhaul was precipitated by Bush's increasingly reliance on "parallel universes" (such as the one where voters gave him a mandate in 2004) and "imaginary stories" (such as Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction)...
...When asked how these new characters will be integrated into the existing timeline, Mehlman shrugged and said, "we'll just casually mention them of (sic) FOX News. Americans have always been very accepting of our retcons."

Christians and Persecution

Slactivist examines the odious habit of American Christians claiming persecution and victimhood:

When protected, privileged and pampered American Christians claim to be facing persecution they spit on the wounds of their brothers and sisters elsewhere in the world and in history who have known firsthand what religious persecution really is. They mock not only their fellow Christians in this great cloud of witnesses, but also those of other faiths who have suffered or are, now, today, suffering genuine persecution.

More in this vein from Shakespear's Sister.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

An Open Letter to Howard Dean, by Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich

An actual progressive excoriates Howard Dean following his recent remarks before the ACLU:

We can draw no clearer distinction with the President than over this war. He cannot right a wrong (unjustified war) by perpetuating a military occupation. Military victory there is not possible. General Tommy Franks concedes that. The war will end when we say it's over. The Democratic leadership should be pressing for quick withdrawal of all troops from Iraq.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Sun Sets On Government For The People

Rolling Stone points out a frightening paragraph-long item buried in the new budget:

The proposal, spelled out in three short sentences, would give the president the power to appoint an eight-member panel called the "Sunset Commission," which would systematically review federal programs every ten years and decide whether they should be eliminated. Any programs that are not "producing results," in the eyes of the commission, would "automatically terminate unless the Congress took action to continue them."
...the commission would enable the Bush administration to achieve what Ronald Reagan only dreamed of: the end of government regulation as we know it. With a simple vote of five commissioners -- many of them likely to be lobbyists and executives from major corporations currently subject to federal oversight -- the president could terminate any program or agency he dislikes. No more Environmental Protection Agency. No more Food and Drug Administration. No more Securities and Exchange Commission.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

File Under 'Why Are We Still Talking About This?'

'Cause I really don't know. Anyway, in case there's a compelling reason to go on considering the administration's plan to destroy Social Security, here is the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has a detailed analysis. Kevin Drum, writing for the Washington Monthly, boils this detailed report down to a simple chart. Meanwhile, Joshua Holland dissects the LA Time's right-wing mouthpiece's take on the matter, and Billmon reminds us why it's all irrelevent anyway. Enjoy.

...low income earners ($16K/year) currently get about 49% of their income replaced by Social Security. Under the Pozen plan, this would stay the same. Medium income workers ($36K/year), however, would see their replacement rate fall from 36% to 23% by the year 2100. The replacement rate for higher income workers ($58K/year) would fall to 14% and for maximum income workers ($90K/year) to 9%.

That's a pretty substantial cut in benefits...

...Pozen's plan cuts benefits for anyone making over $20,000 per year. This is Bush's definition of "people who are better off." Needless to say, this is a slightly different definition than he used when he was selling his tax cuts.