Monday, February 28, 2005

Supporting Our Troops

There's a very good article by Sean Gonsalves over at Working For Change on the lessons of the Bonus Army and how they apply to our troops today. For those who don't know, Veterans after World War I were promised a bonus for having fought. Congress later decided to not, in fact, give out this bonus. So they marched on Washington (in a peaceful way) as a Bonus Army. They set up camp and lived off of local donations, until Douglas MacArthur, claiming Communist infiltration, went in and drove the Veterans out. They would have to wait until FDR came in to get a hearing of their grievances.

Are there are any applications of this story to our current day? Mr. Gonsalves certainly thinks so.
As you read these words, there are veterans in VA hospitals paying for their meals while the president's budget, among other things, would more than double co-payment charged to many veterans for prescription drugs, and would require some to pay new fee of $250 a year to use government health care.

Why? To pay war bills while giving disproportionate tax cuts to those who least need it.
Anyway it's a good article, and worth thinking about.

Why It Happened

John Leo is working on an autopsy for liberalism, since it's apparently dead or dying. His thesis is that because we don't couch our arguments in religious terms, and don't understand Americans (in fact, apparently we despise Americans), we are soon to be regulated to the ash heap of history.

I do agree that we do need to present our message better. Who doesn't? But I also think that Mr. Leo is leaving one thing out of his presentation. He acknowledges that in the late 60s early 70s, Conservatism was as down as we are now. And it came back. Mr. Leo acknowledges this but fails to note one important reason why Conservatives came back. Liberals turned off America, and Liberals split so that their message got diluted. Was it important to care about animal testing? Or Apartheid? Or eating Meat? Or offshore oil drilling? And so on and so forth. Not to demean any of those causes (all of which were important), but our energy was diluted, and our message became confused.

I don't know if Conservatives are going to go down a similar path. They have fewer natural divisions (the biggest being between libertarian conservatives and religious fundamentalist conservatives). On the other hand, it's clear that a lot of their program isn't very popular. And it's also clear that many of them think that their program is, in fact, very popular. That creates possibilities (if the Democratic Party (nominally Liberal) can get off its duff and do something about them).

Time will tell.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Another Postcard from The Monster

Yes, once again flaunting the laws of time and space. I put that into your contract for a reason The Monster. What if you mess up with the laws of cause and in effect to cause, say, our President to be George W. Bush and not that delightful Mr. Kerry? Anyway, here's his latest postcard.

Arrrrghnnn Stofffennnn

Those be monster words of love. Monster in Tangiers in 1895. It be great hear. Monster meet sewer monster behind that grate. She be really sweet and figure out way to make hair out of swamp grass. And how to make fire out of swamp gas. She be wonderful.

If that person who no tells truth, Bryant, would provide gazelles I could woo her properly, but monster not holding monsters breath. Although monster can hold breath a lot longer than puny humans.

Monster done writing. Go back to female monsters liar. Monster say goodbye!
Also as previously mentioned here is the latest Quotes Page. Enjoy.

New Quote New Format

But the new Quotes Page will have to wait until later. I just heard from that scurvy Monster, and will also put him another postcard and picture from him later on.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Social Security Cap Raising Sanity

Some people are saying that raising the Social Security Cap will only increase the life of Social Security by seven years. However, according to a February 7, 2005 Memo to the Chief Actuary of the Social Security Administration, that may not be entirely accurate. In particular check out page 18 of the document which asks the question "What if we eliminate the cap?"

According to this analysis, the trust won't run out until at least 2079, and there will still be money in the trust fund. But those who throw out the 7 years figure are possibly assuming that there is no trust fund.

Got this from Talking Points Memo, which you should be reading on a regular basis.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Around the Horn and a Dream of Umbrellas

I had a dream last night in which I had two umbrellas. I looked down and in my left hand I had not one, but two umbrellas. I wondered, in my dream, why on earth would I have two umbrellas. It is going to rain outside, and coincidentally enough I have no umbrellas.

And Then . . . has some very trenchant comments on one of the big dogs in the Lefty Blog-O-Sphere.

Rooks Rant also is up in arms about a big liberal blogger. It's a case of biting the hand that, well, doesn't feed you.

Also, for those of you who can't get enough of Bloggers writing about Bloggers, Steve Gilliard's News Blog has the scoop that bloggers are a lot like rappers. For the record I do enjoy "loose-fitting, pajama-style apparel."

Also Trish Wilson's Blog has a piece on Woman Bloggers, and the perceived lack of Woman Bloggers. I have to say people who complain about the lack of Woman Bloggers are a lot like guys in the 60's saying "Well I'd love to hire some black people, but there just aren't any qualified black people around." In other words it's a dodge. And a dodgy one at that.

blogAmy has a selection of fun quizzes you can take and, apparently, she is "Trippy, spaced-out, artistic and fun to be around."

Chris "Lefty" Brown has a great post on what it means to be a Christian and a Liberal.

Collective Sigh reviews the history of a country who should apparently be taken off of our Christmas card list.

Dohiyi Mir has some comments about the Anti-AARP ad earlier this week and the decision to take it down. For those who missed it, the ad presented that the AARP is anti American Soldier and pro gay marriage.

Gamer's Nook has some thoughts on Halliburton's bonuses for doing such a great job, apparently.

And that's it for another week. And, just in case you thought I had forgotten about my new blogging suit, how about this?

Thursday, February 24, 2005

How about this jacket?

What I find disturbing about this pic, is that they took the time to edit out the hands or anything below the bottom of the jacket, but left us a sliver of neck to look at. Somehow the combined effect is subtly creepy.

Pants shopping

Yeah, I got nothing.

But I am working on my new suit in order to ensure both modesty and marketability. What do you think of these pants?

These pants are already sold, but perhaps I could get something like them at some point. That'd be something new, n'est pas?

A New Suit

Well, over at the Daou Report, Salon's review of the Blog-o-sphere (which has yet to reference this site, as far as I know), they have the news from the scourge; lefty blogs suck. Why do they suck? Well the scourge has the answer to that as well.
The answer is simple: Lefty blogging got played out. Liberal blogs are sucking for the same reason their rhetoric sounds so stale. The leftern route to blogfame - outrage, predicting wars, "let's get organized,' vanilla Bush-bashing - has been trammeled and re-trammeled again and again, and now it's paved, lit, and dotted along the way by Starbucks and McDonalds. Conservative blogs are still blazing their trail. The trademark dry n' dismissive style you'll find on Instapundit, Oxblog, Captain's Quarters, Michelle Malkin and others hasn't yet become tiresome to jaded eyes, although it will. The Liberal Outrage blogstyle, on the other hand, has been a painful cliche for a while now.

. . . You heard it here first: Liberal blogging is going to continue to bore until it gets a new suit of clothes. We can see its exposed crotch through the rags it's sporting now, and, well, it isn't a pleasant sight.
Holy Crap! I didn't realize you could see my . . . plumbing through my current set of clothes. Let me go check this out.

No, I just looked in a mirror and all the unpleasant bits (which, in my case, make up 98.6% of the body) are completely covered. Still maybe I should get a new suit.

I'm thinking like a lime green pastel suit, with a big hat. Or maybe very tight triple breasted pinstrip jobber and a fedora. What do you think?

Ann Coulter - Not Entirely Correct

Ann Coulter brings all of her powerful invective on the case of Jeff Gannon. For those of you who don't know, Jeff Gannon was a male escort, who got a press pass to ask fawning questions of President Bush and his press secretaries. If Clinton had done it, we can only imagine how Ann would be reacting. Since President Bush did it, it's no big deal.

But when invective can't quite finish the job, Ann turns to another tool, outright deception. "Gannon didn't write about gays. No "hypocrisy" is being exposed. Liberals' hateful, frothing-at-the-mouth campaign against Gannon consists solely of their claim that he is gay." Well let's take the second part first. It's not that he is gay, it's that he was a male escort. Maybe Ann is one of them libertarian types who has no problem with prostitution, but the laws of the United States have a different opinion.

As for the charge that Gannon never wrote about gays, according to Media Matters (who grabbed Gannon's articles before Talon News destroyed the evidence), on October 12, 2004, he claimed that Kerry could become America's first Gay President. Doesn't sound very good does it? I wish I could give you some quotes from the article, but Talon News, in their wisdom, have decided that we shouldn't be able to read Gannon's articles now.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

People Who Have Nothing to Hide have Nothing to Fear

That's the rationale. If you have nothing to hide than you have nothing to fear.

That justifies Discover the Network, a spiderweb chart of a website, created by Front Page Magazine and David Horowitz, who writes articles that appeal to racists. You can use that website to undercover the hidden links between liberal groups that tie them back to terrorists and communists who want to destroy America.

Because it's not enough that Republicans control the House, the Senate, the Supreme Court, and the White House. It's not enough that, not only do most mainstream media outlets skew right on issues that matter, they have Fox News and other media sources to give exclusive conservative opinions. What these men want, what they really want, is no more liberals and no more Democrats. It will never be enough until we are gone, or at least so vilified that we are afraid to express our views out loud.

Is that what most Republicans want? I doubt it, but I have no way of knowing.

Leaving Something Behind

The New York Time's editorial page takes on a much publicized portion of the President's Plan (the one he hasn't actually proposed yet). Namely the assertion that "Personal Accounts" would allow one to pass on the money to one's descendents in the event that one didn't spend it all. Well, maybe not.
Under the president's proposal, when you retired you would not be able to start spending the money in your private account until after you bought an annuity, a financial contract in which you hand over a lump-sum payment and, in return, get a monthly stream of income for life. The upside of buying such an annuity would be that you'd be protected against outliving all of your money. The downside is that even if you died immediately after retirement, the most your heirs would inherit would be the amount that remained in your private account after you had paid for the mandatory annuity. (If you lived longer, of course, you might well need to spend the remainder to supplement the annuity's low monthly payout.)
Hmmmmm. Troubling. But not surprising.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Tax-Eating Granny Redux

E.J. Dionne, Jr., in his latest, suggests that portraying all Seniors as living high on the hog is apparently not accurate.
Those who advocate cutting programs for the elderly inevitably stress the supposedly "unfair" burdens this population will place on everyone else. . . .

What's wrong with this argument? First, it deals with the elderly as a single, undifferentiated group. The retired millionaire playing golf in Palm Springs is spoken of as if he is in the same class as the elderly widow in a modest apartment in Cleveland. But the Palm Springs millionaire is not the typical senior; he's the exception. Most who use Medicare and rely on Social Security desperately need the help to stay out of poverty.

Consider that for about 20 percent of retirees, every penny of their income comes from Social Security. Social Security provides half or more of the income of nearly two-thirds of the elderly. Greedy is not a word that comes to mind to describe such people.
Rush Limbaugh likes saying that if you depend on Social Security for your retirement you are poor. Of course he usually chooses not to enlighten you as to how many American Elderly find themselves in that situation. Instead he likes to talk about how you will be paying his golf fees. Nice eh?

Hey Europe

I know you are thinking American Conservatives might be warming up to you, what with President Bush calling Pommes Frites "French Fries" and all. But for a taste of what American Conservatives really think of "Old Europe," check out this opening paragraph from an article at the American Spectator.
The BBC calls it President Bush's "charm offensive." Off to EUnuch-land for a week of conciliation, the President is doing his best to heal the rifts that divide us from our traditional NATO allies. The problem nations, better known to our readers as the Axis of Weasels, are greeting Mr. Bush with profusions of smiles and hugs while they go about sharpening shivs to stick in his back. Is it really worth the effort for the President to even try?
So, you know, I wouldn't expect much.

A Catalogue of Feelings

Dennis Prager, who has previously called for a second civil war, writes a catalogue column. Basically he takes a simple theme (Liberals make decisions based on their feelings, instead of relying on the Bible. That's a very pleasing thesis (if you are a Conservative), but it's also pretty stupid. Let's look at a few of his examples.
The liberal preoccupation with whether America is loved or hated is also entirely feelings-based. The Left wants to be loved; the conservative wants to do what is right and deems world opinion fickle at best and immoral at worst.
The left doesn't want to be loved out of some neurotic fixation; the left wants to get along with those nations whose support we need to effectively fight the war on terror and accomplish other international goals. Conversely it is just as accurate to say that the Bush administration and its supporters are trying to live out fantasies inspired by G. I. Joe, while the Liberals of America are trying to rationally figure out the most effective way to fight terrorism.
Sexual harassment laws have created a feelings-industrial complex. The entire concept of "hostile work environment" is feelings based. If one woman resents a swimsuit calendar on a co-worker's desk, laws have now been passed whose sole purpose is to protect her from having uncomfortable feelings.
Frankly this paragraph I find morally reprehensible. Any abusive or nasty treatment towards woman is the women's fault for taking offense. If she would just take tasteless jokes at her expense, there would be no problem. Here's a model for her to consider (from the Simpsons Episode "Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy"
Lisa: Is the remarkably sexist drivel spouted by Malibu Stacy intentional, or is it just a horrible mistake?
Tour guide: [laughs] Believe me, we're very mindful of such concerns.
Man: [wolf whistles] Hey Jiggles, grab a pad and back that gorgeous butt in here.
Tour guide: [laughs good-naturedly] Oh, get away, you.
Man: Aw, don't act like you don't like it.
I don't know about my readers, but I don't think that the solution to harassment is for the harrassee to just accept it.
Very often, liberals are far more concerned with purity of motive than with moral results. That's why so many liberals still oppose the liberation of Iraq -- so what if Iraqis risk their lives to vote? It's George W. Bush's motives that liberals care about, not spreading liberty in the Arab world.
Actually they are two separate issues. The first issue is whether or not President Bush did the right thing in leading us into war on false pretenses. The answer, for liberals, is that that wasn't the right thing to do. That doesn't mean we begrudge the fact that President Bush's blunder has lead to Iraqi's being able to vote (the second issue). Although even that has to be placed as part of a whole. What will the election mean in the long term? Is it an aberration or is it the first step towards a democratic Iraq? Or, as many are now wondering, is it the first step towards a Shiite Theocratic Iraq, along the model of Iran?

But I suppose asking more complicated questions and not accepting simplistic answers is a symptom of Liberalism's reliance on feelings. Or is it?

Monday, February 21, 2005

Atom Feed

I think I have Atom Feed working, but not sure. Tell me if it is working right. There's a link to it down there on the side.

Fixing Social Security for Good

Apparently the Heritage Foundation has done some research, and apparently raising the Social Security cap won't fix Social Security permanently. Of course their research also shows Social Security being out of money in 2018 (on the theory, I suppose, that there is no Social Security Trust Fund and United States Treasury Securities aren't worth the paper they are printed on. So you have to take their calculations with a grain of salt.

But let's settle one thing. The only way to solve Social Security permanently is to eliminate the program. If there is no Social Security, there will be no Social Security Program. There might be an elderly poverty problem. There might even be an elderly eating cat food problem. But there will be no Social Security problem.

Is there anybody foolish enough to believe that President Bush's Personal Accounts will solve Social Security permanently? The only way that can happen is if, as many suspect, it is the first gambit towards getting rid of Social Security entirely.

Taxing the Wealthy

Well, as many of you know, President Bush has pledged not to raise new taxes. But apparently he is considering raising the cap. Right now most Americans pay 6% of their income to Social Security (while the employer kicks in another 6%). The first $90,000 people make is taxable. So people making $30,000 or $50,000 have their entire salary taxed. People making $150,000, on the other hand pay only 3.6%. People making $250,000 only pay 2.16%.

So President Bush wants to raise the cap. This is a bad move, according to Larry Kudlow.
Just this week he undercut that position when he said an increase in the payroll-tax cap -- now $90,000 -- would be ?on the table? in forthcoming negotiations with Congress. White House spokespeople have tried to suggest that an increase in the payroll-tax cap is not a new tax, and that only a rise in the payroll-tax rate would constitute a tax hike. This is nothing but doublespeak. The American public will see it for what it is.

A front-page editorial in the New York Sun referred to this episode as ?sins of the father.? Papa Bush, you may recall, pledged no new taxes. He then broke that pledge with a huge tax hike in his second year in office. That broken promise, along with the added tax burden on working Americans, proved politically catastrophic as Bush 41 was defeated by Bill Clinton.
Well, yeah, but President Bush doesn't actually have to run for reelection. So it's unlikely there is a Bill Clinton like defeat in his future. Oh and you know your argument's strong when you are lifting quotes from the New York Sun.

It's also unclear why the majority of Americans would be opposed to evening out the playing field a little bit. Kudlow points out, correctly I guess, that people making $90,000 a year are going to have to pay more taxes. Well, their fair share of taxes, anyway. But maybe we could all live with that, after all.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Post Card from the Monster

Here is another postcard from the Monster, one in which he has inexplicably traveled into the past. Ancient Japan, to be precise. I regret that obeying the laws of physics as currently understood is but one of the many contractual obligations the Monster has failed to live up to. But never let it be said that I don't give both sides of the story. Here is the monsters postcard and letter.

Arrrghhogha arrghushh

That is a monster cry of warning. There are no-truth tellers present. And chief among them is that man who runs Make me a commenter!!! Bryant

Ha! It should be called Monster be Commentator!!! The be more truth way of describing it. All the funny bits of website all come from me. Bryant he want talk about boring statistics all day long.

And now when it come time for him to provide monster with rotting gazelles, Bryant no have gazelles. He have green paper. Monster no want green paper.

Bryant try to fool monster with talk about how green paper is magic paper that everybody wants. Ha! Monster no fool. Monster stay out of time and out of place until he live up to his part of the bargain!

Monster say goodbye to all.

So you see my quandary. The Monster has it in his head that I promised to pay him gazelles, but I never promised that. I paid him, but he doesn't like the money. So what can I do?

New Format, New Quote!

Hey, updated the format and the quote and so on. I'm sure you all noticed no monster up there in the logo. I'm afraid that there have been certian business considerations that have prevented the Monster from appearing, so he has decided to continue his vacation. He did send another postcard, which I will scan in anon. Oh and a new quotes page as well.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Your Weekly Rush - Family Values

Rush Limbaugh was crowing this week about breaking up a marriage. Apparently some dude called into a show on C-Span (one in which Ms. Ann Coulter was appearing, and this person said that his wife had left him because he refused to stop listening to Rush Limbaugh. According to the dude, "She told me that I had to choose between Rush Limbaugh and her and I wanted to listen to talk radio. I said, "This is a free country. I'll listen to anybody I want to," and she said, "Fine. You want to listen to Rush Limbaugh? Then the marriage is over," and the next thing I know, I get a letter saying that I have to go get a lawyer because she's divorcing me."

You know it's just possible that this person was justifying a divorce that happened on others grounds, by blaming it on Rush. I mean it wouldn't be the first time that happened would it?

Anyway apparently this dude's willingness to leave his wife for Rush is a sign of how his listeners are free willed, and not a sign that they are brainwashed dupes. Not sure I see it myself, but what do I know?

Friday, February 18, 2005

Down in the Subway

Here is a pretty cool article on Treasure Hunting from "Did Mother Nature Tell You You Could Come and Go as you Please?" Not particularly political, but still interesting.

Around the Horn and The World is Your Lobster

Well let's get right to it, eh?

Bark Bark Woof Woof has some comments on Powerline's labeling of Carter as a traitor of some sort. Now I like Bark Bark Woof Woof. I think Bark Bark Woof Woof's a fine site. But, quite frankly, I agree with everything he said.

iddybud has some important words to share on the reporting of news out of Syria. I could just repeat my joke above, because she nails it. Unfortunately I am somewhat pessimistic that people will follow her prescription (which frankly should be common sense).

Kick the Leftist has some cold water for all those celebrating the ascension of Howard Dean. While I agree that Howard Dean is hardly the greatest thing since sliced bread, I do think his new role might be better suited to his skills than running for President was.

Sooner Thought has some thoughts on John Negroponte's appointment, and asks some hard questions about the dude's past.

Scrutiny Hooligans has a nice little tidbit about what you can apparently smuggle onto an airplane.

Speedkill has a letter on sex education that apparently appeared in the local paper. Warning: this post discusses stupid arguments. Take all necessary precautions.

Continuing the scholastic thread, The Invisible Library has a story about what books our children should be allowed to read.

The Fulcrum has some reactions to the Bush Administrations reaction to North Korea having the bomb.

Anyway that's it for another week. We'll back later with some free prizes (but not for you, I'm afraid) and a trip down in the subway.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

A Line For Every Situation

Well the President held a Press Conference today, to announce he was nominating Ambassador John Negroponte as Director of National Intelligence. Not much to say about that, and plenty of others are covering Mr. Negroponte's ascension. So let's move on to some interesting statements by the President once he opened the floor to questions. Let's start with a long one.
Q Mr. President, you've made clear that Social Security reform is your top legislative priority. The top Republican leader in the House has said you cannot jam change down people's throats. And in your interviews with the regional newspapers, you made very clear that you would not rule out raising the cap on payroll taxes. If you were to do that, why would that not be seen as going back on your pledge not to raise taxes?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I -- a couple of questions there. One, I agree, you can't cram an issue down people's throats. As a matter of fact, the best way to get this issue addressed in the halls of Congress is for the American people to say, why don't we come together and do something. And so the first priority of mine is to convince the people we have a problem. And I'm going to do that a lot. As a matter of fact, I enjoy traveling the country, and I hope you do, too, because I'm going to be doing a lot of it. I fully understand, Norah, that nothing will happen if the members of Congress don't believe there's a problem that needs to be solved. And so you'll see a lot of travel.

And the problem is plain to me: You've got baby boomers getting ready to retire -- they've been promised greater benefits than the current generation, they're living longer, and there's fewer people paying into the system. And the system goes negative starting in 2018 and continues to do so. There's the problem. Nothing will happen, I repeat, unless the Congress thinks there's a problem.

Once the Congress -- once the people say to Congress, there's a problem, fix it, then I have a duty to say to members of Congress, bring forth your ideas. And I clarified a variety of ideas that people should be encouraged to bring forth, without political retribution. It used to be, in the past, people would step and say, well, here's an interesting idea, and then they would take that idea and clobber the person politically.

What I'm saying to members of Congress is that we have a problem -- come together and let's fix it, and bring your ideas forward, and I'm willing to discuss them with you. And so that's why I said what I said, and will continue to say it. And it's not -- I've got some ideas of my own. Obviously, I think personal accounts are an important part of the mix and want to continue working with members of Congress to understand the wisdom of why personal accounts makes sense for the long-term, to be a part of a long-term solution for Social Security.
Did you notice what part the President forgot? He forgot to answer the question. He failed to confirm whether or not he would consider raising the cap on payroll taxes and he failed to confirm whether or not he considered that going back on his pledge not to raise payroll taxes. It's also noted that Personal Accounts have apparently been demoted from the solution to part of the solution.

Also apparently it's really important for us all to believe there is a problem and call our congress people and tell them there is a problem. If we all believe in the problem than we can solve the problem by following the President's plan. Unless of course there is no problem. Or, to be more precise, the problem isn't exactly as President Bush portrays it.

Anyway here's an odd exchange.
THE PRESIDENT: Let's see, have I gone through all the TV personalities yet?

Q Yes. (Laughter.)


Q Mr. President, good morning.

THE PRESIDENT: A face made for radio, I might add.

Q Thank you. My mother appreciates it.
That just strikes me as a little sophomoric.

Here's the President on how Iran and Iraq are different.
Well, first, Iran is different from Iraq -- very different. The international community was convinced that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction -- not just the United States, but the international community -- and had passed some 16 resolutions. In other words, diplomacy had -- they tried diplomacy over and over and over and over again. John was at the United Nations during this period. And finally, the world, in 1441 -- U.N. Resolution 1441 -- said, disclose, disarm, or face serious consequences. This was not a declaration by the United States of America, it was a declaration by the United Nations Security Council -- and a 15-to-nothing vote, as I recall. And we took that resolution very seriously.

As you know, the Iranian issue hasn't even gone up to the Security Council yet. And so there's more diplomacy, in my judgment, to be done. And we'll work very closely with our European friends and other nations. As I mentioned before, we're an active member of the IAEA board, which will give us an opportunity to continue -- to continue to say to the Iranians, you've got to be transparent with your program and adhere to -- adhere to protocols that you have signed.
Anyway it sounds like we won't be invading at the drop of a hat. But we'll have to see how this pans out.

The "Liberal" Media

Joe Conason points out what the Gannon / Guckhart story reveals about the myth of the Liberal Media.
The intrinsic media interest of the Guckert/Gannon story should be obvious to anyone who has followed his tale, which touches on hot topics from the homosexual underground and the investigation into the outing of C.I.A. agent Valerie Plame to the political power of the Internet. But our supposedly liberal media becomes quite squeamish when reporting anything that might humiliate the Bush White House and the Republican Party.

Until very recently, Mr. Guckert served as the White House correspondent for Talon News, a Web site owned and operated by a group of Texas Republican activists who also run a highly partisan site called Mr. Guckert resigned from his Talon job after liberal bloggers exposed his ties to Web sites promoting homosexual prostitution. On Valentine's Day, posted new evidence indicating that Mr. Guckert not only constructed those gay-play-for-pay sites, but worked as a male escort himself -- and continued to do so until he got his first White House press pass in 2003.

. . . Imagine the media explosion if a male escort had been discovered operating as a correspondent in the Clinton White House. Imagine that he was paid by an outfit owned by Arkansas Democrats and had been trained in journalism by James Carville. Imagine that this gentleman had been cultivated and called upon by Mike McCurry or Joe Lockhart -- or by President Clinton himself. Imagine that this "journalist" had smeared a Republican Presidential candidate and had previously claimed access to classified documents in a national-security scandal.
Yep. There is no liberal media, there are just punks who want to force the media to report their world view. If you want to know what conservatives think the mainstream media should sound like, listen to Rush Limbaugh and read Newsmax.

Clinton Hatred

Emmett Tyrell, writing on Social Security, can't help throwing in a few slams on President Clinton.
The other day, while visiting a sick aunt in Little Rock, Ark., I happened upon the Clinton Library and thought I might check out a book. I, in my innocence, presumed that the Clinton Library is a lender's library. How wrong I was.

True to the Clinton tradition, it is a taker's library -- and they took my attache case, my camera and some loose change.

Alas, this is the monument created for the former Boy President, who shimmers in the eyes of many Democrats as "one of our greatest presidents." If so, among his peers would be numbered, perhaps, Warren G. Harding and Millard Fillmore.
Poor Tyrell, mugged at the Clinton Museum. But he soldiers on to suggest that Social Security gives a lousy rate of return.

That's because it is not an investment program. Social Security is a guaranteed benefits program. They are not the same thing.

To take a parallel situation, various taxes I pay go to support public education. I don't have any children and it seems unlikely that I ever will. If I did think I would have children, or if I had children, I might look at those taxes as an investment--but I don't. So am I just getting ripped off? Is Uncle Sam taking my money and giving me nothing in return?

No. Because I live in a society. And while I may not directly benefit from having good schools, society as a whole benefits from them. And it is in my best interest, in everybody's best interest, to see that society does well. To see that society functions. By the same token it is in my best interest that the Seniors of America are able to participate in the American Economy and are not consigned to lives of degradation and poverty.

Tyrell also says that under the President's plan (although let's be perfectly clear, the President has yet to actually reveal his plan), people will be allowed to pass on their retirement accounts to their descendents. This may not be accurate--at least one version of the plan requires you to purchase a non-transferable annuity at the time of retirement. If you've done well and have extra money after purchasing that annuity some of that money might be able to go to your heirs. But the bulk of it will be tied up in that annuity. Of course this might change somewhere between now and the time that President Bush actually presents his plan.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Firefox and Internet Explorer

Some interesting news out today. The next major computer headache / Windows Update is scheduled for next year. And that is when we could also expect to see an update to Explorer. Except that people over at Microsoft are afraid that Firefox is doing too well, and so are going to update Explorer this summer.

Personally I use Firefox all the time--it's great. Plus Microsoft is such a fine company and wonderful people. And that Bill Gates. Oy. He's a wonderfully nice man and a true humanitarian. I have to use Windows Explorer at work and it just makes me so happy to have such a fine product.

So to conclude Microsoft is great!

Mike S. Adams is a very funny fellow. Right.

Check out this latest laugh inducing column by Mr. Adams, who I am considering dubbing the Campus Crybaby. He apparently was uncomfortable listening to collegues discussion of Erectile Dysfunction (E.D.). So he considered sueing his unversity for creating a hostile work environment. Isn't that funny idea? But then, something even worse (hilariously worse) happened to him. He got E.D. himself.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Being around Feminists decreases Mr. Adams ability to "perform."
In 2001, I was jogging on campus when I passed a group of feminists marching in the annual “Take back the night” event. After they marched by me shaking their fists and screaming, I first experienced ED. They certainly took back that night!

. . . In 2003 (February), when campus feminists marched around stage chanting “vagina, vagina” during the Vagina Monologues, I experienced ED again. Even worse, it happened to me on Valentine’s Day (which, by the way, is not known as VD)!
This is so humerous it makes my stomach churn with merriment. So Mr. Adams (get this!) is going to file a disability claim due to his exposure to Feminists. Ha ha ha ha ha! Mr. Adams is funnier than three cats, a week-old bagel and a treble saxaphone.

And then to top off this funny funny article Mr. Adams says, "After you grant my claim, I plan to spend every evening drinking Sam Adams Black Lager and smoking “Hemingway Classics” by Arturo Fuente. Then I’ll just sit around in my pajamas and wait for the real action to begin. I hope you weren’t thinking about sex. I was talking about internet blogging."

Hee hee hee. Blogging. That's a funny word. Blogging. What a jokester that Mr. Adams is. I guess I shouldn't call him the Campus Crybaby, since he's such a humorous guy.

Sean Hannity and John Kerry

Apparently there is new evidence that suggests that John Kerry may have never seen combat in Vietnam. In talking about the Ward Churchill dust-up, he said, referencing an Ann Coulter Column, "Well, in addition to the absence of evidence about his Indian heritage, there is an absence of evidence, just like John Kerry, that he ever was in combat in Vietnam."

Seriously is there any lie so big that Coulter, Hannity and their kind won't tell?

I'm not the AARP

I am not affiliated with the AARP, just so you know. Frankly I'm not a fan of capital letters in general. But I thought I might suggest some answers to some questions Mr. Rich Lowry asked of them in today's column.
Since Bush has said that any proposal won't affect anyone 55 years of age or older, what possible reason -- other than sheer ideological hostility -- do you have to oppose reforming the system?
The same reason any American might have in this issue; the hope to make a better system for our children. If you can be concerned about saving the system "for the children," why can't the AARP (who, frankly, have a pretty good idea of what it is like to be elderly in America)?
Your group's advocacy suggests that reform puts at risk the benefits of current Social Security recipients, even though cutting those benefits is off the table. Are you routinely so dishonest, or is this a special case?
President Bush can say what he likes about cutting benefits, but his numbers don't add up. In response to a budget shortfall of several billion dollars he's proposing a program that will cost several trillion. And he seems firm that he will not raise the payroll tax (which presumably includes raising the cap). So where is he going to get the extra money? Borrowing? Or, possibly, not quite living up to that promise not to cut rates.

I mean it would hardly be the first time a President hasn't lived up to his promises, would it?
In 1950, 16 workers supported each retiree. By 2040, there will only be two workers per retiree. Does it occur to you that that is very bad news for workers? Or is your ultimate ambition to have each retiree supported by his own individual worker? Perhaps this worker can be made to fan his designated retiree with a palm frond and deliver him fruity drinks poolside?
Hmmmmmmm. If we really so greedy and selfish as you seem to suggest, why wouldn't you want to cut our benefits?
If you like old people so much, why do you try so hard to scare them? Or does AARP market research show that the elderly enjoy being frightened?
Does the president enjoy scaring people? Do you? No, but you are of course going to bring forward issues you think are important and present them to the American people. That's what we are doing. Why do Republicans feel they have to bully everybody who expresses an opinion different from themselves.
The Medicare prescription drug law that your organization helped pass is now universally regarded as an unaffordable boondoggle that will get evermore hellishly expensive. Is that the future you want for Social Security as well?
Hey, I wonder what President shepherded that bill through Congress and then signed it.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Is it time to fight?

Well, yeah. Paul Krugman certainly seems to think so.
But in 2005 it takes an act of willful blindness not to see that the Bush plan for Social Security is intended, in essence, to dismantle the most important achievement of the New Deal. The Republicans themselves say so: the push for privatization is following the playbook laid out in a 1983 Cato Journal article titled "A 'Leninist' Strategy," and in a White House memo declaring that "for the first time in six decades, the Social Security battle is one we can win - and in doing so, we can help transform the political and philosophical landscape of the country."

By refusing to be bullied into false bipartisanship on Social Security, Democrats have already scored a significant tactical victory. Just two months ago, TV pundits were ridiculing Harry Reid, the Senate minority leader, for denying that Social Security faces a crisis, and for rejecting outright the idea of diverting payroll taxes into private accounts. But now the Bush administration itself has dropped the crisis language, and admitted that private accounts would do nothing to improve the system's finances.
So fight. But don't be belligerent, be honest. And trim your fingernails.

Tax-Eating Granny

The title of an article by Amity Shlaes is "Break Free from Tax-Eating Granny." Great title. Let's you know exactly where you stand with Ms. Shlaes. Unlike President Bush, she doesn't even to pretend that conservative plans for Social Security won't hurt Seniors.

Of course democrats who point this out are still running dogs. "Still, Social Security privatisation, the 2005 version, is facing serious obstacles. Some are misrepresentations propagated by Mr Dean's more disingenuous allies. Jano Cabrera of the DNC said recently: "We welcome any opportunity to run against Republicans in 2006 after they've cut Social Security benefits and added trillions to the federal deficit." As you know, Privitization will cost trillions to implement and will probably include some component of rate cutting. So Jano Cabrera's statement isn't really that disingenuous.

Ms. Shlaes doesn't respond to any of the other criticisms of Privitization, but that's nothing new. Republicans don't have any way to defend their doom-saying and pie in the sky promises, so they respond with attacks on Democrats (Obstructionists being a popular one, as is suggesting that Democrats don't trust the market or individuals. Of course, both of these arguments only come into play if the plan they are putting forward is defensible. It isn't.)).

Monday, February 14, 2005

The Blog-O-Sphere

This is the subject of Michael Barone's latest article, although he uses the more traditional (and more boring) blogosphere. Anyway his thesis is that the left blogosphere gives power to people full of hate and the right blogosphere is going to take down the Mainstream Media. And both are good for Republicans.

There now you don't have to read the article. You should thank me.

He brings up the Daily Kos scandal from April of last year. Here's my post on that subject. I don't see much need to change or update it.

I always find it amusing that when Liberals criticize / disagree with / mock / attack President Bush that is indicative of a deep rooted irrational hatred, but the Right Wings obsession over Clinton (4 years out of office and they still bring him up at every opportunity) apparently isn't.

Call Me Old Fashioned

No I mean it. I want all my fans out there in radioland to look at their monitors and say "You're old-fashioned." Are you in a public place? Than say it extra loud.

At any rate that's the crux of Jeff Jacoby's latest article. We Democrats are old-fashioned. According to Mr. Jacoby, " Within 15 years, the system will be paying out more in benefits than it collects in taxes. Its shortfalls will grow larger and larger. Bankruptcy will loom. To save Social Security, Congress will have no choice but to sharply raise payroll taxes, go even more deeply into debt, or slash the benefits paid to retirees."

Thank goodness President Bush and other Republicans have come up with an answer; personal investment accounts! Yes, by investing two trillion dollars into setting up personal accounts and assuming the economy grows at 1.7% (the assumption under which Social Security goes broke soon), we surely won't need to raise payroll taxes, go more deeply in debt, or slash benefits.

See this is the new-fashioned Republican thinking. Apparently by throwing money at the problem it will fix the problem even if the problem is that there isn't enough money. Yeah, I know we Democrats are supposed to be party of throwing money at problems. But the problem is our aim. The Republicans are aiming their money at the financial industry, and apparently that makes all the difference.

Still, call me old fashioned, but I like Social Security the way that it is. It provides a fixed benefit to our nations elderly, which, along with their own savings, helps the elderly remain comfortable.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

New Quote

There's a new quote--but haven't updated the new quotes page yet--may later on, may skip it this week. We'll see.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

The Eldricht Horror of Flat 138

Good article about H.P. Lovecraft over at Salon (by Laura Miller) for those of you who like him. I do like him, and not in the way Ms. Miller seems to like him.
There is a ferocious imaginative power driving these tales, and all the more so for being, to cop a favorite Lovecraftian word, unwholesome. In the Freud-crazed '50s and '60s it became fashionable to denounce Lovecraft's fiction as "neurotic," to which the only conceivable reply is: Duh. How could anyone think of presenting such an observation as an insight when neurosis lies palpitating on the surface of the work? These tales are veritable carnivals of anxiety, repression and rage; that's the source of their appeal. They aren't in any sense healthy, but then neither is the poetry of Baudelaire.
There's a bit of disdain in Miller's approach here, perhaps deserved. But I still find his work, particularly the stories about the Dreamlands, to be very imaginative and powerful (if, as others have noted, not all that scary).

Friday, February 11, 2005

An Update

Well it turns out there is an answer to the question asked above, and Archy has the answer.

It's Friday Afternoon!

So, like, whatever happened to Heckle and Jeckle?

Down in the Subway

This week the nation (well that part of the nation that is reading this blog) turns it's lonely eye on the Rational Anarchist, who has a little essay on budgets and borders.

For those of you who like Monsters, you might also like this cartoon.

Round the Horn Pt the Duck: Old Red Eyes is Back

And here we go.

All Facts and Opinions has a very sober overview on the advances made in the Israeli / Palestine conflict this week.

archy has a bit on elevator speeches, which are actually an interesting mental exercise as well as being practical.

Bloggg has a way you can vote for your favorite America (and, indirectly, against President Bush).

Corrente has a story on the increasing numbers of bankruptcies due to medical bills.

Echidne of the Snakes has a thinkpiece on obscene phone calls or crank obscene phone calls.

I like the word "thinkpiece."

Left is Right has some thoughts on individual savings and Social Security.

Musing's Musings has some words about recent revelations by the 9/11 commission.

Pen Elayne on the Web has some comments on the current buzz in the blogosphere and how that reflects the real world.

Rubber Hose has analysis of how the Bush Budget raises some taxes without even trying.

And that's it for another week--tune in later when we take our weekly trip Down in the Subway.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Post Card from the Monster

Just got a letter from the Monster who is off this week on a trip to the island of Maui in the Pacific Ocean. He sent a letter and a photo, so for those interested here it is. If you aren't interested then please send $5.00 and a self addressed stamped envelope to NOT INTERESTED, 123 Fake Stree, Your Town, FX, 00002.

And here's his letter.
Dear Readers.

Arghhahhooga ahhhghhsnnnik arrrummmsttttaaakk

That is how a monster roars! I say to all my fans, arrrooghhhaaa.

I say to Jonah Goldberg bah! Him not respect the monster way. Monsters not evil. Monsters just rambunctious.

Monster say Maui nice. Me eat several lizards.

Monster say goodbye.

The Monster
we may hear from the monster as he continues his journey, although getting through customs when you are a monster isn't all that easy, so who knows.

I'm Troubled

H.R. 418, the REAL ID act of 2005, passed today. Section 102, amends a previous act (the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996) to include the following provision.
`(1) IN GENERAL- Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall have the authority to waive, and shall waive, all laws such Secretary, in such Secretary's sole discretion, determines necessary to ensure expeditious construction of the barriers and roads under this section.

`(2) NO JUDICIAL REVIEW- Notwithstanding any other provision of law (statutory or nonstatutory), no court shall have jurisdiction--

`(A) to hear any cause or claim arising from any action undertaken, or any decision made, by the Secretary of Homeland Security pursuant to paragraph (1); or

`(B) to order compensatory, declaratory, injunctive, equitable, or any other relief for damage alleged to arise from any such action or decision.'.
Aren't conservatives the ones worried about the power of the Federal Government? Or about too much power being concentrated in few hands (something we should all be worried about, frankly)?

Is pretending that the Social Security Trust Fund doesn't exist constitutional?

This question was raised by a poster at Democratic Underground, and it's worth considering. The 14th Ammendment to the Constitution, fourth section, states, in part, "The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned."

What do you think? Does saying that the Social Security Trust Fund, held in Government Securities, not exist? Is that the same thing as questioning the public debt?

Do you want a President who is Truthful?

Some in our country think that Social Security is a trust fund -- in other words, there's a pile of money being accumulated. That's just simply not true. The money -- payroll taxes going into the Social Security are spent. They're spent on benefits and they're spent on government programs. There is no trust. We're on the ultimate pay-as-you-go system -- what goes in comes out. And so, starting in 2018, what's going in -- what's coming out is greater than what's going in. It says we've got a problem. And we'd better start dealing with it now. The longer we wait, the harder it is to fix the problem.
- President George W. Bush, February 9, 2005
Is this the truth? Is there really no Social Security Trust Fund as the President suggests?

If you've been paying attention here, you know that this is not true. There is a social security trust fund. It's invested in United States Treasuries, considered by many to be an extremely safe investment. Consider this statement by Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan (lifted from Talking Points Memo).
The National Commission believes that the investment procedures followed by the trust funds in the past generally have been proper and appropriate. The monies available have generally been invested appropriately in Government obligations at interest rates which are equitable to both the trust funds and the General Fund of the Treasury and have not -- as is sometimes alleged -- been spent for other purposes outside of the Social Security program.

Of course when Greenspan wrote that he, and Ronald Reagan, were trying to talk American Workers into paying higher payroll taxes so that they could have some money set aside to save Social Security. Now President Bush is telling Americas workers that the United States Government has, in effect, pissed away the money by investing it in United States Treasuries.

Why does President Bush want to feed this deception? Well because the money to pay those Treasuries has to come from somewhere. If the Government were functioning in a sane way, that would be no problem--you simple budget to pay that money back. But President Bush's enormous tax cuts have bottomed out the budget, and it would be really nice (from President Bush's perspective) if they didn't have to pay that money back. So he'll talk as if the trust fund doesn't exist and he'll hope nobody catches on.

Which, of course, takes us back to the title of this post.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Ben Shapiro Boy Prognosticator Laughs Hysterically

Yep Ben Shapiro is laughing like the Joker on ecstasy as he writes his latest article, called "It's the Democratic party, they can cry if they want to." In it, in between horrific gales of laughter, he writes about how the Democrats are a bunch of crybabies.

For example there's this section, written while Ben was laughing in a way you would really find disturbing. "Somebody call the waaaambulance. Realizing that they're losing the political battle, the Democrats have fallen back on their last resort: weeping." Ben was laughing so hard during that section milk shot out of his nose in a truly disgusting manner.

And if that wasn't enough hideous merriment for you, take this section. "Today's Democratic leaders only remember Clinton's tears, and think they can get away with avoiding legitimate charges by turning on the water works. They'd do well to remember Edmund Muskie, the prospective 1972 Democratic presidential candidate, who fell out of the race because he supposedly shed a few tears after the media ripped his wife. He had a good reason to cry, and he still lost." Ha ha ha ha ha you'd hear Shapiro said as he jammed the knife in, laughing like the Hobgoblin after he became an evil demonic monster in the Inferno Storyline.

How do I know that Ben Shapiro is laughing like the devil himself? I don't. But if Ben Shapiro can claim that the Democrats are crying all the time (when in fact they are simply defending themselves) I can claim that he's laughing hysterically. If he's actually got evidence that Democratic leaders are shedding real tears, . . . well that'd be different. But if he has, he didn't present it in this article.

New Link

I just realized I forgot to actually add Republican Sinners to the Liberal Coalition Roll over there on the right. I thought I had, but I hadn't. So now I have.

Coming Attractions

I've focused pretty heavily on the Social Security part of President Bush's State of the Union and other appearances lately. But perhaps I've been over focusing. According to Tony Blankley (who you can soon see on Left, Right & Center, maybe), President Bush pretty clearly laid out our future foreign policy.
There is only one word that describes each of those two statements: Ultimatum -- a final demand, the rejection of which will end negotiations and cause a resort to force or other action. The president has not left much to talk about, other than the technical procedures by which the uranium programs and terror support programs are to be dismantled.

The only other thing missing from President Bush's statement is an express deadline by which his demands must be acceded to. But, given that the Iranians have not denied the existence of their nuclear programs, and given that the world can observe the terrorists activities of Syria and Iran, the implicit deadline for action must be measured in months, not years.
Of course it's hard to determine if Mr. Blankleys interpretation of the State of the Union is the correct one. Certainly the President had some hard words for both Iran and Syria, but were those really a sign of imminent military actions against those nations? Our military is stretched pretty thin (just ask a national guardsman you know), and Iraq continues to keep us pretty busy.

Still Mr. Blankly and President Bush swim in similar intellectual waters; what might seem far-fetched to us, might make perfect since to them.

Adding it up

As you know we are in budget season once more. The White House has sent over a budget which cuts a large number of programs and calls for cut backs in a number of other programs. But it's also a little phony. Both the costs for President Bush's proposed Social Security Personal Accounts scam and for the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts are not in the budget. But don't worry, Bush did put something into the budget, according to the Progress Report.
No matter which way you slice it, the administration's budget is egregiously fiscally irresponsible - by its own estimates, it will result in a $390 billion deficit in 2006. Worse, that figure is only arrived at through trickery. The budget includes over a billion dollars in revenue from drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), even though Congress hasn't authorized such drilling and has rejected President Bush's proposal to open ANWR to oil exploration for the last four years. Budget Director Josh Bolten defended the move, claiming, "the budget is the right place to present the entirety of the president's policies, so all of his proposals are reflected in there." Really? The Bush budget excludes all funding for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and the administration's $2 trillion Social Security package.
So if a figure is going to make the Bush Administration's Budget look good it must be added. But if it is going to make the budget look irresponsible, well, those numbers can be left out.

The number one priority of this administration isn't balancing the budget, it isn't Saving Social Security, it isn't even keeping our troops safe. It is protecting the Bush Tax Cuts. Once you understand that, this kind of budgetary flim-flam becomes quite understandable.

Talon and Monsters

This is a strange story which I will summarize briefly. Jeff Gannon has been a White House "reporter" who works for Talon News and asks softball questions at White House Press Junkets. His masterpiece came in a Presidential Press Conference a few weeks back. Coincidentally enough it was also the question that got people paying attention to him with less then great results.
Senate Democratic leaders have painted a very bleak picture of the U.S. economy. Harry Reid was talking about soup lines, and Hillary Clinton was talking about the economy being on the verge of collapse. Yet, in the same breath, they say that Social Security is rock-solid and there's no crisis there. How are you going to work -- you said you're going to reach out to these people -- how are you going to work with people who seem to have divorced themselves from reality?
MediaMatters followed up that question with a profile of Gannon suggesting that he was not really a reporter, but a plant by an organization friendly to the Administration.

Also he made #2 on Democratic Underground's Top Ten Conservative Idiots a couple of weeks back, whereupon, in a show of good sportsmanship, he wrote in and hoped that he could make it to #1.

Now the story takes a salacious turn, so those of you with young children, well, don't worry kids it's been boring up till now, but in a few paragraphs I'm going to be talking about the cookie monster. At any rate Daily Kos and site associates have apparently discovered that Mr. Gannon apparently owns several Gay Porn websites. In light of this recent revelation, Mr. Gannon has apparently decided not to continue his association with Talon News, although obviously we can't comment on how voluntary this dissassociation was.

So what's the point? Just that this is a total flash in the pan story, and the focus is going to be on exactly the wrong story. See now Mr. Gannon fits into a pattern we've seen before; that of the seemingly moral man who seeks to impose his morality on others, but really has a shame of his own. Rush Limbaugh, Bill Bennett and Bill O'Reilly have all gone through similar stories over the last few years. We're used to that story. It's a good story.

But that's not really the problem with Gannon. Daily Kos put it particularly well.
There is some concern that focus on the more salacious details of Gannon's hypocrisy detracts from more substantive discussions and investigations currently going on by various diariests.

In a way, that may be true. Gannon is a propagandist, funded by god knows who, who essentially provide McClellan a lifeline whenever the White House press corps backs him into a corner.
This is the real story. If the White House wants to continue giving guys like Gannon press credentials, I guess that's their right, but we should be aware of who these people are.

Speaking of stories, incidentally, Jonah Goldberg has a problem with a certain type of story we tell. In his latest article, he spends some time talking about real Monsters that live around us, mentioning the child abusing Dollars as well as other child abusers in our society. Then he has this bit.
Monsters of a different sort play a big role in my life these days. My house is drenched in Elmo, Cookie Monster, Grover, and other cute and cuddly beasts. My daughter still can't get enough of "Monsters Inc.," a wonderful movie that nonetheless perpetuates the idea that monsters aren't by their nature evil. In the film the creatures are just as terrified of human kids as the kids are of the giant creatures.

A lovable monster is a very new concept because, first and foremost, monsters are about evilness.
Presumably Mr. Goldberg prefers G.I. Joe--stories where the bad guys are definitely bad and deserving to be shot up.

It's hard to know how to take this, as I'm quite sure that Mr. Goldberg is being, in part, facetious. The point to Monsters Inc. and dozens of other children's books and movies is that we shouldn't judge people by outward appearance (at least in relation to what Mr. Goldberg is talking about--Monsters Inc. is about a number of things in reality (I suspect another problem Mr. Goldberg has with the movie is that the head of the company turns out to be the real monster)). You can't always tell a monster by what he looks like.

Of course I suppose it's possible that Goldberg has a problem with that message as well.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Stock Tip

Here's a stock tip for those of you interested in the market. Muskrat Bob's Discount Mattress Safari (MBODMS). As you know there is a lot of talk about a Social Security Crisis right now, based on the theory that investing the Social Security Trust Fund in United States Treasury Bonds is pretty much the same thing as pissing it away.

Well we can't let this situation go on forever. And if money isn't safe in United States Treasuries, where will it be safe? I think I has the solution, as Mr. Homestar Runner would say. Mattresses. For keeping money safe, nothing works better (now that we can't trust United States Securities). I foresee that within three or four years the Social Security Trustees will be buying thousands of mattresses.

Plus think about the individual market. When these economic doom-sayers convince the American Public that Treasury Bonds are worthless, don't you think they will want their own mattresses? Now you might argue that many of them already own mattresses. But here's a clue, Sherlock. Sleeping on money is uncomfortable (particularly coin money).

Sorry for the hostility in that last paragraph, but I'm just totally convinced that if you all buy mattress stock, my mattress stock will rise in value.

Oh and I'm not serious, and I don't even know if MBODMS is real stock symbol, and if it is I have no way of knowing whether or not they are any good.

Why do the Democrats have to keep being the Democrats

Continuing on with our theme of Conservative Commentators advising Liberals, let's turn to Star Parker's latest.
Going forward, it seems to me that the Democratic Party has two options. One is to concede that Bush is correct that our goal must be to continue on the path of advancing freedom and personal responsibility, and to contend with him about details on how best to achieve this. Or, they can reject the premise that freedom and personal responsibility are our goals and continue to promote more government.
Well I am for Personal Accountability and Freedom. I suspect many Democrats are (except in those cases where Personal Accountability is code for screwing the poor).

Take Iraq for example. We invaded that country because we were told by the CIA and by the Administration that Iraq contained weapons of Mass Destruction and was a clear threat to the United States. It turns out that statement is false. Someone should be held accountable for that mistake. Nobody begrudges Iraqis their freedom, but when you are going to spend American Money and American Lives you need more to justify it.

Or take Social Security for another. It's clear that many Republicans and Conservatives feel as you do, Ms. Parker. Social Security is a bad program and should be eliminated. That said, most of your colleagues don't have the same willingness to attack it directly. Instead we have this double talk about wanting to save Social Security while really working to destroy it. I think your colleagues should be held accountable for this double talk.

At any rate this is the same offer Conservatives have been making for years. Support our programs and we will let you change a word or two (although the total thrust of the program won't change in the slightest). It's not surprising that most Democrats prefer not to accept this offer.

Howard Dean - Not Southern

Apparently the fact that Howard Dean will be the new chairman of the Democratic National Committee is bad news, primarily because he's not Southern. This news come to us thanks to Larry Kudlow
But let me add a more simple reason why Dean should never chair the DNC: He is not from the South and has no pull in the South.

In their White House bids, Al Gore and John Kerry were destroyed in the pro-military, anti-tax, culturally conservative South. Not merely the Deep South, but the border states as well. Meanwhile, Democratic senators, House members, and governors have been crushed in a series of Republican landslides in the Southern states.

The Dems will not reclaim the White House until they start the process of electoral recovery in the South. This has long been former Sen. Zell Miller's message to his party. At the very least the next DNC chair should be a moderate from the Rocky Mountain West, someone with good communication skills who can reach out to Southern voters. But if Dean, another Northeast liberal, rises to the top, the headline becomes clear: "Dems to South: Drop Dead."
Yeah, I can confirm that Dean is definitely not from the South. No Southerner he. But the other part of the thesis is less definite.

Basically the assumption is that we can't really win America unless we win the South. Note that Mr. Kudlow doesn't consider the Northeast States, the Mid-Atlantic States, the Great Lakes States, the Plains States, the Rocky Mountain States, The South-Western States or the Pacific States as relevant. The only states that really matter are the Southern States.

It's easy enough to see why Mr. Kudlow and other Conservatives would propagate this view point. They see the South as safe ground, where traditional prejudices and resentments make them, more or less, unassailable. Personally, I'm not sure about this assessment; I think the South has a certain generosity of spirit and bone crushing poverty that might bush them the other way, if those traits were capitalized on.

Bringing up Zell Miller, of course, makes Mr. Kudlow's point even more explicit. If the Democratic Party is to be an effective party they need to be the Republican Party. A lot of conservatives don't seem to understand why Democrats would rather the Democratic Party stayed the Democratic Party.

At any rate, the idea that a Northeastern DNC Chair is a "screw-you" to the South is total crap. We are all Americans. It's time that Mr. Kudlow and others who would play on regional resentments learned that. It's past time that the American people taught him that.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Saving Social Security Pt II

Jacob Sullum is another brave soul who praises President Bush's goal to Save Social Security. He says that President Bush's proposal is well reasoned and balanced, and that, unlike Democrats, he is willing to listen to his political opponents (we'll see how that turns out). And then he writes this charming paragraph.
Although sold to the public as a pension system, Social Security is based on the forced transfer of resources between generations. It steals from the poor to give to the rich, and it substitutes dependence on a beneficent state for self-reliance and voluntary mutual aid. It may not be financially bankrupt, but it is morally so.
Sort of begs the question, doesn't it? Why would you want to Save Social Security if you think it is a morally bankrupt system?

Reality is Partisan

My attempts to get this catchphrase to take off haven't really worked so far.

Anyway, just read a fascinating article by Donald Lambro, which puts the Conservative Argument into perspective. He presents evidence (after a fashion), that shows that Democrats have to give in on the Social Security issue.
A Zogby poll last month of more than 1,000 likely voters found that 30 percent of Democrats said they liked the idea [President bushes private accounts . . .

An Annenberg poll in December found that 54 percent of Hispanics supported the concept of "allowing workers to invest Social Security funds in the stock market." . . .

Zogby found that 58 percent of workers younger than 50, the target group for Bush's plan, support it. That number rises to 61 percent among workers under 30. . . .

Most Americans do not believe the system is in "crisis," as some have said, but Zogby found that 61 percent correctly believe it faces "serious problems" and needs "major changes."
All this support and President Bush has yet to actually put his plan on the table. I guess we Democrats should look at these polls and immediately cave. I mean if the American people favor President Bush's phase out of Security Social (based on polls commissioned by the Libertarian CATO institute), well, there's little point trying to change peoples minds. Or is there?

What's striking about this article is how little actual argument there is. Instead, Mr. Lambro seems content to just run down polling numbers as if those were a suitable substitute for a good counter argument.

The truth is Paul Krugman, Joshua Michah Marshall, and others have put forward well reasoned critiques of President Bush's plan to push us in this direction. The Republican response is largely to talk about polls and warn that Democrats are out of step with the American people. If they have counter arguments, why aren't they presenting them?

Oh wait, Lambro does have a fact or two. I guess I should give credit where credit is due.
In fact, Social Security trustees, the Congressional Budget Office and the General Accounting Office (Congress' auditing agency) all agree that the retirement fund is in deep trouble. It will begin running a deficit in 2018. By 2027, the annual deficit will be over $200 billion a year; by 2033, over $300 billion.
Oh my, that sounds pretty bad when you take it completely out of context. That huge a deficit--I guess the only solution to a budget deficit of billions is to set up a Personal Account system that will cost trillions.

Did the Holocaust really happen?

I know a lot of people have been wondering if the Holocaust really happened, and we here at Make Me a Commentator!!! are happy to provide an answer to that question once and for all.

The answer is yes. The holocaust really happened. And anybody who thinks it didn't happen is either a gullible moron or has ulterior motives.

If you are interested in Holocaust Denial, however, you might check out this article at Salon (warning, you'll probably have to watch an ad). David Irving is a holocaust denier. Deborah Lipstadt wrote a book challenging David Irvings work as inaccurate and accused Irving of deliberately misreading and ignoring documentary evidence. Snoop Dogg was not involved in this issue at all, but I am mentioning him for demographic reasons. Irving didn't like Lipstadts book and so sued her for libel in England. England's libel laws are seriously messed up (as they start with a supposition of guilt rather than a supposition of innocence). The judge "not only said that Irving was an "antisemite" and a "racist" but that his "falsification of the record was deliberate and ... motivated by a desire to present events in a manner consistent with his own ideological beliefs even if that involved distortion and manipulation of historical evidence." So Lipstadt won the trial.

As is traditional when someone puts forward a retrograde nonsensical argument like this, Irving is defended by the old, "He has a right to write what he wants." Fair enough, although it kind of misses the point doesn't it? He doesn't have a right not to be criticized; and he's the one who sued to shut someone else up. Anyway the article is well worth checking out.

Go Look at Talking Points Memo Again!

I've pointed you there often enough on this Social Security issue, so what's one more time? Mr. Marshall wrote a good long post discussing several aspects of how what the President is proposing differs from Social Security. Here's a good section of it.
Is it fair to say that President Bush is trying to "phase out" Social Security? Well, what is Social Security? For seventy years it has existed as a defined benefit social insurance program. What does that mean? It is a social program in which everyone who works during their lifetime gets a guaranteed benefit in retirement. It's not meant to be a sole means of support. Those who pay in more get more back; and those who pay in less a bit less. But everyone who works is guaranteed a benefit which provides at least a modicum of comfort and dignity in old age. Have the benefit structures changed over time? Yes. But they change for everyone together, not by the vagaries of chance or individual fortune.

Social Security envisions a retirement in which recipients, hopefully, have three sources of income: Social Security, some employer-based pension and personal savings. The latter two, in varying degrees depend on how hard you work, how much you make, how wisely you invest and the vagaries of chance. Social Security, as a defined benefit program, is meant to be the one leg of the stool which is a flat guarantee.

At root, with all the statistics and flimflam over words, President Bush wants to change that. He wants to phase out Social Security in favor of private investment accounts. In the latter case, there is no guarantee at all, just as there is no guarantee in private nesting, which of course is just as is should be. He wants to get rid of the defined benefit program and change it to a defined contribution program -- not partially, but totally. Indeed, he said this in his recent press conference quite clearly. But few of the reporters present latched on to the statement or its significance. Social Security, he said, is "now in a precarious position. And the question is whether or not our society has got the will necessary to adjust from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan. And I believe the will will be there. (emphasis added)."

There's no 'partial' here. He's talking about phasing out one and replacing it with the other. Reporters and commentators don't seem to get that this is a category difference, though this is something that is widely understood in the pension policy community.
I would suggest reading the whole post--he also takes on the question of whether or not Clinton proposed something like this back in the nineties.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

New Format, New Quote!

New quote and a new format--once again with a guest logo designer (the same one who designed the one from two times ago). And a new quotes page.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Your Weekly Rush

Which I haven't done in a while. But here we go.

Good Old Rush was reacting to the State of the Union this week, which he liked. What he didn't like was the Democrats not applauding President Bush. I mean a few years ago President Clinton suggested investing some of the trust fund in more lucrative investments (of course that was before the bubble burst and Enron). That's obviously exactly the same as starting an expensive program of individual retirement accounts. The Democrats clapped for Clinton and didn't clap for President Bush.

Here's another lie. "there never was a surplus, by the way. It was a projected surplus. It was a paper surplus. It never... Well, you know the story on that." Well no Rush, not exactly, you filthy liar. There is a surplus and it is invested in United States Government Treasuries. You've been telling this lie that there is no surplus for years now--but it is three kinds of BS.

Anyway this is another line of attack on Social Security, suggesting that Clinton wanted to do the same thing that Bush does. But it is at best a half truth. Not even that much I'd say--maybe an eight truth.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Down in the Subway

By the way, now I happen to be listening to Yaz or Yazoo (depending on what side of the pond you are from). I'm not sure that's a step up or a step down.

Anyway go check out this post from Motely Cow on President Bush and Iraq. It's interesting (if brief), and I hope the dude continues to write.

Round the Horn and Out of the Blue

Here's another set of tasty omelets for you to enjoy (yeah I'm running out of metaphors).

To start off we have a delicious article on Ann Coulter from Republican Sinners, a blog that joined the Liberal Coalition some time ago (apparently), but I missed them. So we apologize, and encourage you to all go over and pay them a visit.

Edwardpig has some good comments on the Birth Tax, smothered in gravy and served with a side of flapjacks.

Happy Furry Puppy Story time has a story on the legal troubles of members of washed up bands. Is it coincidental that I'm listening to Jesus Jones as I type this? Yes it is.

I miss Respectful of Otters, but I guess it is on hiatus.

Ricks Cafe Americaine has confirmation that unemployed Germans can be forced into a life of prostitution. I heard this story earlier this week and openly doubted it, but it turns out I was wrong. To those who were involved I would like to say I'm sorry, but a commentator is not allowed to show weakness so instead I'm going to pretend I believed in the welfare hooker story the whole time.

T. Rex's Guide to Life has a well done review of the State of the Union, pretty much the whole thing, which shows a greater intestinal fortitude than I possess.

First Draft has a review of Scott McClellan's latest press conference on behalf of the President.

Words on a Page has some reactions to the nomination of Alberto Gonzales to Attorney General, and it's depressing.

The Yellow Doggeral Democrat also has comments on the Alberto Gonzales situation, focusing on the failure of Democrats to stand up to the Bush White House.

And that's it for this week. Be back later on with Down in the Subway and probably some other posts as well.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Saving Social Security

President Bush wants to Save Social Security. The Republican Party wants to Save Social Security. Republicans in Congress want to Save Social Security. Seeing a trend? So let's check in with one of the Presidents Supporters, the guy at Power Line, a conservative blog, to see what he thinks about Social Security. Power Line blogged the debate last night (while I was busy with lemons and cinderblocks), and here is his reaction to the Social Security Section of the State of the Union.
8:28--Good idea to cite various proposals to fix SS, mostly from Dems. For now, at least, he's pretty much agnostic. The real problem, of course, is the transition to a new system. This isn't the fault of the new system; it is what makes Social Security such a diabolically bad system. It's like a drug addiction; there is no convenient opportunity to terminate the program. Why personal accounts are a better deal: rate of return is always a big argument, but the more important point, I think, is ownership. The money is yours, and the government can never take it away. You can pass it on. I think that's the point that has to be pounded home.
To me it sounds like Power Line doesn't so much want to Save Social Security. It sounds almost like he'd be happier seeing it go away, replaced by this new program that, Power Line, at least, seems to see as fundementally different from Social Security.

There's the rub--Republicans (for the most part) don't want to admit that they want to Destroy Social Security. That wouldn't play well. So instead of having an honest debate over whether or not Social Security is a good idea (in which both side has some good arguments), we are debating a plan to Save Social Security put together by people who's ideology goes completely in the opposite direction.

Everything In It's Right Place

Which is the (great!) song I happen to be listening to. Anyway I'm about to point to some comments by Joshua Michah Marshall, who's work on the upcoming Social Security debate has been inspiring. In fact if you just read Talking Points Memo and Paul Krugman's columns over at the New York Times you'll be well armed to handle the Social Security debate. On the other hand, neither of those guys is willing to bring you the 1910's plutocrat perspective on issues of the day, so I suggest you continue reading this weblog as well.

Anyway Talking Point's Memo has some reactions to the State of the Nation as well.
But the truth is he's going to try to siphon off one out of every three dollars that goes into Social Security -- the money that goes to pay those benefits he's telling you 55-and-over folks not to worry about.

Remember, he says the program's in trouble in 13 years and bankrupt in less than forty as it stands now. And now he's telling people who are 55 and over that they can rely on the program with complete confidence even though, under his new plan, it'll have to make do with 2/3 of its current revenues.

Does those two facts compute to you? You think that might put a little stress on the system? Even if the president just decides to pull out the national Visa card and borrow a few trillion more dollars to make up the shortfall, that will just come back and hit the program in other ways and more than soon enough to hit people a decade from retirement. People who are 55 today will be alive in 10, 20, 30 and more years from now. And like so many of President Bush's promises this is one he couldn't keep even if he wanted to.
Those are some good questions. I suppose it does point towards Bush and his followers wanting to solve the Social Security problem "permanently."

Don't Fear The Reaper

That's the name of a Blue Oyster Cult Song (covered recently by the Beautiful South). In President Bush's case that might be translated "Don't Fear the Potential Problems Huge Deficits might Cause down the Road." President Bush gave the State of the Union last night and, as you might expect, he put his Social Security plan front and center.
Fixing Social Security permanently will require an open, candid review of the options. . . .

I will work with members of Congress to find the most effective combination of reforms. I will listen to anyone who has a good idea to offer. (Applause.) We must, however, be guided by some basic principles. We must make Social Security permanently sound, not leave that task for another day. We must not jeopardize our economic strength by increasing payroll taxes. We must ensure that lower-income Americans get the help they need to have dignity and peace of mind in their retirement. We must guarantee there is no change for those now retired or nearing retirement. And we must take care that any changes in the system are gradual, so younger workers have years to prepare and plan for their future.
So there's at least one option he's not going to leave on the table; that of increasing revenue. One has to assume that this would also include the suggestion that we raise the $90,000 cap on Social Security taxes.

Salon's war room takes on this facet of the Bush mentality with some very pointed comments.
So that's the problem. Beginning in 2053, Social Security will either need to supplement its income or cut its expenses. It would be easy -- mathematically, if not politically -- to do either. The government could supplement Social Security's income by raising taxes or diverting funds from other programs, or it could cut Social Security expenses by reducing benefits. But George Bush doesn't like those kinds of choices. Again and again over the last four years, he has cut taxes and increased spending. When Joe Biden and John Kerry suggested that Bush pay for the war in Iraq by rolling back some of his tax cuts, the White House refused. Bush wanted the war, and he wanted the tax cuts, and he got both.

His Social Security proposal is of a piece. Bush said all sorts of options for repairing the system are "on the table," but then he took one off: The idea of raising Social Security taxes is not one he'll consider. Bush wants to let younger workers divert some of their Social Security taxes to individual investment accounts, but to do that he would need to come up with a way to pay the current benefits those taxes cover. He won't raise other taxes to do that, so the "transition costs" will simply be added -- by the trillion -- to the massive budget deficit Bush has built up over the last four years.
This kind of reminds me of how old Rush Limbaugh was talking right after the last election, when President Bush was swept into office. He kept going on and on about how now the adults were in charge once more. I have to admit it doesn't sound very "adult" to call for an enormous new program without considering how to pay for it. It doesn't sound very "adult" to rack up huge debts and pass them on to our children. But maybe Rush Limbaugh and I have different ideas of what constitutes adult behavior.