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.