Friday, March 04, 2005

Round the Horn and Into the Black

My My Hey Hey

Anyway, edwardpig has some thoughts about the new Iraqi government and some of the many difficulties it will face.

Happy Furry Puppy Story Time has a very solid rundown on the recent Bankruptcy bill that will make life a lot harder for lots of Americans just like you.

T. Rex's Guide to Life has another tidbit on the Bankruptcy bill. It also makes life harder for soldiers (about whom I would have thought their lives were tough enough already).

Ricks Cafe Americaine is looking really sharp and has a really amusing story of a person who comes to visit. These slice of life style posts are actually kind of tough, and this one comes out perfect and perfectly funny.

The First Draft has the scoop on some particularly incoherent remarks the President made earlier this week.

Words on a Page has further evidence that the Right Wing in this country may not really want to save Social Security.

The Yellow Doggeral Democrat has some further thoughts on the upcoming blog crackdown hinted at yesterday.

Anyway that's it for today. See you later.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

The Future of Blogging

Well, to be honest, it may not have a future. Apparently changes in the way that the Federal Elections Commission looks at the internet could have serious implications in how political bloggers operate.

One issue concerns the monetary value of a link to a candidates website. During the campaign I linked to both President Bush and Senator Kerry's websites. Should that have been declared as a contribution?

What about the owner of a mailing list? If that is used to coordinate support for a candidate does that count as material support for the campaign?

According to Bradley Smith (one of the FEC Commissioners), " . . . if nobody in Congress is willing to stand up and say, "Keep your hands off of this, and we'll change the statute to make it clear," then I think grassroots Internet activity is in danger. The impact would affect e-mail lists, especially if there's any sense that they're done in coordination with the campaign. If I forward something from the campaign to my personal list of several hundred people, which is a great grassroots activity, that's what we're talking about having to look at."

We'll have to keep our eyes on this one.

Coulter and the Gay-Outing Article

One of the more bizarre ways for Conservatives to deal with the Gannon/Guckert story is for them to claim that this proves that we are homophobes. This makes about as much sense as the argument that because we have failed to embrace initiatives put forward by Black members of the Bush Administration, we must really hate blacks. That is to say, it says more about how conservatives see color or sexual preference than about Democrats.

Sensing, I guess, that this line of attack isn't going to work, Ann Coulter tries to find more evidence. Two weeks ago, Dan Savage, writing on the New York Times Editorial Page, commented on the coming out of Maya Keyes, adopted daughter of Alan Keyes. Ms. Keyes did this publicly at a gay rights rally in Annapolis, Md. Mr. Savage wrote an article on the emotions and issues around having a relative of a prominent conservative (who has called homosexuality "shameful hedonism") come out of the closet. Near the end of his article, he makes these points "The next time someone like Maya Keyes comes tumbling out of the closet, we should all try to be gracious and not succumb to our baser instincts."

So how does Ann Coulter deal with this article? By deception. First of all she fails to give any details that might enable a reader to track down this article. Probably smart, since her description of the article doesn't really line up to the actual article.
. . . another Times op-ed article the same day gratuitously outed the children of prominent conservatives.

These are not public figures. No one knows who they are apart from their famous parents. I didn't even know most of these conservatives had children until the Times outed them.
Again to reiterate, if you didn't read the article. Ms. Keyes outed herself publicly at a gay rally. It's hardly like she intended it to be a secret. She also implies that the article outs more than one gay relative, which is not true.

I guess it's not news that Ann Coulter is kind of a liar.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

All Hail Conservative Bloggers!

Let us all sing the praises of the Conservative bloggers who's triumphant arrival on the stage of history is the culmination of a battle that has stretched for decades. For behold William F. Buckley said let there be National Review, a place where conservative thought can come forth. And there was a National Review. And yet the Conservatives were not satisfied, and there mouths were full of grumblings.

And then Rush Limbaugh said "Let there be three hours of me each day." And there was the Rush Limbaugh Program. And the Conservatives were not satisfied. Indeed listening to Rush, they became even hungrier.

And then there was Matt Drudge, who's thunderous typings brought down a president (or would have if they had not failed to bring down a president). At this the right wing was still angry and hungry.

And then came the day of the 24 hour news network. And the rise of the punditry. And the appearance of Fox News. And, lo, it was not enough, for the hunger of Conservatives had only grown.

So then was conceived in the mind a new way for conservatives to communicate one with another. The Blog. And Glen Reynolds said, "let there be Instapundit." And there was
Instapundit. The Conservative Blogger had arrived on the stage. And behold, the Conservative Blog-O-Sphere did take down Dan of the house of Rather and he was brought low for reporting a story about which there is no need to remember.

But behold, the liberal is crafty. And copying. And Jonah of the house of Goldberg did write an article to praise the Conservative Bloggers but also to sound the trumpet of warning. "Left-wing bloggers believe they are part of the same "revolution" as right-wing bloggers are. They're not. . . . They represent - much like the still lame liberal talk radio and the new liberal think tanks - an attempt to copycat conservative successes. Their fight is not with the monolithic mainstream media (or academia) but with the usurpers. Politics is not a battle of technology. It is a battle of ideas, and therein lies all the difference."

And thus there was great weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth in the lefty Blog-O-Sphere for they had been brought low by this mighty criticism. For behold the monolithic liberal media of which Mr. Goldberg reference must surely exist. Had not the National Review and Rush Limbaugh and all the great speakers of Conservatism agreed on this point?

Therefore it was clear that there was little difference between Dan Rather and
Atrios, or between Chris Matthews and Joshua Michah Marshall (Talking Points Memo). All were as one in the words of the Conservative scribes. Surely the way that the Monolithic Liberal Media jumped on the Jeff Gannon story to humiliate President Bush revealed that the depth of control that Liberal Bloggers had over the Monolithic Liberal Media.

The American Indian and the American Baptist

Terence Jeffrey writes an interesting, but confused article over at Townhall today. He starts out reiterating the point that Christians should be allowed to put up monuments to the Ten Commandments any where they please by referencing a case in Kentucky.

Where it gets confused is that then Mr. Jeffrey takes on an exhibit at the Smithsonian on the American Indian which apparently presents American Indian religious beliefs uncritically (or, at any rate, not critically enough for Mr. Jeffrey). Unfortunately, as in many of these sorts of arguments, Mr. Jeffrey can't quite decide what his point is. Is it that this American Indian museum is crap? Or is it that the monument to the Ten Commandments is being unfairly discriminated against?

It seems clear that, in Mr. Jeffrey's world, the American Indian exhibit would be very different (focused on the ennobling nature of Christianity, and the perceived evils of Native American life before being conquered), and the statue of the Ten Commandments would be uncontroversial. Or in other words, Mainstream Christians have their beliefs enshrined in the public square and other religions can wait on the back burner (if at all).

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

On those add on accounts

Which I mentioned previously. Apparently Joe Biden made some references to them in his Meet the Press session, and the Daily Howler discussed them in today's article (March 1, 2005). They made a piont I hadn't considered earlier (although Krugman referenced it as well. Must have had a brain melting alien ray pointed at me when I read that part).
. . . a point of simple logic—an “add-on” account is only “added on” if traditional Social Security is fully preserved before the “adding” is done. After all, if future SS benefits are cut, then any additional savings account isn’t an “add-on”—it’s a replacement for the lost benefits. In short, before “add-on” savings accounts make sense, Congress will have to solve future funding problems with traditional Social Security. First, Congress has to make sure that future promised benefits are secure. Then, it could figure out how to create additional savings accounts.
Interesting. Of course it seems like it would be a lot easier for them to cut benefits and pretend that these accounts were not replacing Social Security.

Something to Consider

As some of you probably know, Florida Representative Clay Shaw, Jr. of Florida (the Gold Coast to be precise) has put forward a compromise plan on Social Security Privitazation. His plan "centers on voluntary retirement savings accounts added to Social Security that would not be financed by payroll taxes, as they would under Mr. Bush's plan. Under Mr. Shaw's plan, accounts would be financed by a refundable income tax credit, capped at $1,000 a year, and would require substantial government borrowing."

Paul Krugman, in his latest column, takes shots at this compromise measure. I agree with some of his concerns (how much more money do we really want to borrow?), but I'm not sure about the final lines of his article.
The important thing to remember is why the right wants privatization. The drive to create private accounts isn't about finding a way to strengthen Social Security; it's about finding a way to phase out a system that conservatives have always regarded as illegitimate. And as long as that is what's at stake, there is no room for any genuine compromise. When it comes to privatization, just say no.
I completely agree that the right wing is being pretty disingenious when they claim to want to save Social Security. That said I'm not sure we can't have some sort of compromise down the road.


If you want a quick and humerous overview of the Gannon scandal, check out this cartoon by Tom Tomorrow.

Stand and Be Counted

Good article today by Ms. Molly Ivins about the rather ridiculous attack ad put out last week.
You may not believe it, but I swear it is true: USA Next's first salvo was to accuse the geezer lobby of being against our troops in Iraq and in favor of homosexual marriage.

No joke, what journalist-blogger Josh Marshall calls "the fogey-bund" stands accused of being anti-soldier and pro-gay-knot-tying. A charming Internet ad shows a muscular hero of the desert in combat fatigues with a big X across his picture, and on the other side are two guys in tuxedos getting hitched with a big check across their picture. Under these two pictures, it says, "The REAL AARP Agenda."

I haven't laughed so hard since President Bush informed us that we have had a close and enduring friendship with Japan for the past 150 years.

Being old enough myself to join the AARP -- not a member, but well into Wrinkly City -- I find this the most deliciously zany, mortifyingly awful moment since the time a speaker of the Texas House called on a bunch of people in wheelchairs to stand and be recognized.
Anyway it's a good vigorous article.

Apparently, however, the purpose of that ad may not have been to convince anybody to turn against the AARP but to "test" liberal bloggers (like yours truly). According to Newsweek, "But the real reason, said USA Next's CEO Charlie Jarvis, was pure political provocation.The ad was a "test," Jarvis said, to see whether "left-wing bloggers" would"focus entirely on one image and explode about it. My guess was right."

I'm not sure what the test was intended to prove. Perhaps that our focus on it could push the ad into the mainstream? Or is he operating under the theory that we will focus on dirty campaigning and not the actual bill? I'm pretty sure we can do both, actually.

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.