Saturday, September 10, 2005

Why Your Conservative Friends Have Been Losing A LOT of Sleep...

Bush Approval Ratings Lower Than Any President Since Nixon

This is the most telling paragraph in the whole thing, and why I believe we're about to have a Democratic dynasty, where we could run a dinner plate...much like the Republicans ran in the two Bushes, and still rule the nation:

The public's view of the nation's direction has grown increasingly negative as well, with nearly two-thirds now saying the country is heading down the wrong track.

Two thirds. 66%. All Dean has to do now is start articulating a vision for America. Starting with helping the poor, again.

More bad news for conservatives....

WASHINGTON - Even before the cost of Hurricane Katrina is added to the federal ledger, a Congressional Budget Office study commissioned by Democrats predicts President Bush will fail to keep his promise to cut the deficit in half by the time he leaves office.

The study by the nonpartisan CBO assumes that Congress will heed Bush's call for new tax cuts and for making those passed in 2001 and 2003 permanent. It also assumes a big slowdown in spending on the Iraq war, tight caps on domestic agency budgets and new individual Social Security accounts.

BEFORE the costs of Katrina are added to the budget...before....but to quote further to the glaring statistic...

By 2015, the deficit would hit $640 billion under CBO's study.

That would make the budget deficit at about 6.5% of the GDP, which no nation in the Western world has ever had to contend with. Look out folks, this is going to be really nasty, and people will die from the neglect this administration has foisted upon us.

Thoughts? The pool is open....

Friday, September 09, 2005

Better Move To Canada...

Apparently, our civil liberties really are not what they once were....

A federal appeals court ruled today that the president can indefinitely detain a U.S. citizen captured on U.S. soil in the absence of criminal charges, holding that such authority is vital to protect the nation from terrorist attacks.

The decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit came in the case of Jose Padilla, a former Chicago gang member who was arrested in Chicago in 2002 and designated an "enemy combatant" by President Bush. The government contends that Padilla trained at al Qaeda camps and was planning to blow up apartment buildings in the United States.

Padilla, a U.S. citizen, has been held without trial in a U.S. naval brig for more than three years, and his case triggered a legal battle with vast implications for civil liberties and the fight against terrorism.

The Fourth Circuit decision was written by Judge J. Michael Luttig. Note where he was born. Note who appointed him to the Circuit.

Guess where I'm going with this?

If Bush's approval ratings were significantly higher, I'd say this decision nails down Luttig's seat on the high bench. But Bush is crippled, and the Dems know it. This has fillibuster written all over it.

The President Has No Sense Of Shame

Where's the "shared sacrifice" that a tragedy of this magnitude, ESPECIALLY during a time of war, demands? Can't Halliburton hew to Federal law of long-standing in order rather than make a few more bucks an hour?

Bush Suspends Pay Act In Areas Hit by Storm

By Thomas B. Edsall
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 9, 2005; Page D03

President Bush yesterday suspended application of the federal law governing workers' pay on federal contracts in the Hurricane Katrina-damaged areas of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi. The action infuriated labor leaders and their Democratic supporters in Congress, who said it will lower wages and make it harder for union contractors to win bids.

The Davis-Bacon Act, passed in 1931 during the Great Depression, sets a minimum pay scale for workers on federal contracts by requiring contractors to pay the prevailing or average pay in the region. Suspension of the act will allow contractors to pay lower wages. Many Republicans have opposed Davis-Bacon, charging that it amounts to a taxpayer subsidy to unions.

AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney sharply criticized the president's suspension of the Davis-Bacon Act.

In a letter to Congress, Bush said he has the power to suspend the law because of the national emergency caused by the hurricane: "I have found that the conditions caused by Hurricane Katrina constitute a 'national emergency.' "

Bush wrote that his decision is justified because Davis-Bacon increases construction costs, and suspension "will result in greater assistance to these devastated communities and will permit the employment of thousands of additional individuals."

Nonsense. Louisiana is a "right-to-work" state, and so union wages are not out of line with the local prevailing wage.

An electrician in New Orleans would receive a wage of $22 an hour, a plumber $17 an hour, to rebuild residences.

Under this act, Bush is allowing wages of $9 an hour! Walmart pays more ($10.35 per hour) to its clerks!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Write Your Own Caption

Anybody Notice Anything Odd About This Graph?

Poverty Levels In America

It only really goes down when a Democrat is president....and spiked really high after Bush's tax cuts.

Full Course Fuck Up

Bob Harris makes an amazing discovery of the level of incompetence in the White House.

One Stop Shopping on FEMA's fuck-ups. Doesn't the buck stop with Bush on a Federal disaster screw up? (NOTE: Some of the links may be dead due to archiving. A quick Google search using the box at the bottom of this page will bring up the correct locations)

I thought we were electing the "adults" in 2000?

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Oil-For-Food: Coming Soon To A Media Outlet Near You

So the Volcker Report on the UN Oil-For-Food scandal will be released soon, and in it is a pretty sticky situation for Kofi Annan

Adam Zagorin writes:

As Paul Volcker put the finishing touches last week on his final report on the U.N.'s role in the oil-for-food scandal, investigators continue to uncover details about Kojo Annan's links with Cotecna, the company at the center of the influence-peddling inquiry. In late 1998, U.N. sources say, Kojo, son of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, got a $3,000 loan from a friend for a down payment on a sporty green Mercedes ML 320 in Geneva, Switzerland. The friend was Michael Wilson, then a vice president of Cotecna, the firm that not only employed Kojo but also won millions of dollars in U.N. contracts, including one, signed within two months after the down payment was made, to monitor the oil-for-food program in Iraq. About the same time Wilson's wife bought a car from the Swiss dealer, Kojo Annan wound up paying $39,000 for his Mercedes, getting $15,000 in help from his dad plus a $6,000 "diplomatic" discount by falsely claiming that his father was the car's owner. He later shipped the vehicle to his native Ghana, again using his father's diplomatic status to avoid paying $14,000 in customs duties.

The report, from the independent committee appointed by Kofi Annan and chaired by Volcker, a former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman, will criticize the Secretary-General's failure to stop corruption inside the oil-for-food scheme, as well as his responsibility for U.N. mismanagement, the sources tell TIME. But the report does not find that he influenced U.N. contracts in favor of Cotecna--or knew the precise details of his son's car deal. A lawyer for Kojo Annan told TIME that Kojo reimbursed Wilson, who could not be reached for comment. --By Adam Zagorin

Hm. Rich kid, powerful dad, connections to help the kid raise money from Middle Eastern oil interests that ultimately we end up declaring war on....why does this all sound familiar?

The worst part of it all is, the United States was complicit in the scandal and private companies based here benefitted from some 52% of the corruption that will be uncovered in the Volcker Report.

The report also found that individuals and companies in the United States accounted for 52% of all oil-voucher kickbacks paid to Saddam Hussein. The largest of theses recipients, Houston based Bayoil and its CEO, Bay Chalmers have been indicted by the US Department of Justice for their actions.

And yet, a $39,000 car is all Time magazine will report on...

Finally, the Rabid Right Wing Shows Up in White Sheets

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Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Dear Mr. President....

Dear Mr. Bush:

Any idea where all our helicopters are! ? It's Day 5 of Hurricane Katrina and thousands remain stranded in New Orleans and need to be airlifted. Where on earth could you have misplaced all our military choppers? Do you need help
finding them? I once lost my car in a Sears parking lot. Man, was that a drag.

Also, any idea where all our national guard soldiers are? We could really use them right now for the type of thing they signed up to do like helping with national disasters. How come they weren't there to begin with?

Last Thursday I was in south Florida and sat outside while the eye of Hurricane Katrina passed over my head. It was only a Category 1 then but it was pretty nasty. Eleven people died and, as of today, there were still homes without power. That night the weatherman said this storm was on its way to New Orleans. That was Thursday! Did anybody tell you? I know you didn't want to interrupt your vacation and I know how you don't like to get bad news. Plus, you had fundraisers to go to and mothers of dead soldiers to ignore and smear. You sure showed her!

I especially like how, the day after the hurricane, instead of flying to Louisiana, you flew to San Diego to party with your business peeps. Don't let people criticize you for this -- after all, the hurricane was over and what the heck could you do, put your finger in the dike?

And don't listen to those who, in the coming days, will reveal how you specifically reduced the Army Corps of Engineers' budget for New Orleans this summer for the third year in a row. You just tell them that even if you hadn't cut the money to fix those levees, there weren't going to be any Army engineers to fix them anyway because you had a much more important construction job for them -- BUILDING DEMOCRACY IN IRAQ!

On Day 3, when you finally left your vacation home, I have to say I was moved by how you had your Air Force One pilot descend from the clouds as you flew over New Orleans so you could catch a quick look of the disaster. Hey, I know you couldn't stop and grab a bullhorn and stand on some rubble and act like a commander in chief. Been there done that.

There will be those who will try to politicize this tragedy and try to use it against you. Just have your people keep pointing that out. Respond to nothing. Even those pesky scientists who predicted this would happen because the water in the Gulf of Mexico is getting hotter and hotter making a storm like this inevitable. Ignore them and all their global warming Chicken Littles. There is nothing unusual about a hurricane that was so wide it would be like having one F-4 tornado that stretched from New York to Cleveland.

No, Mr. Bush, you just stay the course. It's not your fault that 30 percent of New Orleans lives in poverty or that tens of thousands had no transportation to get out of town. C'mon, they're black! I mean, it's not like this happened to Kennebunkport. Can you imagine leaving white people on their roofs for five days? Don't make me laugh! Race has nothing -- NOTHING -- to do with this!

You hang in there, Mr. Bush. Just try to find a few of our Army helicopters and send them there. Pretend the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast are near Tikrit.


Michael Moore

P.S. That annoying mother, Cindy Sheehan, is no longer at your ranch. She and dozens of other relatives of the Iraqi War dead are now driving across the country, stopping in many cities along the way ( ). Maybe you can catch up with them before they get to DC on September 21st.

Sweet NeoCon

Today's the release date of the new Stones' album, so I thought I'd do a round up of what we've got:

A snippet of the song:

The lyrics:

Sweet Neo Con A Bigger Bang, Rolling Stones, to be released Sept. 6 2005

You ride around your white castle,
On your little white horse
You lie to your people,
and blame it on your war of course

You call yourself a Christian,
I call you a hypocrite
You call yourself a patriot,
well I think you’re full of shit

Oh, sweet Neo Con,
What path have you led them on?
Oh, sweet Neo Con,
Is it time for the atom bomb?

You parade around in costume,
Expecting to be believed
But as the body bags stack up,
We believe we’ve been deceived

The horror you’ve unleashed,
Will backfire with more grief
When will you ever learn,
Sweet Neo Con, as the world burns?

Oh, sweet Neo Con
What path have you led them on?
Oh, sweet Neo Con,
Is it time for the atom bomb?

How come you’re so wrong?
My sweet neo-con,
where’s the money gone,
in the Pentagon.

It’s liberty for all,
democracy’s our style,
unless you are against us,
then it’s prison without trial.

Oh, sweet Neo Con,
What path have you led them on?
Oh, sweet Neo Con,
Is it time to drop the bomb?

A Live Report, OnScene....

....from Foamy the Squirrel

(tip o' the hat to Stew)

Monday, September 05, 2005

In honor of Labor Day, Where Has Your Money Gone?

What was the number one New Year's resolution in 2004?

Let's ask Dr. Elizabeth Warren of the Harvard Law School, who said last year:

WARREN: For the first time ever, overtaking "Lose weight," it was "Pay off some debt. I've got too much debt. I'm in trouble. I'm worried whether or not I can make my basic payments."

Alan Greenspan, our national economic leader, has stood up for the last four years and told Americans, "Borrow against your house. If you can't close the gap at the end of the month, just borrow against your house." Now, he never called it borrow against your house.

He said fancy things like, "Tap your home equity." Which sounds like some kind of dance, or, you know, some clever financial thing to do. But what it really was is borrow more money against your house.

And bet your house that you can continue to make all those payments. Do all that just as a way to make it to the end of the month. To put groceries on the table. To make that house payment. To keep the lights on.

That's really scary financial advice for someone to be giving American families. And what frightens me is millions of American families have taken that advice.

Why? Why has debt become such a major issue in this country well-known for it's obesity health crisis (they're related, obliquely, by the way)?

According to her book, "The Two Income Trap", Dr. Warren argues that middle American income has so drastically changed over the past thirty years, and that basic supply and demand has effectively priced Americans out of the market in terms of "socking away for a rainy day".

Real median income for men since 1970 has risen by less than one percent, while for women, almost a third . Sounds like good news, right? I mean, a second income, more money coming in for all, should be a good thing?

Well, let's take a look at that.

In 1970, that single median income ($10,478) for a family of four paid all the bills-- food, clothing, rent/mortgage, appliances, cars, entertainment-- and managed to put away 11% for a rainy day. That same income has grown by one percent in the intervening 30-odd years.

Now take the second income, the one that should be nearly doubling the median income, and it does, pretty much, get to that ballpark.

So why is it, in 2002, the median income ($62,732) of an American family of four, double income earners, two kids, couldn't even save a single dollar? What's changed?

Some conservatives point to $200 sneakers, the wide-screen TV, needing to eat out as Mom works now, and scoff at our spendthrift ways.

Trouble is, according to Dr. Warren, that's not the case.

Adjusted for inflation, clothing as a percentage of income has dropped. Food declined 44% (all those meals in restaurants are now take out from McDonald's), and appliances, including Gameboys and flat screen TVs have dropped 21% in the past 35 years.

Well, what has gone up? What has us now spending ALL of our income and adding debt on at a furious rate?

Five areas were identified by Dr. Warren. The first among these, car payments, can be explained as necessary to the commute of the second wage earner. Hardly frivolous there, is it?

Next, mortgages. As Greenspan indicates in his comments quoted earlier, more and more people are drawing deeper against the mortgages and lines of credit on their larger-than-necessary mortgages to pay for houses that are more house than needed. In roughly the past thiry years, inflation has been about 125%, cumulative. Housing prices have inflated by more than double that figure.

So if housing prices had kept in line with the rest of the economy, we'd all be living like kings. OK, so housing costs have had a major impact on why Americans owe more and save less. After all, real wages have remained basically flat to going up a third (so let's split the difference and say 20% higher), while housing costs have risen ten times that rate. Meaning people are borrowing more for housing, speculating that housing will continue to rise. Bubble, anyone?

What else?

Health insurance and hand in hand with that, health care coverage, or rather lack thereof. Things a union used to get employers to pick up the tab for.

Only 60% of Americans now get health insurance from their employer. An overwhelming percentage now pay some portion of their insurance premium. Just between 2000 and 2003, families paid 49% more in premiums. In addition, most HMO co-payments have risen, especially the prescription drug "benefit", deductibles have soared as companies seek to rein in costs, and the caps for cumulative medical coverage paid for an individual or family over the lifetime of the employee's relationship have remained frozen.

Insurance premiums now stand at 21% of the median family income (the employees paid about a third of that in payroll deductions). They are expected to rise to over 40% by the end of this decade. With a $500 deductible on average, a further 10% of family income goes towards out-of-pocket medical costs.

Another 20% are covered by government programs, (which adds to the tax burden. I'll get to that in a minute), so 20% of Americans, over 45 million, are uncovered by any insurance whatsoever.

The costs to cover those people (remember, a hospital HAS to treat anyone who walks in the doors, which means that someone picks up that cost) are added onto your insurance premium, mine, and our tax bill.

As implied above, the overall costs of medical care have skyrocketed as well, going up nearly fifty percent this decade alone.

So there's another huge bite out of your paycheck.

What else?


In the 1970s, corporations paid 15% of the US income tax receipts. In 2003, as Bush "made the pie higher", corporations only paid 7.4% of the US tax receipts. During the Clinton years, this rate was raised to nearly 12% after reductions during the Bush I and Reagan presidencies.

That's bad enough, but now look at what happens to personal income taxes as well as payroll taxes like Social Security and Medicare.

People, individuals like you and I, paid 10% of the US tax receipts in 1970.

Today, we pay 40%. Of a much "higher pie".

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but our population, roughly 200 million in 1970, is not 800 million now, is it? And in fact, the baby boomers are starting to retire, meaning shortly, we'll have fewer workers paying taxes into the system than we do now.

We're all working harder for our employers to make enormous sums of money, not thru revenue growth and reinvestment, but from cost cutting.

If I'm an investor, I want to buy a company that's growing its business, not reconsolidating its expense base, that's opening new markets, not contracting continually.

So as you crack open that beer at the picnic this afternoon, pray it doesn't cause a heart attack. On average, we're all one illness away from bankruptcy.
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The Elitist Who Would Be President

"Let them eat cake" - Marie Antoinette