Saturday, November 05, 2005

An Endorsement

(OK, Carl, just bite the bullet)

2005 presents this lifelong Democrat with an unique conundrum.

The job of mayor of New York City has been equated with herding cats. So many different factions that have so many agendas, and so many interlocking places (i.e. If the NYPD gets a 4% raise then then FDNY demands the same raise and then if they get 4.5%, the sanitation department demands that...and so on) that to be mayor of NYC is, unquestionably, the second toughest job in America.

A quick scan of the recent history of mayor shows two things: 1) Traditional "machine" politcians-- politicians who come up through the local ranks-- don't do so well (the last machine mayor was Dinkins), and 2) Mayors do nothing after they are mayor.

Which is a good thing in my mind. I think it's because on the way up to mayor, a local politician has to deal with all these factions I mentioned earlier and that means that he or she is beholden to the alliances made down the food chain. In the race for the President, one can turn one's back on those who brung you to the dance, but not in mayoral politics. It's too easy for a citizen to sue City Hall.

The past four years in NYC have been, well, quite the ride. The recovery from 9-11 goes on, and may never end. The Olympic bid came and went amid much fanfare but little entusiastic support. The economy was flat, and only just started picking up again.

Over the years, Mayor Bloomberg, a Republican (in name only) has been the recipient (and in many cases, deservedly so) of some vitriolic press coverage about his administrative manners and his accomplishments.

But...Freddy Ferrer?

This is a political hack ran one of the most vile campaigns in NYC history in 2001, all but calling his opponent, Mark Green, a racist. He's smarmy, unaccomplished, and when I see him, I get the sense he feels that he's entitled to be mayor as if it was some hereditary title handed down to the biggest hack in the pond.

Obviously, I don't like the guy.

But I don't want to vote Republican. I can't recall that I ever have (except, perhaps, as a favor to a friend in a losing cause). The few times I've preferred a Republican to the Democrat running, I've usually been able to vote for him in the Liberal ballot line, but there is no Liberal ballot line in NYC.

Further, Bloomberg, for all his faults, took on a monumental task in the face of the terror attacks and I believe he has been quite the CEO at a time when a CEO was what this city needed. We'd had enough, 8 years, of the bullying misguided misanthropic antics of Rudy Giuliani, who took credit for accomplishments (like lowering the crime rate) that he had do with (Dinkins set up the programs that Giuliani got credit for).

He's had some innovative ideas, not enough in my book but he showed promise. He's cheerleaded the city but in a dignified "non-Ed-Koch" kind of way. He has comported himself with dignity and presented a face to the world that reflects the kind of NYC I have grown up in. His street accent (from Boston, but that's about as close to a NYer as you're likely to find) has been sanded and polished, but it's there, and epitomizes this great-but-tough city.

You CAN make it here, from roots that aren't in the deep rich loam of wealth, but in the hardscrabble rocky ground of subsistence living. Bloomberg wears the mantle well, and so I endorse him for mayor. Even if he is a Republican.

So Why Is This Summit In Argentina So Important?

As the summit's began Friday, rioters smashed the glass storefronts of at least 30 businesses, set fire to a bank and battled police with slingshots and rocks. Police fought back with tear gas and made 64 arrests. No major injuries were reported.
Must be a lot of pissed off Argentinians for that to occur. Argentina in the 21st Century is not the backwater nation it was when Nixon or even Rockefeller visited and engendered such passionate outbursts. Even after a major monetary crisis in 1998 the country has a burgeoning and growing middle class.

The purpose of this trip, the main purpose, is to set up a FTAA (first, there was NAFTA and then CAFTA, and now FFTA. Did the run out of cute names?), or Free Trade Area of the Americas, an attempt to counter the growing economic power of the EU (while blindingly copycatting it). The way I see the world playing out, China will become the dominant world economy in the next decade, which means the Middle East and specifically OPEC will remain world players for at least 20 more years...which makes the EU, the only other large trading bloc, the second most powerful economic force in the world.

So the US will fall far (and I do mean far) behind.

Sounds this FTAA like a pretty good idea, right? I mean, I'm all for free trade, you know, so long as the big partners in
The bloc would rival the European Union as the world's largest, but its creation has been stalled for years amid bickering over U.S. farm subsidies and other obstacles.

Which might explain this recent story...
ZURICH (Reuters) - The United States proposed on Monday deep cuts in farm subsidies and the future elimination of agricultural tariffs in a bid to unblock world trade talks and meet an end-year deadline for a deal.
So the free traders in the administration are going to go head to head with the heartland congressmen and Senators over farm subsidies worldwide, but in the FTAA, they're rolling over?

Something is very confusing about that.

Maybe it has something to do with this guy?
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez emerged as the most strident opponent of the free trade bloc, addressing more than 10,000 protesters hours before the summit inauguration.

Speaking at a soccer stadium before heading over to the summit, Chavez urged some 20,000 leftist supporters to help him fight free trade.

"Only united can we defeat imperialism and bring our people a better life," he said, adding: "Here, in Mar del Plata, FTAA will be buried!"

Chavez wants an anti-FTAA deal based on socialist ideals, and he has used his country's oil wealth to build support, offering fuel with preferential financing to various Caribbean and Latin American countries.
Tough choice: Bush or the socialist....whom to support here?

Who Would Bush Replace In Hell?

George Bush has a heart attack and dies. Obviously, he goes to hell where the devil is waiting for him. "I'm not sure what to do," says the devil. "You're on my list but I have no room for you. As you definitely have to stay here, I'm going to have to let some-one else go. I've got three folks here who weren't quite as bad as you. I'll let one of them go, but you have to take their place. I'll even let you decide who leaves."
George thought that it sounded pretty good, so he agreed.

The devil opened the first room. In it were Richard Nixon and a large pool of water.
He kept diving in and climbing out, over and over. Such was his fate in hell. "No!" George said. "I don't think so. I'm not a good swimmer and don't think I could do that all day long."

The devil led him to the next room. In it was Tony Blair with a sledge hammer and a room full of rocks. All he did was swing the hammer, time after time. "No!" I've got this problem with my shoulder. I would be in constant agony if all I could do was break rocks all day." commented George.

The devil opened a third door. In it George saw Bill Clinton lying on the floor with his arms staked over his head, and his legs staked in a spread-eagle pose. Bent over him was Monica Lewinsky, doing what she does best.

George Bush looked at this in disbelief for a while and finally said, "Yeah, I can handle this." The devil smiled and said, "Ok, Monica, you're free to go!"

Friday, November 04, 2005

The Latest In Fashion

(Hat chomp to Miss Cellania)

Perhaps you recall my previous post Hats of Meat?


Pennsylvania company recalls 94,400 lbs of beef
Tue Nov 1, 2005 6:20 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Quaker Maid Meats Inc. on Tuesday said it would voluntarily recall 94,400 pounds of frozen ground beef panties that may be contaminated with E. coli.

Growing Unrest

First, this:
Anti-Bush protests grow in Argentina
By Mary Milliken and Kevin Gray
1 hour, 34 minutes ago

MAR DEL PLATA, Argentina (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of marchers protested on Friday against U.S. President George W. Bush and his free-trade push, as leaders from the Americas gathered in an Argentine resort for a contentious debate on improving Latin America's economy.
Then, this:
French riots spread outside Paris

By Kerstin Gehmlich
2 hours, 14 minutes ago

AULNAY-SOUS-BOIS, France (Reuters) - Rioters set fire to hundreds of vehicles in impoverished suburbs of northeastern Paris in an eighth night of unrest that spread for the first time to other parts of the capital and other towns in France.
Why does the world hate us so?

Oh. Right. Forgot. Bush. We elected him. Twice.

A Progressive Tax Plan

I've had a chance to sit down and read the President's proposed tax reform initiative.

Told you this place gets a little wonky.

Curiously, United for a Fair Economy has as well.

It's been called a "non-starter", primarily because of its reduction in the mortgage interest credit (from the interest on a million dollar mortgage to a $420,000 mortgage). Sure sounds like a non-starter, but....

Well, UFE has done the numbers crunching better than I have, and it has proposed some alterations to the plan that would make it more palatable (while retaining the bones) AND made further proposals not in the plan for goals that should be achieved in any tax reform. I'll post them here, and then opine:
UFE supports the Panel’s proposal to convert the home mortgage deduction to a tax credit that benefits all homeowning families equally. UFE also supports capping the size of the mortgage upon which the credit is based. Maintaining home mortgage interest deductions in any form continues to leave non-homeowners (30% of the population) off of the asset-building train. The Commission should consider a rental housing tax credit equal to 15% of the annualized value of median rent that could be set aside in a special Savings for Home Ownership account that could be used for down payments.
Let's get right to it, shall we? I would argue with UFE that a $412,000 mortgage in major population centers buys you nothing you would want to live and raise a family in. (Let's assume that $412,000 is 80% of the value of the home, e.g. the owner put 20% down. That makes it a $500,000 house.) In many areas, that's a starter home.

OK, so now we might be able to work a bit with this. I propose that current mortgages be exempt from this proposal, and only new mortgages be included. Now we have a mechanism, an ownership mechanism. A kid out of college gets an apartment, let's say $1,000 a month (or shares in one, we can't forget that option), and puts away $150 a month towards his down payment. That's $1,800 a year (before interest), targeted towards his home purchase, which means he has, in effect, saved $9,000 towards his half-million dollar home. Inside of ten years, he will have saved enough for a down payment on a house, not insignificant, since most college kids now delay marriage and family until they are in their twenties and thirties.

Further, as with all government programs, there ought to be a way to make adjustments for regional variances in housing prices. Likely, this would take the form of a mandate for states to make up the differences in tax credits, which would also stabilize populations in more costly states. Fair, equitable, and no one currently owning a house gets hurt.
While individual and corporate alternative minimum tax laws may be flawed in their construction, they are correct in their aim. It’s wrong for so many high-income taxpayers to pay only minimal tax payments and for a growing number of large corporations to avoid tax payments all together. We should repeal existing alternative minimum tax laws and replace them with effective laws that ensure those at the top pay their fair share.
(Personal admission here: I make enough that the alternative minimum tax has been my bottom line tax liability for a few decades now, so I have no personal stake in any reform here)The alternative minimum tax (AMT) has traditionally been meant as a way to ensure that the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes. When it was first implemented, the AMT was designed to affect taxpayers with incomes over $200,000. In 1966 (which would be somewhere north of a million dollars by today's standards).

However, current projections show the number of AMT taxpayers skyrocketing from one million in 1999 to almost 31 million in 2010. Without reform, virtually all upper-middle-class families with two or more children will be paying the AMT by decade's end. "Upper middle class" in this case is defined as a family of four making over $59,000 in wages and investments. Naturally, if it's wages, your payroll withholdings will cover you. Or not. Depends on how high your state taxes are, and other credits you may think you are entitled to.

It's time to reform this turkey.
The (President's) Panel’s recommendations wrongly continue and extend the favorable treatment of investment income. UFE believes the “work penalty” enshrined by tax policies that favor unearned investment income over wage income runs counter to the American Dream of encouraging and rewarding hard work. UFE favors taxing income from investments the same as ordinary income.

The fallacious argument that dividends are somehow "doubly taxed" is valid, but misconstrued. Corporations pay dividends out of after-tax income. Absolutely.

But you and I pay sales taxes out of after-tax income, and technically, we pay our state and local tax withholdings with after-tax income, not to mention other taxes such as property tax.

I'm going to go the panel one better here: I would eliminate all taxes on savings accounts held at FDIC insured banks. You want an ownership society? Then let the poor and working classes have the opportunity to save up the money to invest.
Incentives for government-sponsored wealth creation should at the very least benefit all taxpayers equally, rather than the proposed three times higher benefit given to the highest income taxpayers. Ideally, wealth creation programs would be progressive in nature, rewarding savings by low-income/wealth taxpayers with a more generous amount of tax-based subsidies.
I probably ought to explain this point a bit more.

Let's say I put a dollar into a 401(k) at work, and the cleaning lady does, as well. She's taxed at 15%, and I at the new 33% top tax rate (it may go as low as 30%). These dollars come out of pre-tax income, meaning that Uncle Sam is contributing to our 401(k)s by deferring his share of that dollar.

Look at those numbers: she gets Uncle Sam to kick in 15 cents. I get Uncle Sam to dig twice as deeply into his pocket! And this isn't even looking at the Social Security payroll taxes (which is where UFE can say "three times higher benefit").

That's simply not fair, because who's going to have better access to wealth creation in his (hint) lifetime, and thus be in a better position to afford to retire?
Home mortgage tax credits, new rental housing tax credits and deductions related to government savings programs should all be made refundable, so that if taxpayers with low or no tax liability receive these deductions and credits, they can get their savings back in cash.

Amen. Can't say anything more about this. It's nonsensical for someone who earns a refund not to get full advantage of his disadvantageous position (i.e. making too little money for his calculated liabilities), plus the government has held his money for the better part of a year, interest free.

Read more about this at the link above.

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Thursday, November 03, 2005

Maybe They Need a Union?

Civilian Contractors Dying Off Like Virgins In A Druid Ritual

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but we contracted this war out to the mercs....err, I mean, contractors, in order to save money on health care and death benefits and such, and these clowns are being paid WORKER'S COMP?!?!?!?!?!?!?

Buy Ten Copies of This Magazine, and Shove Them In Some IDers Face

Universe: The Perimeter of Ignorance

A boundary where scientists face a choice:
invoke a deity or continue the quest for knowledge

By Neil deGrasse Tyson

...Science is a philosophy of discovery. Intelligent design is a philosophy of ignorance. You cannot build a program of discovery on the assumption that nobody is smart enough to figure out the answer to a problem. Once upon a time, people identified the god Neptune as the source of storms at sea. Today, we call these storms hurricanes. We know when and where they start. We know what drives them. We know what mitigates their destructive power. And anyone who has studied global warming can tell you what makes them worse. The only people who still call hurricanes "acts of God" are the people who write insurance forms.
The entire November issue of Natural History Magazine is devoted to an exploration of evolution and of Charles Darwin, including a rousing defense of evolution against the intelligent design movement by none other than Richard Dawkins, perhaps the preeminent evolutionary scientist in history (other than Darwin and Wallace, of course).

Evolution In Action (one of my favorite phrases, by the way) explores how, right now, right in front of our eyes and in our lifetimes, we've watched species evolve and adapt to new or changing environments.

Included in this article is a brief description of how bacteria and viruses can quickly become resistant to antibiotics. Which got me to thinking: if you really want to cinch the evolution argument, ask your ID friend why it is that doctors have to keep coming up with new drugs to battle the same old diseases? Could it be that God intervenes and makes a bug more destructive? Or is it MORE likely that the bug adapts to the medicine and evolves a way to ignore it?

And then ask him or her that same question in six months when the avian flu has decimated entire countries and cities.

This magazine ought to be required reading for any progressive who gives a damn about science and the future, and keeping the church and the state separate.
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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

And a Hearty Welcome to You Skippy-ites

Thanks for the mention, Skippy.

To catch you guys up, I'm a one-man blogger who will try to keep Republicans honest, Democrats on their toes (gotta get 'em off their backs, first), and things light and airy in between.

Oh...I get a little wonky from time to time. Analysis is in my blood. Sorry.

What a Kerry Presidency Would Have Looked Like

Think about that if, in spite of defeating a sitting wartime President in three nationally televised debates, the Kerry campaign had not been edged out by the Swift Boat sliming smear tactics. Think about the fact the MSM was complicit in blocking Patrick Fitzgerald’s CIA leak investigation. Think about the politics of fear that manifested as an October surprise - Osama Bin Laden’s appearance on tape which Fox News Channel’s Neil Cavuto labeled a “Kerry endorsement by Bin Laden.”

Think about how different things could have been. This isn’t just abstract could-have-been thinking. It is real. It is based on the facts. And, it has serious consequences for our families, our children, our troops, our veterans, our environment, and our country.

How do we know? Because a year ago, John Kerry made clear promises and offered specific plans that would have made America a very, very different place. Take a look at what could have been…

Why Judith Miller Should Be Indicted

Robert Scheer notes in his column “What Judy forgot: Your right to know,” in the L.A.Times that: “The most intriguing revelation of Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald’s news conference last week was his assertion that he would have presented his indictment of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby a year ago if not for the intransigence of reporters who refused to testify before the grand jury. Scheer said that without that delay, “we would have been here in October 2004 instead of October 2005.” Had that been the case, John Kerry probably would be president of the United States today.”

Read the rest here

The DeLay Judge Gets Recused

Best quote of the piece:
"He's not the right judge for this case," DeLay's attorney, Dick DeGuerin, said after the ruling. "It's not personal; it's not about him. It's about the appearance of impropriety." mean like, say, laundering local corporate contributions through a national organization then funneling the money back to the local elections?

It's All About Timing

The Dems Grow a Big Set of Cojones

(Kudos to Blondesense Liz for posting this picture first)

The Republicans have been put on notice. We will no longer delay or deny what has long been lacking in this government, both the Executive and Legislative branches: accountability.

We want answers. We have a place at the table, and we intend now, that the first waves of bad news have washed over this administration and stripped away its facade of smear and lying, to exercise our voice.

So many of the more radical and impatient on the left have felt we've kowtowed to the Republicans.

An argument that made no sense to me, but maybe because as any actor or comedian knows, timing is everything.

Why make your voice heard when it can be drowned out so easily? You knew that the hubris of this administration and its cohorts and cronies in Congress would eventually up with the lot. That's when you get loud and rambunctious, not when they're crowing over phony victories and shortsighted policies of long term failure.

Lobbyists write legislation. That's like letting a burglar install your alarm system. Yet the Republicans had no problem with this.

Megacorporations sway policy with a simple phone call. Bush is beholden to the Saudi royal family. Cheney sits back and rakes in his Halliburton options.

Did anyone think these guys were adult enough to do this AND run a country????

The story behind the shutdown at the Carpetbagger Report.

Torture? In This Day And Age?

"Who would have thought we would still be debating the use of torture?" said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. "But when a government as dominant and influential as the United States openly defies the absolute ban on mistreating detainees, its conduct jeopardizes prisoners everywhere."

Sad, isn't it?

Worse yet is the fact that we're suddenly shocked, SHOCKED, to find out that we've overseen the torture of Iraqi and Afghani prisoners in countries like Turkey and Syria, that the CIA has agents on-site performing tortures there, rather than bring them here and face American judicial oversight.

I wasn't shocked. Hell, when we invaded Afghanistan and were determined to hunt Al Qaeda down, I remember how we were told that we'd be "exporting" prisoners to countries that weren't as "squeamish" about torture as we were. Syria was specifically mentioned.

And the first thought that came to my mind was, "We're going to trust Assad to elicit information from a fellow Muslim for us?"

So the answer became quickly obvious: we had people there who were going to do it for them. We just needed a private place to indulge this little barabarism.

And yet, we support torture....
The torture ban, written into the $445 billion defense bill by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., would preclude “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” against anyone in U.S. custody, wherever in the world they are held. The language gained Senate approval but will be in jeopardy during House-Senate negotiations, with Cheney pushing for exemptions from the ban for undercover agents working outside the Department of Defense. McCain is standing firmly by his language, saying any leniency would allow the CIA to engage in torture.

A Men's Room In New Zealand

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Why Does Bush Hate America?

Despite an early victory over the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan, the two former Clinton administration officials say President George W. Bush's policies have created a new haven for terrorism in Iraq that escalates the potential for Islamic violence against Europe and the United States.

America's badly damaged image in the Muslim world could take more than a generation to set right. And Bush's mounting political woes at home have undermined the chance for any bold U.S. initiatives to address the grim social realities that feed Islamic radicalism, they say.

"It's been fairly disastrous," said Benjamin, who worked as a director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council from 1994 to 1999.

"We have had some very important successes getting individual terrorists. But I think the broader story is really quite awful. We have done a lot to fuel the fires, and we have done a lot to encourage people to hate us," he added in an interview.


A Backdoor Assault On Porn

Mike Pence is an idiot who actually FAVORS more attack ads by 527s!

The provision, written by Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., could have ramifications beyond simply requiring someone to ensure that the names and ages of actors who partake in pretend lovemaking as compliance with Section 2257 in effect defines a movie or TV show as a pornographic work under federal law. Industry sources say the provision was included in the bill at the behest of the Justice Department.

It is unclear why Justice wants 2257 to be expanded; calls to the department have gone unreturned. According to a copy of the department's 2004 report to Congress, 2257 is little used by the department. According to the report, the department prosecuted five 2257 violations from 1993-2004. The prosecutions were not directly attributable to inspections of 2257 forms but from other means, mostly search warrants executed by the FBI.

What is Section 2257?

Glad you asked.

Under the record-keeping requirement known as Section 2257 -- named for its citation in federal law -- any filmed sexual activity requires an affidavit that lists the names and ages of the actors who engage in the act. The film is required to have a video label that claims compliance with the law and lists where the custodian of the records can be found. Violators could spend five years in jail.

OK, fair enough. It makes sense for porn films to certify that no child's behind is being used, but where does this bill draw the line? Simulated sex? Is this person suggesting that child rapes are routinely portrayed on screen? Wouldn't a simple scan of any gossip column give the information he's asking for?

Why do Republicans hate freedom so much? Why do they want government to police everything?

Gee....Wonder Why....

U.S. frees 500 prisoners from Abu Ghraib
Tue Nov 1, 2005 9:45 AM ET

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Five hundred prisoners walked free from the U.S. military's Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq on Tuesday, released in a goodwill gesture to mark the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The detainees were presented with a Koran and $25 on their release which marked Eid al-Fitr celebrations. Their release was in addition to 1,000 prisoners set free in October at the start of the month of fasting.

All 1,500, who also received traditional white shirts, were released after their cases went before an Iraqi-led review board and were found not to have committed serious or violent crimes, the U.S. military said in a statement.

Does it have anything to do with this?
Abu Ghraib pictures to be published

Saying the US "does not surrender to blackmail," a judge in New York ruled that pictures of detainee abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison must be released over government claims that they could damage America's image.

US District Judge Alvin Hellerstein ordered the release of certain pictures in a 50-page decision that said terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan have proven they "do not need pretexts for their barbarism."

The American Civil Liberties Union has sought the release of 87 photographs and four videotapes from Abu Ghraib as part of an October 2003 lawsuit demanding information on the treatment of detainees in US custody and the transfer of prisoners to countries known to use torture. The ACLU contends that prisoner abuse is systemic.

Several brutal images of the abuse at the prison have already been widely distributed, but the lawsuit covers additional photos not yet seen by the public.

The judge said: "Our nation does not surrender to blackmail, and fear of blackmail is not a legally sufficient argument to prevent us from performing a statutory command.

The Avian Flu "Defense" & Taking Grover Norquist Down A Peg

I highlighted this graf, because I want people to remember this as people die all around them when this flu hits us:

But as Katrina demonstrated to us all, planned preparations for foreseen national emergencies are just not the Bushists' thing. Nor is it much the concern of the GOP Congress, which has slashed funding for emergency services, bio-medical research and the Centers for Disease Control. The request for influenza research this year was $119 million. Presumably, this is one of the "big government" programs that Grover Norquist and his gang would like to "drown in a bathtub." By way of contrast, the Congress readily appropriated $10 billion (with a "b") for anti-ballistic missile defense – a "defense" against a non-existent threat that does not, and arguably can not work.

Perhaps a few million e-mails to Grover Norquist reminding him of this quote are appropriate now, before the tragedy hits?

See, there are some things government does poorly, and some things government does well, and some things only government CAN do.

What does government do well? Anything that needs to be organized on a massive scale. Hurricane relief springs to mind, although you'd never know it from these clowns in office, whom I suspect deliberately hampered the Katrina and Wilma relief efforts, not out of a sense of racism or classism, but simply to soften people up to the idea that we'll have to make do with less from government.

Given the lax attitude that Bush has shown to tough solutions to tough problems, this is no surprise to me. Clinton would have worked to find a fair solution that didn't bankrupt the nation. Bush threw a couple of cool sounding phrases together et voila! A disaster plan.

Seeing as how he is forcing this nation into bankruptcy and its people right along with it, a perfectly logical way of doing things.

What does government do poorly? Minutiae, and here is where Newt and I might agree on a few things (although he'd be far more rapacious than I). The Federal government simply shouldn't be in the housing business. Fannie Mae was a ridiculous idea. Better the government should have given the money over to states and municipalities with the mandate that the money go towards low-cost mortgages, targeted to the poor and working classes.

See, most of the Fannie Mae money did go there, but I can tell you stories of how this program was abused such that I see, personally, large multimillion dollar companies getting Fannie Mae mortgages for major commercial properties, properties that any bank for a reasonable percentage above Fannie Mae mortgages, would be happy to finance.

And so that leaves what only government can do.

That seems pretty simple, if you look at its strength. ONLY government can mobilize a national crisis response: war, terror, and yes, pandemic.

But ONLY government can fund this, and if you examine the budget for the sciences and health sectors of government, guess what you'll find: gutted programs, lost opportunities, and silly regulations that allow government research to be privatized by multibillion dollar corporations which make multimillion dollars off each patented technology it is basically given by the National Institutes of Health or Sciences.

What would be wrong with the NIH keeping a patent, but licensing it out?

Nothing, except for some stupid regulations that Republicans seem determined to maintain. And that's why stem cell research is shot to hell here, and that's why the avian flu will be solved not here, but in Asia and Europe, by countries who have no beholdence to our people, and certainly no love for our government.

We're in deep trouble when we have to rely on the charity of China in order to survive.
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Monday, October 31, 2005

So Can We Formally Change "Scalito" to.....

...."Sloppy Seconds"?

Wow, PoxNews Actually Takes A Moderate Position On Abortion?

Reality Vs. Rhetoric in the Abortion Debate
Monday, October 24, 2005
By Martin Frost

First, let’s examine the ThirdWay study, one of the most comprehensive treatments ever put together on basic facts underlying the abortion issue in this country.


The study found that “the average woman who seeks an abortion is 24 years old, unwed, earns a yearly income of about $25,000 and already is a mother…She has religious beliefs and is a Christian…the typical abortion is performed around the eighth week — well within the first trimester.”


Also, Assistant FDA Commissioner Susan Wood said she was leaving her position with the FDA because of FDA Commissioner Lester M. Crawford’s recent announcement that he would delay approval of the emergency contraceptive Plan B (search), which is also known as the morning-after pill.


And so we have the situation that abortion is widely practiced in this country by people of all religious persuasions, many of whom are religious conservatives, and our government is taking action that could actually result in more abortions rather than fewer.

Too Many Liberals?

Too Many Liberals?
Olbermann says MSNBC bosses upset by liberal guests


MSNBC host Keith Olbermann recently revealed that network bosses were upset when he had two liberal guests too close together on his show in September 2003.

Speaking on October 25 to comedian and talk show host Al Franken, Olbermann said the following:

You were good enough to come on this newscast with me late in the summer of 2003. It was August or September. And by coincidence, either the next day or the day before, Janeane Garofalo had been a guest on the newscast. And I got called into a vice president‘s office here and told, "Hey, we don't mind you interviewing these guys, but should you really have put liberals on, on consecutive nights?"

Olbermann added, "Al, can you believe that the country was actually at that point that recently?" Later he would answer his own question, saying, "Thank goodness we have steered out of that time."

Franken was interviewed on September 2, and Garofalo on September 4. Apparently having them both on over three days--a period of time in which Olbermann's show interviewed a total of 9 guests--was grounds for being called on the carpet at MSNBC.

This incident is consistent with the phobia MSNBC executives have displayed about hosts featuring too many left-of-center views. Phil Donahue's talkshow was cancelled in February 2003--despite being the channel's highest-rated show at the time--explicitly for his left-of-center political views. An internal management memo worried that his program could become "a home for the liberal antiwar agenda" (All Your TV, 2/25/03).

Too many liberals? Huh? Orwell really must be spinning in his grave!

Whatever Happened to Poverty?

Think Again: Post-Katrina Press: Same as it Ever Was

by Eric Alterman
October 27, 2005

For a brief moment in early September, it looked like the United States was about to have a long-overdue national conversation about race and poverty. While the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans flooded and thousands of poor – and predominantly black – residents waited on rooftops to be rescued or stumbled their way to the Superdome in hope of assistance from the authorities, for once a bright light was focused on discrepancy between the nation’s haves and have-nots. Of course, many of the early reports disappeared into the ether. Thinly sourced reports of the breakdown of civilization inside the Superdome or the Convention Center were found, once the water receded, to be unfounded. On September 26, the New Orleans Times-Picayune blew the doors off many of the more horrific myths about widespread rapes and murders, and reported that the body count was much lower than had originally been expected.

Unfortunately for many in the media, these stories had originally been reported as truth, or at least distinct possibilities, for at least a week after the storm punched its way through the city, which was too bad. Talking heads and bloggers jumped all over the press, bashing news organizations over the head with charges of anti-Bush bias for reporting rumors which made an already horrific situation look worse than it was.

And yet, rather than take a good long look at poverty in America (one longs fondly for the epiphany that Matt Lauer had talking to Tim Russert on the "Today" show that poverty was the great untold story of America and that the media ought to take responsibility for missing it), we have the right wing punditry engaged in a long drawn out process of demonizing the poor and unfortunate, such that hurricane Wilma, which saw awfully mismanaged emergency preparedness and long gas lines and food lines especially in light of the Katrina tragedy, saw only shame being laid at the feet of those who couldn't get out of Wilma's way.

Oh sure, Jeb Bush took responsibility for FEMA's failures (again????), but the simple fact is, if you are poor or even middle class in this country, you really have nothing, and the illusion that you DO have something is quickly falling to the wayside, as the housing market cools, and the pension bubble bursts, and we see more and more that the "tax cuts" passed by Bush's congress (3, count 'em, three) barely stimulated the economy to a level that it should have been in 2002, much less 2006.
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Sunday, October 30, 2005

Joseph Wilson Speaks

From Truthout:
It was payback - cheap political payback by the administration for an article I had written contradicting an assertion President Bush made in his 2003 State of the Union address. Payback not just to punish me but to intimidate other critics as well.

Why did I write the article? Because I believe that citizens in a democracy are responsible for what government does and says in their name. I knew that the statement in Bush's speech - that Iraq had attempted to purchase significant quantities of uranium in Africa - was not true. I knew it was false from my own investigative trip to Africa (at the request of the CIA) and from two other similar intelligence reports. And I knew that the White House knew it.

Going public was what was required to make them come clean. The day after I shared my conclusions in a New York Times opinion piece, the White House finally acknowledged that the now-infamous 16 words "did not rise to the level of inclusion in the State of the Union address."

That should have been the end. But instead, the president's men - allegedly including Libby and at least one other (known only as "Official A") - were determined to defame and discredit Valerie and me.

Go read the rest.


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Wayne Madsen Knows the Score

Next time one of your FReeper "friends" tells you Fitzgerald couldn't find anything more than a little white lie, point him or her to this post from Wayne Madsen

Indictment aftermath and review. The GOP spin machine is claiming that the indictment of Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff Lewis Libby is not a big deal because he was not indicted on the underlying charge of exposing a covert CIA agent to the media. To the contrary, prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald went to great lengths in the obstruction of justice count to explain in as much detail as possible Libby's damage to the national security of the United States.

There is more behind his motives than to politically retaliate against a Bush critic. It is Libby's background and network of associates that remains a major issue.

The prosecutor is also empanelling a new group of jurors in the grand jury process to investigate the motives behind Libby's and others' leaking of highly-sensitive classified information to the media. Karl Rove, Stephen Hadley, Cheney, and others remain under active investigation. When Fitzgerald said that the bulk of his investigation is over, he is correct. He and his team of Justice Department prosecutors and FBI special agents have investigated the leak and who was involved. They know the damage caused to a network of covert CIA operative engaged in sensitive counter proliferation tasks. All that remains is establishing the motives of the perpetrators (or should that be perpe-traitors?) The motives are where criminal conspiracy enters the fray. Fitzgerald supplemented his team with FBI agents from the counter-intelligence section of the bureau. They are looking into possible foreign entanglements of the perpetrators. This is a road that leads to cells of neo-con operatives across the Potomac at the Pentagon and in Rome, London, and Jerusalem. This is also where Fitzgerald's investigation dovetails with that of US Attorney for Eastern Virginia (and incoming Deputy Attorney General) Paul McNulty.

News reports last weekend indicated that Fitzgerald, after speaking with Judge Hogan, the oversight judge for the recently-ended grand jury, spoke to McNulty as well: the AIPAC investigation into the possibility of Israeli spies in the US.

Keep in mind, Libby's notes of his conversation with Cheney in which Cheney told Scooter of Plame's identity indicate clearly that he also learned she was part of the CounterProliferation Division, which by definition is a covert arm of the CIA.