Saturday, February 5


What do Bush and Kim Jong-il have in common? Way too much.


Like Uggabugga, I really like this message board post. It makes a critically important point that is completely overlooked in the lazy mainstream media, and deliberately so by the administration:

Social Security is an insurance program. Funded by wage earners and self employed, and set up after the great depression to protect and benefit workers. Like any other insurance program, workers pay in and expect benefits. And like any insurance program, not all participants get back what they contribute.

Social Security is not an investment program or a savings program. In 1983 the Reagan commission concluded that a sharp increase in payroll taxes was needed to fund the SS fund to at least 2018, and the excess funds generated by these increased taxes on workers was invested in US bonds. Everyone realized that these bonds would earn interest and would be paid back by the US govt with income tax revenue, which is mostly generated by the upper class wealthy. So, workers beefed up SS and the wealthy now don't like the idea of having to start paying up after 2018 to repay the SS purchased bonds. Bush doesn't care about the middle class and SS recipients welfare. What does concern him is the welfare of his "base" the rich and super rich. So, he blurs the distinction between SS funds and US income tax funds, and he confuses the purpose of SS as an insurance program with his proposals to help "the common man" keep his hard earned money and control his "investment." This president is really being dishonest, and he is misleading our country for the benefit of the upper class wealthy, just like he did with his tax cuts.


What fun. Nannygoat and the Professor.

Somewhere in all this I'm reminded of the Biblical story of Jonah and the Whale (of course, it wasn't really a whale, it was a big fish). It was Jonah's arrogance, anger, and vitriolic nationalistic hatred that landed him in the belly of the beast. It was God's version of a smackdown. Sound familiar?

Of course in this instance, Jonah IS a whale.


I've been meaning for several days to link to this post by Easter Lemming's Gary Denton, which has a link to a .pdf that offers a serious challenge to the legitimacy of our recent presidential election. It's hard to dissuade me from the conviction that, just as in 2000, we were had. Besides widely reported episodes of voter intimidation, I'm convinced that voting machines themselves were the primary source of the fraud.

The Edison/Mitofsky report confirms there were large differences between their exit polls and the official results of the 2004 presidential election – much more so than in previous elections. The national exit poll indicated a 3 point victory for Kerry; whereas the official election results indicated that he lost by 2.5%, a difference of 5.5%. The Edison/Mitofsky report fails to substantiate their hypothesis that the difference between their exit polls and official election results should be explained by problems with the exit polls. They assert without supporting evidence that (p. 4), “Kerry voters were more likely to participate in the exit polls than Bush voters.” In fact, data included within the report suggest that the opposite might be true.

We consider here the three possible explanations for a discrepancy between the official vote count and exit polls:
1. Statistical sampling error – or chance
2. Inaccurate exit polls – Kerry supporters responded in greater numbers than Bush supporters.
3. Inaccurate election – the voters’ intent was not accurately recorded or counted.

We agree with Edison/Mitofsky that the first possible cause, random statistical sampling error, can be ruled out. The second possible cause, that inaccurate exit polls were biased towards Kerry, is a hypothesis that is compelling only if one dismisses the third, that official election results may have been distorted2.

They then effectively dismiss 2 as the more GOP the precinct the likelier the surveyers were to get responders. Either the GOP voters in Democratic precincts are ashamed to admit they voted for Bush or the election results need to be looked at.


And that's a good thing.


Noble ideals, nasty actions:

... the right wing has somehow become a cult of anti-government nuthatches...

Love that no-holds-barred Molly Ivins!


E.J. Dionne on our lying, greedy scumbag of a Resident:

The president insisted that "our children's retirement security is more important than partisan politics." Well, yes. But if the president were genuinely interested in a bipartisan compromise, he would put everything on the table -- including his own tax cuts that have added to the budget deficit. Consider that the cost of making Bush's tax cuts permanent is roughly three times the size of the Social Security shortfall over the next 75 years. Rolling back Bush's tax cuts just for those Americans who earn more than $350,000 a year would come close to covering the shortfall, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. It noted that the Congressional Budget Office's more modest estimates of the shortfall suggest that rolling back the tax cut for those high earners would more than cover the entire problem.

If President Bush believed that the Social Security situation were as dire as he says it is, wouldn't he be willing to revisit a part -- hey, a smidgen -- of his own tax cut? If he is not willing to do that, could it be that he doesn't really believe that the Social Security problem is as bad as he says it is? Are we to cut Social Security, create these private accounts and go further into debt just to make the world safe for all of Bush's tax cuts?


Bush Budget Calls for Cuts in Health Services:

The documents show, for example, that Mr. Bush would cut spending for several programs that deal with epidemics, chronic diseases and obesity. His plan would also cut the budget of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by 9 percent, to $6.9 billion, the documents show.
But the administration is proposing to increase the Pentagon budget by 4.8 percent, to $419.3 billion in the 2006 fiscal year, according to Defense Department budget documents obtained by The New York Times. That sum does not include the costs of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, now running about $5 billion a month. Within a few weeks, the administration is expected to request about $80 billion to cover those costs.

The president's approach to domestic programs is illustrated in the way he balances competing claims at the Centers for Disease Control.

Mr. Bush requests money to expand a national stockpile of vaccines and antibiotics. But the public health emergency fund of the centers, which helps state and local agencies prepare for bioterror attacks, would be cut 12.6 percent, to $1 billion.

In the event of an attack, states could use that money to distribute drugs and vaccines from the stockpile - for example, by conducting a mass immunization campaign against smallpox, anthrax or other infectious agents.

Kim A. Elliott, deputy director of the Trust for America's Health, a nonprofit advocacy group, said, "It's robbing Peter to pay Paul when you build up the national stockpile at the expense of bioterrorism preparedness activities at the state and local level."

Feeling safer yet?


Digby has a suggestion:

Since we are talking about exposing millions of retirees to the stock market, shouldn't the president be willing to apply the same rules to himself and certify his proposal with the standard Oxley-Sarbanes disclaimer: "Yes, I understand what's in this document, and certify that it is accurate."

An excellent point. But I would go even further. Here's the statement that must by law accompany each report of my own company's earnings and financial projections (the name is changed to protect the innocent -- me):

"Forward-Looking Statements. This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements may be identified by the context of the statement and generally arise when ------ is discussing its beliefs, estimates or expectations. These statements are not historical facts or guarantees of future performance but instead represent only ------'s belief at the time the statements were made regarding future events, which are subject to significant risks, uncertainties and other factors, many of which are outside of ------'s control. Actual results and outcomes may differ materially from what is expressed or forecast in such forward-looking statements. With respect to forward-looking statements relating to the business, operations, assets, liabilities, financial condition or results of operations of ------, the risks and uncertainties to which these statements are subject include the following: general economic conditions and interest rates; the cyclical and seasonal nature of our businesses; adverse weather conditions; changes in property taxes and energy costs; changes in federal income tax laws and federal mortgage financing programs; governmental regulations; changes in governmental and public policy; changes in economic conditions specific to any one or more of our markets and businesses; (long list of other factors deleted by me lest they identify my particular company). These and other risks and uncertainties are described in greater detail in ------'s most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2004 and Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended September 30, 2004 (including under the captions "Forward- Looking Statements" and "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations"), which are on file with the SEC and may be obtained free of charge through the website maintained by the SEC at . All forward-looking statements made are made as of the date hereof, and the risk that actual results will differ materially from expectations will increase with the passage of time. ------ undertakes no duty to update any forward-looking statement to reflect future events or changes in ------'s expectations."

Now if the Bush administration was held to the same standard in its financial projections as any of the top 1000 publicly held companies (to which Sarbanes-Oxley applies), that's the kind of disclaimer that would have to accompany their financial projections for Social Security "private accounts." Should the government be less accountable to the truth than any single corporation?

If the public was made aware of just how many factors can and will impact such projections, it would be manifestly clear just how "pie in the sky" are BushCo's vaunted estimates for profitability.

Friday, February 4


When denigrating the Bush economy and plans to "reform" the IRS and Social Security, we progressives usually count on average American income earners to be our greatest partners in the move to counter Bush economic policies.

But I can't tell you how many conversations I've had in the past week with upper-level corporate managers (not quite of the executive class) making, oh, somewhere between $100,000 and $160,000 per annum, who are worried sick about the Bush economy. Roughly three-quarters are Republicans, the rest Democrats. These are mostly forty-somethings who have at least two children, combined house payments and property taxes in the $2,500-$3,500 per month range, and whose retirement savings are almost totally invested in their 401(k) plans. In almost every case, they have been counting on their 401(k) savings to someday augment their expected Social Security benefits when they retire. Most of their net wealth is tied up in their homes. None of them have substantial investment portfolios; they have been paying or saving for their kids' college expenses, making house payments, subsidizing orthodontists and music teachers and trusting in a future where they will make more money. A job loss is a catastrophe; they have little financial cushion to tide them over until they secure a new job unless they tap into that sacrosanct 401(k) or sell their precious homes, and more and more they're frightened that the next job will come with less income.

They comprise a demographic that should be a target of anti-Bush economic messaging, especially on the Social Security "reform" proposals. They trust less in the magic of Wall Street than do young workers who have yet to personally experience its periodic downside; they've seen their personal investment funds diminish radically in the past, and are loathe to put all their eggs in that basket. They're less than 20 years away from their anticipated retirement age, and have factored in their expected Social Security benefits, but they're now being told by Bush that they're not in the "safe" category of those born before 1949, and don't know how this will impact them. They don't want, after a lifetime of hard work, to be dependent upon their own children for their upkeep, when they've spent their lives working towards financial independence.

I myself am in that same group and share their fears. The difference between us is, some of them (Republicans only) actually want to trust the Chimp to "do right" by them (while fearing he won't), whereas I have no such illusions. I do what I can to educate them on the particulars and hope for the best, but I'm only a small cog with a limited audience.

We need to craft a message specifically aimed at this financial class nationwide and get the truth to them, fast and effectively. They may be our best allies in defeating Bush's attempts to destroy Social Security.


There's more than meets the eye to the most moving moment of the SOTU address:

"Eleven years ago, Safia's father was assassinated by Saddam's intelligence service. Three days ago in Baghdad, Safia was finally able to vote for the leaders of her country -- and we are honored that she is with us tonight."

It's never that simple, is it?

She's a neocon.

And here is her sister's version of their father's death:
The daughter of a prominent Iraqi opposition leader, who was assassinated in Beirut by Saddam Hussein's secret service in 1994 said she would sue the ousted Iraqi president before three international courts, charging that the U.S. was a virtual accomplice in her father's murder.

Nora al Tamimi, daughter of slain Iraqi opposition activist Taleb al Suhail al Tamimi, said from Beirut in a newspaper interview published Saturday that her father had planned a coup d'etat to overthrow Saddam in 1993, operating from Beirut and Amman.

"Zero hour was set for a certain June day in 1993 to stage the coup when Saddam would have been sponsoring an official event in Baghdad," Nora told the London-based Asharq Al Awsat newspaper in an interview conducted at the family house in Beirut.

"But the Americans, who did not want the coup to succeed possibly because they were certain my father would not go along with their polices, tipped off Saddam about the impending putsch by my father and gave the names of his top aides," Nora said. "All of them died in Saddam's torture chambers."

Via Susan at Suburban Guerrillla.

Thursday, February 3


Senior Marine Corps General says, "It's fun to shoot some people."

I don't care how valuable this general is deemed by the high command or how many explanations are given for his remarks, any man who says it's "fun" to shoot people, ANY people, has a warped soul and has no business leading Americans into battle. As a daughter of a professional military family (career Air Force officer dad, numerous nephews, career fighter-jock brother-in-law, etc.), I can easily understand heat-of-battle anger, fear, self-defense, defense of a fellow soldier, duty, and other powerful emotions motivating the killing of an identified or suspected enemy. But "fun"???? I can even imagine it as being, under some conditions, satisfying. But to use the word "fun" in association with causing the death of another human being seems to me a dangerously morally deficient attitude. And now this jerk is going to be glorified in a major motion picture, portrayed by Harrison Ford.

It is not a small or incidental thing to take the life of another human being. Police officers who are forced to kill criminals in the line of duty routinely receive psychological counseling because it is recognized that the very act of killing another person causes a wound in the soul of decent human beings. For a military leader to declare that killing anyone, even the most despicable, is a hoot and a pleasure is despicable and beyond justification.

This is Donald Rumsfeld's military. It's essentially a Republican military, where "it's okay if you're an American," because we are superior to...well, just about everybody, I guess. This gang dehumanizes and demonizes not only the "enemy" but their own fellow Americans who dissent from the wing nut policies. It's terrifying to me, especially because that kind of attitude is almost makes me want to put people of such attitudes as the General in a shooting arcade and let them see how much "fun" it is to be on the other side of the gun. Forgive me, Lord.


The truth about the State Of The Union 2005.


Gonzales is confirmed as Attorney General.

The Senate voted 60-36 to put the first Hispanic ever into the job, with all of the "no" votes coming from Democrats.

Democratic Senators not voting or voting in favor:

Baucas (MT) Didn't vote
Conrad (ND) Didn't vote
Inouye (HI) Didn't vote
Landrieu (LA) Yea
Lieberman (CT) Yea
Nelson (FL) Yea
Nelson (NE) Yea
Pryor (AR) Yea
Salazar (NV) Yea


William Saletan on President Bush's cognitive dissonance.

Tonight's State of the Union Address demonstrated again that President Bush is a man of very clear principles. He's just flexible about when to apply them.


Call me a bit cynical about Bush's sudden concern for at-risk youths and justice in death-penalty cases

History's working against me here. So is the bubble of unreality the man lives in. He's going to appoint Stepford Wife LAURA BUSH to lead a national effort to "keep young people out of gangs," by giving them positive models to emulate??? I'd be highly surprised if Laura herself has a clear idea of a positive male role model considering the men in her life and their behavior, morals and ethics. Who the heck believes that she has a glimmer of understanding of what forces drive kids into gangs? I suppose we'll be seeing photo ops of Laura serving tea and lemonade to greasy, profane kids from the West Dallas projects while she reads them poetry.

Bush's callous support of executions for the mentally retarded and his cursory review of death penalty cases while Governor of Texas, don't incline me to take seriously his newfound determination to prevent executions of the innocent.

It's a sop to those Republicans that still have a heart.


They're beginning to sound a lot like "the opposition party":

Reid pledged to work with the president "when we believe the president is on the right track…. But when he gets off track, we will be there to hold him accountable."
Reid likened Bush's speech to the movie "Groundhog Day" — "the same old ideology that we've heard before, over and over and over again."

And Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California said: "When it came to specifics of a domestic program, they just weren't there."
"I had no idea W stood for Wall Street," said Rep. Louise McIntosh Slaughter of New York.

Sen. Charles Schumer, also of New York, declared: "We will not allow the president to play retirement roulette and turn Social Security into social insecurity."

Rep. John D. Dingell of Michigan said that Bush's Social Security proposal reminded him of "that New Coke from the 1980s — the name on the can was the same, but nobody could stomach what was inside."
"President Bush delivered a speech with lots of applause lines, but I wonder how much applause he would have gotten had he mentioned the true costs of his policies," said Rep. Charles B. Rangel of New York, senior Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, which will write Social Security legislation.

Reid equated Bush's proposal to "taking Social Security's guarantee and gambling with it … and that's coming from a senator who represents Las Vegas."


Bush's "personal accounts" not quite personal.

Under the White House Social Security plan, workers who opt to divert some of their payroll taxes into individual accounts would ultimately get to keep only the investment returns that exceed the rate of return that the money would have accrued in the traditional system.

The mechanism, detailed by a senior administration official before President Bush's State of the Union address, would hold down the cost of Bush's plan to introduce personal accounts to the Social Security system. But it could come as a surprise to lawmakers and voters who have thought of these accounts as akin to an individual retirement account or a 401(k) that they could use fully upon retirement.
Under the proposal, workers could invest as much as 4 percent of their wages subject to Social Security taxation in a limited assortment of stock, bond and mixed-investment funds. But the government would keep and administer that money. Upon retirement, workers would then be given any money that exceeded inflation-adjusted gains over 3 percent.
Under the system, the gains may be minimal. The Social Security Administration, in projecting benefits under a partially privatized system, assumes a 4.6 percent rate of return above inflation. The Congressional Budget Office, Capitol Hill's official scorekeeper, assumes 3.3 percent gains.
With a 4.6 percent average gain over inflation, the government keeps more than 70 percent. With the CBO's 3.3 percent rate, the worker is left with nothing but the guaranteed benefit.
Stephen Moore, a conservative supporter of Bush's Social Security effort, said the mechanism would undermine the president's notion of an "ownership society."

Wednesday, February 2


I am, reluctantly, watching belatedly the SOTU. God help us. The Democrats are standing up, with the Republicans, on many applause moments. What are they thinking?

I just heard great (Demo) moans in response to Bush's Social Security remarks. Good going. Huge applause on the Repug side. He cites prominent Dem's past quotes re the urgency of "fixing" Social Security.

Thank God, the ovations are now split Repub (in favor) and Dem (sitting). But why are any Dems applauding, even if not standing?

Bush anticipates many arguments against his SS "reform" plans, avowing his plan (though not explained how) will not threaten benefits.

He supports a constitutional amendment in favor or "marriage."

Dana Reeve (Chris Reeve's widow) is in the audience. Why?

Anti-Gang plans. Laura will lead the effort.

He's in favor of doing something about AIDS.

In favor of DNA to avoid wrongful convictions.

We've removed a lot of Al Qaeda leaders. We're staying on the offensive until they're defeated.

I thank the Congress for providing our armed forces with the tools they need.

I'm sick of this. "The peace we seek" -- get real.


Just heard Dennis Kucinich absolutely shut Sean Hannity DOWN. I have NEVER heard any guest perform so well, especially in response to Hannity's standard and puerile, "Answer me this question. Are we better off with Saddam gone?" (That's Sean's punchline to any argument he isn't winning.)

The downside was Kucinich's suck-up departure, when he told Sean how much he respected and admired him.


Glimpses of past Bush SOTU speeches, courtesy of The Dallas Morning News, with some editorializing by yours truly:

It is not customary for a newly inaugurated president to give a State of the Union. "It would be a little presumptuous of the brand new president to get up and talk about the State of the Union," said Senate historian Richard Baker.

Instead, Mr. Bush presented what aides called "a budget address." In the 49-minute speech, Mr. Bush said the country could afford a $1.6 trillion tax cut over 10 years and still improve schools, health care, the environment and national defense. Mr. Bush also said the country could repay a large portion of the national debt and emphasized a projected budget surplus of $5.6 trillion over the coming decade.

President Bush said the war on terror, begun in Afghanistan, "is only just beginning." He labeled North Korea, Iran and Iraq an "axis of evil" and said the United States will work with other nations to deny terrorists and their state sponsors the materials and technology to create weapons of mass destruction.
Congress passed a resolution authorizing Mr. Bush to use military force to compel Iraq to disband its suspected nuclear weapons program. Mr. Bush declared that Iraq "is a part of the war on terror" and that Saddam Hussein must disarm.
[ED. NOTE: Bush has a record of failure in nuclear security.]


He called for the biggest increase in defense spending in two decades, saying, "Whatever it takes to defend our country, we will pay."
Mr. Bush signed a $355.4 billion defense bill that increased spending by more than $34 billion from the previous fiscal year. He had sought $367 billion but ran into bipartisan resistance to a $10 billion fund he could tap without congressional input to fight terrorists overseas.
[ED. NOTE: That amount does not include the $300 billion in supplementals required for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.]

He proposed nearly doubling funding for homeland security, focused on bioterrorism, emergency response, airport and border security, and improved intelligence.
Congress created the Cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security that merged 22 agencies with combined budgets of $40 billion.
[ED. NOTE: See A Homeland Seccurity Report Card and Homeland Security Bush's Biggest Failure.]

He made jobs the centerpiece of his economic package and called on Congress to pass an economic stimulus package for a quick end to the recession.
Congress passed his economic stimulus package, which extended unemployment benefits by 13 weeks and provided business with tax breaks.
[ED. NOTE: See Show Us The Jobs.]

He asked Congress to enact new safeguards for 401(k) and pension plans.
Congress debated the measure but didn't pass it.
[ED. NOTE: Obviously not a priority, the Resident still has not expended any of his "political capital" towards seeing this done.]

Mr. Bush made a case for American involvement in Iraq, saying, "If Saddam Hussein does not fully disarm, for the safety of our people and for the peace of the world, we will lead a coalition to disarm him."
Eight weeks later, Mr. Bush launched a war with Iraq that began with a U.S. missile strike at dawn in Baghdad.
[ED. NOTE: U.S. calls off search for Iraqi WMD's.]

He repeated a 2000 campaign promise to let workers invest in private retirement accounts for Social Security.
The proposal generated a little talk but not much action.
[ED. NOTE: He'll keep trying.]

He again called for overhauling Medicare to allow seniors to choose between the existing system and an option that would include prescription drug benefits.
Congress passed a prescription drug benefit to begin in 2006. Medicare beneficiaries in June 2004 could buy drug discount cards to save up to 25 percent on some retail drugs.
[ED. NOTE: Another Bush Ripoff.]

He proposed spending $1.2 billion to speed the development of hydrogen-powered, zero-emission fuel cell vehicles.
In 2004 the Energy Department announced $350 million in grants to put hydrogen-fueled cars on the road by 2015.
[ED. NOTE: The rest of the story.]

He urged lawmakers to cap certain damages in malpractice awards.
Mr. Bush is still pressing the issue.
[ED. NOTE: Here's why.]

Mr. Bush reiterated his commitment to full sovereignty for Iraqis by the end of June.
On June 28, the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority turned sovereignty over to an Iraqi government headed by interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. American troops retained broad military and police powers.

He pressed Congress again to overhaul Social Security to let workers invest in private retirement accounts.
Little has happened.

He urged Congress to make tax cuts permanent.
Congress extended middle-class tax cuts.

He called on professional sports team owners, union representatives, coaches and players to "get rid of steroids now."
Mr. Bush signed an anti-steroid measure into law that curtailed sales of steroid precursors and established a program to teach young people about the drug's dangers. Last month, Major League Baseball and the players union announced a beefed-up steroid screening program.

[ED. NOTE: Does 2004 sound remarkably redundant?]

UPDATE: The Center for American Progress does a much better job of deconstructing previous Bush SOTU addresses.


Harry Reid's pre-buttal of Bush's SOTU address.


Our "Rumsfeld Rag" is in the Koufax Awards semi-finals in the category "Most Humorous Post."

Gee, thanks to whomever nominated us. Doggerel 'R' Us.


Dominance on GOP Agenda: Depriving Democrats of voters and money is among White House policies' other aims.

President Bush's agenda for the next four years, much of which he will highlight in his State of the Union address tonight, includes many proposals that would not only change public policy but, the GOP hopes, achieve an ambitious political goal: Stripping money and voters from the Democratic Party and cementing Republican dominance for years after he leaves office.
On issue after issue, the White House is staking out positions that achieve a policy goal while expanding the GOP's appeal to new voters or undermining the Democrats' ability to compete. Interviews with Bush advisors, a recent memo drafted by a senior White House strategist and a speech last month by the Republican Party's new chairman show that the political advantages are very much part of the calculation.


This article is priceless:

The central problem for Dr. Frist is that he needs the Democrats, or at least a few of them, but he also needs to hold together a sprawling, predominately conservative Republican caucus. So he promises more bipartisanship, but only to a point.

"I can play hardball as well as anybody," he said, unprompted, at the end of a recent interview. "That's what I did, cut people's hearts out. On the other hand, I do it to cure them, to heal them, to make them better."

Democrats, whose hearts are presumably on the table, express skepticism.
Dr. Frist and the Democrats are heading for an extraordinary showdown - some scholars say historic - over filibustering judicial nominations. Democrats have blocked 10 of about 50 nominees to the appellate courts. Dr. Frist is warning that unless Democrats allow all of Mr. Bush's nominees to go to a floor vote this year, he may seek to change the rules of the Senate to end judicial filibusters.

Democrats say it would fundamentally change the nature of the Senate, and vow to retaliate with parliamentary warfare. Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the new Democratic leader, said the rule change - called the nuclear option by Democrats - would affect the chances for bipartisanship across the board. "You can't have it both ways," Mr. Reid said in an interview. "We're not going to have the nuclear option one day, and kiss and hug the next."
In fact, there is widespread anxiety in Republican circles these days, and no real consensus on how to achieve the president's domestic goals or even, perhaps, whether doing so is worth the price.
At the moment, though, Dr. Frist faces what looks like a solid wall of Democratic opposition and suspicion, particularly on Social Security. Mr. Reid said Tuesday that every Democrat in the Senate now opposed Mr. Bush's proposal for diverting payroll taxes to private accounts. Democrats say they are still angry over their leaders being shut out of the conference committee that worked out the final Medicare law, legislation affecting 40 million Americans. They also remember Dr. Frist traveling to South Dakota to campaign against the Democratic leader, Mr. Daschle, who was defeated.

Mr. Reid said, "I would never do that."
Many Democrats suspect that Republicans simply want to pick off a handful of "red state" Democrats to put their party over the top, rather than engage in truly bipartisan negotiations.

"They and the president seem to want to continue the same approach they've always used," said Senator Byron L. Dorgan of North Dakota, a member of the Democratic leadership, "that they control the White House, the House and the Senate, and they're going to call the shots."
Among Republicans, there is a clear feeling that Democrats are not playing by the rules, by refusing to recognize the Republican majority as having a mandate. "You have a very tough core of Democrats on the other side who are just purely ideologically driven and don't want to see any kind of collaboration with the Republicans that may result in changes to the way they structure programs around here," said Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, No. 3 in the Republican leadership.
Dr. Frist said he hoped for more bipartisanship and civility...
[Emphasis mine]

Boo hoo. The mean old Democrats won't lie down and let us screw them again like we've done for the past four years. CIVILITY? The Repugs have demonstrated they don't know the meaning of the word.

I'm pleased as punch so far with Harry Reid, and encouraged to see Democrats unifying and actually performing as an opposition party. Seems they've finally learned that to these people, in Grover Norquist's words, "Bipartisanship is another word for date rape."

Rick Santorum calling ANYONE "ideological" is a farce of monumental proportions.


Show us the jobs:

Since the tax cuts took effect in July 2003, the administration’s projected monthly job growth was only met or exceeded three times. In every other month—according to a new study by the Economic Policy Institute —the projection was way off by tens of thousands of jobs. In more than half of the 18 months the tax cuts have been a factor, the job projections fell short by more than 200,000 jobs. July 2003 marked the biggest shortfall with 351,000 fewer jobs recorded than the Bush administration projected as a result of its tax cuts.

The Economic Policy Institute found that all but two states—Hawaii and Wyoming—failed to make the projections put forth by the administration. Twenty-nine states—both blue and red states—have fewer jobs than when the recession started in March 2001. The other states experienced job growth so anemic that the added jobs could not keep up with the expansion of the workforce as a whole. Overall, the promise of 5.5 million jobs fell 3.1 million jobs short—one of the worst job-creation records in the past century (the president’s best chance to burnish his record is to compare himself to Herbert Hoover).

As important, wages are stagnating—which explains why people remain very nervous about the economy. As EPI reports in a related analysis: “Since the recovery’s start in the fourth quarter of 2001, (real) private wage and salary income is up only 3.9 percent. The average for all economic recoveries that lasted 11 quarters or more from 1947 to1982 is 18.2 percent, and even the “jobless recovery” of the early 1990s saw 7.4 percent growth.”
But certainly—with the past experience laid out for all to see—the public should not buy any State of the Union claims that more tax cuts will help create more jobs. There is, in fact, an argument to be made that the president’s tax cuts have contributed to job losses because of large annual deficits and the crushing financial burden passed on to state government budgets. When state governments are struggling, the private sector—particularly small business—is burdened. And that says nothing of the long-term consequences resulting from the additional 10 trillion dollars of additional long-term debt over 10 years that Bush will saddle us with if his tax cuts are made permanent. As Citizens for Tax Justice  points out, because of the Bush tax cuts, “By 2013 and thereafter, the government is likely to be spending more on interest on the debt than on all domestic appropriations put together—from education, to the environment, to law enforcement, to science, to transportation, to veterans.”

In that sense, George W. Bush will leave office with generations of Americans in his debt—deeply in debt for generations to come.


Oh puh-leeeze!!! Seems the Virginia legislature has tentatively approved a new license plate motto:

With only a week left to act on all legislation introduced by their respective members, the House and Senate yesterday argued over matters ranging from “traditional marriage” license plates to state budget procedures.

The House of Delegates squabbled before tentatively endorsing the special state plates that would include the capital-letter words “TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE,” as well as a symbol, two interlocked golden wedding bands over a red heart.

Del. L. Scott Lingamfelter, R-Prince William, who sponsored the legislation, said it would merely embrace 4,000 years of history on marriage and show children that “traditional marriage is fundamental.”

Whatever happened to "Virginia Is For Lovers"? Sounds so much sweeter, so much more like a place I'd like to visit. Husbands and wives are lovers too, you know!

Hat tip to Waldo Jaquith via Wonkette.


Will Durst explains the rules.

Tuesday, February 1


Having read several articles in the past couple of days about how the Hispanic/Latino communities support Alberto Gonzalese' nomination as Attorney General, I got to thinking what kind of message this sends to minorities, the underprivileged and the disenfranchised. To me it says simply, play ball with the powerful, rent out your integrity, and you will be rewarded. That's not the "inspiring" personal story usually associated with Gonzales' upward rise. Sure I acknowledge that he came from poverty and deprivation, but let's face it, he was born smart (no credit to him) and received a full scholarship to Harvard, benefitting from the very move towards diversity in universities and the business community that his Bush cronies would now like to deny to others. But what do we mean by "lift up"? It seems to me the media refers almost exclusively to financial and social advancement. What, exactly, is "inspiring" about that?

I'm inspired when people devote their lives to the betterment of humanity; I'm inspired when people grow in stature morally and ethically. The fact that a man or woman increases their wealth and social status doesn't wind my clock. There's more to money...but the media, Republicans, and right-wing Christians, who "judge a man by the size of his wallet" (apologies to Oiver Stone/Martin Sheen) have either forgotten or are fast forgetting that fact.

My mama and daddy taught me to judge a person by their impact on their fellow man. Alberto Gonzales' contributions to American society include endorsing and justifying torture and enabling an execution-mad Texas governor.

Nothing there to inspire but fear and outrage.


This is scary stuff.

Wow. When I was in high school, civics was a required course for everyone, and the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, Federalist Papers and other writings of the Founding Fathers were required reading. We took TESTS on them, so you bet we learned the material. Even sub-par students absorbed 70% of the material, else they couldn't pass the course and graduate. It's incomprehensible to me how anyone can expect to "spread freedom" around the world when our own young people don't understand the basics of republican government, democracy and a free society.

It's always ignorance that fuels support for regressive policies, even to the point of fascism. And "those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it." What a prospect for the future of America.

I just had a guy in my office telling me some sob story about our building 185 schools in Iraq; I replied, "There are a lot of places in Mississippi that could use a school building project like that." With apologies to Mississippi, it appears that the problem is much more national in scope...


FDR's grandson on Bush's Social Security privatization scheme:

As a former Wall Street lawyer, my grandfather fully supported the opportunity of every American to have fair investment opportunities. But Social Security was -- and is -- something different. It was -- and is -- the guaranteed basis of a secure retirement. The risk is that future retired Americans will lose that assurance if the guaranteed benefit is eliminated. Drastic changes that divert the payroll tax to privatization will almost certainly eliminate that guaranteed benefit by crippling the ability to pay benefits, imposing trillions of dollars of new costs on the government and creating massive federal debt. Privatization threatens to bring about the collapse of the entire Social Security system.

FDR was realistic about the need to adapt Social Security as the workforce evolved. In my office I have his original handwritten note to my father outlining the principles I've just discussed. By the time the program was enacted in 1935, the details were quite different. But the principles remained the same.

Throughout the six successful decades of Social Security, it has been adjusted in both benefits and revenues. But it has continued to observe FDR's principles of a secure, guaranteed retirement income provided by an insurance system that all workers pay for. Then, as now, the key to taking the fear out of the Social Security debate is speaking truthfully. Instead, the proponents of privatization have not only misused the name and image of my grandfather, they have mischaracterized undisputed facts to create a phony impetus for abandonment of the program.

Those who are seeking immediate, drastic change should recognize that even the Social Security trustees appointed by the president agree that Social Security with no changes could pay full benefits until 2042, even under pessimistic assumptions about economic growth. They should recognize that the Congressional Budget Office says that Social Security with no changes could pay full benefits until 2052. They should recognize that even then benefits would be cut only about 25 percent if there were no changes, not nearly as drastically as most private account proposals would cut them. The lies and half-truths from the proponents of privatization must stop.

Most of all, the creation of fear by the unjustified use of words like "crisis" and "bankruptcy" is destructive of a reasonable debate about what adjustments to Social Security will ensure the payment of full benefits throughout the 21st century. Every honest person knows that there is no crisis, there is no threat of bankruptcy, and that what is needed are adjustments, not drastic measures like privatization. Just as bad is the use of terms like "worthless IOUs" to describe US Treasury bonds held by the trust fund. These are scare tactics designed to create fear.

These attempts to divide grandparents, parents, and children are an attack on the most successful program this country has ever had. Social Security unites the interests of my parents' generation, my contemporaries, and my children's generation. It can be strengthened with incremental changes. To achieve that, the Congress and the White House must work together -- without ideological agendas. FDR's goal of freedom from fear can be preserved by truthful, reasonable negotiation that is free of false implications and misrepresentation.

A friend who does some work for Ann Coulter just brought me her book "Treason" autographed by the demon lady herself and inscribed, "To ------, enjoy the invective!" (She knows I'm a progressive Democrat.)

At least she knows the correct way to characterize her writing.

in·vec·tive     P   Pronunciation Key  (n-vktv)

1. Denunciatory or abusive language; vituperation.
2. Denunciatory or abusive expression or discourse.

Of, relating to, or characterized by denunciatory or abusive language.

My laptop completely blew Friday night, so no recent blogging. Hope to be back online tomorrow.