horses and saddles sold cheap and other metaphors

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Social Security is not on its death bed

The Plot Against Social Security : How the Bush Plan Is Endangering Our Financial Future
From Booklist
Prizewinning financial reporter Hiltzik focuses a probing, analytical eye on the current drive to substitute private investment accounts for America's Social Security program and finds this new approach wanting. Hiltzik delves into the history of opposition to Social Security since its inception during the Great Depression, revealing that today's demands for change mirror criticisms that have perennially dogged the program. Offering statistics from multiple sources, he finds the claim that the system faces a financial crisis to be manufactured, and he notes that the program's critics cite contradictory evidence about the purported coming bankruptcy of the system. He sheds light on myths whose prevalence has diminished constructive dialogue. He cites the pressing need for honest projections of Social Security's present and future fiscal health, observing that using either too optimistic or too pessimistic forecasts only opens the door to political grandstanding from either direction. Hiltzik fears that even if people were to enjoy the rosy returns on investment that the present administration promises, much of their "profit" might disappear in administrative fees. Hiltzik has provided history, facts, and figures that propose some much-needed perspective on this important contemporary debate. Mark Knoblauch

Friday, June 10, 2005

Bush + spurious , Bush + treachery , Bush + deceitful

I'm pretty sure there's a commandment concerning all this, but since religion is nothing more then a tool in the right-wing bag of tricks no harm, no foul.
Bush Lied about War? Nope, No News There!
By Eric Boehlert

* 1) By mid-July 2002, eight months before the war began, President Bush had decided to invade and occupy Iraq.

* 2) Bush had decided to "justify" the war "by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD."

* 3) Already, "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

* 4) Many at the top of the [U.S.] administration did not want to seek approval from the United Nations (going "the U.N. route").

* 5) Few in Washington seemed much interested in the aftermath of the war.

Yet despite the news peg, the mainstream media demonstrated a breathtaking lack of interest. According to TVEyes, an around-the-clock monitoring service, between May 1 and June 6 the story received approximately 20 mentions on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS combined. (With Blair's arrival in Washington Tuesday, there was a slight spike in mentions but still very little reporting of substance.) By contrast, during the same five-week period, the same outlets found time to mention 263 times the tabloid controversy that erupted when a photograph showing Saddam Hussein in his underwear was leaked to the British press.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

The Media and its complacency on the Downing Street minutes

via Brad Delong
World Opinion Roundup: Blair and The Downing Street Memo:

Jefferson Morley: I think some combination of cynicism, complacency and insulation has stifled the instincts of very good reporters. I also think there is also a failure of leadership at the senior editorial level. The issues raised by the Downing Street minutes are very serious. To pursue them is to invite confrontation. This means that 'beat' reporters cannot realistically pursue the story.I say all this way of explanation, not rationalization. There are several natural follow up stories to the Downing Street memo that we should be pursuing right now...

I think its because the Washington press corps is oriented around 'news' as generated by the White House and the executive branch. When it comes to Iraq's non-existent weapons of mass destruction, the White House and the Congress have settled on the following narrative: that the U.S. government had every reason to fear the nexus of Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, that the intelligence community agreed that Hussein had WMD and therefore war was not only justified but necessary.The Downing Street Memo invites the thought that maybe that was illusory, that in fact people in the Bush administration were having meetings dedicated to figuring how, as Richard Dearlove said, 'fix the facts and the intelligence.' I think its hard to journalist's born and bred in the ways of Washington to contemplate the implications...

I've given some reasons, focusing on the responsibility of the media.But a big part of the problem is that there are no voices in the majority party demanding accountability. Remember, no small part of the growth of the opposition to the Vietnam war were the very serious and informative hearings that Sen. William Fulbright had in 1965-66. It was here that the American people heard policymakers explain and defend their policies. There is no such venue for accountability today...

Its a rather long post. Surfice it to say that the age of investigative journalism is dead. Where is this generation Woodward and Bernstein?

Lies, who can go a day without one? The New York Times apparently

via David Sirota
"[Journalists] can’t just say the President is lying."
- NY Times White House reporter Elisabeth Bumiller on covering President Bush, 11/4/04

"The judge said the lawyers were entitled only to fees and expenses for the period beginning Dec. 23, 1997, when President Clinton first lied about his relationship with Ms. Lewinsky."
- NY Times news report, 7/30/99

That's the trouble with us simple moralists, we think lies that lead to the deaths of thousands trumps lies about hummers from interns. Isn't it strange that the press is so considerate and respectful of the most arrogant bone headed president since Andrew Jackson.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Move'n on Up?

The Mobility Myth - Bob Herbert NYT
A recent front-page article in The Los Angeles Times showed that teenagers are faring poorly in a tight job market because of the fierce competition they're getting from older workers and immigrants for entry-level positions.

On the same day, in the business section, the paper reported that the chief executives at California's largest 100 companies took home a collective $1.1 billion in 2004, an increase of nearly 20 percent over the previous year. The paper contrasted that with the 2.9 percent raise that the average California worker saw last year.

The gap between the rich and everybody else in this country is fast becoming an unbridgeable chasm. David Cay Johnston, in the latest installment of the New York Times series "Class Matters," wrote, "It's no secret that the gap between the rich and the poor has been growing, but the extent to which the richest are leaving everybody else behind is not widely known."

This isn't to say that all is doom and gloom, but we're still not playing by a moral code when it comes to the game of capitalism in the USA. I lost the darn link, but the following is from an interview with a writer:
"I don't believe there's anything intrinsically wrong with capitalism, just as I don't believe there's anything intrinsically wrong with fire. Both have served as powerful engines of human development and offer huge civilizational benefits if handled correctly. In the case of fire, that means the provision of fire extinguishers, a fire brigade, and hospital burns units. Unfortunately, it seems to be beyond our capacity (or at least interest) to do anything similar with capitalism."

"Contemporary western capitalist models can best be imagined as an immensely high-performance vehicle whose owners insist on stripping out the brakes, airbags, fenders, roll bars, side impact protection, and seat belts because, well, what's the point-all that stuff is just going to slow us down, right? Er . . . no. Wrong. You need that stuff or you're going to crash and kill your passengers."

To continue the analogy, conservatives are like the used car salepeople ( pre internet ) that want you to believe that the lemon they're pawning off on us is like gold in the bank. They even get a little pissed that when you inform them form your personal experience and research, this is a lemon, and you can get a better deal elsewhere.
chief executives at California's largest 100 companies took home a collective $1.1 billion in 2004, an increase of nearly 20 percent over the previous year. The paper contrasted that with the 2.9 percent raise that the average California worker saw last year.

Now, we all know these folks and "many" of them to use Howard Dean's term don't really do any work, aren't great inventors, and not very smart, but they are clever and manipulative. How else could so many people buy an economy based on rewarding most the people that work the least.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Former supporter joins foes over war

Two years ago, Brian T. Hart, an avid supporter of the American military mission in Iraq, wrote to the Board of Selectmen in Bedford to complain about a 20-foot banner strung from the front of the First Parish church that read, ''Speak Out For Peace."

Today, Hart, now a blistering critic of the campaign in Iraq, plans to return to the church on the town green to speak out for peace at the pulpit.

The reason for his transformation: His son, Private First Class John D. Hart was killed outside Kirkuk, Iraq, in October 2003 when insurgents firing small arms and rocket-propelled grenades attacked his unarmored Humvee.

Brian, as soon as your names gets around the right-wing smear machine, from Powerline Blog to Limbaugh to Fox, your name and your son's will be dragged through the deeper nastiest mud you can imagine.
It says further down in the article that many of his relatives have already stopped talikng to him. I guess you find out who your friends are when the going gets tough, when people start to question the status quo. Best wishes for the hard road ahead to Mr. Hart.

Tears In Heaven - by Eric Clapton and Will Jennings

Would you know my name
If I saw you in heaven?
Would it be the same
If I saw you in heaven?

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Progressive theory courts popular opinion

progressives look ahead--way ahead--and plan their strategy for taking back the Constitution.
Already, Republican judges are in the majority in 10 out of the nation's 13 federal appellate courts. By the end of President George W. Bush's term the count will likely be 12 out of 13, and about 85 percent of those circuit court judges will be Republican appointees, according to a March report in the National Law Journal.

Tushnet, author of ''Taking the Constitution Away from the Courts'' (1999), has urged progressives to rediscover ''the dignity of legislation.'' He argues for a populist politics in which the citizenry rallies around the highest principles of the Constitution's preamble and the Declaration of Independence, bringing pressure to bear on legislators and other elected officials. Indeed, Tushnet questions the very notion of ''judicial review'' - the power of courts to be the final authority on the Constitution.

The one big thing that this arcticle does not go into is how, what might be termed Main Str. Mom and Pop Republicans are either ignorant or hypocritcal of how mush they rely on liberal milestones like workers compensation, overtime, and the constant court battles to save free speech. Today they take them for granted, those damn libs will take care of that, but that leaves me room to go full bore on the so-called social conservative crap, like repealing Roe or Brown. Mom and Pop take those things for granted under a conservative majority in the legislatures and courts at their peril. Do they really think pushing choice back to the states will stop abortion, do they really think that the de facto segregation of our schools will bring back the good old days that never really existed. Some priorties sem out of whack on the Right, its education, equal opportunity, social justice, health care, and a sustainable econmy that respects our natural heritage that should be at the center of their agenda, not inserting goverment into private medical decisions.

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