Blog Archive

Saturday, May 31, 2003
   Crouching Tiger, Hidden Agenda
From the Ben Tripp: The Tick is Clocking

While I generally won't send you to read a rant, this one is faily good. What Ben is suggesting here is that even if we take back the White House in 2004, it will be small consolation:

Left-wing pundits are shaking their heads like schoolmarms ... They know with certitude that the Bush gang will be going down hard, and soon ... After all, these swines can't get away with it, can they? I mean sure, for a while, but not forever? Here's the bad news. They don't have to.

In another year the damage will be done, and the reigning Straussian dung-pirates can retire from the field, high-fiving and slapping each other on the asses. A century of democratic advances will have been rolled back.

Oh course, I have been saying this since six months before Bush's (s)election. Why would $75 million suddenly just show up on the door of a miserable student, a hard-partying adult, a complete failure of a businessman, and a governor of a state where governors are mere figureheads? It just din't make sense unless ... unless they only needed one term. One term for what? Back then, I didn't know what they only needed one term for, but I knew that it was nothing in my interest.

It's amazing how fast a cookie jar can get emptied, isn't it?

I sure feel safer now that the terror threat level has been lowered to  ELEVATED .

Just one thing bothers me however: Does the threat level change based on our ability to pay for it? Because they sure seem to be giving that as a reason for why it was lowered.

Friday, May 30, 2003
Can you say "Intertemporal Fiscal Imbalances"?
Well, you had better get used to saying it, because those are the three words that George Bush doesn't want you to know about. In fact, according to a story released Wednesday by the conservative Financial Times, these numbers, meant to be included in the latest White House budget, were deliberately omitted.

So what in hell are Intertemporal Fiscal Imbalances? It is a newly-developed forward-looking measure of the financial obligations of the U.S. government, and the government's ability to meet those obligations. Put simply, it is a new way to measure national debt, a way that looks beyond the current national debt ($6.5 trillion) to anticipate future national debt and our ability to to pay it. So why would these numbers have to be hidden? Because they put our national debt approaching tens times the currently used figure!

Can you say $55 trillion? Because that is what our federal deficit actually is today when future obligations are fully factored in. That's $55 trillion ($55 million million, or $55 thousand thousand thousand thousand, or a lot more than you'll make in the next 100 million years).

This was no report cooked up by some liberal with an ax to grind, by the way. This report was comissioned and paid for by the Bush administration. Jagadeesh Gokhale's by-line includes the conservative think tank, the American Enterprise Institute, while Kent Smetters' lists the quite prestigious Wharton School (of economics, UPenn). [Interviews on this: Jagadeesh Gokhale, Kent Smetters. Smetters' is faily technical, Gokhale's is simple but quite pragmatic.]

But the true ugliness of this comes out only in a reading of the report itself [55 pages, 340K, PDF]. $55 trillion by our current federal tax structure and revenues are more than every liablitiy of both Social Security and Medicare combined. Zero, Zip, Nada. They are simply not there anymore, and there is no way to put them there. In fact, to fully-fund these programs would require a 66% increase in federal tax revenues, and that would have to happen today. Because it gets only worse with delay.

In fact, these figures did not even factor in the effects of the recently-enacted tax cut, which is of course why the report was supressed in the first place. George Bush could never have gotten even two votes for his tax cut had this information been known prior to that bill's passage.

The bottom line is that both Social Security and Medicare are gone. This is class warfare of a level that has never before been even conceived of. This is class warfare against every working person in the United States. This, in short, is George Bush.

Top 10 Reasons Why Bush Should Not
Run For Re-Election In 2004

  Reason #10 He didn't want the job to begin with.

  Reason #9 Private industry would pay him better anyways.

  Reason #8:   He could get Laura off the Xanax.

  Reason #7:   It would give him a chance to see if he could get his pilot's licence back.

  Reason #6:   There aren't enough taxes left to cut on rich people.

  Reason #5:   No one will be impressed the next time he lands on an aircraft carrier.

  Reason #4:   He's already heard all three of Dick Cheney's jokes.

  Reason #3:   He could start eating French Fries again.

  Reason #2:   What kind of name is Condoleeza anyways?

And the  Number One Reason  why Bush
should not run for re-election in 2004:

 It doubles his chances of getting impeached! 

Thursday, May 29, 2003
They don't want to make government better.
They don't want it to work well.
They don't want it to help people.
Molly Ivins and Government, Inc.
   No child left (in my) behind:
Bush Warns Head Start Centers on Lobbying

It is undeniable: In every community where Head Start exists, their student "graduates" do better than those who did not attend Head Start classes but should have. Head Start stands unique among federal programs in that it actually does deliver the "bang for the buck" that it promised.

The theory behind Head Start is simple: While it is preferable that pre-schoolers get their "head start" from their own educated parents, when their own parents lack sufficient education themselves to do that, we the people assume that responsibility. When we have, the results are nothing but extrordinary.

But the Republigreed White House simply does not care about this. They want to change (de-fund) it. It doesn't matter if it works; it is a "social program" and therefore must be eliminated.

And so they have issued a "warning" to the current Head Start staff ($17-25K per year): Do not get involved with the political discussion regarding these proposed changes.

What next, George? Your political death chambers on Guantanamo if they do?

From the New York Times: Tax Law Omits Child Credit in Low-Income Brackets

This is perhaps the sorriest example I have even seen about who these Republicans are in their hearts.

That $400 per child tax refund that you are about to recieve? Well, you are not going to get it if you earn at or close to minimum wage. It does not matter if you actually paid taxes; you are simply not going to get it. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

Such is the trash called "compassionate conservatism". It is quite obvious to whom that compassion extends.

   The Death of the Public Voice:
From the Black CoMMentator: Who Killed Black Radio News?

I absolutely love this newspaper! You read the title of this article and you (if you are white) think, "Why should I care about Black radio news?" But inevitably, somewhere in almost all of their articles, you'll find out exactly why you care about their topic.

Case in point: Who killed Black radio news? The Black owners of Black radio news. Why? Because they adopted the generic formula of growth now used by all radio station owners: Maximize expansion by maximizing profit, and maximize profit by killing local news.

If you are at all into the current FCC debates, this article is an intensely-focused look at how the drive towards media consolidation has played out in just one market, but at such, it offers insight into how it is playing out in all markets. Must reading!

[BTW: The Black CoMMentator comes out every Thursday. Bookmark it and drop by.]

   Don't Ask; Don't Tell:
From the Boston Phoenix: Being gay in the GOP

Everyone who says they know for sure says he is. Everyone that is but Florida Republican Congressman Mark Foley himself, who brushes aside questions of his own homosexuality by suggesting they are "revolting and unforgivable". Foley believes that "there are certain things we shouldn’t discuss in public."

And while "revolting and unforgivable" may be a bit overstated, Foley is probably correct: his sexual orientation should not matter; only his ideas and voting record should be of concern. It should not matter, except that it does:

  • It matters when his home state is alone amoung the 50 in being the only state denying adoptions to homosexual couples.
  • It matters when he votes to impeach a president on charges related to a sexual indiscretion.
  • It matters when his party openly embraces the homophobic comments of Rick Santorum, the third-ranking senator in the GOP.
  • It matters when his party openly courts the affections of the extremely homophobic Concerned Women for America.
  • It matters when Foley himself hides this from people he is asking to vote for him; people to whom he knows full well that it does indeed matter to.
In short, it matters not because it should, but because Foley's own party has insisted that it does matter! His own party has shoved sexuality to the center of the dinner table whether he likes it or not.

But Mark Foley says that it should not matter. Then if it should not matter, it also should not matter if he comes out of the closet. And the fact that he won't says something about the character of the man himself. And that matters to all of the voters.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003
Rummy says that the reason why we cannot find WMDs in Iraq is because Saddam destroyed them before the war. Rummy has obviously said this simply to tweak the wing nuts, because anyone with half a brain knows that this was exactly what Saddam did ... back in 1993. S'matter, Rummy? Can't be bothered by all of those inconvenient CIA reports that float across your desk?

The question that comes to mind is of course: Why all of this inconvenience and backstepping by the administration? Why not just plant some of them? It is not like we lack for an adequate suppy of them here. Ship a few cases over and have done with it.

Except that there is a problem. These WMDs degrade over time, and degrade especially under less than optimal storage conditions, something that Saddam had, and we do not. If we did a plant (and this only occurred to Rummy afterwards), the plant would be quickly be found out as just that. It would simply not have been degraded enough to pass muster.

But technology is what it is. Give Rummy a few more weeks to get that plant sufficiently degraded, and we will be right back to square one.

  A Benedict@Large Editorial  
I am going through highs and lows. I recently (4 days ago) decided to support the candidacy of John Dean. While I have a lot of problems with his positions, I also supported John McCain, a person with whom I had far more problems. The thing about both of these that garnered my support was that they both want to make a difference, not simply to get elected, but because a difference is needed. That is the great thing about our country: that I, a life-long liberal, can find quite valid reasons to support candidates that are far to the right of me. Of equal beauty is that conservatives can find common cause with liberals, as evidenced by the recent rash of notable conservatives who have joined the ACLU.

But then, I have my lows.

Let's say Dean wins. What is it that he has won? An economy decimated by the military-industrial complex and gifts to the rich? And what is he to do about that? Raise taxes? The Radical Right will immediately active their media machine and call him a traitor. In spite of the fact that a country cannot spend what it does not have.

This is my low. This economy is about to tank in ways that few living people remember. The Radical Right may perhaps forestall this until after the 2004 election, but if they are successful at this, would it not be better that they actually win that election?

You know this for a fact; If they lose the election and two days later the economy crumbles, their spin shills will go off like lightening, proclaiming that the wrong-minded will of the people was the cause. Wouldn't it in fact be better to simply re-elect George, and let him take full blame for his actions? Because he may be able to maintain this charade until the next election, but he can simply not maintain it for an additional four years afterwards.

In fact, he cannot maintain it for an additional two years, and when those two years are over, the Republican majorities in both houses will be decimated. No one will ever listen to a religious fundamentalist about politics ever again, and the Neocons will be relegated to the dust pile of stupidity.

And we will have our country back.

This article from Yellow Times (and elsewhere) is interesting because it is not your typical "Bush is a fascist" rant. It focuses instead on simply the media aspects of this, pretty much leaving the policy stuff aside. Very worth while reading.
Behind the safety net of their tax cut, the rich continue busily exporting jobs to cheaper labor markets, as the New York Observer points out in "Think Your Job’s Safe? We Have Some Bad News". What was once confined only manufacturing jobs (our much heralded transition to a "service economy") is now in full swing in the "professional" sector. Don't like paying an American web site pro $75K plus benefits? Hire one from India for $20K without benefits. Such a deal. It's an even better deal if you are the boss of that American pro you just laid off.

"Vote for us ... kind of" might be a better title to Arianna Huffington's latest rant against the Dems:
These dithering poltroons are so paralyzed by the fear of doing or saying something that could be turned against them in GOP attack ads they've rendered themselves utterly impotent when it comes to mounting any kind of challenge to President Bush on the two most important issues of the day: tax cuts and Iraq.
I agree. With but two notable exceptions (Robert Byrd and John Dean), the Dems are just hoping that they will get re-elected anyways.

On a similar note, I have been quite desparaging of the Democrats lately, and they deserve it. Still, they have one victory to their credit, and that is that they have tied a noose around the neck of any Republican who votes against extensions to jobless benefits. As The Day points out, the Republicans are always embarassed by forgetting about the plight of those laid off and unable to find new employment in this "new economy" of theirs.

[A side note: I didn't know who The Day was when I read this article. Out of curioustiy, I clicked "About The Day". I was expecting the usual drivel, but that is not what I got. This is must read stuff that will send you back to the days when American journalism was exactly that.]

I really have to wonder if Tom Friedman ever goes back and re-reads any of his columns. Don't get me wrong. I like Tom. Though we mostly disagree on things, he seems like an honest fellow, and he's got a great ability to occasionally toss out that show-stopping question. The first time I remember him doing this was late last year when he started a sentence by saying he support a war against Iraq, but ended it by asking, "Is Bush the man to run it?" That said a lot about Tom. A hawk? Yes, but a reluctant one.

It was that question of his that came to mind as I read his Passion for Peace column today. Tom starts with one of his frequent lauds of the Bush people for their "convictions", and then it comes:

... the question I always have about members of the Bush team is, How good are they at translating principles into practice? When it comes to breaking things they are very, very good — whether it is the ABM treaty, the Kyoto accord, Afghanistan, Iraq or the old way of Arab-Israeli peacemaking. The Bush people believe in power and are not afraid to wield the wrecking ball. But how good are they with a hammer and a nail? How good are they at the detail work of building real alternatives — to Kyoto, Saddam or the Arab-Israel peace process? This is still the most important unanswered question about this administration.
Now, I'll give Tom credit, as he does seem to recognize that this question is simply a time-displaced mirror of that first question that attracted me to him. But my question to Tom is this: How many times do you have to ask that question before you realize that you already know the answer?

We have Afghanistan, the UN, NATO, the EU, and now Iraq. How many more times do you have to see this, Tom, before you understand that your question has been quite well answered?

The Bush administration is indeed a wrecking ball, not only in foreign policy, but also in domestic, as Paul Krugman points out in "Stating the Obvious". It seems that the conservative Financial Times:
... suggests that "more extreme Republicans" actually want a fiscal train wreck: "Proposing to slash federal spending, particularly on social programs, is a tricky electoral proposition, but a fiscal crisis offers the tantalizing prospect of forcing such cuts through the back door."

Good for The Financial Times. It seems that stating the obvious has now, finally, become respectable.

It is indeed obvious. This administration does indeed want to kill any and all social programs from the New Deal forward. They know that the American public would never accept this, and so they are deliberately trying to destroy the American economy in an effort to force the issue.

What is (almost) unbelieveable about this is that they think that they will be allowed to remain in control of the government when this happens. And yet they indeed must remain in control, for if they do not, the reprisals enacted against the "elitist welfare" enacted by this administration will not only be rescinded, but look also for massive increases in top marginal rates in the income tax.

And I should not have to tell you that the Bushies are both aware and working on this problem of retaining control in every way that you can imagine and more.

Monday, May 26, 2003
A final salute to our veterens
this Memorial Day that I just recieved.
{Flash, 730K}
Bev Harris has a "new" site (to me, at least -- I just re-"discovered" it) out at BlackBoxVoting, and her new site has user commenting available on it. If you are not familiar with Bev, she is one of the leading advocates for the establishment of audit trails on our new touch pad voting machinery.

This is an incredibly important issue. These new touch pad machines have no audit trail available. If someone wishes to dispute a vote tally (your ordinary "re-count"), they are essentially out of luck. These computers will faithfully reproduce whatever errors they had the first time around, and there is nowhere else to look. But most disturbing is that the programs that run these machines are not available for public review, as they are copyright-protected by the vendors of this equipment. I have personally spent 40 years in around computers, and from what I've seen, these machines are so easy to tamper with that it is far more likely that they already have been that it is not.

Give Bev's site a check-out, and I also have a quite substantial page of links here.

Alan Greenspan took a message to Congress last week: Ecomonic growth is insufficient, and the tax cut is crap without matching spending cuts. The Congress, in a rubberstamping fury over the tax cut, was in little mood to hear it.

[Note: This article is best read after reading Krugman's deflation/liquidity article from this weekend. both of these guys are top-notch economists, and they are not painting a pretty picture.]

Just when you thought the news couldn't get any worse, along comes "Dr. Inequality" Kristin J. Forbes (no relation) and her appointment to the President's Council of Economic Advisers. Who is Kristin J. Forbes? Her claim to fame is a 17-page article published in in the American Economic Review that suggested that increasing the income desparity between the highest and lowest paid workers might actually promote economic growth. Sure, Kristin, but for whom?

  Memorial Day, 2003  
Alternative Perspectives

Doubletalk for veterans: We should be ashamed ~ Orlando Sentinel
Whether it's disability payments, medical care or pensions for the spouses of vets who have moved on to a better world -- promise after promise has been broken with political doubletalk year after year.

A Proud Nation Should Be Sorry ~ Los Angeles Times
Yes, regrettably, as it turns out, your buddies had to die in combat not in order to make the situation better in Iraq but, it seems, to make it worse and, of course, to get the president reelected. We're really, really, really sorry about that.

But, then, I guess when it comes right down to it, sorry just doesn't cut it now, does it?

162 Americans gave all in Iraq ~ Atlanta Journal Constitution
It seems like every single thing I sent to him was just sent back. So that means the whole time he was there he never received anything. I wonder, how did he feel? Did he think we weren't sending him anything?

We have no report. We have none of his stuff. I keep thinking, 'Who's taking care of him? He took care of everybody else. Now who's taking care of him?'

And several worthy repeats:

Bill Moyers on Being a Journalist
Every Memorial Day I think about what these men did and what we owe them. They didn't go through hell so Kenny Boy Lay could betray his investors and workers at Enron, or for a political system built on legal bribery. It wasn't for corporate tax havens in Bermuda, or an economic system driven by the law of the jungle, or so a handful of media buccaneers could turn the public airwaves into private sewers.

Needless Slaughter
What is happening? What is happening to us?

We just fought a war that didn't need to be fought. There was no real justification for sending those 300,000 men and women to Iraq to fight. Contrary to what Mr. Bush tried to convince this nation of, Saddam Hussein did not constitute an imminent danger to this nation. . . . We've lost 145 men and women killed -- not a great number but too great a number. We didn't need to lose any of them. And we killed thousands of men and women and children in Iraq! Thousands of 'em! That was needless slaughter.

-- Robert C. Byrd

And speaking of soldiers, what are we going to do with all those POWs enemy combatants being held on Guantanamo. Eighteen months and no charges, but we can hardly let them go. After all, they may be freedom fighters terrorists. But who just wants to give them room & board for free life?

I have an idea. Why don't we just build an execution chamber there, give them some quick trials tribunals, and be done with them. Once we've emptied the place, we can always use it for all of those disenfranchised citizens enemy combatants that we catch with Patriot II !

Sunday, May 25, 2003
Goodness! The UPI has finally caught up with the story of why Baghdad fell without a fight. Forget the fact that it has been blasted all over the liberal media for a month.

Way to get on top of the news, UPI! You have certainly earned your Raspberry Award for Media Ineptitude: Only two raspberries this time however. Simple incompetence simply does not desrve more. Besides, you guys haven't even approached the scope of the payoffs involved here.

  In The Mailbag  
Perhaps I should simply call this "Letters from MsFedup", because once again, she has "grabbed the brass ring" of making an appearence here.

This is a (typical of her writing) very long letter, but I offer it here in its entirety, both out of fairness to her and so that you can get an accurate sense of the level of her passion on the issues that divide us. As is usual, my response to her follows, and is (as usual) somewhat shorter.

Dear Benedict,

Let's face something here. You push around your ideas about who should lead in this country, or elsewhere for that matter. You shoot down common sense. You shoot down good sense. You shoot down anything that does not commit itself to the socialist point of view. As it were, you believe that failure vs. success, failure should lead. The problem with what you believe? That government, the failures, the weak and the nonprosperous should hold all the keys, all the power so that you have an easier time enslaving the portion of the population that is productive.

When people can sit there and actually believe they are right and justified in taking a huge portion of another's labors, they indeed do either of two things. They truly do not understand how a nation succeeds, grows and prospers for the greatest numbers and feel the failures, the lazy, the unproductive and the uncivilized should (and do) act as dictators and rulers..... or they completely understand all of it and seek to continue to get theirs by walking all over the backs of those that really do DO.

You fight conservatives and this administration for one reason and one reason only and it has nothing to do with feeling sorry for a few and not feeling sorry for millions of those that suffered and died. You fight because you fear the attitudes that say if you do not contribute to this society, nor lift a finger to do for yourselves what indeed you SHOULD do where government was never meant or put in place for you YOU DO NOT GET TO WIN. Your attitude is that one portion of the population is to support all those that choose not to support themselves. It has never been about those who truly cannot do for themselves.

Just like the issues of the Iraqi's or any other group of peoples. You all sit there and whine and demand what OTHERS MUST DO for you, and you sit there as sorry nothings that refuse to do anything to help yourselves. Oh but you are, aren't you? You are fighting tooth and nail to enslave all those that do!

I sit there and watch you all. What you support, how you fight, what YOU USE in order to legitimize your positions. All the while using, abusing and dictating other people that are trying to do the right things in this life. And yes, they are doing the right things. YOU are not doing the right things.

Honey, if people like myself and family are ever on the streets, it will be because of you and your side. Why? Because everything you push for and claim for yourselves you do not DESERVE, is not yours to claim. YOUR SIDE IS RUNNING OUR NATION INTO THE GROUND. They always have been. And if all of those like me and my family are on the streets dear one -- whose going to support, pay for, and run things? The failures? The fools? The do-nothings? The poor? The criminals? The weak? The afflicted? The welfare recipients? The stupid? The sheep? Yeah..... just like in Iraq with the majority of who Saddam did not kill off? Those that would and could be pounded into following? Where those that were successful, smart and of leadership quality were tortured, murdered or ran away? What happens when those like me and my family are killed off someday? You'll be left with all those that can't do anything.

Whose going to supply Social Security or welfare programs or EITC payments going to appear from? Whose going to actually get up and fight against those that would bomb you? Whose going to do the work Benedict? Whose going to grow that food you need? Whose going supply roof, electricity, water, food, clothing, medicine? Your beer and cigarettes? Whose going to work and pay for what makes this country tick? Where does it all come from? The failures? Those that won't work and sit there and do all they can to fight against those that actually produce -- the hand that feeds and supplies? Where they expect to be the ones that lead, though they cannot even lead their own lives to produce even for their own mouths much less someone else's?

Who Benedict? Whose gonna take my place and all those charitable dollars and hours upon hours of time spent helping all those that refuse? All those that turn their own heads at supporting their own little children? How are you going to replace all those like me that do so much FOR FREE just out of the goodness of our hearts, and the only reason we CAN do those things is because we fight to keep others from stealing our own labors?

Whose going to do it all Benedict? Oh I see.... you all should become the controllers and owners of all and the rest of us should work and do and spend as we are told to, right? By who? Again, those that can't or won't do?

All in all, as usual it is ruined by all those that can't or won't.

The Iraqi people have the chance to form a better way of life for themselves and what are they doing? Screaming all else must do it for them. Instead of digging in and helping in their own success, they want someone else to do it. This is exactly WHY they live in the world they live in.

You sit there and argue points based on what other liberals feed you. You sit right there and bite onto all the bait in the world over that seeks you out, to help fight its own cause. You get bent when I say I link to your superiors and find even more hogwash and blindness.

No, honey. Considering what you allow to lead you, you have no business leading anything else.

Why not for once, do your part, since you know so much about what failed people need and move your hindparts out there and make something real in difference in at least a few of their lives. No, but you won't.

What you are afraid of and what drives you and yours is that those who actually do it all may just get tired of being pushed around.

And yeah, that's about the gist of it. We are tired. We want to help those that can't do and we plan to continually work at that. But we are pulling back from all those hands that choose to turn our labors around on us, just to bite us and attempt to put chains around our necks.

In order for you to do that, you indeed will be in a war. And we are going to win that war.

Failures do not lead -- they are forever meant to be conquered for they have no ability to even properly understand right from wrong.

And right is most certainly ABSOLUTE.

I still love you all and I will forever try to work with people. But I will not put up with constantly being at the mercy of thieves, the ignorant, nor the failures that can't refuse to take responsibility for themselves. I don't care whether they are found in Iraq or right here.

Face it, what you all really fear in the dark of the night is that your free ride is leaving the train station without you. If you feel that way then get up off your haunches and try helping build and move that train forward by the sweat of your own brow like the rest of us do. Stop fighting for those things that seek to destroy all you claim to try to protect.

Protect? You are trying to destroy from within. You sit right there and cannot understand that this nation must look out for its own survival and interests first. You sit right there and FAIL to recognize that if we don't, those you support like in Europe -- they most certainly will step in and protect THEIR own interests at our expense.

You foolish and simple minded people. What do you believe all those in the UN were doing when they opposed this whole removal of Saddam? They wanted all that you accuse and fight your own nation over -- and if allowed -- would be doing all of your worst nightmares against us, against the Iraqi people, all of it.

You sit there and fight against Israel. The Jews have a small, tiny piece of the world to claim as their own.... and IT IS their piece of the world NOT the Palestinians. And what do you support? Strong arming a tiny minority of people to give up what little they have. Let the Palestinians be absorbed into other muslim lands then. THEY ARE either going to have to live with Israel peacefully, or should be DRIVEN OUT.

What do I really believe about your positions? I think you know. That's why you won't ever get me to link up with those that support your side or argue it much more than I do. Why? Because they are all FOOLS.

Those of us that actually DO think for ourselves, don't feel the need to constantly back our own opinions up with another. My gosh, not only do you back yourself up with other liberals, you pull dead people from the grave to quote and their thinking was as foolish as you and your charges. Strauss? I followed those links before only as far as it became apparently stupid to waste the time to go further.

So where are the links to show how liberal educators warped and reprogrammed your mind into thinking their way -- where they essentially brain washed you?

Honey, conservatism does not brain wash. It presents the truth you can't handle.

-- MsFedup    

    And my response:
My dear MsFedup,

This is just elitist crap! This is a democracy (or as you would argue, a democratic republic) where each person has an equally weighted vote. If it happens under such a system that more people are failing than are winning, then yes, failure can indeed lead. But that is an inherent feature of democratic voting. When most people are winning, the winners rule. When most people are losing however, the losers rule. It is this very balance that democratic voting offers a society. It is indeed it's sole advertisement! The few cannot advance on the backs of the many without pulling a bunch of the many along with them. To the extent that the few fail to do this, they lose power at the voting booth.

You would prefer to call this communism or marxism or socialism or some other "ism", but it is not. It is the very essense of the democratic vote. And yes, the democratic vote does indeed force upon the individual an obligation to the society. You however would prefer to claim that no such obligation exists on any but a voluntary level, but that is simply not the case in any society that chooses democratic voting as its form of government. An obligation does indeed exist, and that obligation is imposed by the very fact that those acting against the interests of the greater population necessarily lose their power to effect legislation by their own decision to not meet that obligation.

What you are arguing against then is democratic voting itself. You would replace this with control by an elite minority whose sole interests in passing laws would be that they would in fact remain that elite minority. While this would certainly be considered "enlighten self-interest" and while each person in the society certainly retains the option to act only with enlightened self-interest, those who choose to do so in a democracy inevitably lose political power in that same democracy.

As for the remainder of your letter, yes, I did indeed read it through all the way. It can be summed up quite nicely in your statement:
The failures? The fools? The do-nothings?
The poor? The criminals? The weak? The afflicted?
The welfare recipients? The stupid? The sheep?
This statement is quite telling. Clearly, you hold in very low opinion anyone and everyone who does not believe as firmly as you do in the "enlightened elite". You are very good at calling those who do not believe as you do names, but you offer nothing in terms of solutions outside of your constant rant, "Tell them to get to work!" Tell who to get to work? The 46 million people without healthcare insurance? Most of them in fact do work, and many of them at multiple jobs. But this fact is inconvenient to your argument, and so you simply brush it off the table as a "liberal lie".

You are clearly a Straussian.

But you say that you are willing to help, so long as it is on a voluntary basis. OK. Time to put up or shut up.

You have indicated to me that you are quite pleased with the amount of tax "relief" that you will be receiving under the new tax reduction. While I am happy for you, you are no doubt aware that every single penny of this relief is coming from borrowed money. Money that will have to be paid back in the future. Money that cannot be paid back in the future without a vibrant workforce that can produce sufficient tax revenues for the repayment of these loans. And you say that you are willing to help. Good! Here's how:

Take your tax "relief" and invest all of it in the charities of your choice. Charities that you feel offer the best chance of taking all of your failures, fools, do-nothings, poor, criminals, weak, afflicted, welfare recipients, stupid, and sheep and turn them into the willing paticipants in your utopia.

But of course, you will not do this. It's your money! you will claim, even though it was borrowed. All of which puts to rest your claim that you give a shit about anyone but yourself. And all of which demonstates my claim: That you are simply just one more elitist trying to figure out a way to hide your greed behind "lofty principles".

"Let them eat cake!" you proclaim proudly, and so they will. Just as with Marie Antoinette, it will indeed be your cake that they eat.

And that is not any "ism" that you want to throw my way; it is simply what you hate most: democtatic voting and majority rule.

-- Benedict    

New York Times Commentary:

Paul Krugman wants you to sit in one one of his Economics classes in "Fear of a Quagmire?". Today's lesson is in deflationary spirals and liquidity traps. The first is when prices for goods start falling. Sounds like a good idea, except that if they fall too much or for too long, the companies that make these goods can't pay their bills, and that sounds like a bad idea. The way governments fight this sort of thing is to lower interest rates, but what if they can't be lowered far enough? That's the liquidity trap. Heady stuff, for sure.

Of course, the reason Paul wants to talk about these is that he sees the U.S. as potentially at the begining of such a quagmire. He sees our economy as looking much like the economy of Japan did just before their liquidity trap, and if he is right, we are about to enter the jaws of a long-term recession.

Google: deflationary spiral, liquidity trap.

The suspense is killing Molly Ivins in "Yo, Ayatollahs!". About what?
The C.I.A. is snooping around itself and other spy agencies to see if prewar reports of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and ties to Al Qaeda were exaggerated. ... The delicious part is that the review was suggested by Donald Rumsfeld, a main culprit in twisting the intelligence to justify a strike on Baghdad. It's like O. J. vowing to find the real killer.
Molly is figuring that this will be fairly slow however. How so? She thinks this report will come out just after we make Iran our 52nd state.

Tom Friedman is afraid of Suadi Arabia in "Hummers Here, Hummers There". The problem, he says, is that the Saudi government may simply be incapable of instituting the reforms necessary to stop their country from being used as a breeding ground for extremists. Adding to that problem is the fact that we are not able to confront them directly because of our dependency on oil. ("Addicts never tell the truth to their pushers.") But:
... we also need to tell ourselves the truth. We constantly complain about the blank checks the Saudis write to buy off their extremists. But who writes the blank checks to the Saudis? We do — with our gluttonous energy habits, renewed addiction to big cars, and our president who has made "conservation" a dirty word. ... President Bush won't tell Americans the truth, so we won't tell Saudis the truth, so they won't tell their extremists the truth, so they can go on pumping intolerance and we can go on guzzling gas.
Legally Speaking:

The New Yorker magazine offers an excellent review of what is going on in the judicial nomination process in the Senate, and frames it in terms of its historical context. Has it always been like this? No, but this is hardly the first time the process has shown a few rough edges.

With anecdotes from the current fights, a review of the (often shifting) ideologies involved, and a thorough reference to history, this is "must reading" for anyone following these debates. The bottom line? Forget about all the fancy talk of ideology. It's all about politics, and pretty much has been since the beginning.

CalState's Dr. Michael Byron says Jefferson Was Right:
Most Americans don’t know it but Thomas Jefferson, along with James Madison worked assiduously to have an 11th Amendment included into our nation’s original Bill of Rights. This proposed Amendment would have prohibited “monopolies in commerce.” The amendment would have made it illegal for corporations to own other corporations, or to give money to politicians, or to otherwise try to influence elections. Corporations would be chartered by the states for the primary purpose of “serving the public good.” Corporations would possess the legal status not of natural persons but rather of “artificial persons.” This means that they would have only those legal attributes which the state saw fit to grant to them. They would NOT; and indeed could NOT possess the same bundle of rights which actual flesh and blood persons enjoy. Under this proposed amendment neither the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution, nor any provision of that document would protect the artificial entities known of as corporations.
While Jefferson obviously didn't win his 11th Amendment fight, that fight continues today in the form of a Citizens’ Sovereignty Amendment proposal:
No Corporation, Association, or fictitious entity shall be deemed a ‘person’ for purposes of this Constitution, nor shall such entities be entitled to the protections or rights enumerated herein. ...
If you are not familiar with this issue or the efforts being made to address it, it would be worth your while to check it out. In particular, check out the work of Thom Hartmann.

Google: Citizens' Sovereignty Amendment, Thom Hartmann.

Saturday, May 24, 2003
  War!   Huh!   What Is It Good For?  
Lots of things, actually:

Victims of the peace decide Americans are worse than Saddam:

After seven days of travelling by foot and by donkey from Khanaqin, 1,500 of the tribe ended up in the abandoned prison, 30 miles north of Baghdad. They had nowhere else to go. ...

The tribe has appealed for help to the coalition forces, but no one has even visited them. They have eaten or sold almost all their animals, and have only a week left of food. Now they hate the Americans.

“None of the American promises has happened. It is unbelievable what has happened,” Mr Yassim said.

His son concludes: “We have discovered that Saddam is better than the Americans.”

We don’t do body counts
General Tommy Franks, US Central Command
Surveys pointing to high civilian death toll in Iraq: The Christian Science Monitor focuses in on efforts by various agencies to establish realistic civilian death tolls both in Baghdad and in all of Iraq, something that the US Department of Defense has refused to do. Of course, if you have been watching, you pretty much already know the latest count. [Current Minimum: 5425 and rising]

[Note: Franks' assertion to the contrary, the military always does body counts, and always distinguishes between military and civilian. Knowing how many soldiers are left is essential to planning efforts for coming battles. If Franks was not lying when he said this, then he was an incompetent commander. That the press allowed him to get away with this statement unchallenged speaks pitifully for the state of journalism today.]

Bush 'is on brink of catastrophe': Richard Lugar, Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, warns President Bush that he is in danger of creating “an incubator for terrorist cells and activity” unless it increased the scope and cost of its reconstruction efforts. How much more money do we need?
“I want to see evidence that the Administration is in this for the long haul to create a stable, democratic Iraq, and to acknowledge that this will place a significant burden on the American people,” Mr Lugar said. He referred to estimates that the reconstruction of Iraq may cost $100 billion, compared to the $2.5 billion approved by Congress so far.

Depleted Uranium is the 'backbone' of armour-piercing munitions. The problem is that it is hardly 'depeted'. Quite radioactive and with a half-life of billions of years, 375 tons tons of it litter Iraq from Gulf War I, and 1,100-2,200 tons were used in Gulf War II. It is often cited as the cause of the 'Gulf War Syndrome'.
(BBC link to depleted uranium articles.)

Iraqi fears over depleted uranium:

"Many in the medical community are worried that malignancies will rise very quickly in the future because so many people will be exposed to depleted uranium residue throughout the country," said Ranna Abdel Karim, a doctor at Baghdad's Children's Hospital.
I must however make some corrections to CNN's abuse of adjectives here. "mildly radioactive" and "low-level" radioactive wastes refer to metals with about 80% of the radioactivity that powers our nuclear electric plants (That's where they get the stuff from. It's free!) and it takes 4.5 billion years to degrade to half of that radioactivity. The pentagon however insists that it is non-toxic.

Afghans' uranium levels spark alert: Allied forces claim that they did not use Depleted Uranium in Afghanistan. Well, they used something:
Without exception, every person donating urine specimens tested positive for uranium internal contamination.

The results were astounding: the donors presented concentrations of toxic and radioactive uranium isotopes between 100 and 400 times greater than in the Gulf veterans tested in 1999.

If UMRC's Nangarhar findings are corroborated in other communities across Afghanistan, the country faces a severe public health disaster... Every subsequent generation is at risk.

Google: Depleted Uranium.

War? What is it good for?    Absolutely nothing!
Only 9 days until the FCC vote. Don't let Michael Powell give our
   airwaves away. Contact Free Press to make your voice heard.

  • "Monopolization may well erode the vibrant marketplace of ideas that is so essential to modern American democracy. If the FCC is going to reduce competition in the industry, it should at least do so in an open, transparent and public way. The elimination of a diversity of opinions on the airwaves, on the Internet and in print must not be debated behind closed doors." -- Marvin Johnson, ACLU Legislative Counsel

  • ACLU Press Release: ACLU Calls for Preservation of Diversity In American Media Markets and Greater FCC Transparency
  • Media Monopoly vs. Democracy ~ The upcoming FCC decision pits Madison and Jefferson against media moguls. Let's hope the founding fathers win.
  Democrats With Guts:  
All two of them!
Robert Byrd speaks with the Washington Post in "The Senator Votes Nay" [great article!]:
And what is this binge we're on in defense spending? I'm a strong defense man. I supported Johnson and Nixon on Vietnam. I've supported strong defense ever since I got to Congress. But here they are, asking for $15 billion over last year. And last year was 15 percent over the previous year. And the previous year was 10 percent over the previous year. What do we want all this for? We're already spending more than the other 18 NATO nations combined, plus the eight rogue nations!

What are we gonna do with all this? What new worlds do they want to conquer now? We went through Iraq like a dose of salts. We were told by this president that Saddam Hussein constituted an imminent threat to our security. Bunk! That man couldn't even get a plane off the ground!

Google: Robert Byrd.

With all of the crap that Howard Dean has been getting from the DNC lately, it's no wonder that he's now acting like he's the only one running for the Democratic nomination. And after reading "During Davneport visit, Dean rips into Bush, not Democratic rivals", he may actually be right:
But as much as Dean, one of the nine people running for the 2004 Democratic nomination for the presidency, ripped into the Bush administration on a slew of domestic issues during the second “Hear it from the Heartland” forum, it was the passion he unleashed on the president’s foreign policy that brought 200 Democrats at Davenport’s RiverCenter to their feet Sunday.

Dean, his voice rising, accused the administration of failing to deliver money to local police agencies to help them guard against terrorist attacks, and of talking tough on homeland security but doing little about it.

Instead, he said, the administration took the country to war against Iraq and bullied others along the way.

“This president has used humiliation as a weapon — not only against our enemies, but also against our friends,” Dean said. And he warned on Iraq: “Every day that goes by we are seen as occupiers and not liberators.”

Google: Howard Dean.
Consoling Lies:
  The long reach of Leo Strauss  
William Pfaff offers another glimpse into the philosophy of Leo Strauss, the father "patron saint" of Neoconservatism and our current foreign policy:
Society, Strauss thought, needs consoling lies. ... Hence it has been necessary to tell lies to people about the nature of political reality. An elite recognizes the truth, however, and keeps it to itself. This gives it insight, and implicitly power that others do not possess. ... The ostensibly hidden truth is that expediency works; there is no certain God to punish wrongdoing; and virtue is unattainable by most people. ... There is a natural hierarchy of humans, and rulers must restrict free inquiry and exploit the mediocrity and vice of ordinary people so as to keep society in order.
Google: Leo Strauss, Neoconservative.
Friday, May 23, 2003
The Continental Divide
The distance between the United States and Europe is slowly growing wider--about an inch each year, geologists estimate, due to the expansion of the Atlantic Ocean. As far back as the years following own own Revolutionary War however, our political differences have almost continually shrunk. Not so any more: United States and Europe Experience Continental Drift.
Bill Moyers offers some comments for the Memorial Day weekend about being a journalist, being a soldier, and being an American:
Every Memorial Day I think about what these men did and what we owe them. They didn't go through hell so Kenny Boy Lay could betray his investors and workers at Enron, or for a political system built on legal bribery. It wasn't for corporate tax havens in Bermuda, or an economic system driven by the law of the jungle, or so a handful of media buccaneers could turn the public airwaves into private sewers.

Sure, to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, freedom makes it possible for people to be crooks, but so does communism, and fascism, and monarchy. Democracy is about doing better.

Memorial Day Weekend: With everyone off for the weekend, I'm expecting that the news will be a bit slight for a few days. (At least we can hope!) I've got some articles I've been working on, and maybe I can finish up one of two of them. I'm also going to be beating the bushes trying to find a remotely hosted commenting system that's still accepting enrollments.    Got it!

Anyways, if my usual volume drops off a bit, not to fret.
I'm still here, and I'm still working!

Only 10 days until the FCC vote. Don't let Michael Powell give our
   airwaves away. Contact Free Press to make your voice heard.

  • The cannot be a more convincing piece of evidence against relaxing media ownership requirements than the fact that with even the current requirements, this story isn't making it into mainstream coverage.

  • US Media Monopoly Dangers Raise More Concern ~ The FCC vote is important enought to headline in the UK's Guardian newspaper. Why is it buried here?
  • FCC lives large off lobbyist bribes ~ It's all legal, too! $2.8 million since 1995. Must be a nice job if you can get it.
Getting It (Far) Right: was not too impressed with Senator Byrd's latest speech before the Senate, and indeed was quite ugly about it in "KKK Byrd in Rhetorical Cross-Burning Over Iraq War". In addition to the obvious title reference to Byrd's former ties with the KKK, eight of the nine paragraphs in this article did nothing but repeat this theme time and again. (The ninth paragraph is a one-sentence quote from Byrd's speech.)

It is curious to note however that offered nothing to refute the senator's claims, but instead simply objected to his right to say them. I guess the Bill of (the) Rights starts with Amendment II. offers "The Nobel Peacenik Prize", in which they claim that the Nobel Peace Prize selection has been stolen by the Left. The evidence for this? It seems that they keep awarding the prize to people who work for peace. This I guess means that the committee has not bought into the War=Peace school of thought, and therefor are certainly leftist radicals.

Of course, what this article is really about is an attempt to delegitimize the award itself. With the hawks knowing that they will never get this award, they simply need to ruin it for everyone who does.

In spite of articles like this, editor David Horowitz is in deep doo-doo with Concerned Women of America. CWA is demanding an appology from Horowitz for his article "Pride Before a Fall", in which he suggests that Republicans should at least tolerate homosexuals. Such tolerance would not mean approval, he says, but it would be better than the current stigmatizing and shunning of them.

Of course, that is simply not homophobic enough for CWA, and so Dave (like Senator Byrd) must now shut up.

Meanwhile, President Bush has figured out the cause of starvation in Africa: Europe. It seems that Europe has banned genetically-modified food, and this in turn has made African farmers reluctent to plant such crops for fear of not having a market for them. And then somehow they starve.

Question: Does George really believe this crap, or is he actually aware that he is simply shilling for the U.S. agri-giants that make these seeds?

Minimalist imperialists:
We won the war. It's all over with. "Move along, folks. There's nothing to see here."

From Molly Ivins: Um, Folks, This Doesn't Look Like Victory

Much as I hate to interrupt what is apparently a deeply felt triumphalism on the American right, now that it's over, does anyone see any reason for our having invaded Iraq?

I realize that's what we all kept trying to figure out before the invasion, but don't you think it should at least be visible in hindsight? Good thing we won the war, because the peace sure looks like a quagmire.

Perhaps we're well along the road to having everything work out magnificently, and I'm just missing it. Still, I can't see anything that's going right.

Iraq is in chaos, and apparently the only way we'll be able to stop it will be to kill a lot of Iraqis. Just what Saddam used to do.

From Gene Lyons: A victory (of sorts) in Iraq
In Baghdad, chaos and savagery ruled. No sooner had U.S. Marines pulled down Saddam Hussein's statue than the undermanned force's inability to assure law and order became clear. Troops stood helplessly by as mob violence swept the country. "Since the American takeover," writes Hassan Fattah in The New Republic, "Baghdad has turned into an Arab version of the Watts riots. Burning buildings dot the city skyline. Armed looters terrorize the population, tearing into homes and emptying them of their possessions.... Street crime was infrequent under Saddam, but today random rapes, carjackings and murders have become commonplace in many parts of the city, and as a result women have virtually disappeared from the streets. At Baghdad's Al Nouman Hospital, sources say 35 women who were raped and left for dead have been brought into the ward in recent weeks."
From the Boston Phoenix: From Afghanistan and Iraq to Al Qaeda, the Bushies’ willingness to declare victory in unfinished wars could come back to haunt the White House — and the country. Minimalist imperialists:
Whatever the truth about Al Qaeda, its renewed assault has reminded Americans that the Bush White House’s victory lap was a tad premature. Unfinished business remains ... The victory declared on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln has already faded into uncertainty with a few well-placed explosives and suicide attacks.
And perhaps most disturbing of all: "Boys will be boys." If you have been following along with me, this was a comment last week explaining why children in Iraq were beening killed when undetonated ordinace suddenly blew up in their hands.

It seems that there is a reason why the children of Iraq are "playing" with undetonated ordinace. It's because they are hungry. What does that have to do with bombs? Their shell casings are made out of brass, and brass can be sold. For food!

Much like our own homeless, the children of Iraq are collecting tradable metals. One problem. Brass isn't worth a dime if there is an explosive inside. So these children are trying to open these shells and remove it.

So they can eat!

Thursday, May 22, 2003
Welcome to siege culture: No one can really agrue against the Amber Alert laws recently passed. Who wouldn't want to help find an abducted child? Yet, according to FBI statistics, the total number of children abducted by strangers nationwide in an average year is around 100. While each of these is certainly tragic, as social problems go, this one barely moves the Richter Scale. So how does something like this gain such national attention while other problems of far greater magnitude stay hidden?

The problem is the media and the ease with which they serve up a siege mentality, according to Steve Perry in "They're Always Scheming Against Us":

We live in a siege culture now, obsessed with inventing new ways to assure that they don't get us. The express premise of the war on terror--a war we've been told we'll live with for a generation--is that there's a whole world out there filled with jealous ne'er-do-wells who hate us for our affluence and virtue. ... The picture sketched by the Bush administration has a Brothers Grimm quality to it--simple virtue beset by boundless peril. The news media, especially the TV outlets where most Americans get their news, excel at serving up this stuff, along with more quotidian variations on the same theme.
Norman Solomon follows up on this thought in "Decoding The Media Fixation On Terrorism":
By now, it's a media ritual. Whenever the U.S. government raises the alert level for terrorism -- as when officials announced the orange code for "high risk" on May 20 -- local, regional and national news stories assess the dangers and report on what's being done to protect us. We're kept well-informed about how worried to be at any particular time. But all that media churning includes remarkably little that has any practical utility. ... What we usually fail to notice -- and what mainstream media will be the last to tell us -- is that news coverage of terrorism is routinely subjective, even arbitrary.
States across the U.S. are facing massive budget shortfalls. From today's Boston Phoenix comes two related stories of some of the things Massachusetts is doing because of this. There is nothing specific to Massachusetts about these stories; they will be repeated many times over around the country:
  • Meeting our obligations ~ Out of sight, out of mind, cuts in Medicaid are being used to balance the state budget on the backs of the poor.

  • Sentencing addicts to death ~ Cutting state funding for detox programs will take a human toll, and it’s not even good fiscal policy.
Alan Bisbort sounds off against the media in "Teed Off: The press corps as collective caddie". He is wondering what all the fuss over Jayson Blair is about. What is Jason making up his news stories and a press that won't even print the news they have:
Why, indeed, does one need journalists when a publicist's press release ends up, nearly verbatim, in the next day's paper, on the evening TV news or repeatedly shouted through the megaphone of hate radio most of the conduits of which are owned by the same corporation, Clear Channel? ... Is it any wonder that 70 percent of the people approve of Bush's actions? Where would they obtain a different view?

What is baffling about the passivity of the press corps is the same thing that is baffling about the passivity of the Congress: What, exactly, do journalists or legislators get out of the deal? Usually when one side compromises, it is assumed that the other side will then give something in return. What has the press received for their lapdog behavior? Certainly not honesty or even better access to the president. What has the Congress received for their lockstep approvals of this man's agenda? More right-wing judge nominations, gutted environmental laws, ignored international treaties, etc., as well as a 24-hour smear campaign should they, even timidly (think Daschle) ask a few questions.

Only 11 days until the FCC vote. Don't let Michael Powell give our
   airwaves away. Contact Free Press to make your voice heard.

  • "When you have that kind of power, you have too much power. I believe we need to re-regulate the media, go back to limiting the number of stations that can be controlled in one particular area, so we can be sure that the American people get moderate, conservative and liberal points of view." ~ Howard Dean on media consolidation

  • The Great Media Gulp ~ Conservative William Safire views the June 2nd vote as the most controversial decision in yhe history of the FCC, and he thinks we should have a chance to talk it over.
  • Airwaves Heating Up ~ interviews Michael Copps, one of the five FCC commissioners, who speaks out against megamedia.
Short Takes:

Tommy Franks has decided to retire instead of accepting an offer to serve as the Army’s chief of staff. The general says that, among other things, he'll probably be hitting the lecture circuit. Perhaps he will even be lecturing in Belgium.

With the attack dogs of the DNC nipping on Howard Dean's tail, it seems that he's headed to the internet to get his message out, this time vith an interview at truthout. Dean covers a lot of ground in this interview, so it is definitely a must read.

Is there any other Democrat in Congress besides Robert Byrd who has any balls left?
When it comes to shedding American blood - - when it comes to wreaking havoc on civilians, on innocent men, women, and children, callous dissembling is not acceptable. Nothing is worth that kind of lie - - not oil, not revenge, not reelection, not somebody's grand pipedream of a democratic domino theory.

And mark my words, the calculated intimidation which we see so often of late by the "powers that be" will only keep the loyal opposition quiet for just so long. Because eventually, like it always does, the truth will emerge. And when it does, this house of cards, built of deceit, will fall.

Naturally, the White House dismissed Byrd's speech.

Do you change your behavior when the terror threat status goes up? CNN has the answer. (Poll) Do you even know how many times they have raised and lowered the threat level? (Chart ~ Fun to play with!)

Speaking of polls, it seems that Pennsylvanians don't care about Santorum's homophobia, with his approval rating there remaining at 55 percent. Of course, the same poll showed that 58 percent of Pennsylvanians are also homophobic.

The President did not fare so well however, with his overall approval rating dropping from 71 percent during the war down to its current 62 percent. [Could someone please tell me why the President's overall rating is always so much higher than his ratings in individual catagories?]

The quite conservative CATO Institute recently released its report on government abuse of the Grand Jury system. [Executive Summary with downloadable PDF.]

The Charleston Gazette is upset over the falsified Pentagon reports about home state hero, Pfc. Jessica Lynch, used to boost patriotic support for President Bush’s war on Iraq.

Texas State GOP Chairwoman Susan Weddington says, "God will protect the work we're doing" in Texas. But she didn't really mean it. She really meant that God would protect her "from the people who attempt to malign". She aslo says that the Democratic walkout that shut down the state House was "criminal wrongdoing". But she didn't really mean that either. She really meant that it "probably should be."

Hey, Sue! Do you think God will protect me from politicians who speak out both sides of their mouth?

The White House has installed a new security system against WMDs (Words of Mass Destruction).
As you are no doubt aware, Harald T. Nesvik, a Right-wing Norwegian Member of Parliament, has nominated U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.S. President George W. Bush for the Nobel Peace Prize for their "decisive action against terrorism". This nomination is nothing short of outrageous. The winner of the Nobel Peace Prize "shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses," none of which can be thought of as charactizing the efforts the President and Prime Minister.

Please join with me and the 33,000 other people who have signed this petition to the Nobel Prize committee asking them to reject this nomination.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003
Terrorism at Yale? My, my, my. Who would have guessed? A targetted attack on Skull and Bones perhaps?

For any of you terrorists afficienados however, this isn't the "rugheads". New England has a proud tradition of supporting unions, and Yale has been a standout at telling the unions to to go take a crap. This is just the ordinary American worker telling Yale to similarly go take a crap. Do I know this for a fact? Not hardly, but I'd love to make some money from you if you are a betting person.

Only 12 days until the FCC vote. Don't let Michael Powell give our
   airwaves away. Contact Free Press to make your voice heard.

  • During Election 2000, there were exactly 704 stories in the campaign about this flap of Gore inventing the Internet. There were only 13 stories about Bush failing to show up for his National Guard duty for a year. There were well over 1,000 stories -- Nexus stopped at 1,000 -- about Gore and the Buddhist temple. Only 12 about Bush being accused of insider trading at Harken Energy. There were 347 about Al Gore wearing earth tones, but only 10 about the fact that Dick Cheney did business with Iran and Iraq and Libya. Michael Powell thinks that the internet is sufficient to counter this clear bias in mainstream media.

  • Will the FCC Help Big Media Get Even Bigger? ~ Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting's latest statement on Powell's proposed relaxing of FCC ownership prohibitions.
  • Less Info, More 'Tainment ~ challenges Michael Powell to answer just three questions. Wanna bet Michael doesn't? - get the card deck
Know Your War Profiteers
Finally, it's out! At last you can get your very own deck of cards to help you identify all those folks who made lots of money on the Iraq War. Preview the deck, download a PDF, or even order a set through the mail.
Short Takes:

Nero Revisited: States burn, Congress fiddles
Rep. Bill Thomas, a California Republican who is the top tax-writer in the House, resisted putting state aid in his tax package on the argument that states "spent their way into this problem." That's a really galling comment, considering that the states lost billions of dollars because of the giant tax cut passed by Congress in 2001 and will lose billions more from this year's federal tax cut.

The problem with socialism, noted Oscar Wilde, that most social of socialists, was that it took "too many evenings." Wilde was of course referring to the fact that his Socialism required an almost continuous dedication to the practice of politics. Conservatism, he felt, required far less commitment. Not so today, notes Harold Meyerson in "GOP Gamesmanship". The "conservatism" practiced by today's Rebulbican Party is indeed a 24/7 type of operation.

[Note: Today's Republican Party, in spite of their protestations to the contrary, has absolutely nothing to do with traditional conservatism. In fact, their views are as radical as those of the American Communist and Marxist movements.]

Another great effort by Media Lens: "Orwell's Memory Hole". Dave Edwards is a mad dog, and though he mostly targets his work at the British press (as in this article), wouldn't it be great to have someone like him stateside? If you haven't yet tasted his work, grab this link, and after you are done, look up the index of his articles. You'll understand why I am such a big fan of his.

I've been racking my brain, trying to reconcile the ever-widening chasm between what the White House claims to be true and what is actually true. After all, we know the president and his men are not stupid. ... The best explanation I can come up with for the growing gap between their rhetoric and reality is that we are being governed by a gang of out-and-out fanatics.
Arianna Huffington takes a look at "A White House Fluent in Language of Fanatics".

We spend far more on health care than any other country. We quite likely have the best doctors and hospitals, and certainly have the best technology. Why then do we lag behind other countries in life expectancy? Perhaps, says Anne Applebaum, we are spending too much where it is unnecessary, and too little where it is: "Health Care That Spares No Expense".

Matthew Riemer of tells of the ultimate conspiracy theory in "America's favorite conspiracy theory: the moral argument". Though written as a refutation of an earlier Time Magazine article [$$$] by Michael Kinsley, the article stands quite well on its own. Riemer's argument is essentially that all other conspiracy theories actually are encompassed within a single one: the continuous effort by the American government to portray its motives as altruistic when in actuality this is simply a smoke-screen behind which it hides its real motive of corporate expansionism. While I am not sure whether Matt's portrayal of this as a conspiracy is a heartfelt belief of his or merely his way of framing this, this is still your typical well-written article.
RE-ELECT BUSH: Because You've Waited For Armageddon Long Enough

  Today's Terror Threat:  

Tuesday, May 20, 2003
A new feature of Benedict@Large: Google searches on key names and groups at the bottom of many of my posts. While it will probably take me more time to do this than all of you will spend using them, I'll be putting them there to make it a bit easier for you to continue researching many of the names I use in my posts. If you find something of interest in what I write, simply click the appropriate link to learn more. Knowledge is, after all, our best defense.
  Fundamentally Speaking:  
The "road map" to Israeli/Palestinian peace is "heresy". Or at least it is so according to the "Interfaith Zionist Leadership Summit". who just ended their convention in Washington. Calling the plan "a Satanic road map", the approximately 1,000 participants debated how evangelical Christians could best unite with Jews to support Israel.

"The Bible is their 'Road Map' ", both sides agreed. Israel was "owned by God" before God gave it to the Zionists, and mere man cannot undo God's gift to them.

Of course, this is all quite silly. Both the Christian Fundamentalists and the Zionists think that they are simply using the blindness of each other to achieve quite different goals. The Christian Fundamentalists, eager for the "Rapture" promised in Revelations, believe that they are assisting Israel merely to hasten the "Second Coming of Christ", and that when He returns, a mere 144,000 Jews will convert. The rest of them, according to the Fundies< will be swatted away in anguish. The Zionists however "know" this to be bullshit, but as long as the Fundies think it is true, why not simply use them and their political power in the meantime? To both of them then, this is the best of both worlds. Ally with my enemy because I have fooled him into thinking that he is not.

While they are both playing these games however, they are exposing the rest of us to the Hell of random terror attacks. While the Zionists and the Christian Fundamentalists align themselves with each other in a quite fictitious "Common Cause", their games of "homeland" and "Rapture" threaten the very existence of all of us.

Google:Interfaith Zionist Leadership Summit, Revelations and the Rapture, Second Coming of Christ, Zionism, Zionism and Christian Fundamentalism.

Something new (at least to me) has emerged regarding the Riyadh terrorist attacks. It seems that all three of the targeted compounds are associated with the Vinnell Corporation. Who is the Vinnell Corporation? Ever heard of The Carlyle Group? And that's just for starts. This company trains mercenaries in various regions of the globe. They have recruited, trained, and supplied a group of people whom we would consider terrorists. Vinnell has been paid more than $800 million by our government since 1994 for "training and construction."

It seems then that these targets were hardly your typical civilian "soft targets". These gated compounds were clearly deliberately targeted for their association with Vinnell and Carlyle. But you won't hear that on your nightly news.

Google: Vinnell Corporation, Carlyle Group. [Source: "Who's Lying to Whom?"]