Monday, February 28, 2005

War? That's for the Poor

Here's another of the fun images a friend forwarded on.

This image would be good for a laugh if it weren't so sad

Got this image from a friend. Posting it because a picture is worth a thousand words.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

You can be both "Right" and Wrong

Out for my morning run - long one today - bit of a pissing rain, as it seems to be this February. Got to thinking, as usual. Here's my thought for the day:

Many self proclaimed "right" wingers work to force their objectives and agenda on the masses because they truly believe they are right.

However, simply because you are speaking from the conservative "right" wing perspective, does not mean you are correct in your agenda, opinion, or assumption about a particular issue. I call this, "just because you say you are from the "right," does not mean you are correct," corollary.

There is a secondary corollary to this notion: Many of these self-appointed "leaders" swing also from the Christian side of the argument. That is, they use a "moral" approach to serving up their agenda. Hence the corollary: Just because you can quote the bible to support your viewpoint, does not mean that you are not a bigot.

That's about it to my line of thinking from the AM run, but I did slide into humming, Joe Jackson's tune "Right & Wrong," from the Big World Album. Stuck in my head, I'll leave you with the lyrics:

Stop everything
I think I hear the president
The pied piper of the tv screen
Is gonna make it simple
And he’s got it all mapped out
And illustrated with cartoons
Too hard for clever folks to understand
They’re more used to words like:
Ideology . . .
They’re not talkin’ ’bout right and left
They’re talkin’ ’bout

Right and wrong - do you know the difference
Right and wrong - do you know the difference
’tween the right and the left and the east and the west
What you know and the things that you’ll never see

So what ya think
You like the yankees or the mets this year
And what about this latest war of words
And what about the commies
I saw the news last night
All illustrated with cartoons
So when they come with that opinion poll
They better not use words like
Ideology . . .
Or try to tell me ’bout the issues
Ideology . . .
Whose side are you on
We’re talkin’ ’bout

Right and wrong - do you know the difference
Right and wrong - do you know the difference
’tween the right and the left and the east and the west
What you know and the things that you’ll never see

Where are we?

Right and wrong - do you know the difference
Right and wrong - do you know the difference
’tween the right and the left and the east and the west
What you know and the things that you’ll never see

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Genocide? A pleasant topic for the weekend

Just wondering: How many dead bodies are requisite to certify an operation as genocide?

The number of Iraqi civilians killed so far may just amount to that, no?

According to the UN, Genocide is defined as such:

The term was coined in 1943 by the Jewish-Polish lawyer Raphael Lemkin who combined the Greek word "genos" (race or tribe) with the Latin word "cide" (to kill).

After witnessing the horrors of the Holocaust - in which every member of his family except his brother and himself was killed - Dr Lemkin campaigned to have genocide recognised as a crime under international law.

Genocide is... both the gravest and greatest of the crimes against humanity

Alain Destexhe
His efforts gave way to the adoption of the UN Convention on Genocide in December 1948, which came into effect in January 1951.

Article Two of the convention defines genocide as "any of the following acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

  • Killing members of the group
  • Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group
  • Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part
  • Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group
  • Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group

The convention also imposes a general duty on states that are signatories to "prevent and to punish" genocide.

Ever since its adoption, the UN treaty has come under fire from different sides, mostly by people frustrated with the difficulty of applying it to different cases.

Here are few links to help us decide:

Link 1: The Web Genocide Documentation Centre
Link 2: Genocide Watch
Link 3: Prevent Genocide International

The Makings of a Hero

Listening to Folk Songs and Beyond on 91.7. One of the talking heads had a qood question just moments ago. What happened to the living and breathing heroes? He claimed that, as it happens, many heroes of the day are fictionial. There is a tremendous dearth of real life, living and breathing heroic types.

If you were to name, or select a hero (or she-ro for those of the feminist PC ilk) that were alive today, who would it be and why?

I am going to think on it a bit and post mine later in the comments.

How do you measure high quality teaching?

I was trolling around Blogexplosion and hit on Res Publica's post re: academic mission versus freedom of speach.

I posted the following comment and hope to spark a decent conversation about how to measure high quality teaching on a college campus. This has been a sticky wicket for admistrators as well as academics for a long time. The larger question is thus: If students are responsible for their own learning, how do we measure high quality teaching that goes beyond test scores as the penultimate measure of classroom success?

Let me know what you think in the comments.

Here's my comment:

Unfortunatley, the metrics used to measure performance on a college campus don't reflect the public's view of the main purpose of Higher Education. Moreover, the emphasis is on research, soft dollars attained, and being published. There needs to be a complete overhaul of how we measure quality in the faculty ranks. That said, there is no shortage of opinions about how that should be done. And many tie some kind of corporate metrics to the act, discipline, and art of teaching. High quality teaching is not measured in test output by students. Such misguided rubrics fail to realize that while teaching is the primary responsiblity of the teacher, learning is the primary responsiblity of the student. When one fails, the test scores don't corrolate.

Friday, February 25, 2005

It's Time to Stop Kicking Terri Schiavo Around for Political Aims

Comatose is no way to live. I am putting it in writing post haste - put me down if I am not cabable of living a functional, independent, coherent, vibrant life.

If god and heaven are forgiving locations, then she is on to bigger and better things. Why keep her here?

If you are in favor of keeping her artificially alive, answer the question posed in a prior post.


A Florida judge on Friday ordered the feeding tube removed from a severely brain-damaged woman in three weeks, paving the way for her husband to allow his wife to die after a long court dispute with her parents.

Fifteen years to the day since a heart attack put Theresa "Terri" Schiavo into what some doctors call a persistent vegetative state, Circuit Judge George Greer ruled the feeding tube that keeps her alive should be removed on March 18.

That would give the parents time to appeal the ruling to higher courts, and their attorney immediately made clear they planned such appeals.

End slice:

It is time to stop using Terri Schiavo as a political football.

Another great Freeway Blog Entry

Moxie Grrrl is taking grass roots to the streets in NJ. Just saw her new post along one of the byways of the Garden State.

Check it out.

Perhaps we shall try it here. The traffic sure snarls up underneath numerous over passes at rush hour.

For ideas go to the freewayblogger web location.

Smoking sucks

As if you needed another reason not to start. What I don't understand is the otherwise intelligent person sparking up a pack a day or so...particularly those in the health care industry. But then again, the tobacco industry is rather slippery and tricky - perhaps a future place of employment for talent the likes of Karl Rove, after he is done screwing our country.

My AM run occasionally takes me by one or two hospitals, and invariably, there are a number of folks near the doorways, wearing scrubs, clutching their coats, sucking on various brands of cigarettes in the pissing rain. These are people, of whom, one would think are deeply familiar with the tragedy of a long term smoking habit, and yet, there they are.



Adding to evidence that smoking is bad for a man's sex life, new study findings show that smoking may raise the risk of impotence, particularly in younger men. Yahoo! Health Have questions about your health?

Researchers found that among the more than 1,300 men they followed, those who smoked were at greater risk of erectile dysfunction (ED) than either former smokers or non-smokers.

End slice:

This is good news for Pfizer and other pharmaceutical companies. Do you think Phillip Morris holds stock in pfizer?

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Which is worse?

The SFChronicle has a nice post about the whole W, Rove and Co. bought press shenanigans.

The last paragraph sums it up nicely:

It's hard to say which is worse: That the White House had no idea who it was allowing to be within shouting distance of the president -- or that it knew exactly who Jeff Gannon was and why he was there.

It's Right to Die versus the Right to lifers

It is curoius how many folks, not even remotely connected nor related in any way, are concerned about the unfortunate Terri Schiavo.

Just wondering: How many folks who argue that her feeding tubes should be kept in place also support the death penalty?

Please post comment with a percentage if you hazard a guess?


Truth is a slave to perception.

Another thought from my AM Run

I went for a very early AM run - still dark out at the outset. And I got to thinking, per usual.

Leadership, leaders, and the positional status garnered by the post of "leader," whatever the title, has become one of the brass rings most sought after in our capitalist world. Just ask Carly Fiorina.

The derivation of the word, lead, or to lead is, I am told, a dog sledding term to identify the dog at the front. I don't particularly know if the etymology is correct. Nonetheless, I was wondering: Wouldn't it be better to be the Musher rather than the lead dog?

Yes, the lead dog has the best view and doesn't get splatered with shit, but s/he has to break the wind, is reined in, and is the first to fall through any cravasse or hazard. The Musher gets the ride and drives the whole opperation forward. Even so, one should consider the plight of the Commodore stipulated in a prior post.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Wasting Tax Payer Dollars

In today's biggest non-news event that was reported over and again by the Mainstream Media Propaganda Machine, W suggests Putin place an emphasis on democracy...not a qualified democracy, but just a straight up, ordinary, run of the mill democracy...ya know, like ours.

Is it me, or is W's latest venture to Europe and parts abroad seem like the biggest waste of taxpayer dollars? Perhpas we should bill the trek to him as a vacation well spent.


Putin's defense has been that Russia must adapt democracy to its own conditions and will not allow the issue to be used by other countries for their foreign policy goals.

"The fundamental principles of democracy and institutions of democracy must be adapted to the realities of Russian life today, to our traditions and our history. And we will do this ourselves," he told Slovak media on Tuesday.

A senior Bush administration official, pointing to Putin's statements to Bush in previous meetings that the Russian people have a long history of strong czars, was skeptical.

"I always get suspicious when people put any adjective in front of democracy -- People's Democracy, Proletarian Democracy, Aryan Democracy, Managed Democracy," he said.

"I am still very much for a constructive relationship with Russia: cooperate where we can but remain true to your values ... that is easy to say but hard as hell to do."

Bush said in Brussels on Monday: "For Russia to make progress as a European nation, the Russian government must renew a commitment to democracy and the rule of law."

End slice:

Now correct me if I am wrong, but isn't the greater part of Russia in Asia, not Europe?

Nice little Guckert Video montage

Found this via Moxie Grrrl

If you want to see what the Mainsteam Media Propagada Machine is saying about the shills in the media, in particular Jeff Gannon, go ahead and take a peek.

How does Gannon pass muster on the clearance to be so close to W? Perhaps they called his escort service and have used him in the past.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Trading Places with Terri Schiavo

A fair number of bloggers are very concerned about Terri Schiavo's fate. Lot's of them, the "Right to lifer" types, are hoping the Jeb and co step in again and keep her tubes in place.

I just have one proposition and one question for the those who suggest she need to be on life support for X number of years.

Proposition: How about trading places with her?

Question: If they make the decision to leave her on life support, and if Jesus let you, would you give her your life in exchange and take her place in the hospital bed (assuming all legal, medical, and health care expenses) until you die?

Let us know your answer and explain why in the comments.


Terri Schiavo suffered severe brain damage in 1990 when a chemical imbalance believed to have been brought on by an eating disorder caused her heart to stop beating and cut off oxygen to her brain.

While she breathes on her own, she relies on the feeding tube to survive. Doctors have ruled she is in a persistent vegetative state with no hope for recovery.

End slice:

What Hunter S. Thompson thought of Political Candidates

In light of the news of his recent suicide, lots of interesting tidbits are surfacing about Hunter S. Thompson and his writing.

There are some interesting elements to the following article in the Washington Post. More relevant are Thompson's thougths on 1972 presidential office candidates.


Being around Edmund Muskie "was something like being locked in a rolling box car with a vicious 200-pound water rat." Nixon "speaks for the werewolf in us." And Hubert Humphrey, the saint of long-ago liberalism: "There is no way to grasp what a shallow, contemptible and hopelessly dishonest old hack Hubert Humphrey is until you've followed him around for a while."

End slice:

No doubt, these descriptions will suffice for the next round of political elections.

How about Anne Rice for President in 08

We always knew that Anne Rice was one very smart cookie. She also is prescient in the whold gay/same sex marriage issue. I got these comments on a tip from Sister Talk:

Pop on over to Christopher Rice's (Anne's son - yes, the Gay one) location for the full details.


CHRISTOPHER: That's further than most gay rights activists are willing to go - asking the church to accept it as sacrament, I mean.

ANNE: Superstition governs peoples attitudes towards gays, not religion. Gay people are knocking on the church doors asking to be married, and we, as Christians and Jews, should let them in. The Bible devotes very little attention to "gay people". The commandments against it are embedded with commandments that have been dismissed as outmoded on the basis of modern science and psychology. Religious institutions move very slowly but I believe it will happen in time. We must sustain our optimism and our polite demand. The idea that gay marriage threatens heterosexual marriage is too absurd to counter. We have a straight family member who has been married so many times we call her present husband Charlie the Fifth.

Monday, February 21, 2005

The underlying humor in the Reichwing argument

I was cruising the various comments to my posts as of late. Also, noticing the different reichwinger blogs. There appears to be a trend toward the general denigration of democrats and contrarian viewpoint holders across the board. I have yet to hear any of the extreme right reach across the table and offer a conciliatory hand in an effort to patch things up. More frequently, the argument goes like this:

Phase 1 - W, Rove and Co, make some subversive move, which on occasion could be construed as highly unethical at best, and at worst, punishable by time in prison (e.g. WMD ploy to invade Iraq, or if you like, the awarding of multibillion dollar contracts via unsolicited bids to Halliburton, or the use of shill "reporters" to advance particular bigoted or charged agenda items...the list goes on, for example the leaking of the CIA agent's name and subsequent murder of that individual for having her cover blown).

Phase 2 - Someone, objective or not, finds out the truth (say like, the missing splotch in W's service record and shirking of responsibility during his time in the National Guard) and say's "hey, wait a minute."

Phase 3 - Someone on the reichwing says - "Hey, you are unpatriotic for saying that (whatever the person said in phase 2). "

Phase 4 - Completing the circle of this twisting swirl down the toilet bowl, the reichside flagellates said Phase 2 commentator on various issues, of but not pertaining to the subject at hand, and in particular uses rhetorical biblical references to point out that this person is "Godless" or a heathen and therefore some kind of terrorist (or communist, or socialist, or sympathizer, or some other supposedly denigrating term). The inference is then left to the reader to assume which one is correct, but the malicious slandering of people of opposing viewpoints hangs like death over a morgue. The stink is too difficult to remove.

There in lies the humor - of the tragicomic sort- read through the morass and tear it down to the base elements and you find, one side pointing out faults, the other not accepting blame nor the responsiblity, and then projecting their problems onto the messenger. It's as if they have effectively woven a biblical quilt over their eyes and can't see their own faults. Moreover, they are in a desperate frenzy to blame anyone but themselves for the trouble they have sewn us into...and it is the contrarians' fault that our country is in its current state.

Unrequited, in the end, there is satisfaction for no one. The country is still in the same (or worse) mess we were in before voices were raised with the requisite referencing of the First Amendment. No one accepts blame, and what is worse, no one is held accountable. And all sides move further apart. Meanwhile the capitalist pigs in charge lie in their own shit, even while many try to put lipstick on one another.

W, the Alarmist's Pollyanna

Just got a tip on a nice article at SF Gate. I just get this flashback from Animal House - the scene where the young ROTC dude has his hands up as the crowd rushes past him like salmon upstream and he yells, "All is well, remain calm. All is well, remain calm."

The article goes into the Social Security issue and some others, but stays clear of the hypocrisy of the youthful W's drug indiscretions. I particularly liked the last paragraph, but you need more for context.


In the 20th century, global temperatures rose more than one degree Fahrenheit. That doesn't seem like much, but it already has had a significant effect. In the 21st century, temperatures are expected to rise at least 4 degrees and perhaps as much as 10 degrees.

Global warming appears to be a far more serious problem than international terrorism, yet Bush ignores it.

When it comes to Social Security, easily repaired, Bush is Chicken Little. When it comes to global warming, a far greater threat to our nation and the planet, Bush becomes Pollyanna.

Bush may be the nice man his fans give him credit for being, but his judgment seems seriously impaired. Why clear-thinking Republicans are so tolerant of his missteps is another of life's mysteries

A Woman for President

This sounds like a great idea to me. The more women we have in leadership roles, the better.

In honor of President's day, I think I might encourage some of the women I know to run for office. They would be awesome - trouble is, they don't opperate as traditional politicians. Could shake things up a bit - which they could use some shaking up. Powering up the female gender can mean nothing but good for our country.

What was the Iraq war about?

As we watch W galavant about Europe trying to put humpty dumpty back together again, an interesting question posed by an author in the NYTimes today:


So tell me again. What was this war about? In terms of the fight against terror, the war in Iraq has been a big loss. We've energized the enemy. We've wasted the talents of the many men and women who have fought bravely and tenaciously in Iraq. Thousands upon thousands of American men and women have lost arms or legs, or been paralyzed or blinded or horribly burned or killed in this ill-advised war. A wiser administration would have avoided that carnage and marshaled instead a more robust effort against Al Qaeda, which remains a deadly threat to America.

What is also dismaying is the way in which the administration has taken every opportunity since Sept. 11, 2001, to utilize the lofty language of freedom, democracy and the rule of law while secretly pursuing policies that are both unjust and profoundly inhumane. It is the policy of the U.S. to deny due process of law to detainees at the scandalous interrogation camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where prisoners, many of whom have turned out to be innocent, are routinely treated in a cruel and degrading manner.

The U.S. is also engaged in the reprehensible practice known as extraordinary rendition, in which terror suspects are abducted and sent off to be interrogated by foreign regimes that are known to practice torture. And the C.I.A. is operating ultrasecret prisons or detention centers overseas for so-called high-value detainees. What goes on in those places is anybody's guess.

It may be that most Americans would prefer not to know about these practices, which are nothing less than malignant cells that are already spreading in the nation's soul. Denial is often the first response to the most painful realities. But most Americans also know what happens when a cancer is ignored.

End slice:

Good questions. Perhaps we should apply chemotherapy on the Iraq situation rather than wait for the terrorists to apply their own brand of chemo on us.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

The Disadvantaged Commodore.

I picked up a copy of Melville's Moby Dick, or The Whale. Hadn't read it, and intend to. I am sure it was on some one's required reading list when I was in High School, but I confess, I didn't read any required literature in High School. My rule then was, if it is required, I will hate it. I am in a scramble to read many of the great books.

Becuase Cornel West so highly regarded Melville's book and made many references to it in Democracy Matters, I thought I would tackle it. With two young boys to parent, I don't get a lot of down time to read and so it takes a long time for me to finish a book. I was going to get it out of the local library, but I figure with the money I would save in late fees, I could afford a copy of my own. Found a 1926 print on Ebay and it came the other day.

I already thorougly enjoy the story. Great writing is timeless. So, I thought I would share with you my favorite passage so far as there are a rich set of lessons therein.

From page 5 of my copy (Random House's "the Modern Libary"):

...I always go to sea as a sailor, becuase they make a point of paying me for my trouble, whereas they never pay passengers a single penny that I ever heard of. On the contrary, passengers themselves must pay. And there is all the difference in the world between paying and being paid. The act of paying is perhaps the most uncomfortable infliction that the two orchard thieves entailed upon us. But being paid, - what will compare with it? The urbane activity with which a man recieves money is really marevellous, considering that we so earnestly believe money to be the root of all earthly ills, and that on no account can a monied man enter heaven. Ah! how cheerfully we consign ourselves to perdition.

Finally, I always go to sea as a sailor, because of the wholesome exercise and pure air of the fore-castle deck. For as in this world, head winds are far more prevalent than winds from astern (that is, if you never violate the Pythagorean maxim), so for the most part the Commodore on the quarter-deck gets his atmosphere at second hand from the sailors on the forecastle. He thinks he breaths it first; but not so. In much the same way do the commonality lead their leaders in many other things, at the same time that the leaders little suspect it.

Thought for the weekend

Just another tasty morsel from Cornel West's book, Democracy Matters:

Page 6:

As with the bully on the block, one's own interests and aims define what is moral and one's own anxieties and insecurities dictate what is masculine. Yet the use of naked force to resolve conflict often backfires. The arrogant hubris that usually accompanies this use of force tends to lead toward instability - and even destruction - in regions where we have sought to impose our will. Violence is readily deployed by those who cloak themselves in innocence - those unwilling to examine themselves and uninterested in counting the number of innocent victims they kill. Note the Bush administration's callous disregard for both the U.S. soldiers and innocent Iraqis killed in our recent adventurous invasion. The barbaric abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib is a flagrant example.

A Nobel Peace Prize for Condi?

Okay, I didn't write it, but there are some from the left coast who suggest she could be a good recipient.

I was looking for ideas about how to repair our relationship with our European brothers and sisters.


Going into the lion's den of France earlier this month, Rice spoke of the need for "an even stronger partnership based on common opportunities" and laid out the threats both countries face — terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, regional conflicts, failed states and organized crime. Over the last four years, we have lost ground in combating these threats. If she and her boss succeed in restoring America's place as a persuader, not just enforcer, dramatic progress is possible.

End slice:

Oddly, there is an op-ed piece in the NYTimes - the right coast's paper that entertains some ideas:

There are several articles written by Europeans - of whom, we don't really pay much attention to in our own jingoistic fashion - which we might do well to head.

Titles are:

No New Wars

Give a Little

Be True

Rogue Dollar

A U.N. Seat for Europe

All for One

NATO for Everyone

Listen Up

Life as Art or Art as Life? or subtitle: We have a Government Accountablity Office?

Which is it? Both? Try these two sentances [from the NYTimes] on for size and see if it fits:

"The prayers of those hoping that real television news might take its cues from Jon Stewart were finally answered on Feb. 9, 2005. A real newsman borrowed a technique from fake news to deliver real news about fake news in prime time."

By Rich's count, at least 6 folks have shilled for Shrub, and lied, or more euphamistically, mislead the public about it.


By my count, "Jeff Gannon" is now at least the sixth "journalist" (four of whom have been unmasked so far this year) to have been a propagandist on the payroll of either the Bush administration or a barely arms-length ally like Talon News while simultaneously appearing in print or broadcast forums that purport to be real news. Of these six, two have been syndicated newspaper columnists paid by the Department of Health and Human Services to promote the administration's "marriage" initiatives. The other four have played real newsmen on TV. Before Mr. Guckert and Armstrong Williams, the talking head paid $240,000 by the Department of Education, there were Karen Ryan and Alberto Garcia. Let us not forget these pioneers - the Woodward and Bernstein of fake news. They starred in bogus reports ("In Washington, I'm Karen Ryan reporting," went the script) pretending to "sort through the details" of the administration's Medicare prescription-drug plan in 2004. Such "reports," some of which found their way into news packages distributed to local stations by CNN, appeared in more than 50 news broadcasts around the country and have now been deemed illegal "covert propaganda" by the Government Accountability Office.

End slice:

Do we have a GAO? If so, the Government Accountability Office must be swamped with troubleshooting this administrations dubious stratagem.

Are folks out there beleaguered as much as I am trying to figure out which news is pertinant and trustworthy, and with the mainstream use of programs like photoshop, which images are true?

These days, truth, is very elusive, and always a slave to perception.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

What would the cash have gotten us besides a nice conflagration in Iraq?

A friend of mine sent along a nice link that pushes us to consider, in terms of dollars spent on the Iraq invasion, what those dollars might have bought us instead.

It is astounding.

Spammers should by either fined or put in jail

This just in from the LATimes:

Flooding the inbox is no longer enough.

Now spammers have gone beyond e-mail and are attacking instant-message services popular with teenagers, authorities said Friday as they announced the arrest of a young man suspected of broadcasting 1.5 million ads for pornography and cheap mortgages.

Federal prosecutors said it was the first criminal case involving this new form of spam — known as "spim" because it targets so-called IM services.

"It's absolutely unsurprising that spammers would find a new way to spread their slime through any crack and crevice available," said Anne Mitchell, president of the private Institute for Spam and Internet Public Policy.

Anthony Greco, 18, was arrested Wednesday at Los Angeles International Airport, where prosecutors said they lured him from his upstate New York home for what he expected would be a meeting with the president of, a popular social-networking company whose users Greco allegedly spammed.

End of slice:

I don't know what the maximum sentence is for Anthony Greco, should he be found guilty, but it should be something that hurts a lot.

Oscar is short at least one category

Why doesn't the Academy award an Oscar for Stunts? Seems like many movies benefit from high quality of suffer from low quality stunts, and they should be recognized by these folks ought to be recognized by the Academy, no?

Any other Oscar worthy categories you can think of?

Friday, February 18, 2005

How much are the Contractors in Iraq Costing Taxpayers?

There is a big figure of dollars being spent on private contractors on various fronts, say from Halliburton and other paramilitary organizations, that doubles and triples the salaries paid to our troops doing the exact same jobs.

My brother stipulated the same while he was over there as well. So, I know this is fact.

How does the administration account for that? I guess they slip it in in the tab we will be picking up in the portion of the budget that has yet to be stipulated...all the while hoping we don't notice.


I remember times we had to post female MP's at the Oil Ministry so they could search the female employees. The Oil Ministry was heavily guarded like a fortress with tanks out front and guard towers. I met one guy that worked for Halliburton who said he was making about $150,000 a year just to make sure some of the oil revenue was going to US oil companies. He further went on to say that he was in a board meeting in Houston, Texas where he was a facilitator of a meeting about sending Halliburton to Iraq. He said he heard Cheney's name mentioned many times in reference to those who helped Halliburton get on track with being established in Iraq. He said during the meeting that Cheney was guaranteed a cut of the profits of Halliburton since he ensured and paved the way for the no bid contract in Iraq. There were contractors doing security work alongside US military and doing the exact same thing except the military would switch out duties and go on patrol in Baghdad. The other difference was the military was getting paid an average of $2,000 to $4,000 a month which would equal about $24,000 to $48,000 a year depending on the rank. The contractors doing the same job were making $50,000 to $90,000 a year plus other expenses. Where was the fairness in this. We are definitely not making progress because big business does not care about progress it cares about money.

Greenspan Whispers, the world speculates

As to my last post, re: Greenspan's words on the Social Security situation, it looks like there are as many interpretations as there are people listening.

Here are three from the same newspaper:

Slice 1:

It was inevitable that Alan Greenspan would make news when he testified before the Senate Banking Committee on Wednesday that he supported private accounts in Social Security. "So if you're going to move to private accounts, which I approve of," he said, "I think you have to do it in a cautious, gradual way."

...As the nation's top banker, Mr. Greenspan was on surer ground when discussing the borrowing needed to establish private accounts - an estimated $2 trillion over 10 years, and $4.5 trillion over two decades. He said it would be a risky thing to do.

Slide 2:

The math in the Social Security debate is fuzzy, but the politics are crystal clear. Everybody is going to point to the problems, and nobody is going to embrace a solution.

After refusing to face the truth about his Social Security plan for the entire election campaign, President Bush has finally acknowledged that diverting part of workers' Social Security taxes into private investment accounts will do absolutely nothing to fix the projected imbalance in the system when the baby-boom generation retires. This week, he made a very tiny gesture toward a partial solution to that problem: he declined to reject the idea of raising the current $90,000 cap on wages subject to Social Security payroll taxes.

...Sure enough, Mr. Bush's mini-concession caused an uproar. Republican House leaders instantly vetoed the idea. And Democrats declined to say anything positive for fear that Mr. Bush would stage a quick retreat, leaving them holding the bag.

Even something as modest as a bump in that $90,000 cap is impossible as long as Republicans and Democrats are both determined to make the other guy go first. The only solution, as far as we can see, would be for every elected official in the Capitol to get together in one room and yell, "Raise the cap!" - on the count of three.

Slice 3:

On Wednesday Mr. Greenspan endorsed Social Security privatization. But there's a difference between 2001 and 2005. In 2001, Mr. Greenspan offered a convoluted, implausible justification for supporting everything the Bush administration wanted. This time, he offered no justification at all.

...This week, Mr. Greenspan offered no excuse for supporting privatization. In fact, he agreed with two of the main critiques of the administration's plan: that it would do nothing to improve the Social Security system's finances, and that it would lead to a dangerous increase in debt. Yet he still came out in favor of the idea.

Let me make a detour here. The way privatizers link the long-run financing of Social Security with the case for private accounts parallels the three-card-monte technique the Bush administration used to link terrorism to the Iraq war. Speeches about Iraq invariably included references to 9/11, leading much of the public to believe that invading Iraq somehow meant taking the war to the terrorists. When pressed, war supporters would admit they lacked evidence of any significant links between Iraq and Al Qaeda, let alone any Iraqi role in 9/11 - yet in their next sentence it would be 9/11 and Saddam, together again.

Similarly, calls for privatization invariably begin with ominous warnings about Social Security's financial future. When pressed, administration officials admit that private accounts would do nothing to improve that financial future. Yet in the next sentence, they once again link privatization to the problem posed by an aging population.

End slices:

No matter how you cut it, one should be highly skeptical of a proposal that at best has a null affect on the situation. At very least, there should be some kind of positive movement in the direction of solving the problem, otherwise the solution is not, and any movement in a particular direction seems to me like a complete waste of taxpayer dollars (as in all the cash we are spending having our politicians and representatives talking about it).

Did anyone hear the report on NPR the other day that explored some other countries that have a privitized system and how they are failing?

Perhaps reinventing a broken wheel is what this administration is all about.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Look who's flip flopping now!

Any reichwingers out there complaining their commander-in-theif about flip flopping on social security and new taxes yet? Doubt it, but they should. More to come, no doubt.

Slice from the LA times:

By Peter Wallsten and Joel Havemann, Times Staff Writers

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. — In an important shift from his hard-line stance against tax increases, President Bush has said he is open to raising taxes on wealthier Americans to cover the costs of transforming Social Security.

Bush has been promoting a plan to let workers under age 55 divert a portion of their Social Security payroll taxes into private investment accounts. But he has not settled on how to replace that diverted money — an estimated $1 trillion or more over a decade that would be needed to pay benefits to current retirees.

The president, in an interview published Wednesday in several regional newspapers, left the door open to the idea of raising the cap on wages subject to the Social Security tax as a way to help cover the transition costs of private accounts. Earnings above $90,000 are not subject to tax now.

End slice:

Read my wait, that was another Bush....can we say, flip flopping like the proverbial dolphin caught in a tuna net.

...and reading further, you get a real sense of what's behind the Wizard's curtain when Greenspan comes out thusly:

More slice from he same article:

As did Bush's comments, Greenspan's testimony to the Senate Banking Committee generated debate among those following the president's Social Security initiative.

The Fed chairman is so esteemed as the overseer of the nation's economic well-being that private account supporters and opponents alike regard his stance as crucial to their success.

Greenspan said private accounts by themselves would do nothing to erase the $3.7-trillion shortfall that is estimated over the next 75 years between Social Security's promised benefits and its income from the payroll tax.

Congress must come to grips with that funding gap, he said, regardless of what it decides to do about private accounts.

Greenspan said the ultimate test of a Social Security rescue package was whether it increased national savings. Only with the investment from more saving, he said, could the United States hope to support its growing army of retired people without a sharp decline in the standards of living of all age brackets.

Creating private accounts through more federal borrowing, Greenspan said, would be a wash, with each dollar saved in a private account offset by a dollar borrowed from the public. "Moving to a forced savings account technically does not materially affect net national savings," he said. "It merely moves savings from the government account to a private account."

End slice:

Huh? No means to erase the 3.7 trillion short fall? WTF, that doesn't sound like it is worth the effort, unless of course, you are a professional money manager and you make cash for every trade, whether your client (read, social security beneficiary) wins or looses on the action. See drooling capitialists posts of a few days ago.

"In God we trust. All others, bring data."

It starts. Our new Secretary of Education begins the public flogging of the best higher education framework on the globe. This is a nice case of the reich hand doing the spaking while not knowing what the left hand is stroking.

Slice from Article One:

If community-college officials want to help students who would be hit by proposed cuts in federal job-training and adult-education programs, they should come up with data that prove the programs' value, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings said on Wednesday.

Speaking at the National Legislative Seminar, a conference that has brought some 1,200 presidents and trustees of two-year colleges to the nation's capital this week, Ms. Spellings said the onus is on education leaders to "prove up the value of these programs.

..."We believe that the single best thing we can do for you is to provide students ready to learn from Day 1," she said, arguing that increasing federal support at the high-school level would lessen the need for expensive remedial programs at community colleges. She cited a recent report that found that 63 percent of students who enter community colleges need some remedial training.

In a brief question-and answer period following her remarks, college officials dug into that philosophy.

Vincent R. Williams, a lobbyist for the City Colleges of Chicago, explained that his institution uses a lot of those federal funds to educate older students who are attending college after years of employment -- or unemployment. "What about the 30-year-old who was already underserved by the K-12 system?" he asked the secretary. "Under this plan that the president is proposing, those students are left in the gap."

In response, Ms. Spellings returned to her original point, calling for community colleges to be more systematic in how they collect and share information. "In God we trust," she said. "All others, bring data."

End slice one:

One of the things that community colleges are best at is bringing people with inadequate educational backgrounds up to speed to the degree that they can perform and succeed at the collegiate level. So, I don't look at the 63% number as something to be sad about.

I thought Secretary Spellings was an "educational leader?" Is she or is she not? In that respect, I think she would rather just sit in judgement and get paid by our tax bucks for doing nothing but foisting theocratic rhetoric on us. By the way, what happened to the separation of church and state?

While the riech hand spanks us, the left hand strokes us:

Slice from article two:

Community colleges would receive $250-million in new federal job-training grants under a bill that the education committee of the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to approve today.

The Job Training Improvement Act(HR 27) would put into effect President Bush's proposal to award grants to two-year institutions to work with businesses and local work-force-investment boards to provide job training in high-growth, high-skill fields with labor shortages. Half of that money would come from what is referred to as a "pilot and demonstration" account in the bill, and half would come from national reserve funds for worker-training programs.

...Community-college lobbyists fear that such a plan would divert resources from other job-training programs. Still, those lobbyists were generally pleased with the bill debated on Wednesday, particularly with a new provision offered by Rep. Howard P. (Buck) McKeon, Republican of California, that would clarify that only community colleges would be eligible for the new grants.

End slice 2:

Watch out for this one. This is another corporate welfare porkbarrel effort in disquise. Humm, who is responsible for work force training? Should tax payer dollars be used to subsidize job training? Economic arguments could be made that it is profitable for the government to do so as it would mean less spent by corporations on job training, and therefore lead to better prices to the consumer. In the long run, however, my bet would be that it just lines the pockets of the corporate elites once again.

In the end, the idea smells good, but it sure stinks after you cook it a bit.

"Kids, they break your heart every time."

Well, I don't necessarily agree with that statement. Sometimes perhaps, but here is an interesting op-ed article posted by another gay parent, proving again that "turn about, is fair play."


...Alan Keyes is the Republican who moved to Illinois last year to run against Barack Obama for the United States Senate. To describe Mr. Keyes as an opponent of gay rights is putting it mildly: during his campaign Mr. Keyes described homosexuality as "selfish hedonism." When asked if he thought Mary Cheney, the lesbian daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney, was a selfish hedonist, he replied, "Of course she is."

Learning that a prominent conservative like Mr. Keyes (or Randall Terry, the anti-abortion-turned-antigay-rights crusader whose son revealed last spring he is gay) has a gay relative is nothing new. Newt Gingrich, for instance, has a lesbian half-sister. But for gays and lesbians there's something particularly satisfying about watching a prominent antigay conservative learn that his or her own child is homosexual. It smacks of cosmic retribution: Mr. Keyes now has to choose between his antigay "pro-family" rhetoric and a member of his own family.

Sadly for Maya Keyes, her father apparently has more affection for his ideology than for his daughter. She says her parents kicked her out of the house and have refused to pay for her education. (Thankfully, some of those evil gay people have come forward to pay her tuition at Brown next year through the Point Foundation.) Perhaps Mr. and Mrs. Cheney could find the time to call Mr. and Mrs. Keyes and explain how parents who actually value their families react when they learn one of their children is gay.

....I live in Seattle with my partner and son. Preventing us from marrying harms my child and does nothing to protect Jeff Kemp's. So in my darker moments I find myself hoping that one day Mr. Kemp will, like Randall Terry or Alan Keyes, find himself listening to one of his children explain that he is gay.

Yet my better angels won't let me wish a gay child on anyone for fear of setting myself up for the gay-parent brand of cosmic retribution that Mr. Keyes brought down on his own head. As the children being raised by gays and lesbians grow into adulthood, it's inevitable that some of them will disappoint their gay parents. One day some prominent gay or lesbian parent - Rosie O'Donnell? Melissa Etheridge? little ol' me? - is going to cringe in horror when Matt Drudge breaks the news that one of our children has become a born-again Christian Republican who condemns his parents for their "selfish hedonism."

End slice:

I can't imagine one of my sons' coming to me to profess his BACR status and then spiting hatred at his lesbian grandmothers. With four Grandmothers, my sons are perhaps the most fortunate kids in the universe. Even so, if one or both do, I would give them a hug and tell them I love them, for I sure do. They may decide for whatever reason to not return home, but my responsibility as a parent, as the person holding the power and authority, is to always leave the door open.

Looks like a 7th Tour for Lance

If there is one man who can pull it off, it is going to be Lance Armstrong. Anyone who follows the velo news would have predicted that given a new sponsor, he would ride. It is just a matter of which tour, this or next year.

Who can beat him? Tyler Hamilton, if he stays healthy? Maybe. Jan Ulrich, I don't think so. He is done after finishing second so many times, it will be hard for him to think beyond second place if Lance is in the mix.

The NYTimes has him riding this year.
Slice from the Times:

After mulling the decision for more than six months, Lance Armstrong announced yesterday that he would compete in this year's Tour de France.

Armstrong revealed his plans for the Tour, cycling's most prestigious race, and the 2005 season in a statement on the Web site for his team, Discovery Channel.

He said he was looking forward to winning the Tour de France for the seventh year in a row."I am excited to get back on the bike and start racing, although my condition is far from perfect," Armstrong, 33, said in the announcement.

End slice:

Lance always undersells in the preseason and oversells by winning. What do you think?

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Maybe WalMart ain't all bad

A few months ago, I got on a kick to boycott walmart. Perhaps I was mistaken. Afterall, Walmart is a fine purveyor of American Culture to the Chinese....well, that is not all. Check out this article from the New Yorker:


...Wal-Mart and other superstores contributed to the trend. They undercut their competitors, and forced the rest of the world to adapt. But now Wal-Mart is stuck; it has no choice but to keep selling things cheap. That’s what it does. Which means Procter & Gamble—even super-sized—is stuck, too. Few products are irreplaceable. So-called private-label products—the kind that, in the tradition of generics, are hardly advertised or marketed—are now big sellers at many stores. Ol’ Roy dog food, Wal-Mart’s house brand, is the best-selling dog food in the country. CyberHome, which makes DVD players for companies like Radio Shack, sold more of them last year than Sony. It’s getting harder and harder for manufacturers to charge premium prices for so-called premium brands. Of course, this is how it should be, according to the economics textbooks. In a genuinely competitive economy, the company that ends up selling a good is going to be the one that produces (and therefore sells) it at the lowest cost. This is a case where, as the Princeton economist Alan Blinder put it, “the economy came to resemble the model.

End slice:

Inexpesive retail items that are of a high quality are good in my book.

Ah, W, the Education and Job Creation Prez, NOT.

This just in the Chronicle of Higher Ed. W, in his state of the Union declared that he was the Education prez, and in particular highlighted his interest in supporting community colleges. Well, I suppose that is all ink out the octopus's ass like the WMD isssue:


President Bush's plan to eliminate vocational- and technical-education funds for community colleges got a cool reception on Tuesday by Democrats and a key Republican at a Congressional hearing on extending the federal law that governs the programs.

In his 2006 budget proposal, released last week, the president called for abolishing the $1.33-billion programs set up under the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act. The programs provide about 40 percent of their dollars annually to community colleges.

The education committees in both chambers of Congress approved legislation last year to renew the Perkins Act, but could not reach an agreement on a final bill before the 108th Congress adjourned in the fall. Now, with a new Congress, the bills must go through the legislative process again.

But given Mr. Bush's budget proposal, some members of the education-reform subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives wondered at the hearing on Tuesday whether their work on the bill would eventually be a wasted effort. "We have to step up," said Rep. Lynn C. Woolsey, a Democrat from California, "or else the budget will make what we do here moot."

While acknowledging that the panel's hearing was meant to discuss the reauthorization of the Perkins Act, Rep. Tom Osborne, a Republican from Nebraska, said the president's spending plan had put "the issue of funding on the front burner." He asked state officials who testified at the hearing what effect eliminating the Perkins programs would have on their institutions and job-training efforts.

Lewis L. Atkinson III, Delaware's associate secretary of education, said the Perkins funds allow high schools and community colleges "to provide context" for technical-education students enrolled in academic courses. "If we eliminate Perkins," Mr. Atkinson said, "we lose a balance" between career education and academic skills.

End slice:

One of the number one functions of community colleges is to produce well educated, and vocationally trained employees. There goes our "education" president, leaving children behind again.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

With parents' like these....

Ah, you have to love the hypocrisy of the "good" Christian parent. Upon learning that their daughter is gay, they lean in and hate them with all of their almighty might.

What mother could give up her daughter because of a sexual orientation that is beyond her control?

Answer: the right- wing christian kind, thick with biblical rhetorical justification for their disdain.

If you ask me, I would rather have gay parents than the type of parents that they Keyes are.

Slice by Marc Fisher:

Maya Keyes loves her father and mother. She put off college and moved from the family home in Darnestown to Chicago to be with her dad on a grand adventure. Even though she disagrees with him on "almost everything" political, she worked hard for his quixotic and losing campaign for the U.S. Senate.

Now Maya Keyes -- liberal, lesbian and a little lost -- finds herself out on her own. She says her parents -- conservative commentator and perennial candidate Alan Keyes and his wife, Jocelyn -- threw her out of their house, refused to pay her college tuition and stopped speaking to her.

Maya, 19, says her parents cut her off because of who she is -- "a liberal queer." Tomorrow, she will take her private dispute with her dad into the open. She is scheduled to make her debut as a political animal, speaking at a rally in Annapolis sponsored by Equality Maryland, the state's gay rights lobby.

End slice:

If anyone was at that event, could you post your thoughts on Maya's speech? I would be curious to hear what she had to say, but can't make it to Maryland to witness first hand.

I wanna know what love is

"...I want you to show me"...Don't ask me why this old Foreigner tune is rambling through my head right now. Go figure, I am a product of the 80s.

My first rock and roll concert was Foreigner 4, Yikes. That makes me old. My second was the Police! Perhaps one of the best shows I have ever seen musically - that was the Ghost in the Machine Tour. But let me get off this digression to the real reason of this particular post.

With all the posts about Valentines, yesterday, I got to thinking about love, real love. It is easier to define what love is not: it is not the gift/s you got yesterday, it is not the fancy meal you gobbled up either....

I was rocking my second son to sleep for his AM nap (and he is currently snoozing away), after a particularly challenging week as he was racked with the nasty cold/fever that is going about these days. Then I felt this overwhelming sense of awe and love.

Love, for me at that moment, was snuggling the boy in my arms and singing him a lullaby, and loving him for who he is, right now, not for what he will be or may become, but the little boy, sweat and endearing, no matter the past week of grumpiness and wake ups in the small hours of the day. Giving him a small kiss on the forehead and gently placing him in the crib, and snuggling him up in the quilt has Grandmother sticthed for him to keep him warm. Like the quilt, love is not indiferent, but enveloping - the sense that at that moment, nothing can be more perfect.

It is difficult as a parent to remain sane when not sleeping well, but giving in to that moment, I felt real love. Amidst all the insanity that goes on in the world, it was a fantastic reminder that the world is a beautiful place, and it is love that matters.

I am curious with all the hoopla about Valentines Day (the commercial jugernaught) did anyone have a direct experience with real and true love? How do you define it? And if you could, please refrain from commenting using quotes. Share with us what you actually think, if you dare.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Ah, the modern Theocracy

Looks like the Shiites have it.

Allah Akbar!


By Robin Wright
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, February 14, 2005; Page A08

When the Bush administration decided to invade Iraq two years ago, it envisioned a quick handover to handpicked allies in a secular government that would be the antithesis of Iran’s theocracy—potentially even a foil to Tehran’s regional ambitions.

But, in one of the greatest ironies of the U.S. intervention, Iraqis instead went to the polls and elected a government with a strong religious base—and very close ties to the Islamic republic next door. It is the last thing the administration expected from its costly Iraq policy—$300 billion and counting, U.S. and regional analysts say.

Yesterday, the White House heralded the election and credited the U.S. role. In a statement, President Bush praised Iraqis “for defying terrorist threats and setting their country on the path of democracy and freedom. And I congratulate every candidate who stood for election and those who will take office once the results are certified.”

Yet the top two winning parties—which together won more than 70 percent of the vote and are expected to name Iraq’s new prime minister and president—are Iran’s closest allies in Iraq.

Do you feel safer today than you did before January 2000?

I was thinking about some things, as usual, on my AM run. What would life be like had Al Gore been selected President in 2000 instead of GW? Would we be in a similar predicament?

We cannot change the past, but there are a number of folks who stipulate publicly that they feel safer today than they did in 2000. Are they forgetting that the Attack on the Trade Centers and the Pentagon happened in September of 2001, on George W. Bush's watch?

This begs several larger questions:
1) If shrub and his clan were not supplanted into office, would the 9/11 incidents have happened?

2) Were/are the terrorists emboldened by the fact W was in office?

3) Or, more causally, did the terrorists act because W was on the throne of this monotheistic theocracy?

Lastly, 4) If any other person were in the Oval office, would we be in the current pickle we're in?

By the way, I finished Cornel West's book. I know, I know, you're sad that you won't be getting regular citations from that source. Let me leave you at least one more. I may post a few of the more powerful quotes as they become salient for us on the morrow or another day.

From page 29 of Democracy Matters:

The hallmark of political nihilism is the public appeal to fear and greed, and too much of American politics today has been reduced to such vulgar appeals. Just so, Bush promoted his irresponsible tax cuts by offering the largely chimerical promise of a child-tax rebate, and promoted his repressive Patriot Act by appealing to the fear of terrorism. A political nihilist is one who is not simply intoxicated with the exercise of power but also obsessed with stifling any criticism of that exercise of power. He will use clever arguments to rationalize his will to power and deploy skillful strategies, denying the pain and suffering he may cause, in order to shape the world and control history in light of the pursuit of power. The world nihilism may seem strong, but we saw President Johnson do this with claims about the Gulf of Tonkin for the Vietnam War and President Bush do this with claims about weapons of mass destruction in the invasion of Iraq.

End slice:

I have yet to get a full sense of the grief or remorse that those in charge should be feeling with the weight of so many innocent, dead souls upon their shoulders. Click on over if you dare to see an updated selection of various KIA or Wounded folks at the following location. Be warned, these pics are gruesome and gory - not for the faint of heart.

I am still not convinced that the ROI was worth the outlay and we are well in a hole in terms of sunk costs. The tax on our unborn grows daily.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Bullet Points that startle rather than Kill

Found an interesting web location that objective readers may be keen on clicking over to. Props to the Proponents of Reason to putting me on to it.

Check out some interesting bullet points (which incidentially, I name, "Silver Bullets" for reasons of irony) that make for curious reading for all regarding our future as dictated by the theocrats in the "Right"House:

Silver Bullet 1 : Despite cuts to scores of domestic programs, the Administration’s budget increases rather than decreases the deficit over the next five years.

Silver Bullet 2: Over the longer run, by proposing to make its tax cuts permanent, the Administration’s budget proposals would dramatically swell the deficit.

Silver Bullet 3: For the first time since 1989, the budget fails to provide information about the funding of specific discretionary programs beyond the upcoming budget year, thereby hiding the impact of the large discretionary cuts it is proposing.

Silver Bullet 4: The Administration insists on its practice of budgeting for only five years, masking the full cost of its tax cuts, while it simultaneously insists on using “infinite” or 75-year time horizons in other contexts.

Silver Bullet 5: In 2006, the cost of the tax cuts already enacted since 2001, plus those proposed in this budget, would be $193 billion (without interest payments).

Silver Bullet 6: The budget also includes a major new tax cut that the Congressional Research Service has said eventually would cost $300 billion to $500 billion over ten years, but the budget uses a timing gimmick so that this tax cut would save money in the first five years and the large long-term costs of the tax cut are thereby hidden from view. The years in which the tax cut would swell the deficit would be outside the Administration’s “budget window.”

Silver Bullet 7: The budget also leaves out all of the costs of funding military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and the global war on terrorism that will be incurred after the $80 billion the Administration has requested for 2005 is exhausted. CBO estimates these additional costs could total around $350 billion over the next 10 years (excluding interest payments on the debt), assuming an eventual phasedown of U.S. activities in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Silver Bullet 8:The budget appears to be designed to obscure some of the effects of the policies the Administration is proposing. It is constructed in a way that conceals the fiscal effects of various Administration proposals that would increase the deficit, as well as the consequences of various cuts in domestic programs proposed as a means to deal with the deficit.

Silver Bullet 9: The cost of the President’s proposal to divert Social Security payroll taxes to establish private accounts is not included in the budget. That proposal would add more than $750 billion in deficits and debt in 2006 through 2015, according to the White House, although that number is misleadingly low. It is misleading because the President’s plan would not begin to take effect until 2009 and eligibility for the accounts would be phased in over three years. Over the first ten years that the plan actually would be in effect (2009-18), it would add about $1.4 trillion to the debt. Over the next ten years (2019- 28), it would add about $3.5 trillion more to the debt. All told, the plan would add $4.9 trillion (14 percent of GDP in 2028) to the debt over its first 20 years.

Silver Bullet 10: Administration Acknowledges Private Accounts Would Do Nothing to Improve Social Security Solvency.

Silver Bullet 11: A reporter subsequently asked the senior Administration official: “. . . am I right in assuming . . . that it would be fair to describe this as having — the personal accounts by themselves, that it would be fair to describe this as having — the personal accounts by themselves as having no effect whatsoever on the solvency issue?” The senior Administration official replied: “That’s a fair inference.”

I could go on, but you get the idea. End of the bullets.

Further details can be found at the the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities' web location

Is anyone else out there as shocked to find people still supporting this administration? Well, then again, just about over half the country is forgiving the man for lying to them about WMD. So, the lemmings follow off the cliff, and the remainder suffer for it.

Which of these "Married" men are more threatening?

Intesting articles in two different locations. With all the fuss about same sex marriage, one wonders why people who oppose high quality same-sex relationships are not more upset when a heterosexual, married man rapes his family.

If you ask me, If my spouse and I were to die tomorrow, I would trust and much rather have Gary Walker and Ed Valenzuela raising my children than Patrick and Christine McMullen, the heterosexuals.

What is it that the "moral" right fear about gay couples anyway? I am still waiting for a salient and powerful argument that doesn't involve the point that the bible says so.

Don't you think that kids growing up in gay homes have parents who actually want them rather than some of those crazy heterosexual homes where children are regularly beaten, raped, or even murdered?

Saturday, February 12, 2005

It's Love Thy Neighbor, no? Sub title: The Routing of Religious Fundamentalism Begins Home

Almost finished with Cornel West's book, Democracy Matters.

Here's an interesting snip I thought folks would like to mull over:

Starting on page 146:

The religious threats to democratic practices abroad are much easier to talk about than those at home. Just as demagogic and antidemocratic fundamentalisms have gained too much prominence in both Israel and the Islamic world, so too has a fundamentalist strain of Christianity gained far too much power in our political system, and in the hearts and minds of citizens. This Christian fundamentalism is exercising an undue influence over our government policies, both in the Middle East crisis and in the domestic sphere, and is violating fundamental principles enshrined in the Constitution; it is also providing support and "cover" for the imperialist aims of empire. The three dogmas that are leading to the imperial devouring of democracy in America - free market fundamentalism, aggressive militarism, and escalating authoritarianism - are often justified by the religious rhetoric of this Christian fundamentalism. And perhaps most ironically - and sadly - this fundamentalism is subverting the most profound, seminal teachings of Christianity, those being that we should live with humility, love our neighbors, and do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Therefore, even as we turn a critical eye on the fundamentalisms at play in the Middle East, the genuine democrats and democratic Christians among us must unite in opposition to this hypocritical, antidemocratic fundamentalism at home. The battle for the soul of American democracy is, in large part, a battle for the soul of American Christianity, because the dominate forms of Christian fundamentalism are a threat to the tolerance and openness necessary for sustaining any democracy."

End slice:

West has done some profound thinking here. I leave it to the comment slot to continue the discussion, but if it hurts, it must be true.

Will our Current Theocracy be comfortable with the New Iraq Islamic Democracy?

Lots of folks on the christian kick to push the US style of capitalistic driven, monotheistic deomcracy into arab countries might be a little upset when they finally announce who won the election. Did they do that already or have I simply missed the coverage by the Mainstream Media Propaganda Machine?

Still reading Cornel West's book, Democracy Matters. Still don't know if anyone else is reading it. If so, could you let us know with a comment. I would hate to think I was the only one interested in West's strong and powerful writing.

Anyway, here's what West has to say about "democracy" in non-christian dominated countries.

Slice starts on page 37:

...Western-style democracy has no future in the Islamic world. The damage has been done, the wounds are deep, and the die has been cast by the hypocritical European and nihilistic American imperial elites. There is simply no way to turn back the hands of time. The West had its chance and blew it. Yet the future of deomcracy in the Islamic world may be bright if democratic notions of voice and rights, community and liberties, rotation of elites and autonomous civic spaces are couched in Islamic terms and traditions. Wesern-style democracies - themselves in need of repair - are but one number of the family of democracy. Yet all democracies share certain common features, such as the voices of the demos; rotating elites; free expression of religion, culture, and politics; and uncoerced spaces for civic life. But we can encourage the Socratizing of Islam and the prophetizing of the Muslim populace even as we dismatle empire at home.

End slice:

Humm, are the bushites smart enough, strong enough, and tolerant enough to embrace and foster an islamic based democracy? Time will be the judge, no?

Incidentially, while surfing, I found an interesting link to a potentially very powerful organization called Democracy Matters - different from Cornel West's book. Nonetheless, it looks like they may be on the right track.

Friday, February 11, 2005

How much was Gannon, a.k.a. Guckert paid, and by whom?

I am wondering if the funneling of taxpayer dollars was indirectly shuffled via Karl Rove's office to get this Gannon nut to shill for the administration.

The whole situation is spurious and quite wholly unethical, and perhaps even against the law, if not just down right misleading to the American public.

Check out the open letter to Louise Slaughter from the Niagara Falls Reporter Editorial Staff.

Dear Rep. Slaughter,

As a small newspaper located in your district, we are asking for your help. It has come to our attention that an individual who calls himself "Jeff Gannon" has been credentialed by the White House to attend press briefings and presidential news conferences.

He is affiliated with an organization called Talon News, and is frequently called on by White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan and President Bush. This individual has no background in journalism whatsoever, and his "syndicated column" appears solely on his personal Web site, According to the Philadelphia Daily News, "Jeff Gannon" isn't even his real name.

In his biography at the Talon News site, where he holds the title of "Washington Bureau Chief," he claims to be a graduate of the "Pennsylvania State University System" and the Leadership Institute Broadcast School of Journalism.

While the 23 schools in the Penn State system award diplomas, the system itself does not, and the Daily News investigation has thus far failed to turn up a "Jeff Gannon" who holds a degree in education from Penn State, as this person claims he does. Furthermore, the Leadership Institute Broadcast School of Journalism is a right-wing diploma mill where anyone with $50 and two days to waste can receive a degree.

As for Talon News itself, it seems to consist solely of a Web site that links directly to a Republican site called Both Talon and GOPUSA have the same mailing address, a private residence in Texas. It isn't clear whether anyone at Talon News is paid, as one portion of its site asks, "Want to join the Talon News team? Click here to find out more about being a volunteer reporter for Talon News."

Looking at the staff biography section of the site, none of the 10 individuals listed appear to have any training or previous experience in journalism, although all list credentials as Republican activists.

We respectfully ask your office to look into how a partisan political organization and an individual with no credentials as a reporter -- and apparently operating under an assumed name -- landed a coveted spot in the White House press corps.


Bruce Battaglia, publisher, Mike Hudson, editor in chief, Rebecca Day, senior editor, David Staba, sports editor, Bill Gallagher, national correspondent, John Hanchette, senior correspondent, Frank Thomas Croisdale, contributing editor, Bill Bradberry, contributing editor, Niagara Falls Reporter.

End statement:

More from Mike Hudson, Niagara Falls Reporter: "Jeff Gannon or J.D. Guckert or whatever his name is isn't a real journalist. Here at the Niagara Falls Reporter, we do 22,000 print copies a week, have a half million Web visitors and a Pulitzer Prize-winner and Peabody Award-winner on staff. Does anyone think we could get an audience with the President? This isn't an issue of old media versus new media. It's an issue of fraud. Among other things, I've had my nose broken over stories I've written, and the way Gannon folded like a cheap suit when his credibility was called into question should tell everybody what he's about. We're running the gay cheesecake shots of him next week, by the way.''

End slice:

I suggest we blog on over to the Niagara Falls Reporter and link up to send the folks in the "Right"house a clear message that this unethical and outrageous use of "journalists" to shill for their agenda is simply wrong and must be stopped. Punishment should be some sort of jail time for someone. We don't live in Communist USSR now do we? You can't use the "press" like that.

And another thought, why aren't the riechwinger blogsters out there posting about this and just as infuriated as the rest of us?

It's the end of the world as we know it

..and I feel fine....Okay, sorry for putting that REM tune in your head, but I just stopped on over to visit Jin at the discontent malcontent and found that she had linked to a particularly funny video. Aparently, it has been around a while, but this was the first time I saw it.

Check this out.

Is the G.O.P really a Grand Old Party?

Hummm, with the latest exposure of our friendly republican "reporter," perhaps we ought to be in the business of renaming the Grand Old Party to something like the Grievously Opaque Perverts.

That is, instead of being up front about their perversions, they like to use subterfuge, cloak-and-dagger modes of going about their exploits (a la, Karl Rove - the chief GOP expert in this area). At times they are opaque enough about it to not get caught. But sometimes the veneer wears thin and we see them for who they really are, and they are exposed, once again.

Richard Nixon and the whole Watergate affair is a good example of what I am getting at here. As to the modern administrations' endeavors to this sort of behavior, how many can you identify? I leave you with one, and the ablity to point out more in the comments of this post.


James D. Guckert, who wrote under the name Jeff Gannon, said on his Web site that he was leaving "because of the attention being paid to me." He had been Washington bureau chief for Talon News, a conservative online news outlet associated with another Web site, GOPUSA.

Guckert frequently attended White House press briefings over the last two years and asked pointedly conservative questions. Called on by Bush at a Jan. 26 news conference, Guckert said Senate Democratic leaders were painting a bleak picture of the economy and he asked Bush how the president would work "with people who seem to have divorced themselves from reality."

The question prompted scrutiny, particularly from liberal bloggers. Guckert was linked with online domain addresses suggestive of gay pornography...

end slice:

Whether you think gay pornography is perverse, is certainly up to you, and definately a matter of personal opinion. I would suggest, disguising yourself as a reporter and pitching loaded questions to an otherwise unobjective president is perverse in another way. That is, fabrication is simply another form of lying...and as the saying goes, if you lie with the dogs, you are going to get fleas.

The begining of the end of Tenure

This just in from the Chronicle of Higher Education.


Higher education should consider changing the tenure system drastically to make academic careers less rigid, particularly for professors raising young children, the leaders of 10 research universities said in a report issued on Thursday.

The report, "An Agenda for Excellence: Creating Flexibility in Tenure-Track Faculty Careers," was sponsored by the American Council on Education and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. It says universities should consider:

  • Giving young professors up to 10 years -- instead of 6 -- to earn tenure.

  • Allowing faculty members to work part time for up to five years at a time.

  • Granting multiyear leaves to professors for personal and professional reasons.

  • Creating postdoctoral jobs to help people who have "stopped out" of academe after earning their Ph.D.'s, perhaps to raise a family, to re-enter their careers in higher education.
End slice:

My take on tenure is that it pledges "academic freedom," to only those who don't need it. That is, those without tenure tend to publish and conduct research that allows them to recieve tenure. It's a catch 22. If you do research that is considered cutting edge, it is likely that it won't be published. So, you do research that gets published, and thus conform to the norms of your field. Is that academic freedom? I think not. Those who need tenure the most, the new faculty starting their careers at the cuttting edge of the field, don't get it.

The real trouble with academic tenure as an important academic principle and philosophy has become inextricably linked as a defacto personnel policy. That is, if the faculty don't like you, they don't fire you, you simply get a "no tenure" decision. Challenge either one and the faculty become testy over the matter becuase they feel threatened.

There is a better way. I call it faculty free agency. More on that if you are interested.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

I double dare ya!

Well, at least we know the North Koreans have Nukes. And, they don't hide them in the wait, we haven't found any kind of WMD in any deserts....

The announcement is real chutzpah on the part of Kim Jung Il, don't you think. Is it smoke and mirrors or someone walking tall, and shaking a big stick? It sounds like they are asking to be carpet bombed, no?

I have friends in South Korea, I'll have to jingle them up on the old email and see what they think of this mess.


North Korea boasted publicly for the first time Thursday that it has nuclear weapons and said it will stay away from disarmament talks, dramatically raising the stakes in the 2-year-old dispute. The Bush administration called on Pyongyang to give up its atomic aspirations so life can be better for its impoverished people.

... "We ... have manufactured nukes for self-defense to cope with the Bush administration's ever-more undisguised policy to isolate and stifle the (North)," the North Korean Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency. The agency's report used the word "nukes" in its English-language dispatch.

... "The U.S. disclosed its attempt to topple the political system in (North Korea) at any cost, threatening it with a nuclear stick," North Korea's Foreign Ministry said. "This compels us to take a measure to bolster its nuclear weapons arsenal in order to protect the ideology, system, freedom and democracy chosen by the people in (North Korea)."

...The nuclear crisis began in 2002 when U.S. officials accused North Korea of running a secret uranium-enrichment program in violation of international treaties.

Washington and its allies cut off free fuel oil shipments for the impoverished country under a 1994 deal with the United States made under the condition that North Korea halt nuclear weapons development.

North Korea retaliated by quitting the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in early 2003 and restarting its plutonium-based nuclear weapons program, which had been frozen under the 1994 agreement.

The CIA has estimated that with a highly enriched uranium weapons program and the use of sophisticated high-speed centrifuges, North Korea could be making more. Some analysts and observers have put the estimate at six to eight.

End slice:

Sounds like W and co aren't itchin' for a fight there as they are in Iran. I wonder why, perhaps moving to a Southeast Asian theater from the mideast would be too much of a strain on our military.

Two questions come to mind, 1) do you feel safer with Bush at the helm given that they mention the guy directly in their message to us?

And 2) Hey, what's the Bush administration done for our impoverished people here in the Good Old USA, by the way? Just a little off topic, but since they brought it up...just thought I'd ask.

The level of paranoia on the right appears to be higher than on the left

There is some good reading in this NyTimes article by Frank Rich, but I loved his closing sentance after examining how Clint Eastwood, the legendary Dirty Harry celebrated by gun toting, card carrying members of the NRA, could now be considered a commie (as if that was all bad):

Take a gander at the full article, but here's my favorite line

What makes some feel betrayed and angry after seeing "Million Dollar Baby" is exactly what makes many more stop and think: one of Hollywood's most durable cowboys is saying that it's not always morning in America, and that it may take more than faith to get us through the night.

End slice:

The friend who suggested I read the article had this to say:

The problem here is that such explanations of Hollywood output shouldn't be necessary. They make movies not history. In the past month I've looked at Technorati's top 100. Some are right-wing news sources and blog. The level of paranoia on the right appears to be higher than on the left. They have a need to control the message to the point that they don't permit uncontrolled access to their Comments. Like dissenting voices would create FUD among the true believers. The right is AFRAID. Scared people are dangerous. They do dumb things based on their perceptions. One can only hope that the uniforms in the Pentagon are smart enough not to follow Bush's atomic button pushing order, should he want to do it.