Monday, January 31, 2005

Kevin Drum writes about how the GOP played with one set of rules when the Dems were the majority party, but since their rise to majority, they've gradually changed those rules. It's much like the pigs in Animal Farm -- the book to read if you want to understand this current version of Republicans.
Senate Democrats have relied on filibusters to block judicial nominees far more often than have minority parties in previous congresses. But there's good reason for this: Republicans have steadily done away with every other Senate rule that allows minorities to object to judicial nominees -- rules that Republicans took full advantage of when they were the ones out of power.

Originally, after Republicans gained control of the Senate in the 1994 elections and Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch assumed control of the Judiciary Committee, the rule regarding judicial nominees was this: If a single senator from a nominee's home state objected to (or "blue-slipped") a nomination, it was dead. This rule made it easy for Republicans to obstruct Clinton's nominees.

But in 2001, when a Republican became president, Hatch suddenly reversed course and decided that it should take objections from both home-state senators to block a nominee. That made it harder for Democrats to obstruct George W. Bush's nominees.

In early 2003 Hatch went even further: Senatorial objections were merely advisory, he said. Even if both senators objected to a nomination, it could still go to the floor for a vote.

Finally, a few weeks later, yet another barrier was torn down: Hatch did away with "Rule IV," which states that at least one member of the minority has to agree in order to end discussion about a nomination and move it out of committee.
Given this history, fair-minded Republicans would be better advised to restore some of the rules they themselves once defended so fervently than to attempt to tear down the last one remaining. After all, no majority lasts forever. Legislators should keep in mind the question posed by Thomas More in "A Man for All Seasons" when his daughter's suitor says he would cut down every last law to get at the Devil. "And when the last law was down," More asks, "and the Devil turned round on you, where would you hide?" -- Kevin Drum, Washington Post

Sunday, January 30, 2005

About 45 mins. ago, Bush gave a statement about the Iraqi elections. The third or fourth sentence of the statement has been transcribed by AP as follows:
Bush said they "firmly rejected the antidemocratic ideology" of terrorists.
I watched Bush live on NBC and winced when I heard him stare into the camera and firmly enunciate this point. HOWEVER, why is it the AP felt the need to clip the quotation marks at the word "ideology" when clearly (again, I heard it, saw it, and played it again to make sure) Bush said, "...ideology of the terrorists"....?

Yes, it's a big difference. Why? Because Bush and his administration continue to try to link our Iraq presence with 9-11, i.e. terrorists. Note he did not state Iraqis "firmly rejected the antidemocratic ideology of Saddam Hussein." It's subtle but it speaks volumes to how Bush/Cheney have tried to change the original message of why we invaded Iraq in the first place. When was the last time you heard any Republican mention WMD? Remember when this was all we heard? Yet, they now wish for us to assume & believe that terrorists were 1) in Iraq all along (false), and 2) that's indeed why we invaded (false again).

Worse yet, not just the American public allows them a pass on this huge lie, but also the press (AP, in this instance) allow for a pass by not fully quoting Bush on a key part of his statement. The AP story has been picked up by newspapers all over the country (just search right now on Google), so this slight -- but big -- misrepresentation is all anyone will see and they'll assume he perhaps did not state "terrorists" exactly, as it is not within quotation marks.

Liberal media bias? Ah, no, try instead inaccurate, or even lazy, media bias.

UPDATE: It was astounding to witness Bush making this statement on a Sunday NOT from his Texas ranch (yes, he was actually in Washington on a weekend!).
Whereas Thomas Jefferson is by far my favorite Founding Father (he would've undoubtedly been a Dem / liberal if alive today), not far behind is Ben Franklin. Example of why:
Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. ~ Benjamin Franklin
(thanks Peevish)

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Shocking! Another anti-environment story linked to GW:
Expansion of gas wells in Rocky Mountain states will degrade the air at several national parks.

GILLETTE, Wyo. — When he turned Mt. Rushmore into his granite canvas, sculptor Gutzon Borglum wrote that the faces of Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln would remain visible, Lord willing, "until the wind and the rain alone shall wear them away."

Borglum's vision endures in the Black Hills of South Dakota about 130 miles from here, but for nearly a month every year, it may soon become harder to see the famous faces through the man-made haze generated by the addition of 50,000 gas wells in northeastern Wyoming and southeastern Montana.

It is just one of several ways in which the largest expansion of natural gas drilling approved by the federal government is expected to degrade air quality in the region that today has the clearest skies in the lower 48 states.

The federal Bureau of Land Management, under pressure from the White House to fast-track energy production, approved the drilling plan two years ago without incorporating any requirements to reduce the resulting air pollution.

Government scientists expect that the drilling expansion, combined with a planned increase in coal mining and oil drilling in the northern Great Plains, will nearly double smog-forming emissions and greatly increase particulate matter pollution in a thinly populated region that has produced less than 3% of the amount of unhealthful air found in Los Angeles.

The BLM moved forward with the project despite its own air quality analysis, which concluded that the pollution would cloud views at more than a dozen national parks and monuments, exceed federal air quality standards in several communities and cause acid rain to fall on mountain lakes, where it could harm fish and wildlife.

The Environmental Protection Agency, National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service expressed similar concerns to the BLM.

The agency was told to expect particle-laden dust clouds and smog-forming exhaust from what amounted to a new industrial zone of gas wells, compressor stations and service roads spanning more than 30 million acres.

"From our review, it appears this project may be inconsistent with the Clean Air Act," Forest Service officials wrote in a 2002 letter to the BLM. The letter stated that the Forest Service was particularly concerned about the effects of pollution and acid rain on several popular wilderness recreation areas.
"It was one of the worst pieces of work I have seen in a long time, and it made me mad," said John Molenar, an air pollution consultant who has worked for the National Park Service. He was hired by a Wyoming environmental group, the Powder River Basin Resource Council, to review the gas project.

"Let's be honest about the consequences," Molenar said. "There will be an observable brown cloud at some times of the year that people will get mad about."
(LA Times)
And yet with Christie Whitman's recently released book, she'd have us all believe, "without irony, that Mr. Bush is a closet environmentalist, forced to hide his inner tree hugger for fear of riling Republican extremists."

Poor, poor GW, hostage to his own party. Oh yeah, I feel so sorry for him, he's completely powerless, bullied by some bad apples -- yet he's actually a virtuous, well-intended fellow. If true, then he's the most pathetic U.S. President ever, not just the worst.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Some theorize that after the election is held, the U.S. will finally cut and run from Iraq, leaving the country to sink or swim on its own. If indeed this were to happen, odds greatly favor Iraq descending into chaos and ultimately civil war. As it is, the Sunnis will likely not vote, and yet the Kurds and Shia likely will as they stand to gain, or lose, the most. Insurgent attacks on Iraqi pipelines has increased to the point where it's a daily occurence. Given the price of oil is already high, with production tapped out, is it conceivable that Bush/Cheney would take a chance on leaving this oil source vulnerable? Me thinks not. After all, it's the true reason we invaded in the first place.

If anything, the U.S. will likely dedicate more resources to the region, not less. The situation is a debacle but Bush has gone too far to retreat now. He just asked for another $80 bil. to finance our existing presence there -- imagine what it will cost when he is forced to increase this presence! The budget deficit will continue to erode in the process and eventually matters will worsen to the point where the GOP will begin to fracture.

Although that outcome will be a good one, it will have arrived at a horrific, tragic cost.
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Jan. 26 - When American troops entered Baghdad and overthrew the government of Saddam Hussein 21 months ago, Raad al-Naqib felt free at last.

But Dr. Naqib, a 46-year-old Sunni dentist who opposed Mr. Hussein, will not vote Sunday when Iraqis will have their first opportunity in a generation to participate in an election with no predetermined outcome. It is, he said, far too dangerous when insurgent groups have warned that they will kill anybody who approaches a polling station.

Starkly put, Baghdad is not under control, either by the Iraqi interim government or the American military.

On the bright spring day in April 2003 when marines helped topple Mr. Hussein's statue in Firdos Square, Baghdad, more than any other place in Iraq, was the place American commanders hoped to make a showcase for the benefits the invasion would bring.

Instead, daily life here has become a deadly lottery, a place so fraught with danger that one senior American military officer acknowledged at a briefing last month that nowhere in the area assigned to his troops could be considered safe. (NY Times)
Notice how the inauguration message was all about spreading liberty around the world. Recall in 2000 when GW campaigned against nation-building. More importantly, never lose sight of the fact that GW & Co. pounded home one message as a reason to invade Iraq: they had WMD (actually the second reason was Cheney's favorite: Sadam was linked to 9/11).

With the original reason(s) proven false, Bush has once again conducted a bait-and-switch, now emphasizing a spread-liberty message -- which if presented to Americans in the first place for invading Iraq would not have worked. Bush has to go with this new message because he has no choice -- an extremely scary predicament.

As this administration continues to make one blunder after another, the unfortunate outcomes have a boomerang effect, forcing GW to react in haste and rattle off increasingly poor decisions. We're on a steady spiral down thanks to him.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

The Ghost of Ari

Recall Ari Fleischer in 2001, laying down these stern words of warning:

"They're reminders to all Americans that they need to watch what they say, watch what they do."
Compare to Sen. George Allen regarding Doc Rice:
I ask my colleagues to be careful -- be careful in your criticism. People can say whatever they want and they’ll say something and I will say that doesn't make sense and here's a more logical approach and that sort of banter and back and forth is fine -- but in the criticism, and -- and statements, and also trying to divide opinion on this nomination of Dr. Rice, be careful not to be diminishing her credibility in the eyes of those in capitals around the world.
The scary times continue. It's okay for them to criticize anything and anyone, but don't dare say anything critical of anyone on their side. That would be anti-American, jeapordizing national security.
Terrific post on

Bush: Social Security Will Be Bankrupt in 1988

by Chris Bowers

From Talking Points Memo:

According to a July 28th, 2000 article in USA Today, back in 1978 when President Bush was running for congress in Texas, "he predicted Social Security would go broke in 10 years and said the system should give people 'the chance to invest money the way they feel' is best."

From the Texas Observer in 1999 concerning Bush's failed 1978 campaign:

According to Gary Ott, who was then a reporter for the Plainview Daily Herald, Bush stopped by the paper's little office "maybe five or six times. He'd sit down at my desk; he was a fun guy. He was very outgoing, very friendly, and we would argue politics since I was a liberal. We'd argue over Carter policies." Bush criticized energy policy, federal land use policy, subsidized housing, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration ("a misuse of power," he said), and he warned that Social Security would go bust in ten years unless people were given a chance to invest the money themselves."

Back then, he was completely wrong. Now, he is just lying.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Laffer (Laugher?) Associates is out with a report on Social Security, authored by Stephen Moore. Before continuing, for those not familiar with Mr. Moore you may want to check out his web site. His background is comprised of National Review, Cato Institute, Dick Armey, Heritage Foundation, Reagan, WSJ, Washington Times, Weekly Standard -- well, you get the picture: non-partisan he is not.

The 6-page report is titled "SOCIAL SECURITY: CAN BUSH STEER THE TITANIC AWAY FROM THE ICEBERG?" and about half way through Moore states the following,
In any case the current surpluses will likely evaporate for good in the year 2018. The Social Security Trustees concluded in their most recent annual report that the retirement system will then be in deficit and that those deficits will rise in every succeeding year. By 2042, about the time most Generation X’ers might be planning on retiring, the Social Security system will be technically insolvent. Retirees at that time will reach into the federal government’s bank vault for their pensions and find nothing but worthless IOUs. For these workers their plight will be an unhappy one: it will be like trying to get money out of a bank after it’s been robbed by Bonnie and Clyde.
OK, there you have more classic right-wing scare tactics, but that aside, if you go to the SS report he's referring to you'll find this stated conclusion,
Based on the Trustees’ best estimate, program cost will exceed tax revenues starting in 2018 and throughout the remainder of the 75-year projection period. Social Security’s combined trust funds are projected to allow full payment of benefits until they become exhausted in 2042. At that time annual tax income to the trust funds is projected to equal about 73 percent of program costs. Separately, the OASI and DI funds are projected to have sufficient funds to pay full benefits on time until 2044 and 2029, respectively. By 2078, however, annual tax income is projected to be only about two-thirds as large as the annual cost of the OASDI program.
Call me crazy but I do not believe what Moore states is equivalent to what I interpret in the above SSA's conclusion. Also, note that the CBO has projected that the trust fund will run out in 2052, not 2042, and even then still have enough to pay 80% of benefits. Admittedly, it needs to be fixed, but the point being 1) there's no crisis, and 2) they're doing it again: scaring the public via lies and manipulation to achieve an end.

Better still, the American Academy of Actuaries has set up a clever web site called "The Social Security Game." It helps to put in perspective a fix to this sudden "crisis" (don't you love the way the Republicans said zilch about this looming "catastrophe" prior to this year -- how is it that with the start of 2005 the sky is falling re SS??).

As I've written a few times before, the most logical first step to a cure is to raise the qualifying age from 65. Today's equivalent age to 1950's 65 is about 74. When playing the AAA's game, I selected just two fixes: 1) Gradually increase retirement age for full benefits, and 2) Affluence Test: Reduce benefits for those whose total retirement income exceeds $50,000 per year (another logical choice). Hey, and wouldn't you know it, I received a big congrats as I solved the problem! Those two choices fix over 100% of the problem (143% to be exact) and we're not talking radical changes, but rather two steps that should be enacted anyway.

Oh, and what happens if the only choice you make is "Invest 40% of the Social Security Trust Fund in private investments such as stocks"? It fixes just 50% of the problem.

Then again, we all know those actuaries are elitist, NY Times-reading pinko lefties, right?

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

When I'm bored and need a laugh, I sometimes check out the NY Post's editorials. I did so today and it didn't fail me -- just a hoot.

On this visit I was treated to a glowing send-off to Bill Safire, who has written his last Op-Ed column for the NY Times. Leaving aside that Safire was nowhere near as great as the Post suggests, the choice piece of hilarity comes from the following:
Many readers may have forgotten just how much public opposition there was to Safire's appointment: He came straight from the Nixon White House, where he'd been a highly regarded speechwriter (coining such phrases as "nattering nabobs of negativism"), leaving just as Watergate began to explode.
He was an unabashed libertarian conservative, at a time when such opinions were not widely represented in journalism — particularly on the pages of the Times. Indeed, then-publisher Arthur "Punch" Sulzberger, to his everlasting credit, said he was hiring Safire to "bring to us a new and different point of view."
Does the Times ever get enough credit for hiring someone like Safire some thirty odd years ago? All we ever hear is how it's leftist, pinko, etc. And it would be one thing if the paper hired just any "unabashed libertarian conservative" back then, but the Times went ahead and hired a Nixon speechwriter during the mushrooming of the explosive Watergate incident. Quite gutsy, I would say.

The Washington Times, NY Post, FOX News -- can someone point out a similar such hire by these outfits? Where is the equivalent "unabashed liberal"? And please don't offer up wet-noodle Alan Colmes -- we all know he's not the equivalent of a snaggle-tooth, pitbull Safire, not even close.

Of course, this fact is completely lost on the clueless Post. Whereas the Times attempts to provide diversity of voices via their stable of columnists, the right wing rags do not, period.

Fair & balanced -- hilarious.
Of 146 countries, where do you think the U.S. would rank concerning the environment? Granted, the current boob in office does not help matters, but even that considered, what would you think, top 5%? Top 10%? 20%?? Nope, try 31%. The U.S. ranks 45th out of 146 countries. The methodology involves 75 factors. Even when the U.S. is compared to a smaller set of countries exhibiting similar characteristics, we rank just in the middle.

Oh, but I forgot, this is of such little concern and importance since we must focus our attention on defeating terrorism and evil doers. Don't lose sight of what truly matters. The environment and all things associated with it are just a luxury when compared with the everyday fear we're supposed to maintain.

Right r-wingers? And I'm the alarmist?!

Monday, January 24, 2005

From the folks who brought us the terms "death tax" (vs. estate tax) and "compassionate conservatism," among many others, apparently they're now having great difficulty in finding the right phrase to tag on the Social Security "crisis."

If there's one thing the GOP does exceptionally well it's framing a given issue so that John Q. Public can quickly be swayed by it. Much like they've been doing on Madison Ave. for decades. If you for one second believe it when they say they never use focus groups or the like than you are 100% naive.

The Boston Globe article I'm referring to paints an interesting picture of the Republicans having difficulty with the word "private" when it comes to SS. Apparently,
Michael Tanner, director of the Social Security project at the libertarian Cato Institute, said ''the term 'privatization' always polls about 20 points lower than a description of it."
So, therein lies the headache: to come up with a term that's both clever and memorable -- and yet most important, deceives and achieves the end via whatever means.

Give it another week, maybe two, but you'll eventually hear the new buzz phrase regarding this "crisis" -- something will eventually come from the exhaustive focus group testing that undoubtedly is occurring round the clock.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

To go with the absurd SpongeBob-is-gay item making the rounds thanks to the lunatic Christian right-wing folks, in catching up with old reading I find the following in The New Republic:
The Pentagon continues to dismiss trained linguists--people whose skills are desperately needed in Iraq and elsewhere around the world--for being gay. In fact, newly obtained data from the Department of Defense reveals that these firings were far more widespread than previously known.
National security experts have identified the shortage of Arabic linguists as contributing to the government's failure to predict the September 11 attacks. The 9/11 Commission Report's assessment of the nation's preparedness for those and future strikes indicated that the government "lacked sufficient translators proficient in Arabic and other key languages, resulting in a significant backlog of untranslated intercepts." A 2002 General Accounting Office study concluded that staff shortages in Arabic and Farsi "adversely affected agency operations and compromised U.S. military, law enforcement, intelligence, counterterrorism and diplomatic efforts." And an October 2001 House Intelligence Committee report found that "thousands of pieces of data are never analyzed, or are analyzed 'after the fact' because there are too few analysts, even fewer with the necessary language skills."
Oh, the irony. Recall the religious leaders who stated at the time that America deserved what happened on 9/11 due to depravity, homosexuality, etc. Closer to the truth: 9/11 occurred more so due to a lack of tolerance and acceptance.

Irony and hypocrisy just never stops with the hateful right-wingers.
Once again, thankful these lunatics are on the other side....
LOS ANGELES, California (Reuters) -- Conservative Christian groups accuse the makers of a video starring SpongeBob SquarePants, Barney and a host of other cartoon characters of promoting homosexuality to children.
Meanwhile, it's pathetic but GW Sr. is out trying to bring clarity to his son's inauguration speech. It's like the parent who gets called by the police and the parent then has to explain the child meant no harm. For all of the first term, Bush Sr. remained quiet, letting his son create quite a mess of things everywhere he turned. It appears as if Papa Bush has finally seen enough and perhaps will be more vocal in trying to at least salvage what he can of his son's eight years.

Frankly, it would be we welcomed to have the father take more of an active role in running the country. In contrast to his son, Bush Sr.'s term in office is looking like a spectacular success! In fact, the current debacle in Iraq is making GHW's decision to pullback during the first Gulf War look like genius. Of course, this is not to say that GHW's presidency was actually something to celebrate, but it's all relative.

Despite the father's efforts to quell fears, scary Cheney is out saying quite the opposite (typical of an administration that consistently speaks out of both sides of the mouth -- double-speak and confusion is what they desire).

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Ready to piss on America some more...

(from TBogg)

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Although NY Times Paul Krugman's recent columns are the go-to source for social security debunking, this column does a very good job at summarizing, and debunking, much of GW's slung BS regarding the topic.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

MADRID (AP) — In a substantial shift from traditional policy, the spokesman for the Catholic Church in Spain has said it supports the use of condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS.
Sen. Rick Santorum must be losing lots of sleep....
Because Iraq is going so well....
U.S. Conducting Secret Missions Inside Iran
And even better....
Iran Says It Has Military Might to Deter Attack

Monday, January 17, 2005

Age Warfare

We've often heard the Republicans accuse the Dems of waging "class warfare," insinuating that the Dems are needlessly, and without grounds, making alarmist statements that would identify those policies that favor the rich at the expense of the less-rich. Example: GW's tax cuts. The GOP wanted all to believe it was a broad-based cut and yet the reality (for those who at least care about facts) is the cut HUGELY favored the wealthy. In other words, to call a spade a spade is what irks the GOP. In reality, they're passing legislation that further lays the groundwork for actual class warfare as this country grows more and more apart regarding the haves and have-nots, and yet it's those who have the nerve to speak out and call it for what it is that are the ones who are supposedly conducting class warfare. Incredible.

In the Sunday Boston Globe, Ellen Goodman writes about how GW is now working this same tactic concerning Social Security. Out of one side of his mouth, he's telling the seniors not to worry about the future, and out of the other he's inciting the young, telling them to be very afraid, that SS is a train wreck waiting to happen. As Goodman says, "The administration's goal is to placate the elders and alarm the young, to divide (the generations) and conquer."

You'll see, if a Dem were to speak out regarding this cheap tactic, get ready to hear the accusation, "you're just trying to incite age warfare!"

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Don't you just love the wacked-out-of-its-skull Wall Street Journal editorial page(s)? It never ceases to amaze me how the writing can on the surface appear so impressive (technically), and yet the reasoning and logic so nutzoid.

Example: every few weeks they've been publishing a "roundup of the past two weeks' good news from Iraq" column. It's basically a thumb-their-nose-at-the-"liberal"-press collection of what they deem lesser reported upbeat stories. OK, that would be fine and dandy if it weren't for the #1 reason for being in Iraq was to find WMD -- remember?! Nearly all of these "good news" items have to do with the nation-building that has BECOME the reason for invading Iraq (once it was apparent to all that no weapons, or terrorists, were there). Revisionist history is fast at work, erasing all that blather by Bush/Cheney, replaced by Iraqis need a better country (democracy) and we're the ones to provide it.

It's for this reason (among others) that reasonable people cannot take the WSJ editorial pages seriously. The intellectual dishonesty is so widespread it's comical.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

How ironic. A close friend of mine -- who happens to be stridently right-wing -- reads this blog and often accuses me of being alarmist. The fact is it's GW/Rove who use fear and end-of-the-world rhetoric to scare the public into going along with the administration's wishes. They did it with the lead-up to Iraq, they did it with the lead-up to this last election, and most recently, they're doing it with Social Security.

Paul Krugman wrote yesterday,
Last week someone leaked a memo written by Peter Wehner, an aide to Karl Rove, about how to sell Social Security privatization. The public, says Mr. Wehner, must be convinced that "the current system is heading for an iceberg."

It's the standard Bush administration tactic: invent a fake crisis to bully people into doing what you want.
Their bottom line belief: use whatever means necessary to obtain the desired end(s), period. One has to wonder where the born-again, virtuous tendencies enter into the equation (or could that too be just means to an end?).

As he's been doing in his column for weeks now, Krugman lets it be known that there is no crisis regarding SS -- certainly not anywhere near the degree that Bush will have us believe. It's all alarmist BS. As I wrote on Dec. 11, if SS needs any reform at all (and again, that's up for debate), the change that makes the most sense to me -- and will do wonders to the fiscal health of SS -- is to increase the age of eligibility. Thanks to progress, life expectancy has increased by 13% since 1950, or 9 years, and yet this achievement has not been applied to SS. Even increasing the age by just half of 9 would amount to astonishing actuarial cures.

Nope, better to scare the public with the aim of throwing billions to corporate interests.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The National Academy of Sciences is criticizing the EPA for its policy regarding acceptable levels of perchlorate in drinking water. Apparently, the Pentagon applied pressured for the NAS to respond to this issue. In fact, Molly Ivins reports:
The Natural Resources Defense Council has just released papers showing that the Defense Department and defense contractors collaborated in a backroom campaign to manipulate a federal report on the health threat of perchlorate, a toxic rocket fuel ingredient, in the water. The National Academy of Sciences is to release the report this week. What the NRDC has is evidence that pressure was put on the Academy of Sciences.
Of course, the White House is tickled to hear of this NAS news:
A Bush administration official praised the report as an independent review that can help settle the debate.
"We respect the (Academy) recommendations," says Bob Hopkins of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
Hmm. Funny how this administration has apparently not voiced "respect" for prior such NAS advisements. Examples: "National Academy of Sciences Finds Bush Draft Climate Science Plan Inadequate" and "EPA ignores National Academy of Sciences on tap water contaminants."

Just like I thought, they pick and choose with the consistency being always that which is anti-environment.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Imagine What Would Happen If It Was Clinton (or another Dem), Exhibit #817:
All three papers front the Bush administration's controversial $240,000 contract with conservative TV personality Armstrong Williams, who agreed to promote Bush's education policies on the air and to other black media figures. Williams has a syndicated TV show and newspaper column and appears frequently on CNN, NBC, and elsewhere. When the story became public, he called his failure to disclose the paid arrangement "an error in judgment." Congressional Democrats have begun to complain about what they see as a Bush pattern of "bribing journalists to bias their news in favor of government policies." The LA Times notes: "In two cases last year, the Government Accountability Office, Congress' nonpartisan investigative arm, declared that departments under Bush had engaged in illegal "covert propaganda." []
Does this register with anyone? My guess: approximately half of America is likely outraged like myself (i.e. non-GW zombies), then you have the GW legion, X amount of which are religious folks who seemingly could care less about any indiscretions above the zipper, and the remaining numbers are so gung-ho sold on this fool that they simply live in denial.

The state of affairs in this country -- forget Iraq -- is sorry. We're hitting new lows when it comes to tolerating, and in effect encouraging, hypocrisy. I could be wrong but I recall Jesus having much to say about hypocrites.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

After suffering from a spate of kookiness, Peter Beinart is back to making sense:
The tsunami has uncovered a dirty little secret about the right today: Conservatives are fascinated by American power, but they are not all that interested in the world.
Conventional wisdom holds that all this has changed since September 11. And, in a sense, the right has been transformed--conservatives have grown extremely interested in using the U.S. military to stop terrorism and nuclear proliferation. But that's not the same as becoming interested in the world. True internationalism means taking an interest in events overseas even when they don't bear directly on the war on terrorism; when they are not easily amenable to American power. It means being interested in the world, at least partly, merely because we live in it. By that standard, the isolationism of the '90s remains alive and well.
It's just further proof of the narrow-minded, selfish thinking of the right, and frankly one that is far removed from reason and reality. As an example, The Wall Street Journal (!) recently wrote an article that clearly explained how China's economic growth is creating pollution in the good ol' USA:
Mercury and other pollutants from China's more than 2,000 coal-fired power plants soar high into the atmosphere and around the globe on what has become a transcontinental conveyor belt of bad air. North America and Europe add their own dirty loads to the belt. But Asia, pulsating with the economic rebirth of China and India, is the largest contributor.

"We're all breathing each other's air," says Daniel J. Jacob, a Harvard professor of atmospheric chemistry and one of the chief researchers in a recent multinational study of transcontinental air pollution. He traced a plume of dirty air from Asia to a point over New England, where samples revealed that chemicals in it had come from China.
But the ignorant will no doubt continue to believe that America can remain the invincible superpower it's become and screw the rest of the world. Again and again, facts either escape them or they simply opt for the lazy route, choosing to create a reality out of thin -- mercury-filled -- air.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Plug: The bible for all liberals should be Robert Reich's Reason, -- it's outstanding. He is so dead-correct about nearly everything and makes a coherent, lucid case for each point. It's incredibly refreshing when compared to someone like Bill O'Reilly or Ann Coulter (in fact, read this book and then read either a Coulter or O'Reilly volume of tripe -- you'll see what I mean). If it weren't for Reich's unfortunate small height, he'd likely have been our president by now.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Josh Marshall:
The challenges we face over the next several decades aren't really Social Security problems but national indebtedness problems, though the issues are clearly related.

One obvious and immediate way to relieve long-term pressures on Social Security financing is to reduce the national debt ... by ending our habit of running huge annual deficits or even better by paying down some of our accumulated debt (there are complicated macro-economic questions related to this second point; but in general it's correct.)

But what has President Bush done? He's presided over the biggest fiscal turnaround in American history, taking the country from modest annual surpluses to the biggest deficits -- at least in non-adjusted dollar terms -- in American history. And that's only one reason why you can make a decent argument that President Bush has done more than any other president and perhaps any other single American ever to endanger Social Security's future.

Across the board, it's just one big scam.

The guy who's the biggest threat to Social Security says he wants to 'save' it by abolishing the program and replacing it with private accounts.