Monday, February 28, 2005
Social Security “fright mail” targeting seniors helped fund GOP leader’s trips to UK, Asia Conservative groups that raised millions of dollars from seniors frightening them about the status about Social Security paid more than $130,000 for DeLay trips.
It's pretty widely understood that average incomes have stagnated during the past three decades, but as bad as that is in a country as rich as America, what's worse — and less widely understood — is how much riskier [economic] life has become: income volatility has skyrocketed, the minimum wage is down, the number of people with company pensions is down, average job tenure has dropped from 11 years to 7, and the number of people with health insurance has fallen seven percentage points.
This is not easy stuff to present and it's not easy to grasp, but it's an essential part of the economic story of America and it's an essential backdrop to our current debates over Social Security, Medicaid, and tax reform. Life is getting riskier every year, more and more people are living on the thin edge of disaster, and instead of working to ameliorate this the Republican party is working hard to make it riskier still.
Republican Congressman Sam Johnson told a group of veterans he wants to get in on the bloodlust and nuke thousands of Syrians. While speaking at a veterans' event at a United Methodist church(!) in Allen, Texas, on February 19, Johnson said that he was recently chatting with the second President Bush on the White House porch and informed Bush that he believes those nonexistent WMDs are in Syria. Recounting his conversation with Bush, Johnson said he had told Bush,As someone who has a nephew in the military this is unacceptable from any legislator.
Syria is the problem. Syria is where those weapons of mass destruction are, in my view. You know, I can fly an F-15, put two nukes on 'em and I'll make one pass. We won't have to worry about Syria anymore.
According to Roll Call's Akers (subscriber only), who was given access to a tape of the event, the "crowd roared with applause."
Johnson and his supporters are ignorant barbarians. First, as both David Kay and Charles Duelfer, the two chief WMD hunters, have each reported, Iraq had no WMD programs up and running in the years before the war. There were no WMDs to hide in Syria or anywhere else. Second, to joke--or half-joke--about a nuclear attack against any nation is an atrocious action for a legislator who has the Constitutional authority to vote for war. (And Johnson, a leading House GOPer, is a member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, meaning he has a hand on the purse strings.) Pardon me for not having a sense of humor about nuclear war, but I can only imagine how the Arab press might cover these dumb-ass remarks.
Amazingly, I have had a number of conservatives tell me that there is no real violations of civil rights by this administration. Then they sometimes add, if you are not guilty. Bob Herbert of The New York Times writes > Thrown to the Wolves
In the fall of 2002 Mr. Arar, a Canadian citizen, suddenly found himself caught up in the cruel mockery of justice that the Bush administration has substituted for the rule of law in the post-Sept. 11 world. While attempting to change planes at Kennedy Airport on his way home to Canada from a family vacation in Tunisia, he was seized by American authorities, interrogated and thrown into jail. He was not charged with anything, and he never would be charged with anything, but his life would be ruined.
Mr. Arar was surreptitiously flown out of the United States to Jordan and then driven to Syria, where he was kept like a nocturnal animal in an unlit, underground, rat-infested cell that was the size of a grave. From time to time he was tortured.
He wept. He begged not to be beaten anymore. He signed whatever confessions he was told to sign. He prayed.
Among the worst moments, he said, were the times he could hear babies crying in a nearby cell where women were imprisoned. He recalled hearing one woman pleading with a guard for several days for milk for her child.
He could hear other prisoners screaming as they were tortured.
"I used to ask God to help them," he said.
The Justice Department has alleged, without disclosing any evidence whatsoever, that Mr. Arar is a member of, or somehow linked to, Al Qaeda. If that's so, how can the administration possibly allow him to roam free? The Syrians, who tortured him, have concluded that Mr. Arar is not linked in any way to terrorism.
Saturday, February 26, 2005
Reuters: While some Rwandans welcomed "Hotel Rwanda" as a reminder for the world of the killings of some 800,000 people, survivors who watched copies of the film said it should have contained more graphic scenes of violence.
A couple days ago I noticed that the Lyndon LaRouche organization had outed him as speaking for privatization at GOP town halls.
Friday, February 25, 2005
First, he's a fund-raiser par excellence...
Second, and more important, Dean knows not only how to raise money but what to do with it once he gets it - [grassroots organizing.]..
Third, he is charismatic...
Dean's appeal doesn't lie primarily in the fact that he's a great speaker (although he is) but in the fact that he's a great listener...
Just another deluded Deaniac? No, how about a GOP Senate candidate and former head of the Seattle Republican Party.
Forwarded by Carl Whitmarsh of South East Texas Democrats who added this: Democrats' mistake was in thinking that a disastrous war, national bankruptcy, erosion of liberties, corporate takeover of government, environmental destruction, squandering our economic and moral leadership in the world and systematic lying would be of concern to the electorate. The Republicans correctly saw that the chief concern of the electorate was to keep gay couples from having an abortion.
WorkingForChange-Christian right mum on Gannon Affair
Via e-mail, I asked Aravosis why he thought the Christian right was being silent about the Gannon Affair.
"Because they're hypocrites," he wrote in an e-mail. "They know this scandal is hurting Bush and they put politics ahead of their God. That's how petty and un-Christian they are."
"Am I correct in thinking that they certainly would have responded to a similar situation if Bill Clinton was still president?," I asked. Aravosis responded with tongue firmly implanted in cheek: "Do you think the religious right would care if Bill Clinton welcomed a gay hooker to the White House, and then slipped him classified intelligence information? Let me think about that one."
I copied it from a Texas blog, cleaned it up a little and downloaded it to a free image hosting site, ImageShack where I host pictures I might want to use.
Of course, I have lost the original Texas blog site - Correction, over at Arvin Hill's blog.
Thursday, February 24, 2005
Link to a graphic of the start of his long report for the GOP.
Link to zip download of whole report hosted at Daily Kos.
The Left Coaster blogs Legal Fiction: Republicans have won the votes of the Red State elderly and working class by stressing cultural issues and national security. To stray from this tried-and-true formula for success is a gamble – one with great possible rewards, but great risks too.
That’s why Bush’s post-SOTU tour of Red-States-with-Democratic-Senators was so fundamentally misguided. Bush can wedge these Senators on almost any issue, yet he chose the one issue that every Democrat in every region of the country can rally around. Hell, if you ask a (white) Democrat in Mississippi why they’re still a Democrat, they’ll probably cite Social Security. It’s the one issue where every Red State Democrat has infinite political cover to support the national party’s platform.
as Long as Neocon Corporate Interests are Served
An uncle of John Perkins’s wife had an executive position with the National Security Agency and was able to pull strings to give him a position that could have led to enormous riches, but in the process the New Englander developed conscience pangs as he saw predatory global economic activity from a participant’s perspective. The ultimate result was the writing and publication of “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man,” one of the most important critiques of global economics to surface in some time.
NYT - Funny if it wasn't serious
Campaign for America's Future, accused the subcommittee chairman, Representative Jim McCrery of Louisiana, of conflict of interest, saying he had accepted nearly $200,000 in contributions over four years from securities firms and commercial banks that could benefit from Mr. Bush's plan to let workers invest in retirement accounts.
On Thursday, the group will begin running newspaper advertisements against Mr. McCrery under the headline "Who Does This Man Work For?" in his hometown, Shreveport. In addition, it is using the Internet to raise money for television advertisements.
Mr. McCrery responded by accusing the group, which is backed by labor unions and left-leaning philanthropists, including George Soros, of "extreme liberal bias."
As Mr. McCrery and his detractors traded barbs, supporters of Mr. Bush's plan battled among themselves. The Cato Institute, the libertarian research organization that has long been a leader in pushing for private Social Security accounts, lashed out at USA Next, a conservative lobbying group that says it plans to spend up to $10 million on commercials and other tactics attacking AARP, the retirees' organization.
"This is not very bright politics," Michael Tanner, the director of health and welfare studies at Cato, said in a telephone interview. In particular, he objected to an Internet advertisement by USA Next that tries to paint AARP as an advocate of same-sex marriage. "Introducing homophobia and other things that are not relevant to Social Security reform is not helpful," Mr. Tanner said. AARP says it has no position on same-sex marriage.
But Charlie Jarvis, the president of USA Next, said his group would not back down. "We are going to make sure their members know their position on that and every other issue," he said of AARP, adding, "They can run, but they cannot hide."
Rockridge Institute -- Lakoff
Every time someone would scream about [John] Edwards’s being a trial lawyer, I’d respond with public protection lawyer and how they are the last defense against negligent corporations and [are] professional, and that the opposite of a public protection lawyer is a corporate lawyer who typically makes $400-500/per hr., and we pay that in higher prices for good and services.There are a lot of guidelines. But there are only four really important ones:
Every time someone started screaming about “gay marriage” I’d ask if they want the federal government to tell them who they could marry. I’d go on to explain when challenged that once government has crossed the huge barrier into telling one group of people who they could not marry, it is only a small step to telling other groups, and a smaller yet step to telling people who they had to marry.
I also asked for definitions. Every time someone would holler “dirty liberal,” I’d request their definition of “liberal.”
The last was my own hot button. Every time someone would scream “abortion,” “baby-killer,” etc., I’d suggest that if they are anti-abortion, then by all means, they should not have one.
I’ve got to tell you, the results were startling to me. I had some other people (completely unknown to me) join me and take up the same tacks. By last night, the chat room was civil. An amazing (to me) number of posters turned off their capitalization and we were actually having conversations.
I’m going to keep this up, but I really wanted you to know that I heard Dr. Lakoff, appreciate his work, and am trying to put it into practice. And it’s really really fun.
Thanks, Penney Kolb
* Show respect
* Respond by reframing
* Think and talk at the level of values
* Say what you believe
The Daily Howler: For years—by now, one can almost say “for decades”—the Outrage Machine of the kooky-con right has made a joke of American discourse, and Dowd’s “media elite” has stared into air, too polite to confront this spreading cancer.
Over $200 million will be spent to convince us that we should privatize Social Security and change the rules of class-action lawsuits. In other words, they want to make us in favor of our own screwing by corporate special interests.
This has been done before, but not at this incredible level. When the insurance industry mounted a $10 million campaign in 1993 to defeat the Clinton health insurance plan (remember Harry and Louise?), no one had ever seen that kind of money spent to kill a single bill before. And now, The Washington Post reports, "Corporate America, the financial services industry, conservative think tanks, much of the Washington trade association community, the Republican Party, and GOP lobbyists and consultants are prepared to spend $200 million or more to influence the outcome of two of the toughest legislative fights in recent memory."
Bush's Social Security privatization plan is so bad (not to mention that it doesn't fix Social Security, as even he now admits), it is unclear if even a massive public relations campaign can save it. But be prepared to watch them try.
WorkingForChange-This Modern World
It helps if the So-Called Liberal Media is really on your side. The Washington Post on the SCLM decision to downplay Bush's past drug use.
GOP talking point expert Luntz is telling Republicans to stay away from "facts and figures" like the plague.
BuzzFlash Interviews Susan Jacoby, Author of Freethinkers
... Reading God into the Constitution is the exact opposite of strict constructionism. In fact, leaving God out of the Preamble to the Constitution – it was revolutionary. There had never been a government that legally separated church and state before, and it was very deliberate. The omission of God from the Constitution was debated at all of the state ratifying conventions about the Constitution before and when it was finally ratified.
And the Christian right at the time – the right-wing ministers – were very opposed and predicted that God would smash America for leaving Him out of the document. And by the way, this was a division then, too, between conservative and liberal religion, not only between conservative religious people and freethinkers, because religious dissidents also supported the separation of church and state strongly in the Constitution. And indeed, it was a coalition of freethinkers – of people like Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine – and dissident Evangelicals – Baptists, for instance, who were then the minority religion in most states, who joined in this coalition to support the separation of church and state. How far we have come from that.
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Is it relevant for the Twenty-First Century?"
I am agreeing with Saletan here in that gradually raising the retirement age should be on the table.
How much money would a higher retirement age save? According to the Congressional Budget Office, if the ascent to age 67 were accelerated and completed by 2016, and if the retirement age kept rising two months a year until it hit age 70 in 2037, and if the rate of increase then slowed to one month every two years, Social Security outlays in 2050 would decline by 12 percent.
Several solutions including raising the retirement age are covered here by the CBO.
The U.S. voting system is more vulnerable to manipulation than most Americans realize. Technologies such as electronic voting machines provide no confirmation that votes are counted as cast, and highly partisan election officials have the power to suppress votes and otherwise distort the count.
Exit polls are highly accurate. They remove most of the sources of potential polling error by identifying actual voters and asking them immediately afterward who they had voted for.The exit polls were based on more than 70,000 confidential questionnaires completed by randomly selected voters as they exited the polling place. The overall margin of error should have been under 1 percent. But the official result deviated from the poll projections by more than 5 percent—a statistical impossibility.
The pollsters report that the precincts were appropriately chosen for sampling, in that the aggregated official results from the sampled precincts accurately reflected the official statewide ballot counts.
In saying this, Mitofsky and Edison vindicate a key piece of their methodology—the representativeness of their samples. If the fault indeed lies with the exit polls, the range of possibilities for error is therefore narrowed.
Finally, they report that the source of error is, in fact, within-precinct error (WPE), the difference between official precinct tallies and the exit poll samples from those same precincts. On average, across the country, the President did 6.5 percent better in the official vote count, relative to Kerry, than the exit polls projected.
This admission further narrows the range of possibilities. If the polling data are accurate, the only remaining possibilities are "non-response bias" (i.e., Bush voters disproportionately did not participate in the exit polls) and/or errors in the official tally.
Second, in light of the charges that the 2000 election was not legitimate, the Bush/Cheney campaign would have wanted to prevail in the popular vote. If fraud was afoot, it would make sense that the president's men would steal votes in their strongholds, where the likelihood of detection is small. Lo and behold, the report provides data that strongly bolster this theory. In those precincts that went at least 80 percent for Bush, the average within-precinct-error (WPE) was a whopping 10.0—the numerical difference between the exit poll predictions and the official count. That means that in Bush strongholds, Kerry, on average, received only about two-thirds of the votes that exit polls predicted. In contrast, in Kerry strongholds, exit polls matched the official count almost exactly (an average WPE of 0.3).
Other report data undermine the argument that Kerry voters were more likely to complete the exit poll interview than Bush voters. If this were the case, then one would expect that in precincts where Kerry voters predominated, the cooperation rate would be higher than in pro-Bush precincts. But in fact, the data suggest that Bush voters were slightly more likely to complete the survey: 56 percent of voters completed the survey in the Bush strongholds, while 53 percent cooperated in Kerry strongholds.
--In These Times
HoustonChronicle.com - Hines also had this: "Given his own aggressively partisan background, Gingrich expressed surprise that Democrats aren't piling on more on issues such as Republican contracts with conservative commentators and the White House's admission of a pro-Republican male hooker to the press corps."
Inverted yield curve points to a second Bush recession after never completely recovering from his first one. Almost every time the short term rates have exceeded long term rates, which is what seems to be happening now, there is a recession.
"Regardless of which school of thought the Fed follows, one thing seems certain: this economy is heading for a slowdown."
The best S&P can say is maybe 2005 won't be that bad.
Warning signal. Someone else has also spotted this at Daily Kos - the coming recession.
This is where I first heard we were getting an inverted yield curve situation - on NPR.
Al Gore's recipe for leadership recognizes that the initial step toward redefining the economy will take moral leadership and action. In this way, his current campaign draws on the ideas he first presented in his book, Earth in the Balance. There, he said that the preservation of the environment should become the new organizing principle for society. In other words, the new morality.
Preemptive Karma: Dean vs. Perle part 1.
In between Preemptive Karma also had a conversation with a dittohead - full of inaccurate myths as most are.
Carla posts her summary of the debate.
I like Preemptive Karma which I found through Google, their blog hasn't been black holed yet. Here is Carla on the blurry election focus of the GOP.
Here is the S-CLM take on the debate.
Another more detailed and funnier report of the debate with a debate in the comments afterwards. I would like to add we have a great new DNC head in Dean.
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
The top conservative news service outs top GOP officials in article discussing outing. They even make an oblique reference to Rove's links to gays.
Short overview of privatization roots - not very comprehensive.
LaRouche - Bush's Social Security Privatization -- Foot In the Door For Fascism
Have I changed my opinion that he is an egomaniacal fraud who exploits his followers and is basically a political cult? No, but I am now thinking his followers are doing legitimate research. The fact he is now going after the Social Security privatization deceit which he predicted that Bush would turn to next probably accounts for the degree of my agreement with his publications today.
This is a link to a LaRouche site which had this interview with Social Security Trustee Thomas Saving
"The Social Security Trust Fund holds $1.5 trillion of U.S. Treasury bonds. Are you saying the government should default on the bonds?" Saving said, "We will honor the bonds." EIR: "Then the Trust Fund can use the interest from the bonds." Saving said, "The interest on the bond is a fiction, it's not real." EIR pursued the point. "The Treasury pays interest on Treasury bonds held by the Chinese and Japanese. That is real. Why isn't the interest owed to American bond-holders real?" Saving snapped, "We have to pay interest to the Chinese and Japanese. We can decide to break the rules. 535 people [i.e., the Congress] can rule that the bonds don't have to pay interest" to the Trust Fund.
Saving is a Social Security Trustee. Should he not be removed?
Easy to forget in the bustle of day-to-day battles is the fact that Norquist prides himself on thinking big. "That," he says, "is one of the reasons Newt and I got along so well." During one conversation, in a crowded hallway at February's Conservative Political Action Conference, Norquist reaches into his jacket pocket and extracts a sketched-out timeline starting in 1980 and going to 2040. On it, neatly arrayed in rows, are a dozen or fifteen projects of Norquist's "center-right coalition," some nearly completed, others not even to begin for a decade or more. Some, like privatization of Social Security, will take twenty years, he believes. Others, such as the elimination of racial preferences, abolition of affirmative action and even the elimination of racial and ethnic categories in future censuses--a package he lumps together as "the creation of a color-blind society"--may take longer than that. And some projects seem almost quaint, such as his quirky effort to name things, almost anything, after Ronald Reagan.Schwarzenegger also proposed what's sure to be a hotly-contested plan to overhaul the CalPERS public employees pension program. He said he wants to do away with pensions and move to a system in which employees would fund their own retirement. January 5, 2005
Still others can be won piecemeal, and right away. Asked to name one that might emerge as his next battleground, he pauses. Well, he says, there's the matter of all those state and local pension plans. State by state, he's planning to launch a campaign to dismantle and privatize state pension plans and their trillions of dollars of public funds held as investments for retirees. "Just 115 people control $1 trillion in these funds," he says. "We want to take that power and destroy it." From the Nation - May 14, 2001 issue
Monday, February 21, 2005
Ezra Klein: Who Triangulates? has a great observation that parties need to appeal to their base while it is politicians who can cross over to the center.
Urban Legends Reference Pages: Claim: Members of Congress receive lavish pensions but are not required to contribute to the Social Security fund. Status: False.
This is a very common myth and going around in emails.
FROM: DR. HUNTER S. THOMPSON
SUBJECT: THE DEATH OF RICHARD NIXON:
NOTES ON THE PASSING OF AN AMERICAN MONSTER....HE WAS A LIAR ND A QUITTER, AND HE SHOULD HAVE BEEN BURIED AT SEA. ...BUT HE WAS, AFTER ALL, THE PRESIDENT.
How Thompson said goodbye to Richard Nixon is as good a way to remember the high priest of gonzo as any. R.I.P.
Meanwhile "Jeff" hosts a right-wing radio show, "Jeff Gannon's Washington," and authors homophobic articles, focusing on Democrats' gay-friendly positions, including one on October 12, 2004 warning that John Kerry "could become the first gay president." Then, alas, his ass-kissing questions raise suspicions that he might be a GOP plant. Web sleuths discover his play-for-pay past, feel indignant not so much about his business ventures as his abject hypocrisy, and they expose his sorry ass to a broader audience than he'd ever intended...
It entertains me to read his conservative defenders obliged to indignantly insist that his private life shouldn't be an issue. By all means, may they continue to work with that concept, and maybe despite themselves work their way out of their homophobia. And may Jim/Jeff get some therapy to resolve the self-hatred so apparent in his dual career. Meanwhile, the blogs are abuzz with speculation. Did the guy sleep his way into the White House? That's a merely amusing issue. More seriously: Why was he so involved in the effort to discredit South Dakota Sen. Tom Daschle? How'd the "journalist" know hours in advance about the attack on Iraq? How did he get access to the Plame memo?
Perhaps we are on the edge of a major scandal here. We know that the White House has used taxpayers' money to pay at least six journalists, most notably Armstrong Williams, to promote its agenda. We know that soon after 9-11 government officials openly declared their intention to seed the news with content promoting "America's interests," and although public indignation quieted such talk, the government-press relationship has never been so intimate. The "Gannon" episode is the appropriate metaphor for the whole illicit relationship.
All empires have a finite life, and end in violence.
How evolution works - Monday's pond scum is Tuesday's Tom DeLay
Wal-Mart: It's even worse than you think!
Alternet: The Right-Wing Express
To get their message out, the conservatives have a powerful media empire, which churns out and amplifies the message of the day - or the week - through a wide network of outlets and individuals, including Fox News, talk radio, Rush Limbaugh, Oliver North, Ann Coulter, as well as religious broadcasters like Pat Robertson and his 700 Club. On the web, it starts with TownHall.com
Fueling the conservative message machine with a steady flow of cash is a large group of wealthy individuals, including many who serve on the boards of the Big 80.
CJR Campaign Desk takes the media to task for ignoring long term additional costs of privatization.
For the best look at the financial implications of a Bush Social Security plan see here. For someone born today it would be a benefit cut of 50%.
Proposing Solutions - Iraq Permitting Iraq to have self-determination—and a likely decentralized form of governance—is not a perfect solution, but it is very likely the best way out of what has become an ill-advised military adventure. This policy alternative would allow the United States to act more in accordance with its founding principles, to cut its losses in credibility from an unnecessary invasion, to escape a large quagmire, to remove a huge financial albatross hanging from taxpayers’ necks, and to say that it removed a dictator and gave Iraq the best chance for future peace and prosperity. Today, there is much hand wringing among the U.S. foreign elite about what to do in another half-hearted Vietnamesque war. The exit strategy proposed here is the best and only real option.
"These plans won't work for most people and would destroy Social Security for the vast number of Americans who depend on it," said Eric Kingson, a professor of social work at Syracuse University who has studied the Galveston plan.This $460 per month has no annual cost of living increase and used a higher income tax rate.
"What we can learn from the Galveston experience is who will win and who will lose if we move toward this privatization plan," Kingson added. "People who work long and hard at relatively low wages get a proportionately higher benefit from Social Security, and that's because its purpose is to provide a basic set of protections for Americans."
The bottom line for many Galveston County retirees is the size of their check every month. And some say they have been bitterly disappointed.
"I get around $460 per month now, but under Social Security, I would have gotten $1,000," said Joyce Longcoy, who retired in 1998 after 23 years working for Galveston County. "They are putting this up to be a model for the rest of the country. Some model."
The New York Times Magazine had this very good article:
What can we tell about the designer from the design? While there is much that is marvelous in nature, there is also much that is flawed, sloppy and downright bizarre... In mammals, for instance, the recurrent laryngeal nerve does not go directly from the cranium to the larynx, the way any competent engineer would have arranged it. Instead, it extends down the neck to the chest, loops around a lung ligament and then runs back up the neck to the larynx. In a giraffe, that means a 20-foot length of nerve where 1 foot would have done. If this is evidence of design, it would seem to be of the unintelligent variety.
Such disregard for economy can be found throughout the natural order. Perhaps 99 percent of the species that have existed have died out. Darwinism has no problem with this, because random variation will inevitably produce both fit and unfit individuals. But what sort of designer would have fashioned creatures so out of sync with their environments that they were doomed to extinction?
The gravest imperfections in nature, though, are moral ones. Consider how humans and other animals are intermittently tortured by pain throughout their lives, especially near the end. Our pain mechanism may have been designed to serve as a warning signal to protect our bodies from damage, but in the majority of diseases -- cancer, for instance, or coronary thrombosis -- the signal comes too late to do much good, and the horrible suffering that ensues is completely useless.
And why should the human reproductive system be so shoddily designed? Fewer than one-third of conceptions culminate in live births. The rest end prematurely, either in early gestation or by miscarriage. Nature appears to be an avid abortionist, which ought to trouble Christians who believe in both original sin and the doctrine that a human being equipped with a soul comes into existence at conception. Souls bearing the stain of original sin, we are told, do not merit salvation. That is why, according to traditional theology, unbaptized babies have to languish in limbo for all eternity. Owing to faulty reproductive design, it would seem that the population of limbo must be at least twice that of heaven and hell combined.
Friday, February 18, 2005
Strip Club Artfully Slips by Anti-Nudity Law
BOISE, Idaho (Reuters) - A strip club in Boise, Idaho has found an artful way to prance past a city law that prohibits full nudity.
On what it calls Art Club Nights, the Erotic City strip club charges customers $15 for a sketch pad, pencil, and a chance to see completely naked women dancers.
In 2001 the Boise City Council passed an ordinance banning total nudity in public unless it had "serious artistic merit" -- an exemption meant to apply to plays, dance performances and art classes.
"We have a lot of people drawing some very good pictures," said Erotic City owner Chris Teague, who has posted many of the drawings around the club.
Teague said he got the idea when a customer asked if he could get in for free to sketch the dancers. Realizing that "art classes" were exempt from the law, Teague decided to bill Mondays and Tuesdays as art nights, and let the dancers go without their G-strings and pasties.
In the two months since they began, Art Club Nights have drawn full crowds of 60 people but no police citations, he said.
Thursday, February 17, 2005
I may have been wrong about the SCLM ignoring the gay fake journalist story - it is too big and too juicy to be covered up. They have just been very slow in getting it out.
Wednesday, February 16, 2005
I think that's what I'm going to
remember most about this war...
looking through casualty reports.
Sometimes it feels like that's
all I do... stare at the names of
When the war started, I used to
read every name... I felt it was
the least I could do to honor
their sacrifice. But lately, all
the names have begun to blur
That's a lot of names.
They're not just names... It's
important we remember that.
We have to remember...
Star Trek commentary three
STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE
"The Siege of AR-558"
Ira Steven Behr & Hans Beimler
There are many other observations about war in this episode.
There is more honor in Star Trek than in our current leaders who forbid photos of returning coffins of troops, have never gone to a funeral for the the soldiers they sent to an unmecceary war and who had a machine sign the condolence letters. Or more honor than shown by the conservative war supporters who refuse to air Nightline reading all the names of the dead.
Currently we have 1510 US dead in Iraq and Afghanistan. Estimates of Iraqi civilian casualties range from 16,000 to over 100,000. The approximately 16,000 is compiled only from reports in Western major media and is assuredly an undercount. The over 100,000 is from a study by the British medical journal Lancet. There was a smear of the Lancet study which ignored its methodology discussed here.
Tuesday, February 15, 2005
Vowing to appeal, Stewart blamed the verdict on inflammatory evidence that included videotape of Osama bin Laden urging support for the jailed Abdel-Rahman, who prosecutors said communicated with the outside world with Stewart's help.FindLaw has a good legal synopsis of this case. Slate also has more. The government attorneys had no evidence linking the messages to terrorists but persuaded the jury it might have happened. The main argument was we have to stop the terrorists and prevent another 9/11.
"When you put Osama bin Laden in a courtroom and ask the jury to ignore it, you're asking a lot," she said.
It took the Daily Kos community very little time to learn that "that man" was a fake journalist who owned gay escort web sites. It took only a little longer to find he was the chief attraction on one website, he was the one soliciting gay sex dates. He even provided obscene photos to display his attributes.
He was also one of the journalists who was used by the White House to out Valerie Plame, an act of treason for a nation at war with terrorists. She was one of the very few deep cover assets of the CIA preventing nuclear material from getting into unfriendly hands and she was outed as an act of petty political revenge because her husband embarrassed the White House. How was a gay ho fake reporter given CIA information?
links Bob Fertik,
Americablog, whose latest includes the hard right defending gay hookers as GOP icons.
Earlier John at Americablog he had how Washington DC Democrats are running from this story when it came out he was a gay hooker! The problem with DC Democrats is they haven't realized who is leading the GOP these days and how the game has changed. What would the GOP do if it turned out Kerry's press secretary's favorite go-to journalist was not a journalist but a gay hooker? Would they be running from the story or running the story on every channel?
His analysis of the Nation/David Corn story.
Salon covered the story.
Americablog is a great blog and John "Scoop" Aravosis is running with this story. Salon is doing a good job following: "...the right-wing media advocacy group, Accuracy in Media, Cliff Kincaid dismissed the controversy as "laughable," insisting Guckert's only "crimes" were "that he was too pro-Republican, attended White House briefings, and asked questions unfair to Democrats." And at Power Line, the conservative outpost that wrote relentlessly about CBS's troubles with its Bush National Guard story last year, the site has confessed bewilderment about the Guckert controversy. "I can't figure out what the story is," wrote one of Power Line's contributors.
Latest on Kos - Olbermann on MSNBC has the story.
Monday, February 14, 2005
... promises to give Wal-Mart 15 days' notice before the Labor Department investigates any other "wage and hour" accusations, like failure to pay minimum wage or overtime.In other news, the GOP has started its support Bush, destroy Social Security 'grassroots' campaign. I note you can use their tools to send an anti-privatize message on their dime.
That provision drew criticism yesterday from Representative George Miller of California, the senior Democrat on the House Education and Workforce Committee. It also prompted complaints from some Labor Department investigators who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.
Snopes - Claim: Women in Germany face the loss of unemployment benefits if they decline to accept work in brothels.
A news story about a 25-year-old German woman who faced cuts to her unemployment benefits for turning down a job providing "sexual services'' at a brothel was carried by a variety of English-language news sources in January 2005. It has struck a chord in many readers as an example of liberal morality and bureaucracy run amok: if prostitution is legalized (as it was in Germany back in 2002), this story suggests, then society has conferred its approval upon that trade, and prostitution can therefore be proffered to (and even foisted upon) women as a valid choice of employment.Urban Legends Reference Pages: Media Matters (Hot Jobs) Snopes entry found by Erik.
I am asking you to support REAL sex education instead of sex education that doesn't work. The REAL Act will support sex education that works.
Taxpayer dollars have been flooding into proven ineffective abstinence-only programs. President Bush just proposing another $38 million increase in his FY'06 budget - while no federal program is dedicated to honest sex education. This huge financial investment in abstinence-only programs conflicts with scientific and medical research: abstinence-only programs have never been proven effective and may result in riskier behavior by teenagers. Responsible sex-education programs, on the other hand, have demonstrated positive results such as delayed initiation of sex, reduced frequency of sex, and increased contraceptive use among teens.
The federal government's focus on abstinence-only programs also runs counter to the preferences of parents, the clear majority of whom want their children to have medically-accurate, age-appropriate sex education. According to a 2004 survey, 94 percent of Americans think it is appropriate to teach young people about birth control... more of a letter here.
Fred, a senior in high school, wanted to publish a newspaper for students so that he could express many of his opinions. He wanted to speak out against the war in Iraq and to speak out against some of the school's rules, like the rule forbidding boys to wear long hair.
When Fred started his newspaper, he asked his principal for permission. The principal said it would be all right if before every publication Fred would turn in all his articles for the principal's approval. Fred agreed and turned in several articles for approval. The principal approved all of them and Fred published two issues of the paper in the next two weeks.
But the principal had not expected that Fred's newspaper would receive so much attention. Students were so excited by the paper that they began to organize protests against the hair regulation and other school rules. Angry parents objected to Fredâ€™s opinions. They phoned the principal telling him that the newspaper was unpatriotic and should not be published. As a result of the rising excitement, the principal ordered Fred to stop publishing. He gave as as reason that Fred's activities were disruptive to the operation of the school.
Should the principal stop the newspaper?
Should stop it Can't decide Should not stop it
Weight the importance of the following in weighing your decision -
Great Much Some Little No/NA.
1. Is the principal more responsible to students or the parents?
2. Did the principal give his word that the newspaper could be published for a long time, or did he just promise to approve the newspaper one issue at a time?
3. Would the students start protesting even more if the principal stopped the newspaper?
4. When the welfare of the school is threatened, does the principal have the right to give orders to students?
5. Does the principal have the freedom of speech to say 'no' in this case?
6. If the principal stopped the newspaper would he be preventing full discussion of important problems?
7. Whether the principal's order would make Fred lose faith in the principal.
8. Whether Fred was really loyal to his school and patriotic to his country.
9. What effect would stopping the paper have on the studentâ€™s education in critical thinking and judgments.
10. Whether Fred was in any way violating the rights of others in publishing his own opinions.
11. Whether the principal should be influenced by some angry parents when it is the principal that knows best what is going on in the school.
12. Whether Fred was using the newspaper to stir up hatred and discontent.
Refine your weighing - what are the four most important considerations - in order?
I am sure some of the blogger ethics questions revolved around if it is ethical for me to publish this.
Saturday, February 12, 2005
Friday, February 11, 2005
Guardian: The White House faced fresh accusations of a clandestine propaganda campaign yesterday after it emerged it granted regular access to a rightwing blogger with a habit of asking President Bush easy questions.
It's a start especially for a SCLM paper that insisted the the weapons of mass destruction were there we just hadn't looked hard enough and long enough long after the invasion. Josh Marshall has a question for Greenspan - since he set up the trust fund does he think it really exists?
Russian arm sales to Venezuela draw some official US protests
el - This is almost pro forma, several sources are reporting Russian troop movement to the Iranian border in support of expected US military action, large US redeployments of planes to Kuwait, and over 10,000 US forces have been told to expect deployment soon regarding Iran.
The bill is being filed in direct response to an investigation of the 2002 campaigns that has already resulted in three indicted corporations settling with prosecutors and eight other indictments. And yes, Rep. Denny has received money from both organizations under investigation -- Tom DeLay's Texans for a Republican Majority PAC (TRMPAC) and the Texas Association of Businesses (TAB).
A spokesperson for the Texas District and County Attorneys Association told the Austin American-Statesman, "It seems to keep prosecutors from prosecuting crimes."
Kos also shows that Democrats are extremely happy having Howard Dean as the new DNC leader. Town Hall links to this as a pattern for the Republican attacks on Dean.
Bush has been advised that tax cuts for the rich will lift the economy. Why? Rich invest in luxury goods, savings and property. To make a big difference tax cuts would have to be directed to the other 90% who will spend on mass consumption and improvements in their lives with a broad market impact.
There are some things that will help the economy fast - raising the standard deductions is a good start. How about increasing the earned income credit? How about payroll tax adjustments? Refiguring the tax brackets to start with a 5% rate? Reinstate deductions for medical expenses and charitable giving that most people can take.
A Democrat would have jumped the economy on the first tax cut where Bush's trillions of dollars in giveaways had no effect.
Gary Denton on 5/12/2003
I might now add excluding the FICA employee side tax for the first $10,000 of income while raising the income subject to it.
- Rep. Tom Delay, on the causes of the Columbine tragedy, speaking on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, June 15, 1999
World O'Crap: Anyway, it's obvious that SOMEBODY at the White House bent the rules for JimJeff to give him a daily pass for years at a time. Somebody broke the rules by giving him his pass not under his real name. Somebody got him into the President's press conference, and got him a great assigned seat. Was it Scott McClellan? Probably not. But he damn well should know who it was (and does, IMHO).
Rumours had been circulating about this toadying news service the White House press secretary would call on when the questions from real journalists got too tough. Daily Kossacks started investigating because even his conservative news organization Talon News sounded fishy and found 'Mr. Gannon' appeared to own gay military escort services.
Gannon has now resigned. "What has become of this country that you can't shill for the President without some pesky liberals figuring out that you aren't really a journalist and Jeff Gannon isn't your real name and you run gay porn sites and 'escort service'?" - ortcutt
The story is not over. Follow the money.
Updated. How did he get CIA documents?
I have to agree with this, our journalist standards have fallen off a cliff and newly appointed Chief of Staff Rove has exploited this to the hilt. In contrast to the dark funk I get from most SCLM now Maureen Dowd has become an excellent satirical columnist and is one of the few bright and funny spots I find in the newspapers.
The Left Coaster: Yesterday's Gallup Poll Showing Bush Approval At 57% Had 9% More Republicans Than Democrats
The poll trumpeted far and wide yesterday by CNN, USAT, and the right wing blogosphere was based on a sample constructed by Gallup that contained 37% Republicans, 35% Independents, and only 28% Democrats.
You read that correctly.
CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll
February 4-6, 2005
Bush Approval/Disapproval 57%-40%
Sometime between the January poll and this early February poll, Gallup feels that Democrats have fallen through the floor amongst the electorate as a whole, even though other polls since the election show the Democrats retaking a lead over the GOP.
The mid-January NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll was based on a sample that contained 39% Republicans and 39% Democrats; poll respondents said that Bush did not have a mandate.
The mid-January CBS News/New York Times poll was based on a sample that contained 34% Democrats and 31% Republicans.
The Pew Center poll and analysis released January 24, 2005 reflected a split of 33% Democrat, 30% Republican.
And it should be noted than an ABC News/Washington Post poll done in mid-December showed that Americans self-identified 11% more as being Democrats (38%) than those who identified as being Republican (27%).
What makes this poll all the more amazing is that even with this sample over-weighted heavily towards the GOP, respondents felt that the best way to deal with Social Security’s funding shortfall wasn’t through Bush’s private accounts, but rather through making the wealthy pay more by raising the income ceiling subject to withholding taxes and reducing benefits for the wealthy. So Bush can’t even sell his own party on his privatization plan.
CLAIM: “By the year 2042, the entire system would be exhausted and bankrupt.” [President Bush, 2/2/05]
FACT: In 2042, enough new money will be coming in to pay between 73-80 percent of promised benefits. Even with this reduction, new retirees will still receive more money, in inflation-adjusted dollars, than today’s beneficiaries. [WP, 2/5/05]
CLAIM: “In the year 2018, for the first time ever, Social Security will pay out more in benefits than the government collects in payroll taxes.” [President Bush, 12/11/04]
FACT: “In 14 of the past 47 years, including 1975 to 1983, Social Security paid out more in benefits than the government collected in payroll.” [MSNBC, 1/14/05]
FACT: Under Bush’s plan, expenditures will begin to exceed revenues even earlier, in 2012. [New York Times, 2/4/05]
CLAIM: “Under the current system, today’s 30-year old worker will face a 27% benefit cut when he or she reaches normal retirement age.” [GOP Guide to Social Security Reform, 1/27/05]
FACT: According to the Congressional Budget Office, younger workers would receive better benefits from Social Security as it exists now, even if nothing changes, than from President Bush’s private accounts plan. [EPI, 2/05]
THE PRESIDENT’S PLAN / PRIVATE ACCOUNTS
CLAIM: “As we fix Social Security, we also have the responsibility to make the system a better deal for younger workers. And the best way to reach that goal is through voluntary personal retirement accounts.” [President Bush, 2/2/05]
FACT: Analysis of the plan so far does not prove the accounts would be a better deal for anyone not working on Wall Street. Workers who opt for the private accounts would recover forfeited benefits through their accounts only “if their investments realized a return equal to or greater than the 3 percent earned by Treasury bonds currently held by the Social Security system.” But CBO factors out stock market risks to assume a 3.3 percent rate of return. With 0.3 percent subtracted for expected administrative costs on the account, “the full amount in a worker’s account would be reduced dollar for dollar from his Social Security checks, for a net gain of zero.” [WP, 2/4/05]
CLAIM: “You’ll be able to pass along the money that accumulates in your personal account, if you wish, to your children or grandchildren.” [President Bush, 2/2/05]
FACT: Most lower-income workers will be required to purchase government lifetime annuities, financial instruments that provide a guaranteed monthly payment for life but that expire at death. Money in these annuities cannot be passed on to heirs. [NYT, 2/3/05]
CLAIM: “We must pass reforms that solve the financial problems of Social Security once and for all.” [President Bush, 2/2/05]
FACT: “A Bush aide, briefing reporters on the condition of anonymity [said] that the individual accounts would do nothing to solve the system’s long-term financial problems.” The long-term gap in revenue would “have to be closed through benefit cuts that have yet to be detailed.” [LAT, 2/3/05; WP, 2/5/05]
CLAIM: “A personal account would be your account, you would own it, and the government could never take it away.” [President Bush, 2/8/05]
FACT: Bush’s Social Security plan is a far cry from the private ownership he’s touting, however. For example, instead of private plans that let Americans control their own investments, there are tight restrictions on which conservative stocks and bonds the public will be allowed to buy. And, as the New York Times reports, “the more restrictions there are, the harder it would be for people to achieve the outsized returns the administration has generally promoted to sell the public on private accounts.” [NYT, 2/6/05]
CLAIM: “Best of all, the [private] accounts would be replacing the empty promises of government with the real assets of ownership.” [President Bush, 2/8/05]
FACT: Social Security trust funds “hold nothing but U.S. Treasury securities,” recognized as “the safest, most reliable investment worldwide.” [Century Foundation, 1/26/05]
CLAIM: “The problem that we now face is not one that we can tax our way out of, for a very simple reason: The costs and the current program are growing faster than the underlying tax base. So if we were to raise taxes today to deal with it, and the costs of the program continued to grow faster than the tax base, then in the future, future generations would simply have to come back and raise taxes again.” [Senior White House Official, Press Conference, 2/3/05]
FACT: An alternative proposal by Peter Diamond and Peter Orszag would resolve Social Security’s funding problems directly and permanently through modest tax increases. The Congressional Budget Office states that, “under Diamond-Orszag, the trust fund balance would always be positive and scheduled benefits would be fully financed.” [CBO, 12/22/04]
CLAIM: “Social Security was a great moral success of the 20th century, and we must honor its great purposes in this new century.” [President Bush, 2/2/05]
FACT: Conservatives have been trying to gut Social Security since its inception. Both Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan endorsed privatization in 1964. In 1983, the Cato Institute laid out a privatization plan similar to President Bush’s, stating, “We will meet the next financial crisis in Social Security with a private alternative ready in the wings.” [Miami Herald, 2/7/05]
CLAIM: “I think it’s important for people to be open about the truth when it comes to Social Security.” [President Bush, 2/4/05]
FACT: The Bush administration has lobbied hard for privatization while being notably closemouthed about the details. [WP, 2/6/05]
FACT: The Wall Street Journal reports the White House is quietly assembling a coalition of deep-pocketed allies “that will privately raise $35 million for an advertising and lobbying effort to push the politically risky measure through Congress.” [WSJ, 2/4/05]
CLAIM: “The role of a President is to confront problems – not to pass them on to a future President, future Congress, or a future generation.” [President Bush, 2/4/05]
FACT: Dick Cheney admits trillions of dollars in future borrowing will be necessary to cover the cost of establishing private accounts. This deficit would have to be repaid by today’s younger workers. [NYT, 2/6/05]
Bush Administration's First Memo on al-Qaeda Declassified
ROEMER: You then wrote a memo on September 4th to Dr. Rice expressing some of these frustrations several months later, if you say the time frame is May or June when you decided to resign. A memo comes out that we have seen on September the 4th. You are blunt in blasting DOD for not willingly using the force and the power. You blast the CIA for blocking Predator. You urge policy-makers to imagine a day after hundreds of Americans lay dead at home or abroad after a terrorist attack and ask themselves what else they could have done. You write this on September the 4th, seven days before September 11th.
CLARKE: That's right.
ROEMER: What else could have been done, Mr. Clarke?
CLARKE: Well, all of the things that we recommended in the plan or strategy -- there's a lot of debate about whether it's a plan or a strategy or a series of options -- but all of the things we recommended back in January were those things on the table in September. They were done. They were done after September 11th. They were all done. I didn't really understand why they couldn't have been done in February.
el - How many years is the so-called liberal media behind the curve? This was known to readers of this blog years ago that Bush and Condi ignored many warnings and then covered it up and tried to discredit those who gave them the warnings. They are declassifying this after Rice was confirmed and releasing the 9/11 report only after the election. The 9/11 Commision reports that the FAA alone received 52 warnings about Al-Qaeda including their training for plane hijackings that would occur on US soil.
Thursday, February 10, 2005
I received an email back that they would forward it to the search team and did I need help with adwords. Shortly thereafter I am back to number 1 for Google Search: Easter Lemming Liberal News but I notice they still do not provide any detail about my main page - only my archives. They have turned against blogs on their main search results and I am out of the top 100 for "liberal news". They may institute a blog only search like Daypop or Technorati.
This revision removing blogs from results has been under development for a year. I think this policy is odd since I am actually a Google blog since they bought blogger.
Wednesday, February 09, 2005
"In addition to legalizing torture I'd like to be known for shutting down internet porn." Just more of the non-reality world of Bush&Co.
Atrios has a great example. el- I will point out it is a lot of rural GOP voters who are upset when they hear the details of how Bush is selling them down the pike. Those farmers know their gummint programs and how Social Security is sposed to work.
Richard Reeves is forced to use the phrase "the moderate Reagan and the radical Bush". I was thinking yesterday that I would never have imagined that Goldwater who lead the GOP conservative revolution is now considered liberal. Richard continues "The Republicans who came to power denouncing tax-and-spend liberals have evolved into borrow-and-spend radicals." Can't argue with that.
He isn't even trying to "partially privatize" it. His plan is, in essence, to dismantle the program, replacing it with a system that may be social but doesn't provide security. And the goal, as with his tax cuts, is to undermine the legacy of Franklin Roosevelt.
AlterNet: The Right-Wing Express
Consider that the conservative political movement, which now has a hammerlock on every aspect of federal government, has a media message machine fed by more than 80 large non-profit organizations – let's call them the Big 80 – funded by a gaggle of right-wing family foundations and wealthy individuals to the tune of $400 million a year.
And the Big 80 groups are just the "non-partisan" 501(c)(3) groups. These do not include groups like the NRA, the anti-gay and anti-abortion groups, nor do they include the political action committees (PACs) or the "527" groups (so named for the section of the tax code they fall under), like the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which so effectively slammed John Kerry's campaign in 2004.
To get their message out, the conservatives have a powerful media empire, which churns out and amplifies the message of the day - or the week - through a wide network of outlets and individuals, including Fox News, talk radio, Rush Limbaugh, Oliver North, Ann Coulter, as well as religious broadcasters like Pat Robertson and his 700 Club. On the web, it starts with TownHall.com.
Fueling the conservative message machine with a steady flow of cash is a large group of wealthy individuals, including many who serve on the boards of the Big 80.
The New York Times > Descendant of national anthem writer says this is no longer his America.
Christopher Key knows exactly what he would be giving up if he left Bellingham, Wash. "It's the sort of place Norman Rockwell would paint, where everyone watches out for everyone else and we have block parties every year," said Mr. Key, a 56-year-old Vietnam War veteran and former magazine editor who lists Francis Scott Key among his ancestors.
But leave it he intends to do, and as soon as he can. His house is on the market, and he is busily seeking work across the border in Canada. For him, the re-election of President Bush was the last straw.
"I love the United States. I fought for it in Vietnam. It's a wrenching decision to think about leaving. But America is turning into a country very different from the one I grew up believing in."
Tuesday, February 08, 2005
Some search engines, notably Google image but also others, have found some pictures people really like. Search engines have also found a page where I had placed a list of RSS feeds from Amphetadesk I was using until I realized how impossible it is to keep up with 140 feeds all the time.
I don't really use the Yahoo pages except for occasional online storage but having them non-available when I need them means I will have to start taking down the larger, more popular stuff.
Some would say I used to too frequently troll for hits with links, for example, to pictures of lesbians in black silk stockings. That really worked to drive up my hits to these pages, much more then just the words you use, But I wasn't attempting to drive up the page hits to geocities.
A history of some image links on this liberal blog is here. This is after I discovered that if you link to a picture the image search engines will lead to your page that links to it instead of to the image page or to the site that hosts the image page.
I am not sure if it is really trolling for hits, I know some readers really like the pictures and others just skip them but it reminds people of a difference between liberals and conservatives. Conservatives want to take away your right to look. It also reminds people that deep linking is legal. Some misguided people want to restrict bloggers to only linking to a site welcome page. More on the current law on linking issues.
Monday, February 07, 2005
And apparently making a hash of it. A direct connection to this page has disappeared from all results. Indirect connections and archives appear not to be affected.
Google had minor revisions late last year. I could no longer say "#1 on Google for liberal news" but I agreed with the placement and Easter Lemming Liberal News Digest was still within the top three. For a few hours in January I suddenly became #1 again before dropping back. Now this page has disappeared entirely for search terms. Other pages that point to this page show up and archive pages show up but ranked lower.
Some people think it may be connected with their adwords program - if you request to run them your site may get dropped. If you advertise using adwords you move up. I had put in a request to have them recently but hadn't installed the code yet. I am getting strange results on the search allinurl:elemming2.blogspot.com but it does not appear to be the new 1969 pagejackers.
News on Update Allegra, as it is or was called, is also disappearing into a 404 black hole.
I am not the only one thinking this update is a disaster.
Here is some of the thread links.
An interesting result that picks up my archives but not the main page.
2700 mentions of "Easter Lemming Liberal News" but not the "Easter Lemming Liberal News."
Apparently Google thinks people don't need to find anything I write about. Are they now Republican?