Monday, July 11, 2005

Will I ever come back?

Who knows? After the tragic election of 2004, many of us progressives who had been so focused on the election experienced a heightened interest in reforming the system and other topics which cause our political focus to sharpen. Then as time passed and not only did American politics NOT change for the better, they drastically changed for the worse.

I never made this blog to convince people of anything and I'm convinced that nobody is reading it. This is more for myself to record what was on my mind at particular moments in time, essentially for the sake of posterity with myself being the only recipient. That's good enough for me.

Will I ever come back and blog regularly again? I still don't know. I've always wished that I had kept a journal my whole life because I have forgotten so much about my life. A talk with my ex-wife invariably leads to something relatively important that I had forgotten.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Why the Guckert/Gannon scandal actually is a scandal

They say that curiosity killed the cat. I'm not sure to which cat "they" are referring specifically, but I know it sure killed the kitten that climbed into the engine of my parents' car when I was 9 or 10 years old.

Curiosity has more recently killed the pseudonym and promising career of a Republican operative who was paid to pretend to be a journalist. Obviously I refer to the nearly unprecedented discrediting of James Guckert/Jeff Gannon at the fingers of a few very curious bloggers.

The short version of the story (and I'm sure you've already heard it) goes a little like this: Somebody noticed that there was this White House reporter named Jeff Gannon who worked for what appeared, at first fleeting glance at least, to be a news organization, and this somebody decided to look into both the reporter and the organization.

The organization, Talon News, turns out to be registered to a company called Endeavor Media Group, LLC, which also own Ahhh, the plot thickens. There is a complex web of connections involving wealthy Texan Bush buddies that would take too much time to explain here. Suffice it to say that Talon News might as well be a PR firm hired by the Bush administration.

As for Guckert/Gannon, it gets even more sordid and complicated. There are some aspects of this tale that are tangential in nature and are only relevant in that they highlight the hypocrisy of many right-wing opinion makers and movers and shakers, such as Guckert/Gannon's homosexuality, which technically was not closeted since he was literally prostituting himself out to DC area men. However, he apparently never thought that anyone would connect the male prostitute to the White House correspondent who were actually one in the same.

As I've said, other than to expose the questionable integrity of those who espouse viewpoints which are bigoted against the very things that they themselves practice, his homosexuality, and even his felonies (prostitution of course) are tangential to the real problem.

As this story has breaking, the only right-wing reaction has been an indifferent shrug and disingenuous requests to explain to them what the big deal is.

Here, in plain English, are what to me is the big deal:

  1. Talon News was not a legitimate news service
  2. Guckert/Gannon was not a journalist
  3. Guckert/Gannon received passes to enter and cover press briefings at the White House while

    1. Talon News was less than 1 week old
    2. Guckert/Gannon himself had absolutely no journalism experience, except for a few poorly written "articles" published on the now-defunct

  4. Talon News is owned and operated by Texans associated with George Bush

For a brand new journalist working for a brand new, fake news site to receive passes to cover what it takes other journalists years and years of hard work and dedication to cover doesn't just smell funny; it wreaks.

There is enough evidence to logically suggest, although not yet to prove, that Guckert/Gannon was planted in the White House, by the Bush administration, to take some of the heat off of itself. If not planted there by the White House itself, then at least by its close associates, and THIS is not in dispute.

So what is the big deal? The big deal is that for a democracy to remain somewhat uncorrupted, the people must be accurately informed about what their government is doing. Installing a propaganda machine at the highest levels and trying to pass off its sycophantic output as independent reporting is to rape our democracy. To lie to the American people is to undermine what makes this country great: the fact that we are supposed to have the ability to choose the representatives via a fair, objective process.

The American political process relies on the truth being widely disseminated to the people of America. How are we as Americans to make informed choices if we are being lied to on a daily basis by those who pretend to be looking out for us and telling us the unbiased truth?

To be lied to by the government via a complicit media, even about things completely unrelated to sex, is to enslave us and rob us of our right to participate freely and effectively in our beloved democracy.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Vote with your money: Buy Blue! has a list of companies ranked by the political contributions of their associated PACS and their high-level officers and executives. You can also see a categorized directory to search for companies in certain industries which you may wish to patronize. I've made my list and will send appropriate communication to companies with which I plan to do business as well as those which I do not. I hope people do this in very large numbers.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Bush administration challenging tortured US soldiers in court

White House Turns Tables on Former American POWs

    The latest chapter in the legal history of torture is being written by American pilots who were beaten and abused by Iraqis during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. And it has taken a strange twist.

    The Bush administration is fighting the former prisoners of war in court, trying to prevent them from collecting nearly $1 billion from Iraq that a federal judge awarded them as compensation for their torture at the hands of Saddam Hussein's regime.

Bush opposed the 9/11 Commission or any type of serious investigation into 9/11, refused to look into Saudi Arabia's connection to the attacks, and has by inaction and obstruction forced the 9/11 families into filing multiple lawsuits in attempts to get action or information. Bush has of course fought these families in court every step of the way.

Now Bush is actually fighting American pilots in court to keep Iraq from having to pay them money won in a lawsuit, because they say that the new Iraq is better than the old Iraq.

And this is a man of morals???

The greatest coalition ever assembled in human history?

Over the weekend I was wondering how many nations were still in Iraq and how many troops they had stationed over there to help "us" out, but wasn't able to find anything with the search terms that I was using. Finally, I gave up trying to either find the perfect wording or look through the 30,000 results that invariably came up, so I contacted a friendly and helpful staff sergeant from the Coalition Press Information Center and, after being redirected, found the information for which I was looking.

The result turned out to be essentially what I expected: a few nations with several thousand troops stationed in Iraq, followed by a score of nations with a couple hundred there. Here are the number of non-American troops in Iraq, broken down by nationality.

Something tells me that this is no longer, if it ever had been, the "greated coalition ever assembled as human history as Rumsfeld so chirpily asserted not so long ago.

There are just under 24,000 non-American (and non-Iraqi) troops stationed in Iraq. These troops belong to 28 different countries. The top 5 countries have about 19,535 troops there, while the bottom 23 countries have only about 4,365. Norway has 10 troops there while Moldova is pushing the envelope with 12.

Now, I think the Iraqi elections are the best thing to come out of this whole mess and I certainly wish that the Bush administration hadn't alienated the majority of the world by his brash actions and harsh honcho-speak. But least there's Poland, right?

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Senator Boxer: Bush's Budget is "incomplete"

GovTrack: Senate Record: AN INCOMPLETE BUDGET (109-s20050207-13)

    The President has sent down his budget. We are going through it now to see what it means for our State. But this is quite a budget. This is a budget that does not include the costs of the war in Iraq. This is a budget that does not include the costs of the war in Afghanistan. This is a budget that does not show the true costs of making the tax cuts permanent. This is a budget that does not show the costs of what I call anti-Social Security, going into personal accounts, which is an enormous multitrillion dollar cost.

    So you have a document which is, on its face, incomplete. That is the best way I can put it: incomplete. Other people might use another word for it, but I will be charitable and say it is incomplete. Why can't the President show the true costs? Because he could not hold up his head if he put the true costs in there. We would be looking at deficits that are ruinous. The truth is, the deficits are ruinous.

    When President Bush took over, he had a surplus as far as the eye could see. He turned it into a deficit in 15 minutes. He said the tax cuts would be so great that we would have economic growth and we would suddenly have a balanced budget. It did not happen.

    Let me tell you what else is not in this budget. Where is the money from the Iraqi oil that was supposed to be coming our way? On March 27, 2003, not that long ago, this is what Paul Wolfowitz, the Assistant Secretary of Defense said, in congressional testimony, sworn to tell the truth:

    The oil revenues of Iraq could bring between $50 and $100 billion over the course of the next two or three years. ..... We're dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon.

    Let me repeat that. A Bush administration spokesperson, very high up in the Defense Department, said:

    The oil revenues of Iraq could bring between $50 and $100 billion over the course of the next two or three years. ..... We're dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon.

    Well, here it is, folks, it is 3 years later, and not a penny of revenue is coming into our budget to help us, and the whole cost of the Iraq war is outside the budget--a disaster.

    Here is another claim, by White House spokesman Ari Fleischer:

    Iraq, unlike Afghanistan, is a rather wealthy country. Iraq has tremendous resources that belong to the Iraqi people. And so there are a variety of means that Iraq has to be able to shoulder much of the burden for their own reconstruction.

    Where is the revenue in our budget? Not a dime, not one slim dime. They are not even talking about making these costs into loans against future oil revenues. And in the meantime, what are the American people told by this President and his budget? What are the veterans told? Oh, we are cutting back on veterans health care. Can you imagine? We are almost at 11,000 wounded, and this President's budget says, You are going to have to pay more for your pharmaceuticals, $250 to join, and you have to pay more. Let me tell you, a lot of us are going to stop that. Let me tell you, a lot of us are not going to let that happen.

My heroes

I want to permanently compile and store pieces about some of my political heroes. There are tens of millions of us liberals in America, all of whom largely have the same goals and aspirations for the nation and the world. We are extremely fortunate to have and to have had a multitude of wonderful, conscientious people in positions of power who have worked toward those goals, making huge leaps forward in all areas of life, and for all citizens of America and the world. Thanks to all of them

Barbara Boxer

Senator Boxer's Moving Statement To Rice

NOTE: This was originally posted on January 18th to my old blog. I have moved it to this one.

    I'd like to begin by welcoming Dr. Rice to this committee hearing.

    It is my hope that today we will have a candid discussion, Dr. Rice, because I believe it is crucial that a secretary of state speak openly and honestly with the American people and with Congress. Frankly, this issue of candor is where my concern lies.

    Since 9/11, we have been engaged in a just fight against terrorism. I voted to use force against Osama bin Laden and the terrorists in Afghanistan, and I assumed that we would focus on that challenge, not stopping until we got bin Laden, dead or alive, and broke the back of al-Qaeda.

    However, instead, with you in a lead role, Dr. Rice, we went into Iraq. I want to read you one paragraph that best expresses my views, and the views of millions of Californians, on the impact of the Iraqi war on the war against terrorism. It was written by one of the world's experts on terrorism and foreign policy, Peter Bergen, five months ago. He wrote:

    What we have done in Iraq is what bin Laden could not have hoped for in his wildest dreams: We invaded an oil-rich Muslim nation in the heart of the Middle East, the very type of imperial adventure that bin Laden has long predicted was the United States' long-term goal in the region. We deposed the secular socialist Saddam, whom bin Laden has long despised, ignited Sunni and Shia fundamentalist fervor in Iraq, and have now provoked a "defensive" jihad that has galvanized jihad-minded Muslims around the world. It's hard to imagine a set of policies better designed to sabotage the war on terrorism.

    This conclusion was reiterated last Thursday by the National Intelligence Council, the CIA director's think tank, which released a report saying that Iraq has replaced Afghanistan as the training ground for the next generation of "professionalized" terrorists. NIC Chairman Robert L. Hutchings said that Iraq is "a magnet for international terrorist activity."

    These quotations are significant to this hearing, Dr. Rice, because as a major proponent and spokesperson for the war in Iraq, and as someone who was asked by the president to make the case for this war to the American people, and as the person in charge of the reconstruction effort -- you have many questions to answer to the American people.

    This war was sold to the American people -- as Chief of Staff to President Bush Andy Card said -- like a "new product." You rolled out the idea and then you had to convince the people, and as you made your case, I personally believe that your loyalty to the mission you were given overwhelmed your respect for the truth.

    That was a great disservice to the American people. But worse than that, our young men and women are dying. So far, 1,342 American troops have been killed in Iraq. More than 25 percent of those troops were from California. More than 10,000 have been wounded.

    I don't want their families to think for a minute that their lives and bodies were given in vain. Because when your commander in chief asks you to sacrifice yourself for your country, it is noble to answer the call. I am giving their families all the support that they want and need, but I will also not shrink from questioning a war that was not built on the truth.

    Perhaps the most well-known statement you have made was the one about Saddam Hussein launching a nuclear weapon on America, with the image of a "mushroom cloud." That image had to frighten every American into believing that Saddam Hussein was on the verge of annihilating them if he was not stopped.

    I will be placing into the record a number of other such statements which have not been consistent with the facts nor the truth.

    As the nominee for secretary of state, you now must answer to the American people through the confirmation process.

    I continue to stand in awe of our founders, who understood that ultimately, those of us in the highest positions of our government, must be accountable to the people we serve.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

PBS Social Security discussion between a liar and an expert

Online NewsHour: President Bush Touts Private Accounts for Social Security Reform -- February 3, 2005

The liar had the audacity to make the following claim:

    the trust fund has no real assets in it.

    What it is, is sort of a collection of IOU's. It is a promise that some day in the future the government will tax someone in order to pay those benefits.

    As the president made clear, in 2027, the federal government will have to redeem some 200 billion dollars' worth of bonds in order to continue to pay benefits, and it doesn't have that money.

Those IOU's are in the form of government bonds. Never in the history of our republic has the government defaulted on a bond, and it will not default on the Social Security trust fund's bonds either.

Anyway, in the PBS discussion, reason and facts immediately prevailed:

    In 2027, the president noted the current system requires $200 billion. Under his account system it would require $300 billion, and by the way, the tax cuts, if they're extended, are $344 billion in that year alone.

Here are some more fun facts from the program to use on your conservative friends (eek!) and coworkers:

    In the first ten years in which the accounts were in existence, that is, starting in 2009, they would cost about a trillion dollars. In the second ten years, they'd cost more than three trillion dollars.

    What's most interesting is the straight itself has now admitted the accounts do nothing to improve the long-term deficit in Social Security. So talking about the long-term deficit in Social Security on the one hand, the accounts on the other, is a non sequitur. The accounts do not do anything to reduce that long-term deficit.

    JEFFREY BROWN: What about at a more universal level for the system.

    Isn't one of the key questions here and controversies whether doing this helps the problem that we now have or hurts, whether it adds money or takes money away? You think it hurts the problem?

    PETER ORSZAG: Well, the administration itself says it doesn't help. And what we would have is a very significant increase in debt today, coupled with a very back-loaded reduction in debt, which just washes out over the long run.

This is precisely the point that I've made to my friends and coworkers. All other things being equal, privatization will have a net zero effect on the solvency of Social Security. Follow the logic to its only conclusion:

  • The stated problem with Social Security is that it is going to become insolvent, unable to pay its debts
  • The stated solution is to privatize
  • Therefore, you may divert 20% of your contribution into a private account
  • When you retire, you will presumably receive 80% of your originally-planned compensation from the general fund
  • This has absolutely no effect on the solvency of the general fund
  • You've diverted 20% and received 20% less. This has an effect of zero.
  • Now, the administration is actually saying that benefits in general will decrease. So if you divert nothing and opt to rely on the traditional system, you will receive less than 100% of what you would receive were nothing to change. So, if you divert 20%, you will receive less than 80%, etc...
  • Privatization has had absolutely no effect on the solvency of the general fund, but will in fact destroy the program itself if given enough time
  • Only by adjusting contributions upward and/or adjusting compensation downward will Social Security become solvent.

So, the conservative, while ceded the point, dances around the issue with the following:

    MICHAEL TANNER: We're doing it because we can provide a better rate of return, a better retirement benefit and ownership and control to individuals than what we would do if we simply cut benefits or simply raised taxes.

    If all you care about is solvency, you can do exactly what Peter suggested. We can cut benefits enough and we can raise taxes enough to keep the system in balance.

What nerve this guy has! "If all you care about is solvency"??? Is it just me, or had this same guy just finished saying "Well, within the 15 years, Social Security will begin to spend more money on benefits than it's taking in, in revenue. There will be more money going out than it has coming in. Most people would recognize that's a problem."???

What a formula this is!

  • Define a problem and claim that it absolutely must be solved
  • Propose a solution that does nothing to fix the supposed problem
  • When called out, admit that it doesn't fix the problem, then come up with another reason to do it anyway!

Doesn't "We're giving freedom to Iraq" sound just the slightest bit different to you than "The smoking gun may come in the form of a mushroom cloud"? To my ears, each of those justifications has quite a different ring than the other. Typical, typical, typical.

Despite slashing domestic programs, Bush wants $400 million to reward allies

Yahoo! News - Bush Seeks $400 Million to Reward Allies

It says " One administration official said the fund was designed to provide help to Eastern European nations, such as Ukraine, Hungary, Romania and the Baltic states." Doesn't the administration think that there may be at least one or two nations which did NOT participate in the Iraq war which may need help? This fits perfectly into this administration's pattern of using unrelated and misleading reasoning to justify something that they want to do. Granted, this isn't as big of a lie as, say, the allegation that Iraq was seeking yellow cake uranium from somewhere in Africa, but it's a perfect illustration. Bush wants to give money to these countries to reward them for their participation and also to bribe them into sticking it out, yet he needs some pretty sound bytes to lull the American people into supporting it, or at least not thinking about it critically.

Well, at least Bush isn't forgetting Poland (and how could he forget the powerhouse that's been so key to our "success" in Iraq?); they would receive $100 million from the fund.

I don't mind giving money to other countries; I believe doing so has at least the capacity to not only make the world a better place (depending on who receives the money and how it is used, of course), but also to improve the overall infrastructure in places where America may have a particular interest, thereby helping us out in the long run. What I do not support is to sell an idea, ANY idea, to the American people based on false pretenses. It is wrong when GW does it, wrong when Clinton did it, when Bush I did it, when Reagan did it, and when Lincoln and Washington did it. A democracy can only avoid corruption when its people are fullyand properly informed about all pertinent issues. Again, I don't want to make a mountain out of a molehill here because this is relatively small news, and most certainly business as usual, but that's part of the problem: that we see business as usual and just look away. Yes, it happens every day! Yes, "they all do it"! Yes, our system is corrupt. No!!! Why don't we do something about it?

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

GDP rose, but inflation-adjusted wages fell

American Prospect Online - ViewWeb

GDP up 4.4%, inflation-adjusted wages on average down 0.2%*. So many people are still out of work and competing for jobs that employers can pay less, despite making more.

This is a perfect example of why trickle-down economics simply does not work.

  1. By and large, employers hire new employees when there is a demand for new employees, not when there is extra money sitting around
  2. By and large, employers pay employees what they can get away with, not what they can afford

Two very simple concepts to keep in mind when listening to an voodoo economist lie, or watching the devastating effects of them.

* Of course wages of the 95th percentile actually rose 1%, but who's counting eh?

Bush budget cuts everything wrong, nothing right

Bush Budget Would Cut Law Enforcement Aid

The above title highlights only one of the many very important programs which would face funding cuts if Bush's budget were passed as-is. First, let's see some of what would be slashed, and possibly burned, not necessarily in that order.

  • A grant program for local police agencies would be slashed from $600 million to $60 million

  • Totally eliminate a separate program to help police agencies improve their technology and communications infrastructure

  • A grants for firefighters would fall from $715 million to $500 million

  • Totally eliminate $300 million that goes to states for incarcerating illegal immigrants who've committed crimes

  • $450 million would be cut from the EPA, which is already doing very little to actually PROTECT the environment

  • $100 million would be cut from the Bureau of Indian Affairs

  • Home heating aid to low-income people, many of whom are elderly, would lose $200 million. This despite spiralling heating costs.

    According to a report from United for a Fair Economy entitled "Shifty Tax Cuts: How They Move the Tax Burden off the Rich and onto Everyone Else", between 2002 and 2004 the top 1% of income earners were the beneficiaries of $197 BILLION of tax cuts. I don't know about you, but one of the first things I think of after reading something like that is that maybe the firefighter grants shouldn't be cut by $250 million. Maybe a dozen or two of the wealthiest individuals could reach deep into their overflowing pockets and contribute that which is needed to sustain the greatness of American society.

    Then again, who doesn't like a good tax cut? I certainly wouldn't mind being wealthy and powerful enough to innocently suggest to a few senators that I could use a nice new tax cut while we're all out shooting 12 over par at an exclusive white male-only country club. Again, who wouldn't? The answer to that question should be self-evident. Anyone who cares about this country and its citizens. Anyone who understands that it is a priveledge to contribute to the general welfare of this great nation. Anyone who isn't so self-absorbed as to actively plot and scheme to take more and more money away from poor and near-poor people. In short, anyone with the true American values of economic liberalism.

    But that is not what is happening, nor is it what has ever happened in our society. Never have decades passed where the average worker's wealth and income increased dozens of times more than those of the super-wealthy. Yet we consistently watch helplessly as the wealthy get wealthier and wealthier, all at our expense. And that, the fact that it is at the expense of the rest of us, is half of rub should rub all patriotic Americans the wrong way. The other half is that they are not playing on a level playing field; there is a very good reason that it has always worked out the way that it does, and that reason is simply that they control the legislature. They order up and receive tax cuts and deregulation as deftly as the Bush administration ordered up and received fake evidence that Saddam Hussein posed a threat to America. This is an egregious breach of the responsibility with which we have entrusted our representatives, yet they continue on with impunity because of the friendly media, which just so happens to benefit from tax cuts and deregulation too! What a cozy deal! Where do I sign up?

  • Yet another corporate ripoff from BushCo - AP Washington

    According to this report, Bush wants electricity costs set at market rates. The problem is not that this will ever happen; the Republican chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee opposes it, as do many other Republicans. The problem is that he WANTS it in the first place; THEY want it in the first place. "They" meaning the corporate lobbyists who write all of our legislation and their governmental lackeys who enact it.

    This would cost consumers billions of dollars, $2 billion over 3 years for the Northwest. The problem with this idea, like virtually every other economic idea that I've ever heard from conservatives, is that it would take vast sums of money out of the pockets of average people and put it into the hands of huge corporations that are already making a killing. To make matters worse, these power suppliers are already subsidized by the federal government and I would bet a dollar to a donut that even if this plan were to be enacted, those subsidies would continue despite massive rate hikes.

    America, please say "NO!" to conservative agendas like this.

    Monday, February 07, 2005

    Birth of a Salesman: Pitching Social Security (

    Birth of a Salesman: Pitching Social Security (

    Great article highlighting Bush's techniques to sell his Social Security privatization scheme:

    1 - "Sell urgency!

    Crisis looms for Social Security, Bush says. By 2042, the system would go "flat bust" if no action is taken. "And if we wait, it gets worse," he says in Omaha on Friday."

    2 - "Build rapport, be polite!

    Politeness doesn't necessarily sell, but the lack of it can kill a deal. The president is a prodigious thanker. In Fargo on Thursday, he thanks everyone at the Bison Center for comin' (droppin' more g's than he does in Washington). He thanks his hosts at North Dakota State University, thanks the governor, congratulates North Dakota State's women's basketball team for bein' unbeaten. Wherever he goes, Laura sends her best."

    3 - "Use visuals (including yourself)!

    At each event, Bush stands in front of a big chart describing the "Demographics of Social Security." In 1950, there were 16 workers paying for one beneficiary, the chart says. Today there are 3.3. It displays in stark terms what Bush calls "the math," or "the problem." He used to call it a "crisis," but he rarely uses the term anymore."

    4 - "Use humor!

    Bush is eager to crack wise. While the president might be warning of a grave national crisis, he's being a laugh-riot about it. Bush loves joking about how he "married up," how he's "gettin' all gray" and how he goofed off in college. In Little Rock Friday, Bush was joined onstage by Gloria Bennett, a part-time food inspector from DeQueen, Ark.

    To which Bush says, "That's right next to DeKing."

    Silence is followed by friendly groans that evolve into laughter and applause. And a message endures: Reforming Social Security can be fun."

    5 - "Stay positive!

    The president keeps mentioning "the problem" that awaits Social Security. But he rarely addresses it in terms of sacrifices and costs. Only "challenges," "opportunities" and "confronting problems," all staples of the sales parlance."

    6 - "Use your audience!

    At each event, Bush hold his "conversations" with four handpicked panelists. They are props for Bush to exhibit rapport and illustrate how his ideas on Social Security affect their demographic."

    Here is my favorite part...where Bush says it's wonderful that a divorced single mother has a mentally challenged son and supports her family by working 3 jobs. It's so "uniquely American". Makes one almost think that he wasn't listening to her and doesn't care to.

    "Bush's fast-moving manner can make his listening skills appear suspect, Lahkani says. This point is bolstered during Bush's onstage "conversations."

    In Omaha on Friday, a divorced single mother named Mary Mornin tells the president, "I have one child, Robbie, who is mentally challenged, and I have two daughters."

    "Fantastic," the president exclaims, and he tells her she has "the hardest job in America, being a single mom."

    Later, the 57-year old Mornin tells Bush that she works three jobs, which the president deems "uniquely American" and "fantastic." He asks her if she gets any sleep." - Roemer withdraws from "DNC chair" race - Feb 7, 2005 - Roemer withdraws from "DNC" chair race - Feb 7, 2005

    During the 2004 primaries, I did quite a bit of study on Howard Dean and although it's impossible to accurately gauge someone's sencerity, it seemed to me that he was fairly uncorrupted relative to the usual presidential candidates. Now, he could have just been talking big, trying to focus on a few progressive rallying points and hope that he and his campaign would be able to make them make sense to the average American voter; but I suspect that he truly does believe the way that he claims, primarily because in this ultra-conservative climate it's basically political suicide to stand up for the average American. We liberals are always being blasted with terms like communist and socialist for simply standing up for the little guy.

    For the longest time I have distrusted both Republicans and Democrats, and for good reason if I do say so myself. Both parties look out for big-money and, social issues aside, are both on the conservative side of most economic issues. I supported Senator John Kerry in the 2004 election because to me he was the lesser of two evils. In fact I have always voted Democrat because they do far less damage to America and Americans than Republicans do. That being said, I've always voted for Democrats without truly being excited about the candidate; let's be honest: Clinton did about as much damage to the working classes and the environment as you can do and still show up at liberal fund-raisers. No, to me the choice to vote for Democrats has been bittersweet. I would love to support a liberal 3rd-party candidate, that is the same thing as half a vote for a Republican.

    But, maybe help really IS on the way after all! Howard Dean may be just the shot in the arm that the Democrats need; he may try to make them remember just who it is they are supposed to be representing: you and me. I'm not saying that he's going to stroll into the DNC chairmanship and immediately all Democrats will start working toward establishing an international minimum wage or anything as dramatic as that. But he certainly seems to me to be a step in the right direction.

    I was saddened when the supposedly "liberal" media turned on him (because he was speaking way too much like a liberal), but now that he's (apparently) back, I wish him all the luck in the world. I also want to wish the Democrats all the luck in the world in remembering the values for which they are supposed to be fighting.

    Liberal testimonials

    Here is a compilation of the testimonials of various liberals, both famous and not.

    Sunday, February 06, 2005

    Why YOU are indebted to liberalism

    My list of liberal accomplishments and ideals:

    40 hour work week
    Child labor laws
    Products safety
    Safe food and water
    Clean air
    Social Security
    Civil rights
    Equitable voting rights
    Welfare for those in need
    Retirement programs
    End of slavery
    Workplace safety
    Employee benefits (healthcare, etc...)
    Disability insurance
    Public housing

    NOTE: Each of these points describe an ideal of liberalism. Thanks to conservative resistance and the imperfection with which liberalism itself has been put into practice, the reality has not always been success. Also, the afore-mentioned social programs are not without fraud, which should be identified and dealt with...obviously short of complete dismantlement of the entire system.

    Turn Left has a more comprehensive list of liberal accomplishments and I wouldn't feel right just copying it.

    Saturday, February 05, 2005

    Yahoo! News - Best Way to Make Mars Habitable: Inject Greenhouse Gas

    Yahoo! News - Best Way to Make Mars Habitable: Inject Greenhouse Gas

    Yes, folks, greenhouse gases do INDEED have a greenhouse EFFECT, as one would expect. First of all, people who claim that the notion of global warming is based on junk science are all bought-and-paid-for "experts" or simply people who do not understand enough about the issue.

    Greenhouse gases have certain properties. We know these properties. We know how these gases interact with different forms of radiation, including visible light and infrared light. There are extremely straightforward properties that lead to global warming: visible light is let in, infrared light is trapped in. Heat that would otherwise be escaping is trapped in the atmosphere, heating the entire planet. This is what we would expect to happen; this is what is happening. This is why Venus is hundreds of degrees hotter than we had first expected it to be.

    It is quite a simple, self-evident concept. Global warming science detractors are the junk-peddlers.

    Yahoo! News - GOP Sees Short Time to Sell Soc. Sec. Plan

    Yahoo! News - GOP Sees Short Time to Sell Soc. Sec. Plan

    Ok, so according to the rightwing Chicken Littles, Social Security will run out of money if contributors continue to put in 100% of current and recipients continue to draw 100% of current.

    So, the plan is to have young people contribute less and receive less in the future.

    Unless the amount that we'll receive is more drastically reduced in proportion to the amount contributed (which could be done anyway without privatization), how has anything changed? How has this solved the insolvency problem? The answer is simple: it hasn't. If I choose to divert 30% of my FICA contribution away from the general fund and into my own private account, and I expect to receive 70% of my originally-planned payment from the general fund upon retirement, how has this done anything to relieve the burden? 70 is to 70 as 100 is to 100, is it not? Privatization is superfluous whether or not benefits are cut, which they no doubt would be either way.

    Besides, this is all yet another plot of the ruling classes to dupe the rest of us. In 1978 Bush said that Social Security would be bankrupt by 1988 unless Congress privatized the system

    In the past I've piddled around and that MIT guy's now-defunct Open Government Information Awareness program, but never dug very deep, especially when the OGIA site went down. However, I stumbled across GovTrack, which pulls in tons of data from various places and allows you to monitor activity (bills, congressional debate records, etc...) based on issues or people. For example, I set up a monitor for California Senator Barbara Boxer and was shown all sorts of recent activities in which she participated or to which she is somehow related. I then did the same for Indiana Congressman Steve Buyer and found substantially different behavior to say the least...hah!

    I would encourage all Americans who are interested in the activities of our government to look into It's what I'm going to start using in order to keep my ear to the ground.

    I'm still in shock

    For a very long time I have been in a state of perpetual shock that anyone making less than $150,000/year would vote for a Republican at any level of government, let alone federal. I understand that there are many factors: cultural, religious, intellectual, not to mention that daily bombardment of propaganda from our corporate press.

    But, for one example out of hundreds, how can people actually hear GW talk about medical malpractice caps and think that this is a good thing? Do they not realize that the insurance companies are to blame for the enormous premiums? I saw a study recently (I'll find the link eventually) which showed that the frequency and cost to insurance companies of medical malpractice suits has grown with the population over the past 20 years but that the premiums have skyrocketed. This is one small example of how the corporate world screws people, then turns around and says they're being taken advantage of in order to convince the masses to let themselves be screwed even more.

    When was the last time you walked up to your representative in Congress (or someone else's rep. for that matter), handed him a piece of legislation which you created yourself, watched him introduce it and watched it pass into law? Corporations do this all of the time. And the kind of legislation that they write and get passed is NOT the type of legislation that does anything good for you and me. Chemical companies write legislation that loosens restrictions on how badly they can poison you. Yet your average conservative thinks that the problem lies with liberals who are trying to stop this corruption and debauchery.