Get Your Blog Up

“This administration is populated by people who’ve spent their careers bashing government. They’re not just small-government conservatives—they’re Grover Norquist, strangle-it-in-the-bathtub conservatives. It’s a cognitive disconnect for them to be able to do something well in an arena that they have so derided and reviled all these years.”

Senator Hillary Clinton

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Crazy for President Bush

Good lord:
Steven Soper had his life all mapped out.

The 18-year-old Florida man had been accepted into the Army and planned to enlist after graduating this spring from high school.

But the plan came apart in late October when he attacked his girlfriend after learning she planned to vote for Sen. John Kerry in the presidential election.


[His 2-year girlfriend, 18-year-old Stacey] Silveira's neighbor west of Boynton Beach, Fla., called 911 on Oct. 26 after seeing Soper carrying Silveira as she screamed "no, no, no," Assistant State Attorney Tim Beckwith said. Soper pointed a knife at Silveira and threatened to kill her, he added. A deputy found evidence of a struggle inside the home, including a broken pot.

Soper dragged Silveira, kicking and screaming, into her house before throwing her to the floor and spitting on her, police reports said. Soper reportedly bit Silveira and then placed a knife in her hand and told her to kill him, because a vote for Kerry would mean he would die anyway.

Ah, the Republican base.

Judge not

Cincinnati Post:
Mike's high school football photo and his senior portrait are among the many photos in his room at Drake.

"Mike was a real handsome, popular kid," said his mother, who still visits him every other day.

He was a captain of the football and wrestling teams at Loveland High School before going on to Wilmington College, where he was class president his freshmen and sophomore years.

But in 1987, when Mike was 20, he severely injured his left foot when his motorcycle was struck by a car. The other driver did not stop and has never been caught.

Several weeks later, during a surgery on his foot, Mike's heart stopped beating for about 20 minutes, cutting off the oxygen supply to his brain.

Since then, Napier has dealt with the question that has caused so much national debate: Should she do what Michael Schiavo has done with his wife, Terri, and remove Mike's feeding tube?

The answer is not simple, she said.

"I wish I could. I wish I had the courage," she said. "There's a lot of guilt. A parent wants to pray for their child to get well. But in Mike's condition, after so long and seeing what it's doing to him and to the family, you pray for him to die, because he would be in a better place."

Also from the article:
"All these people who don't know anything about what it means to be in a permanent vegetative state, they are jumping to their own conclusions and they are reading into it what they want," she said. "Unless you've been through it, you don't have a clue."

Oh, Ricky

This is so not the bill that passed:
Santorum said Congress returned for an emergency session to discuss the Schiavo case "for one reason, so the feeding tube could be reconnected and a trial, a new trial with new evidence could be presented. For this judge in this district to ignore that is tantamount, I believe, to an offense that should be discussed in the Congress."

First, the bill you guys passed had no mention of a feeding tube. At all. If that was what you really wanted, you should have attempted to pass a law that stated just that.

Second, the bill reads:
The United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida shall have jurisdiction to hear, determine, and render judgment on a suit or claim by or on behalf of Theresa Marie Schiavo for the alleged violation of any right of Theresa Marie Schiavo under the Constitution or laws of the United States relating to the withholding or withdrawal of food, fluids, or medical treatment necessary to sustain her life.

I'm not a law expert, but there is a difference in my world between "will" and "shall." And granting jurisdiction to a court wouldn't necessarily mean the court has to weigh in with a verdict, does it?

*UPDATE* As I went to bed, I realized the "shall" parsing was a pretty silly arguement for me to try and make. I do stand by the idea that granting jurisdiction does not mean the court has to take up the case.

Finally, one judge goes so far to suggest that the passage of the bill was "in a manner demonstrably at odds with our Founding Fathers’ blueprint for the governance of a free people – our Constitution."

Rick, if you'd really wanted the outcome you stated, you should have passed a bill that said just that. Every American would be overjoyed at the limited scope of your legislation and the far reaching implications of it. No doubt it would have sealed your fate for 2006.

The irony is that the judges that rejected the Schindler's appeals weren't activist enough for ole Rick Santorum. And it's tearing him apart.

At the halfway point

Is anyone surprised that, shortly after President Bush goes to Iowa and meets with him personally, Sen Chuck Grassley has changed his view on Social Security privatization from a "less than 50-50 chance" to one of guarded optimism?

I thought not.

The golden state of Arnold

A few days ago, I posted this disconnect from reality by my action hero Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Today, the L.A. Times does the same:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is pursuing an orthodox conservative no-taxes-ever policy even as other Republican governors have abandoned it to save their states. Schwarzenegger's colleagues in Nevada, Idaho, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana and Colorado haven't turned Democratic, just realistic.


Five other Republican governors, more willing to face reality, have resorted to higher taxes in recent years. Now Colorado Gov. Bill Owens, trying to avoid dismembering state services, is working with Democrats in his legislature to suspend the state's famous taxpayer-approved spending limit. Owens, up to now a champion of spending limits, says that, considering federal cuts in aid to states, common sense dictates that Colorado increase spending for healthcare for the poor, higher education, transportation and public safety — increases not allowed under the spending cap. Owens says he will seek increases of $3 billion over the next five years.

Also announced today, lawmaker's are investigating an apparent sweetheart deal the Schwarzenegger administration gave to a small firm in Virginia, whose only qualification seems to be a $25,000 contribution to one of Arnold's political campaigns:
Last June, the Schwarzenegger administration hired CGI-AMS to help the state cut its near-$5 billion annual purchasing bill. But so far, the company has failed to deliver on its goal of trimming $96 million in spending this fiscal year.

Questions surrounding how the contract was awarded, the company's lack of experience and its trail of legal problems with past government work have prompted a Senate committee hearing Wednesday into the "strategic sourcing" contract to be led by Sens. Joe Dunn, D-Garden Grove, and Liz Figueroa, D-Sunol.

Meanwhile, Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, said he planned to ask the Legislature's audit committee Wednesday to approve a formal audit of the CGI-AMS contract and related activities at the Department of General Services.

Leno said he has several concerns prompted by the fact the contract isn't saving the money it was meant to.

It will be interesting to see what, if anything, this investigation uncovers and it's effects on Arnold's already slumping poll numbers.

Patrick Kennedy will not run in Rhode Island

Announced today, which means I can actually say that Matt Brown is now the best hope for Democrats to unseat Lincoln Chafee.

Kurtz's tin foil hat

It's nice to see that Republicans can disavow anything that reflects poorly on them and Howie Kurtz will then grant them legitimacy by giving them space in the Washington Post.

New mondus operandi for any Republican memo should now be a sheet of paper with no heading and hastily made spelling errors so anyone can claim it is a clever setup anytime things go poorly. That way, the GOP gets their talking points out, and anything that goes wrong can be blamed on the Democrats.

It's personal responsibility at it's finest.

Fun fact of the day

MSNBC (my emphasis):
Early Wednesday, a man was arrested when he tried to bring a plastic cup of water into the hospice. Police officers stopped him at the gate as he shouted: "You don't know God from Godzilla!"

He became the 48th protester arrested since the feeding tube was removed.

I listened to Sean Hannity for as long as I could yesterday (tolerance time, 45 seconds), and he suggested the media was being "unfair" to the protesters. I would think if there was a bias against the protesters, we would hear about every single one of these arrests splashed on the front page as an example of how out of control they are. Instead, they get casual mentions in the middle of a news story with no judgement passed on the idea of giving a woman who can't really swallow a drink of water, which could end up in her drowning.

No judgement at all.

What was it that made me turn Hannity off, by the way? He kept talking about the "mainstream media." Perhaps you can hear him on FOX News, the number one rated media outlet on cable TV.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Light blogging

It's going to be hit and miss for the next couple days.

Right now, it's time for sleep.

Judges review the new bankruptcy law

And it ain't pretty:
In interviews, a dozen current or former bankruptcy judges, whose names were suggested by proponents as well as opponents of the overhaul legislation, described what they saw as the problems that could result from key provisions of the new measure.

Judges now have broad discretion to determine how much a debtor must pay to creditors and on what schedule after declaring bankruptcy under what is known as Chapter 13. But under the legislation, that discretion would be substantially curtailed.

The new legislation would bar courts from reducing the amount that many debtors would have to repay on their cars and other big-ticket items. It would also extend the length of time people would have to make repayments and impose repayment schedules that critics describe as so onerous that many debtors would fall behind.

The result, the judges said, would be the collapse of more repayment plans, forcing debtors out of bankruptcy court protection. Creditors then could try to force debtors to pay the full amount owed — not the reduced amount a judge had ordered — by moving to repossess their belongings or bringing legal actions. Many people would have to pay creditors far into the future, the critics said, and thus be unable to restart their economic lives, a long-held aim of bankruptcy.

Repayment plans "are pretty fragile documents to begin with, but they're going to get a lot more fragile under these conditions," said Ronald Barliant, a former bankruptcy judge from the northern district of Illinois in Chicago.

"It's going to take away of lot of the incentives" for people to enter repayment plans, said David W. Houston III, a bankruptcy judge from the northern district of Mississippi in Aberdeen.

The body's still warm

But that doesn't stop the Schindlers:
The parents of Terri Schiavo have authorized a conservative direct-mailing firm to sell a list of their financial supporters, making it likely that thousands of strangers moved by her plight will receive a steady stream of solicitations from anti-abortion and conservative groups.

"These compassionate pro-lifers donated toward Bob Schindler's legal battle to keep Terri's estranged husband from removing the feeding tube from Terri," says a description of the list on the Web site of the firm, Response Unlimited, which is asking $150 a month for 6,000 names and $500 a month for 4,000 e-mail addresses of people who responded last month to an e-mail plea from Ms. Schiavo's father. "These individuals are passionate about the way they value human life, adamantly oppose euthanasia and are pro-life in every sense of the word!"

Monday, March 28, 2005

It's okay, I'm Republican

The other day I posted that it wasn't Tom DeLay's hypocrisy on allowing the propoer family members to make a decision regarding removing life support, it was his hypocrisy when it came to "frivolus lawsuits" that upset me.

I should have known that he wasn't the only one.

Spot the liar

Washington Post March 28, 2005:
Schwarzenegger disagrees. "No one has ever raised taxes and solved the problem, nor will we solve the problem," he said. "We don't have a revenue problem; we have a spending problem."

Washington Post March 27, 2005:
In the past two years, Republican governors including Nevada's Kenny Guinn, Idaho's Dirk Kempthorne, Georgia's Sonny Perdue and Ohio's Bob Taft have dumped no-new-taxes pledges to push for major new revenue and increased state spending.

Perhaps the most stinging reversal for tax-limitation groups in Washington was the quick conversion of Mitchell E. Daniels Jr. (R), who was President Bush's first budget director and an outspoken advocate of lower taxes -- until he was elected governor of Indiana last November. In his first state budget, Daniels recently proposed a 29 percent increase in the income tax, targeted at the upper brackets. Daniels cited a $250 million revenue shortfall and said spending cuts of that size were untenable.

All of these tax-raising Republicans offer the same basic reasons for their change of heart. "I have done something that is absolutely not part of my fiber," Kempthorne said when he proposed Idaho tax increases in 2003. "But I'm not going to dismantle this state, and I'm not going to jeopardize our bond rating, and I'm not going to reduce my emphasis on education."

Sometimes one should put his own politics aside for the good of his constituents. Arnold has yet to learn that lesson.

How could I have been so blind?

Apparently, this Terri Schiavo thing isn't about granting a woman's own wishes to be kept off life support at all. Instead, it's about exterminating the Jews.

No, no, no!

I've mentioned before here that I think the Democrats should continue to let Republicans take target practice at their feet for this whole Terri Schiavo ordeal. So it was a little disheartening to read this:
On Sunday, lawmakers of both parties agreed that Congress has a role to play in such cases and should contemplate legislation that would give added legal recourse to patients like Ms. Schiavo. While it is difficult to predict whether such a measure could pass, the Schiavo case has clearly pushed thorny questions about end-of-life care to the fore on Capitol Hill, as well as in state legislatures around the nation.

I'm not sure how much more "added legal recourse" cases like this need. Fifteen years seems like plenty to me. Imagine this battle did move up the federal ladder, and the case began anew. More than likely, patients would end up dying before a final court verdict was reached.

And, of course, this case did go through a federal appeals process prior to the midnight legislation a few weeks ago. All the courts ruled that Terri's rights had not been violated and upheld the rulings of the Florida courts.

Democrats should not be saying now "Yeah, we should do something about this." They should instead begin reinforcing the idea that this is an issue for families, not for politicians to decide.

Words fail me

The conclusion of Mahoney's news conference Sunday afternoon was disrupted by a minor scuffle among protesters jostling to get their signs within camera range.

Which elicits the question to the protestors, "When did this stop being about Terri Schiavo for you and more about getting your homemade sign onto television?"

Sunday, March 27, 2005

There's a whole Article for this

Have William J. Bennett and Brian T. Kennedy read the Constitution at all? If so, what could possibly lead them to write this sentence:
It is a mistake to believe that the courts have the ultimate say as to what a constitution means.

Who else, may I ask, rules on the Constitutionality of laws, then?

There's this, too:
Governor Bush pledged to uphold the Florida constitution as he understands it, not as it is understood by some Florida judges.

Well, that's true to a point, but the courts then get to decide if the Governor's actions are actually upholding the constitution or not, don't they? Especially if someone sues to overturn his actions.

I was so much better when I didn't waste my time at the National Review


Remember all those felon voters in Washington that changed the outcome of the election?

Turns out, not so much:
The felon list includes the names of people convicted as juveniles and whose voting rights were never extinguished. That could mean hundreds of names will be removed from the list. Republicans are reviewing the cases to check for juveniles.

"It's really inconsistent information. But 1,100 felons voting makes a great headline," said Yakima County Auditor Corky Mattingly.

She said that earlier this year, the county reviewed a list of 15 alleged felon voters compiled by Rossi backers but not submitted to the court. She said four of those 15 appeared to have voted improperly.

One county found an error rate on the Republican list around 75%, including people convicted of misdemeanors instead of felonies, and others who had their voting rights restored.

Those corrupt Republicans

Denver Post:
In their 1994 "Contract With America," Republicans promised to "transform the way Congress works," to "end its cycle of scandal and disgrace" and to shrink a federal government "that is too big, too intrusive and too easy with the public's money."

But when it comes to manipulating the rules on ethics, pork-barrel spending, redistricting and the rights of the minority to debate and amend legislation, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Speaker Dennis Hastert and other GOP leaders have rivaled and sometimes trumped the Democrats they replaced.

It's a little distressing to say that, at least in the article, Newt Gingrich is the voice of reason.

There's plenty more at the link.


Look, I'm not upset about Tom DeLay's family willingness to let his father die years ago in the face of his railing against Michael Schiavo and his desire to see his wife meet the same fate. It's a bit hypocritical, sure, but I think we've all come to expect that from folks like Tom DeLay.

What pisses me off even moe is that, shortly after his father's accident, his family filed one of those "small business crippling lawsuits" and actually one:
The DeLay family litigation sought unspecified compensation for, among other things, the dead father's "physical pain and suffering, mental anguish and trauma," and the mother's grief, sorrow and loss of companionship.

Their lawsuit also alleged violations of the Texas product liability law.

The DeLay case moved slowly through the Texas judicial system, accumulating more than 500 pages of motions, affidavits and disclosures over nearly three years. Among the affidavits was one filed by the congressman, but family members said he had little direct involvement in the lawsuit, leaving that to his brother Randall, an attorney.

Rep. DeLay, who since has taken a leading role promoting tort reform, wants to rein in trial lawyers to protect American businesses from what he calls "frivolous, parasitic lawsuits" that raise insurance premiums and "kill jobs."

Last September, he expressed less than warm sentiment for attorneys when he took the floor of the House to condemn trial lawyers who, he said, "get fat off the pain" of plaintiffs and off "the hard work" of defendants.

Aides for DeLay defended his role as a plaintiff in the family lawsuit, saying he did not follow the legal case and was not aware of its final outcome.

The case was resolved in 1993 with payment of an undisclosed sum, said to be about $250,000, according to sources familiar with the out-of-court settlement. DeLay signed over his share of any proceeds to his mother, said his aides.

Three years later, DeLay cosponsored a bill specifically designed to override state laws on product liability such as the one cited in his family's lawsuit. The legislation provided sweeping exemptions for product sellers.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

The party of life

Meanwhile, FBI agents have arrested a North Carolina man on suspicion of soliciting offers over the Internet to kill Michael Schiavo and Greer. Richard Alan Meywes of Fairview is accused of offering $250,000 for the killing of Schiavo and another $50,000 for the "the elimination of the judge who ruled against Terry."

Meywes was arrested without incident at his home around 5 p.m. Friday on charges of solicitation of murder and transmission of a threatening communication via interstate commerce, authorities said.

If convicted, Meywes could face up to 15 years in prison and up to $500,000 in fines.

The obligatory Terri Schiavo post

As things get wackier, and threats of violence from the state rise up, I keep hearing how the Democrats are losing out on an opportunity to score political points. This is a case, however, where I really think the Democrats are better served staying out of it altogether.

Because of this issue, GOP favorability has dropped. And why? Because they feel Republicans are using this as a political issue. So why would the Democrats want to fumble with this political greased pig as well?

Republicans have stepped in this one all their own, and they cannot even claim "activist liberal judges" with a straight face as a majority of the judges deciding to reject this case lately have been GOP appointees. There's really no strong way out of this box for Republicans, and Democratic talking heads would need to make only one false step in order to provide them with one.

I think most people agree that this is not a case for politicians to decide. And any Democratic party involvement quickly turns this from a Republican vs. America debate to one of Democrats vs. Republicans. I've already heard on C-Span callers stating they were going to leave the GOP over this issue. What more could the Democrats ask for?

Friday, March 25, 2005

Grassley skeptical of Social Security bill

Des Moines Register:
Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, at the center of the fight over revising Social Security, said Friday that the odds are against Congress approving the proposal being pushed by President Bush.

‘‘I think it’s very difficult for me to say today that we’ll present a bill to the president,’’ Grassley said in an interview with Associated Press reporters and editors.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Pew poll on Social Security

The trends are still there:
Among people aged 18-29, 49 percent favored private accounts while 25 percent were opposed. A month ago, 66 percent of people under 30 supported such accounts and 19 percent were opposed, the poll found.

This is the group that Republicans thought would be easy to sway to their side and turn into life long supporters of the GOP. In fact, the opposite has happened. Here's why:
Among people under 30 who have heard a lot about the plan, 45 percent are opposed to it. Among people under 30 who haven't heard a lot about the plan, only 19 percent oppose it.

A whole lot of knowledge is a dangerous thing to the Bush plan, and the more he educates the country, the less they like what he has to sell.

And from another poll:
Congressional Democrats were favored over Bush on the issue of strengthening Social Security by a margin of 49 percent to 38 percent.

So keep touring, President Bush, to put people off from you plan and to push them into trusting Democrats more. We appreciate your hard work.

Social Security website warns about private accounts

Don't believe there's a danger to private accounts replacing Social Security? Let's go to their website:
In a Q&A about the retirement program on the agency's Web site, there is this exchange, which has apparently been there for years:

"Question: I think I could do better if you let me invest the Social Security I pay into an individual retirement plan (IRA) or some other investment plan. What do you think?"

"Answer: Maybe you could, but then again, maybe your investments wouldn't work out. Remember these facts:

• "Your Social Security taxes pay for potential disability and survivors benefits as well as for retirement benefits.

• "Social Security incorporates social goals — such as giving more protection to families and to low-income workers — that are not part of private pension plans; and

• "Social Security benefits are adjusted yearly for increases in the cost of living — a feature not present in many private plans."

In midpage at, near the top, is the phrase "Questions about." From the drop-down menu, viewers can choose "Taxes and Social Security" and go to Question 18.

Critiquing the circus

From over at Americablog, on the Schiavo incident:
Yes, the Dems stole defeat out of the jaws of victory. Again. The majority of Americans stand with the Dems on major issues. Unfortunately, the Dems are afraid to stand with the majority of Americans. Think anyone will apologize? Think anyone will get the message? Neither do I.

Two things. First off, I think this is an issue that's best left to Republicans to screw up on their on. And they are doing an excellent job of it, I might add. One thing I have yet to really hear (but I could just watch at the wrong time) is that the "godless Democrats" are leading the battle against life. It's not a reinforcement you need, even if a majority of American's agree on this particular issue.

I think most Democrats are right on this one to sit back and watch the clowns perform their show. Rather that get in the way, we should just make sure we write plenty of reviews.

GOP takes on "traitor" Jim Jeffords

I like the fact that the Vermont GOP is pushing donors from out of state to send money in an effort to unseat Jim Jeffords because it should prove to be a fairly futile effort and a waste of money that could have gone elsewhere. And at least one state Republican has already denounced the tone of the letter the state party sent out, while other have said they would not campaign against him.

But hey, more power to them.

She did fifty push ups in front of me

After reading these words from Tom DeLay, I think it's only a matter of time before he claims that Terri Schiavo bought herself a plane ticket and flew to his office to thank him for all he's tried to do in her name.



Moderate conservatives are upset that DeLay and company overstepped their bounds and destroyed state's rights.

Now comes this from the senior editor of The Conservative Voice:
"The good people of this nation who care about life need to understand the half-hearted 'Pro-Life' gestures by the GOP for what they are: snow jobs to keep the Pro-Life constituency in line. When it comes to stopping the killing, the GOP can't get the real job done because the GOP is not Pro-Life."

I was talking to a friend the other day about how America really did seem ripe for the formation of a new political party, although it was in an entirely different context that I brought it up. If hard right conservatives really feel betrayed by the GOP, however, they certainly aren't going to run into the Democrats camp on these issues.

Republicans know they need the hard right in order to maintain power, but their deal with the devil has come due and he wants their soul.

I'm not saying it's going to happen. But if the tenor of this debate continues to be hard core conservatives and the religious right feeling constantly betrayed by the Republican party, I wouldn't be surprised.

And for those who doubt that a group would splinter from a party that represents some of their views in order to make a stand and potentially alter the outcome of an election, think Nader in 2012.

*UPDATE* Why didn't anyone tell me that Glenn Reynolds talked about this last night?

I'm not saying he's right, either. But the fact that he's putting it out there might make those wondering if it's okay to leave feel a little better about going.

A message to Alan Keyes

Hey Alan Keyes-

If I demonstrate as much disconnect from reality as this guy, can I write for your website on the state of California politics? I won't tell people that Arnold's popularity is falling and Democrats see the perfect convergence of bad policy and political vulnerability. Instead I will make up things about how they are frightened of a woman who has already stated she would not run for President in 2008.

I will ignore the fact that Arnold backed out of a compact with the state's schools, screwing them out of 2 billion dollars in funds. And I will not mention his insistence to balance the budget shortfalls on the backs of teachers, firemen, and other hard working Californians while he travels the country raising special interest funds for a special election that will cost an already cash strapped state to the tune of $70 million.

Mr Keyes, please get back to me as soon as you can so I can file divorce papers with reality as soon as possible. Thanks for your time.

P.S. How's your daughter doing?

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Your question of the night

I've been wondering this for a few days, but haven't asked it yet. So here goes.

If Terri Schiavo could be saved though stem cells, would Tom DeLay, Bill Frist, Rick Santorum, and all the other Republican teammates moving this political ball down the field be willing to support the research?

This is a hypothetical, of course, so you have to assume that her condition can be cured by stem cells and that science is at a place where it can help her.


Defusing the nuclear option

Talk a week ago was how certain Frist was that he had the votes to overcome the filibuster. Polls are released saying the public doesn't support the nuclear option. Now the Washington Times is reporting Frist may have been all talk :
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist does not have firm support among his caucus to employ the so-called "nuclear option" for dislodging the Democratic filibusters against President Bush's judicial nominees.

Of the 55 Republicans in the chamber, at least six are undecided or adamantly opposed to the plan of using the rare parliamentary procedure to end the filibusters with a simple majority vote, rather than the 60 votes normally required.

"I am very concerned about the overuse of the filibuster," said Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican who said she remains undecided. "But I am also concerned that a rule change will further charge the partisan atmosphere to the point that we will not be able to conduct business."

I can't believe at this stage that Frist and the GOP are ready to go nuclear, especially in light of the public opinion debacle that the Terri Schiavo case has become for them.

So much for the culture of life

As Republican leaders in Congress move to trim billions of dollars from the Medicaid health program, they are simultaneously intervening to save the life of possibly the highest-profile Medicaid patient: Terri Schiavo.

The Schiavo case may put a human face on the problem of rising medical costs, both at the state and federal levels. In Florida, where Gov. Jeb Bush (R) is pushing a dramatic restructuring of the Medicaid program, the cost of Schiavo's care has become political fodder. In Washington, where a fight over Medicaid spending threatens to scuttle the 2006 budget plan, the role of the program in preserving Schiavo's life is beginning to receive attention.

"At every opportunity, [House Majority Leader] Tom DeLay has sanctimoniously proclaimed his concern for the well-being of Terri Schiavo, saying he is only trying to ensure she has the chance 'we all deserve,' " the liberal Center for American Progress said in a statement Monday, echoing complaints of Democratic lawmakers and medical ethicists. "Just last week, DeLay marshaled a budget resolution through the House of Representatives that would cut funding for Medicaid by at least $15 billion, threatening the quality of care for people like Terri Schiavo."

DeLay spokesman Dan Allen fired back: "The fact that they're tying a life issue to the budget process shows just how disconnected Democrats are to reality."

So clearly, according to DeLay's spokesman, health care for the poor and needy is not considered a "life issue." In fact, health care for the poor is nothing more than a part of the budget process to DeLay, not an effort to give everyone a chance at a full and healthy life.

Maybe they should rename it the "culture of politically expedient life."

Did someone say Social Security?

The real crappy part about being at work in a place where there is no access to news and the internet is the amount of things you miss out on.

For example, the Social Security trustees report was released this morning, and I had no idea about it until just a few minutes ago. I have a feeling this will have been well covered on other blogs, such as MaxSpeak and Angry Bear, and I've already read a few analysis about it.

Before I comment on any of that, though, can I say how disappointing it is to see the AP adopt the President's "going broke" rhetoric. Social Security will never go broke unless the government removes the Social Security tax completely.

Anyway, remember when the CBO actually pushed back the date of insolvency, no one gave a damn. Now that the date has come forward, the media fell over itself to praise Bush's vision. Even if it is a bunch of crap.

Looking at other's take on the report, the Bush team of trustees altered some of the numbers (such as immigration) to bring the downfall date closer.

Dean Baker points out that part of the problem is Bush's economy is not as hale as it was projected to be:
The economy’s weakness caused the trustees to revise down the cumulative trust fund surplus projected for 2013 by approximately $100 billion (adjusted for new inflation projections) compared to the projection in the 2004 report.

Specifically, the 2004 report had projected 1.7 percent employment growth in 2004, actual growth turned out to be just 1.1 percent. The 2004 report had also projected a 2.4 percentage increase in real wages for the year, the actual increase was just 1.2 percent. The 2005 report also shows a somewhat worse picture for the next few years, as the economy continues to recover slowly from the 2001 recession.

It is important to realize that even after the trust fund is projected to be depleted in 2041, the program would still be able to pay a substantial benefit from its annual tax. If the projections prove exactly right, then the payable benefit to a person retiring at normal retirement age in 2042 would still be about 7 percent higher on average than the benefit received by current retirees.

Finally for now, Bradford Plummer points out that, despite the date change, Social Security is actually healthier than it was last year, and he's got the chart to prove it.

Langevin out

U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin will not challenge Lincoln Chafee's U.S. Senate seat in 2006, leaving Matt Brown, current Secretary of State as the main challenger.

Brown trails Chaffee in the latest polls by a 39-25 margin, but a lot of that gap would most likely be made up with stronger name recognition.

*UPDATE* I blog corrected:
Rep. Jim Langevin (D) also urged secretary of state and fellow Democrat Matt Brown to drop out as well. Many in the state party envision a scenario in which Langevin keeps his House seat, Patrick Kennedy takes on Chafee in the Senate race, and Brown runs successfully for Kennedy's House seat.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Bush's tour cancelled for lack of interest

It's only a matter of time, isn't it? Here's a report from a tour stop in New Mexico:
Unlike most other presidential appearances, the event inside the darkly lit Kiva Auditorium was sparsely attended, with hundreds of empty seats. Several participants joined the politicians onstage, including a 78-year-old retired teacher, Margaret Valdez, and her 24-year-old granddaughter, Jessica, who both support individual accounts. The older woman said she had appeared with Senator Pete V. Domenici, Republican of New Mexico, at a Social Security event before, suggesting that the performance was even more practiced than most.

Texas GOP short changes schools

Houston Chronicle:
A sweeping $10.8 billion House tax plan would not raise enough revenue to maintain promised property tax relief in coming years, according to the state comptroller.

The bill, adopted by the House last week, was part of a package to restructure the way Texas pays for K-12 public education. The proposal would offset a one-third slash in school property taxes with a reformed business tax and a variety of consumer taxes, including an increase in the sales tax and an additional 3 percent tax on snacks such as popcorn and cookies.

"My heart goes out to them," Republican Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn said. "They just passed the largest tax bill in history and it does not balance. They thought they were raising $12 billion in revenue. I ran the numbers and it raises about $8 billion revenue."

Republicans say the bill will go through anyway.

Remember this is the bill that grants even more tax cuts to the wealthy while shifting the burden to the poor. Now those people are getting even less for the more they have to pay.

Compassionate conservatism at it's best.

The truth from New Hampshire

Oh, no, it's not political (my emphisis):
"I think there comes a point that they have to be very careful," said Tom Rath, the Republican national committeeman from New Hampshire, who called the Schiavo debate a political plus for the GOP so far. "There's this line of when is it OK for the government to get involved in personal family decisions and when is it not."

Schiavo ruling

While watching the House debate the Schiavo bill, I remember hearing numerous times that this bill offered no judgment in favor of the parents, only granted a venue in federal court to the case. Well, the judge has ruled that the feeding tube should not be reinstated, and guess what Rick Santorum says:
U.S. District Court Judge James Whittemore has defied Congress by not staying Terri Schiavo's starvation execution for the time it takes him to hold a full hearing on her case, a leading Republican senator said Tuesday.

"You have judicial tyranny here," Santorum told WABC Radio in New York. "Congress passed a law that said that you had to look at this case. He simply thumbed his nose at Congress."

So Santorum is upset because the judge didn't do what Congress wanted him to do, even though they said expressly that this bill was not a ruling in favor of the feeding tube being restored.

I must say I'm a little disappointed the judge sidestepped the Constitutionality of the bill altogether, as that was the argument I was most interested in. Still, for Terri's sake, I'm pleased to see she is getting what she asked for.

Monday, March 21, 2005

If she could talk like Tom DeLay

I've seen this quote from Tom DeLay in a number of places:
"She talks and she laughs and she expresses likes and discomforts," he said Sunday evening. "It won't take a miracle to help Terri Schiavo. It will only take the medical care and therapy that patients require."

Is it too crass to suggest that if Tom really believes this, he should go down to Florida and ask Terri if she wants her feeding tube removed? Maybe get her to laugh at the ridiculousness of his own statement?

At the very least, maybe he can get her to express whether she likes being used as a political pawn.

More lies from the EPA

It's sad when news about the manipulation of science for the sake of Bush administration policy no longer surprises you. Sadder still is that Bush and company continue to get away with it relatively unscathed:
When the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled a rule last week to limit mercury emissions from U.S. power plants, officials emphasized that the controls could not be more aggressive because the cost to industry already far exceeded the public health payoff.

What they did not reveal is that a Harvard University study paid for by the EPA, co-authored by an EPA scientist and peer-reviewed by two other EPA scientists had reached the opposite conclusion.

That analysis estimated health benefits 100 times as great as the EPA did, but top agency officials ordered the finding stripped from public documents, said a staff member who helped develop the rule. Acknowledging the Harvard study would have forced the agency to consider more stringent controls, said environmentalists and the study's author.

The fact that Republicans are willing to lie to the public in order to protect business over the needs of the unborn really speaks to the "society of life" their always talking about, doesn't it?

Scare Tactics

John McCain, destroyer of truth and Social Security:
"We must do this together," McCain said, his voice growing louder with each word. "We know how much money is coming in. We know how much money is going out. Does anybody believe we should wait - we should wait until there's no money that we have to cut off people's Social Security checks?"

Someone point me to any numbers, any numbers at all, that end up with Social Security checks being "cut off."
Anyone know if Stephen Baldwin hosted this event?

Republican's support the people

Just not the everyday working ones:
Within hours or days of taking office this year, Mitch Daniels in Indiana and Matt Blunt in Missouri eliminated collective bargaining agreements for state employees, affecting about 50,000 workers. Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher did the same when he took office in 2003. In each case, the agreements had only been granted by executive order, not by law.

In Mississippi, where state employees don't have collective bargaining rights, GOP Gov. Haley Barbour supports a legislative effort to eliminate existing civil-service protections. In Oklahoma, the GOP-controlled state House approved a measure to repeal a law granting collective bargaining to municipal employees.

It is especially egregious for legislatures to remove collective bargaining when the legislature can vote themselves a pay raise or better benefits whenever they want.

The power of the many is greater than the power of the few, and the Republicans know this. Unions are responsible for so many of the worker protections we enjoy today, and it's nice to see Republicans so willing to pay them back for all their hard work.

This should be another in a long line of campaign issues wrapped up for Democrats come 2006. Hopefully, they will know how to use them.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Asking Congress for permission

Congress becomes more intrusive into everyone's life:
After an unusual and emotional Sunday night debate, the House passed legislation early Monday morning aimed at prolonging the life of Terri Schiavo, whose feeding tube was removed Friday under court order.

Anyone know if Michael can petition the Supremes to rule against this new law as unconstitutional?

Americans: No borrowing for private accounts

Well, 2/3rds of them, anyway:
In the March 15-17 poll, Time asked respondents if they favored or opposed Bush's plan if the government had to borrow as much as $2 trillion to pay for the transition as payroll taxes, which are used to pay benefits for retirees, are diverted into personal accounts. Fully 67 percent of those polled opposed the plan under those circumstances and 24 percent were in favor. Nine percent said they didn't know.

Say what?

MSNBC, reporting on Terri Schiavo:
“It gives Terri Schiavo another chance,” Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said after the late-afternoon voice vote in a near-empty Senate chamber.

Another chance at what? To persist in a vegetative state for another 15 years?

It's sad to me that the final wishes of a woman and her husband could be usurped by 288 Republicans in Washington D.C. But what is more ominous to me is the fact that Republicans are willing to throw away the rule of law to do it. Perhaps the sanest political quote so far comes from Democrat Rep. James P. Moran, of Virginia:
"She's doing the best that she can trying to speak to my dad," in the footage, Schindler (Terri's brother), a high school science teacher, told Moran. "I urge you, in fact I am begging you to at least listen to these videos of my sister communicating with my father."

"I am happy to take a look at that," Moran replied. "But my greater concern is not with the immediate facts of this case as much as it is the precedent, of overruling the state courts, of politicizing a tragic family situation."

For me, the bigger issue is not the right of Terri to die, although I do support it, but rather the precedent it sets and the attempts to score political points off the tragedy of a highly publicized figure. If karma still has a place in this world, this whole affair will blow up in the faces of Frist, DeLay, and all Republicans come 2006.

P.S. There are posts all over such as this one explaining the hypocrisy of the right. I'm not going to add another one here.

DeLay challenges Schavio to schoolyard battle

I bet this qualifies him for Wanker of the day:
DeLay, who has been personally chastising Michael Schiavo, did not spare him on Saturday. "I don't have a whole lot of respect for a man that has treated this woman in this way," he said. "What kind of man is he?"

He's a man who has suffered with his wife in a bread dead state for the last fifteen years, hoping for eight of those years for her to get better before finally relenting on her wishes not to be forced to live like this. He's a man who I have no doubt cares much for Terri and wants the best for her now.

Seriously, with all this talk of saving her life I have to ask what kind of life does she really have? Part of her brain has turned to fluid. As much as her parents would like, it is not going to reform into any useful solid between now and the time that she passes away.

It's funny to me that in this instance, the Christian Conservatives want science to trump G-d. Were we 100 years ago, this would not be an issue. Terri would be buried and Michael would not have to listen to Tom DeLay talk out his ass. G-d would have already called her home. But now, thanks to technology and science (which otherwise would be man's downfall), the right cheers science and it's advancements to further advance their own partisan rhetoric. And it's sad.

But back to DeLay. Tom, you should have to suffer half as much as this man has before you start ask questions like that one. Until you wife or loved one sits is her state for eight years, you have no room to talk.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Sad but true


(You really should read The Talent Show more often, anyway)

Reality attacks Bush's SS plan

A new paper by Yale University economist Robert J. Shiller found that under Bush's default "life-cycle accounts," which shift assets from stocks to bonds over a worker's lifetime, nearly a third of workers would bring in less in benefits than if they remained in the traditional system. That analysis is based on historical rates of return in the United States. Using global rates of return, which Shiller says more closely track future conditions, life-cycle portfolios could be expected to fall short of the traditional system's returns 71 percent of the time.

Both the White House and the Social Security Administration have relied on historical returns in estimating the earnings of proposed personal investment accounts. Shiller used 91 computer simulations to analyze the past performance of stocks and bonds in a variety of portfolios. He measured the returns in 44-year increments, beginning in 1871, to approximate a worker's lifetime contributions to personal accounts.

The results "showed a disappointing outlook for investors in the personal accounts relative to the rhetoric of their promoters," concluded Shiller, a leading researcher in stock market volatility who gained fame in the late 1990s for his warnings of a stock market bubble.

The whole paper is available here.

We can only afford six figures

One of the things I remember from the California grocery strike was the companies claiming they were losing money and had to cut benefits and wages for new workers because they couldn't afford them anymore. In light of that, I feel nothing but disgust to read that five Kroger executives received six figure bonuses last year. Perhaps that money could have gone to pay for health insurance for the many rather than the yacht expenses of the few?

Virginity pledges prevent nothing

Teens who pledge to remain virgins until marriage are more likely to take chances with other kinds of sex that increase the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, a study of 12,000 adolescents suggests.

The report by Yale and Columbia University researchers could help explain their earlier findings that teens who pledged abstinence are just as likely to have STDs as their peers.

The latest study, published in the April issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health, found that teens pledging virginity until marriage are more likely to have oral and anal sex than other teens who have not had intercourse. That behavior, however, "puts you at risk," said Hannah Brueckner, assistant professor of sociology at Yale and one of the study's authors.

Among virgins, boys who have pledged abstinence were four times more likely to have had anal sex, according to the study. Overall, pledgers were six times more likely to have oral sex than teens who have remained abstinent but not as part of a pledge.

The pledging group also was less likely to use condoms during their first sexual experience or get tested for STDs, the researchers found.

Spot the untruth

Florida Today:
"We're closing in on a tipping point," [Chief Executive of USANext Charlie] Jarvis said.

"The more the president and members of Congress talk about protecting seniors and at the same time providing prosperity for younger workers who own personal accounts, the more you will see seniors shift toward personal account solutions.

"The momentum is against the do-nothing crowd," Jarvis said. "They will be moving on the defensive over the next 10 days."

Charlie, meet reality:
Just one in three Americans trust President George W. Bush on the issue of Social Security, according to the latest Newsweek poll.

Bush's handling of the issue appears to be a drag on his overall approval ratings, which have declined five percentage points in Newsweek's poll over the past six weeks, a period during which the president toured 15 states to tout his plan to overhaul the nation's 70-year-old government retirement program.

The president's approval rating of 45 percent is the second- lowest of his presidency in the Newsweek poll. His lowest was 42 percent in May of last year. The slide comes just as key U.S. economic indicators, such as job creation, are turning around.

By a margin of 44 percent to 33 percent, more Americans trust congressional Democrats than Bush on Social Security, the poll found.

How Christian of you

Palm Beach Post:
The pressure on lawmakers grappling with the fate of a severely brain-damaged woman caused an eruption inside the state Senate chambers just hours before Terri Schiavo's feeding tube was removed Friday, showing potential fracture lines in the Senate GOP caucus.

"Some of us have been getting threatening phone calls and threatening e-mails, calling us very nasty names," said a weeping Sen. Nancy Argenziano, one of nine Republicans who voted Thursday to kill an amendment that other Republicans hoped to pass in time to keep Schiavo fed.

Argenziano said she respected the bill's sponsor, Sen. Daniel Webster, for "doing what he believes" but tearfully beseeched Webster and Christian conservatives who made the threats to "please respect my fundamental belief: I don't want to keep anybody from getting to heaven."


Argenziano, a Catholic from Dunnellon, and Sen. Jim King, a former Senate president who led the GOP bloc against Webster's bill, were among those demonized by abortion opponents such as the National Right to Life Committee, who hurled electronic epithets such as "Murderer!" and threatened that they would "burn in Hell."

Nothing that G-d loves more than making threatening phone calls and insulting those who do not believe in the same things you do. I think it's in the Book of Mark somewhere...

Friday, March 18, 2005


It's been a hectic last couple days, and tomorrow and Monday don't seem much better. But I might be free tomorrow night, or maybe Sunday we could get together?

Cool, thanks

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Like father...

...not so much like son. Here's H.W. Bush on the concept of private accounts:
I think it's a nutty idea to fool around with the Social Security system and run the risk of [hurting] the people who've been saving all their lives.... It may be a new idea, but it's a dumb one.

Of course, most Republicans prolly don't care much for what old pappy has to say, seeing as he turned his back on their precious Reagan world.

Oh, and I need a research staff.

Slowly extend the finger

If hiring Karen Hughes was suppose to improve relations with the other countries of the world, what was the purpose of nominating a guy for the World Bank that other countries don't like at all?


Jonathan Singer here writes what I was thinking about the difference between the Newt shutdown and Reid's proposed standstill in the face of the "nuclear option."
Equally impressive is [Reid]'s decision to exepmt both military funding and critical government services.

When Newt Gingrich shut down the government in 1995, his subsequent loss of support among the American people occurred when citizens realized they wanted Social Security checks, the Post Office, etc. By leaving such services out of a broad-based shut down of the Senate, Reid negates the risk of undercutting his support among the American people.

I don't have much more to add to this. The Republicans are already rallying their side and calling Democrats insane to do such a thing. No doubt these are the same partisans who felt the Gingrich shutdown would result in bad news for Bill Clinton. That outcome did not occur, and I don't think the public will much care about the Senate function as long as Reid keeps those two things exempted.


It gets tougher to blog when everything you seem to blog about is another defeat in the Senate. First, the drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge remains in the Senate budget, skirting actual debate on the issue and preventing it from being filibustered. The only hope now is that when the House and the Senate get together to even out differences in their two bills, they drop the provision altogether.

Now I'm watching the vote on Pay-as-you-go limits on the budget, and it seems doomed to failure as well. Sadly, the main argument that Republicans have been trying to sell is parodied here in the AP article:
Top Senate Republicans expect to defeat a drive by Democrats and GOP moderates to make it harder for Congress to approve new tax cuts, Senate aides said Thursday.

That, of course, is not entirely true. The fangled amendment would simply require any tax cuts to be offset by equivalent spending cuts or require sixty votes for approval. It's an attempt by Democrats to being some fiscal sanity to the borrow and spend Republican Congress.

But, if you buy the Republican defense rhetoric, then you would also have to cede that this bill makes it harder to increase spending, because it could not be approved without a new tax proposal or spending cuts as well.

Imagine your household budget. Say you want to spend money on an add on to your house. You aren't going to simply go out and spend the money, but rather take the time to look over your budget and accommodate the spending. That's what the Feingold amendment looks to do. And that is what a majority of Republicans oppose.

Democrats truly have become the party of fiscal responsibility.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Clinton V. Greenspan

Advantage Hillary:
Alan Greenspan and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton clashed briefly Tuesday over rosy surplus forecasts the Federal Reserve Chairman relied on to support President President Bush's 2001 tax cuts, estimates that turned out to be considerably off the mark.

"It turns out that we were all wrong," Greenspan conceded at a Senate hearing.

"Just for the record, we were not all wrong, but many people were wrong," Clinton, D-N.Y., quickly shot back.


A bankruptcy bill that will stop evil people like Tammi Fletcher from filing bankruptcy to relieve the debt burden that has become half her family income due to forces beyond her control.

Also noted:
Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard law professor who studied more than 2,200 bankruptcy cases, discovered that couples with children were more than twice as likely and single mothers nearly three times more likely to file for bankruptcy than childless families. She also identified the top three reasons families with children file.

Warren said the jump in bankruptcy filings is not an indication of a rise in conspicuous overspending. She argues in her book "The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Mothers and Fathers are Going Broke," that the surging bankruptcy rate is a sign that the costs of a middle-class lifestyle's basic building blocks -- housing, health care and education -- have been rising much faster than people's median incomes.

So a bankruptcy bill that makes it harder to file Chapter 7 will be more likely to affect families with children and mothers struggling to raise kids on their own. Sounds like good family values to me.

Partisan hack and slash

Houston Chronicle:
Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan issued a fresh call to Congress today to move promptly to put Social Security on firm financial footing, warning that doing nothing would lead to massive budget deficits and cause the "economy to stagnate or worse."

Seriously, massive budget deficits will stagnate the economy? Then why support the President's private account plan, which causes a massive debt to maintain benefits to seniors now? What effect will that have, Mr. Greenspan?
Because "benefit cuts will almost surely be at least part of the solution," Greenspan said it is imperative for Congress to let future retirees know as soon as possible that all currently promised benefits won't be forthcoming when they retire.

There's the big pink elephant. Benefit cuts. The Bush plan is laden with them, whether you opt in or not. Because he swears he won't raise taxes, and he seems loathe to find other funding, he wants to cut your benefit. Almost with a Grinch-like glee it seems. I only hope his heart grows three sizes someday.
The Fed chief said today that unless growth in the Social Security as well as the Medicare programs is restrained, these programs will require more and more government resources. Spending on these programs will rise from about 8 percent of the total economy currently to about 13 percent by 2030, he said.

"These projections make clear that the federal budget is on an unsustainable path" in which large budget deficits will push up interest rates, Greenspan said. The government last year produced a deficit of $412 billion, a record in dollar terms.

Uh, Alan, anything else you endorsed recently that may have put the budget on it's current path? How about massive tax cuts for the wealthy when we had that Clinton surplus? How about that one?

If you repeal the tax cut on the top 1% alone, you can overcome almost all the projected Social Security shortfall. It's that simple. If Bush were serious about saving the program, he'd look at solutions that actual do just that. Instead, he runs around the country telling everyone about the magic of benefit cuts coupled with the gamble of private accounts. And the people aren't buying.

Perhaps a good way to make some money for your retirement is bet this thing never takes off.
"We need, in effect, to make the phantom 'lock-boxes' around the trust fund real," he said.

Those of us who voted for Al Gore are now going to quietly weep.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Spoiling the view

Kudos to Norm Coleman (R-MN), who opposes oil drilling in a wildlife refuge.

The article tells us the numbers stand at 51-49 in favor of drilling. And since it's slipped in as a budget provision, there's no filibustering at all. Which means Democrats and Coleman need to get two more Senators to switch sides.

The article says Maria Cantwell of Washington and some guy named John Kerry will be leading the fight. I wish them the best of luck.

*UPDATE* Add to the count Lincoln Chaffe, who is also willing to fight:
On Wednesday, Sen. Lincoln Chafee, a moderate Rhode Island Republican who opposes drilling, conceded he'd have to change at least one vote from 2003 to prevail.

Pressure is on Democrat Daniel Akaka to switch his vote against drilling which, if Chaffe is right, should be decisive. Let's hope he's right.

*UPDATE* That was easy:
House Budget Committee Chairman Jim Nussle (R-Iowa) has opted not to address a controversial Alaska drilling initiative in his new budget resolution, saying yesterday that such a move would threaten to take down his entire bill.

The move is a significant blow to proponents of opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) for drilling. If the final House-Senate budget resolution does not protect ANWR under reconciliation rules, the ANWR bill would require 60 votes in the Senate, instead of the 50 it would require under reconciliation.

Many people on Capitol Hill believe that the ANWR bill has more than 50 votes but is well shy of 60.

Mercury for trade

So I'm thinking that I should market myself as a coal burning power plan and sell my emission caps to actual functioning plants in order to make a little extra money.

Or course, I'm not really going to do that, but it does help explain the problem with Bush and company's cap and trade approach. Certain areas will probably see a reduction in emissions. But there is no reason for other places to reduce anything if they can buy their way out of the problem. And that means those who live around those plants will get no benefit from the Bush plan at all.

Trade me

So I'm thinking that I should market myself as a coal burning power plan and sell my emission caps to actual functioning plants in order to make a little extra money.

Or course, I'm not really going to do that, but it does help explain the problem with Bush and company's cap and trade approach. Certain areas will probably see a reduction in emissions. But there is no reason for other places to reduce anything if they can buy their way out of the problem. And that means those who live around those plants will get no benefit from the Bush plan at all.

California's gay marriage ban unconstitutional

I had to get some work done on my car today, which gave me a chance to finish Eric Alterman's What Liberal Media?, which I highly recommend.

Anyway, I was hoping to gauge reaction from FOX News' announcement that a California judge had ruled that the state's ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional, but there wasn't much. That means that either they didn't care all that much, or they simply weren't paying attention. I'm going to go with the later.

Here's the story, from CNN:
In the eagerly awaited opinion likely to be appealed to the state's highest court, San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Richard Kramer said that withholding marriage licenses from gays and lesbians is unconstitutional.

"It appears that no rational purpose exists for limiting marriage in this state to opposite-sex partners," Kramer wrote.

The judge wrote that the state's historical definition of marriage, by itself, cannot justify the denial of equal protection for gays and lesbians.

"The state's protracted denial of equal protection cannot be justified simply because such constitutional violation has become traditional," Kramer wrote.

The matter with Kansas

Tucked in a Washington Post article about teaching evolution and "intelligent design:"
A prominent effort is underway in Kansas, where the state Board of Education intends to revise teaching standards. That would be progress, Southern Baptist minister Terry Fox said, because "most people in Kansas don't think we came from monkeys."

Is Terry Fox really ready to argue that public opinion should guide what is taught in school and not actual fact? He sees the need for "intelligent design," which falls outside the boundaries of science, because most people in the state support it. If, then, a majority in the state was convinced that 2+2=5, for example, or that the earth was the center of the universe, does that mean in Fox's eyes that we start teaching our children that as well?

No, of course not. Schooling is not based on popular opinion (or at least is shouldn't be).

However, the battle in Kansas is a big one, with the "intelligent design" side ready to go. One of it's main supporters is a group that has a goal of "the total integration of biblical law into our lives," and another group that teaches "the infallibility of the Scripture." They feel if evolution can be questioned enough, that liberalism will die soon after.

So my question is, what does it say about a group who's political beliefs are predicated on dismantling scientific thought?

*UPDATE* Americablog makes a connection that I should, but didn't. I blame evolution.

*UPDATE* I'd be alright with this one myself, but I think the larger problem on the right would be that teaching the Bible in literature class would be treating it like just another book. I would think a "world religion" class in high school wouldn't be a bad idea, though. Anyone else?

We decide so you don't have to

Why do conservatives love Fox News? Because it tells them what they want to hear:
Fox was measurably more one-sided than the other networks, and Fox journalists were more opinionated on the air. The news channel was also decidedly more positive in its coverage of the war in Iraq, while the others were largely neutral.


In the degree to which journalists are allowed to offer their own opinions, Fox stands out. Across the programs studied, nearly seven out of ten stories (68%) included personal opinions from Fox's reporters -- the highest of any outlet studied by far.

Just 4% of CNN segments included journalistic opinion, and 27% on MSNBC.

Fox journalists were even more prone to offer their own opinions in the channel's coverage of the war in Iraq. There 73% of the stories included such personal judgments. On CNN the figure was 2%, and on MSNBC, 29%.

The same was true in coverage of the Presidential election, where 82% of Fox stories included journalist opinions, compared to 7% on CNN and 27% on MSNBC.

Those findings seem to challenge Fox's promotional marketing, particularly its slogan, "We Report. You Decide."

Seem to challenge is a very generous understatement. FOX News is not so much a news agency as it is one big conservative op-ed page, something that liberals have no match for when it comes to promoting their ideas and are unlikely to have anytime soon.

Monday Social Security

There more you know, the more you hate it still. That's the word from the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll:
Barely a third of the public approves of the way President Bush is dealing with Social Security and a majority says the more they hear about Bush's plan to reform the giant retirement system, the less they like it, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Bush's overall job approval rating stood at 50 percent, unchanged from last month and nearly exactly where it was a year ago. Currently, 48 percent disapprove of the job Bush is doing as president.

But on Social Security, the president's popularity continues to decline. Thirty-five percent of those surveyed said they approved of the way Bush is handling Social Security, down three points since January and the lowest level of support for Bush on this issue ever recorded in Post-ABC polls.

Bush has made Social Security reform the cornerstone of his domestic policy agenda. But his efforts to win public support for his proposals to change the system appear to be having just the opposite effect, according to the poll.

I've said before that Bush should stop touring if he really wants to sell his Social Security reform, and I'm glad he refuses to listen to me.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Preventing unwanted spending

We all know that President Bush and his party in general favor abstinence only education to prevent unwanted pregnancy. They love it so much, in fact, they are willing to pump more and more money into a program that lacks proof of success and is laden with mistruths.

In January 2003, Wisconsin passed legislation giving low income women access to reproductive health care and contraception. The result? The state has saved 3.3 million dollars by reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies:
State officials, using projections based on 2000 figures, said 1,278 pregnancies were averted in the last quarter of 2003 because women in the program were provided with contraceptives; none of the averted pregnancies were due to abortions, said Jason Helgerson, executive assistant at the state Department of Health and Family Services.

If those children had been born, it would have cost Medicaid $7,132 to deliver and care for each of those newborns, for a total of $9.1 million.

Instead, the program spent $5.8 million to provide family planning care to those women, saving $3.3 million.

Best way to prevent abortions? Prevent unwanted pregnancies of course. This study, albeit preliminary, also shows what kind of savings these programs can have as well.

Soak the poor

Kevin Drum did a post on the upcoming Teaxs tax cuts, proposed by Republicans and shown to be beneficial to the wealthiest residents of the state while shifting the burden to the poor. Today, the Houston Chronicle further examines impending bill:
Time and again in the House's proposed tax bill, which will be debated Monday, the largest political donors are the businesses that receive the biggest tax breaks or have their taxes left untouched. Some of the biggest industrial sector donors in the past two years and their proposed tax cuts are:

Finance, insurance and real estate -- $896.5 million a year in tax cuts; $7.3 million in political contributions.

Utilities and transportation -- $222.2 million in cuts; $6.1 million in donations.

Oil, gas and petrochemical -- $399 million in cuts; $5.1 million in donations.

People and companies' political committees in the biggest losing industries -- construction, services and trade -- also made millions of dollars in political donations but rarely in the concentrated amounts of the potential winners. They will pay $1.4 billion in increased state taxes.


The biggest winners in the bill are the capital-intensive industries, particularly petrochemical companies. They probably will benefit from proposed changes in the business tax. But more importantly, like homeowners, they will see a substantial property-tax cut.

These companies have been paying a substantial share of the state's business taxes because they are covered by the state franchise tax while many service industry firms and partnerships are not.

Because most tax records are private, determining the impact on specific companies is difficult.

But in the property-rich school district of Deer Park, the Shell Oil Co. refinery would save at least $4.8 million a year on its school property taxes. Currently, those taxes on the refinery, which is valued at $1.3 billion, exceed $24 million a year.

Drum calls the whole think "breathtaking." And I think you'd have to agree.

Another monetary distraction

I don't want to focus on this too much, but I do want to point out the misdirection expected from Virginia's GOP for the upcoming election:
House Republican leaders are preparing a statewide election-year campaign strategy centering on abolishing the car tax, raising money to pay for road projects and cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay.

The plan -- still in its early stages -- is designed to give GOP candidates a shared platform on which to campaign for the general election.

The details of the unified House GOP agenda will be finished by the June primary elections, lawmakers and strategists said. And they said the initiatives are likely to include proposals that, for instance, would raise money through fee increases or call for developing private toll roads to ease traffic congestion without raising Virginia's gasoline tax.

So basically, the GOP is proposing no new "taxes" per se, but instead proposing other ideas that will cost taxpayers money to cover transportation costs. So I must ask again, what the hell is the difference, really?

Say a supermarket one day told you it was going to stop charging taxes, but would instead charge you a "transportation fee" added on to the cost of food. You are still paying the same costs, in fact, they could probably soak you for more charging an ambiguous sort of fee like that. But they cut your taxes, didn't they? Would that seriously make you feel that much better?

Just a little nit I wanted to pick.

Liberal media bias?

Not when Bush's federal government writes and reports on the "stories."

How can any news media organization use these biased and tax payered produced "news" items and report them off as actual news while still maintaining any credibility? My guess is they no longer care about credibility. There's only one game in most towns. You either buy it, or you don't.

It's such a blantent practice by Bush now, I wonder if he could sell product placement in the pieces and use the funds to help shore up Social Security. Every solution is on the table, right?

Saturday, March 12, 2005


The home computer is being maintained right now, and I will be having limited access throughout the day. Plus, it's a damn noce weekend here for now. So no loss.


Friday, March 11, 2005

Should I be surprised...

... that a pro buisness and California jobs group and big supporter of Arnold and his initiatives outsources campaign jobs overseas.

It's not the man, it's the label

Republicans intend to defeat Sen. Robert C. Byrd by declaring him "the most liberal member of the Senate" if he runs for re-election as expected in 2006.

That's according to Brian Nick, spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

The GOP slapped the same tag on fellow Democratic Sen. John Kerry in last year's presidential race. But Nick said that was based on Kerry's votes for only a few years.

Nick then burst out laughing and screamed "suckers!" while pointing to each member of the press who did no fact checking on the claim when Kerry ran for President.

Can't the GOP come out with a new label, especially when they tried to nail Kerry to the ground with that one? And do I dare hope that at least one American will think to themselves, "Wait, if Byrd is the most liberal, then how could Kerry - I've been lied to by Republicans for political expediency! Perhaps this (GOP talking point, say love of moral values) is just a lie, too!"

Prolly not. But it'd be nice.

More Social Security good news

Here's the part of Bush's push to kill Social Security that gets on my nerves the most:
"If you see a problem, members of Congress, regardless of your party, you have an obligation to come to the table," [Bush] said in a speech in Louisville. "Let's work together to solve it. All ideas are on the table."

When you say all ideas are on the table, but you a) take an idea off the table (tax hikes) and b) insist that your idea must be a part of a solution no matter how bad it is, then all ideas aren't really on the table, are they? Because none of the solutions that include (a) are on the table, and solutions that don't contain (b) aren't there either. So please stop saying that.

By the way, a lot of important Democrats in Louisville that are needed to swing that Senate vote, Mr. President?

*UPDATE* And what did Louisville think of the President's visit?
The day before Bush arrived, many Louisville residents who were asked at random said they didn't even know he was coming. Those who attended had to get tickets through local Republican officials. Most who paid attention said his short talk either reaffirmed what they felt about his plan or raised more questions than it answered.

"It certainly brought a lot of attention to it," said Paul Weber, a University of Louisville political science professor. "Will it fire up his supporters? Yes. Will it change minds? I don't think so."

I need to laugh,

and when Bush is out, I've got something I can laugh about...

Rangel rips Bush

Again, another day wasted at work (well, that's not what I meant). I hate missing stuff like this though. Rangel's on a tear.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Film at eleven

Almost forgot, Arnold's all over the fake news biz. Like a state controled FOX News!

The toll of driving

I did read today in an actual newspaper (with the ink and paper. Remember?) that Congress is thinking of allowing tolls on traveled highways. Kevin Drum seems interested, but questions if it's worth the hassle. I have a couple questions myself.

First, wouldn't this turn into a big city tax sort of thing? Clearly people in L.A. drive more than those in, say, Topeka, so wouldn't Los Angelinos and New Yorkers end up paying even more taxes than they already do? And wouldn't the end result be more people living in tighter spaces in the city and force others to drive city streets rather than paying the costly tolls?

Then what's the solution, charging people to leave their driveway?

Second, Bush is opposed to raising taxes, but he's okay with tolls? What the big difference? The only thing I can figure is that it once again assaults the middle and working class (who have to drive to work every day and, if rush hour focused tolling comes on line, pay more to go home) while allowing those who can afford not to work a free ride. Family vacation, and you can't afford to take the private jet? Why not pay the national highway tolls?

Also, of course, a toll would do nothing to discourage SUV drivers. Hummers for everyone!

Anyway, perhaps it's just Pavlov's dog's reaction to another bill from the 109th Congress. If some can explain the merits, I'm all ears. Until then, I've got to go to bed.


So there are circumstances that now keep me away from my computer for tweleve hours at a time (for now, anyway), meaning that if I want to have a life and sleep, blogging will be limited a few days a week.

For those that love me and can't live without me, well, I'm trying to figure something out. Keep the cards and letters coming.

Otherwise, hang tight. I'll be back full force as soon as I can.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Um, what?

From an article about why Democrats "abhor" Social Security reform (my emphasis):
It is perhaps the biggest deception of the twentieth century to portray Social Security surpluses as anything other than a supplemental income tax, further burdening the citizenry while enabling big-government liberal Democrats from both parties to perpetuate their "business as usual."

Yeah, that's right - "big-government liberal Democrats from both parties." Which would be big-government Republicans who have racked up record deficits in the last four years, squandering a surplus and putting undue pressure on the value of the dollar.

The article also attacks the AARP, and attempts to explain "why it cannot sanction any Bush plan." Like the Medicare drug bill it helped push through Congress last year.

Guys like this don't deserve a link. And it makes me wonder if someone who worked with the Wyoming GOP and the Christian Coalition lies to make a point or just doesn't know any better. Either way, it doesn't seem very Christian, although it some would say it sure seems to fit with the GOP.

"The middle finger approach to governing"

Nancy Pelosi and Louise Slaughter issued a report today on Republican abuses in Congress. Since I'm down with the sickness, I thought I might print it out and read it. If you want to do it yourself, here's the PDF.

Yglesias has a chart from the report already. That's why he's the tops!

*UPDATE* The whole thing makes Republicans seem very draconian and makes David Dreier (R-CA) seem like a hypocrite.

Here's my fav part so far (pg 39-40)
Republican leadership regularly jammed conference reports on major legislation totaling hundreds and hundreds of pages through the Rules Committee and the House in a matter of hours. Members interested in the contents of the conference report on the dividend tax bill, for example, had 40 seconds to read each page of the 299-page conference report before they were required to vote on it. Members interested in the FY 04 Defense authorization or FY 04 Omnibus bills would have had to have perused the conference report at a three-pages-a-minute rate between the time the rule was reported and the final vote. Because it was just not possible to read through the hundreds of pages of complex statutory language in the time they were given, Members found themselves in the uncomfortable position of having to vote up-or-down on legislation that was not familiar to them.


Republican leaders had slipped into the Homeland Security conference report at the end of the 107th Congress that protected Eli Lilly and a number of other pharmaceutical companies from civil liability for their production of the vaccine preservative Thimerosal. Health-care advocates and editorial pages around the country justifiably asked what this provision had to do with homeland security and how it had been inserted at the last minute into the bill.


House Republicans were obviously not chastened by this experience. The Energy Bill conference (H.R. 6), which excluded from its meetings even the House Democratic conferees who had voted for the bill, added scores of obscure provisions that had not appeared in the House or Senate bills, including the embarrassing “greenbonds initiative,” which turned out to be a subsidy to build a Hooters restaurant in Shreveport, Louisiana. Dubbed by Senator McCain as the “Hooters and Polluters” bill and widely criticized by the media and a broad range of government-waste groups, this conference report became the textbook example in the 108th Congress of an unaccountable conference process run amuck.

Graded scale

For a President who routinely got C's in college, a D on the nation's infrastructure report is actually more like a B, no?

By the way, No Child Left Behind, one of the pieces the President is proudest of, winds up giving education a D. Which goes to show where the President sets the bar for success and failure. Right at the below average mark.

DeLay updates

Deeper and deeper.

GAO official agrees: There is no crisis

Social Security "does not face an immediate crisis," the head of the Government Accountability Office said Wednesday, but it does face a long-term financing problem "and it would be prudent to address it sooner rather than later."

David M. Walker, who heads the nonpartisan Office of Comptroller General, also criticized President Bush for undertaking an aggressive two-month tour to try to sell his plan for allowing younger workers to divert a portion of their Social Security payroll taxes into private investment accounts. Walker suggested that Bush and members of Congress focus on improving financing for the program, which would not be significantly affected by establishment of personal accounts.

If you are going to "save" Social Security, your sticking point cannot be an issue that underminds it. But the longer that Bush fails to realize that, the more damage done.

Still sick

I think it's just a reaction to the banruptcy bill, but this thing is really doing a number on me. I'll be back when I'm better. Cards and flowers to...

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Down with the sickness

That's me, sick. Not sure how much time I'll spend here today. Disappointing, though, that the Schumer amendment failed, huh? Thank goodness Republicans want to protect those that break the law. Another moral value to add to the list, I guess.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Real life impact

The bankruptcy bill must stop people like this from having the ability to escape their debts through Chapter 7.

I realize it may not work out in her case, still. But imagine if she didn't have that recourse. Her house would be gone for certain.

Bush scheduled to visit Wyoming yet?

Just curious:
Sen. Craig Thomas, R-Wyo., says something needs to be done to shore up Social Security, but he's not convinced about a Bush administration proposal to allow some Social Security taxes to be placed in private savings accounts.

Thomas said the government might not be able to take on the expense of the plan, which he pegged at $2 trillion. He also said it doesn't make good financial sense to reduce the amount of money flowing into the Social Security trust fund as baby boomers approach retirement.

Like herding cats, huh Mr. President?

Tax cuts on hold

Can't say this disappoints me one bit:
President Bush and Republican lawmakers are being forced to temper their anti-tax ambitions, as the party that consolidated power in Washington by promising to shrink government grapples with the high cost of its efforts to expand the Defense Department and the nation's two largest entitlement programs.

Yep, our President still likes torture

As long as the blood is on someone else's hands, it's a good moral value!
The Bush administration is defending its decision to give the CIA extensive authority to send terrorism suspects to foreign countries for interrogation.

The New York Times reported yesterday that President Bush signed a still-classified directive just days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that gave the CIA broad power to operate without case-by-case approval from the White House in the transfer of suspects -- a process known as rendition.

The CIA declined to comment on the report, and the White House would not confirm the directive.

But White House counselor Dan Bartlett defended the administration's policies, saying it was important after the Sept. 11 attacks to take a "hard look at our entire apparatus -- militarily, intelligence, diplomatic -- to see how we were going to fight and win the war on terror."

And the Lord sayeth, vote for Walter Jones, and send money to...

For the fourth year in a row, Representative Walter Jones (R-NC), has introduced his a bill that would blur the line that separates church from state. His latest offering would allow churches to endorse or oppose candidates or campaigns from the pulpit and encourage donations from the congregation as long as no chuch money goes to the candidate's campaign or advertising thereof.

OMB sums up the issues:
Current law protects the integrity of charitable nonprofits by preventing individuals from using tax-deductible contributions to avoid tax and legal restrictions that apply to political donations. It also prevents individuals from using charitable nonprofit organizations, which are, by definition, organized for public purposes, to advance their personal partisan political views. Supporters of the bill claim religious leaders are afraid to speak out on public issues. However, all 501(C)(3)s, including religious organizations, are allowed to engage in advocacy activities such as lobbying, public education campaigns, comment on public policy, and litigation.

This regulation exists to protect the integrity of the election process. The 501(C)(3)s receive a tax-exemption because their work is educational, religious or charitable. It is an acknowledgment that the organization performs an activity that relieves some burden that would otherwise fall to federal, state, or local government. Taxpayers should not be required to fund the political activities of tax-exempt organizations.

Additionally, tax-exemption is afforded to churches as a safeguard to preserve separation of church and state by preventing governments from using taxation to favor one religion over another. Allowing churches to advocate for one political party or another would blur the line between the separation of church and state. The money in the collection plate should not pay for bumper stickers or attack ads on behalf of a politician or political party.

What makes this even more difficult to accept is President Bush's faith based initative plan. Would organizations that endorsed non GOP candidates faith the wrath that is lack of federal funding?

It's a bad idea all around.