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

Thursday, June 30, 2005

No room for dissent

Wow (my bold):
A Republican legislator says the GOP already reflects the political mainstream in South Dakota, so a new mainstream group that's been formed is not needed.

"It's overwhelming. This is what the people want. We must be in touch with the mainstream in South Dakota; just look at the number of Republican versus the number of Democrats in the Legislature," said state Rep. Ted Klaudt, R-Walker.

"We're Republicans and Republicans are the conservative group (in the Legislature). If you want to be in the Republican Party, you should believe in the party's beliefs and support its platform," he told the Daily Republic.

I guess that big tent's not so big after all.

House of Republican cards

It takes another step towards collapse:
A rare internal battle is brewing among House Republicans, pitting some top party leaders against Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas, over whether to shore up Social Security's solvency or just focus on new retirement benefits.

Republican leaders will oppose legislation that contains benefit cuts, a retirement age increase or a rise in taxes to improve the system's solvency, said a senior Republican lawmaker, who asked not to be identified. The leadership wants any House legislation to focus on creating private investment accounts, the lawmaker said.

That's right, House Republicans are proposing a bill that does nothing for solvency while creating private accounts. Is there any body left out there who really thinks the GOP was motivated by "saving" Social Security?

If so, check out this quote by Max Pappas, director of policy at Freedom Works, an advocacy group formed by former Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey.
Solvency isn't something that motivates people to go vote.

Solvency, saving Social Security for future generations, whatever rallying cries you've heard from the right for so long are lies. It's all about securing votes.

If only the city streets were safer

According to the latest census numbers, Dayton, Ohio lost 6,000 people in the period from April 2000 to July of 2004.

What's amazing is that the drop wasn't bigger considering all the traffic deaths that occur there.

Oddly enough, I've lived in two of the cities with the biggest population decline (Evansville, IN) being the other. Makes perfect sense to me.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Bait and Social Security

Here's what worries me. The GOP bill that features private accounts will contain some clause that say voting no means you hate Jesus, or will offer free popsicles to the country when the temperature tops 90 and make the Democrats look like bad guys for actually standing up for principle and taking down privatization.

Because this bill the House Republicans are about to offer up sounds like the same pile in a different colored suit. And it would seem to be political suicide to offer a bill with private accounts but no long term solution for any projected problems Social Security may have. Democrats should have a field day if the GOP suggests investing the surplus in T-Bills they once deemed worthless. And if the GOP plan still allows the government to spend the surplus, then what's the point? There's no net effect at all, is there?

I'd be leery in the next few weeks. Leery, but resolute.

Tucker! A man and his lame-ass talk show

I tried watching The Situation with Tucker Carlson the other day and the only thing I got from it is Tucker's smug satisfaction that he has a show on TV and most of the rest of us don't. Otherwise, not much to differentiate it from the other conservatives run amok on cable TV.

Apparently, the NY Times agrees, adding:
And on MSNBC, he does not even seem like a breath of fresh hot air: the cable channel already has plenty of conservative spokesmen, including Joe Scarborough, whose talk show, "Scarborough Country," follows Mr. Carlson's.

Mr. Carlson is a well-known conservative, but even MSNBC does not treat him as a reliable anchor. After President Bush's speech on Iraq on Tuesday, MSNBC pre-empted "The Situation" with a special edition of "Hardball," so that its host, Chris Matthews, could lead the discussion. Mr. Carlson, sidelined to a seat next to the White House reporter Norah O'Donnell, barely got a word in.

MSNBC, there can only be one FOX News, and you ain't it. And for that, most of the nation is thankful. The rest are donating money to Robin Hayes for telling it like it is.

I hate to tell you MSNBC and your neighbor CNN, but you guys will always be portrayed as liberal, even though you aren't, and running to the right isn't going to fix that. So you should either become view neutral and report facts and not opinions from both sides as news, or you should go liberal and become a voice for the 59 million other people that currently lack their own news channel but voted in the past election.

But please stop hiring conservative to host talk shows, okay? I'm sure they'll all find nice jobs in the right wing media machine. They don't need you help.

Does Tom Cruise make you believe in UFOs?

The current poll over at CNN asks, "Do you agree with Tom Cruise that aliens exist?" Currently the split is 60/40 yes in a purely unscientific poll. But I would be more interested to know how many people agree that aliens exist because it's Tom Cruise who says they exist, and which celebrity would cause the biggest spike in belief.

Of course, these polls would be worthless and only mentioned as trivial party fodder, but it'd be kind of interesting to know if anyone would change their mind because, say, Jessica Simpson or Christian Bale says so.

I know it has nothing to do with anything. I'm just saying.


What can you say:
A Republican congressman from North Carolina told CNN on Wednesday that the "evidence is clear" that Iraq was involved in the terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001.

"Saddam Hussein and people like him were very much involved in 9/11," Rep. Robin Hayes said.

Told no investigation had ever found evidence to link Saddam and 9/11, Hayes responded, "I'm sorry, but you must have looked in the wrong places."

Hayes, the vice chairman of the House subcommittee on terrorism, said legislators have access to evidence others do not.

Why not call Rep. Hayes and ask him for a copy of his evidence today?

Schwarzenegger bad poll news:re-election edition

The Desert Sun:
After watching Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger run the state for a year and a half, a majority of California voters aren't ready to re-elect him next year, according to the latest Field Poll.

The poll found that 57 percent of the state's voters are disinclined to re-elect Schwarzenegger, while 39 percent would consider giving him another term in office. Just 4 percent of voters surveyed had no opinion.

In fact, the poll found that in a preliminary match-up against possible Democratic opponents, Schwarzenegger would lose to Treasurer Phil Angelides by a 46 percent to 42 percent vote and Controller Steve Westly 44 percent to 40 percent.

The first-term governor was in trouble with women and Latinos, in most major regions of the state, and in every age group.

It's been said before, but if Arnold can't generate special election support, I don't see him running for a second term.

Bush bad poll news: Social Security edition

USA Today:
Americans disapprove of the way President Bush is handling Social Security by a ratio of more than 2-to-1, a new low for the White House on its top domestic policy issue, according to the latest USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll.

The poll, taken over the weekend, showed a steady erosion in the president's handling of Social Security since early February, when 43% approved. Now, 31% approve and 64% disapprove, the first time disapproval has risen above 60%.

Opposition to Bush is greatest among seniors, women, and people with lesser incomes and levels of education. Democrats disapprove by a ratio of more than 20-to-1, but Republicans back Bush's performance on the issue by a 2-to-1 ratio.

The stink of desperation

Houston Chronicle:
Credibly or not, the war on terror, and its continuing side trip in Iraq, has been one of the most consistently successful tocsins of George W. Bush's administration. So it was not surprising, given the increasingly rough ride both in Baghdad and Washington over the last weeks, that the president took to the airwaves Tuesday night to sound the alarm again.

Whether his umpteenth iteration of "It was worth it," his renewed claim of progress or his announcement of modest operational changes prove more persuasive with average Americans than what Bush admitted were sometimes terrifying news and pictures from Iraq is, at best, iffy.


Perhaps the most interesting finding in the Post-ABC survey could point to increased trouble ahead for Bush. For the first time in the Post-ABC survey, a majority (52-48 percent) believe the administration intentionally misled the American public in the run-up to the war. As recently as March, a majority (55-43 percent) said the administration was telling Americans what it believed was the truth.

This is a dangerous shift in public perception for a "values" politician such as Bush. Hence, the speech.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

From the Desk of GWB

The speech:
After September 11, I made a commitment to the American people: This nation will not wait to be attacked again. We will take the fight to the enemy. We will defend our freedom.

Iraq is the latest battlefield in this war.

Here's the thing, Mr. President. Iraq didn't have to be the latest battlefield. But you made it that way. It was you idea to trump up charges of WMDs and imply links to Al Qaeda that simply weren't there. And the people of this country understand this. When you try and link Iraq and 9/11, it rings hollow and false. And people don't buy it.

Imagine your approval ratings, though, had you stuck in Afghanistan and had to call this press conference to announce the capture of Osama Bin Laden. Your policies would be much better off now, that's for sure.
Some wonder whether Iraq is a central front in the war on terror.

Actually the proper phrasing should be "Some wonder whether Iraq was a central front in the war on terror before we invaded the country and raised anti-American hostility in the region." Few if any doubt now whether we need to win in Iraq. The doubt is why we went there in the first place.

And a question I haven't heard asked in response to the Bush administrations "flypaper defense" of the war: If we had stayed in Afghanistan and continued a massive search for Osama Bin Laden, wouldn't the terrorists have come to us there as well? Then we'd be, according to the strategy, sacrificing our troops for the sake of the American homeland. Same principle, but in a country that actually was responsible for attacks on our soil.
These are savage acts of violence but they have not brought the terrorists any closer to achieving their strategic objectives.

Quite honestly, I'm not sure the terrorists need much in the way of strategic objectives. They just need to continue killing innocent Iraqis and American troops, and they will continue to create an environment of fear and death in Iraq. And as one of my friends pointed out, they have a majority of our troops pinned down, unable to engage other terrorists regimes if necessary. They have forced dwindling numbers in our military. And there is no guarantee, even when we've trained the Iraqi forces, that they will be able to put down the insurgency on their own. After all, look how much trouble it's given us.
I recognize that Americans want our troops to come home as quickly as possible. So do I. Some contend that we should set a deadline for withdrawing U.S. forces. Let me explain why that would be a serious mistake. Setting an artificial timetable would send the wrong message to the Iraqis, who need to know that America will not leave before the job is done. It would send the wrong message to our troops, who need to know that we are serious about completing the mission they are risking their lives to achieve. And it would send the wrong message to the enemy, who would know that all they have to do is to wait us out.

Think Progress has found someone who disagrees with you. He ran for President in 2000 against Al Gore. Maybe you know him.

As I went to Think Progress, I noticed they are/did make a lot of the same points I have, so head there for more coverage. I would imagine Bush gets a small bounce from all this, simply because he has nowhere to go but up anyway. Whether it's a sustained bounce is another issue. But it probably won't pull him up above 51% for very long if at all.

Same old same old

If you are going to try and bolster opinion for something that has grown unpopular, then you need to present something new. This isn't it, I have a feeling.

We know the war is hard work (just like being President), and that the sacrifice is great and victory important. The problem is, most Americans are not seeing the fruits of said sacrifice - heck, they aren't even being asked to sacrifice - and the benefits of our continued presence aren't felt by most Americans. Bloggers can argue back and forth about the war in Iraq, but everyone I talk to who used to be gung ho now projects abject indifference to the goings on and wonders when our troops are coming home.

I'm not suggesting Bush should suggest withdrawal, or even admit to past mistakes. But Americans don't feel involved in this so called "war on terror," and why should they? No one's asked them to be.

What do you do when the red states disapprove?

What astonishes me about these Survey USA numbers (thanks, Ezra!) is not that Bush's approval numbers are so low (that's a given by now) but that so many swing states that broke for Bush have finally woken up and are feverishly searching their apartment for spare change to give Bush a cab ride home before their friends find out. Nevada (thanks, Harry Reid!) and Ohio (thanks, Tom Noe!) especially feel the hangover regret, given his some of his lowest marks in the nation.

Of course, I still think the country would be busy trying to kick John Kerry out the door first. Despite my bravado, Kerry served to make Bush look stronger, not through any real fault of Johns, but through the well oiled attack machine that the GOP could create. Kerry was a monster sent to destroy the country, and only Bush could save it. Now people see they may have gotten it all wrong.

An exciting 2006 is yet to come.

100 lawsuits

Call me crazy, but it would seem this idea by religious groups to install more Ten Commandment displays would violate the ruling handed down yesterday and led to nothing more than 100 or so more court cases that will travel through our legal system for years to come.

Why? Well, first off they won't mean any time honored tradition ideas that were mentioned by Breyer. These monuments won't be forty years old before they face lawsuits. I'd be surprised if they last forty days.

Secondly, if they are put up by overtly religious groups, I would think that would qualify them as overtly religious monuments.

But what I would much rather see in some of these cases is, once the Christian groups get their monuments up, other religious groups throwing up monuments of their own. Twice the size and even more ostentatious. Something to make the Christian groups stand up and say, "Wait a minute, we don't want that, let's sue!" and have the judges laugh them out of the courtroom.

But that's just me.

And no, I don't hate the Christians, I just don't like some of the things they do that I deem forceful of their beliefs. Everyone has a right to worship whatever higher being they choose, just as long as their worship doesn't interfere with others and their everyday life.

Monday, June 27, 2005

But military commanders interviewed by NEWSWEEK all concede that eliminating the Iraqi insurgency by military means is probably impossible. The goal is to train enough Iraqis to replace U.S. troops, while the insurgency is pacified by political means. Given the infighting and weakness of the Iraqi government, that day will not come soon. A few elite Iraqi units are effective, but American GIs training Iraqi soldiers complain that their charges sometimes close their eyes and fire "death blossoms"—GI parlance for random rounds of bullets.

On the ground in Iraq, Colonel McMaster, the author of "Dereliction of Duty," is practicing what he preached. His regiment is up on the Syrian border trying to shut down the flow of jihadists into Iraq across 10,000 square miles of desert. McMaster gave his officers permission to speak with brutal frankness. One of them told a reporter from the Knight Ridder newspaper chain, "There's simply not enough forces here." A hard truth, which the American people need to hear.

Guesses on whether Bush will address these issue in his speech? I'm leaning "not."

Removing a Nuclear Bolton

For years, a key U.S. program intended to keep Russian nuclear fuel out of terrorist hands has been frozen by an arcane legal dispute. As undersecretary of state, John R. Bolton was charged with fixing the problem, but critics complained he was the roadblock.

Now with Bolton no longer in the job, U.S. negotiators report a breakthrough with the Russians and predict a resolution will be sealed by President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin at an international summit in Scotland next month, clearing the way to eliminate enough plutonium to fuel 8,000 nuclear bombs.

The prospective revival of the plutonium disposal project underlines a noticeable change since Bolton's departure from his old job as arms control chief. Regardless of whether the Senate confirms him as U.N. ambassador during a scheduled vote today, fellow U.S. officials and independent analysts said his absence has already been felt at the State Department.

With Bolton gone, things are actually getting done once again, more evidence that he is the most useless Bolton in the whole world. One wonders if he can wield the same gear gumming effectiveness over at the U.N.

Iraq again?

I'm not one to give free advice to the Bush Administration or anything, but it's pretty obvious to me that this poll is one of the main problems for them. Well, not the poll itself, but the sentiments expressed in it:
A majority of Americans reject claims by the Bush administration that the insurgency in Iraq is weakening and are divided on whether victory over the insurgents will have a major impact on terrorism elsewhere in the world, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Barely one in five Americans -- 22 percent -- say they believe that the insurgency is getting weaker while 24 percent believe it is strengthening. More than half -- 53 percent -- say resistance to U.S. and Iraqi government forces has not changed.

I say this because I really want to believe that the insurgency is in its "last throes," but there is no real evidence to support that. While the number of attacks may be down, it's more likely a result of effectiveness increasing. Why would you use more resources than necessary to get the job done?

But the Bush administration continues to try and wait it out. And while time is not on their side, endless debate is. If no solution is reaches and the insurgency clears up on its own (and it will eventually, although I doubt Americans will stomach 12 years, and our military wouldn't last, either), then it's a Republican policy that won the day, and the Bush administration was right. If Democrats force their hand into any kind of policy change, Democrats take some of that mantle away.

But of course, the Democrat idea of "therapy" has creeped into the public policy anyway. Atrios points to recent reports that we have begun negotiating with the terrorists, something that was a no-no four years ago and seen as anti-American by the very same people that are currently doing the talking. Go figure on that one.

This to me, however, is another example of why Republicans are perceived by the public as the strong foreign policy people. While Democrats talk and then rock, Republicans attack first and then attempt to work out the mess they've blown up. And here it is working again in all it's splendor.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Bad to worse

After years of Republican cries that there is no surplus (all the way back to 2000, if you recall), there's a brand new GOP plan to use the nonexistent surplus to fund private accounts:
Instead of allowing Congress to quietly borrow the Social Security surplus, the DeMint plan gives it to workers in the form of accounts that are invested in regular issue government bonds. This means that if Congress wants to spend at the same level that it does now, it will have to borrow the money to finance it openly in the financial markets. Instead of overspending by $450 billion and hiding $80 billion of that spending by borrowing the Social Security surplus and reporting a deficit of only $370 billion, Congress will have to report the real deficit of $450 billion.

So instead of borrowing money from the "surplus" to fund the War in Iraq, the GOP proposes borrowing money from the trust fund - still underfunding the future of Social Security, mind you - to gamble with the future. Plus, if you lend the money to buy government bonds to the government, then the government can still spend the "surplus" that doesn't exist on government programs. So your money is spent twice, once on the private accounts and once still on the government programs the surplus is currently spent on as well. Then in 2009, as the public claims their "private accounts," the deficit goes to hell, much sooner than it would if nothing was done.

Confusing? Sure. And maybe that's the point. The less the public understands, the less it has to argue with. And that could be what Republicans hope for. However, Democrats will stand resolute against private accounts in any form, so it is doubtful this latest bad idea will go anywhere. And there should be nothing confusing about that.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Friday Random Ten

How Many "R's" in Dirty edition:
1) Every Single Instinct - Superchunk
2) Dirty Lives - Love As Laughter
3) Dirty Mouth - Adventure
4) I Feel Love - Cobra Verde
5) Don't Make a Sound - Azure Ray
6) The View - Modest Mouse
7) Baby C'mon - Stephen Malkmus
8) Melody of a Fallen Tree - Windsor For the Derby
9) Decora - Spoon
10) Cut Your Face - June of 44

I wrote this apparently to endanger the troops

It's took me longer to be offended by Karl Rove's words the other day, and new stories are intent on focusing on this snippet of words:
Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers.

While certainly uncalled for and patently untrue, this was the excerpt that really offended me:
Let me just put this in fairly simple terms: Al Jazeera now broadcasts the words of Senator Durbin to the Mideast, certainly putting our troops in greater danger. No more needs to be said about the motives of liberals.

Kevin writes:
It's nasty and demeaning, but hardly something we haven't heard before. The Al Jazeera passage, on the other hand, goes considerably further: it says specifically that the motive of Dick Durbin and others who criticize prisoner abuse is to put our troops in danger. He didn't say Durbin was merely careless, he said Durbin wanted to put our troops in greater danger. That's treason.

Generally speaking, I tend not to get too bent out of shape by occasional rhetorical howlers. It's just part of the game. But calling Durbin and his fellow liberals traitors - which is clearly what that passage suggests - really is beyond the pale coming from a highly placed political official, isn't it? Or am I missing something here?

According to Karl Rove everything I do, be it eat a bowl of cereal or hang my toilet paper in an overhand fashion, is motivated by my wish to endanger the troops. Everything every liberal does - from Atrios to TBogg, from Akaka to Wyden, from Abercrombie to Wynn - it's all motivated by the need to put our troops in danger.

John Kerry ran for President to put out troops in danger. Hillary runs for re-election because she wants to put the troops in danger. Democrats call for the capture of Osama Bin Laden so we can put our troops in danger. We ask for body armor and other equipment for our troops and more spending on military health care because we want to endanger them even more. We look for ideas to bring the Iraqi conflict to a safe and peaceful end because we want to put our troops in danger. Expanding the military, attempting to ease the bankruptcy burden on those fighting overseas, Democrats who are actually enlisted and fighting right now do so in order to endanger our troops. That's what Karl Rove has said and sees no need to apologize for.

And now rather than spend time discussing things that could actually make our troops safer and perhaps bring them home sooner, we are forced to debate the offensiveness of Karl Rove's words and their place in political debate.

A little bit of irony? Oh yeah. But Karl Rove would say the only reason I bring it up is to endanger the troops.

The only place in town

Here's a talking head on the latest Supreme Curt ruling and why retailers aren't afraid of a public image whipping:
"Expanding for big box store is a challenge, especially in the Northeast. Therefore, retailers will have to devise a strategy for using eminent domain," said Candace Corlett, retail analyst with WSL Strategic nRetail.

"Local communities may oppose Wal-Mart and Target coming to their area but as consumers, they also want to shop at these stores and they complain when they don't have these stores nearby," she said. "The fact is that shoppers ultimately vote with their dollars and retailers are very well aware of that."

It's the last sentence I take a little issue with. It a mom and pop vacuum store, a pretzel stand, and a clothing store all get claimed by the state and knocked down to make a Target or Wal-Mart, where else would you expect the people who have shopped in those places for years to go? Will they go out of their way to find new "mom and pop" shops down the road? Probably not. Sure they'll bemoan the problems of big box retailers, but then shop their anyway claiming they have no choice. And you big box retailers know that, too.

If I tore down a Wal-Mart or Target and put up privately owned shops that offered the same services on the same land for close to the same price, would people go and shop there? That's the questioned I want to see answered somewhere. My gut, however, says no.

Unionized abortions for California!

Two other ballot iniatives here in California seem to have the backing of the voters even as they hate the idea of another special election:
Californians narrowly support a November ballot initiative that would require parents to be notification before girls under age 18 receive abortions. And they solidly favor making it tougher for unions to use dues for political contributions, according to Field Poll results released Thursday.

The abortion measure is favored 48-42, while the union issue is favored by a 57-32 margin, meaning that union funding is more important that parental notification even if the later is likely to have more impact on more people. Go figure.

So look for Arnold to come out in hard support of those measures, especially the union one, in an attempt to regain his political footing.

My real question is why how unions spend their money is of import to so many people who aren't in the union and what business it is of theirs what those who pay their dues want to do. It would seem this should be more of an internal decision made by union members than the general public. But what the hell, Golden State, butt in where you have no real need to. It's the American way.

State of the nation

Mercury News:
President Bush's job-approval rating in California has hit a new low, dragged down by growing discontent over Iraq, particularly among his fellow Republicans, according to a Field Poll released today.

Bush's popularity slipped to 34 percent, down seven points from the previous Field survey, in February. His rating now rivals the low marks earned by former presidents Nixon and Carter and Bush's father near the end of their presidencies. Bush has 3 1/2 years remaining in his term.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Compassionate Texans

It's ridiculous that anyone would think this is good for the average America, but apparently Texas Republicans like to raise the tax burden on the working class:
Gov. Rick Perry's plan for property tax relief would provide a windfall for the wealthiest families in Texas, but for lower-income renters the governor's plan would be a financial drain on the family budget, a Houston Chronicle analysis showed.


House and Senate plans that died during the regular session had sales tax levies similar to the governor's, hitting the state's poor the hardest for the benefit of the wealthy.

The official Legislative Budget Board analysis of a tax plan the House Ways and Means Committee is taking up today says the plan would increase the overall tax burden for all but the wealthiest Texans. Families with an annual income of more than $100,000 collectively would receive a $351 million-a-year tax cut, while everyone else's taxes would go up a collective $935 million.

Pentagon eyes are watching you

The Defense Department began working yesterday with a private marketing firm to create a database of high school students ages 16 to 18 and all college students to help the military identify potential recruits in a time of dwindling enlistment in some branches.

The program is provoking a furor among privacy advocates. The new database will include personal information including birth dates, Social Security numbers, e-mail addresses, grade-point averages, ethnicity and what subjects the students are studying.

The data will be managed by BeNow Inc. of Wakefield, Mass., one of many marketing firms that use computers to analyze large amounts of data to target potential customers based on their personal profiles and habits.

"The purpose of the system . . . is to provide a single central facility within the Department of Defense to compile, process and distribute files of individuals who meet age and minimum school requirements for military service," according to the official notice of the program.

Also collected by BeNow Inc. will be your X Box Live Halo 2 scores and recent toy gun purchases.


A man, no plan...

From Podhoretz at The Corner on the Bush Social Security Privatization mess:
It went wrong at the get-go, I think. The president tried a clever gambit that didn't work. He said Washington politicians needed to reform Social Security but then charged others to come up with proposals and bring them to the table. He didn't want to put a plan forward to be mauled, attacked and left for dead.

I told one of my Republican friends the other day, in rebuttal to his "Democrats have no new ideas" line that Republicans seem sorely lacking in new ideas as well. He looked stunned, and oddly enough rebutted with a personal defense of his own plans rather than the GOP's.

But it's true. There is nothing new coming from the Republican side of the fence, just old business they are trying to ram home (repeal of estate taxes, flag burning, PBS bashing, hating gays, etc.) while they have claims to power. And I think lucky for Democrats, they've picked some things that just do not resonate with the public. And their one big thing that did have some resonance (the Iraq war) has faded and is becoming a key issue for Democrats now.

And of course, just because something is new doesn't make it better. But Republicans have no new plans, and they know it. They are just hoping that people will fall for their blaming the Democrats even though Republicans have the majority.

This will solve everything

The House passes an amendment to the Constitution destined for failure in the Senate:
The proposed one-line amendment to the Constitution reads, "The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States." For the language to be added to the Constitution, it must be approved not only by two-thirds of each chamber but also by 38 states within seven years.

I would think throwing a flag in the washing machine would count, wouldn't you? And as Atrios remind us, the only proper way to dispose of a flag is by burning it. So I guess you'll just have to let your American flag touch the ground before you take it to a protest where you intend of burning it, right?

False bottom

News from yesterday, but Arnold goes lower than anyone thought he could:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger suddenly ranks among the most unpopular governors in modern California history, as residents grow increasingly unhappy about the action hero-turned-politician's budget plans and his call for a special election, according to a new Field Poll.

Less than a third -- 31 percent -- of the state's adults approve of the job the governor is doing in Sacramento, down from 54 percent in February. The numbers are only slightly better among registered voters, 37 percent of whom are happy with Schwarzenegger's performance and 53 percent dissatisfied.

"There's very little for the governor to cheer about in this poll," said Mark DiCamillo, director of the Field Poll. "There's a very broad-based view that the governor is off on the wrong track."

Almost time for a recall, I would think. And this isn't going to help Arnold either, as he seems to be banking on the special election to revive his political career:
Support for the special election among registered voters fell to 37 percent from 51 percent in February. That backing dropped to 28 percent when the election's cost of $45 million to $80 million was mentioned.

Even worse for Arnold, the public doesn't back two thirds of the measures that Arnold is proposing:
The Field Poll found that if they were asked to vote today, 42 percent of likely California voters would oppose the spending cap and school funding measure and 35 percent would support it, while 23 percent are undecided.

Likely voters also would reject the redistricting measure. Forty-six percent said they would oppose it, compared with 35 percent who would support it and 19 percent who are undecided.

By contrast, 61 percent of likely voters said they would vote for the teacher tenure measure, compared with 32 percent who would oppose it and 7 percent who are undecided.

The teacher tenure bill will do nothing but make it harder for California to keep their best teachers, so I'm not sure why this is such a winner with the public. But Arnold is clearly not resonating with the voters anymore.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Happy Father's Day

That says it all, I hope.

Best wishes to all the dads in the world.


One thing I did not miss while I was gone, the delusional right.

I mean, realistically, the books you read are just "retyped copies" of originals. And apparently, according to the right blogosphere, because of this we can never trust books again. All the "retyped copies" of documents you see on the internets, too - the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution - potential forgeries because they are "retyped copies" as well!

Why, this post may even be a forgery!

Even this Newsweek article could be fake:
Two senior British government officials today acknowledged as authentic a series of 2002 pre-Iraq war memos stating that Saddam Hussein's nuclear weapons program was "effectively frozen" and that there was "no recent evidence" of Iraqi ties to international terrorism?private conclusions that contradicted two key pillars of the Bush administration's public case for the invasion in March 2003.

How do we even know these senior officials are real and not just made up by Iskoff and Hosenball?

You could do this forever, really.

The plot thickens

London Times:
A SHARP increase in British and American bombing raids on Iraq in the run-up to war “to put pressure on the regime” was illegal under international law, according to leaked Foreign Office legal advice.

The advice was first provided to senior ministers in March 2002. Two months later RAF and USAF jets began “spikes of activity” designed to goad Saddam Hussein into retaliating and giving the allies a pretext for war.

The Foreign Office advice shows military action to pressurise the regime was “not consistent with” UN law, despite American claims that it was.


The increased attacks on Iraqi installations, which senior US officers admitted were designed to “degrade” Iraqi air defences, began six months before the UN passed resolution 1441, which the allies claim authorised military action. The war finally started in March 2003.

This weekend the Liberal Democrat peer Lord Goodhart, vice-president of the International Commission of Jurists and a world authority on international law, said the intensified raids were illegal if they were meant to pressurise the regime.

He said UN Resolution 688, used by the allies to justify allied patrols over the no-fly zones, was not adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which deals with all matters authorising military force.

“Putting pressure on Iraq is not something that would be a lawful activity,” said Goodhart, who is also the Liberal Democrat shadow Lord Chancellor.

Depends on the definition of "accomplished"

NY Times June 18, 2005:
Bush acknowledged discontent over his decisions but signaled no shift in policy or timing for the American presence in Iraq.

"Some may disagree with my decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power, but all of us can agree that the world's terrorists have now made Iraq a central front in the war on terror," he said. "This mission isn't easy, and it will not be accomplished overnight."

USA Today June 5, 2003:
"America sent you on a mission to remove a grave threat and to liberate an oppressed people, and that mission has been accomplished," he said. Despite growing doubts at home and abroad, he reiterated that troops would find weapons of mass destruction, which were his rationale for striking first at Iraq.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

The prison metaphor

You'd think Rick Santorum, already suffering in his re-election bid, would not want to draw attention to how bad the prisons are in his home state. But that's exactly what he does:
The Guantanamo Bay lockup that houses "enemies of the United States" probably offers better conditions than half of the prisons in Pennsylvania, U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum said Friday.

I would think this is exaggeration on ole Ricky's part, but maybe, just maybe you'd want to address the prison conditions in your home state rather than using them to try and score political points.

Free debt for everyone!

The bad ideas continue:
Key Republican lawmakers, scrambling to keep President Bush's Social Security proposals afloat, plan next week to embrace an idea that many have avoided thus far: funding personal retirement accounts with surplus revenue that now pays for other government programs.

The strategy is controversial because it would create new budget problems. Either the diverted money would have to be replaced with new taxes, or Congress would have to slash programs now funded by Social Security's excess payroll taxes.

Of course from a budgetary point of view this is bad because the surplus is one of the only things saving America from the crushing burden of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.

From a Social Security standpoint, it's even worse. The projected shortfall will be accelerated causing even more problems for the system with out addressing any of the current projected problems that Bush has tried to hype to sell his idea in the first place. And there is still no plan in place for those who invest in Social Security and fail. So the new GOP plan to "solve" the Social Security problem is... more and accelerated problems!

Friday, June 17, 2005

Friday Random Ten

(Idea Here) Training the Night Owls to Fly edition

1) The National People's Scare - Wolf Parade
2) Everybody Thinks I'm a Raincloud (When I'm Not Looking) - Guided By Voices
3) Here I Dreamt I Was an Architecht - The Decemberists
4) Give It Up - Public Enemy
5) Voices Carry - Spouse
6) Dukes Up - Modest Mouse
7) Joyride - Built to Spill
8) Revelation of Love - Blue Van
9) Refrech the Anchor - John Stuart Mill
10) Esta Noche - The Twilight Singers

Prop 13

Yesterday I mentioned that Arnold was going around California raising the specter of Democrats wanting to overturn Prop 13 in order to overcome his anemic poll numbers and try and garner support for his special election. The San Fransisco Chronicl reminds us of one man who has actually talked about altering Prop 13 - Arnold's economic adviser:
Ironically, it was Schwarzenegger's own economic adviser, businessman Warren Buffett, who caused a major flap in 2003 when he raised the issue of Prop. 13 -- and urged an overhaul of the legendary property-tax measure to ensure that average homeowners wouldn't subsidize billionaires like himself.

Place Yr Bets

On Social Security reform: don't have to rely on pundits or politicians to tell you Social Security reform is dead in the water. At Intrade, an online betting market based in Dublin, bettors are giving just a slender 6.5 percent chance that any sort of Social Security privatization bill will be passed this year. Further out, the odds improve a tad, with bettors willing to say there's a 21 percent chance that a bill will be passed by the end of 2006.

That's still a long shot, though. To put the numbers in some context, the betting market thinks the chances of a privatization bill being passed are about the same as Osama bin Laden's being captured or killed this year.

So there you go, hardcore Bush marchers. Place your bets and you could win a ton of money to invest in your privte accounts.

Thursday, June 16, 2005


Wow. All fifty states oppose your proposed Medicaid cuts Mr. President, and they've come up with their own plan, too.

Looking for the fire door

I was just thinking that the longer the Bush Social Security tour went on, the more people would grow apathetic about the thing and just want it to end.

Guess I was right:
With the Senate Finance Committee at an impasse on Social Security and House leaders anxious about moving forward, Republican congressional leaders have told the White House that it is time to look for an escape route.

Senate GOP leaders, in discussions with White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove and political officials, have made it clear they are stuck in a deep rut and suggested it is time for an exit strategy, according to a senior Senate Republican official and Finance Committee aides.

Arnold taxes the truth

Arnold's willing to deceive the public in order to push his ballot initiatives:
One day after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced the state will have a special election in November, he launched his campaign to promote his reform initiatives.

Schwarzenegger kicked off the campaign in a San Diego homeowner's back yard, but he wasn't talking about any of the initiatives he is backing. Instead, he warned a group of property owners to pass his ballot measures or risk seeing rollbacks to Proposition 13, the property tax measure voters passed 30 years ago.


However, the move raised the eyebrows of political observers because there is no pending legislation that would raise property taxes.

Arnold must be really worried about his prospects for success if he's willing to resort to unfounded scare tactics to push his goals.

It's going to be a long California summer once again.

Schwarzenegger was already out and about this week telling elderly homeowners that his Democratic opponents are plotting to change Proposition 13 in a way that could deprive them of their homes. In the old days, we would call that statement a baldfaced lie; today, I suppose, we're supposed to accept it as merely a charming fabrication.

Fifty years ago, during another period in which lying and stupidity passed for fine political discourse, a courtly Boston lawyer said to the Republican star of the day: "Have you no sense of decency?" It looks like we'll have plenty more opportunities to ask our political leaders the same question in the weeks to come.

Obstructionist Republicans

San Diego Union Tribune:
A rare attempt by Democratic legislators to pass a $116.6 billion state budget on time was blocked by Republicans yesterday, raising the specter of a lengthy deadlock that could influence voters in this fall's special election.

Democrats argued that their spending plan was similar to one proposed by Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger after the most contentious issue, a push for a $2.2 billion tax increase to aid schools, was isolated in a separate bill not linked to the budget.


"This little game here today is about the November ballot," Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg, D-Los Angeles, said during a lengthy budget debate in the lower house. "It has nothing to do with the budget."

Democrats in the Assembly withdrew support from almost all of their proposed changes in order to get something done in this state, and the Republicans decide to hold up the state budget to try and save their floundering Governor's 40% approval rating. Nice to see where Republican priorities in the state lie.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Investing in her own future

Kay Bailey Hutchison invests in energy companies. Those companies give her large campaign contributions in return. And I imagine that some of Kay's votes in Congress could have an impact on the companies and their stock prices as well.
Hutchison, who serves as vice chair of the Senate Republican conference and may run for governor of Texas in 2006, owns stock in Houston-based Halliburton, whose extensive contracted services to the U.S. military in Iraq has led to billing disputes with the government. The company once was headed by Vice President Dick Cheney.

Nope, no conflicts there. None at all.


In an interview for the BBC's Newsnight programme, Mr Rumsfeld said Iraq had passed several milestones, like holding elections and appointing a government.

But asked if the security situation had improved, he admitted: "Statistically, no."

"But clearly it has been getting better as we've gone along," he added.

Yet another instance of facts getting in the way of Donald Rumsfeld's reality. No doubt those facts whish show little improvement in the security situation will soon be hauled before the U.N. Security Council, sanctioned, and promptly invaded.

It's a war on reality!


Yes, that's right. The autospy report that shows half of Terri Schaivo's brain was gone and the vision center of her brain gone are another step in the evil liberal plot to make Senator Frist and his colleagues look bad.

It's all right here. Read only if the truth doesn't mean anything to you scare the bejeebus out of you.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Arnold's special

Yes, that's right, Arnold. Calling a special election that will cost the state at least $80 million dollars will continue momentum from your historic recall election from the height of popularity to your current dismal 40% approval rating.

An $80 million dollar election that most feel is unnecessary or ill timed is the best way to put California's financial house in order. Surely making a state already hurting for teachers wait another three years for tenure will help bring about what you call fiscal sanity while strengthening our public schools. Redrawing Congressional districts which will cost the state millions more and may even not be feasible by next year will help the state's budget. An initiative requiring unions to approve their dues being spent for political purposes is the magic bullet to slay the debt that Arnold has helped feed.

In the last two years Arnold has done little to address the debt other than repeal an unpopular car tax, borrow huge sums of money through bond initiatives, and screw the schools out of 2 billion dollars. Now he thinks he can fool the public into supporting him once more. It seems that the people are realizing they've made a mistake, and it's only a matter of time before they show Arnold who the real Terminators are.

Jon Carroll in the SF Chronicle

You know, I was going to write something very similiar to this, but since Jon's already finished his, I'll post the link to him and add an "indeed."

The prision by the bay

I can't understand why, if Cheney continues to proclaim that we treat Guantanamo detainees with "respect and dignity" anyway, why not just agree that all people deserve the protections of the Geneva Conventions, work to clean up the mess the current policy has created, and give yourself a huge PR victory? After all, for the most part that's all the Geneva Conventions ask, isn't it? That you treat folks with "respect and dignity"?

Instead, Cheney's "correct" policy is forcing inmates to urinate themselves and making them listen to Christina Aguilera music. That sounds about as far away from "respect and dignity" to me. And I guess you can torture all you want as long as you provide detainees with a nice meal when you are finished. No hard feeling about those repeated blows to the legs or the sleep deprivation, huh? Have a fresh chalupa and a medium coke. See how nice we are?

That said, I'm not for closing the place down, but simply cleaning the place up a little bit.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Frinday Random Ten

I Just Can't Stay Away Edition (idea here):
1) Army Song - Spouse
2) Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler) - Marvin Gaye
3) Now To War (Electric Version) - Guided By Voices
4) Sick and Wrong - Built to Spill
5) Let's Get Lost - Elliott Smith
6) Joyride - Built to Spill
7) Real Thing - Wedding Present
8) President of What? - Death Cab For Cutie
9) Living With Your Ghost - Morning Theft
10) Hey Lock Haven - Braille Drivers

The move in is progressing, and hopefully I'll be up and running by Monday, for those wondering about the blog itself. Otherwise go out and buy all the music above, especially the Built to Spill record.

What are you waiting for?

Sunday, June 05, 2005

From something to nothing

So I've gone from limited internet access to none (well, shortly) and I'm not sure how long the disconnect will last. Hopefully only a couple of days, but it may be the end of the week before you see some real blogging from me.

I'll be back as soon as I can, though.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Arnold's ethics

He's keeping the money:
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger terminated any efforts to get him to return $10,000 that Toledo-area coin dealer Tom Noe contributed to his campaign.

On Thursday, President Bush joined a steadily growing band of Republicans opting to rid their campaign accounts of Mr. Noe's money, but the Republican governor of California is not planning to return the campaign cash he received from Mr. Noe, who is facing a flurry of state and federal investigations.

Remember Arnold said originally he would not be beholden to special interest money, and now he is clinging to $10,000 that more than likely was illegally raised.


*UPDATE* Campaigning for money instead of the people:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger raised nearly $3 million during fund-raising events in the second half of May, according to campaign disclosure reports released Friday.

The reports include a partial accounting of money the governor received during a weekend trip to Republican strongholds in Florida, Illinois and Texas, but also include money he got from California supporters.

The article closes:
Wilson said that people are interested in Schwarzenegger from other places both because of who he is and because of his political agenda. "There's interest in the kinds of reforms he's planning on putting before California voters," Wilson said.

Hey, if you're from another state and you have an interest in what Arnold is doing, that's fine. But don't go screwing up the state that I live in and you do not because of some weird "interest" in Arnold and what he wants to do. What you want to do to my state means jack squat, alright? If you want to make an impact, fine. Move here and suffer with the rest of us. Otherwise, take your coin selling, Ohio pension fund robbing cash and get it the heck out of my state.


Friday, June 03, 2005

Friday Random Ten

Never Too Busy For Music edition:
1) The Two Sides of Monsieur Valentine - Spoon
2) Anything You Want - Spoon
3) Do I Have Your Attention - The Blood Arm
4) Edgar St. - Verbal
5) Something to Talk About - Badly Drawn Boy
6) Don't Go Away - Talulah Gosh
7) Hounds of Love - The Futureheads
8) Color Me Impressed - Replacements
9) Skull - Sebadoh
10) Poker Night - Sarah White

My computer seems to like Spoon. And who can blame it really? Back with more regular posts soon, once the move is done.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Good news in Michigan

Stabenow looks good:
Democratic U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow held big leads over three declared Republican challengers and one possible rival in the 2006 election, according to a recent poll of likely Michigan voters.

The first-term senator held leads of 27 percent to 29 percent in the poll of 600 people conducted May 22-26 by Lansing-based EPIC/MRA. The results have a margin of sampling error of 4 percentage points either way.

Bush picks Cox for SEC chairman

Of course, he wouldn't be my first choice - not only because I disagree with his policies and all, but also because he's willing to lie to people in order to support his own views.

Should fit in perfectly, no?

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

U.S. as China

Is a story like this something for Americans to look forward to?
Last year China's social security fund lost a total of 919 million yuan (about 111.12 million US dollars) in stock market investments, the Shanghai-based Dongfang Daily quoted the National Council for Social Security Fund as saying Wednesday.