Thursday, January 06, 2005

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Refridgerator Magnets You Should Have
and other progressive products, too

Get 'em at the
Project for the Old American Century.

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Army Reserve Unable to Meet Commitments:
Risking a "Broken Force"

Via CNN:
The Pentagon's reliance on volunteers from the Army Reserve for duty in Iraq and Afghanistan risks creating a "broken force," the reserve force's commander warned his superiors in a December memo, and he urged a wider call-up of reservists to active duty.

In his memo, Lt. Gen. James Helmly stated that the Army Reserve is no longer able to meet its commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan, nor can it "reset and regenerate" units for future missions.
Note to Rummy, Wolfowitz, and all the other dim lightbulbs at the Pentagon:

Failing to plan is planning to fail.

Note to Phil Carter:

Make sure your rucksack is packed. There's a dramatic shortage of junior officers.

UPDATE - Thursday Night: Susie found the follow-on story.
Stretched thin by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army is considering a National Guard and Reserve policy shift that could result in part-timers’ being called to active duty multiple times for up to two years each time, a senior Army general said Thursday.

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Big Train Wreck in South Carolina

Not seeing it on the news yet, but I'm getting reports that two freight trains collided in the vicinity of Graniteville, South Carolina. Collision was near a residential area. There was a chemical spill (Chlorine). Over 200 people hospitalized at several area hospitals. Four confirmed fatalities.


Wednesday, January 05, 2005

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Clark: Gonzales for AG is an "Outrage"

I was a Clark supporter until Kerry won the nomination. He's making me feel good about that (and not just because he sent me a Christmas card).

Armando at Kos (who also has a link to the video):
On Hardball tonight, General Wesley Clark was asked by Matthews about the nomination of Alberto Gonzales for Attorney General. Clark stated in unequivocal terms that the nomination of Gonzales for AG was an outrage. Clark stated that he could not support any person for Attorney General who asserted that:

(1) torture was in any way acceptable under American law;

(2) that the Geneva Conventions could be circumvented; and

(3) the President has unfettered power.

"How could Americans feel confident in the rule of law with an Attorney General who does not respect the most basic tenets of American law?"

Matthews asked Clark if he would testify against Gonzales? Clark responded that he would testify against anyone who signed off the documents Gonzales approved.
My kind of general. Thanks to Susie for the link.

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The Crisis and the Non-Crisis:
Krugman on the deficit and Social Security
There are only two things that could endanger Social Security's ability to pay benefits before the trust fund runs out. One would be a fiscal crisis that led the U.S. to default on all its debts. The other would be legislation specifically repudiating the general fund's debts to retirees.

That is, we can't have a Social Security crisis without a general fiscal crisis - unless Congress declares that debts to foreign bondholders must be honored, but that promises to older Americans, who have spent most of their working lives paying extra payroll taxes to build up the trust fund, don't count.

Politically, that seems far-fetched. A general fiscal crisis, on the other hand, is a real possibility - but not because of Social Security. In fact, the Bush administration's scaremongering over Social Security is in large part an effort to distract the public from the real fiscal danger.
Read it all.

We have nothing to fear but the dangerous idiot in the White House.


Tuesday, January 04, 2005

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Project for the OLD American Century

Not to be confused with those misguided neo-cons.

Great site. Check it out. And thanks to Tild for another good find.

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They Don't Want to Look Like Crooks,
they just want to be crooks

Lots of speculation in the blogosphere on why the House Repulsives reversed course on their plan to protect Majority Leader Tom DeLay by loosening their ethics rules.

While it may be true that some members were hearing from their constituents on this matter, so what? The next round of Congressional elections are nearly 2 years away, and most voters have short memories about this kind of thing. Even so, it did make the Repulsives look bad (pardon my redundancy).

I don't believe for a minute that DeLay was suddenly filled with the spirit of decency, developed a conscience overnight, and decided to take a bullet for the team.

It seems much more likely that he gets to make the House Repulsives look good while he instructed his home boys down in Texas to fix his little indictment problem at the local level.
Digby noticed this in the Dec. 30 edition of the NY Times (the NYT link doesn't seem to work):
In Texas, state Republican legislative leaders and party officials are considering some maneuvers of their own in light of the investigation. One proposal would take authority for prosecuting the campaign finance case away from the Democratic district attorney in Austin and give it to the state attorney general, a Republican. Another possible move would legalize corporate campaign contributions like those that figure into the state case.
So the House Repulsives get to look ethical, even as they are trying to subvert the criminal justice system. Let's hear it for them Values.


Monday, January 03, 2005

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Pimpbot Fuckwit of the Year

Tild's got it! Be sure to scroll down until you find it.


Sunday, January 02, 2005

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AARP Redeems Itself
at least for the time being

I was so pissed at AARP when they backed Bush's deceitful sell-out to Big Pharma (the Medicare Reform/Drug Benefit scam) that I cancelled my membership (yes, sad to say, I am that old -- it's not the years, it's the miles).

Certainly I wasn't the only one to express my outrage. Looks like maybe the AARP leadership got a clue. AARP is going to marshal its considerable resources to fight Bush's Social Insecurity plan.
Kevin Drum quotes the NYT:

AARP, the influential lobby for older Americans, signaled Wednesday for the first time how fervently it would fight President Bush's proposal for private Social Security accounts, saying it would begin a $5 million two-week advertising campaign timed to coincide with the start of the new Congress.

....The full-page advertisements, to appear next week in more than 50 newspapers around the country, say the accounts would cause "Social Insecurity."

"There are places in your retirement planning for risk," the advertisements say, "but Social Security isn't one of them."

One advertisement shows a couple in their 40's looking at the reader. "If we feel like gambling, we'll play the slots," the message says.
Nice to see a little creative media power and a whole lot of money stepping up on this one.

I think it's also important to see the Repulsives' attack on Social Security in the broader context of their deep hatred for any attempt to "promote the general welfare," to use the words of the U.S. Constitution. Conservatives hate entitlement programs of any stripe, be it Social Security, Medicare, veterans benefits, public health or public education.

They are attacking Social Security now because they think they might have the votes in Congress, and because the White House strategy of telling a pack of lies to scare the shit out of the American people worked so well when they wanted to invade Iraq.

Unfortunately, their actually planning for implementing Social Insecurity is as shallow as their planning for post-invasion Iraq. In fact, Bush has refused to explain much at all about his latest plan to rob from the poor. As
Mark Kleiman noted:

Since Mr. Bush has made it a matter of principle not to explain just how he plans to replace Social Security with Social Insecurity until he's finished terrifying the country with fairy tales about the current system's impending "bankruptcy," critics of the non-plan are reduced to asking questions and suggesting problems.
And the problems the White House refuses to address are too numerous to list here. Other astute bloggers have done jouneymens' work of pointing out several. Kleiman writes more about the evils of Social Insecurity here, here, and here. Also see Atrios (who actually has a background in economics!), Digby (always on the mark!), Brad DeLong (a really smart economist!) here, here, and here, and Matt Yglesias here (also note the bloggers above who link to several of his posts).

This will be THE FIGHT of 2005. And it should set the table for the 2006 congressional races. Lock and load.

UPDATE - Sunday night. Josh Marshall tells it straight up:
Almost the entirety of President Bush's Social Security phase-out plan comes down to a simple proposition: finding out how not to pay it back.

Now, admittedly, this is an approach that the president is rather familiar with from his own business career at various failed energy companies. But it is, in so many words, a straight up con -- one of vast scale, and one which virtually no one in the media ever frames in just these terms.

Before discussing that aspect of the question, consider a hypothetical. Let's say there'd not been a Social Security -- President Bush's dreamworld. We'd still have had the same deficits. The difference would be that we'd have had to borrow from private borrowers in the US and abroad.

Think we'd just be able to decide not to pay them back? Not likely. The Joneses and the Smiths with their 401ks probably wouldn't like that. And the Japanese and Saudis probably wouldn't like it much either. Of course, defaulting on our entire national debt would also certainly trigger a seismic international financial crisis. So you can probably figure that no one would be a huge fan of it.

So why does the president figure he can get away without making good on the debt to the folks who pay Social Security taxes, who are overwhelmingly low and middle-income wage earners (since no one pays Social Security tax on investment income or wage and salary income over about $85,000 a year)?

Isn't it obvious? Because he thinks they're an easy mark.
You can decide just how easy a mark you want to be. I intend to put up one hell of a fight.


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