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That which we are, we are;
One equal-temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield.

Alfred Lord Tennyson, Ulysses

December 31, 2004
Changes coming.
And so we come to the final day of what turned out to be a pretty bad year all over the world. 2005 has to be better, doesn't it?

Doesn't it?

Things will be quiet in this space for first days of the new year as some changes are made. the major one? The Great Disconnect will migrate over to our sister site, The Dubya Chronicles, where it will run in perfect harmony with the weekly cartoon that Rob Davis and I produce.

This is sort of a "back to the future" move, since the Dubya site was the first home for these ramblings. The move will also simplify things for our extensive staff (me) in terms of housekeeping, linking and content management. This space will be filled by a new, more personal, wider ranging blog and I hope some of you will keep coming back for that and other features hereabouts.

If you've already bookmarked Dubya Chronicles, you'll have to do nothing additional to keep up with what I have to say (just scroll down on the new Home Page that will go up over there) or you can bookmark the new page once it's up.

For now, I leave you with a recommendation that you read this column, with particular attention to the comments of some of author Greg Mitchell's correspondents, especially this guy (a nod here to TBogg, who caught and highlighted this mindless vitriol first):

Mel Gibbs: “The Patriot Act will put both of you (Neuharth and Mitchell) on trial for treason and convict and execute both of you as traitors for running these stories in a time of war and it should be done on TV for other communist traitors like you two to know we mean business. This is war and you should be put in prison NOW for talking like this. Who the hell do you people think you are? You give aid and comfort to our enemies and aid them in murdering our proud soldiers. You people are a disgrace to America. Your families should be put in prison with you, then be made to leave and move to the Middle East ...This is a great Christian nation and god wants us to lead the world out of darkness with great leaders like President George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Communists like Al and Greg will soon be in prison and on death row for your ugly papers. We won the election and now you are mad. We own America and all the rights, you people are trash, go back to Russia and Africa and take your friends with before we put you on death row after a fair trial.”
That, my friends, is the dark underside of America to which the right wing radicals (read as, unfortunately, "the current GOP") cater. These people are scary.

See you in 2005.

[posted 10:20 am edt]

December 22, 2004
At least they aren't trying to confuse us with facts.
I'm sure this will come across as pure hyperbole, but I swear that some days I truly feel like I've somehow crossed into an alternate universe where black is white, white is black and, to tell the truth, nobody much gives a damn.

This Sunday, I saw Treasury Secretary John Snow, who's still in office, apparently, because it leaked out that he was going to be fired and pres-nint Bush once again stamped his feet and said he wasn't no way gonna do what was expected and asked him to stay on (a few of us cynics contend that such petulant foolishness is pretty much his only serious involvement in actual policy).

Snow was on something or other, maybe Meet the Press, to defend the administration's Social Security "reform" proposals and, really, fended off every serious question about how this would be done with "we don't have a program yet."

Say what? The Bushies are going to "fix" one of the most successful and important programs in American history but, well, y'know, don't exactly know how, but expect all "good 'Muricans" to get behind the effort?

I figured the blogsphere and maybe even some few voices in what is laughingly called the "liberal media" would be all over this, come Monday. But nary a word as far as I saw.

Now today comes this report, from Reuters (bold emphasis added):

Some analysts and congressional aides expect Bush to lay out details of his plan for changing Social Security in his State of the Union address to Congress, where the president faces major hurdles even among Republicans.

But others involved in White House discussions say the State of the Union speech will likely offer few new insights. The administration, long known for its secrecy, will likely keep details away from opponents, until a bill emerges possibly as late as April.

"The initial focus of the campaign is that we have to do reform. But they don't want a lot of details out there," said Mike Tanner of the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank that is preparing to distribute 25,000 Social Security guides to help community leaders shape public opinion for Bush.

The White House declined to comment on strategy or the State of the Union speech. On Monday, Bush deflected a question on Social Security, saying: "I'll propose a solution at the appropriate time."

I can't even begin to....I mean, don't you have in the world...?

Somebody explain to me how we came to this point.

Please. I'm serious.

Are we really going to have a national debate on Social Security absent all information about what is being proposed, how it will work and why it should be implemented?


[posted 8:40 pm edt]

December 20, 2004
Not as bad as it appears?
I'm obviously deeply concerned with what I see as the disastrous consequences of the Bush Administration proposals to "reform" (read "destroy") the Social Security program and have been going off on the topic for the last few days.

Well, Andrew Cassel, a pretty good economics columnist, suggested yesterday that I could be over-reacting. I offer his opinion here as my contribution to "fair and balanced" coverage:

The arguments for and against private accounts are blistering. Supporters say they will give ordinary American workers the chance to own something real that they can pass on to heirs, and that no future Congress can take away.

Opponents say it's all a sham, a plot by radical conservatives to shred the social safety net and leave future generations to the mercy of Wall Street.

As far as I can tell, both sides have it wrong.

Personal accounts might be a useful addition to the Social Security system. But if they won't do what critics fear, they also won't live up to the Bush administration's hopes.

That's not a coincidence, but rather the inescapable political and economic truth.


That doesn't mean private accounts are a totally worthless idea. It only means they won't be as good - or as bad - as the rhetoric you'll be hearing soon will make them sound.

[posted 9:55 am edt]

December 19, 2004
When she's good, she's really good.

[posted 9:55 am edt]

December 18, 2004
Deconstructing Luskin.
A faux Libertarian of my acquaintance, very close acquaintance actually, passed on this misleading rant by National Review Online contributing editor Donald Luskin recently. You may recall that Luskin is the chap who was accused of "stalking" New York Times' columnist Paul Krugman a year or two back. It seems he still hasn't gotten over his obsession.

The hard truth is that I haven't much of a mind for the hard work of researching and analyzing the minutia of economic arguments, nor the interest to do so for that matter. My usual approach, as reflected in the posting which follows this one, is get the gist of the argument and then seek out counter-arguments from what I consider less ideological and, y'know, less creepy, sources to offer a counterpoint.

This time, in the spirit of Christmas giving (to me, not from me) and employing a blogging technique writer Neil Gaiman has cleverly termed "you lot do all the work," I have turned to Loyal Reader Tim F., who is quite talented at slogging through the right wing miasma and exposing frailties, misconceptions and outright lies and asked if he would do the heavy lifting.

Damned if he didn't agree.

What follows is his breakdown of Luskin's argument. It includes direct excerpts from Luskin's original for reference, but I'd suggest you use the link above to read the entire Luskin piece first off just to be sure this is all in context.

Take it away, Mr. F:

It's hard to do much with this, given that it's pretty much empty of those things, what do you call them? Oh, yeah, facts. Mostly an attack on Krugman himself, with a bunch of squishy assertions...The biggest problem is that he does a bunch of selective quoting, and paraphrasing. Just from reading Luskin's portrayal, I thought that Krugman was of the "no problem here, move along" train of thought, but he clearly recognizes that something should be done.
LUSKIN: Even that is all based on the idea that the assets in the Social Security trust fund -- Treasury bonds being accumulated during the current years while system revenues exceed system expenditures -- will be there to pay retirement benefits in the future. Of course those Treasury bonds represent nothing but IOU's, in essence promises by the government to pay itself. The same CBO report that Krugman cites points out, correctly, that "Those trust funds are mainly accounting mechanisms and contain no economic resources."
As others have pointed out in various areas I've looked at on this subject, when Bill Gates buys a government bond no one points out that these are "nothing but IOU's" and I'm sure Gates doesn't think they "contain no economic resources". The bonds held in the SS trust fund are every bit as real as the hundreds of billions of dollars worth that the Bush administration issue every year to pay for their big tax cut and war. If there is a problem - and there is - it isn't a Social Security problem, it is an overall debt problem.
LUSKIN: Not a very rosy picture, is it? Yet Krugman chose to cite the CBO report because at least it paints a rosier picture than the Annual Report of the Trustees of the Social Security Trust Fund. The Trustees say the trust fund will run out in 2044 -- eight years sooner than the CBO estimates. New Krugman Truth Squad member Victor Davis, writing on the Dead Parrot Society blog, notes that according to the CBO, the difference between the two reports is mostly in their underlying economic assumptions -- and CBO's are far more optimistic. CBO uses higher estimates for real wage growth, and lower estimates for inflation and unemployment, than the Trustees. How remarkable that Krugman -- perhaps the world's most relentlessly pessimistic economist, who has written for years about our "age of diminished expectations" and "depression economics" and how America is turning into a "banana republic" -- now finds it "more realistic" to look beyond "cautious projections."
It is true that the Trustee's report paints a grimmer picture; but even that scenario has an immediate increase of the payroll tax of 1.89% to close the gap for the next 75 years - a figure which is, coincidentally enough, almost exactly the amount the Bush tax cuts are costing the Treasury. Haven't heard any talk from the Luskin's of the world about the crisis of the tax cut, have you?

But what is REALLY interesting about the Trustee's report, is that under it's intermediate assumptions, the trust fund is exhausted in 2044, about 40 years from now. Now, if you look at the 1995 report, it was expected that the trust fund would exhaust it's assets in 35 years, or 2030. So if you go by the pessimistic folks, things have improved quite a bit over the last decade, rather than gotten worse.

LUSKIN: This burst of economic optimism is all the more surprising considering that Krugman himself, in the past, has argued -- in his typically shrill style --that the Social Security system is in crisis. For example, he wrote in the New York Times in 1996

"Where is the crisis? Just over the horizon, that's where... In 2010...the boomers will begin to retire. Every year thereafter, for the next quarter-century, several million 65-year-olds will leave the rolls of taxpayers and begin claiming their benefits. The budgetary effects of this demographic tidal wave are straightforward to compute, but so huge as almost to defy comprehension."

This is one of those clever out-of-context quotes these folks like so much. If you read Krugman's column cited here, you will see he isn't talking about Social Security being in crisis, but federal spending and taxation in general. And while Social Security is a part of that, it is Medicare/Medicaid which is the big driver of the out-of-control spending decades from now. If you read the current Trustee's report Luskin mentions, you'll see the Bushies are lumping the two programs in together to create more of a crisis mode mentality to the mix.
LUSKIN: But whom, exactly, are these destroyers that Krugman is talking about? As Krugman Truth Squad member Jon Henke points out on the Q and O blog, Krugman himself once wrote in his Times column, "There is a case for reforming Social Security; there is even a case for privatization."
Another selective quotation, out of a column in which Krugman gives much the same opinion as his current column. See here.
LUSKIN: Social security policy experts have even longer memories. Economist Eric Engen, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, reminded me that President Clinton's hand-picked Advisory Council on Social Security spent three years investigating reform options, and in 1997 recommended to Health and Human Services Secretary Donna E. Shalala two different plans involving private accounts -- plans which received the endorsement of the majority of the Council's members.
Another distortion of the findings. See here.

The Council was unable to come to a consensus on one plan to "fix" long-term shortfalls, so they presented three - two of which DID involve types of private accounts. Five members of the Council supported in full the third option, with one member supporting "most, but not all" of the non-private account plan. Two members of the Council supported a private account plan which involved an additional mandatory 1.6% payroll tax which was to be put in private accounts. Five members supported a plan where 5% of the current payroll tax would go into private accounts and the guaranteed benefits would be cut. So while a bare majority of the Council picked some form of private accounts, most were against the kind of proposal Bush is now making.

And even THOSE plans didn't cover the cost all by themselves. The two plans involved increases in the retirement age and other changes in the system to work things out - including a transitional payroll tax for the costs associated with the diverting 5% plan. Unlike the current Bush "free money" plan which, apparently, has no transitional costs, at least ones that "really count."

LUSKIN: The best Krugman can do is pretend there's no crisis -- and impugn the motives of anyone who disagrees with his deeply conventional liberal wisdom. Because he has no defense against the best arguments for Social Security reform with private accounts.
Kinda specious to say this one column says everything Krugman has to say on the subject, given a number of columns of his that cover the topic.
LUSKIN: The reality is that, crisis or not, the present system is inadequate and unfair. It denies Americans choice, control, and property rights in their own retirement savings. It sucks up the entire savings and investment capacity of tens of millions of lower-income Americans. It has a terrible implicit rate of return, compared to even the worst market investments. And it is unfair to minority members whose life expectancies are lower, and thus can expect fewer payments over a lifetime.
When guys like Luskin start talking about looking out for "lower-income Americans" and "minority members" is the time for those Americans to put their hands on their wallets.

And, once again, he speaks of "retirement savings" and "rate of return" when Social Security is NOT a retirement plan. It is INSURANCE, and it doesn't just cover retirement income - the full name is Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance plan, OASDI. Of the $470 billion paid out in 2003 from OASDI, only $314 went to "retired workers and dependents", or about 2/3. I priced it out one time, and after you buy life and disability insurance, the "rate of return" you get from Social Security compares favorably with many investments.

Further comments, arguments or counter-arguments are invited.

Other voices.
Mr. F, the gift that keeps on giving, suggests reading Kevin Drum on the subject of Social Security "reform." I concur. This is an excellent piece.

I also call to your attention these thoughts about "Fuzzy Math", offered by Newsweek's Wall Street columnist Allan Sloan. Fuzzy Math? Now where have I heard that term before?

Finally, here's more Krugman, wherein he takes the apparently unheard of approach (by today's journalistic "standards") of looking at how approaches similar to, albeit not nearly so devastating, as those proposed by the Bush Administration have worked out. Here are the "two secrets" which have been withheld from the public in Krugman's opinion:

Privatization dissipates a large fraction of workers' contributions on fees to investment companies.

It leaves many retirees in poverty.

Decades of conservative marketing have convinced Americans that government programs always create bloated bureaucracies, while the private sector is always lean and efficient. But when it comes to retirement security, the opposite is true. More than 99 percent of Social Security's revenues go toward benefits, and less than 1 percent for overhead. In Chile's system, management fees are around 20 times as high. And that's a typical number for privatized systems.

These fees cut sharply into the returns individuals can expect on their accounts. In Britain, which has had a privatized system since the days of Margaret Thatcher, alarm over the large fees charged by some investment companies eventually led government regulators to impose a "charge cap." Even so, fees continue to take a large bite out of British retirement savings.

A reasonable prediction for the real rate of return on personal accounts in the U.S. is 4 percent or less. If we introduce a system with British-level management fees, net returns to workers will be reduced by more than a quarter. Add in deep cuts in guaranteed benefits and a big increase in risk, and we're looking at a "reform" that hurts everyone except the investment industry.


Privatizers who laud the Chilean system never mention that it has yet to deliver on its promise to reduce government spending. More than 20 years after the system was created, the government is still pouring in money. Why? Because, as a Federal Reserve study puts it, the Chilean government must "provide subsidies for workers failing to accumulate enough capital to provide a minimum pension." In other words, privatization would have condemned many retirees to dire poverty, and the government stepped back in to save them.

The same thing is happening in Britain. Its Pensions Commission warns that those who think Mrs. Thatcher's privatization solved the pension problem are living in a "fool's paradise." A lot of additional government spending will be required to avoid the return of widespread poverty among the elderly - a problem that Britain, like the U.S., thought it had solved.

Britain's experience is directly relevant to the Bush administration's plans. If current hints are an indication, the final plan will probably claim to save money in the future by reducing guaranteed Social Security benefits. These savings will be an illusion: 20 years from now, an American version of Britain's commission will warn that big additional government spending is needed to avert a looming surge in poverty among retirees.

Don't be bamboozled by the misleading or outright false propaganda being put out by the president and his team and, for God's sake, don't count on the "liberal media" to be much help in ascertaining the truth. Do contact your representatives and find out where they stand...and why.

[posted 11:00 am edt]

December 16, 2004
Christian soldiers.
A little over a week ago, I ended a post here with a bit of a rant and a rhetorical question:

The Bush Administration's agenda is nothing less than a rollback of the New Deal, of eliminating the social contract made with the American people 70 years ago, an arrangement under which this nation has developed, for most of its citizens, the greatest standard of living ever known. Destroying Social Security is the cornerstone of that effort. Are we going to be stupid enough to allow it to happen?
Rhetorical or not, Loyal Reader Carl P, our man inside the gummint, felt inspired to answer:
Unfortunately, I believe "we," as in the general public, aka the Red-Staters, definitely are. As a generality, I no longer believe that the public is either well educated enough or thinks enough to be able to deserve a democratic republic such as we have. In fact, I think that deep down, a vast number of Americans would much rather be told what to do and where to go so as to not to HAVE TO think.

I actually believe we have already passed the point where later historians, if there are any, will say that this is where this society started to fall apart and decline. I do not think that this is the same country I was born in and that I saw as I grew up. I hate to say it, but I really do believe that surreptitiously, the party in power is slowly going to allow Americans to guide themselves into a much less free society all in the guise of safety and that one day we will be as much or almost as much a fascistic police state as Italy was prior to WWII...hopefully with the exception of the death camps. But I wouldn't overly bet against that either. This time it would be gays and atheists, though, that get the needle or whatever.

I replied that I wouldn't go quite as far as he in pessimism. I said that the next Presidential election is the one that could actually push us over the edge toward the future he fears, but that I believe that four more years of Bush and the expected arrogance over-reaching of the right wing would bring the electorate to its senses. There was a caveat, I added. The wave of fundamentalist religious fervor and intimidation which is currently sweeping across the nation is a wild card which I fear very, very much. He answered:
I agree, the religious thing is quite worrisome as that is the one thing more polarizing than politics and I fret that there will come a time (what a phrase...) when the fact that one is a "Christian" or not will have far reaching implications on your life.

I mean, who will care for me when I am old if the stock market has wiped me out and I no longer have Social Security and Medicare is kaput if I do not get into one of the Christian Health Care centers or whatever they have?

I really am afraid that this country is going down the drain. I note that suddenly in just the last couple days I have seen Senator Bill Frist's name bandied about for 2008 as a presidential candidate and I do NOT like him based on what I have read about him so far. I fear he is even more religiously right wing than Shrub.

I hate that I have to wonder if I can afford to retire when I want to based on what these fear-mongers might do to me in the future.

That exchange came back to me this morning when I read the final paragraphs of Frank Rich's latest weekly column (not officially "published" until Sunday but already available online):
...When Jon Stewart went on CNN's "Crossfire" to demand that its hosts stop "hurting America" by turning news and political debate into a form of pro wrestling, it may have sounded a bit hyperbolic. "Crossfire" is an aging show that few watch. But his broader point holds up: it's all crossfire now. In the electronic news sphere where most Americans live much of the time, anyone who refuses to engage in combat is quickly sent packing as a bore.

Toss the issue of religion into that 24/7 wrestling match, as into any conflict in human history, and the incendiary possibilities are limitless. When even phenomena as innocuous as Oscar nominations or the lighting of a Christmas tree can be inflated into divisive religious warfare, it's only a matter of time before someone uncovers an anti-Christian plot in "White Christmas." It avoids any mention of religion and it was, as William Donohue might be the first to point out, written by a secular Jew.

The gist of the column itself is the place of Mel Gibson's The Passion in current popular culture (Rich says the film "is as representative of our time as "Godspell" was of terminal-stage hippiedom 30 years ago.") and the silly right wing campaign claiming that Christians are "victimized" in modern day America, currently represented by the argument that "they" are trying to destroy Christmas, "they" being, in the words of Donohue, president of the Catholic League, "secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular." (he goes on to note that he likes at least one Jew, showing how far we have come, from "some of my best friends are..." to "I got one over here").

I remember the nuns of my long-ago youth urging us to "take the X out of Xmas," but I thought such foolishness was long past us. Obviously not, and to get back to the point here, the religious component the right wing is shamelessly using to wage its cultural war on anyone who disagrees with them is, as Rich notes, a time bomb of frightening proportions. It's something we'll be talking about a lot in 2005.

"Who we're supposed to be."
Here's an encouraging sign: Ex-Military Lawyers Object to Bush Cabinet Nominee:

" "When you create these kinds of policies that can eventually be used against your own soldiers, when we say 'only follow the Geneva Conventions as much as it suits us,' when we take steps that the common man would understand is torture, this undermines what we are supposed to be, and many of us find it appalling."
That was retired Brig. Gen. James Cullen, who won't be getting the Medal of Freedom from this prez-nint, count on it.

While the Bushies flounder about trying to explain the Bernie Kerik mess, a problem exacerbating by their basing all their excuses on the "nanny thing" and the developing evidence that maybe there weren't no nanny, maybe a second inappropriate nominee can be brought down as well, y'think?

Okay, probably not, but if the embarrassments keep on comin' (please, lord), I suspect Karl's gonna have to roll out another terrorist threat alert (notice how they all disappeared right after the election?). Big Question: who's gonna put up the color chart?

Who killed Cody Wentz?
While the War Pres-nint lays the groundwork for destroying Social Security, pretends he gives a damn about the weakening dollar and looks for another incompetent to appoint, all the while dreaming of his militaristic Inauguration and all a-quiver at maybe getting to wear his Commander-in-Chief jacket again real soon, the deaths go on.

This is a story somebody should read to him.

Over and over again.




[posted 3:40 pm edt]

December 12, 2004
Why Bernie went to Iraq.
In this moment of the president's embarrassment (gee, if he can't trust guys who swagger and talk tough, he'll either have to think about what he's doing or find one more White House staffer to promote, poor guy), my favorite (so far) Bernie Kerik story is this one, from MSNBC:

Kerik's somewhat cavalier attitude is best captured by his time in Iraq. After the invasion in the spring of 2003, Kerik was sent to Baghdad to organize the Iraqi police. But Kerik didn't seem to show much interest in Iraqis, said a senior U.S. official who worked with him. He appeared to enjoy going on night raids against "bad guys" with some South African mercenaries who were serving as bodyguards to U.S. officials. On his screen saver, Kerik had a photo of a big house he had just bought in New Jersey that he said was across the street from former New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms's. Kerik told his colleagues he planned to be in Baghdad for three months while the house was undergoing renovations. "So," the official says he told Kerik, "you're here because you needed a place to go while they're doing renovations on your house." Kerik grinned and cocked a finger as if to say, "You got it." A spokesman for Kerik said that story was "absurd" and that Kerik was a patriot.
The most fun, however, is watching all the media go along with the "nanny problem" story. I actually think I'm going to watch Fox News Sunday this morning just to see how they spin it....why, here they are now.

Not much spin at all, actually, just a subtle but clear shifting of all the blame to Kerik and uncomfortable fast-forwarding through discussion the vetting process. Damn, sorta takes the edge off the morning...although their efforts to explain the Snow reappointment did at least bring on a few Brit Snow scowls and snarls. You take what you can get.

Fuzzy gets it.
Gotta love that cat:
Get Fuzzy.

Meanwhile, Trudeau will have a lot of folks fuming around the breakfast table this morning: Doonesbury.

[posted 9:55 am edt]

December 7, 2004
Krugman tells the truth. Again.
If Paul Krugman can take a break from his hiatus at the New York Times because he believes it's important that he write this OpEd column entitled Inventing a Crisis, then I can surely take a break from my lousy record of posting here these days to urge you to read it.

Bold emphasis added:

[T]he politics of privatization depend crucially on convincing the public that the system is in imminent danger of collapse, that we must destroy Social Security in order to save it.


Projections in a recent report by the Congressional Budget Office (which are probably more realistic than the very cautious projections of the Social Security Administration) say that the trust fund will run out in 2052. The system won't become "bankrupt" at that point; even after the trust fund is gone, Social Security revenues will cover 81 percent of the promised benefits. Still, there is a long-run financing problem.

But it's a problem of modest size. The report finds that extending the life of the trust fund into the 22nd century, with no change in benefits, would require additional revenues equal to only 0.54 percent of G.D.P. That's less than 3 percent of federal spending - less than we're currently spending in Iraq. And it's only about one-quarter of the revenue lost each year because of President Bush's tax cuts - roughly equal to the fraction of those cuts that goes to people with incomes over $500,000 a year.

Given these numbers, it's not at all hard to come up with fiscal packages that would secure the retirement program, with no major changes, for generations to come.


But since the politics of privatization depend on convincing the public that there is a Social Security crisis, the privatizers have done their best to invent one....first, they insist that the Social Security system's current surplus and the trust fund it has been accumulating with that surplus are meaningless. Social Security, they say, isn't really an independent entity - it's just part of the federal government.


[T]he same people who claim that Social Security isn't an independent entity when it runs surpluses also insist that late next decade, when the benefit payments start to exceed the payroll tax receipts, this will represent a crisis - you see, Social Security has its own dedicated financing, and therefore must stand on its own.

There's no honest way anyone can hold both these positions, but very little about the privatizers' position is honest. They come to bury Social Security, not to save it.

The Bush Administration's agenda is nothing less than a rollback of the New Deal, of eliminating the social contract made with the American people 70 years ago, an arrangement under which this nation has developed, for most of its citizens, the greatest standard of living ever known. Destroying Social Security is the cornerstone of that effort. Are we going to be stupid enough to allow it to happen?

[posted 1:00 pm edt]

December 4, 2004
Working the mandate.
Our plain-talking cowboy pres-nint will be spending his political capital like a Congressman shoving pork into a legislative proposal next week. Not one to hold back when principle is involved, Mr. Bush will send a letter to congressional leaders one day real soon urging them to enact the anti-terror legislation being held up by House Republicans.


Now that is puttin' a mandate to work.

Of course, being president and all, he could just call Speaker of the GOP segment of the House Denny Hastert and soon-to-be indicteé Tom DeLay down to the Oval Office and lay down the law face to face, but, shucks, I guess he's too busy for that.

Gots too much other stuff to do.

Like keeping Rummy and his band of often-wrong-but-never-in-doubt neocon armchair warriors ensconced at the Pentagon.

Heaven forbid that he get rid of the biggest screw-ups in a screwed up administration.

Then he's got to find some new folks to pal around with him at the White House, since he's dispatched most of the old ones to the rest of the Cabinet offices to, as Karl Rove apparently put it, "spread the DNA" throughout the gummint.

Coming soon: "strict constructionist" Supreme Court justices, Social Security "reform" and "free elections" in Iraq.

Hang on, America, you're about to reap what you sowed.

The complete November postings were archived here just now.

[posted 9:15 am edt]


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