Saturday, March 06, 2004

Taxes and the Economy

At the end of January 1993, right after the inauguration of Clinton, the official unemployment rate was set at 7.3%. In October 1996, right before the election, the rate had fallen to 5.2%.

The centerpiece of Clinton's economic plan was his deficit reduction plan, which included both tax increases and a determination to restraint spending growth. The tax increase of 1993 raised top marginal rates from 31% to 39%. It removed the income cap on Medicare taxation. It also expanded the EITC for low income families. For the vast majority of taxpayers, the 1993 plan had zero effect on their federal tax burden.

At the time, we all remember, the Republicans predicted that the Clinton tax increases would bring on an economic armageddon. They didn't, but if the economy had tanked or failed to recover for whatever reason, in 1996 every Republican would have blamed it on the tax increases, because as we all know tax increases are bad for the economy. Whether deserved or not, that would have been the media narrative of the 1996 election.

When George Bush came into office in January 2001, the unemployment rate stood at 4.2%. Bush campaigned for tax cuts first because there was plenty of money to go around, and then because we were slipping into recession, and then because we were in recession.

The rate reached a high of 6.3% in June 2003, and has since fallen to 5.6%. Comparatively, that isn't particularly high - but the number itself masks a lot of other things which point to an extended period of a soft labor market.

It's clear the Bushies were pinning this campaign season on some good job numbers - if they get them they would "prove" that tax cuts were working, and they'd campaign for yet another round of cuts. Perfect in an election year. But, despite their hopes, the December, January, and February numbers were all quite disappointing. And, fortunately, the press is finally starting to get a wee bit smarter (except for Pravda on the Hudson) about the jobs numbers making it more difficult for the Republicans to spin them.

But, no matter what happens with the economy this year, the media will never allow the narrative to be "the Bush tax cuts caused the poor economy" the way "the Clinton tax increases caused the poor economy" would have been the narrative in 1996 if it had been the case. Why? Because, "we all know" that tax cuts are good for the economy and tax increases are bad for the economy. The media has internalized this as a basic fact, even though there's no reason to think it to be true. The golden years of the US economy, 1945-1973, coincided with the period of record high top marginal tax rates.

Did the Bush tax cuts "cause" a sluggish economy? It's doubtful, but what we can say with some certainty is that they spent a lot of money and don't have much to show for it. And, now, there's nothing more they can do. Greenspan can't lower rates anymore. Any further deficit spending would likely have fairly strong negative consequences, even if it were used for truly stimulative policies. It's likely the economy will lumber a long a little while longer and eventually start to improve. However, a sudden negative shock to the economy -- oil price shock, terrorist attack, natural disaster, international unrest -- could be much more disastrous than normal because the fiscal and monetary policy gas pedals are both pushed down all the way.

They gambled it all and so far they've lost. If double 0 shows up on the next spin we could be truly screwed.

I Read the News Today Oh Boy

The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.

O, Untimely Death!

Mass Equality

Mass Equality is leading the fight against amending the constitution in Massachusetts. They're trying to raise $100K, and have about $60K to go, to keep running TV ads. Josh Marshall has a bit more context.

But, generally, holding back attempts to amend the Mass. constitution would, I think, be a momentous victory in this civil rights struggle.

...and, Patrick is 100% right. It's really sad that our Dems in the senate were too stupid to get some religious representatives to be "pro-gay marriage," and thus allowed the Republicans to frame this as religious vs. secular. Because, as we all know religious=moral and secular=godless immoral commies.


...MAJeff tells us that HRC will match all donations to Mass Equality done through this page.

That Liberal New York Times

Job Data Provides Ammunition for Two Sides in Presidential Race.

Um. No. No it doesn't. Not at all. The jobs data is horrible. Nothing in the article supports the headline. The best the Republicans, along with the cheerleading media, can do is the same thing they've been doing for the past 2 years - promising us that the recovery was just around the corner. It may be, but it hasn't happened yet.

Bush Re-Election Ads

So, a lot of people have been branding them the "not my fault" ads. They're that, but to me they're also sort of the "give us another chance to do it right!" ads. As the Onion had awhile back:

BOSTON - Addressing guests at a $2,000-a-plate fundraiser, George W. Bush pledged Monday that, if re-elected in November, he and running mate Dick Cheney will "restore honor and dignity to the White House."

"After years of false statements and empty promises, it's time for big changes in Washington," Bush said. "We need a president who will finally stand up and fight against the lies and corruption. It's time to renew the faith the people once had in the White House. If elected, I pledge to usher in a new era of integrity inside the Oval Office."

Bush told the crowd that, if given the opportunity, he would work to reestablish the goodwill of the American people "from the very first hour of the very first day" of his second term.

"The people have spoken," Bush said. "They said they want change. They said it's time to clean up Washington. They're tired of politics as usual. They're tired of the pursuit of self-interest that has gripped Washington. They want to see an end to partisan bickering and closed-door decision-making. If I'm elected, I'll make sure that the American people can once again place their trust in the White House."

Bush said the soaring national debt and the lengthy war in Iraq have shaken Americans' faith in the highest levels of government.

"A credibility gap has opened between the Oval Office and America," Bush said. "The public hears talk, but they don't see any result. But if you choose me as your next president, the promises I make in my inaugural address will actually mean something. The president of this country will be held accountable for his promises, starting Jan. 20 of next year."



Damn, just go read it.

They Get Letters

To the Editor:

Re "Bush Ad Campaign Ready to Kick Off an Expensive Effort" (front page, March 4):

It continues to baffle me that the Republican Party insists on reminding the American people over and over again that George W. Bush's administration is responsible for the greatest security failure in the history of the United States.

New York, March 4, 2004


Friday, March 05, 2004


Kos brings us a teaser of Kerry's radio address tomorrow.

"We cannot let the strongest armed forces in the world be weakened. America's greatest military strength has always been the courageous, talented men and women whose love of country and devotion to service lead them to attempt and achieve the impossible everyday. We must resolve that America's leaders will never let them down.
"Yet we hear reports that - in dangerous parts of Iraq - our helicopters are flying missions without the best available anti-missile systems.

"At the same time, un-armored Humvees are falling victim to road-side bombs and small-arms fire. The Bush Administration waited through month after month of ambushes and only acted to start manufacturing armored door kits three months ago.

"The Army's 428th Transportation Company, headquartered in Jefferson City, Missouri, shipped out to Iraq two weeks ago. They had to ask local businesses to donate the steel to armor their vehicles. When the Bush Administration heard about this, their response wasn't `never again.' It was `good idea' - they emailed instructions to other units letting them know how they could use homemade armor to protect their own Humvees from attacks. I believe our soldiers deserve better.

"Even more shocking, tens of thousands of other troops arrived in Iraq to find that - with danger around every corner - there wasn't enough body armor to protect them. Many of their families on the homefront - mothers and fathers, husbands and wives and children - were forced to raise the money to buy it for them. They went to their neighbors for donations - and dipped into their savings to give their sons and daughters the equipment to save their lives - which the Army should be providing. Last month, a young newlywed in Virginia even gave her husband body armor for Valentine's Day as he prepared to ship out to Iraq.

"Families should be sending pictures and care packages to Iraq - and the Department of Defense should be sending the body armor. Today, I call on President Bush to support a law now in Congress to reimburse each and every family who had to buy the body armor this Administration failed to provide. This month, I will also be introducing a Military Family Bill of Rights to prevent anything like this from ever happening again.

"What we face isn't a question of the budget; it's a question of priorities and values. This Administration has given billions to Halliburton and requested 82 million dollars to protect Iraq's 36 miles of coast line. But they call this basic body armor a `non-priority' item.

Stewart Guilty

All 4 counts.


Back when the last round of tax cuts were passed, they were sold as a jobs program. The Bush administration claimed that if their tax program passed the economy would add an average of 306,000 jobs per month. By now, we should have had an additional 2,448,000 jobs. There are actually only 294,000 net new jobs, and so we're 2,154,000 behind what the Bush administration had promised.

They said magic tax cuts would create jobs. They didn't.

...DeLong has another pretty picture.

Laura Ingraham - Indecent

Take Back the Media brings us a shocking example of obscenity on Laura Ingraham's radio show.(mp3)

The contact information for the FCC is here. Demand that she be taken off the radio right now!

Rule of Law

So, since some other upper class guy broke the law and didn't get prosecuted, no upper class guy should ever be prosecuted, even if the facts and evidence of the cases are totally different.

I love wingnut land.

That Irresponsible Internet

Always spreading rumors.

Monthly Jobs Data Out Soon

Look for the media to ooh and ahh over the magic job creation powers of flightsuit boy if it's a positive number. But, keep in mind, that to keep up with the growth in the working age population we need about 140K new jobs per month, and also keep in that they claimed that after the last round of tax cuts they'd create 306,000 jobs per month, something they haven't achieved once. So, all numbers should be judged in light of that.

...ouch. Bad news.

Nonfarm employment was little changed (+21,000) in February, and the unemployment rate remained at 5.6 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today. Employment levels in most of the major industries were little changed over the month.

Household survey has both labor force participation and employment declining. It's rather sad - I've been reading reports all week that "numbers could be better than expected!!!!" as seems to happen every month.

...and, last month's numbers were revised downwards as well.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Plame Game


WASHINGTON -- The federal grand jury probing the leak of a covert CIA officer's identity has subpoenaed records of Air Force One telephone calls in the week before the officer's name was published in a column in July, according to documents obtained by Newsday.

Also sought in the wide-ranging document requests contained in three grand jury subpoenas to the Executive Office of President George W. Bush are records created in July by the White House Iraq Group, a little-known internal task force established in August 2002 to create a strategy to publicize the threat posed by Saddam Hussein.

And the subpoenas asked for a transcript of a White House spokesman's press briefing in Nigeria, a list of those attending a birthday reception for a former president, and, casting a much wider net than previously reported, records of White House contacts with more than two dozen journalists and news media outlets.

Click the link. There's more.

...Josh adds some context. It's late and I've had a couple Mojitos, but after re-reading that article a couple of times it's definitely clear that the writer knows, or at least thinks he knows, more than he's telling.

evrywon giv jon keree turkee!

Well, John Kerry Thursday is drawing to a close, and it's surpassed all hopes and expectations. As of 11:39pm, we had 195 donations totalling $20771.28. That's a bit more than the $1000 I hoped for.

Thanks to all who donated! Now I just need to figure out where my ambassadorship should be...

Listen to Them

Ezra and Big Media Matt have a pair of suggestions worth listening to. Ezra suggests a Kerry Shadow Cabinet, and Matt suggests rolling them out fairly slowly to give the Heathers something to talk about. Agreed on both counts.

...just wanted to add that I don't think that this fake cabinet should be advertised as the actual cabinet-to-be in a Kerry presidency. Just people playing the appropriate advisory roles in the Kerry Campaign. You avoid some potential pitfalls that way.

Brad DeLong Explained

Brad has an interesting post up about his survey of economists regarding the Larry Lindsey "Free Lunch" Social Security privatization plan. As Brad DeLong explains, what Lindsey wanted to do is borrow a bunch of money at the nice low rates the government can get, and then invest the money in the stock market. Since stocks, on average, have slightly higher returns over the long run (though not quite as high as is sometimes claimed), the government collects the difference. The fascinating (and by fascinating, I mean really screwed up) part is that this little plan would have the beneficiaries bear the entire risk of these investments, but none of the potential rewards. In other words, Larry would take your money, invest it for you, and if your investments made any extra money he'd just take it to finance payments to current SS recipients. Some people tried to claim this plan would be "voluntary." But, only an idiot would sign up for a plan which increased your risk without increasing your expected return. There are plenty of idiots, but not enough to finance Larry's dreams.

But, I thought Brad's fourth paragraph needed a bit of explanation. DeLong says:

I am midway through a survey of serious economists who have thought about the issues seriously, and I now have eight back-of-the-envelope point estimates of the amount of money that could be raised to save Social Security through the Lindsey-Feldstein-Samwick plan for saving Social Security...

...Two more say zero: even though there is compelling evidence that the equity premium is excessively high from the government's perspective--that the government is so risk-tolerant an institution that the expected risk-adjusted profits from the government's going short Treasuries and long stocks--the Lindsey-Feldstein-Samwick plan transfers the risk that the stock market will tank from the government back to Social Security beneficiaries, and there is no compelling reason to think that beneficiaries have enough risk tolerance to make this a good tihng to do.

What this is saying is that even though these two economists believe that if we made a best guess about the outcome, that it would a net benefit revenue wise for the government. However, since people dislike risk, it would, ex ante at least, make them worse off.

But, in any case - the whole thing is just nuts. If Larry and friends are so convinced that investing my social security contributions in the stock market is such a great idea, then the government can bear the risk of those investments. Why the hell would I want to increase my risk without increasing my expected return? I wouldn't. And nor should you. And nor should anyone with a brain.

Hitler Update

Josh Marshall has the official response and transcript from Cole's office. I don't see a substantive difference from the way it was reported and what was actually said.

Watergate 2: Electric Boogaloo

The update:

WASHINGTON -- Four Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee are pressing the Bush administration to disclose any role government officials may have had in secret snooping by Republican aides on the computer files of Democratic committee members.

In the latest escalation of bitter fights over nominations to federal courts, four of the nine committee Democrats sent letters to the White House and the Justice Department last week asking if administration officials were "involved in or aware of" the intrusion on Democrats' files, or had received any information about them.

The letters were signed by Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the committee's top Democrat, and by Senators Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, Charles E. Schumer of New York, and Richard J. Durbin of Illinois.

"We believe," the senators wrote, "that the administration's `by whatever means necessary' approach to judicial nominations . . . greatly contributed to the atmosphere in which Republicans committed these acts."


I know as much about campaign finance laws as... well, who the hell knows a damn thing about campaign finance laws. My head starts hurting when I try reading about them. But, in discussing new regulations for 527s which could hurt Dems, Nick Confessore asks a question I've been nursing for awhile:

Where has the Republican soft money gone? I find it hard to believe, as some pro-reform folks do, that McCain-Feingold sent that money into oblivion. The Republicans aren't stupid. They have their own version of the Democratic 527 infrastructure already up and running -- one that probably doesn't rely on 527s but on other kinds of organizations. So why isn't the press reporting on it?

The Right has tons of little political groups which pop up like weeds any time they're necessary (Americans United for Happy Loving Families! Patriots for Tax Relief Now! etc...). How are they classified? Where is they money coming from? Are they following the rules? Why doesn't the press ever talk about them?

The Environment

The Talking Dog has a little post about how the nastyness of global warming could possibly be extreme and could possibly happen sooner and not later. Nobody can really guess the likelihood of such doomsday scenarios, but there are plenty of important climate regulators, such as the Gulf Stream, which could conceivably reach their "tipping point" rather soon and have diastrous effects.

There are three basic issues. 1) Is global warming "real?" 2) Is it caused by human activity? and 3) If the answer to 1) is yes, no matter what the answer to 2) is, is there anything we can do about it?

The position of the Right seems to be 1) until you throw enough science at them, and then they retreat slightly and say the answers to both 2) and 3) are no.

But, anyway, if the excrement really hits the fan I'm sure, as is always the case, the mea culpas will be loud... (not)


Remember when a certain left-leaning organization unaffiliated with the Democratic Party ran an ad contest? Remember when one ad out of thousands submitted compared Bush to Hitler? Remember howwhen it was brought to the attention of the ad sponsors they removed it? Remember how this story dominated multiple news cycles? Remember how every single Democrat was called on to denounce the evil ad?

Now we have a Republican congressman saying that voting for Kerry is like voting for Hitler.

Republican Congressman Tom Cole claims a vote against the re-election of President Bush is like supporting Adolph Hitler during World War Two. It's what he said recently before a meeting of Canadian County Republicans.

U-S Representative Tom Cole might have stirred up Democrats by saying a vote against the re-election of President Bush is like supporting Adolph Hitler during World War Two. Or supporting Osama bin Laden now. "If George Bush loses the election, Osama bin Laden wins the election," Cole is quoted in this week's edition of the Yukon Review which covered the recent meeting of the Canadinan County Republicans where Cole was a speaker. The newspaper says Cole claims if Bush loses his re-election bid, the enemies of the U-S will interpret it as a victory for bin Laden. No comment so far from Oklahoma Democratic party leaders to see if they think Cole is comparing John Kerry to Adolph Hitler or Osama bin Laden. In the Yukon Review article, Cole is quoted as asking what Hitler might have thought had Franklin Roosevelt not been re-elected in 1944.

Of course, 46.0% of voters pulled the lever for Thomas "Hitler's Snugglebunny" Dewey in 1944. Most, presumably, were Republicans. Why were all those Republicans rooting for Adolf Hitler?

(thanks to ke)

John Kerry Thursday

Every Thursday will be John Kerry Thursday from now until the election. What is John Kerry Thursday? Well, that's the day I bug you to donate money to the Kerry campaign. My goal is to help raise $1000 per week until the election. Is that realistic? Who knows. But, all it takes is 40 of you giving $25.

Want some motivation? Bush is already +$100 million over Kerry. I hope the Bush campaign continues to waste a lot of the money on crappy TV ads, but sadly they'll probably be spending a lot of it on more "below the radar"* campaign methods. Radio ads, Spanish language ads, push polls, etc. $100 million buys a lot of nastyness.

Donate here!

*What I mean by "below the radar" is that while TV ads get a lot of attention from political reporters, a lot of the rest of it is completely ignored. So, they can target their message to a particular audience without having it be more widely exposed.

...Just in case we need another reminder of what 4 more years of the Bush administration could mean - Antonin Scalia could be appointed guardian of your uterus.

Indeed, at one point in 1992 he was convinced that Roe was doomed when a court majority led by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist appeared ready to effectively overrule Roe and had a draft opinion already in hand.

The day was saved, from Blackmun's point of view, by Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and David Souter who worked successfully behind the scenes to help persuade an anguished Justice Anthony M. Kennedy to abandon the Rehnquist majority in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.


A lot of people have written in about Howard Stern. Let me just say that I'm glad he's "on our side" now. And, man, is he. I stopped listening to him years ago. But, he's totally obsessed with bashing the Right now. Sure, it's more about Howard than anything else, but so is the Rush Limbaugh show or Bill O'Reilly show or anything else.

... and, also, you should listen. Merciless mocking of Bush's campaign commercials going on right now.

...Holden leads us to this Salon article.


Over at Crooked Timber, Kieran discusses the fairly recent (and close) attempt to amend the Irish constitution to outlaw allow divorce. He makes a good point which is often somewhat obscured by the religious overtones of all of this. We're all aware that the Bible has a lot more to say about divorce than it does about homosexuality, but Kieran's point is that even ignoring any religious considerations, the arguments for outlawing divorce have a much more solid foundation than do arguments against gay marriage. That is, for those who accept that marriage as an institution is truly the foundation of society, divorce is a messy business.

So, for the family values crowd - both the secular and religious arguments suggest that divorce, not homosexuality or "gay marriage," should be your top priority. Why isn't it?


Are we there yet?

Senator Sassy

Good for Daschle:

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) came under fire from a fellow Republican Tuesday who faulted him for his handling of a gun liability bill.

The bill was soundly defeated after a series of procedural moves by Democrats on the day their presidential standard-bearer returned from the campaign trail.

“It was not our finest hour,” freshman Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) said of the controversial bill. It was defeated 90-8 after Democrats successfully added amendments to extend the assault-weapons ban and close the so-called gun show “loophole” and its chief sponsor turned against his own bill.


Another GOP aide said that in the past year, Daschle had grown increasingly “sassy and spanky,” adding, “We’ll just deal with it.” The aide said Republicans tried to persuade Democrats to agree to limit the number of amendments on the bill but “we were turned down.

Thursday is New Jobless Day!

Congratulations to the 342K new jobless and the 2K we missed last week! Lucky Duckies every one!

About the number which maintains the status quo in the labor market.

211 422 Marriages in Portland

The roundup of news can be found here.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Kramer vs. Keller

Kramer to Keller (and others):


Mr. Arthur Sulzberger, Jr.
The New York Times
229 West 43rd Street
New York, NY 10036

Dear Mr. Sulzberger,

I am writing to protest the Times' ridiculous dismissal of Jay Blotcher, who was an upstate stringer for you, because he had once been a member of ACT UP. According to reporting on this incident in the Gay City News of February 26th, Susan Edgerley, the Times' metropolitan editor said, "I am setting the bar high to protect against any appearance of conflict of
nterest that might result through the hiring of stringers and leg-people. My motivation is expediency as well as ethics." What kind of gobbledegook is this? Both Ms. Estridge and Jay's editor, Lew Serviss, stated under questioning by Jay and Duncan Osborne who wrote the Gay City News piece:, [Jay's] name was recognized as someone in ACT UP." What kind of McCarthy-type of blacklisting is this?

Blotcher is a well-known writer for gay publications. He is a fine and honorable man, much loved by those who know him, without a mean or spiteful or vindictive or vengeful bone in his body. Jay was praised by his Times editors and given increasingly more assignments. The stories he did write had nothing to do with AIDS or gay. Please explain to me where the conflict of interest lies? He has no current political or activist affiliations. So where is the conflict of interest? Or unethical behavior?

Indeed, what kind of conflict of interest is being a member of ACT UP so many years ago? ACT UP was an activist organization that excited the participation of many many people, both gay and straight, at a time when gay men were literally dying like flies. There are still a number of
members of your staff who fall into this catetgory of early ACT UP participants. Perhaps Ms. Edgerley would like me to provide her with the names of these Times staffers so she can fire them too for conflict of interest, providing they are still alive, which one of the best-known Times ACT UPpers, Jeffrey Schmalz, is not. You do not dismiss Larry Altman from writing for you because of conflict of interest; he writes about the CDC all the time and he once worked for them. Bernard Weinraub writes about Hollywood and his wife heads Columbia Pictures. Talk about conflict of interest. Indeed I have written for your newspaper and your magazine a number of times and no one appeared to find my contributions unethical.
Indeed, just what kind of "ethics" is Ms. Edgerley referring to? I would sincerely like to know. And so should you. Yes, it all smacks very much of McCarthy-type blacklisting to me.

It is a goodly number of years since gay people considered, quite rightly, the New York Times our enemy, for your unconscionable refusal to write about us in any but the most hateful of ways, and for so long, and for your wretched, shameful early lack of coverage of AIDS. And, yes, among other actions, we marched on your father's Fifth Avenue apartment. Since then the world has changed and the Times, thank goodness, has changed, much of this due to your own fine self. To punish now, at this late date, a member of an organization that is now almost moribund strikes me as unconscionable behavior on the part of the Times, all over again.

Perhaps you could investigate and enlighten me on just what is going on here. We are not talking about a full-time or staff writer here. We are talking about an upstate stringer! If the budget of the Times could no longer support his meager income from you, then surely someone should just have fired him and said, "we can't afford you anymore." But to go through this "conflict of interest" and "ethics" stuff is a rather insensitive and possibly, if not defamatory, if not homophobic, if not discriminatory, then perhaps a little bit of each all rolled together into a rather stupid and inexplicable act on the part of someone on your paper.

If past, or indeed current, political affiliations are cause for dismissal, then perhaps you should revise your Times Code of Ethics accordingly or summarily dismiss the scores of NYT staffers who no doubt fit this bill.

And yes, I founded ACT UP. A long time ago. When we were all very young. No conflict of interest on this end.

I look forward to hearing from you.


Larry Kramer

Keller to Kramer:

Dear Mr. Kramer,

Arthur sent me your letter about Jay Blotcher for a reply.
As you undoubtedly know, this paper went through some misery last year that has caused us to undertake a conscientious review of our standards and practices. In keeping with that, our new Metro editor began a review of our stringer list to make sure our policies on conflicts of interest were in force. We employ dozens of stringers at Metro -- although "employ" exaggerates the nature of the relationship, since most of them work only occasionally. (Mr. Blotcher, since joining the list in 2001, has filed four stories and contributed legwork on three others.)
In the review of the stringer list, Mr. Blotcher attracted attention not because of his membership in anti-AIDS organizations, but because of his work as a press spokesman and a public relations consultant. He was, for a time, the public face of Act Up. Although he is no longer in that role, his work was recent enough that we worry he is identified in the public mind as an advocate. (He is certainly remembered as such by editors and reporters at The Times.) Please understand, I have no problem with Mr. Blotcher working for Act Up, and intend no suggestion that he is anything but an honorable man. But we try to avoid employing people who are identified with a cause, because it creates the possibility that readers may wonder if their copy is written in pursuit of that cause. That would be true if he had been a spokesman for the N.R.A., the N.R.D.C., or the A.A.R.P.
Paradoxical as it may seem, the problem created by a history of public advocacy is somewhat easier to avoid in the case of a full-time staffer. Reporters on staff get a lot of management attention, and we get pretty much all of their attention. We can steer reporters away from subjects that may be problematic. But we don't have sufficient editing staff to keep such close tabs on stringers, so our best opportunity to vet them is when we decide whether or not to include them on our stringer list. Particularly after the experience of last year, we are trying to err on the side of caution.
You may argue that we are being excessively fastidious. But the notion that this is some kind of homophobic witch hunt is just wrong.

Regards, Bill Keller

Kramer to Keller:

to bill keller:

dear mr keller. thank you for such a swift response to my letter of concern over the firing of jay blotcher, one of your stringers, for supposed conflict of interest. while i hear your concern for due diligence over your employees' mindsets, i must say that i find the exercise of them in this particular case to have been amazingly petty.

it is difficult to recognize or believe that you exercise much attention to your full time staff as you suggest. to cite but one example, here are a few details about your chief medical correspondent Lawrence Altman's past and current relationships with the Centers for Disease Control, among others. It should be pointed out tha the CDC is never criticized in your paper. It should be pointed out that it is irrefutable that the CDC is eminently worthy of extreme criticism. It is a sorry place and the public heath of this country suffers mightily because of it, and has done for decades:

Altman graduated from the CDC's Epidemic Intelligence Service, class of '63, and then served as an EIS investigator for the agency.

In 2001 he recounted in an article for the Times, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the EIS, of his time in 1963 investigating, as an EIS officer, an outbreak of botulism in Tennessee. [4]

Altman also served as editor of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report for three years in the 1960s. [5]

After leaving the CDC, he eventually became chief of the U.S. Public Health Service's Division of Epidemiology and Immunization in Washington. [6]

Altman has for several years also served as an advisor to the National Foundation for the CDC, a nonprofit advocacy organization created by Congress in 1992 that began operating in 1995 with a $500,000 grant from the federal government. The foundation receives $500,000 annually from Congress to carry out its mission, while the bulk of its operating budget comes from public and corporate donations. [7]

The 2001 annual report for the foundation reveals Altman made a donation to the organization, though the amount was not disclosed in the report. [8]

Currently, Altman is on the CDC foundation's journalism fellowship advisory board. He receives no compensation from this foundation. His colleagues include representatives from ABC News, CNN and the Los Angeles Times. [9]

Altman presently sits on the board of directors of the Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation of New York, a philanthropic health care and education charity that owns substantial shares of stock in pharmaceutical and medical technology firms, such as Abbott Laboratories, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Merck, Pfizer and Schering Plough. [10]

According to the IRS 990 return for the Macy Foundation, part of Altman's contact information is the Times' address and his direct phone number at the paper. [11]

Altman has been a member of the Macy Foundation board since 1985.

Why does your paper not view any of this as a conflict of interest and yet fire an upstate stringer just because he places a few press releases for some gay organizations? it doesn't sound as if Dr. Altman gets any "management attention" at all.

as far as being identified with a cause, as jay is certainly and honorably identified with gay causes, it seems to me i have seen various sulzberger names on many appeals from a number of jewish organzations.


Memories of George

From a former professor:

At Harvard Business School, thirty years ago, George Bush was a student of mine. I still vividly remember him. In my class, he declared that "people are poor because they are lazy." He was opposed to labor unions, social security, environmental protection, Medicare, and public schools. To him, the antitrust watch dog, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Securities Exchange Commission were unnecessary hindrances to "free market competition." To him, Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal was "socialism." Recently, President Bush's Federal Appeals Court Nominee, California's Supreme Court Justice Janice Brown, repeated the same broadside at her Senate hearing. She knew that her pronouncement would please President Bush and Karl Rove and their Senators. President Bush and his brain, Karl Rove, are leading a radical revolution of destroying all the democratic political, social, judiciary, and economic institutions that both Democrats and moderate Republicans had built together since Roosevelt's New Deal.

(via Bad Attitudes)

Good People

Slacktivist tells us about Joe Hoeffel.

Firefighters Speak Out


WASHINGTON, March 3 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, AFL-CIO (IAFF), Harold Schaitberger, issued the following statement today after President Bush unveiled new political ads that use images of fire fighters in September 11, 2001 attacks for political gain:

-- As Bush Trades on Heroism of Fire Fighters, His Homeland Security Funding Cuts Hurt Fire Fighters and Communities --

"I'm disappointed but not surprised that the President would try to trade on the heroism of those fire fighters in the September 11 attacks. The use of 9/11 images are hypocrisy at its worst. Here's a President that initially opposed the creation of the Department of Homeland Security and now uses its first anniversary as cause to promote his re-election. Here is a President that proposed two budgets with no funding for FIRE Act grants and still plays on the image of America's bravest. His advertisements are disgraceful.

"Bush is calling on the biggest disaster in our country's history, and indeed in the history of the fire service, to win sympathy for his campaign. Since the attacks, Bush has been using images of himself putting his arm around a retired FDNY fire fighter on the pile of rubble at ground zero. But for two and a half years he has basically shortchanged fire fighters and the safety of our homeland by not providing fire fighters the resources needed to do the job that America deserves.

"The fact is Bush's actions have resulted in fire stations closing in communities around the country. Two-thirds of America's fire departments remain under-staffed because Bush is failing to enforce a new law that was passed with bipartisan support in Congress that would put more fire fighters in our communities. President Bush's budget proposes to cut Homeland Security Department funding for first responders by $700 million for next year and cuts funding for the FIRE Act, a grant program that helps fire departments fund equipment needs, 33 percent by $250 million. In addition, state and local programs for homeland security purposes were reduced $200 million.

"We're going to be aggressive and vocal in our efforts to ensure that the citizens of this country know about Bush's poor record on protecting their safety and providing for the needs of the people who are supposed to respond in an emergency."


Corporate Governance

This isn't something I know much about, but I have a simple question - is there any justification whatsover for having one person be both Chairman and CEO? That is, is there any possible reason that we would expect such an arrangement to benefit the interests of shareholders?

Question raised in light of Michael Eisner being ousted as Chairman.

Ben Nighthorse Campbell Retiring


It's a shame Udall or Hart hadn't thrown their hats into the ring.

On Giving

I just want to make a couple of comments on giving money. First, I want to reiterate that buying an ad doesn't guarantee that I'll encourage everyone to give money to a candidate. Of course, when people place ads they get my attention the same way they may get yours.

Second, when it comes to deciding which candidates I think it's important to give to, the primary consideration is --- can they win? I'm not in the mood to give, or encourage others to give, to lost causes.

Third, once the primaries are over, the Democratic candidates are who the Democratic candidates are... Whoever they are, we're stuck with them. Starting about now, complaining that they're less than pure is really just a waste of time.

Fourth, in plenty of districts and states there is little chance that the "ideal Democrat," as defined by the typical Eschaton reader, is going to win. This isn't just true of hotbeds of Republican activity, this is also true in plenty of fairly evenly split districts where both candidates are chasing after the moderates. While when it comes to presidential politics I think that the quest to woo the "swing voter" is an overrated one which gets too much attention, in many smaller local races it's very real. Sure, it's true that truly charismatic leaders can pull people over to their side if even they have big disagreements, but let's face it - most people just don't have that ability.

Ideally, I'll focus my attention on winnable races which have candidates I like the most, which is some subset of the set of winnable races. But, even that's a somewhat relative concept - relative to the make up of the district or state in which they're campaigning. And, it'll take me awhile to figure out who those people are. I'm not going to be a big fan of people who capitulate to the Republicans more than they have to in order to get elected. But, let's face it, in some places they're going to have to give some ground on some issues and we shouldn't necessarily judge them too harshly. An Alaska Democrat is not the same creature as a New York Democrat, and nor can we expect them to be.

The goal is to have 50%+1 in both Houses of people who will vote for a Democrat for the leadership positions. Should you support a Jim Traficant Democrat or Zell Miller Democrat? As I wrote to someone in email, I'd support Ted Nugent for Congress as long as I were convinced that once there he'd vote for Nancy Pelosi for Speaker. On the other hand, we have limited resources and giving abilities, so of course you should support whoever the hell you want to support. But, the key is to give what you can - be willing to give to people who have a shot at winning, even if they're less than perfect.

...Kos provides some more perspective.

They Get Letters

LA Times:

I am a high school teacher and the daughter of Holocaust survivors. Monday morning, Period 1, a student, age 17, comes into my room. She asks me if I had seen the film "The Passion."

I answer, "No."

She continues, "It was so sad. I cried so much. I hate the Jews."

Very, very sadly, that tells the whole story, Mr. Gibson.

Anna Paikow

Los Angeles


I was actually about to be a good evenhanded liberal and write a post similar to Calpundit's highlighting the fact that things "seem a bit better" in Iraq. At the very least, February was the month with the fewest deaths of American servicemen/women since this whole ridiculous thing began. But, things are also really horrible in Iraq. The death toll from the latest round of bombings is currently at 271. That's a big damn number.

Politically Incorrect

Can we stop calling people who are obviously total unapologetic racists "politically incorrect." Please?

I expect that one of these days we'll be reading about "David Duke, the politically incorrect one-time candidate for governor of Louisiana..."

The Magic Bullet

All of those who think that Arlen Specter has been in the senate too long, raise your hands. Okay, it's unanimous. Joe Hoeffel is running against him, and he definitely can win.

There's a Republican primary challenger to Specter, and he's nuttier than Santorum. Though Specter will likely triumph, his opponent Toomey is getting a lot of support from Republicans, including Grover's Moore's Club for Growth. Many Republicans in the state don't think Arlen's pure enough, and with a little luck they won't bother holding their nose and pulling the lever in November. more thing. Specter has raised over $8.5 million for the primary challenge alone. Needless to say, Hoeffel hasn't raised that much.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Cheney Endorses Kerrynomics

Claims Kerry policies would lead to higher, possibly even non-negative, job growth.

Sadly, Hell No!

Any time Crazy Andy gets near statistics, he's bound to make an ass of himself. You'd think a bit of time at Harvard's JFK School would teach people a bit more.

Dean Wins Vermont!

Time for the final Yawp!

But, seriously, Edwards is apparently out and, so, barring the sudden appearance of Kerry-With-Santorum-On-Dog pictures, Kerry's our man.

Time for the congratulatory donation.

Arrest the Gropenfuhrer

Sounds like a violation of election laws to me.

Open Thread

Busy. Discuss amongst yourselves.

Taking Back Congress

Conventional Wisdom in the media, and sadly among many in the Democratic Party who seem to have grown comfortable with their "loser" status, is that it would be impossible for the Democrats to take back Congress. Frankly, I don't understand this. Yes, I understand the power of incumbency. Yes, I understand the negative hit we took on redistricting. And, yes, I understand that there are only 40ish truly competitive seats in the House, give or take.

But, it's time for to put our game faces on and go out and win this thing. Do I think we inevitably will? Of course not. But, I think that right now the wind is blowing our way. And, the fact is that there are plenty of seats we can win. The fact is, also, that we are at a serious financial disadvantage.

I know many of you, for understandable reasons, prefer to give directly to candidates. I know people have a sense that if the give to "the party," it just gets swallowed up into the black hole. But, today I'd like to encourage you to donate to either the DSCC or DCCC.

Part of this political game is strategery. The Republicans generally know how much money a candidate has raised, how much they're spending on media buys, etc. They can adjust their emphasis accordingly. The wild card is the outside funding. In the final weeks of a campaign, especially, the DCCC and DSCC can swoop down and drop an extra ton of money to try and get a particular candidate elected. They therefore have the power to help shake things up and turn things around in a way which can't always be anticipated by the other side. It keeps them on their toes.

This kind of outside expenditure is much more important than people realize. And, of course, the other side does it too. To remain competitive, and to have the ability to mount strategic attacks and have effective defenses, these organizations need to have a war chest.

So, you know what to do.



The Opposition to Homosexuality

Paul Cameron, who is regulated cited as an authority by anti-gay bigots, sums up his concerns about homosexuality:

"Untrammeled homosexuality can take over and destroy a social system," says Cameron. "If you isolate sexuality as something solely for one's own personal amusement, and all you want is the most satisfying orgasm you can get- and that is what homosexuality seems to be-then homosexuality seems too powerful to resist. The evidence is that men do a better job on men and women on women, if all you are looking for is orgasm." So powerful is the allure of gays, Cameron believes, that if society approves that gay people, more and more heterosexuals will be inexorably drawn into homosexuality. "I'm convinced that lesbians are particularly good seducers," says Cameron. "People in homosexuality are incredibly evangelical," he adds, sounding evangelical himself. "It's pure sexuality. It's almost like pure heroin. It's such a rush. They are committed in almost a religious way. And they'll take enormous risks, do anything." He says that for married men and women, gay sex would be irresistible. "Marital sex tends toward the boring end," he points out. "Generally, it doesn't deliver the kind of sheer sexual pleasure that homosexual sex does" So, Cameron believes, within a few generations homosexuality would be come the dominant form of sexual behavior.

I couldn't have said it better if I were trying to write an over-the-top parody of these people.

Krugman on Greenspan

Greenspan really did step out of bounds. It's time for him to go.

You see, although the rest of the government is running huge deficits — and never did run much of a surplus — the Social Security system is currently taking in much more money than it spends. Thanks to those surpluses, the program is fully financed at least through 2042. The cost of securing the program's future for many decades after that would be modest — a small fraction of the revenue that will be lost if the Bush tax cuts are made permanent.

And the reason Social Security is in fairly good shape is that during the 1980's the Greenspan commission persuaded Congress to increase the payroll tax, which supports the program.

The payroll tax is regressive: it falls much more heavily on middle- and lower-income families than it does on the rich. In fact, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates, families near the middle of the income distribution pay almost twice as much in payroll taxes as in income taxes. Yet people were willing to accept a regressive tax increase to sustain Social Security.

Now the joke's on them. Mr. Greenspan pushed through an increase in taxes on working Americans, generating a Social Security surplus. Then he used that surplus to argue for tax cuts that deliver very little relief to most people, but are worth a lot to those making more than $300,000 a year. And now that those tax cuts have contributed to a soaring deficit, he wants to cut Social Security benefits.

The point, of course, is that if anyone had tried to sell this package honestly — "Let's raise taxes and cut benefits for working families so we can give big tax cuts to the rich!" — voters would have been outraged. So the class warriors of the right engaged in bait-and-switch.

Monday, March 01, 2004

We Knew This Was Coming

From Baylor:

Baylor spokesman Larry Brumley says the paper's views do not represent the vast majority of the school's 14,000 students and 100,000 alumni, not to mention its administration, faculty, staff, and board of regents. He says the Waco-based school is outraged over the editorial -- but the students will not necessarily be fired from the newspaper.

"Our student handbook is very clear that homosexual acts are treated with the same disciplinary proceedings as adultery and fornication and other types of sexual sin," he says. "More importantly in this case, what we're dealing with here is an advocacy of a matter that is really outside of traditional Christian teaching."

According to Brumley, the Student Publications Board will be convening in the next few days to discuss what if any punishments will be meted out against the paper's editorial staff. He adds that he is not sure whether the editorial was triggered by the school's recent decision to revoke the financial aid for a homosexual seminary student.

More Like This, Please


The 58-year-old state representative from Richland Township opposes abortion and gun control. He backs small government and tax cuts.

A member of a fundamentalist church, he includes a verse of Scripture on his business card and participates in a Bible-study group for state legislators.

One would be hard-pressed to find a more unlikely advocate for gay rights.

Yet Wenke plans to be one of perhaps only two House Republicans voting against putting on the November ballot a Marriage Protection Amendment, which would change Michigan's constitution to ban gay marriage.

And he is opposing the bill, he said, out of a long-held and deeply felt belief that discrimination against homosexuals violates democratic principles and his Christian values.

"I kept quiet when African-Americans were facing discrimination," he said. "There have been too many people who have been discriminated against in my lifetime, and this time I'm not going to sit quietly while somebody is being mistreated.

"This is a matter of conscience. There's nothing in it for me."

He said his vote "will hurt me personally," and it already has.

Two Sundays ago, while Wenke and his wife were attending services at Richland Bible Church, the parking lot was blanketed with leaflets informing church members of Wenke's opposition to the Marriage Protection Amendment and urging them to take Wenke to task.


He offers quotes from the Bible to support his point that the Scripture is even more condemning of divorce than homosexuality. Yet divorced and remarried couples are now welcomed at even fundamentalist churches, he said. Likewise, he said, many denominations, including Christian Reformed, have moved beyond the Biblical teaching against women speaking in church.

While he supports the new role of women in the church and greater acceptance of divorce, he said, it shows how "we Christians have decided that parts of the Bible don't apply to us anymore."

"So if we can put aside the teachings on women, on divorce, on the Sabbath -- and those are all things that we choose -- then why not on homosexuality, when we don't choose our sexual orientation?" Wenke said.

"Why can't we be as kind and generous in interpreting the Bible for homosexuals as we are for ourselves?"


We May Not Have Taken Him At Gun Point...

...(or we may have), but once again "regime change" was clearly policy.

How many people died in the last few weeks for Otto Reich's wet dreams.

Council of Elders

What happened to the nice smooth constitutional process.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States scrambled on Monday to create a "council of elders" to run Haiti, organize early elections and disarm rebels after Washington pressured President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to quit in the face of a deadly revolt, a U.S. official said.
"There's going to be a tripartite commission, made up of the opposition, the government and the international community, who will form a sort of 'council of elders,"' said a State Department official, who asked not to be named.

I hope I'm wrong, but this is looking stinkier and stinkier...


According to Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Aristide claims that the US essentially kidnapped him and forced him out of the country, and that he never resigned. Now, I have no idea what happened, but when a sitting Congresswoman makes such a claim you'd think it would get a little more coverage.

...Jeffrey Sachs has a few words.

....from CNN:

(CNN) -- U.S. forces abducted Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, according to an African-American activist who said he had spoken with Aristide.

Randall Robinson said that Aristide told him he was being held "incommunicado" in the Central African Republic.
"Tell the world that it's a coup," Robinson said he was told by Aristide.
In response, the White House issued a statement denying the claim.
"I'm afraid that version of events is not based on fact," the statement said. "The fact is, he resigned. He signed a letter of resignation."

The claim is "absolutely false," concurred Parfait Mbaye, the communications minister for the Central African Republic, where Aristide and his wife were taken.

The minister told CNN that Aristide had been granted permission to land in the country after Aristide himself -- as well as the U.S. and French governments -- requested it.

But the office of Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., told CNN Waters also spoke with Aristide Monday and he told her he had been kidnapped.

Robinson told CNN, "President Aristide called me on a cell phone that had been smuggled into his room. He's being held in a small room in Bangui, Central African Republic, with his wife and sister's husband. The room has no telephone."

Aristide's lawyer, Ira Kurzman, told a similar story at a news conference in Miami. Kurzman said the story originated with the groundskeepers and housekeepers at Aristide's home.


Q: Is the Sec Gen under the impression that Mr Aristide left he country of his own volition.
Eckhard: He chose not to comment on the President's departure. The President resigned. There is a procedure in the Haitian Const for the resignation of the President. And the power passed to the Chief Just as called for in the Const. I think we are now looking forward to see how we could carry out the Const provisions for elections to put in a new government. I think the Xonst says that should happen within three months.

Eckhard: I mean, he resigned, that's a fact


Bob Herbert is one of those people who seems to waste too many columns floundering around aimlessly and passionless. But, occasionally, he finds an issue, makes it his own, and provides an eloquent and impassioned voice on it. He's there right now.

I find a special irony in the high level of opposition among blacks to gay marriage.

When the U.S. Supreme Court, in the deliciously titled Loving v. Virginia case, finally ruled that laws prohibiting interracial marriage were unconstitutional, 16 states, including Virginia, still had such laws on the books. That was in 1967, at the height of the war in Vietnam and three years after the Beatles had launched their spectacular assault on American-style rock 'n' roll.

In the Loving case a mixed-race married couple was charged with violating Virginia's Racial Integrity Act. The judge who sentenced the couple wrote:

"Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangements there would be no cause for [interracial] marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix."

Now we're told that he doesn't want gays to marry. That there is something unnatural about the whole idea of men marrying men and women marrying women. That it's abhorrent to much of the population, just as interracial marriages were (and to many, still are) abhorrent.

We need to get a grip.

Sunday, February 29, 2004

Arrest the Gropenfuhrer

For violation of the Cuban Assets Control Regulation.

Rule of law! Rule of law!

oscar thread

in case you care,

Uncle Alan

Calpundit gives us the legacy of Alan "Hack" Greenspan.

Rudy Surprise

There are tons of Rudy for Veep trial alloons floating around the media. Would Bush really replace Cheney with the twice divorced, pro choice, pro gay Rudy? Hard to know...

Claims that Aristide Was Taken

Truth is always the first casualty in these situations, but the Australian press is reporting that one man claims US troops forced Aristide from his home.

HAITIAN leader Jean Bertrand Aristide was taken away from his home by US soldiers, it was claimed today.

A man who said he was a caretaker for the now exiled president told France's RTL radio station the troops forced Aristide out.

"The American army came to take him away at two in the morning," the man said.

"The Americans forced him out with weapons.

"It was American soldiers. They came with a helicopter and they took the security guards.

Take all the reporting on Haiti with many grains of salt...

...just one more comment. I've been scouring the news reports looking for information, and I'm just totally puzzled by the lack of mention of bodies and bloodshed. We have armed rebels moving through the country, but there's scant mention of actual violence. It's weird.


Kudos to Mark Dayton for coming out against the FMA, though his description of the amendment as being "unconstitutional" isn't really correct. What it does, like any amendment, is change the constitution. In theory, we could pass an amendment which repealed the first ten amendments, eradicating the Bill of Rights.

But, the general point behind the poorly-worded description is, I believe, that such an amendment would potentially have the impact of not simply enshrining marriage rights discrimination into the constitution, but also opening the door to more widespread discrimination. The amendment as written forbids not just marriage, but the "legal incidences thereof." While many have rightly commented on the fact that this would also destroy any kind of Civil Union legislation, I fear it would be much more sweeping than that. At a first pass, it could easily be interpreted as wiping out any kind of domestic partnership benefits. It could open the door to striking down housing anti-discrimination statutes if one were to interpret "cohabitation"as one of the legal incidences of marriage. It could overturn adoption rights legislation. etc... etc... The FMA wouldn't simply remove "gay marriage" in name only, nor would it simply strike down the possibility for marriage-by-another-name "Civil Unions" legislation. It could conceivably overturn a plethora of civil rights advances that gay Americans have achieved over the last couple of decades.

Time For a Drink

Elisabeth Bumiller of the New York "NO AIDS AWARENESS ACTIVISTS ALLOWED" Times asked the candidates if God was on America's side.

I can't take this shit.

...oddly, the New York Times has no trouble employing female sexual dysfunction awareness activists. Not that I have a problem with that either, but there does seem to be a wee bit of inconsistency here.

Good Terrorists, Bad Terrorists

I know little about how good or bad Aristide is. I know little about how good or bad his successor is likely to be, relatively speaking. I know little about what's going on in that country.

But, what I do know is how, when it comes to foreign policy, it is rather frightening how quickly our American media parrots the official Washington line, even when it quite obviously contradicts our entire foreign policy of the past few years.

Judy Woodruff on CNN:

JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE: Actually, we have terrorists, criminals with weapons burning police stations, killing people in some areas like Gonaives, Cap-Haitien, while here, in Port- au-Prince, people are anxious because they don't know when those terrorists will be coming to Port-au-Prince and kill thousands of people. That's why we are eager to see an international force coming to Haiti, increasing the number of the police who are already in Haiti to disarm those terrorists while the opposition should sign an agreement. And with humanitarian assistance, the situation, of course, will become better.

WOODRUFF: You call them terrorists, but others looking at this situation say these are political opponents of yours. And there are people both in and outside your country, people who have been very friendly to Haiti, who say that you are a large part of the reason that these political opponents have turned against you. How do you answer them?

Aside from the merits or demerits of Aristide, aside from the issue of the legitimacy or illegitimacy of his presidency, and aside from whether or not, in the grand scheme of things, his ouster is a good or bad thing (I really have no opinion on any of these things)...

It is utterly incredible that a US newscaster would refer to an army of rebel thugs who have been blasting their way through the country, killing I don't know how many, as "political opponents."

Aristide's departure may indeed stop the violence. It may be, practical terms, the best way to achieve that. It was, nonetheless, giving into the demands of terrorists who have been granted legitimacy by our mainstream media.

I also don't know the truth or fiction of claims that we backed the rebels, but I'm increasingly having a hard time not suspecting that we did.

(via Body and Soul)


This article about Harvard changing their aid policy is enlightening for a few reasons. First, it tells us that 73.9% of Harvard students come from families earning over $80,250 per year. That means 73.9% of students come from the top 25% of household incomes.

But, even more enlightening I thought was this bit of insight into the administration's attitude:

At Harvard, the idea of eliminating the parental contribution grew out of focus groups with lower-income students last fall. University officials found that many of the students were paying some or all of their parents' share themselves.

This was news to them? It was news that some poor students had to earn extra income to cover the portion of the tuition payment that their parents were supposed to cover under the aid formula? How clueless could they be?

One doesn't have to go to the most elite institutions to get a great education or to achieve great heights in any segment of society, but one can't deny that in plenty of areas it opens doors over and above what one would expect if the benefits were simply the higher quality of education.

Martha Acquitted

It's a small thing, but just another example of our dumb media that can't get things right. The judge in the Stewart case didn't "throw out a charge," as has been commonly stated in the media. She found her Not Guilty on the charge of securities fraud.


This is unbelievable. Why does this kind of bigotry go mostly unchallenged? Mike Barnicle referred to two Academy Award nominated actors as "terrorists." Guess why.