Saturday, February 26, 2005

Open Thread

Saturday night.

Cousin Oliver Joins Bamboozelpalooza

David Johnson explains.


(no, I don't know how this post got here)

Poor Guckert

The Editors on Guckert.

Open Thread

Have fun.

Bobo's World


The would-be teen mother arrived by ambulance last May, her womb empty, belly bruised and lips tightly sealed.

The twin fetuses that 16-year-old Erica Basoria carried for five months had slipped into the bathroom toilet while her boyfriend and his family slept. They awoke to her cries and called 911.

Basoria had bruises on her eye, arm and wrist, so authorities assumed she had been beaten. Her boyfriend, 18-year-old Gerardo "Jerry" Flores, was charged with murder under the state's new law protecting the unborn.

But it wasn't that simple. Basoria eventually told authorities she had been trying to kill her unborn sons for weeks and finally asked Flores to step on her stomach.

"When I was four months pregnant, I began to show, and at that time I decided that I should have gotten an abortion," Basoria wrote in an affidavit.

The Texas law, like many others across the nation, bans prosecution of mothers because they have a legal right to end pregnancies. So Basoria can't be charged. That fact has attorneys on both sides questioning the fairness of a statute that considers one person's crime another person's constitutional right.

7 Years

Josh Marshall addresses the latest hooey being peddled by Republican liars and their media enablers. Check your facts, journalists. This isn't rocket science.

I addressed the same issue at Media Matters here and here (and, no, I don't mean that in a "I was there first!" sense, just adding to the discussion).

Morning Thread

Have fun.

Creature Double Feature


Friday, February 25, 2005

Friday Night

Play nice.

Friday Cat Blogging

Problems for DeLay?

Pass the popcorn...


Long history of scamming old people (May 15, 1992, St. Petersburg Times)

Direct mail companies are using official-looking letters and false claims about threats to Social Security to scare senior citizens into sending them money, a congressional committee was told Thursday.

Though the Social Security Administration has stopped about 50 direct-mail organizations from sending misleading advertisements, other mass mailers and deceptive advertisers continue operating on the fringe of the law, witnesses told the committee.

Indiana Rep. Andy Jacobs, chairman of the House Ways and Means subcommittee on Social Security, summed up the situation by paraphrasing a country and western song: "They say "send your money to God,' but they give you their address."

Gwendolyn King, commissioner of Social Security, knows of the problem firsthand. Shortly after her father-in-law died, her mother-in-law received a letter offering her a $ 10,000 death benefit because Social Security wasn't offering enough. "It's just a cruel charade placed on Americans who don't need or deserve it," King told the committee.

Like much of the misleading mail, the letter to King's mother-in-law had an eagle on it to make it look official. Congress prohibited the companies from creating a false impression that they are affiliated with the Social Security Administration, but witnesses said Thursday that the law's $ 5,000 fine needs to be increased.

Letters from a group calling itself "Seniors Coalition" and another calling itself "United Seniors Association" that claim Congress has spent the Social Security Trust Fund.

"The politicians in Washington have stolen the Social Security Trust Fund. That's right. Every penny is gone " United Seniors wrote in a letter over the signature of former Sen. George L. Murphy. Murphy died recently.

Both letters ask recipients to send money.

Congressional investigators believe the two groups are tied to conservative fund-raiser Richard Viguerie. A tax return obtain by the investigators says one of the groups received more than $ 9-million in 1990.

Who Is a Part of USA Next?

Here's one of the delightful little scamps:

J. Curtis Herge, Corporate Counsel. Herge is an attorney with the McLean law firm Herge Sparks & Christopher. He incorporated the "New York Institute for Law and Justice" for Donald Trump to surreptitiously lobby against Indian gaming interests. He incorporated "The Committee For Justice For Holocaust Victims" to attack Florida Senator Bill Nelson "as weak on the rights of Holocaust survivors" on behalf of an Italian insurance company "then under attack by Nelson and others who charged it owed Holocaust victims'
families as much as $ 1 billion in unpaid claims." Herge has a long record of creating benign sounding non-profits to level vicious attacks at Democrats. Herge was also a bit player in Iran Contra, representing one of Carl "Spitz" Channell's front groups, an Oliver North intermediary with the contras, and eventually serving as trustee for North's legal defense fund after the scandal broke.

Get hired to attack a senator for being "weak on the rights of Holocaust survivors" by an insurance company that is desperately trying to... deny claims to Holocaust survivors.

Lovely folks.

They Write Letters

skippy writes to the LA Times.


Sorry to link to Josh again, but one of the SS Trustees has become advisor and spokesman for a pro-privatization group?

They don't even pretend to pretend anymore.

Easy Money

Josh Marshall writes:

I talk to various of Sen. Lieberman's political friends and we wonder between ourselves: What is it exactly? Is he just a man out of time now? Too stung by how the 2004 primaries went and just doesn't care what Dems think? Or maybe he thinks he's legislating for history here. A lot of folks who are generally in line with Lieberman, and like him, ended up not supporting him in the primaries because they worried not about his political views but about his political judgment. So the irony here is that he's displaying the same political tin ear and questionable judgment that kept many like-minded Dems from supporting him. And their very lack of support stung him so badly that it has accentuated those tendencies that kept them off the Joe team to begin with.

And remember, I'm not talking about John Sweeney or Andy Stern here. I'm talking about card-carrying New Dems.

Just this morning I was talking with some political players involved in the Social Security fight and they were wondering how quickly a few hundred thousand dollars of seed money could be raised to fund a decent primary opponent to run against Lieberman next year. And I have say, I think they could raise it pretty quickly.

Indeed. If there were credible people behind the effort, $250K could be raised online in a day.

USA Next

Read the Blogpac intelligence report.

Subpoena This

One thing that seems to be missing in the reporting about the Kansas AG's attempt to get the medical records of women and girls who have had abortions is why is he only focused on the sexual activities of teen girls? The laws in Kansas are gender neutral on this subject.

He claims he needs the evidence to prosecute potential child rape and illegal late term abortion cases, despite the fact that the subpoena has no age range and it isn't restricted by the existence or absence of abuse reports. He's claiming that "the children are not under any legal scrutiny" - but Kansas law criminalizes sexual contact with anyone who is under 16 even if the people are of similar ages. Note that this rather odd statute makes all such people who engage in sexual activity criminals, there is no predator/victim distinction - two 15 year olds screw, they're felons.

An abortion isn't the only potential evidence of illegal sexual activity. Getting pregnant at 15 is a crime even if you carry the child to term, if your partner is under 16. Why aren't they subpoenaing maternity ward records?

And, of course, what about the boys? As Kansas's STD reporting shows, there are lots of people under the age of 16, many presumably male, who have contracted these diseases. In 2003, the last year for which there's full data, for people 14 and under there were 121 cases of chlamydia, and 38 reported cases of Gonorrhea. 15 year olds are lumped in with the 15-19 group, so presumably that would add a few more cases. Why no subpoenas there?

(post edited a bit in substantial ways, major blogger headaches...)

Morning Thread

Have fun.

Get Your Dialing Fingers Ready

Tomorrow we'll have a fun "call an elected official!" event. I expect everyone to participate...

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Late Night

Geddy Lee of Rush vs. Tom Baker of Doctor Who.


Wankers of the Day



here (wanker of the year!)






Background Briefers

I wouldn't claim that there's never a place for background briefings, but there's no place for most of them and shame on the journalists who let it happen. Froomkin says:

Having waited a long time for the press corps to overtly revolt against this vile tradition, allow me to suggest another possibilty: What if White House reporters just started anonymously outing the anonymous briefers to bloggers? Just an idea.

Well, of course it's an excellent idea. And, it's happened at least once. And, Jack Shafer's been beating this drum for awhile.

Generally, there should be no anonymous sources in cases where those sources are simply pushing the official administration line. Period.

Evening Thread


Senator Anti-Choice

Yglesias muses on the subject of running anti-choice senatorial candidates. Let me play against type here and regarding the two examples -- PA and RI -- they're probably special cases.

In PA, the question isn't whether running an anti-choice Democrat in general is a good idea (it isn't - keep trying it, keep failing). The question is whether running an anti-choice Democrat named Casey is a good idea (by good idea we mean maximizing chance of beating Santorum, not any other considerations which are of course important). Casey's a popular politician with high statewide name recognition (in a state which lacks many politicians with such recognition), and his popularity or electability don't have all that much to do with his positions on abortion.

In RI, the situation is much the same. Jim Langevin is popular, and would probably clobber Chafee, who isn't.

The fact that they're anti-choice will probably get both of them crossover votes. But, on the other hand lots of RI Democrats would likely vote for Chafee and in PA lots of pro-choice people probably just would not vote.

I don't think running anti-choice candidates in PA and RI is a smart thing to do generally, but that's a separate question from whether its a smart thing to run anti-choice candidates named Casey and Langevin. It's the people, not the policies. be clear, I'm not making the argument that we need to run these people. I'm simply saying the reason consider running them is their personal popularity, not because of some need to embrace anti-choice politicians and policies. If the Dems are desperately hunting for anti-choice candidates to run in these places because they believe being anti-choice is a political winner, they're idiots. In these two states, however, I highly doubt that's the reason. Whether or not these two people are the ones who would be most likely to beat their opponents (IMHO: Langevin yes, but others could beat Chafee too, and Casey quite possibly not) is debatable, and of course other considerations apply

...obviously, I wasn't clear. Abigail writes "Atrios implies that it’s okay for the Democrats to support anti-choice candidates in the elections in RI and PA, because the more important fight is to defeat the Republicans." That's not what I meant to write or imply or anything else. All I'm saying is if the Dems are recruiting Casey and Langevin for Senate runs, it isn't because of some grander strategy to become the anti-choice party, it's because they can win. Whether or not that's "okay" is an entirely separate issue.

Just Curious

Does Slate actually pay people to write this stuff?

Stop Dancing

If they want to correct me they can contact me at and do so, but it appears that the good Senator from Connecticut and his staff are... how can I say this politely... completely full of shit.

Raw Story has this:

Lieberman’s spokeswoman Casey Aden Wansbury was careful to reflect the nuance in the senator’s position.

“He doesn’t support privatization as a carve-out plan that would jeopardize the benefits that people that people currently receive or add to the debt,” Aden Wansbury said.

She would not, however, rule out Lieberman’s support for private accounts if the plan would not jeopardize benefits of add to the national debt.

Lieberman “has said is he will consider reform that strengthens Social Security,” Aden Wansbury added. “He believes that if the obligation is to strengthen it. We have an obligation to look into options that will strengthen the program.”

“He is open to reforms,” she added. “He hasn’t closed his mind to all reforms.”

In other words, if Holy Joe adopts the up-is-down free lunch fake economics of the Bush administration, he can support the Bush plan. All Holy Joe needs to do is buy into the "we're not adding to the debt in the long run, we're just prepaying!" bullshit that's being peddled by Bush's con men and he's on board.

Wrong Guy

Apparently conservatives voted for the wrong guy.

BoBo's World


WICHITA, Kan. The attorney general of Kansas wants to know the detailed history of the sex lives of nearly 90 women who received late-term abortions.

Court documents show that Phill Kline wants to search the documents for evidence of crimes under laws that limit late-term abortions and require mandatory reporting of suspected child sexual abuse.

Under the order signed by a judge, the attorney general would get records that would include each patient's name, medical history, details of her sex life, birth control practices and psychological profile.

The Wichita Eagle says two medical clinics have asked the Kansas Supreme Court to intercede.

Santorum (R-VA)

People, it's a joke. Santorum doesn't really have a legit resident in PA - he lives in Virginia.


Continuing from yesterday's amusing email, there seems to be some amount of general disgruntlement throughout parts of the blogosphere about people receiving appropriate credit and recognition, some green-eyed monster sniping at the "big bloggers," some kvetching about the Koufax awards (the most transparent and open awards process in the universe - it's an excuse for community, people, not the Pulitzers), along with the usual mutterings that your Pet Issue isn't the #1 topic in the blogosphere, etc...

While fully acknowledging that nothing and no one is beyond criticism, that people have perfectly valid complaints about things, that with great power comes great responsibility, and that the world is not the perfect meritocracy we all imagine it to be, at some point I have to say - get the fuck over yourselves and ask yourselves why you're doing this.

I ran this blog a long time before I made a cent off of it. I never expected to make a cent off of it. I hoped to have an impact - but I've always been more than happy for people to steal my stuff. In the past I've happily encouraged writers/reporters/editors to take stuff without crediting me. There's still no better way to deligitimize a story in the mainstream press than to credit it to "some guy on the internet you've never heard of." Practically every time that happens it becomes a story about bloggers, rather than a story about the story - whatever it is. It's the collective small impacts I perceive this blog - and Left Blogistan generally - that I'm happy about, not for the most part the "scalps" or the "big stories bloggers unearth." My tendency is almost always to pull back on a story once it's "out there" rather than to jump all over it and try to make it my own. The satisfaction is in seeing the impact, not in getting credit.

I quite enjoy doing this and the interesting detour my life has taken, but being a "blog celebrity" isn't actually the glamorous thing some seem to imagine it to be. Aside from the fact that I spend an inordinate amount of time at my computer, not a glamorous way to spend one's time, my life is fairly normal. I haven't yet been invited to go to Vegas with Ben Affleck, and have rarely been seen hanging out with the "cool kids" of any stripe. Increasingly, even people who come to the weekly Drinking Liberally - ones who have found out about it through some source other than this blog - don't even know "who I am," and if told don't particularly care and aren't impressed.

The point is that this has never been about self-promotion, and while I'm extraordinarily grateful for all of the ways I've been compensated for doing this (financial and otherwise), it's never really been the motivation.

And, let me add to that the occasional advice to newer bloggers:

1) Don't send me an email saying "read my blog." I won't. If you want to get my interest, send me something interesting. If you have something interesting, it'll get noticed and linked. Have enough interesting things, people will start coming back on their own to look for it, and you'll have a larger regular readership.

2) What's interesting? Your opinion on stuff by itself isn't really interesting to anyone except your friends. If you're funny, or you write well, or you actually know something, or can make a good argument, or are good at unearthing interesting and relevant tidbits, that's interesting.

3) One things blogs do is act as news aggregators/filters and places for discussion. You may be an excellent news aggregator/filter, but that's a pretty crowded market. That's one place where being an early entrant helps. If you want to distinguish your blog, you need to have some additional interesting original content.

4) Don't create a spam list and send out every blog post to the list. We all get too much email. Send me something you think that I would be interested in. It's personal. I don't cover every issue under the sun. Nobody else does either.

5) Don't just focus on trying to get a link from me, or Kos, or Instapundit, or whatever. If you have something good, send it to blogs with somewhat less, but still decent traffic. They probably get less email than we do. s

6) Establishing a large regular readership takes a lot of time, no matter how brilliant and persistent you are. And, persistence is key. While some fairly popular bloggers post inconsistently, most people with a large regular readership post at least daily. People will click on your site more often if they think there's a good chance there will be something new to look at.


It's time for this site to offer even more exciting fun merchandise. You know, stuff that wasn't designed by the worst designer in the history of commercial design (me).

If anyone wants to submit some designs to go on mugs and t-shirts and whatnot I'd appreciate it. Don't be offended if I don't pick your design, and I think I have to say I'd technically "own" anything that I use. Though, I don't do the merchandise to make money -- I add a buck or two on top of cafe press's base price.

My preferences are for fairly simple -- if anyone comes up with a super cool logo that'd be great...

Morning Thread

Have fun.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005


Congrats to all the Koufax winners. I failed to win a single award this year, but nonetheless this is a happy time for me. The secret I've withheld from all of you is that I am actually the partner of Ibrahim al-Jaafari, and will therefore soon take my rightful place as The Queen of All Iraq. Screw you Judy Miller!

And, since I'm not a big enough person to let the winners bask in the warm glow of the spotlight, I must take this opportunity to remind people of the thousands and thousands of Koufax awards I've won previously. Well, okay, I think it was 3. But, the award I'm most proud of is the one I received for creating the most hilarious post in the history of blog posts. Even funnier than Jesse's parody of La Nooner. Even funnier than Poker with Dick Cheney. And, I might even claim, even funnier than Neal Pollack's A Man Wronged or his seminal Ow!

The bestest most funniest blog post ever was, of course, this:


I'm amused by the fact that Washington State GOPers want to split the state in two, but I'm curious about this assertion:

"I believe from my heart, mind and soul that Eastern Washington could survive beautifully without Western Washington," he said. "And I hope Western Washington feels just as I do, that we'd love to be on our own."

One Democrat from Western Washington does, and he's the lone member of his party listed as a sponsor on the measure.

Sen. Adam Kline, D-Seattle, said he believes Western Washington would benefit from a split in the state.

"I feel east and west have common cause here," he said.

While recognizing the political divide that angers the east side, Kline said financially, Western Washington would be better off without them because he said that side of the state gets more than its share of tax revenue.

"I would like as much as possible for revenue generated in Western Washington to stay in Western Washington," he said.

Is this true? Suburban and rural counties are always claiming that the cities are sucking them dry, but those claims generally aren't actually true. I know nothing about Washington, so I can't judge, but it's an assertion the reporter should've checked and put a number on.

Never mind. Suffering from coastal inversion syndrome. WEST is the decadent coastal enclaves. EAST is the rural inlands...

but, discuss the joys of splitting Washington nonetheless. East Washington and West Washington don't really sound right, and I assume neither would willingly give up the name. Maybe they can compromise on "Washington" for the coastal bit and "Eymania" for the rest.

Late Night

Have fun.

This Can't Be Real

And if it's real, it can't be legal...

...original post removed.

Open Thread

Have fun.

We Get Letters

Blobbidy blob blob blobbidy blob blob blob.

Since writing emails to you is obviously a waste of
time...I might as well write to you in gobbledy-gook.

Ron Brynaert (ron not fucking roy)

PS - I love the fucking way A.S. attributed my work
exposing Talon News as plagiarists of real news
organizations to the raw story...without mentioning media matters

i might still like your writing...but i am fucking
going to continue to attack you fuckers for the
unethical way you choose to operate...

you won't fucking link to matter what...will

and daily kos and media matters read an article by
John Byrne at Raw Story which CLEARLY fucking states
that I fucking discovered the plagiarism but received
SCANT ATTENTION because of fuckers like you...and I
still don't get deserved credit...

A lot of people are reading me now, Duncan (for the
first time I'm using your name). You have one last
fucking chance to realize that you are making a
mistake by being a fucking elitist douchebag...and
start giving links to smaller blogs like me...and
responding to your emails...or I am going to blog
about this.

I am not only going to blog about this...I am going to
circulate this e-mail through the blogosphere.
Including at your maybe you might want to
take down your haloscan for a couple of days
AGAIN...or ban my ip from doing so.


Ron Brynaert (ron not fucking roy) have 24 hours to respond to this in any way
you like...if you just fucking respond to a goddamned
email for once that I took the time to sent you...then
maybe we can not waste any more time on this...i can't
force you to link to me...even though my work has
resulted in congressional action....but I deserve a

You fuckers play a nice little ignore
criticism because you don't want to give the people
who criticize you any attention...

That makes you worse than the right-leaning bloggers.
When I (or other smaller bloggers like tas at ) blog about the biggest of the right
wingers they at least have the balls to defend

This is such a waste of my time...but it's just as
important as everything I'm working on. You big-time
bloggers from the left are not going to continue to
get away with this. A lot of people are seeing what
you are go on the radio and claim to speak
for the kos last night on air america
who didn't even mention susan g.......when you really
speak for yourselves.

Funny Stuff

Chuck Pennachio has the video of Rick Santorum supporters chanting "hey hey ho ho social security has got to go.

Ole Miss

Looks like Haley Barbour is doing his best to drive that state into the ground.

The Horror

Warning, you may not want to read this.

CREW Files Complaint AGAINST SSA



SSA Paid Fleischman-Hillard $1.8 million

Washington, DC, February 23, 2005 -- Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint against the Social Security Administration (SSA) in the District Court for the District of Columbia for failing to produce documents pursuant to Freedom of Information Act Request (FOIA). CREW had asked SSA to produce any records relating to contracts SSA may have entered into with any public relations firms.

CREW filed a FOIA with SSA on January 11, 2005 after learning that the Department of Education had paid pundit Armstrong Williams to promote the No Child Left Behind Act. The Freedom of Information Act requires federal agencies to respond to FOIA requests within 20 days, but in violation of the law, SSA failed to respond to CREW’s request.

The SSA has been promoting the idea that Social Security is facing a crisis. Callers to the SSA listen to a taped message highlighting the crisis and notices of benefits now include the following language:

“....the Social Security system is facing serious future financial problems, and action is needed soon to make sure that the system is sound when today’s younger workers are ready for retirement...Unless action is taken soon to strengthen Social Security, in just 14 years we will begin paying more benefits than we collect in taxes...We need to resolve these issues soon to make sure Social Security continues to provide a foundation of protections for future generations as it has done in the past.”

Melanie Sloan, CREW’s executive director, said “although we know that the Social Security Administration has been actively promoting the idea that Social Security is facing a crisis and we know that SSA has paid Fleischman-Hillard nearly $1.8 million since September 2003, we don’t know what role, if any, Fleischman-Hillard has played in manufacturing that crisis. This is what we first tried to learn by filing the FOIA request and what we are now trying to learn by filing a lawsuit.”

“This Administration has a demonstrated pattern of misrepresenting important information to the public. The Social Security Administration must abide by the law and divulge any contracts that were intended to unduly influence the American people,” Sloan added.

CREW has filed FOIAs with 22 agencies requesting copies of all contracts with public relation firms, including Fleischman-Hillard.

A copy of CREW’s complaint can be found on the web at or by contacting Naomi Seligman by phone at 202.588.5565 or

It's one thing to spend money to promote existing law - there's a bit of a grey area in which you can pretend you're simply informing the public rather than promoting an agenda. But, to use government money to explicitly promote a political agenda...

Wanker of the Day

Tom Maguire.

Day Pass

Boehlert finally nails down the issue of the WH "day passes." It is truly a good thing that it's pretty easy for reporters who don't normally cover the white house beat to be able to do it on occasion. But, Gannon had a perpetual day pass - he was there constantly for 2 years.

Boehlert and Lockhart mention the Kinsolving issue. I watched Kinsolving all through the Clinton years -- I never had any respect for him, but it never occurred to me to suggest that the Clinton administration should boot him. As much of a clown as he was, he was the opposition. There's a difference between letting a partisan hack who opposes the administration and a partisan hack who provides cover for the administration in to these things.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

If You're In A Hole, Keep Digging

Josh asks whether increased central bank diversification out of dollar holdings is "as worrisome as it looks."

It's hard to say, really. The fact that quite a few central banks intend to perhaps slowly increase the proportion of other currencies in their pile of reserves isn't necessarily that big of a deal. At the very least we're probably beginning a period in which an advantage that the US has held for quite some time begins to unravel. Our position as the world's reserve currency gives us a little bonus.

But, the fact is that China and Japan in particular have a real interest in propping up the dollar and treasury prices. A slow move a way from dollar dominance in central bank reserves on the whole isn't such a big deal -- but a decision by China and Japan to stop digging would be.

"hey-hey, ho-ho, Social Security has got to go"

The conservatives in training are a bit more honest than their elders. Well, I have to say it does the heart good to see a bunch of fine young men and women who look forward to having their elderly parents move in with them.

Fresh Thread

Savor that new thread smell.

Cutting a Deal

Josh Marshall wonders about possible deal-cutting Democrats on Social Security.

What's the point? Let's imagine that Lindsey Graham and, say, Senator Snoe Snieberman manage to hammer out some sort of compromise bill that even I would find almost reasonable. If there's anything reasonable in it, those reasonable parts won't actually appear in the House version of the bill. So, it'll go to conference, where the White House and DeLay's goons will just turn it into the bill they want.

There's no reason for any Democrat to take this course for strategic political purposes. They can win this issue in all 50 states if they have any sense. And, there's no way anything approach sensible will emerge from conference, no matter what lovely deal they manage to strike with Graham in the Senate.

...or, just read Yglesias, who wrote bascially the same thing.

Coming Soon - the Trustee's Report!

Within a month or so, the SSA Trustees will release their latest annual report on the health and wealth of the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) Trust Funds. Journalists who will be given the unenviable task of sifting through it need to understand that the important question is not actually going to be what the updated report says about the solvency date, but preicsely what inputs into the model changed between 2004 and 2005.

Let's imagine that the report offers no change on the solvency date - currently 2042. The important question will be why is there no change?

For example, a rather important number is assumed productivity growth. Last year they assumed productivity growth in 2004 would be 2.7%. It was, in fact, 4.1%. All else equal, that would presumably push the solvency date out a bit. With such a number, probably all of the "new information" - that is the actual numbers from 2004 - will also push in the direction of a later solvency date, though not necessarily.

So, if the solvency date is either not pushed out farther, or if it remains the same, there's going to be a pretty good chance that the reason is that they've tweaked some of their assumptions. That's the story...

Lieberman on Social Security

His statement on Social Security from his website was forwarded to me:

Senator Lieberman believes that, unless we make some changes soon, future generations will not be able to count on Social Security as past generations of Americans have. Reforms must reinforce the program and the values it embodies, not undermine them. All options that address Social Security's long-term solvency and preserve the guaranteed minimum retirement benefit should be on the table.

Senator Lieberman is unconvinced by the President’s proposal to privatize Social Security through the establishment of private savings accounts carved-out of the current system. Based on what he knows of the plan, the private savings accounts would not preserve the essential guaranteed Social Security benefit and would add trillions of dollars of debt.

That's a fairly explicit position. So, why is he playing footsie with Bush on this?

As Josh writes:

Lieberman fans -- a group in which I have sometimes classed myself -- might tell you that Joe's just dancing now. And at the end of the day, he'll do the right thing, though to me that seems in doubt. But even if it's true, quite frankly, it doesn't matter. The damage he is doing, perhaps irreparable, is now.

Stop dancing, Senator.


The real purpose of "USA Next" is for the moment at least to ensure equal time press coverage. As Sam Rosenfeld writes:

They can be as nasty as they want to be, and as brazenly cynical, given that their sole job in this fight is to carry out a White House-deputized hit operation by exploiting the he-said, she-said strictures of the mainstream press.

The AARP will now become the "liberal AARP," and it will be fair-and-balanced by "USA Next." It won't matter, of course, that the organization claimed precisely no income from actual members in its most recent tax return.

Afternoon Thread

Have fun.

Call Joe Lieberman Day!

Spend the day calling the offices of Joe Lieberman. Ask his staff, nicely, if the Senator:
a) Opposes diverting payroll taxes out of the Trust Fund and into private accounts, making the program less solvent
b) Opposes cuts in promised benefits

And, if a) and b) are true, ask him why he is currently "is undecided about the concept of using payroll taxes to fund private Social Security accounts." And, if a) and b) are not true, why is that in 2002 he said:

We understand Social Security's economic value and appreciate its moral value, and that we won't let it be diluted, dismantled or dissolved ... Simply put, Social Security privatization would take away the safety from the safety net, and turn the idea of a rainy day fund into a sink or swim proposition. If you don't choose wisely, you lose badly. And the government's response to bad luck would be to say, "tough luck."

706 Hart Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
(202) 224-4041 Voice
(202) 224-9750 Fax

One Constitution Plaza
7th Floor
Hartford, CT 06103
(860) 549-8463 Voice
(800) 225-5605 In CT
(860) 549-8478 Fax
(860) 522-8443 TDD

Chalabi's Out

Wow, for awhile it looked like he was actually going to pull it off:

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Interim Iraqi Vice President Ibrahim al-Jaafari was chosen Tuesday to be his Shiite ticket's candidate for prime minister after Ahmad Chalabi dropped his bid, senior alliance officials said.

Pressure from within the ranks of the winning United Iraqi Alliance forced the withdrawal of Chalabi, a one-time Pentagon (news - web sites) favorite, said Hussein al-Moussai from the Shiite Political Council, an umbrella group for 38 Shiite parties.

"They wanted him to withdraw. They didn't want to push the vote to a secret ballot," al-Moussawi said.

The 140 members were to put the decision between Chalabi and al-Jaafari to a secret ballot by Tuesday's end.

Wanker of the Day

The Powerline.

Morning Thread

Have fun.

Monday, February 21, 2005


I hope our new "minutemen" - and the appropriate local law enforcement agents - understand that illegal aliens are still people, and laws regarding the prohibition of murder still apply.

Wacky Business News

"one hour ago" (according to google news):

Dollar May Gain on Expectations of Faster U.S. Economic Growth
Feb. 22 (Bloomberg) -- The dollar traded near a one-week high versus the yen and may rise against the euro in Asia on expectations U.S. economic growth is picking up.

"12 minutes ago" (according to google news):

Yen Advances; Report May Feed Speculation Economy Will Rebound
Feb. 22 (Bloomberg) -- The yen had its biggest gain in a week against the dollar in Asia on optimism a report tomorrow will show growth in exports, feeding expectations Japan's economy will recover from a recession.

That Liberal Media

So, I'm watching the local WB's 10pm newscast. Things I learn about the latest Choicepoint identity theft scandal (paraphrasing, of course):

"Some crooks stole people's personal and credit information."

Well, yes, but they were crooks who happened to successfully pose as legitimate clients of Choicepoint.

"Originally, only people in a very small number of states were thought to have been affected."

No, originally, Choicepoint thought they could get away with only notifying California residents of what happened, as Cali happens to have specific consumer protection laws which mandate it. "Eff the rest!" was the original plan.


Late Night


The Real Bush Agenda



NEW YORK (AP) - Seymour Hersh of The New Yorker won his fifth George Polk Award for his accounts of prisoner abuse in Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, making him the most-honored individual in the history of the awards. Reporters from The New York Times took three of the 2004 awards, and The Associated Press was a double winner.



Apparently this is going to be how they'll privatize social security.

No, this isn't a joke...

Afternoon Thread

Have fun.

Useful Gadget Ideas

I was reading about Bérubé's computer problems (and, yes, the solution to this and every other computer problem is, of course, to buy a mac instead) and thinking about what would be helpful in the Eschaton household. And, it occurred to me that a nice big hard drive which could be plugged into your wireless router with good automatic backup software would be just the thing. And, what do you know, such things do exist! (not an endorsement of that particular brand and product - there are others -- just the concept)

Kelo v. New London

Let's hope the Supremes take the opportunity to actually issue a broad reasonable ruling on "eminent domain" abuse, rather than a "Sandy Says!" type of ruling.
Not much to add, other than to say that I've spent a reasonable amount of time in New London, and the area in question is definitely not "blighted."

Dance With the Devil

AARP is getting its payback for supporting Bush's Medicare drug plan.

Morning Thread

Chat away.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Holy Crap


ASPEN, Colo. - Hunter S. Thompson, the acerbic counter-culture author of books such as "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," fatally shot himself Sunday night at his Aspen-area home, his son said. He was 67.

"Hunter prized his privacy and we ask that his friends and admirers respect that privacy as well as that of his family," Juan Thompson said in a statement released to the Aspen Daily News.

Pitkin County Sheriff Bob Braudis, a personal friend of Thompson, confirmed the death to the News. Sheriff's officials did not return calls to The Associated Press late Sunday.

"Tabloid Rings Up Another Hot Scoop"

Howard Kurtz, on the Dick Morris toe sucking affair, 8/30/1996.

The timing was devastating: the day of President Clinton's acceptance speech at the Democratic convention.

The delivery route was familiar: from the Star supermarket tabloid to the front page of Rupert Murdoch's New York Post, the same scandalous path that launched the Gennifer Flowers saga into the mainstream media 4 1/2 years ago.

Yesterday's bombshell about presidential adviser Dick Morris's alleged relationship with a $ 200-an-hour prostitute, who dished her dirt in graphic detail to the Star, did more than force the resignation of Clinton's longtime political guru. It exploded into the headlines, leading the news last night on CBS, NBC and ABC just as the president was about to bask in the televised limelight of accepting his party's renomination.

The Star, whose "White House Call Girl Scandal" edition officially hits the streets Monday, would not disclose how much it paid the prostitute, Sherry Rowlands, for the story, but Star reporter Richard Gooding told ABC's "Nightline" last night it was less than $ 50,000.

Dick Belsky, the Star's news editor, said yesterday: "We ran the story the minute we had it. The timing is purely coincidental." He said the tabloid gave an advance copy to the New York Post, where he and several other top executives once worked, because it was certain to leak out as copies of the Star were mailed out this week.


In early 1992, the Star paid Flowers a reported $ 100,000 for her allegations about a 12-year affair with then-candidate Clinton, who denied any romantic relationship with the former Arkansas state employee. Flowers released selective excerpts of what she said were taped phone conservations with Clinton.

The Morris article appears more amply documented. And the story went beyond sex, with Rowlands alleging that Morris let her eavesdrop on phone calls with Clinton, told her administration secrets and showed her drafts of convention speeches by Vice President Gore and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The story's author, Gooding, was once a metro editor at the New York Post who later held the same post at the New York Daily News.

Missing, of course, is the handwringing about private lives, concern about whether "tabloids are going too far," etc... despite the fact that someone cavorting with a hooker has a somewhat understandable naive expectation of privacy, while someone soliciting for johns on the internet, complete with pictures, doesn't...

...let me just add that at the time this was considered to be a completely acceptable and normal story. Read the treatment it got at the Newshour, and further Howie coverage here. Reporters were camped outside the Morris house.

It wasn't until Hyde/Livingston that the press suddenly got squeamish about this stuff. Odd, that.

And, of course, the Gannon story isn't really a "sex scandal," but amazing how things have changed nonetheless.

...and, consider how Time covered it:
The right brain spins the story this way: it is poetic justice. A highly paid political prostitute, Dick Morris, comes to grief in the arms of an expensive hooker in Washington--a perfect moral fit. The case almost accidentally opens a door upon a disturbing side of American politics--not Dick Morris' character (who cares?) so much as the larger drama of American political manipulation in 1996, and a general atmosphere of sleaze that even the canned floral scents of " family values" cannot perfume. The left brain responds with counterspin: both personal charity and political experience argue for rolling...

Late Night

Have fun.

"blog of the year"

lovely chaps.


Americans want the Democrats to stand up to Bush.

The people have spoken.

Fox News Doctors Clinton Quote

No standards, and the worst thing is that they're behind on their official Bush Speak Style Guide. He calls them "suiciders," not "homicide bombers."

Clinton said insurgents had also failed to disrupt Iraq's landmark Jan. 30 elections, won by the Shiite clergy-backed ticket. The United Iraqi Alliance won 140 seats in the 275-seat National Assembly.

"Not one polling place was shut down or overrun and the fact that you have these homicide bombers now, wreaking such hatred and violence while people pray, is to me, an indication of their failure," she said.

As the original AP shows, she calls them "suicide bombers."

Open Thread

Have fun

Uh, Reporters?

When people tell you that they're planning to sue, I think the obvious follow up is "for what?"

Learn English or Lose Kids

Just consider the equivalent being applied to American expats around the world.

Better Questions, Please

Digby's right that Gannon has been very careful in his answers about the secret Plame memo.

Morning Thread

Sunday bobblehead addition. Document the atrocities.

Wanker of the Day

John Fund.

Late Night

Have fun.