The Bush Tax!

Blog for America : The Bush Tax -- How Much is it Costing You?
"George W. Bush talks a lot about "tax cuts," but he doesn't mention how much his fiscal irresponsibility costs. Call it the Bush Tax—what we are all forced to pay because the president gave away your money in tax breaks that gave the most benefits to people making over $300,000 per year. The Bush Tax shifts tax costs to states and communities, which then raise your taxes to make up the difference."
Re-framing the discussion. Calling Bush's cuts in services a "tax." VERY good move! And there's a web site to go along with it.

Wolf In Charge Of Chickencoop

I heard about this back in September. What's happening with this now?

Psychological Warfare

Tom Hartman writes, in Conservatives Target Testicles:
"Rush Limbaugh just declared psychological war on the working white males of America, although most of them probably didn't realize it. This week Limbaugh rolled out a 'funny' faux advertisement for the 'Hillary Clinton Testicle Lock Box' that now any woman can use to clamp down on men's testicles just like Hillary does.

This wasn't just a whim of Limbaugh's, or a response to his recent rehab. It's part of a sophisticated psychological operations program by conservatives that explicitly targets working men in America, and dates back to research first done for Richard Nixon.

[. . .] The majority of unemployed or under-employed men don't kill themselves, however. Instead, they get angry, and look for the sources of their anger. And this is where the conservatives are working hard to perform an elegant smoke-and-mirrors switch of attention.

Conservatives have figured out how crucial it is to make sure that the working-class "NASCAR Dad" demographic - so important to conservatives that NASCAR drivers were invited to place their cars on the White House lawn for a Bush photo op - don't connect their sense of lost masculinity with this conservative administration's anti-worker policies.

Thus the Hillary Clinton Testicle Lock Box. And the Phallic Projection Force War In Iraq. And the Big Bulge Strut On The Aircraft Carried Deck.

[. . .] If Democrats can help NASCAR Dads realize that conservative trade and fiscal policies are at the root of their problems, they may wake America up from the web of deceit being spun by Bush and Rove. If not, prepare for another four years of the rich getting richer while the middle class slides into the abyss, perhaps taking American democracy with it."
Read it, read it, read it!

Animal Rights: What the Nobel Committee Failed to Note

Animal Rights: What the Nobel Committee Failed to Note:
"Forty-eight billion farm animals are killed each year around the world - nearly eight times the human population, more than 130 million a day, more than five million every hour, almost 100,000 a minute. These numbers do not include the billions of other animals whose lives are taken, bodies injured, and freedom stolen in the name of entertainment, sport, or fashion. As Costello wearily asks, how is it possible that the great mass of humanity fails to recognize what humans do to animals for the great evil that it is?"

The Rise Of The Euro

EURUSD=X: Basic Chart for EUR to USD - Yahoo! Finance


That Great "New Jobless" Number Today

Perhaps you read that there was a "dip" in the "new jobless" number this week. It was a "seasonally adjusted number:
In Washington, the Labor Department (news - web sites) said new claims for unemployment benefits fell sharply last week. It said that for the work week ending Dec. 13, new applications for benefits declined by a seasonally adjusted 22,000 to 353,000, the lowest level since Nov. 1. The drop was much larger than economists were expecting.
What were the UNADJUSTED numbers? From the Labor Department's report, ETA Press Release: Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report:
"The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 411,081 in the week ending Dec. 13, a decrease of 75,048 from the previous week. There were 486,258 initial claims in the comparable week in 2002. "
The ACTUAL new jobless number was 411,258. That's not good at all.

It Can Only Decline

Most Americans continue to believe that Iraq was responsible for the 9/11 attack. The politics of this break down pretty clearly: Those who believe that Iraq was behind 9/11 support Bush's position on the war and therefore support Bush. Those who do not believe this do not support Bush's position on the war and do not support Bush. Bush's entire political advantage going into 2004 is based on this public perception.

Many "moderate" Democrats take the position that, since most of the public currently believes that Iraq was responsible for 9/11, it is therefore foolish to go against the grain and claim otherwise. Their political position is that it is not politically advantageous to disagree with a majority of the public regardless of where the facts lie on a given issue. They say that Dean is way out of "the mainstream" for saying that invading Iraq and capturing Saddam was a strategic mistake that has not made us safer.

It may be true on any given day that it is a politically risky position to contradict what the public believes. Doing so leaves you open to opportunistic attacks from those who would prefer that the public remain deceived for their own political advantage. On any given day this may be a political reality. But what happens when you take a position that is at odds with the facts -- as well as at odds with the overall good of the country -- and do so for short term political advantage, and then the public's understanding of the facts changes? Doesn't today's convenient political position bring with it the risk that public understanding of an issue will change tomorrow, leaving you looking foolish and opportunistic? Isn't it therefore better in the longer term to take positions that agree with the truth and facts of an issue, and the good of the country?

Those of us who follow the news know that it is not true that Iraq was responsible for 9/11. This means that, as the facts come out, more and more people will come to understand that since Iraq was not behind 9/11, the invasion of that country was a foolish diversion from protecting us against those who were responsible for 9/11. As time passes the number of people supporting Bush on this issue can only decline, because the facts do not support his position. Between now and the election facts are not going to emerge that support the public's belief that Iraq was responsible for 9/11, but since facts exist that contradict this belief, some or many of them might emerge and affect public understanding and change the poll numbers.

Furthermore, we must realize that those who believe Bush and think that Iraq was responsible for the 9/11 attack are not going to vote for anyone but Bush. So supporting this position only to appear to be siding with the majority will not help Democrats politically.

It makes sense to take the opposing position -- the one that also agrees with the facts and the one that is in the best interest of the country -- and oppose Bush on this Iraq war issue. Democrats should that a position advocating protecting the country from the real terrorists rather than diverting attention and resources. It is the task of Bush's opponents to find ways to inform the public of the facts. As more people become aware of the facts they will move from support of Bush's position to support of Dean's.

Not Just Dean

It's not just the Dean people who will be going door-to-door in the coming year. Read the article In These Times | Door by Door, and then go volunteer to help.

The Union Mall - Sweatshop Free Shopping!

The Union Mall - Sweatshop Free Shopping!


Bush Ad -- When Angry Democrats Attack

GeorgeWBush.com :: When Angry Democrats Attack.


The Timing

Tom and I have written recently about whether Saddam's trial and execution will be timed for political purposes. In Post Pop, The Blogging of the President: 2004 writes about political timing in general. A good read.

This Changes My Opinion

Critics: Convicted felons worked for electronic voting companies:
"A manufacturer of electronic voting machines has employed at least five convicted felons as managers, according to critics demanding more stringent background checks for people responsible for voting machine software.

Voter advocate Bev Harris alleged Tuesday that managers of a subsidiary of Diebold Inc., one of the country's largest voting equipment vendors, included a cocaine trafficker, a man who conducted fraudulent stock transactions, and a programmer jailed for falsifying computer records."
Before now my thinking was that it's a little bit too wild to try to say that there really was a PLAN to steal elections. My thinking was that the voting machines were not secure enough to ensure AGAINST this happening, and against loss of data if a machine malfunctions -- that it just didn't make sense to have voting machines that didn't have a way to verify that the voters' choices were what was recorded and counted. AND, if I WERE going to try to fix an election, I'd need to have people in on the plan that I could count on to be dishonest enough, and to keep quiet.

But no, all this is starting to look more than a little suspicious:

  • The companies are owned by hard-right wingnut Republicans.
  • The companies sacrifice the extra profits from the add-on sale of printers.
  • The companies resist changing in response to criticism and adding printers. They don't fix software flaws that are pointed out to them. Instead they hire PR firms to tell lies and smear and ridicule their critics (a typical REPUBLICAN response.)
  • They sneak in uncertified software.
  • Republicans in the Congress refuse to co-sponsor bills to fix this problem.

    So what IS going on here? And how long do we all have to wait to be sure that our election process is NOT being stolen? It's the "be sure" part of that sentence that is important to me. I saw David Dill speak recently, and he began his talk by saying that democracy depends on the losers accepting the results of elections. Whether The Party is involved in a scheme to steal elections or not, this has gone too far. I can't accept that the results of elections conducted with these machines are fair because there is no way to know for sure.

    Now, I was in the computer business for a long time, and of course a computer hardware crash or software bug never happened to me in all that time. An intentional virus never happened to me, either. And I'm sure none of these things never happened to you. Right? They certainly never happened to the election officials who are buying these machines. So you and I and the election officials never had any reason to make backups of our critically important data. Right? But, theoretically, just theoretically we know that these things could happen to us, probably in an alternate universe, but they could happen. So, theoretically, we should be backing up our data. Right? So shouldn't our voting machines also have a way to verify that our votes are counted correctly?

  • Voting Machines Story

    Voting machine maker dinged: AUDITOR SAYS SOFTWARE WASN'T APPROVED:
    "Secretary of State Kevin Shelley said Tuesday that Diebold Elections Systems could lose the right to sell electronic voting machines in California after state auditors found the company distributed software that had not been approved by election officials.

    The auditors reported that voters in 17 California counties cast ballots in recent elections using software that had not been certified by the state. And voters in Los Angeles County and two smaller counties voted on machines installed with software that was not approved by the Federal Election Commission."
    This company is just bad news.

    What Did Bush Know?

    Misleader.org: Daily Mislead:
    "At his press conference yesterday, President Bush was asked about charges that he had received warnings prior to the September 11th attacks that a terrorist incident was imminent. He answered that even asking such a question was 'an absurd insinuation.'1 It was the same sentiment expressed by Bush's National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, who said in May of 2002 that '[no one predicted] that they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane.'2

    The problem for the president and the administration is that the White House has previously admitted that the president had personally received such specific warnings. As ABC News reported in May of 2002, 'White House officials acknowledge that U.S. intelligence officials informed President Bush weeks before the September 11th attacks that Osama bin Laden's terrorist network might try to hijack American planes.'3 As Condoleezza Rice said at a hastily called press conference to spin these revelations, the President specifically received an 'analytic report' on August 6th, 2001 at his Crawford mansion that 'talked about Osama bin Laden's methods of operation' and 'mentioned hijacking.'4 According to Reuters, that report was congruent with 'intelligence since 1998 that said followers of bin Laden were planning to strike U.S. targets, hijack U.S. planes.'5."
    And why is the Bush administration continuing to block efforts to find out what they knew?


    Eric Alterman

    Eric Alterman's Altercation can be found HERE. I think that somehow MSNBC has messed up the usual links.

    Is America Safer Now?

    After 9/11 we were in a "war on terror," fighting those who attacked us. How did it make America safer to DIVERT resources -- intelligence assets, Arabic language translators, military resources, etc. -- from that "war on terror" to INSTEAD fight a war against Iraq? We actually moved assets OUT of Afghanistan. We actually took troops AWAY from searching for bin Laden and al Queda, to instead participate in the invasion of Iraq! Shouldn't we have concluded the "war on terror" before starting that other adventure? Isn't is a basic principle of war that you don't want to fight on two different fronts at the same time?

    Tell me how invading Iraq made America safer?!

    Death for Political Purposes

    Now folks when Dave put up this post, I really wasn't sure I bought the premise of it.

    Surely W and the boys aren't going to have our little puppet government (currently headed by noted INC liar Ahmad Chalabi) in Iraq have a trial and execute Saddam just before the election in order to have the news dominated by this story next fall, thereby helping to assure W's re-election, right?

    Well, my goodness. Since W apparently spent a fair amount of time in his interview / positive photo op tonight with the Diane Sawyer of the SCLM on ABC talking about this very topic, I can't help but wonder now.

    I mean, heck folks, I think Saddam's a monster who should be put on trial (although perhaps not executed -- that's always barbaric).

    However, if this trial and execution becomes a story primarily for domestic political consumption to help W's re-election chances, that's just surreal and horrific all by itself -- not that I have a great deal of sympathy with Saddam or anything.

    Surely they really wouldn't do this, right?



    My Printer Died

    I had JUST installed a new color ink cartridge, and the Epson 777 turned itself off. It won't come back on! Does anyone out there have any suggestions? (The ink cartridge was, of course, very expensive, and didn't even get used once!)

    Can anyone suggest a good color printer?

    Does anyone want to buy me a new printer for Christmas?

    Probably In October -- Surprise!

    Official: Saddam May Face Death Penalty.

    What was I thinking? OF COURSE -- an EXECUTION just before the election! This is BUSH we're talking about!

    And start talking about the punishment NOW, even before the trial. Bush justice. Try him ourselves, without involving the U.N. and international law. Use Bush law.

    What ELSE would he want? And this is Republicans -- what better wedge to stir up lots and lots of division, and give them the opportunity to do lots and lots of name-calling?!

    Update - Headline over at Drudge: "XX SADDAM DEATH TRIAL ON TV XX"


    Saddam's capture

    It is good that Saddam has been captured. Saddam is a monster who deserves to be tried for his crimes.

    Atrios warns us to be on the lookout for someone in the media to try and link Saddam's capture in some way to 9/11.

    Well, nothing like that as of yet.

    However, we do have this braindead story from the SCLM about how this development "roils" the presidential race for the Democrats.

    Say what?

    It's not like Saddam's capture will change anything at all on the ground in Iraq.

    Holy cow.

    What a transparently pro-Bush story.

    Not that I'm surprised or anything.

    --Tom Spencer

    Update:Think this guy will be wishing he hadn't said this a month from now?:

    "I think the way we captured Saddam Hussein and the fact that he gave up without a fight will take the oxygen out of a certain kind of resistance," CBS News Analyst Fouad Ajami, a Middle East scholar, tells Dan Rather. "When the man himself in this hole in the ground gives himself up without a fight it's very difficult to enlist jihadists - kids from Saudi Arabia, Syria, etc. - who will come to Iraq to fight and die for the cause."

    Don't bet on it folks.

    Update 2: The RNC's talking points on Saddam's capture, disguised as a news story, are right here.

    Terrifying, eh?

    Open Letter to Kerry

    From Eschaton:
    "Dear Senator Kerry,

    We write this open letter as a group of bloggers whose audience you
    respect enough that you advertise on our web sites.

    We are deeply disturbed that former staff members of your campaign and
    other Dean rivals now working at the so-called “Americans for Jobs,
    Health Care and Progressive Values” have resorted to the Willie Horton
    campaign tactic of linking Howard Dean to Osama Bin Laden. Vigorous
    competition among Democrats is expected and welcome, but all
    Democratic leaders should denounce these kinds of tactics.

    Given your staff link to this attack through your former press
    secretary, Robert Gibbs—the new group’s spokesman— we feel it is
    incumbent on you and your campaign to make it clear that this kind of
    attack is unacceptable. Otherwise, there will be the appearance of
    covert cooperation by your campaign in supporting this effort.

    If your campaign does not make clear that you have no link to this
    scurrilous attack, all of us will have to reevaluate our willingness
    to allow advertising by your campaign on our web sites.

    We don’t expect to have to make that decision, since we have faith in
    your integrity and expect you to quickly make clear your denunciation
    of this destructive and anti-democratic operation.


    Atrios- Eschaton http://atrios.blogspot.com/
    Jeralyn Merritt- Talk Left http://www.talkleft.com/
    Nathan Newman- NathanNewman.org http://www.nathannewman.org/log/
    Oliver Willis- Oliver Willis http://www.oliverwillis.com/
    Jesse Taylor and Ezra Klein- Pandagon http://www.pandagon.net
    Add me to the list (except that I don't take advertising anyway):
    Dave Johnson- Seeing the Forest http://seetheforest.blogspot.com

    In Reality

    U.S. Suits Multiply, but Fewer Ever Get to Trial, Study Says:
    "On television and in the popular imagination, lawsuits and prosecutions end in trials, in open court before a jury. In reality, according to a new study, trials have become quite uncommon. "
    In America, "in reality" isn't relevant.